The finalists for 2019 Leamington Business Awards are. . .

The finalists for 2019 Leamington Business Awards are. . .

FINALISTS in the 2019 Leamington Business Awards have been announced.

A judging panel of leading Leamington business experts have shortlisted 38 finalists from a record number of nominations, including in two new categories for this year The Warwickshire Achievement Awards and Warwick District Charity Award.

Established in 2014, the Awards champion and celebrate the work of local businesses, individuals and organisations while also raising vital funds for local charities.

The judging panel is made up of: Roger Scott of Lloyds Bank; Sarah Windrum from IT Consultancy Emerald Group; Louise Richards from touring dance circus company Motionhouse; and Mark Ashfield, Managing Director of HB&O – and former awards organiser.

The winners gathered on stage at last year’s Business Awards.

The Awards, supported by media partner Business & Innovation Magazine, are this year headed up by Jonathan Smith of the Leamington Business Forum.

Jonathan said: “This year we saw more applicants than ever before. Judges particularly commented on the quality of the submissions. People seemed to take it even more seriously this year and put in a lot of effort.

“There were some very hard decisions that had to be made but the toughest ones were in the New Business and Independent Business categories.”

Jonathan Smith.

He added: “There were some very impressive entries in the Young Person of the Year category, inspiring youngsters who are working really hard and making an impact in their community.”

Returning to its previous home, this year’s glittering black tie awards ceremony on November 15th, will take place at the newly renovated Royal Pump Rooms and presided over by Master of Ceremonies Dave Sharpe.

A winner from all the categories will also go on to be selected for the prestigious Judge’s Choice Award – Business of the Year.

Nominations for The People’s Choice Award, sponsored by The Leamington Courier, are still invited until November 1st. Visit:



New Business of the Year – Sponsored by Lodders




Tutor In A Box


Business and Community Award – Sponsored by The Royal Priors

Aubrey Allen

A C Lloyd

Wright Hassall


Customer Excellence Award – Sponsored by The Box Factory

Modern Homes

Leamington Therapy

Feeding Untied

Aubrey Allen


Warwick District Charity of the Year – Sponsored by Aubrey Allen

Leam Trash Friends

Young people First

P3 Charity

Ups and Downs


Young Person of the Year – Sponsored by IAPS

Adam Lavender of Ubisoft

Philip Snell of Warwick Street Kitchen

Francesca Robson and Nicole De Barra of Way Ahead Project

Aaron Watkinson of Motionhouse


Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Bravissimo

Playground Games

Hair Management



South Warwickshire Achievement of the Year – Sponsored by Tara & Co

ECOFiX Group

Springfield MIND

Astrum Commercial Cleaning


Innovation of the Year – Sponsored by Withers and Rogers


Genba Digital

3S Knowledge Limited


Outstanding Achievement of the Year – Sponsored by Kingsley School

Leamington Art in the Park


Leamington Peace Festival


Independent Business of the Year – Sponsored by HB&O


The Drawing Board

Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor

Unleashed Cycles


Property Business of the Year – Bellagio Stone

Symonds & Newey Ltd.

A C Lloyd

Tara & Co

Hitchcock train thriller gathers steam

Hitchcock train thriller gathers steam

ANY body of work that has iconic director Alfred Hitchcock’s name attached to it, is a must for mystery lovers.

The Lady Vanishes

The arrival of The Classic Thriller Theatre Company’s stage adaptation of The Lady Vanishes at The Belgrade Theatre this week therefore, had been much anticipated.

Based on the 1938 Hitchcock classic – ranked one of the Best British films of all time -the play takes place on a train travelling from Vienna to Zurich, where an English Socialite Iris Henderson discovers that an elderly travelling companion who befriended her at the station, has disappeared while she was sleeping.

Asking around about the missing lady, Iris is bewildered to find that all of her fellow passengers deny ever having seen her. The only person she can persuade to help her is a young musician named Max.

Iris is left to get to the bottom of what nefarious acts have been going on, with the help of Max (Matt Barber), a young man whom she outwardly detests.

The Lady Vanishes, Belgrade Theatre

Thrilling it is, Hitchcockian it is – but there are also lighter moments that relieve the tension – with a cast chock full of European caricatures, from the elderly British governess Miss Froy (Gwen Taylor), carefree young socialite (Scarlett Archer) and English cricket-obsessed toffs (Denis Lill and Bean Nealon) through to the humourless German soldier (Joe Reisig) and demonstrative Italian magician (Martin Carroll).

I can’t help but wonder if, with the passage of time, the humour plays a bigger role in the 21st century reincarnation of this story. And Lill and Nealon were central to that.

The Lady Vanishes, Belgrade Theatre

The show’s narrative can feel like its plodding a bit at times, and you sense it takes a while to really get going. But I’m undecided as to whether this is simply more to do with the Hitchcock style. Its transition to stage works well on the whole, but I do admit to leaving the theatre at the end of the night feeling a tad confused about the plot, not helped by the many scenes that take place off the train which are merely described to us. (Of course this could be just me. I am, after all, one of those annoying people who is constantly asking questions to keep up with TV plot twists!)

But the play is elevated by a capable cast – and a livelier second act.

There’s intrigue by the bucket load and you won’t go home disappointed with producer Bill Kenwright’s latest offering.

The Lady Vanishes, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Despite being a Hitchcock fan, somehow this film had passed me by so I wasn’t able to draw comparisons (and maybe it’s not fair to do so.). But if, unlike me, you are familiar with story, I advise you book your ticket with an open mind. Recreating Hitchcock on stage presents its own challenges but, in the main part, I would say it succeeds. It was certainly well enough received by last night’s Belgrade audience.

Personally, I’d sum up the experience as one I enjoyed, but not one I’d necessarily rush to repeat.

The Lady Vanishes plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday, 28th September. Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 02476 553055 or by visiting

WIN a VIP birthday or Christmas party at Jump In Trampoline Park

WIN a VIP birthday or Christmas party at Jump In Trampoline Park


GOT a child’s birthday coming up – or simply want to plan ahead for your festive season celebrations? All the stress could be taken out of it for you thanks to this fantastic competition!

Chalmers News PR has teamed up with Jump in Trampoline Park in Warwick to offer one lucky person a VIP birthday party for up to 10 people worth up to £210.

Jump In Warwick, parties, Dome party,
The 360-degree Party Dome

Jump In’s award-winning parties are now bigger, brighter and better than ever with the launch of two additional party packages including Crazy Glow Party and the country’s first 360-degree Interactive Dome Party.

These, along with the standard party, offer a one-stop package of fun and come complete with:

– Check in and safety briefing
– Jump In socks for all guests
– One hour to enjoy all the Jump In facilities
– Dedicated party host
– Water whilst jumping
– Pizza (choice of pepperoni or Margherita) or hot dogs and squash
– Plates, cups, plasticware and napkins

A range of optional extras can be purchased for each child, including party bags, ice cream, popcorn, sweet pots and sweatbands.

Jump In, parties, Trampolines, Warwick, birthday

The Crazy Glow Party adds some extra shine to proceedings with exclusive hire of the UV party room with special glow in the dark accessories provided. The 360-degree Interactive Dome Party includes 30 minutes of private ‘partying’ with surround sights and sounds on a film, TV show or soundtrack of your choice as the perfect backdrop to a themed party.

There really is nothing left for parents to do except bring the cake and then sit back and take advantage of the on-site hospitality. And what is better than leaving all the clearing up to someone else at the end!

Jump In, Trampolines, Warwick, parties, birthday, Christmas

Don’t let the absence of any imminent birthdays be an excuse for missing out on the party vibe. Jump In are also launching new bumper Christmas Party packages, available to book from Friday, September 27th. And to make it a really cool yule, additional festive treats include a Santa hat and crackers for all guests, plus some cracking Christmas tunes.

As well as a wide range of trampolines, the Jump In fun includes a giant airbag, twist ladder, dodgeball, basketball, plus a soft play area for the under fives.

Further details on the party packages are available at:

To book call 01926 356290 or contact or book online at: Choose Christmas Party from the drop down menu after September 27th.

As well as Open Jump sessions, Jump In Trampoline Park, in Hermes Close, Tachbrook Park, Leamington, offers After School Club; Toddler Time; Jump and Play (exclusively for under fives); Friday Night Takeover; Relaxed Sessions (with SEN activities and Rebound Therapy) and Fitness Classes (for all ages).

Visit Jump In at: for more information.

The competition winner will be entitled to a VIP party of their choice for up to 10 guests. It must be pre-booked and will be subject to availability. Additional guests can be added at an additional cost of between £15 and £18 per person.

Terms and conditions: Valid for Party packages booked by 31st December 2019 and redeemed by 30.06.2020.
This offer is valid on the initial booking only and subject to availability.
Full T&Cs can be found at

To enter just share this article on social media and comment. Closing date is midnight on Friday, September 27th and the winner will be announced here and on social media over the course of next weekend.

You Should Be Dancing. . .

You Should Be Dancing. . .

THERE’S a highly infectious fever sweeping Coventry this week – and it’s leaving us all somewhat hot under the collar, to say the least.

One of the most iconic movie soundtracks of all time, Saturday Night Fever helped to popularise disco music around the globe. And, whatever your generation, it’s accepted that The Bee Gees defined that beat.

Saturday Night Fever, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
Pamela Raith Photography.

It is packed with their greatest hits, including Stayin’ Alive, How Deep is Your Love?, Night Fever, Tragedy, More than a Woman, Boogie Shoes, If I Can’t Have You and You Should Be Dancing. – And you will be!

I defy anyone to stay seated during the rousing closing numbers. Indeed, it was a case of Tuesday Night Fever at the Belgrade’s opening show when the disco vibe left us dancing in the aisles – and then all the way home.

It truly is an unforgettable soundtrack which has lost nothing in its reimagining for the stage, combined with even more music (17 tracks in total), more drama and ‘hot’ new choreography.

Leading man Richard Winsor always had big dance shoes to fill as Tony Manero, a role that, of course, catapulted John Travolta to international stardom. But fill them he does and, akin to witnessing any master of his craft, you’ll be simply mesmerized watching him strut his stuff throughout.

Saturday Night Fever, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Saturday Night Fever conjures high expectations and Olivier Award-winning choreographer Bill Deamer delivers on all levels.

For those less familiar with the storyline (where have you been?), it follows the journey of Tony Manero as he escapes the harsh realities of working class life in Brooklyn and embarks on a reckless, yet thrilling, road to dance success. This is no flouncy musical as the show explores what it is like to be young broke and trapped in 1970s Brooklyn. And it isn’t always pretty – with misogyny, gang violence, abortion, depression, racism and hints of domestic abuse.

The themes of love, friendship and family are explored with sometimes tragic consequences.

Yet, understandably, it’s still the dancing that most of us remember the movie for. And the same might be said of this stage adaptation, produced by Bill Kenwright.

Saturday Night Fever, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Early signs seem to suggest that Saturday Night Fever is set to become a hot favourite in Coventry and Warwickshire so grab your glitter ball and make a date. But you need to act fast if you want to strut your stuff on one of the most famous dance floors in the world before it continues on its tour of the country. It plays at The Belgrade Theatre until Saturday and tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 02476 553055, or by visiting:

Escape Arts: ‘Creating’ ways to help communities thrive

Escape Arts: ‘Creating’ ways to help communities thrive

MORE than two decades ago when Karen Williams established a small Arts project in Warwickshire, she didn’t dream it would evolve into the success story it has become today.

A passion for the arts alongside a sense of frustration at an increasing lack of creative resource in the community, inspired Escape Art’s co-founder to follow her dream – and today she is the driving force behind its continued growth and success.   

Escape Arts, Karen Williams
Escape Arts co-founder Karen Williams.

Escape Arts became a charity in 2003, as a result of two local projects: Escape founded by ceramic artist Robin Wade in 1997 and Community Art in Action, founded by Karen in the same year. Their shared vision for a creative arts community group to aid health and wellbeing, quickly won hearts and minds and today it is recognised and respected on both sides of the county, where it operates out of two main hubs, in Stratford and Nuneaton.

News of the charity’s inspirational work quickly spread as requests for support and collaborations started to roll in, eventually attracting its first grants – including £500 received from a local community policeman – which funded the start of what became their flagship parents’ 12 year project in Studley, the popular Grow, Cook and Eat group which combined creative arts, health interventions, cooking and sourcing ingredients from their own community allotment.

More projects meant Escape Arts also needed more room to grow, and soon found themselves moving out of Robin’s garden studio and taking over five unoccupied shop units in Stratford’s town centre, transforming them into a vibrant gallery, youth music and film studio, office, home for Stratford Men In Sheds and a huge community arts space.

2014 marked the biggest milestone for the charity when it was awarded a share of a £1 million Community Funding Challenge led by Stratford Town Trust. Where to invest this money was instinctive – new premises – to be precise, a Grade II-listed former 15th-Century cobbler, Tudor pub and slaughterhouse now sitting derelict in Stratford! But if this was to become a reality it was going to take vision.

Karen said: “This was a really big deal. When I walked in I admit I was daunted but there was such an overwhelming response from people who fondly remembered Henson’s butchers and wanted to share their memories.  There was a real vision for what it could look like. As a result we created this fantastic community-based arts and heritage hub and visitor centre celebrating local arts.

“There was nothing like this in Stratford. It was all Shakespeare, all the RSC. There was nothing about local people and we are all about local people. The whole focus is local people and local stories.

“And it meant for the first time, after having previously had quite a nomadic life, we had a proper home so we could really start focusing on the charity, what we do and who for.”

Following a year of renovation work, the grand opening of the new centre in May 2015 marked a hugely proud moment for the Escape team. The celebrations were made extra special on the day by the presence of VIP guests – the Henson’s family, employees from its time as a butchers’ shop – as well as veterans and community groups.

“I felt elated on that day – hugely relieved and extremely proud,” said Karen.

Around the same time – as a way to further extend the charity’s reach – Karen sought her opportunity to take their community work on the road. With the help of a Big Lottery grant, they rescued an old county council bus from the scrapheap and, fittingly for the charity, in Karen’s words ‘we took something people didn’t want and turned it into something beautiful.’

Escape Arts, Karen Williams
The Escape Arts van is a regular fixture at local events.

Housing arts materials, a fridge, media suite and even portable radio station, the bus is a regular fixture of local festivals and charity events.

Karen said: “The Escape model that we use is all about inclusion and integration, each project is supported by experienced link workers who support lots of different needs and help visiting artist ensure the creative activity is accessible for all. They are the glue that hold the whole thing together. This is the unique aspect we offer. A critical part of the work Escape does is to break down those access needs and makes sure everybody can be involved and included. If they need one-to-one support we can work with them and their families to help facilitate funding support for that.”

Successful partnerships over the years include other charities, such as Mencap, Turning Point and RISE as well as adult social care teams, schools and local businesses. But one of the most rewarding, says Karen, is the relationship established with Shakespeare Hospice Children’s and Young People’s Hub in Stratford.

“It’s all about bringing young people together, creating an activity where they can share and bond and grow and increase confidence in a safe place to explore some of those issues they’re struggling with.”

Escape Arts, Paul Mitchell, Karen Williams
Escape Art’s longest serving volunteer Paul Mitchell, dressed as Sir Topham Hat at at Heritage Open Day.

Over the course of the 22 years Escape has been ably supported by a loyal army of volunteers, now numbering more than 150 – the longest serving, Paul Mitchell, boasting 20 years with the charity, who now tends the heritage centre garden alongside supporting project activities.

And they can all reflect on the thousands of people whose lives they enhanced through a host of cultural and creative projects. These projects fall into one of three categories: Community Art, Children’s and Youth Programmes and Heritage.

Community Art

Two words at the very heart of Escape’s ethos.

The diversity of their work is evident around practically every corner, from the In Stitches groups, Men’s Sheds, creative health interventions, artists’ workshops to volunteering and open days. But it’s the exhibitions which have most helped build its reputation as a community hub, exploring local histories, the changing landscape of the town and impact on local people’s lives.

Escape Arts, Karen Williams
The Men In Sheds group officially open their newly built shed at George Elliot Hospital, in Nuneaton.

One of their most recent – and popular – Call The Midwife, casts light on Stratford’s maternity and general health services from Victorian period to present day.

Never missing an opportunity to entertain and inform, even the visitor centre’s ‘smallest room’ gives us pause for thought with the charity’s permanent exhibition Lifting the Lid on Stratford’s Loos, exploring the historical links with one of the town’s oldest businesses Thomas Crapper!

But Karen is quick to point out: “We’re not simply an arts and crafts organisation. Our work is about using arts and culture to impact on health and wellbeing. That underpins everything we do.

She added: “We are a very inclusive organisation so we don’t just work with one particular client group. We have an established referral system where we work with lots of different organisations who signpost people into the project. What you end up with is a group of people coming together from all sorts of different backgrounds learning, sharing and creating together. That’s powerful. It doesn’t happen very often in a community.

“We’re very much health by stealth, you’re building friendships, you’re building social skills, you’re learning how to work in a very diverse group, and you’re valuing each other.

“We’re working with professional artists and practitioners so there’s a very high quality in what we’re doing. We find we’re often the stepping stones for people getting back involved in their community.

Children’s and Youth Programmes

One of the most rewarding aspects of the charity’s work is its development of young people.

Escape Arts, Karen Williams
Young Sleuths spy camp in 2018.

Projects are vast and varied, including a youth café, radio station, Lego Animation workshops, birthday parties, after-school clubs, holiday camps and work experience.

One of their most successful is what they call their Legacy Project – working with partner organisations in the fields of behavioural difficulties, mental health, illness, bereavement and isolation.

Karen said: “The work is all geared around giving them ownership so they get involved in our projects, whether it’s interviewing war veterans or helping collate our press releases, it’s about them leaving something tangible. We’re turning the tables and giving them the responsibility to make an impact on other people, it’s not just about us making an impact on them.”


Celebrating the past is also a part of what has shaped the charity’s future.

Escape’s most innovative projects and exhibitions have left their mark on the local community. They include regular gatherings of VIPs (Veterans and Interesting Pensioners) such as birthdays and Christmas dinners; and a WWI centenary commemoration. One of the most talked about projects of last year was a two-day event to which eight of the original Warwickshire Land Girls were invited to help re-enact a WWII wedding.

Escape Arts, Karen Williams
VIPs veterans and important pensioners’ group celebration event as local D-Day veterans receive their Legion d’honneur Awards.

Karen said: “Heritage is so important to us. It’s about valuing people and valuing their stories. It’s about ensuring they feel a sense of belonging in their communities and about enabling them to leave a legacy.”

The work of Escape Arts does not go unnoticed beyond the county walls either and, in December last year it was presented with a Queens Award for Voluntary Services.

But what next for a charity whose accomplishments try hard to keep a pace with its founders’ ambitions?

Look out for news of a new public art partnership with local hospitals as well as exciting plans for further growing its facilities in Nuneaton.

In the meantime Karen says: “Part of our role is about advocacy and about advocating the impact of arts and culture on health and wellbeing and really validating that across professions.

“I would like to see the work we’re doing continuing to grow in lots of different settings, in every hospital, in the playground. It would be nice for the arts to be validated in clinical settings and its importance prioritised in educational settings.”

“It’s been a difficult journey and there’s been some heartache on the way, a lot of difficult decisions but I think what we’ve got now is something everybody involved in Escape is extremely proud of.”

Escape Arts can be found at:

The charity is only able to continue its good work through continued funding support. Any businesses who are interested in sponsoring or partnering with the charity are invited to contact