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Jockey Johnson's top Cheltenham tips

Jockey Johnson's top Cheltenham tips

14th March 2016

As Birmingham prepares to decant en masse to the Cheltenham Festival next week, soon-to-be-crowned Champion Jockey Richard Johnson has offered punters his top tips.
And he should know given he is one of a select few to have won the Big Four - the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, World Hurdle and Gold Cup.
Eventmasters' horse racing ambassador - the sports hospitality agency is hosting thousands of race goers across a range of facilities and has sold out all four days at its premier Silks @ Frontrunners offer - he pledged: 'The Gold Cup for me is the best race of the week and it is the pinnacle.'
Johnson won it in 2000 on Looks Like Trouble riding for his father-in-law Noel Chance and there is a special postscript to the story. 'Looks Like Trouble now lives at home with us, he has become a family pet, we love him. I haven't got a ride in the Gold Cup at the moment but fingers crossed something comes up because I would love to win the race again.'
However, Johnson thinks that an old-favourite who has made a blistering return to form this season could be the horse to beat. 'Looking at this year's Gold Cup I'd love to ride Cue Card. It's amazing for a ten-year-old to show the improvement he has when most horses are usually on the decline. And of course he's won at The Festival before.'
In the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase, Johnson believes Balthazar King can bounce back from injury. 'Balthazar King is in great form. He missed the race last season and was aimed at the Grand National, but this year he has been specifically trained for the Cross Country and is looking to win it for a third time. He is my best chance of the week.'
Elsewhere he fancies Garde La Victoire, which, dependent on the ground, could go in the JLT Novices' Steeple Chase.
And Saddlers Encore in the Pertemps Final is in the frame. 'He is still improving and won nicely at Sandown last time out. He is trained by Phillip Hobbs and doesn't have many miles on the clock.'
As for The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy, Douvan is the pick. 'He really looks to be the up and coming star at the moment and I really can't see him getting beat.'
Johnson is having a fantastic season and, now the legendary AP McCoy has put his feet up, is way ahead in the jump jockey championship.
He said: 'At the start I didn't really set myself any specific targets for numbers of winners, the main aim was the title. But the fact that I have had over 200 winners so far this season, combined with reaching 3,000 career winners has made it a very special year.
'I've been really shocked by the support I have received from the industry - it has been amazing to be honest and the season couldn't have gone any better. Hopefully we can continue with a good week at Cheltenham.'
Quizzed on the possibility of retirement, he replied: 'No chance! I've been trying to win this title for 22 years, so there are definitely no thoughts of retirement.'
Eventmasters managing director Denise Sheasby, a horse racing enthusiast, was a part owner of the popular 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.
She said: 'It was great to have AP McCoy as our racing ambassador in his retirement year of 2015. We are delighted that Richard will be joining us at Silks both before and after racing on what should be a very special occasion for everyone especially as he is charging towards the jockeys' title which he has been seeking for so long.'

North East Women In Business Champion Awarded Obe In New Year Honours

North East Women In Business Champion Awarded Obe In New Year Honours

1st February 2016

DURHAM entrepreneur Nickie Gott is to be awarded a OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list 2016 for services to women into business and female entrepreneurship in the North East.

Nickie, 49 founded She's Gott It! in April 2002 and the company based on the Lambton estate has now become renowned for creating exciting events internationally, including the recent Hitachi plant opening attended by the Prime Minister and Chancellor and the opening of the new Crowne Plaza Newcastle

A previous winner of the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, NE Entrepreneur of the Year and Region's Best Small Business award, most recently Nickie's company has been awarded two national event awards; Best Practice and Best Event at the National Outdoor Events Awards.
Following being named North East Woman Entrepreneur in 2007, Nickie became actively involved in supporting and growing the region's female business community and entrepreneurs. 

Her commitment to growing the region's female talent pool led to her forming the North East Women's Advisory board, part of the North East Chamber of Commerce, in September 2012.   

Through this group Nickie actively supports and promotes female entrepreneurship, as she believes passionately in the need to use networks and mentors to grow regional talent.  

Nickie also now drives and supports the annual North East Women Entrepreneur of the Year awards that take place each November and acts as a business mentor to a number of businesses.

On being told of her impending OBE, Nickie said: 'I was swept away with shock and gratitude when I opened the letter to see I have been being recommended for this prestigious honour. Championing women to start and grow their own business is my big passion, so being nominated especially for my services to women into business is wonderful.'
Nickie has overcome numerous challenges in her life to become the success she is today, including failing all of her 8 O-levels at 16, being made redundant at 3 months' pregnant with her first child, having a seriously ill second child and recovering from breast cancer and treatment in 2008.

The IIC Show Returns in 2016

25th January 2016

The 2016 IIC Show -
now in its second year, specialises in bringing forward the idea of inclusion, independence
and choice for people associated mixed ability. Taking place at the renowned Manchester Central
Convention Complex doors will open in just 9 days. The IIC Show is the most comprehensive retail and resource
event in the North West of England.
! The show will take place over 2
days on Sunday 31st of January &
Monday the 1st of February and will boast
a range of exciting, beneficial and essential products and services aimed especially at those associated with
mixed ability. Along with a selection of exhibitors at the show there will also be extremely invaluable and
high quality CPD accredited seminars and essential advice points which will be set out across the exhibition.
These seminars and advice points will be very useful for healthcare professionals, special needs educators,
occupational therapists and many many more.
! There will be up to 100 exhibitors showcasing products and services over the weekend. Including but not
limited to:
Mobility car showroom
Special Educational Needs zone (SEN Zone)
The latest innovations in mixed ability technology
Specialist free advice areas
Recruitment zone
Assistance dog demonstrations
Adaptive sports zone
These are just some of the excellent features available over the weekend at the IIC Show 2016. The exhibitors
who are taking part in IIC Show 2016 will be covering a wide range of disabilities including:
Physical and motor skills
Intellectual (learning and literacy)
Along with all of the features at the event, there will also be a selection of prestigious names sponsoring the
core elements of the show. Renault UK are on-board as the headline sponsor for the Moving and Handling
Theatre. Experia Innovations are also leading the way as headline sponsors throughout the show sponsoring
the Special Needs Education (SEN) stage, a perfect fit for the mixed ability educational sector.

Registration for the IIC Show 2016 is free and can be completed online before doors open on the 31st of January
The show is an excellent opportunity for both public and professional individuals to come and gain a
insight into the different aspects of mixed ability and explore the different solutions, support and
services available for those who are associated mixed ability.

Register online for free now:
The IIC Show 2016

31st January - 1st February 2016 10AM-4PM
Manchester Central
Windmill St
M2 3GX

Using Roller Banners To Boost Brand Awareness at Trade Shows

23rd December 2015

So we all know that roller banners are a great tool for marketing. They are super versatile, and as mentioned before on this blog we believe they are the ultimate guerrilla marketing tool. You can display them outside or inside, at conferences, shop windows, shopping centres… practically anywhere.

They really come into their own at trade shows giving any trade stand a slick, professional look which can really boost your brand recognition. Here's a few pointers to ensure that you make the most of your roller banners and help promote your brand.

Position is key
Positioning your banner is everything. You can have a kick-ass design and a banner print that knocks it out of the park but that won't matter if you're deploying it where nobody will see it. Look carefully at the layout of the trade show, pay particular attention on how people will move past your spot. You want to put your roller banner in an area that will get the message to the most people as possible. Think about how to angle the banner to ensure that people will read it as they walk by. That will make the difference in drawing people to your stall.

Use of both text and graphics
You can have the best quality banner money can buy but without a great design you're not going to attract anyone's attention. You can always use our design service (just contact us and we'll take you through your options) but if you already have a design in mind or even a graphic designer who does work for you then you probably want to use your own design. Remember make it clear, use imagery that's appropriate for the message you're conveying and as always remember to KISS (keep it simple stupid!).

Don't forget contact info!
You'd be amazed at the number of times people forget the basics. If you're going to be displaying your banner remember to include contact info at least somewhere in the design! Doesn't have to take up the whole banner especially if you expect people to contact you directly at the trade show but it's always a good idea to include your info somewhere on the design - someone might photograph your booth or banner. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to track you down after the show.


14th October 2015

In just a matter of weeks Manchester's King Street will welcome its newest and most anticipated exclusive bar and restaurant.

Quill, a luxurious and contemporary bar and eatery, will officially open its doors for the first time on Friday, October 30, following a private VIP event on Thursday, October 29, and a series of soft launches.

The exclusive spot will be located in the heart of the iconic city and will mark the beginning of a new era in King Street - once described as the Bond Street of the north.

More than £1 million has been invested into Quill, which will offer true exclusivity to its guests, with private dining areas, intimate seating spots and cocktail stations.

Quill will be split over two floors of the four storey building with the bar area based on the ground floor and the restaurant located on the first floor. The restaurant will seat up to 60, including a 21 private dining area.

There will be private areas in the bar for enjoying Quill's bespoke cocktails and more than 200 people can be accommodated in the whole venue.

It has all been created by bar and restaurant interior design specialists Collective Design, winners of one of the most prestigious design awards in the UK, The Interior Designer of the Year. They have worked to create what has been described as an 'opulent oasis' in the centre of Manchester.

Guests will also be able enjoy an open kitchen, where they will be able to see Quill's newly appointed Head Chef hard at work. Though he is yet to be named, the new Head Chef has extensive experience in high end dining having working in at multiple 4 AA Rosette rated and 3 AA Rosette rated restaurants, an AA Restaurant of the year and in a number of venues with 2 Michelin Stars.

The food, both from the A La Carte and 8-course Tasting Menu, will follow a modern British theme with European influences and the Head Chef promises refined dining without the formality of formal dining.

Behind the venture is Chris Longmate, CEO of On The Wall Group, who said he was keen to bring something very luxurious and exclusive to King Street as it becomes the place to be in Manchester.

'King Street really is the new location when it comes to high end venues and Quill will be an integral and central part to this,' said Chris.

'The restaurant and bar have been designed in intricate detail by the award winning designers at Collective Design, who are specialists in this area. When we set out we wanted a refined dining experience for our customers and Collective Design have created a truly beautiful place to enjoy our food.

'And on the ground floor you will find something slightly different, with these cocktail stations and unique seating areas to enjoy our drinks offering. I see it as the place to escape to, an opulent oasis in Manchester.

'Now as the opening approaches we are just really excited about the opening now and can't wait to see guests inside enjoying Quill.'

For more information visit and get involved with #QUILLISCOMING

Quill reveals name of new Head Chef

14th October 2015

The wait is over and at last accomplished chef Curtis Stewart has been named as the Head Chef at Manchester's fine dining restaurant and bar Quill.

Mystery has surrounded the identity of the newly appointed Head Chef since the King Street venue hit the headlines this week, as news of its official opening on Friday October 30th was unveiled.

Since then people have been asking who would be in the kitchen of Quill and today the exclusive venue revealed that Curtis would be taking on the role of Head Chef and offering an A La Carte and 8-course-tasting menu.

Expectations are high and the food is set to be of an exceptional quality with the 27-year-old having worked in fine dining establishments, multiple 4 AA Rosette and 3 AA Rosette restaurants and a number of venues with 2 Michelin Stars.

It is also somewhat of a homecoming for Curtis, who first discovered his love of cooking in his hometown of Bury, Greater Manchester. He also attended Wigan and Leigh catering college and founded his ethos and style, which is based on using simple but high quality ingredients, cooked in an uncomplicated way.

This has developed over his years as a chef and Curtis says he is now confident in being able to express who is and his own distinctive style on a plate, using not so familiar flavour combinations and enhancing the diners experience with modern techniques.

Curtis said: 'I'm delighted and honoured to have been appointed Head Chef at Quill. It's a beautiful venue in the heart of Manchester, a city with a great foodie reputation. We are here to change the scene and will be serving top quality dishes and contemporary cuisine.

'It's exciting for me also to return to my roots at this stage of my career, when I feel I have truly discovered my own style and what I bring to the table.

'It's also fantastic to be part of the launch of Quill and share my vision with the venue and the guests coming through the doors.'

More has also been revealed about the cuisine at Quill, with guests set to enjoy modern British food, with European influences from both the A La Carte and 8-course-tasting menu.

The dining concept promises fine dining and high levels of gastronomy in a comfortable and relaxed environment, without the restrictions formal restaurants once had, and food that plays on perception and touches on nostalgic memories.

Curtis added: 'Quill is a fine dining restaurant and we will be competing with some of the biggest names in the industry, which are right on our doorstep. I want to create a vibe and venue where people come to experience great food and exciting cocktails, but without traditional formality. We are confident our food will surpass expectation and set the standard for the King Street food scene.

'Manchester has made a real mark on the culinary map in recent years, and it finally feels like this city is ready to except refined food.

'Over the last two years I have created a food concept enabling the modern customer to fully submerge themselves in a gastronomic experience. The food we serve will touch something in our guests, whether that is through a not so familiar flavour combination or transforming something ordinary into the extraordinary.'

The venue itself in King Street is also going to be extraordinary and more than £1 million has been invested into Quill, which will offer private dining areas and intimate seating.

Chris Longmate, CEO of On The Wall Group, the restaurant company behind Quill, said: 'The official opening is just around the corner and we cannot wait to see Quill full of guests.

'We are offering a beautiful place where our guests can enjoy excellent food, drink and cocktails in intimate settings.

'Curtis is a great addition to our team and he promises to deliver the highest standard of food every time. The extensive knowledge that Curtis will bring is such an exciting prospect for Quill.'

To book your table visit and get involved with #QUILLISCOMING

Play the teambuilding game

7th October 2015

Gerard Crowley, co-director of one of the UK's leading corporate team building businesses, Team Challenge Company, reflects on the growing trend of digital gamification in the corporate and events market.

Many of us have been to a conference, company away day or training session and left feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and, frankly, bored. Games used for team building have always been popular and now digital gamification is crossing the pond with the aim of engaging delegates, increasing learning and boosting teamwork.

Already seen at TEDx events around the world and at the international internet society forum InterCommunity 2015, interactive challenges and team building activities have been bringing colleagues closer while turning corporate events into adult playgrounds.

Gamification is the art of applying elements of a game to routine tasks, to encourage and motivate people to increased productivity, teamwork and engagement. Since 2010, 350 companies have launched gamification projects and Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, predicted that 70 per cent of Forbes Global 2000 companies would introduce gamification to boost engagement, retention and revenues by the end of last year.

This trend is now making its way into the team building and conferencing industry in the UK; with groups of corporate professionals seen juggling, singing, contorting and ultimately working together to complete fun challenges, encouraged and lead by gamification software.

The days of flipcharts and awkward conversations with the stranger next to you appear to be numbered. The industry is increasingly moving towards advanced digital technology which encompasses the best team building activities of the past, such as role play and tug of war, and brings it into the digital age.

We have found that by introducing mobile and tablet-based team building apps at conferences, corporate events or company away days, not only provides a welcome respite from heavy content, it puts the delegates first and adds purpose.

Team Challenge Company has recently introduced the most advanced treasure hunt app, Go Team, to the Scottish market and it has proved a hit in the corporate market. The app allows us to create bespoke real-time team building activities which can be developed to foster role allocation, co-ordination and planning between colleagues.

Our purpose is what drives us, and when you present teams of people with a common goal, it promotes camaraderie, competition, and a sense of accomplishment. The perfect outcome for both organiser and delegate.

To find out more about Team Challenge Company's Go Team events, visit

The power of Meetings & Events in the North shines at Venue Expo 2015.

The power of Meetings & Events in the North shines at Venue Expo 2015.

15th September 2015

The Venue Expo, the premier exhibition in the North for the UK events industry, has reported strong statistics for its 2015 show. Organisers, UKFE confirm that the event is tantamount to the absolute need for this leading event in the North and are pleased to have shown growth year on year with visitor attendance and are excited to grow and develop the proposition furthermore.

The 2015 edition held at the brand new Exhibition Centre Liverpool, on 8-9th September had over 3400 visitors across the two show days and had over 800 qualified hosted buyer meetings which was a new element for the event.

The focus this year for the event surrounded increasing the quality of the buyer for the Venue Expo participants.

Joseph Davies Show Manager said "The introduction of Hosted Buyer meetings this year underpinned our intentions to target a high quality qualified buyer for the show. Our partnership with procurement agency Helms Briscoe proved to be a great success bringing both UK based and international buyers to the event."

One of the Hosted Buyers, Rob Harrison - Associate Regional Vice President from HelmsBriscoe was quoted as saying:

"Being a hosted buyer is a great way to visit a show like this. The travel and accommodation at Jurys Inn were fantastically organised and the whole process was extremely smooth. The exhibitors were high quality and a great representation from the UK and specifically the North West. The venue is great and I look forward to seeing the show grow and thrive'.

Also, one of our exhibitors and sponsors Colm Graham from Eikon Exhibition Centre had the following to say:
'The Venue Expo surpassed our expectations, allowing us to interact on a personal level to well over 200 Hosted Buyer's and VIP's from all aspects of the events industry. We have numerous quality leads which we are progressing and ultimately we aim to bring a large number of new exhibitions and events to our venue. We would highly recommend The Venue Expo as a market leading event in the MICE industry and we look forward to sponsoring again in the same capacity in 2016.'

The show floor doubled year on year to over 5000sq metres and the number of exhibiting brands exceeded 150.

New features area; PA Hub sponsored by The PA Hub was a highlight of the event. Over 500 PAs attended the event and seminars in this respect were very well received. This element of the show has provided a great platform for opportunity to develop this element further. Jon Lawrence, Director at The PA Hub had this to say:

'It was great to be part of this year's Venue Expo in Liverpool giving us the opportunity to bring PAs to the exhibition, join our networking events to learn and develop at The PA Hub Stage. With a variety of relevant topics, The PA Hub were responsible for running the PA seminar programme where top speakers could deliver high quality related sessions within the show. With a fantastic variety of exhibitors, The PA Hub were delighted to bring top PAs to the event from various regions. We are all about collaboration, networking and bringing PAs together to share good practice and develop. The show gave further opportunity to introduce the assistants to some of the best venues and suppliers that are relevant to help them in their roles and the quality of the exhibitors was second to none.'
The hard work for the 2016 show has already commenced and our focus is to constantly develop and improve the proposition in all regards. The Venue Team are introducing focus and steering groups with influential experts across the different streams of the event to underpin the strategy and have some fantastic news on the precipice of being announced which will add great strength, positioning the show's improvements to ensure that the visitor experience is strong and exhibitors maximise their investment.

Brett Bienias Head of Events and Marketing at UKFE commented; "We have learned a number of critical lessons this year on what aspects of the show worked and which not so well and we are very enthusiastic to working with the industry to further evolve the Venue Expo for next year and beyond. The new plans due to be announced later on this week will be an indication of the great things to come for our industry in the North."

Echo Arena Liverpool Appoints Concert Sales Co-Ordinator

Echo Arena Liverpool Appoints Concert Sales Co-Ordinator

24th August 2015

Echo Arena Liverpool has appointed a concert sales co-ordinator.

Robbie Owen has been recruited to the newly created role from his previous position as a client account manager in the venue's ticketing department. He will be responsible for liaising with concert promoters as well as booking and managing the programme of events.

He joined The ACC Liverpool Group, also home to BT Convention Centre and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, prior to opening in 2008.

Owen said: 'I have worked for The ACC Liverpool Group since the venue opened more than seven years ago and have built up a strong network of contacts in that time.

'I am looking forward to working with promoters to ensure we maintain a diverse range of events - not just in the arena but across all our venues including EchoTwo and The Auditorium Liverpool.

'Exhibition Centre Liverpool, opening in September, has capacity for 6,000 for standing concerts and we are currently developing an exciting entertainment programme in our new facility which we hope to announce soon.'

Echo Arena Liverpool has hosted artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Beyonce and Katy Perry. Forthcoming highlights include Michael McIntyre, Duran Duran and Dynamo.

UKFE announce new Irish venue as sponsor for Hosted Buyer and V.I.P Lounge at the Venue Expo

UKFE announce new Irish venue as sponsor for Hosted Buyer and V.I.P Lounge at the Venue Expo

24th August 2015

UKFE are delighted to announce that the new multi-million pound Northern Irish venue, Eikon Exhibition Centre, as sponsor for the Hosted Buyer Programme and VIP Lounge at the Venue Expo 2015. A key element in securing this overseas investment was the vision of UKFE for this unique concept. The support from UKFE specialists to provide the opportunity to develop face to face business relationships with exhibitors was an integral part of Eikon Exhibition Centre coming on board.

As Theresa Morrissey, Commercial and Financial Director for Eikon Exhibition Centre explains;

'The passion from UKFE to develop this scheme shows the forward thinking elements in place to grow the Venue Expo to European and International proportions. The location in Liverpool is fantastic and we feel that buyers will have a unique and fulfilling experience visiting the city. We are also delighted to be attending one of the first events at the new Liverpool Exhibition Centre in such a capacity, just a few weeks before we open the doors to our own multi-million pound exhibition and events venue in Ireland.

We have created a buzz back on the island of Ireland as Eikon will be the largest bespoke venue in the country. Our team from the King's Hall Complex will be relocating to form the backbone of our venue, providing a world-class service to event organisers. Sponsoring at the Venue Expo has given us a dynamic opportunity not only to showcase our innovative team to event organisers but to provide a personal connection to exhibitors and hosted buyers at the Expo from all over the U.K and abroad. We feel this will be a fulfilling experience and already hope to attend the Expo in 2016 as event sponsors and exhibitors.'

The night before an event is always a vibe of activity and anticipation. Exhibitors scramble to complete stands, venue managers and operations teams work to the small hours detailing the final touches. However, the night before the Venue Expo will have a different vibe as Hilton Liverpool will host the inaugural 'Exhibitors & Hosted Buyers Drinks Reception', again sponsored by Eikon Exhibition Centre.

Theresa continues;

'Providing such a great platform, enabling hosted buyers and exhibitors the opportunity to meet at close quarters the night before the Expo begins is a real highlight. Our team from Eikon will be present and look forward to meeting these representatives from different event professions from around the country.'

Bringing Eikon Exhibition Centre on board is testament to The Venue Expo's broader reach this year. The event has secured exhibitors from all around the UK and abroad including Wembley Stadium - the UK's largest sporting stadium, ticketea - Spain's leading ticketing platform and Zephyr Solutions - an event supplier from the United States.

Registration to attend The Venue Expo is FREE, go to to register now