Winning Alcester students prove they have heads for business

Winning Alcester students prove they have heads for business

Alcester Grammar School, University of Birmingham, CIPFA, business
AGS Business students flanked by Principal Rachel Thorpe, left, and Business teacher Kate Grimbley-Smith, right.

Savvy sixth formers at Alcester Grammar School, proved they had a head for business after winning a competition hosted by The University of Birmingham.

A team of seven Year 12 Business students beat off stiff competition from four other Midlands schools at the annual event, organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting.

Louis Mc Carthy, Sam Johnson, James Chalmers, James Freeman, Charlie Walter, Arthur Trotter and Rosie Jeffs adopted Senior Leadership Team roles at a fictional town council.

Assessors asked the teams to make recommendations based on common issues and financial data faced by the public sector, including employment, environmental issues and social care, delivering a report and a presentation as well as responding quickly to the potential fallout from their decisions.

Suzanna Campbell. Teacher of Business and Economics, said: “Throughout the day whilst they were preparing their final presentation they were given several interruptions and scenarios to deal with i.e. a role play scenario where the students had to address the concerns of a trade union representative, and another where they had to record a motivational speech to the councils’ workers who had worked through the pandemic. The students prioritised tasks, delegated roles and responsibilities and all under time pressure conditions.

“This is the first time AGS has entered the competition and we are delighted to have won! I am immensely proud of how the students conducted themselves throughout the day. They demonstrated a high level of team work, resilience and independence and professionalism and maturity beyond their years – true dedication to the task and a real determination to win.”

Louis Mc Carthy was also named Key Contributor for the Alcester team, which beat John Taylor High School in Burton; Our Lady of the Magnificat School in Redditch and Bishop Walsh Catholic and Hagley Catholic High Schools, in Birmingham.

It marks a post-pandemic return for the live event which, over 15 years, has seen some 300 teams from 100 sixth forms compete.

Alcester Grammar School, University of Birmingham, CIPFA, business

Rachel Thorpe, Principal said: “ Alcester Grammar School is proud to offer a broad curriculum that goes well beyond the confines of the classroom. We are also committed to supporting students to become independent and resilient learners with a true understanding of real-world contexts.

“The students in Year 12 were able to draw on both excellent subject knowledge and their broader learning skills to achieve considerable collaborative success. All at AGS are very proud of what they have achieved. We are very grateful to CIPFA for the opportunity.”

A spokesperson for CIPFA said: “That’s 2,100 sixth form students we have been able to provide with a taste of financial management in the public sector, together with the pressures (and joys!) that inevitably brings!

“The CIPFA management game is designed to give you a small insight into the type of decisions, as well as day to day operational issues faced by local government.

“The aim is for participating students to develop their own skills and their ability to work in teams through the games. Others, we know, have uncovered fresh career opportunities as they have learnt more about themselves, how they work, what makes them tick and where their real interests lie.”

White Lion re-opens its doors as part of Peach Pubs stable

White Lion re-opens its doors as part of Peach Pubs stable

Peach Pubs, White Lion, Radford Semele

The White Lion, a beautiful, thatched pub in the heart of the village re-opened its doors in Radford Semele this week following a transformation by owners Peach.

Peach opened their very first pub in Warwickshire 20 years ago, when they brought The Rose & Crown in Warwick’s Market Place back to life, creating a great local pub serving top notch food and drink with great friendly service in smart, but relaxed surroundings.

Now Peach has done it again by bringing The White Lion into the stable and bringing it back to a great village pub for locals and guests from further afield to enjoy.

Push open the heavy front door to The White Lion and inside find a lovely, fresh interior that’s been given a new look which is at once stylish whilst letting the age and character of the pub shine through.

Every inch of the old, beamed building has been carefully restored, creating cosy nooks and crannies that are perfect for drinking and dining. There’s a new bar in mellow, waney edge oak, with plenty of spots to linger, and lots of original exposed brickwork and dark wooden beams.  A mix of tables and chairs upholstered in plush velvets and bold patterned fabrics and tucked into snugs and sunny bay windows lets everyone find their niche.

Beyond it, a light and modern garden room with new bi-fold doors opening onto the terrace leads to a large, secluded garden that’s been beautifully landscaped and furnished with lounging sofas and tables for delightful al fresco lunches and suppers. A spacious new covered curved pergola and sheltered dining space at the end of the garden that can also be booked for private parties, are spot on for summer.

As is the new menu of fresh, seasonal food made with top quality ingredients in Head Chef Stefan Elliot’s kitchen.  Stefan’s career has taken him from the small town of Llangollen in North Wales to Michelin-starred Northcote Manor and then onto Spain working under the watchful eye of Sergi Arola, a close friend of the late Paul Bocuse.  All of this great experience brings classic and Mediterranean influences to his dishes that really make them sing.

Stefan loves to cook with the very best in season, and you’ll find an abundance of the good stuff on his specials board. He speaks to his fishmonger daily to find out what’s in the catch to create fish specials from day boats. On the menu you’ll find choice and provenance, with options like hand-picked Devon crab and poached salmon salad, goats’ cheese croustillant with fresh figs and honey and garlic and paprika king prawns with roast tomatoes and toasted sourdough just right for summer eating.

Peach Pubs, White Lion, Radford Semele

Peach Pubs, White Lion, Radford Semele

All the pub’s steaks are supplied by Leamington’s Aubrey Allen. Grass-fed, naturally slow-grown on carbon capturing pasture and then 28 Day dry-aged by Aubrey Allen for incredible flavour. Don’t miss the Steak Diane, fillet steak medallions with mushroom, shallot and cream sauce.

There’s plenty of choice for non meat-eaters too, with a daily changing vegetarian special and vegan options including satay aubergine with sautéed spinach and a citrusy ginger and coriander slaw. Alongside classic puds and British cheeses, there’s a fabulous Sunday roast menu with Aubrey Allen’s Dry-aged rump of beef and Jimmy Butler’s free-range pork and crackling as well as Vegetarian Wellington with artichoke heart, spinach, Emmental and pine nuts.  Sunday at The White Lion is going to be the best.

Ready to give everyone a warm welcome is new general manager Lianne Sargent and her team. Lianne has hospitality running through her veins as her parents both ran great pubs and for the last four years, she has been at the helm of another lovely Peach pub, The Swan Salford near Milton Keynes.

Taking on The White Lion is a welcome move as it also brings her back closer to home.  “We’ve really brought the pub back to life, inside and out and can’t wait to welcome everyone back”, says Lianne.  “The pub’s new look is fresh and modern but perfectly in keeping with the building’s history and we’re really looking forward to opening with a menu full of the good stuff.

“We firmly believe that every great village deserves a really great pub, serving seasonal dishes with genuine hospitality, and that’s just what we hope to bring to Radford Semele.

“I’ll be working with my fantastic team to make sure everyone feels at home, whether you pop in for a glass of wine in the sunshine, while away a couple of hours over a leisurely lunch or a come for a celebration dinner with family and friends.  So come and enjoy the new White Lion soon,” she says.

Sign up for news and events here.  The White Lion is at 60 Southam Rd, Radford Semele, Leamington Spa, CV31 1TE.

From kitchen table to million pound turnover – in just three years!

From kitchen table to million pound turnover – in just three years!

Charlotte Pitts, The HR Consultants, Woman Who Awards

A Stratford mum of two who turned her ‘kitchen table’ enterprise into a million pound business in just three years, is in the running for a national business award.

Charlotte Pitts, who owns The HR Consultants, is one of six finalists in the Business Growth category of the Woman Who Awards, being held next Friday (July 1st).

The business, which was established just a few months before the pandemic hit, provides outsourced HR support to business owners and HR Managers and has now marked its third anniversary with expansion, including a move to larger premises, in Broadway.

And it comes ahead of further growth for the company, including the launch of a new recruitment business The Recruitment Consultants as well as The HR Consultants Academy, an online programme helping other HR professionals to take the leap into the world of consultancy.

Charlotte, who walked away from the corporate world at the age of 35, is proud of her journey, but one which has not been without its challenges.

Charlotte Pitts, The HR Consultants, Woman Who Awards
The team celebrated its third anniversary recently

She said: “After a career climbing the corporate ladder, and becoming Group HR Director, I realised I was sitting in a role that I’d been working hard to achieve all my adult life, but that actually I wasn’t doing something I was passionate about.

“The corporate world taught me so much, but from a people perspective, achieving any significant culture change is extremely difficult and I’d had enough of box-ticking and working with ‘leaders’ who just didn’t understand why people were so important to the business.

“After having my two daughters, now aged 7 and 5, I decided it was time to scratch the itch I’d been trying to ignore for the last five years and there and then, The HR Consultants was born. The next six months saw work building steadily – and then the pandemic hit – what a time that was!

“Home schooling two small children, whilst trying to continue to grow the business; meant working between 5am – 7am before they woke up and then juggling every hour and piece of sanity I had.”

“That summer I realised I’d need to get some help and made the decision to hire my first team member – both terrifying and liberating!”

Today, The HR Consultants is run by a team of nine and has tripled its 2021 turnover. And the growth is set to continue after recently securing its first major private sector contract.

It marks the 7th year of The Woman Who Achieves Awards, run by Sandra Garlick MBE, recognising and celebrating the achievements of women in business. The winners from all 12 categories will be revealed at an awards lunch at Coombe Abbey Hotel in Coventry on July 1st.

Charlotte Pitts, The HR Consultants, Woman Who Awards

Charlotte’s business was also nominated in the Business Growth category at this year’s Business Success Recognition Awards, held last week.

Charlotte said: “We have been growing the team and that hasn’t been easy in a time when recruitment is difficult for all businesses. I am so proud of the revenue goals we have set ourselves, and continued to hit – when I started the business, I didn’t think this kind of revenue would be possible. But the rest of 2022 will be big for us – with the new revenue streams launching in the summer.”

Reacting to being a Woman Who finalist, Charlotte added: “I am incredibly proud of all my achievements. Women often don’t strive to achieve big things – we’ve been brought up to think that we can’t.

“My journey is living proof that if we dream big, plan big, work hard and get good people around you, you can achieve everything you want to, and I want more than anything for my two daughters – and all the other young girls out there – to see that they can do that too.”

Murals complete Rotary centenary project and celebrate area’s rail heritage

Murals complete Rotary centenary project and celebrate area’s rail heritage

Great Central Way, mural, Rugby Rotary
Nicolo Suglich and Laurence Wilbraham at the bridge.

Colourful artwork depicting Rugby’s origins now adorns Hillmorton Road Bridge, marking the completion of an award-winning four-year Rotary project to upgrade a section of The Great Central Way.

The murals, including the Central Station building, the Houlton transmission station, four famous Rugbeians, and the new ecology found there today, have been created by professional graffiti artists Nicolo and Stefano Suglich.

The inventor of the game of rugby, William Webb Ellis; inventor of the turbojet engine; Sir Frank Whittle, poet Rupert Brook and Rugby School headmaster and historian Thomas Arnold, are all depicted.

It is the final stage of Rugby Rotary Club’s four-year-year centenary project to upgrade a 1.2km section of The Great Central Way in collaboration with Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.

The Way ceased use as a railway in 1965 when Rugby Central Station was also demolished. Without the resources to manage it along its full length, the council handed over the lease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which now maintains the section south of Hillmorton Road. But they don’t have the resources to manage the northern section.

Rugby Rotarian and GCW project leader Laurence Wilbraham, said: “The painting of the murals represents the effective completion of the Rotary Club of Rugby’s Centenary project. After four years of work removing self-seeded trees and invasive vegetation to create glades and large ‘bug hotels’, native flowers have multiplied and there is more insect and bird life now on the section of the Great Central Way north of Hillmorton Road.

“Butterflies and moths have colonised the new growth and there are now more bird species and numbers of birds than before work began.

“We have been pleased to have been awarded both a district and a national Rotary environmental award for this project which has taken four years to complete. Walkers and cyclists have been very complimentary regarding the work which the club has carried out and we are very pleased that it has been so well received.

“I would like to thank all our sponsors without whom it would not have been possible to do all this work.”

Great Central Way, mural, Rugby Rotary
Famous Rugbeians are depicted on part of the mural

It took twin brothers Nicolo and Stefano, from Lutterworth, almost two weeks to complete their painting of a 25-metre stretch of bridge this month. (June)

Nicolo – an artists for 20 years from Lutterworth – said: “The reaction from the Rugby community and all the people that were walking past it, has been really positive. Everybody has commented on how bright and colourful, and cheerful the mural is.

“It was an absolute pleasure to get involved in this project and we want to thank again to Laurence Wilbraham and the Rotary Club as well as sponsors, including Cemex and the Rugby Decorator Centre.”

As part of the work along the former railway line between Hillmorton Road and Abbey Street, three new bespoke benches, funded by The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund, were also installed last summer, the design incorporating trains, pedestrians and a cyclist as well as wildlife.

Great Central Way, Rugby Rotary, murals

Laurence added: “To mark our centenary, Rugby Rotary Club members wanted to do something that would raise both the profile of the club and of Rotary, would provide long term benefits for the people of Rugby and involve volunteering and young people as well as doing something environmental.

“This is the largest and longest project we’ve ever been involved in and so far the feedback we’ve been getting from everyone who uses the Way is extremely positive.”

For further information about the Great Central Way project or any of the Rugby Rotary Clubs – Rotary Club of Rugby; Rotary Club of Rugby Dunsmore and Rotary Club of Rugby Saturday, visit here


Great Central Railway

 The Great Central Railway was opened in 1899 and ran from Marylebone Station, London to Sheffield via Rugby, Leicester and Nottingham. It was primarily a goods line and was built to the continental loading gauge. The section of the line between Rugby and Aylesbury was closed in 1966 and the section from Rugby to Nottingham was closed in 1969.

In 1970 RBC purchased 4.5 miles of the railway line comprising two sections, one extending from Onley Lane to Abbey Street and the other between the Oxford Canal and Newton.

In 1991 Central Railway Ltd proposed to re-open the railway following completion of the Channel Tunnel rail link although these proposals were rejected twice by Parliament.

Chiltern Railways had a long-term plan to re-open the railway between Aylesbury and Rugby (and later to Leicester) but in 2013 the company abandoned that proposal.

Bereavement volunteer named as ‘Platinum Champion’

Bereavement volunteer named as ‘Platinum Champion’

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

A charity founder who runs monthly bereavement cafes in Leamington and Kenilworth, has been named as a Platinum Champion as part of a national Jubilee awards celebrating dedication to volunteering.

Tracey McAtamney was recognised for her work as the founder of Surviving Bereavement foundation, which she established in memory of her late husband Tony.

The former Coventry Carnival Queen, from Balsall Common, was left widowed with two sons at just 38, when Tony suddenly collapsed and died in his hotel room while on a golfing holiday.

It was some 15 years later, in 2019, that this tragic event was to inspire a series of new ventures aimed at helping others overcome loss, and a foundation called Surviving Bereavement was born. It offers legal and financial advice as well as practical help.

This support also takes the form of a new series of bereavement cafes at venues across the county including Leamington, Kenilworth, Balsall Common and Berkswell.

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

The charity also provides bespoke Memory Boxes – hand-delivered by Tracey – which are available for grieving children and young adults, and typically contain items such as forget-me-not seeds, a personalised book and letter, journal, cuddle bears and other age-relevant items.

Such is the demand for the boxes, Tracey, 56, is soon to scale up the service by launching a community interest business, working with hospitals and hospices throughout the country.

“I thought memory boxes were really important to offer some comfort, but when I looked into it there was nowhere that actually gave them away for free, so I thought I would set it up myself,” said Tracey.

“I do cherish the importance of memories. You can lose people but you can’t lose memories. They are always there and we should treasure them as much as we can.”

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award
Tracey pictured with her late husband Tony

In 2019 she also published her own book, Hidden Strength and has since gone on to qualify as a trained grief counsellor.

The Platinum Champion Awards are a Jubilee project launched by The Royal Voluntary Service in honour of The Queen’s 70-year reign and celebrate ‘extradordinary volunteers who go that extra mile to improve the lives of others.’ The 490 winners received a specially designed pin and certificate.

Reacting to the award, which she received this week, Tracey said: “I am honoured and delighted to be recognised in this way. I am passionate about supporting those coping with the pain and isolation of loss. Our cafes provide a safe place for people to talk and I hope our Memory Boxes bring some comfort to children and young adults.

“I would like to thank my sponsors, Alsters Kelley Solicitors, Jamieson Christie Wealth Management, John Pigott, Kenilworth Lions and the many other people who have made donations to make this happen.”

Now settled with a new partner of 12 years – and spending as much time as she can keeping up with her sons, now aged 34 and 25, three step-children and four step-grandchildren, Tracey knows Tony’s memory is never far away.

Tracey added: “Since Tony’s death, I have had to rely on that inner strength to get me and the boys through situations that have seemed impossible. Death has not defined us as a family, however it has truly shaped us as people.

“My motto – there is always a light at the end of a tunnel and always an answer to that impossible situation – and that’s what Surviving Bereavement is here to help with too.”

Tracey McAtamney, Surviving Bereavement, Platinum Champion Award

Visit Surviving Bereavement here

For further information or to enquire about donating, contact Tracey McAtamney at: