Thursday 22 March 2012


Students at a Buckinghamshire College have been given a glowing reference after designing jackets for women in the construction industry.

First year Fashion and Clothing Diploma students at Amersham and Wycombe College were tasked by the Thames Valley region of the UK’s leading housebuilder, Persimmon Homes, to produce high visibility jackets to suit the growing number of women in the industry.

The task formed a large part of the group’s work in the first two terms, but so impressed was Persimmon Homes Thames Valley with the designs, that they are being offered to a national manufacturer for potential large scale production.

Kathryn Lycett, design lecturer at Amersham and Wycombe College, was delighted with the feedback and the way the students set about a difficult task.

She said: “First year students are not usually set such tasks so early, but we felt it was a great opportunity for them to learn skills they would need in the professional work environment.

“It’s been very exciting to work on this project and they have worked from the initial concept stage right through to producing a finished garment made from the correct fluorescent material.

“Research and the creation of mood boards was the most important part of the brief as it gave the students a chance to create a design that was unique to them, while also being flattering and useful to women on construction sites.”

The twelve designs were then modelled by the students who showcased them to the college and even performed an outdoor fashion show for a video.

Persimmon Homes Thames Valley sales director, Elaine Stratford, said: “The students have obviously worked tremendously hard at this project and the results are excellent.

“I’ve been in the construction industry for over 25 years and worn many jackets that are cumbersome, weighty and not very flattering to women.

“We challenged the students to bring a feminine aspect to these jackets and they have risen to the challenge and done a brilliant job.

“They have given the increasing number of women in the industry something they would feel stylish and comfortable in, something they would be proud to wear.

“Persimmon Homes is very proud of this project as the company thinks it’s important we link with local communities, colleges and schools to help benefit everyone in the region.”

The designs are currently being considered by a manufacturer and soon one, or more, of the designs could be seen on a UK construction site.

Kathryn added: “If one of the designs was produced for the national market place it would be a huge reward for the hard work of everyone involved.

“I can’t thank Elaine and everyone at Persimmon Homes enough for involving us in this project and I hope that the link between the continues to grow.”

Tuesday 20 March 2012


The sky’s the limit for two members of staff at a Chester business this Easter.

Dane Volkswagen’s receptionist Sophie Davis and business manager Iain Gilholm normally have their feet planted firmly on the ground, but on Easter Sunday they will be heading for the heavens to take part in a charity skydive.

Sophie, aged 20 and 30-year-old Iain, have set themselves a target of raising £500 for Cancer Research.

For Sophie it’s her first skydive and even though she’s looking forward to it she’s hoping nerves don’t get the better of her when the aircraft levels out at 12,00ft and it’s time to step out.

She said: “It’s a great cause and I just want to help raise as much money as I can. At the moment I am looking forward to the big day but I just know that once I get up in that plane I’m going to be very apprehensive - to say the least.”

Iain is almost a veteran skydiver - ¬having done one before in Australia, although he’s a little apprehensive he admits to looking forward to his first skydive jump in the UK.

“It’s going to be an amazing day, and I’m sure we will both get a great buzz from both the jump and raising so much money for charity,” he said.

Dane Volkswagen’s brand manager, Chris McCabe, added: “Everyone at Dane Volkswagen wishes Sophie and Iain the best of luck with the sky dive, it’s certainly going to be a great experience.

“Staff are digging deep into their pockets to help the diving duo reach their target for a very good charity.”

Iain and Sophie have set up a website to help reach their fundraising target

Friday 24 February 2012


A West Yorkshire retailer is celebrating after winning a national annual award.

Volkswagen Van Centre (West Yorkshire) is now the number one Volkswagen van centre in the UK after being crowned the 2011 ‘Most Valued Van Centre’ at a recent awards ceremony.

The Cleckheaton-based van centre faced competition from 70 other van sites from across the UK, and built upon its success from 2010 where it was presented with the silver award for the ‘Most Valued Van Centre’.

Andrew Caygill, director at the Cleckheaton-based business, was delighted to have reached the top.

He said: “To have achieved this status makes me very proud and honoured to be working with such a dedicated group. This is a great achievement for the whole of the van centre team, as everybody has pulled together to bring in this fantastic performance.

“We believe providing excellent service is central to our business success and are absolutely delighted that this has been acknowledged by winning this award.”

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles closely monitors all aspects of its van centres operations from customer satisfaction and aftersales through to business performance.

Thursday 23 February 2012


Pupils from the Holy Trinity Primary School in Lower Beeding, recently gained an insight into the workings of an active new build housing development, thanks to the team at Charles Church’s luxury Trinity Fields development.

The 22 youngsters, all aged between seven and nine were given a site safety tour of the development by Trinity Fields contracts manager Daren Eagle.

They also had the chance to get up close and personal with a whole range of tools and building materials used by workers at the Charles Church site every day.

Tracey Bishop, head teacher at Holy Trinity Primary School, said: “The children love spending time in ‘real’ environments as it helps to support their learning by adding that extra dimension.

“We knew they’d be really excited to visit Charles Church’s nearby Trinity Fields development and were very pleased to been invited.

“The children all had a fantastic time and left the development knowing more about the whole house building process and why it is so important to not enter a building site unsupervised.”

To comply with health and safety guidelines the children, teacher and teaching assistants were all equipped with safety helmets and fluorescent jackets.

Charles Church’s site manager at Trinity Fields, said: “As the region’s premium homebuilder we take the health and welfare of the communities within which we build extremely seriously.

“This is why we are so keen to offer site safety visits to children, giving them an insight into how we build our properties as well as highlighting the importance of not playing on a building site.”

Sales and marketing director for Charles Church South East, Julia Price, added: “Education outside of the classroom can be invaluable and encourages students to see the building developments in action.

“It also present an industry to which some of the children could work in and forge a successful career.

“Showing students around new developments is a great way for them to experience all of the different processes involved with house building, and gives the children an opportunity to ask us questions about how houses are constructed.”

Tuesday 21 February 2012


A Merseyside primary school has thanked one of the city’s businesses for donating clothing to help keep its children safe during the dark mornings and evenings.

Hale C of E Primary School has received 50 fluorescent jackets to ensure the children are clearly visible when out walking to the local park and church for events.

The donation was made by Liverpool Volkswagen Van Centre and means the school no longer has to rely on borrowing high visibility jackets in future.

Marianne Mowatt, headteacher at Hale C of E Primary School, welcomed the delivery of the jackets.

She said: “Donations to the school are always welcome, but this one is important to keep the children together in a safe way while outside of the school’s premises.

“The children are very excited about the jackets and I can’t thank Liverpool Volkswagen Van Centre enough for them.

“We often take the children on walks around the village, including to the church and park, so having them clearly visibly, especially at this time of year, is vital.”

Liverpool Volkswagen Van Centre has been based in Speke for just over one year and the centre’s head of business, Dave Cowan, is always looking at ways of forging links with the local community.

He said: “The van centre is delighted to be able to provide the school’s children with the jackets as it reinforces one of the key criteria for Volkswagen, namely safety.

“As a relatively new business to the area it’s vital to integrate it with the local community and we’ll continue to find ways of doing so.

“It’s great to see young children making use of the jackets and we hope they are encouraged to wear safe clothing after leaving school.”

Monday 20 February 2012

Top duo's Icelandic adventure

A West Midlands business has rewarded two of its employees with a luxury trip to Iceland after they delivered exceptional customer service results.
The duo from Trust Group UK, which has three Volkswagen sites in Redditch, Wolverhampton and Stourbridge, were rewarded with an Icelandic adventure after finishing within the top 50 performing Volkswagen sales managers.

Bill Alexander, who is based at Stourbridge Volkswagen was joined in Iceland by Wolverhampton Volkswagen’s general sales manager, Andrew Beach.

The pair has over three decades of managerial experience in the automotive industry. Bill (50) has 18 years motor experience and spent the last six with Trust Group UK. Whilst Andrew (36), who lives in Wolverhampton, has been in the industry since valeting cars aged 17.

Bill and Andrew made the top 50 performing sales managers from the national Volkswagen network during quarter three of 2011. They celebrated their success with the other sales managers, enjoying a stay in an exclusive hotel in the heart of Reykjavik.

Commenting on the trip Bill said: “I’m very grateful to Volkswagen for giving me the opportunity to visit this impressive country.

“The luxury three day break was a fantastic reward and we were lucky enough to experience the spectacular Northern Lights during our stay.

“We took part in some exhilarating adventure activities including snowmobiling, quad biking and driving customised super Jeeps across a glacier. We also had time to relax with a visit to Iceland’s most famous attractions, the blue lagoon geothermal spa.”

Trust Group UK’s managing director, Andrew Hockedy, said: “Bill and Andrew worked very hard to gain this recognition and it was fantastic to be able to reward them for their efforts.

“We are very lucky to have professionals of their calibre within our team.”


In the year of the Olympics in London, a man from Westhoughton is already celebrating after achieving two landmarks in his career in the same month.

Jim Hobson marked 35 years in the automotive industry just a few days after being named the 2011 UK manager of the year for global automotive firm, Inchcape.

The head of business at Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre in Trafford Park, beat off competition from over 175 managers, from across Inchcape UK’s retailer car and van retailer network.

The 55-year-old started in 1977 as a sales executive, before progressing his career with roles including, sales manager and general manager.

Jim said: “The start of 2012 has been incredible and I’m thrilled to have won such a prestigious award, but for it to coincide with 35 years in the automotive industry is very special.

“The Inchcape award is humbling because without the support and hard work of all my colleagues at Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre, it wouldn’t have been possible.

“The industry has undergone many changes since I started and it’s been a privilege to have been part of the positive changes over the decades.”

Jim is now looking forward to adding to the awards and celebrations by driving the van centre to reach new goals in this special year.

He added: “I may have been given this Inchcape award but the job I do needs a team to carry it out.

“Everyone who works at Manchester Volkswagen Van Centre plays a key role in delivering a service that customers deserve from such a prestigious brand.

“I know the team will continue to provide Greater Manchester with one of the UK’s best automotive retailers and with it potentially winning more awards for the van centre.”

Tuesday 14 February 2012


A Crewe retailer has boosted its business by appointing two of the region’s most experienced managers.

Crewe Volkswagen has boosted its sales team, welcoming Darren Lancashire as sales manager and Simon Clarke as after sales manager.

The duo brings with them over 25 years’ experience in in the north west motor industry.
Simon, from Nantwich, started his career as an apprentice technician before climbing the career ladder with roles including workshop controller and assistant sales manager.

Speaking of his appointment, 30-year-old Simon, said: “I am looking forward to taking the Crewe Volkswagen team to new successes and providing customers with a service they expect from a prestigious brand.”

Having worked at a range of Volkswagen sites across the country, the last seven years in managerial roles, Darren is confident that the Volkswagen customer approach matches his own.

The 40-year-old from Willaston, said: “I am delighted to have joined the Crewe Volkswagen team and have instantly been made to feel welcome.

“I have always enjoyed working with the Volkswagen brand, the reliability, quality and unbelievable value is second to none. I just wouldn’t be happy working with a product I did not feel passionate about.

“This is a very exciting challenge and one that I’m looking forward to. My first task will be getting to know the staff and customers.”

Crewe Volkswagen’s brand manager, Ben Gilbert, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Darren and Simon to the team. They will both be great assets to Crewe Volkswagen.”

Monday 6 February 2012

HiQ support Government decision to maintain MOT testing frequency

Leading national garage chain, HiQ, is championing the Government’s decision to maintain the frequency of MOT testing after warning it would have ‘hit the pockets of motorists harder than ever.’

The decision to make a U-turn on the proposal to change testing from 3-1-1 to 4-2-2 came from Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who stated that the Government would instead work with the industry to focus on reliability and standards of garages.

For HiQ, this is welcome news as the brand continues to position itself as a category leader in self-regulation and transparency.

HiQ’s fast fit manager, Stuart Carr, said: “The decision to maintain MOT testing frequency is a positive one not only for us as a garage franchise, but for motorists in general.

“If the decision had gone ahead, we raised huge concerns on the grounds of safety and the negative cost implications it would have had on motorists driving around with defects for longer.”

The garage industry will now be under the spotlight to deliver a satisfactory service to motorists and each will have to publish MOT performance data to help improve standards.

“We are committed to raising standards across the network and have already invested in customer feedback initiatives such as customer surveys and mystery shopping exercises.” Stuart continues.

“We self-regulate and train our technicians through the Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA) programme whereby individuals commit to operate through an ethical code of conduct. This is done through our HiQ training Academy.

“We also invest in an online recommendation tool so visitors to the website can rate their HiQ experience and give honest feedback for everyone to see.

“These are just some of the tools we have in place to ensure honesty and transparency across the entire network and though we welcome the decision to keep MOT testing the same, we never complete any unnecessary work.”

Monday 30 January 2012

Legal firm shows support for food bank this winter

Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons has shown its support for a local food bank by donating eight large boxes of essential supplies.

The team, led by head of employment, Tim Jones, put together the boxes for Black Country Foodbank which helps vulnerable individuals and families in crisis through the provision of three days of emergency food supplies while a longer-term solution is developed.

Each Higgs’ box contained tinned food, cereals and other essentials, providing enough food for 120 meals. The Foodbank helps around 6,500 people each year, providing 65,000 meals. The demand for its services is rapidly rising with an increase of 47 per cent last year alone.

Speaking of the contribution, Foodbank co-ordinator Wendy Fryatt said: “At Foodbank we're so pleased that local companies like Higgs & Sons aspire to contribute to their local community in this very practical way. The food which Higgs’ staff have donated will make a difference to those families and individuals referred to us over the coming weeks."

Tim Jones said of the donation: “We had a most moving and humbling tour of the Black Country Foodbank when taking our contribution. In addition to the food they are involved in all sorts of other projects including Christmas presents for needy children.

To find out more about Higgs and its activities in the community visit or call 0845 111 5050 and speak to Tim Jones.

Monday 16 January 2012

Sinclair van specialists scoop national trophy

A team of specialists from a Swansea business is celebrating after winning a coveted national title.

Team Sinclair, from the Sinclair Van Centre on Gorseinon Road Swansea , has been crowned the most knowledgeable aftersales’ experts by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK.

The four-strong Sinclair Van centre team emerged victorious after beating over 60 other aftersales teams from across the UK Volkswagen network.

The battle of expertise quiz focused on all aspects of Volkswagen aftersales practices to assess the knowledge of the commercial vehicle network in the national final at Volkswagen’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes.

Kevin Jones, team member and master technician at Sinclair stated: “It was certainly a fun way to review the technicial knowledge that is essential to ensure we keep our customers vehicles correctly maintained.

Huw Jones, parts advisor, commented: “The Sinclair Group prides itself on providing a consistent level of service and this is only possible with regular training. They say knowledge is power and this is certainly true for us.

David Jones, after sales manager, said: “We were delighted to receive the ‘Who Knows Wins Aftersales’ trophy and intend to vigorously defend our title next year.”

The Sinclair team was made up of David Jones, Kevin Jones and Huw Jones from Sinclair Van Centre Swansea and Andrew Molyneux, Volkswagen area aftersales manager for the region.

Friday 13 January 2012

Volkswagen team pedal to Paris for cancer charity

A ladies night at a Bury St Edmunds car retailer helped raise over £1,000 for a cancer charity.

Over 125 ladies attended the event at Northgate Volkswagen as it was transformed into a venue to raise money for Macmillian Cancer Research.

The Ladies Pampering and Shopping Night was organised to help showcase the fundraising efforts of a team from Northgate Volkswagen who are taking part in the London to Paris cycle ride in July in aid of the charity.

Cars were moved aside as the showroom was converted into a pampering arena of beauty treatments, colour analysis sessions plus stalls of homemade crafts, gifts and jewellery.

Shaun Barlow, Joe Parmenter and Terry Scott from Bury St Edmunds hailed the event as a huge success as Volkswagen business manager, Shaun, explained.

He said: “We were overwhelmed with the response and the money raised.

“We are very grateful to our colleagues who helped sell tickets for the evening and kindly baked cakes as refreshments for our guests.

“We were delighted that so many local shops and suppliers supported the event, with over 22 different stalls and services there was plenty to keep everyone entertained.”

The £1,000 raised on the night was generated through tickets sales and a raffle supported by stall holders and Northgate Volkswagen.

Shaun, added: “The three of us all cycle but the 408km ride in July, which we have to complete in four days, is certainly a tough challenge for us.

“The money raised has certainly kick started our fundraising efforts as we have a target of £4,650. We are so pleased our employer was willing to let us take over the showroom for the night.

“There is a lot of organisation to events like this and a special thanks must go our work colleague, Amelia, who helped coordinate the stall holders.”

Robert Rolfe, brand manager at Northgate Volkswagen, added: “The spacious showroom provides plenty of space for this sort of event so we were more than happy to support our staff on their impressive charity challenge.”

To support Shaun, Joe and Terry donations can be made by visiting

Thursday 12 January 2012

Kirkcaldy teenager given exclusive apprenticeship

A young car enthusiast from Kirkcaldy has embarked on a three-year training course with the aim of becoming the best in the business.

Michael Given (18), from Burnt Island, has been accepted by Volkswagen retailer, Specialist Cars in Kirkcaldy to be the latest recruit on the company’s technician apprenticeship scheme.
Over the next three years Specialist Cars will invest nearly £40,000 to train Michael through to technician status.

Michael originally approached Specialist Cars for a role at its customer services centre. The team felt his knowledge, skills and passion were more suited to the apprentice programme and offered him the role.

Speaking of his new role Michael said: “I have always been technically minded and fascinated by the way things work so I am really looking forward to working on Volkswagen vehicles.

“I decided to turn down a university place to study astrophysics so I am over the moon to have secured the apprenticeship with Specialist Cars. My aim is to go as far as I can in my career.

“This is a great opportunity for me and I want to show everyone how much this apprenticeship means to me.”

Specialist Cars’ brand manager, Paul Lanni, said: “Michael’s passion and technical know-how was one of the main reasons why we choose him for the apprenticeship programme.

“We are confident he will come through the three years with flying colours.”