Author: Jonathan Saunders

Jordan’s a high flyer after his apprenticeship

Hartlepool College of Further Education is celebrating a former apprentice who has taken his career to new heights.

Jordan Garrick, 23, who attended Northfield School in Billingham came to Hartlepool College of Further Education in 2012 to study a Higher National Diploma in Aerospace Engineering through Teesside University.

Since then Jordan has gone on to an apprenticeship with Babcock International Ltd working within its military aviation wing.

Jordan said: “I always knew I wanted to do something within aerospace. Originally, I wanted to be a pilot in the RAF but unfortunately, I’m too tall and I’d have no chance if I had to press the eject button, it would take my knees off!  So, I chose to go into engineering instead and I’ve never looked back since. I’d never done anything like it before so I came with an open mind and signed up at the College.

“When I finished my course in 2014 I had to question whether I wanted the experience of working within the industry or whether I wanted to go to university to continue onto my Bachelor of Engineering or Master of Engineering.

“I finally chose to apply for an apprenticeship position which was available at Babcock International. I’d been on visits to RAF Leeming, where the company is based, whilst I was doing my HND and I was fascinated. The apprenticeship was the foot in the door and I needed to kick-start my career.

“My apprenticeship was a bit different to others, while other apprentices usually have a day release to attend college. My entire apprenticeship was based at up at RAF Leeming and it was all on the job training.

“I started out in my first year on what is known as the ‘First Line’ which includes working on and planning the flying program and making any rectifications to that program. My second year was on the ‘Second Line’ which is scheduled maintenance on the aircraft. A bit like when you take your car in for a service.”

Whilst at Babcock, Jordan has primarily been working on the Hawk T1A, a modified version of a single engine, jet powered training aircraft used by the RAFs 100 Squadron.

“Working on aircraft such as the Hawk was a new experience for me at the time. I’d only worked on the jet in the hanger at the College, which is a dead aircraft purely for training purposes. So, to have the opportunity to be working on live aircraft was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I felt I got a lot of job satisfaction from it, especially seeing the aircraft take off after having worked on it was thrilling.

“The guys up at Leeming have been incredible. The people you work with support you through it all. I was one of the first apprentices taken on by Babcock Aviation along with one other apprentice. We were sort of leading the way for all subsequent apprentices and the team really took us under their wing and taught us a lot.”

Jordan passed his apprenticeship in June 2016 and by August had been promoted to a supervisory role, meaning he now oversees another employee within the company. Jordan said: “It just goes to show how fast things can change if you work hard and apply yourself.

“Babcock is even sponsoring me through my degree at Teesside University. Something I was thinking about years ago when I was at the cross roads of university or an apprenticeship. Only now I have the great experience of working within the industry and the added bonus of them paying all of the fees, which is brilliant.”

Following his degree, Jordan already has a space on Babcock’s graduate programme where he has the chance to work in other countries and sees himself in a management position at the engineering company in the future.

Jordan said: “The opportunities that have been afforded to me because of my apprenticeship have been amazing. I’ve been sent away on detachment to work on aircraft during NATO exercises in countries such as Estonia and Hungary. It not only helps me develop my skills but opens my mind to different cultures.”

Jordan has recently bought his own home and is aiming to finally attain his dream by training for his Private Pilot Licence. Jordan said: “I need about 45 hours of airtime in order to get my licence, which I try to fit in when I’m not doing my university work. I’m almost half way now so I just need to keep on going.

“It’s unbelievable to think how far I’ve come since 2012, when I first started at Hartlepool College of Further Education. My apprenticeship opened the door to possibilities that I never would have accomplished had I went to university. Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t taken this chance.

“Apprenticeships are an incredible way to learning skills while getting your foot on the career ladder. I love working at Babcock and I love learning there. My advice for anyone who is in a similar position as I was is “Just do it!’.”

Hart Bio makes quality appointment

Hart Biologicals has appointed Jennifer Feasby as the company’s Quality Manager.

Jennifer, who hails from Kirklevington, left the North East to attend Queen Mary University and Westfield College of London where she studied a BSc in Molecular Biology.

After graduating, Jennifer came back to the North East because of what she describes as her ‘love for the region’.

She started her career as a food microbiologist before moving into laboratory management. Finally finding herself at the University Hospital of North Tees as Head of Microbiology and Quality Management in the NHS’s pharmaceutical quality control laboratory.

Jennifer said: “I have always veered toward the quality aspect of things throughout my career and about eight years ago, whilst I was working in the NHS, I had the opportunity to move into it fulltime. I just knew it was exactly where I wanted to be because of how much I really enjoy it.”

Whilst with the NHS, Jennifer not only took on the added responsibilities of Quality Management in its labs, she also undertook the challenge of gaining her Master’s in Business Administration at Teesside University.

Jennifer said: “I undertook an MBA because I wanted to move into a senior management role, and understand how businesses as a whole operated, not just the area I worked in.

“I think it’s allowed me to understand what motivates people from different areas and levels within a company.”

When asked about her role at Hart Biologicals, Jennifer said: “I’ve come into the business as Quality Manager so I will be ensuring that everything that is manufactured here is compliant with standards, including both ISO and MHRA.

“There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to doing here. There has already been a great grounding in quality within the company, but the nature of quality is you can always improve.

“There’s a lot I’ve learnt in my time at the NHS that I want to put into use so that it can benefit Hart Biologicals and build on the brilliant work it already does.”

Jennifer likes to spend her spare time walking with her two sons Jonathan, 16, and Matthew, 14.

Jennifer said: “My boys are my absolute life. A couple of years ago I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge with Jonathan and this year he’s motivated me to undertake the Thousand Mile Challenge where we have to hike a thousand miles in a year. He’s incredibly fit and puts the rest of us to shame.”

Jennifer concluded: “I really like it here and I feel I’ve made a really good move because of how passionate everyone is. You can see how impassioned Alby is about the company and he instils that in everyone else. There’s a definite friendly vibe here too.

“It’s amazing to think how much progress the company has made over the years and the fact we have an R&D department as well as manufacturing proves the ideology the company has of advancement. I’m excited to be working within a company that is forwar thinking.”

Time for a creative challenge

Every year the Publicity Seekers team takes a day out to complete a certain creative challenge.

The challenge includes each individual on our team being given £100 to spend in any way they want. The only parameters we had were that it had to be creative, we had to be able to write a blog about it, and most importantly, we had to have fun.

As I was given the task I wracked my brain for the ideas for what I could do. Anything that was outside the box or zany. The usual things entered my head, like a bungee jump or sky dive. I even checked the days flight listings to see how far I could get on the money I was given.

While great ideas, I didn’t see the potential of why anyone would care that I managed to fly to Amsterdam and back. I wanted to find something that was important to the people of Hartlepool and the history of the town.

Then it hit me: ‘Why not the history of the town?’

I’d decided on putting together a time capsule of everything that makes Hartlepool great. Instantly, I thought of Cameron’s Brewery and its world renowned ruby red ale, Strongarm. I thought of the town’s seafaring history and the National Museum of the Royal Navy and I thought of the mighty Hartlepool United and of course, monkeys.

I started by visiting the brewery, and acquiring a bottle of the famous ruby red. I stopped to speak to some of the gentleman in the bar and asked them what they thought was the defining aspect of their town. One answer I received from a little elderly gentleman, missing some of his teeth, was ‘the women’.

After we all laughed, I told him I don’t think it would be possible (or legal) to put a woman in a time capsule and I went off to the maritime museum.

At the museum, I wanted to find a replica of the prominent 1800’s frigate the HMS Trincomalee which towers so proudly above the marina. Whilst there I was informed of the Heugh Battery in the Headland of the town and its significance in the First World War.

Unfortunately, the Battery was closed so I went to make my final stop on the journey, Victoria Park.

I purchased a home shirt from the brilliant little club shop on site at the stadium and a teddybear with the old Hartlepool United logo on it. Although, no matter how much I pleaded with the assistant in the store he wouldn’t take me to see Hangus.

So, there you have it! So far, our time capsule contains things from three of the most prominent historical places throughout the town. However, that’s not the end. We want to hear from people about the sentimental things they think should be included.

If you would like to take part in our time capsule challenge then please contact me either by email at or by phone at 01429 874555.

How Hartlepool College of Further Education bucked the trend of falling apprenticeships

After startling figures were released last month stating that since the apprenticeship levy reform, apprenticeship starts across the country have decreased by 61%, FE Week spoke to Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, one of the few Colleges that are bucking the trend.

The college, which is the number one general further education provider of apprenticeships in the North of England and second in the country, reported a rise of 6% in its apprenticeship starts since the levy was introduced.

Darren said: “Hartlepool College of Further Education has a long and well-established track record of delivering high quality apprenticeships.  This was echoed by Ofsted when it inspected the College in March 2017 which led to the College’s apprenticeship work being judged ‘outstanding’.”

The Tees Valley college has over 700 apprentices on its books with the majority of these aged between 16-18 years old.  Apprenticeships range across many different sectors including automotive, engineering, advanced manufacturing, aeronautical, business administration, travel and tourism and hair and beauty to name a few.

Darren, said: “We can’t say we were pleased with the reforms when they were announced.

“We can understand that for some firms the previous way apprenticeships operated were not fit for purpose, but this wasn’t the case for our college or the firms with which we worked.  Over time, we had built up good relationships with all of our firms and ensured that all of apprenticeship programmes were tailored specifically to the firm’s needs.

“As a result of this approach, the vast majority of the College’s apprentices achieve their programmes and progress into full-time permanent employment.

“It took us a while to get our head around the reforms – everything has changed.  That said, we made a concerted effort to work even more closely with our organisations to really communicate the changes and to ensure they were aware of the opportunities the reforms provided.

“We produced new materials, both in hard copy and on our website, we held numerous briefings, carried out stakeholder mapping sessions and assigned senior managers to organisations to act as a point of contact. Most importantly of all, we ensured our organisations had a one-to-one service related to the reforms, with our staff regularly going out to see businesses directly and being on hand to answer any of their queries.”

Whilst this has led to comparatively good apprenticeship recruitment figures which go against the national trend, there are still concerns ahead for the college.

Darren said: “Despite these encouraging figures, we’re still unsure how this will translate into actual funding.  In many areas we operate, new standards are not yet available and the funding for apprenticeship frameworks has been cut severely.

“Furthermore, there is still insecurity around the latest non-levy procurement exercise, the new changes have led to a lot more work in terms of contract compliance and uncertainty in terms of cash-flow”, stated Darren Hankey.

“Where there are new apprenticeship standards; in many cases end-point assessment is not in place and this is quite alarming.  I can only imagine the kind of backlash there would be if new GCSEs or A’ levels were rolled out without final examination procedures in place.

“Outside of the FE and skills sector, this has hardly received any coverage, but it has added greater ambiguity for apprentices, firms and providers.

“For us it is a case of ensuring we are working ahead of time, making sure we’re ready for change and continuing to strengthen our partnerships with companies across the North East.”

Hartlepool College has successful working relationships with a number of large levy paying companies including Caterpillar, Gestamp Talent, Seymour Civil Engineering, Altec and Babcock International.

To learn more about Hartlepool College of Further Education, visit the website:

New manufacturing facility paints a sustainable future

Darlington based waste management firm, Total Recycling Services has helped a leading global paints and chemicals manufacturer to advance its sustainability and ensure its compliance to environmental standards.

AkzoNobel, famous for well-known brands such as Dulux, Polycell and Hammerite has recently opened its most sustainable manufacturing facility in Ashington which is capable of producing 200 million litres of paints annually.

Initially, Total serviced multiple sites by providing waste management and cleaning services for AkzoNobel before all production moved to Ashington in September.

Nick Turnbull, Health, Safety, Environmental, sustainability & Security Manager at AkzoNobel, said: “Our working relationship with Total Recycling Services has always been excellent and constructive. Dialogue between our site team and the Total Recycling team has been great and nothing ever appears to be a problem.

“Working with Total aligns with our philosophy of zero to land fill, which is a major site goal. We have a wish to partner with companies who can demonstrate this.

“I know that all documentation is of the highest standards which gives the Ashington site confidence that waste materials are being handled and disposed of as sensitively as possible.”

Total Recycling has also undertaken training to AkzoNobel’s personnel on waste management procedures, which have helped to support the company’s targets and objectives.

Sue Woodward, Commercial Director of Total Recycling Services said: “Ensuring that businesses are making the correct commercial and environmental decision is top priority for us, and if that involves us having members of staff on-site or training our customers’ members of staff we are happy to do that.

“AkzoNobel is a global powerhouse and we’re delighted that they have shown such a commitment to building a sustainable future through their environmental principles.

“In the future, I hope Total and AkzoNobel’s relationship will grow and develop as we share the same vision for waste management and development of recycling initiatives.

Nick concluded: “Since moving to our new facility, we have been increasing production volumes. Waste levels have risen with this increase; however, these are in line with what we expected to see and are being handled as sensitively as possible with regards to recycling, reprocessing and disposal. Because of this our waste costs have risen in line with that.

“If you’re a manufacturer who is looking to increase productivity but is worried about the impact it will have on the environment, you need to partner with a company who listens to what you require. Someone who is prepared to change and move with your needs, and provide sound guidance, advice and services that support these goals and meets your expectations with regards to waste management

Total Recycling Services has most recently outlined its targets for the next five years, aiming to take the business to a £30m turnover.

Publicity Seekers’ Road to the BBC

THE Publicity Seekers team headed out and about for a media day last week, catching up with contacts and sharpening our knowledge on exactly what content they are looking for.

We met Capital breakfast presenter, Matt Bailey, first in the reception of Global Radio. Matt gave us a brief tour of both the Capital and Heart studios and showed us to the boardroom, our planning hub for the morning. Here we began brainstorming the service we give our clients and how we could work to further enhance it.

The boardroom towered high above Newcastle-upon-Tyne and had a brilliant birds eye view of St James’ Park, so we didn’t find it too difficult to be inspired in such a setting.

From there we met with Martin Lindsay, the senior reporter at Global, in between his morning broadcasts. This was our opportunity to pick Martin’s brain about exactly what he looks for in a news story, what should be featured in his ideal press release, and how he puts together his daily news bulletins.

After our informative meeting with Martin and our lunch at The Alchemist, we headed to Blake’s to meet with Michael Marsh, news editor at the Chronicle. Michael was kind enough to take some time out of reporting on a murder case at Newcastle Crown Court to chat through a day in the life at his publication.

Unfortunately, he didn’t drop any hints as to the outcome of the case. He did however field our questions about the strategies Trinity Mirror is implementing and again, what things he would look for in a news release and how best to work alongside journalists to do our jobs.

We then came to the final stop on our tour of the Toon, with the team attending a panel debate at BBC Newcastle about what the future holds for local journalism.
As part of the panel there were a number of big names including Helen Dalby, editor of ChronicleLive and regional head of digital for Trinity Mirror; Gavin Foster, managing editor of the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail, Megan Lucero, head of Google-funded Bureau Local, Ted Ditchburn, managing director of North News and Andrew McKegney, policy and communication business partner at Newcastle City Council.

During the hour debate, there were a number of interesting points made by the panel. Gavin Foster stated that the rapidly changing ways in which people consume their news is due to the implementation of new technology and that some national media are still getting this massively wrong.

Helen Dalby said that digital is just a different mode of delivery for content and that as journalists they must not get caught up in analytics, as she said: “analytics don’t replace news sense or code of conduct”.

As for the next generation of journalists, Megan Lucero left the audience pondering whether or not journalism academies should leave space and time for students to be innovative in the way they deliver their news.

Days like this go a long way in helping our team to see and understand the other side of the coin. It ultimately allowed the newest members of the team to put to bed the apprehensions they have about meeting journalists and strengthened the relationship between the team and the publications we deal with on a daily basis.

Hart Biologicals double celebration at Made in the North East awards

Hart Biologicals celebrated not one but two major wins at this year’s Made in the North-East awards held by Insider Media.

The company was named Manufacturer of the Year (under £25m) and Exporter of the year on top of also being shortlisted in the Innovation category and the Apprenticeship and training category at the sixth annual ceremony at Redworth Hall in Darlington.

The awards are undertaken each year to ‘recognise and reward the manufacturing talent and skills that the North East has and to give local companies the opportunity to celebrate world-class quality and excellence.’

Hart Biologicals will now be going through to the national finals of the awards in Liverpool next year.

Alby Pattison, Managing Director of Hart Biologicals, said: “We’re incredibly honoured to have won both awards.

“All of the categories on the night were incredibly competitive and all of those shortlisted must be commended on the excellent work they are doing to bring manufacturing to the forefront of this region.

“We were shortlisted in four categories throughout, so to take away the prize for two of those was a brilliant feeling.

“The awards are a huge testament to our staff and the incredibly hard work they do every day. From our placement students and apprentices, to our Senior Management every member of staff should be proud of their contribution.

“We’re looking forward to going through the national final next year and meeting even more excellent businesses from the whole of the UK.”

The two new awards take the grand total of wins up to four awards in 2017 alone, after previously winning both the Innovation Award and Export Award at the Teesside heat of the North-East Business Awards back in April.

PRs and Journos: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them

With the fallout of the Middlesbrough FC and Gazette dispute still prominent in North East news at the minute, we take a look at the often-frayed relationship between journalists and companies (in particular the Public Relations professionals working within said companies), and why it’s important for both parties to work together harmoniously.

Many often believe that journalists look at PR professionals as a necessary evil and PR pros look at journalists as a means to an end. This isn’t necessarily true, as both professions are two sides of the same coin and both need each other to complete their objectives.

It’s fundamentally important for both to treat each other with respect and to understand the purposes and goals that each side has, so that situations like those with Middlesbrough FC and The Gazette don’t happen again.

Obviously it’s not the first time that a football club and a newspaper have fallen out in the North East. Famously, Newcastle United banned local and national press from reporting on any of the club’s business dealings in October 2013.

This animosity stems from the club’s public relations team not appreciating that journalists have a need to dramatise stories to sell papers. This is something that has been prominent in the press for a very long time.

It’s not a secret that journalists these days have to work to sometimes-unreasonable expectations. The demand on a journalist is astronomical. With 24 hour rolling news, social media, website stories, as well as traditional printed versions there is an ever increasing pressure to deliver. PR pros can use this to their advantage at times but ultimately the situation is beneficial to everyone.

According to comments by Julia Hobsbawm in The Guardian, 80% of news and business stories emanate from public relations sources. This is a huge number and it’s no surprise that PR pros use this necessity of constant demand for stories to achieve their goals and journalists use PR to give them the edge over other journalists.

If these two parties continue to put aside any perceived conflicts between one another and begin to understand they can work together, then work can begin to move forward together. If PR pros take time to understand the needs of a journalist and visa versa, then the future of PR and Journalism can, and will be, forever intertwined.

Total Recycling Services is encouraging employees to take a bike.

Almost a quarter of Total Recycling Services’ staff are now cycling to work thanks to a new employee initiative.

Out of 97 members of staff, 21 are now cycling their way into work each day thanks to the scheme in conjunction with CycleScheme, a cycle to work provider who runs the project in partnership with Total Recycling Services.

The council most recently released its Air Quality Annual Status Report for 2017, which showed that Darlington was way ahead of other areas in the UK with only 3.5% of analysed particulates relating to pollution in the air.

Carol Gee, Finance Director at Total Recycling Services who oversees the program, said: “A few members of the team initially came to us saying they would like to cycle to work and it snowballed from there.

“As a company it means a lot to see the staff taking on our company values and aiding towards continually improving our carbon footprint.

“We are constantly providing a consultancy to businesses about their environmental sustainability and waste management, so we always want to lead by example.”

The government-implemented scheme requires employees to apply to CycleScheme, who send the application back to Total Recycling Services for approval before sending out a coupon worth up to £600 to purchase a bike.

Carol continued: “It’s a great choice for our employees who want to do their part in helping the environment but haven’t got the option to go and pay for a bicycle out right. This way, they pay as little as £6 a week for their bike.”

The company most recently celebrated its ISO14001 audit, which sets out criteria for an environmental management system the company must adhere to, to lower its production of air, water, and land pollutants.

Total Recycling Services is one of the UK’s leading waste management providers, specialising in commercial recycling, hazardous waste recovery and industrial services. Based in Darlington, the recycling company recently set a target to double turnover by 2020.

Total Recycling Services makes further progress towards its 2020 Vision

Waste management firm Total Recycling Services, has celebrated a turnover of £15m, with hopes to increase its employees in the next six months.

Currently collecting over 100,000 tonnes of recyclable waste annually, Total Recycling Services is striving to double turnover to £30m as part of its 2020 vision.

The plan includes the further acquisition of a site, allowing the company to expand on its already successful areas of the business, which includes commercial recycling, hazardous waste recovery and industrial services.

Alex Foreman, Founder and Managing Director at Total Recycling Services said: “Over the past eight years Total Recycling Services has grown from strength to strength, alongside building up a large portfolio of high profile clients in the North East, including Caterpillar, TRW Systems and Aldi.

“The region is currently going through a period of growth and we are delighted to be growing with it. We have already embraced the increase in demand through our newly established industrial cleaning services division, which resulted in the creation of 3 new jobs.

“We believe the current market condition is promising and overall I feel very confident. Looking at it, we feel it’s the right time for an acquisition as the market is strong and robust.“

Total Recycling Services received further support towards achieving their 2020 turnover goals when they received backing from the Business Growth Fund in the form of a £6.7m growth capital investment in August 2015.

Ross Smith, Total Recycling Services Non-Executive Chairman said:

“In a short space of time, Total Recycling Services has developed into a profitable business with solid roots in the North East and I am confident the business will continue to move forward and achieve its ambitious target.

The Business Growth Fund was delighted to provide Total Recycling Services with financial support because of its strong management team and clear plans for the businesses future. The companies ambition and drive is admirable and they set a brilliant example to other SME’s in the region.”

Total Recycling Services currently manages a 30+ strong fleet of vehicles, operates from 2 custom-built sites both within Darlington.