Category Archives: Teamwork

I only went and ran 26.2 miles….

What a day.

Firstly, thank you SO MUCH to EVERYONE who has kindly sponsored Jonathan and myself. We set an ambitious target of raising £2620 for the wonderful Air Ambulance. We (with your kind help and support) absolutely SMASHED IT, with the target at over £2800 currently, with still a couple more sponsorships to come in. This is superb. It means such a lot to me and the charity.

So….onto today…..we only went and bloody did it. 26.2 miles in a time of 4h22 which we are both thrilled with. What an achievement. It’s amazing what you can push your body to do. Well done Jonny, and a pat on the back for me.

Feel emotionally, physically and mentally drained. Have showered and had a cup of tea, and starting to relax now.

Thanks to my parents, the Horsfall’s and the Appleton’s for the encouragement (and banners) along the route. Your support was greatly received.

It’s right to not take my shiny medal or my new t-shirt off all week isn’t it?…..

So very proud of my journey of the last few years with my weight, and over the last 8 months with my fitness. Sorry for all boring updates over my training on social media. I promise not to bombard you anymore.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted, text, whatsapped, FaceTimed, called, emailed etc today and over the weekend. You’re all fab.

More importantly, thank you on behalf of The Air Ambulance Charity.

God bless you all




The Art of Great Hospitality

Unless you live under a rock, or have been in space for the last five years or so, you will know that I (proudly) work with the Pride of Britain Hotels collection of hotels. I’m generally shouting about them on my social media channels, representing them at consumer shows up and down the country, or possibly even pushing a newsletter or directory of the hotels under your nose (sorry!). I am lucky to have visited all of the hotels within the collection and am extremely passionate about what they offer. I’d like to think I am a great ambassador for the Pride.

The collection is known for its ‘Art of Great Hospitality’ – something that I regularly witness when I visit the hotels. Over the last 7 days I have visited hotels in London, the Yorkshire Dales (See image below the proud owner of Yorebridge House Hotel which is one of our newest PoB members), The Lakes and even Scotland – and they have not failed to deliver on the exceptional (genuine) service you would expect to receive from such a collection. I am a great believer that hospitality is not really something that can be taught – but something that comes natural to a person. It’s about having the genuine willingness to help and assist the guests. I have first hand witnessed the teams going above and beyond, leaving a lasting impression with guests, which of course will most likely mean the guests will return time and time again (what every hotelier wants).

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We are lucky to have about 4,000 committed, professional individuals working in the Pride of Britain Hotels (of which there are now 48 – see here) all over the UK – all endorsing and demonstrating ‘The Art of Great Hospitality’.

I have felt immensely proud and ‘buzzed’ from my most recent visits to the hotels, a feeling that I can only imagine the majority of the guests departing the hotels also feel.

Well done Team PoB. Keep up the exceptional work.

Did I mention the hotels are stunning too! Here’s a shot I took today at Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire. Beautiful. Apparently the sun always shines there….

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An Inspirational Talk

Today I had the pleasure in attending the annual National Sales Conference which was being held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It was the first time I’d attended this event.

Over 500 people turned out for a jam packed day of talks, seminars and networking. There were some good topics and presenters (there were also some that weren’t as good…..sorry), but the best was definitely saved until the end.

Sir Clive Woodward spoke for just under an hour about his time as Head Coach of England Rugby when they won the World Cup. What an inspirational chap. He spoke about the DNA of Champions, and how he worked with his squad, helping them to be crowned champs. It was such a perfect way to end the day. I came away buzzed from his lasting words, and it was great to hear his tales and experiences. I just loved to hear all the positivity.

If you ever get the chance to hear him talk, my advice would be make time in your diary.

(Thanks to my buddy Butler from the Meeting Industry Association for arranging my ticket for the day).

Another Great Show

Last week I had the pleasure of representing Pride of Britain Hotels at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, as I have done for the last couple of years. As always, it was a wonderful week. The long days and tiring heat were made easier with the company of the wonderful PoB members that joined me on the stand; the great co-exhibitors which became my ‘family’ for the week; and of course the wonderful public that took out time to come and chat. It’s not difficult talking to people about something I have so much belief in, and so much passion about. I am a very lucky individual indeed.

Those that know me, will appreciate how hot the show must have been in the week, for me to actually lose my jacket – the heat inside the pavilion was certainly no for the faint hearted. I made sure I had my Pride of Britain silver pin badge on my waistcoat though (as always) so normal brand awareness standards remained in place!

Next week sees me do it all over again at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show. Why not come and say hello if you are visiting. We will be with our friends in the Country Living Pavillion.


It kind of makes it all worthwhile….

For the last 10 years I have supported a wonderful charity – The Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. I have helped run many corporate charity events, personally ran 5k, 10k and half marathons, all raising much needed cash for the charity. I now also have a standing order from my company account making a monthly charitable donation to this wonderful cause. Is it worth it?- you bet your bottom dollar it is! Today I experienced first hand why it is so important – and as if I needed any re confirmation of the importance of this service, it was all put into reality today.

This afternoon I experienced a life’s first. Something that you always know you may have to do at some point. Something that no matter how much training you receive will never really prepare you completely. Today I had to perform CPR on a gentleman that had collapsed at a clients hotel golf course.

I had been at the hotel, helping out the team with a wedding showcase – a day that I was expecting to be filled completely with excitement and smiley faces. Unfortunately it didn’t necessarily start out that way. Before the showcase, word had got back to the hotel reception that someone required first aid on the 18th hole. Although I had done some first aid courses in the past, I hadn’t got a valid certificate – but said I would wander up that way to see if I could assist the hotel first aider. I didn’t know what I was about to walk in to.

Just off the course, there were a group of golfers huddled around a man on the floor. I could hear murmurs of “he’s not breathing” – this was more than a fall over in the ‘rough’. Before too long, there I was assisting the hotel first aider. Adrenaline kicks in. Training course notes go flooding through your mind. Then you’re there! In the thick of it. I have never seen someone looking ‘blue’ before. I had never been that close to someone who has just stopped breathing, and does not have a pulse.

Instinct tells you to keep going – whether you think it’s too late or not. And so we did. We continued. We kept going. We pumped. We reviewed. We pumped. We did not stop.

Being only a matter of 10 mile or so from the Air Ambulance base – it was a matter of minutes before that wonderful, powerful sound of the WNAA helicopter came from the skies. It was that moment I felt an enormous amount of pride. I helped in someway put that in the air. I helped them get to this man in the short amount of time from the 999 call. I helped give this man a fighting chance. I knew trained professionals would soon be there.

Soon, a mass of paramedics and doctors (2 from the aircraft!) were next to the man. They took over – CPR, Oxygen, Drips, Adrenaline injections, a Defib – all actioned seamlessly, calmly and yet so very quickly. The professionals got to work. They were not going to give up.

Now unfortunately if you were looking for a happy ending to this story, life doesn’t always go the way you would have liked. All the hard work and effort the fabulous medical team did, couldn’t bring this guy back to us. But at least we all gave it a bloody good shot.

Sitting at home now, it’s time to reflect. Could I have done better? Could I have done things differently? Possibly so. But was I there to help, support and give this guy a fighting chance – Yes. If two doctors, a paramedic, a defib and their years of medical experience can’t save someone, then I probably didn’t stand a chance to be honest.

Following on from my last blog about life skills, surely first aid is one that we all need to fight for to be added to the national curriculum. I’m not just talking about half a dozen lessons or so, like you get for Sex Ed. I’m talking proper, on going training, about things that can really make a difference to someone’s life. Yes it’s nice to be able to ask where the nearest library is in French; or to know the square root of 16; or to know who won at the battle of Waterloo – but surely knowing how to save a friend, a loved one or a stranger is a little more rewarding? Just a thought.

I will continue to support the wonderful WNAA charity and the outstanding work the team do. Will you? The charity gets no government funding and relies solely on donations to help it keep in the air. Take a look at their website for more info

Now ask yourself? Could you do without one less pint of beer this week? One packet of cigarettes less a month? Half a dozen less take-aways this year? You could – well why not make a pledge to this fantastic charity. I for one hope I will never have to take advantage of their service – but you just never know.

I live my life knowing I will make a difference to someone’s life at some point this year.
Thanks for reading guys. Live life to the full.

No ‘fooling’ around on this event…

Months of planning and organising, all came together on one day – and it just happened to be April Fool’s Day 2012!

The Venue: The Heart of England Conference & Events Centre in Warwickshire.

The Client & their Guests: Award Winning Hairdressers the Francesco Group.

 Luckily I’d arranged the sunshine for the whole day and evening (all part of the service from MAUN Consulting). I arrived on site bright and early in the morning, and so took a stroll to the beach – yes the beach – in the Heart of England! A superb facility open to the public, offering everything you would expect at the seaside – from deck chairs and sandcastles, to a rock shop and even a fish & chip van! I could have easily stayed there all day. But there were things to check in advance of the day ahead, in advance of 400 people descending to the Midlands.

I had used the venue before, and knew a number of the team (who have been there for many years). There was certainly no reason to have any concern about the event – half the reason for choosing this professional venue. Already at 9.30am there were members of the venue team around and about, preparing for the evening event. The pleasing thing is that they were all ‘in the know’ about the event. It was obvious that communication between the events managers Melanie & Adrian (who I had been liaising with) had handed everything over in great detail.

It was important for the client to have a ‘prep room’ available from 11.00am – and guess what it – was all ready from 10.00am. Perfect. No unnecessary running around before the clients arrived. And as for the staff – well what can I say – everyone I came across was friendly & polite – making sure I’d got everything I needed – including a very important constant flow of coffee to get me through the day. It was great to be made welcome, and above all to be spoken to by the staff (very rarely done)!

So it was just a case of waiting around for the clients to arrive – so what to do? Well, jump onto the FREE WiFi of course and surf away. For those that know me, you’ll know one of my pet hates is a venue that charges for their WiFi. So another gold star awarded here.

It was great to see the team pulling everything together – I was also so impressed that the events team had only been given an agenda without the award winner’s names on it “just in case it was left lying around!” – Very impressive and forward thinking.

 So the FG Creative Team started to arrive. Rehearsals began. The atmosphere in the room was coming together – created with the help of effective lighting (constantly rigged at the venue), mist, specially selected accompanying music, visuals, and decor. Adrenaline started to pump as we edged towards the official start time of the event. I had 100% excitement and 0% worry. It’s one of the very places I have dealt with that have such a talented, knowledgeable and helpful group of people all working together to get the same end result – excellent service. The likes of Adrian, Jammo, Hayley, Andy, Maggie & Michelle (and so many more…) were outstanding throughout the day. We also had the pleasure of the MD, Steve keeping an eye on things all evening until the early hours, even collecting glasses and tidy the room throughout! All I wanted from the evening was to WOW the guests, ensuring that we complimented their quality brand, and above all to impress the MD and his team. From the feedback on the night it was mission accomplished. Four hundred happy guests, all fed watered and entertained at a top class venue.

The guests were even surprised with a late night work out on a Bucking Bronco. Perhaps if some of the ladies had realised they were going to be mounting a plastic bull, the choice of attire might have been a little different! Our chief photographer Stuart James (a great supporter and friend of MAUN Consulting) certainly had some ‘interesting’ shots from the activity.

What made this event so fantastic – quite simply – a superb venue with superb facilities, a superb team, superb hospitality and perhaps a just that little of perfect planning and precision from yours truly!?

Already looking forward to doing it all again in 12 months…..

And so to end on the theme we started – in my opinion you’d be a FOOL if you don’t consider Heart of England Conference & Events Centre for your next event in the Midlands. I would also recommend capturing every moment with the help of Stuart James and his camera, which didn’t stop snapping all night.

Thank you for your help with arranging such a wonderful event: & TWITTER: @heartofeng & TWITTER: @SJPhotographer

 Until the next time.



Great Hospitality is alive and kicking in the Cotswolds

Waking up on a wet & miserable Sunday morning, it would have been quite easy to stay tucked up all day, declaring a ‘duvet day’. Instead, the agenda was to take a trip from Warwickshire along the traffic-free Fosse Way into the Cotswolds for a much needed night away, and in search of the sunshine!

The advantage of living in the centre of the country is the fact that you’re not too far away from a number of very picturesque, beautiful villages, towns and popular locations.

Setting off mid morning seemed a perfect plan in order to arrive in Cotswold Country for a spot of lunch. The Manor House Hotel in Moreton in the Marsh provided the perfect location for a quality, well presented lunch, with fantastic friendly, efficient service. From the moment of arrival to leaving for our onward journey, all staff that we had contact with we’re professional, smiley, passionate about customer service and genuinely looked like they wanted to be there. What I liked most was the simplest of things, and something that is so often forgotten in hospitality today – customer interaction leading to asking customers for another drink! Well… happened in the Cotswolds – and I always oblige when someone bothers to ask the question! Gold star for getting some more money out of me.

I also liked the element of trust – again something that is sometimes amiss in today’s ever increasing untrusting world. Not once was I asked for a swipe of my card, or to pay up front for the order – and this was in a busy hotel lounge area, filled with Sunday lunch guests, village folk and potential bride & grooms attending the hotel wedding fayre on that day. Even with all of that, the hotel team, were happy to serve us our refreshments and allow me to settle the tab at the end! Thanks for the trust – it reminded me of one of many visits to Venice where the same applies. I was however a bit confused as to the reason of charging £2.55 per card transaction at the Manor House – a bit steep in my opinion, especially on a sandwich lunch bill of £20 – but it didn’t take away the feel-good factor from the visit

Leaving the ‘lunch stop’ I hoped that the same standard of service would await me at Barnsley House Hotel & Spa – a boutique luxury hotel about another half hour or so down the Fosse Way. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, I had a certain personal expectation knowing that Barnsley House was in the Pride of Britain Hotels Consortium – a collection of superb hotels such as The Goring (you know, the one where Kate Middy stayed pre wedding), Kilworth House (yes, the one with the unique outdoor theatre) and also the 5 star Chester Grosvenor Hotel – so to be honest I expected the best!

Approaching the hotel through the village of Barnsley – automatically gave a feel of luxury and tranquility. We drove up the slight incline to the hotel entrance and found our way to the reception which is situated downstairs in the main house. We were given a familiarisation tour of the hotel by a friendly member of the team….in her wellies! This perhaps would be strange anywhere else, but not at Barnsley where a farm, fields and the countryside are all a step away. We were even offered a ‘loan pair’ of wellies if we wanted to trek out! Great idea. We were taken to our luxurious bedroom (Rm 14) – and here in my opinion is where simple things were done right.

A registration form on the desk for us to sign, so no lurking around reception, scribbling onto forms whilst trying to hold on to all of our luggage and clothes. Again no credit card details requested (quite rightly so, as I had provided these on booking). However, it is normal practice at hotels to get details again with a further swipe from you as soon as you arrive! Why? Surely this creates a question of trust.

So much to mention in the bedroom awaiting for us – a hand written welcome card from the Hotel General Manager; a quirky Do Not Disturb sign on slate; an array of local quality magazines; fresh milk for your morning cup of tea; fresh mint in the fridge for your drinks; beautiful hand crafted tied boxes to store shoe shines and toiletries; an iPod docking station; DVD player with a selection of movies; and a superb ‘Pantry’ of goodies (of which I had to sample). I especially like the individual torches attached to bedroom key fobs for when you are walking from the hotel or local village pub in the evening. It’s the little things that have been thought about to ensure guests have a memorable stay – and it’s these sort of things that cost very little, but mean so much.

The hotel are lucky to also own the Village Pub (which also has bedrooms) – a beautiful little retreat for even more relaxation and fantastic service. How surprising that without having to ask for a tour of the bedrooms, the offer from Zortan (a Hungarian bar man) was put forward within minutes of entering the pub – he is obviously very proud of where he works – and quite rightly so. He kindly showed us the standard of the rooms – the best you will probably find at a pub!

It was great to see 35+ people dining on a Sunday evening. But after sampling the menu, I understand why they were so busy – my first ever cheese soufflé, a perfectly cooked rump steak, a rhubarb crumble to die for – made even more enjoyable as it was served by a team willing to interact all evening! They knew they’d done well once I offered to buy all the team a drink. Their reaction to the offer and their gratitude was truly rewarding.

A truly superb venue that has so much to offer to its guests – beautiful gardens, a private cinema, a wonderful spa, complimentary WIFI, Sky HD in bedrooms – but to top it all, a wonderful Cotswold welcome from everyone and a continued level of excellent service throughout. The service had even started prior to the arrival via their social media sites (@Barnsley_House & @The_Village_Pub). The interaction and excitement building process was done with ease and professionalism, and this continued throughout the stay with responses to my tweets! So nice to see a venue grasping this amongst other things, and doing it well. Make sure you give them a follow!

A great find and a great recommendation by Pride of Britain Hotels.
Would I come back? – sure thing – but not before I’ve ticked off all the remaining POB properties left try (for comparison purposes, you understand!).

Well done the Cotswolds – you’re doing wonders for the British hospitality industry – Keep up the good work – and thanks also for making the sun shine!

Why not check them out & make a trip to the Cotswolds soon:

Barnsley House Hotel & Spa

A member of Pride of Britain Hotels

The Manor House Hotel, Moreton in the Marsh

Thanks for reading.