Thursday, 18 February 2016

Arts restoration project completed by Focus Consultants

Watts Studios exterior, 2016, © David Grandorge
Heritage experts at Focus Consultants have played a key role in the opening to the public for the first time of the studios of an eminent Victorian artist and his designer wife.
The company supported a successful second round bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for £2.4million grant funding in support of the project at the home of G F and Mary Watts.
Watts Gallery Trust has now recreated G F Watts's studio and created a gallery dedicated to Mary Watts's work in the east wing of the Grade-II listed property Limnerslease in Compton, Surrey, which has just opened to the public for the first time.
As well as seeing where the couple worked, the public can also view some of their most famous paintings and sculptures, including The Court of Death (c. 1870-1902, Tate Britain), a huge painting that took G F Watts 32 years to complete. Watts’s last major work, it is displayed upon a recreation of the original pulley system designed by the artist to allow him to work upon the vast canvas in its entirety.
In addition to helping to secure the grant, Nottingham-based Focus Consultants project managed the restoration scheme - part of a £4million project to secure and restore this important site in the arts world.
“This was the latest in a number of key arts and heritage restoration schemes that Focus Consultants has been proud to have played a role in, and we are delighted that the studios of artists G F Watts and Mary Watts are now open to the public to visit,” said Steven Fletcher, a Partner at Focus, which also has offices in London, Leicester and in Boston and Aubourn in Lincolnshire.
“The principal aims of the project included establishing a centre for heritage learning and research, showing the late 19th Century domestic, social and working life of two leading Victorian artists, and to sustain the future of an artists’ village, to secure the long-term future of the Watts legacy and wider estate, and we were delighted to have brought our expertise to this development.”
Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF, said: “The opening up of Watts Studios is set to benefit the local community, making a serious contribution to Surrey’s tourist economy and helping create a sense of confidence and pride in what Compton can offer visitors both domestically and internationally.”
Perdita Hunt, Director of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, said: “We are grateful to HLF and to the Trusts, Foundations and many generous individuals who are enabling us to save this important part of our cultural heritage.”
Focus specialises in funding and economic development including area regeneration strategies, funding applications, economic impact appraisals, business plans, and research and evaluation.  Since 1994 Focus has also secured for clients more than £953 million of grants for projects and businesses across the UK and delivered more than £1.3 billion worth of projects and programmes – making it one of the most successful businesses of its kind in the country.
It also offers services to the property and construction industry, including building surveying, quantity surveying, project management, and sustainable development support.
For more information, visit

To find out more about Watts Gallery Artists’ Village, visit
Press release issued by Nottingham PR company Perfect 10 PR

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

History to be made at world’s largest gathering of Shire horses in Staffordshire in March

Courtesy of Jane Muntz-Torres
History will be made at this year’s Shire Horse Society National Show when, for the first time, British heavy horses will be able to qualify for a golden ticket to a ridden class at the prestigious Horse of the Year Show.
Riding heavy horses has become increasingly popular, and now HOYS is adding a British Ridden Heavy Horse championship to its event, which takes place at Birmingham’s NEC from Wednesday 5th to Sunday 9th October 2016.
The first ever qualifying round for the championship will be held at the Shire Horse Society’s National Show, which runs 18th to 20th March 2016 at the Staffordshire Showground.
Wendy Toomer-Harlow, a founder member of the British Ridden Heavy Horse Society and a council member of the Shire Horse Society, said: "The BRHHS have been in talks with Hoys for some time regarding a British Ridden Heavy Horse Championship and we are very grateful to Grandstand Media for agreeing to hosting this new HOYS ridden qualifier. 
“This championship will give heavy horse riders the opportunity to showcase our four magnificent indigenous British heavy horse breeds, the Shire, Clydesdale, Percheron and Suffolk to both a national and international audience and display to people just what these versatile heavy horse breeds are capable of under saddle alongside their established draught uses.
“The Shire Horse Society National Show will host the first ever Horse of the Year Show Ridden Heavy Horse qualifying round and in doing so the society will take its place in the history of ridden showing. This is a very exciting time for all those enthusiasts who are involved in the world of heavy horses and passionate about the furtherance and promotion of our British breeds of Shire, Clydesdale, Percherons and Suffolk going forward into the 21st Century.”
The Shire Horse Society National Show is the world’s largest gathering of Shires, with around 200 due to be put through their paces - shown in-hand, ridden and in harness.
The show, which has been held at a limited number of venues in England over its long history, is believed to be one of the oldest, almost continuous, horse shows in the world, having been held for the first time at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington, London, in 1880, when the charity was named the English Cart Horse Society.
This year it returns with a new venue and a new format – running over three days instead of two and being held for the first time at the Staffordshire Showground, to cater for a growing interest in the event. The ridden classes, including the qualifying class for the HOYS championship, are being held on Friday 18th March and will also feature dressage and concours d’elegance to highlight the grace and elegance of the gentle giants of the horse world.
Shires will be shown in all their glory on Saturday and Sunday in the in-hand and harness classes.
Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the show, which is the flagship event of the Shire Horse Society - the only charity dedicated to the protection, promotion and improvement of the Shire horse.
The iconic breed was in danger of dying out just a few decades ago, and even now fewer than 500 new foals are registered every year by the Shire Horse Society.
The charity has been running a Save Our Shires campaign to raise awareness about these gentle giants and numbers have steadily increased, thanks to the dedication of a band of enthusiasts.
Tickets for the show, which also includes stalls and exhibitor stands for the public to browse, are now on sale via the Shire Horse Society’s website Follow the charity on Facebook or Twitter - and @saveourshires
The event takes place from noon to 6pm on Friday 18th March, from 8am to 6pm on Saturday 19th March and from 8am to 4pm on Sunday 20th March 2016.
Tickets cost £4 in advance and £5 on the gate for Friday 18th March. Tickets in advance are £8 for adults and £6 for under 12s and seniors, and £12 for adults and £10 for under 12s and seniors on the gate, on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March.

Entry is free for Shire Horse Society members.
Press release issued by Nottingham based pr company Perfect 10 PR  

Monday, 15 February 2016

Makeover for Croots Farm Shop as former Boots director joins family firm

Kay Croot of Croots farm shop in Derbyshire
A former director with big retail brands Boots and Asda is bringing her expertise to the family business after joining her husband full-time at Croots Farm Shop in Derbyshire.
Kay Croot is now working alongside husband Steve at the farm shop near Duffield in a move which coincides with a makeover at the award-winning shop.
The outlet opened in 2008 at Farnah House Farm, Wirksworth Road – the farm where Kay grew up and where her parents Jim and Sue Yates still live.
Now Kay has joined Steve full-time at the helm as they launch a new era for Croots Farm Shop with updated displays and fixtures, new lighting and a revamped product range to include a wider selection of gifts alongside the food and drink products that the store is well known for.
“I’ve had more than 25 years of experience in the retail sector, working with some really famous brands like Boots, Asda and Aldi, but I’m really excited to be working with Steve full-time in the family business now,” said Kay.
“Croots Farm Shop launched in 2008 and since that time we’ve become a popular store, recognised for the high quality meat, cheeses and other products we sell. In response to demand, we’ve previously expanded the store and the coffee shop, which is now known as Shires Eatery, and we have long-term plans in the pipeline which will hopefully develop the shop further.
“In the meantime, we’ve just given the shop a really stylish makeover which we hope our existing customers, and those new customers who haven’t yet found us, will welcome and enjoy.”
As part of the revamp, the 400 metre driveway from Wirksworth Road to the farm has been resurfaced – giving customers a smoother journey passed the fields of Shire horses and sheep as they drive to Croots Farm Shop.
Kay, who has been a buyer for Aldi, a central merchandising director as Asda, and more recently has held several senior roles at Boots including commercial director for various departments, was brought up at Farnah House Farm, where her parents farm and also breed Shire horses.
“We’ve got lots of plans to develop Croots Farm Shop by holding more events and organising different themed restaurant nights, building on the great reputation that we’ve built up over the past few years,” she explained. “Steve continues to be in charge of the day-to-day running of Croots and my role is more of a strategic overview, with the focus on events and longer term development. We make a good team and it’s great to be working together full-time.”
Croots has won scores of awards for its meat and meat products, its pies and for numerous other items that it produces in-house, including Great Taste Awards, which are the Oscars of the fine food industry. Last year, Croots Bakewell Tart was crowned the best sweet bake in a national award run by Great British Food magazine.
In previous years it has been named in The Independent’s top 50 best food shops and was runner-up in the Best UK Independent Food Retailer 2010 category of the Observer Food Monthly Awards.
Employing 30 staff, the farm shop stocks products from around 40 different producers from within a 50-mile radius of the shop, and regularly holds tasting sessions to introduce customers to the producers and their food and drink.
Croots is a keen supporter of Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, which provides disadvantaged Derbyshire children with holidays in Skegness and is this year celebrating its 125 birthday. With the help of customers and staff, the farm shop has raised thousands of pounds for charity since it first opened.
Croots Farm Shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm (Shires Eatery until 4.30pm) and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays. Croots runs Fresh Fish Thursdays between 9am and 1pm on Thursdays.
For more information, visit

Find Croots on Twitter @crootsfarm_shop or on Facebook
Press release issued by Nottingham based pr company Perfect 10 PR 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

BSP Consulting appoints Carrie Booth as business development coordinator

 Carrie Booth
Civil and structural engineering firm BSP Consulting has appointed Carrie Booth as business development coordinator.
Carrie, who joined BSP as an administration assistant in August 2004, before becoming accounts assistant, and then office manager in January 2010, started her new role at the beginning of February.
She will support the business development across all four offices of BSP Consulting – in Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Sheffield.
“Carrie’s commitment to business development has shone through and we are delighted to now have her as a full-time member of the business development team, at a time when BSP is growing,” said BSP business development director Jef Todd.
Carrie, a keen runner out of work, who also enjoys travelling, is a member of Women in Construction, Nottingham Means Business, and attends a number of networking events on behalf of BSP, including the First Thursday Club in Nottingham. She also attends Construction Leaders Club, East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Marketing Derby events.
She said: “I’m really looking forward to building on business development opportunities for BSP and supporting the company’s expansion plans across the Midlands and the UK.”
BSP Consulting, which is based in Oxford Street in Nottingham, and also has offices at Pride Park, Derby, De Montfort Street, Leicester, and Solly Street, Sheffield, provides civil, structural, traffic, transportation, geotechnical and environmental engineering services across the construction industry.
An award-winning business, the firm operates across all the major sectors including health, education, residential, leisure, retail, rail and industrial.
For more information, visit
Press release issued by Nottingham based pr company Perfect 10 PR