The Lloyds Bank 2019 Big Quiz Evening in aid of Mental Health UK at Hereford Cathedral School

Pit-your-wits against some of the finest minds in the county…and a few from over the border, too! Our (extra!)ordinary quiz masters, Richard and Ian, will keep us on our toes with a variety of entertaining subject rounds so dust off the grey matter, brush up on your musical memories and keep your eyes on topical new items in the days leading up to the quiz!

2019’s Big Quiz Evening supports Lloyds Bank’s Charity of the Year – Mental Health UK and locally we’re aiming to raise £25K for this great cause. You can read more here.

Date: Thursday, 12th September

Time: 6.30 – 10.45 pm

Venue: Zimmerman Main Hall, Church Street, Hereford, HR1 2NG


6.30 pm for a 7 pm start.
Get your team of 4 masterminds together – £60 per table.

Bring your own picnic supper and enjoy a night-out with the food you enjoy!

Cash bar, raffle, silent auction and winning prizes!

If you’ve been before, you know you enjoyed it! If you’ve never come along,where have you been – we’ve missed you!Tables will book quickly – get in early!

To enter a team, send your £60 donation via the Just Giving link below, then email your team name to and put The Lloyds Bank 2019 Hereford Big Quiz Evening in your email.


Marks Mental Health Marathon | Lloyds Bank


Marks Mental Health Marathon | Hereford Cathedral School support mental Health seminar


Lloyds Bank Mental Health Awareness seminars

Meet Tom Blencowe and Imogen Heath of RLUK

“Diversify or die” is the business mantra of Tom Blencowe, CEO of RLUK group. He believes in today’s fast-moving world of retail, being quick off the block with new ideas and having a flexible approach is the key to long term success. Labels Shopping is certainly in a challenging marketplace, with the toll of failures in big name, big brand high street retailers happening at almost frightening speed. “It’s become almost impossible to predict future retail trends,” says Tom, “which is proving difficult even for even the bigger retailers to do; we’ve always focused on moving forwards rather than staying still, reacting quickly and flexibly to changing market and local conditions”.

I met up with Tom and Imogen Heath, Commercial Director, in their impressive Labels shopping outlet at Ross on Wye. The business has changed over the years, outgrowing the original country store, developing new business models and adding new attractions to make Labels Shopping a better experience. The shopping centre has a enticing mix of outlets – over 50 brands of clothing, plus accessories,shoes, luggage, home furnishings, furniture and giftware.

It’s also a real foodies’s paradise, with a tempting array of brands and lots of local produce in the Food Emporium, Farm shop and local butcher. Fruit, vegetables and free-range eggs for the shop comes from their own local farm, as well as meat from the small numbers of sheep, Tamworth and Welsh pigs. Eating out options onsite include the café, with lovely views of the Herefordshire countryside and the Seafood bar.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Inside the Gateway cinema at Labels

The latest addition is the Gateway – a 50-seater cinema with comfy Anemone red leather sofas, where you can watch a movie, a streamlined live opera, pop concert or ballet or enjoy live theatre. You can tuck into a meal before a matinee or evening performance or just relax in the bar beforehand. The business plans on having more comedy nights and foreign films into the future, building up new audiences. Much of the upper ground floor of the building is being developed to be an entertainment and leisure space and there are exciting plans in the pipeline to add more health and wellness options – a hair and beauty salon, a health foods store plus physio and therapy space.

Tom has seen many changes to the site over the years, from the original purchase of the site and developing a purpose-built building to developing the office block. Originally the offices were going to be run as a hot desking/flexible working option, but a couple of organisations snapped up the site for new offices, so the plan was changed, and this now provides the group with rental income. It’s this ability of the management team to adapt and offer something new and exciting at the park that has underpinned their success.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | The Gateway cinema bar at Labels

Imogen explained how the shopping business had changed in the 5 years she’s been working there. “We moved from a concession model to a tenant basis in 2015 on the lower ground floor, which gives a more stable income and have retained some space for our own brands, as with, for example, the Food Emporium.” The cinema has a superb state of the art sound system and Tom designed the space.  “The popularity of the opera and ballet performances are due to the quality of the sound” she says “and the events sell out really fast, so you have to be quick to get tickets”.  She’s also a believer is surrounding herself with a strong team and the group employ an expert from the film industry to plan the diverse events calendar. The July and August programme includes magic, puppet theatre, vintage cars, craft workshops, or you could try the story time and illustration workshop with children’s’ author Hannah Shaw.

Tom and Mark Smith go back many years and they have developed a strong partnership based on mutual respect. “I really enjoy working with Mark” says Tom, “as we can have a chat about life as well as talk business”. We’re pleased to be supporting Mark in raising money for Mental Health, which Tom knows from experience of working as an architect in hospitals, has been a poor relation to physical illness in the health service for years. On 2nd October Labels are generously hosting a Mental Health– Practical Help For You & Your Business seminar in the cinema. The business is also involved in fundraising for a local charity as Teenagers In Crisis are their chosen charity of for 2019. On 9th October, they will be hosting two fashion shows, with some of the teenagers who have used the helpline becoming their models for the day.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave Labels without indulging in a little retail therapy involving clothes and puddings and I’m sure every visitor will feel the same about this treasure trove on our doorsteps!

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Labels


Meet Rob Bartup of GB Liners

Keeping the family business on the road through the peaks and troughs of economic cycles isn’t easy, but MD Rob Bartup takes everything in his stride and has resilience written all over him.

The business was started as Bartups of Brighton by his grandfather in 1923. His father came into the business after being in the RAF and having ended up in a PoW camp in the Middle East in 1944. Coming home aged just 26, he was dispatched to manage the ‘Hereford office’, which then had just one van. He remained working at GB Liners until he passed away in 1995. Rob has always worked in the business, although he was tempted by a several job offers in accountancy after finishing University and has one regret – that he might have preferred taking up the law as a profession

.Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 3

Rob took over the Hereford office in 1975, when the team had grown to about 15 and there were half a dozen removal vans in two locations – Hereford and Brighton. Today their dedicated staff operate a fleet of 90 vehicles from 11 UK offices. The network has grown by acquisition of smaller businesses – not always at opportune moments – and frequently when tough competition had drawn smaller competitors into serious cashflow difficulties. The sites at Bristol and Cheltenham were the first to be taken over when the owners went bust, their Hereford site merged into GB Liners Hereford.  Leeds was another smaller, 2 van business which was acquired next; then came Manchester, ‘a difficult’ start up’ according to Rob. A warehouse storage site in Cirencester was later bought and a branch established. Loughborough and Edinburgh followed, then a business in St Helens which was merged into the Manchester office. Aberdeen was bought at the height of the North Sea oil and gas boon, only to present problems in 2007/08 as the oil price crashed. The last acquisition was of a sales office in Paris, to help manage growing demand for intercontinental business. Rob denies there is an overall ‘grand plan’ however is currently on the lookout for strategically placed acquisitions in the Northeast, East or South.

Rob appreciates the role of Mark Smith at Lloyds Bank in these considerable number of property acquisitions. Some have had complex compliance requirements; others have gone through in a remarkably smooth and speedy manner. What’s been valuable is knowing at an early stage whether the interest shown by GB Liners would be likely to lead to a successful purchase, and a great deal of time, effort and energy hasn’t been expended on those unlikely to fly. Mark has given sage advice and has an ability to explain in simple language the intricacies of some of the things GB Liners have tried to do.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 1

The housing market and the removals business follows what Rob refers to as the ‘the economic cycle magnified many times over’. There are times when house sales are buoyant, and their existing staff and removal vans literally cannot cope with the high volume of consumer demand. At times of economic downturn, the opposite happens. “2008-09 was the worst” says Rob, “when nothing was happening”. He also recalls recessions in 1979 – 81, the introduction of the 3-day week and describes 1988-1992 as ‘extremely horrible.’ The business has always had to stash the cash at peak capacity and then watch it pour out in the downturns when the few business opportunities available get drawn into ‘silly price’ competition.

The challenge of new regulation changes and politics is never far away. The imminent introduction of Clean Air Zones around the country will have a severe impact. GB Liners managed the introduction of London’s’ Congestion zone by moving the vehicles around between offices, with newer models that complied with changing regulation on diesel engines used there. In the very near future, new zones could potentially be introduced in Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Birmingham and Leeds. Rob predicts that Manchester will introduce restrictions. This makes life difficult for a business that has a vehicle  lifecycle of 15 years, as they’ll either have to be replaced early (and the old ones cannot be sold off as their residual value will be lowered) or customers will have pay a surcharge of about £100 per day if it involves a congestion zone.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | GB Liners 2

Currently GB Liners has about one third of its business coming from moves across Europe, so Brexit could have a huge impact on the business. The scale of the challenge getting goods moved through the channel ports is huge, with the number of staff at customs agents reduced from a pre single market peak of 3,000 to around 150 people today in just five agencies. This could potentially mean each person having to process 12,000 consignments per day! Rob explained that even the planned ‘Simplified Transit Procedure’ wasn’t finalised yet and would require paperwork to be processed both before and after the movement of the removal vans. Without advance notice of what would be required it’s difficult for the business managers to put Brexit plans in place.

GB Liners have adapted to every change in the past and will, no doubt be equally successful in the future, whatever the economic and political climate. Over the years, the managers and teams have pulled together to share ideas and solutions and Rob is very proud of his staff who have stayed with the firm through thick and thin. GB Liners takes pride in their excellent service delivered by very dedicated people. “One thing I’ve learned, says Rob, “is that the cost of putting something right is unbearable, so we work very hard at making sure things are right first time. The reputation of the company for their high-quality service is our most important asset”.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsor GB Liners

Marks Mental Health marathon | GB Liners

Meet Mark Harrison of United Glass Group

Mark's Mental Health Marathon | Brownhills Glass Company

Mark Harrison had a background in manufacturing and then in corporate finance before starting to manage glass processing businesses. United Glass Group has grown out of small team of dedicated directors who spotted opportunities to buy and transform family businesses where the owner was ready to retire. The team are close with Mark’s Father involved. His brother introduced him to Mark Smith at Lloyds bank who were involved with financial support from the start. The first company acquired was Brownhills Glass Co, in 2012 as a management buyout team, followed by a part share in Tufwell Glass near Gatwick when this was divested by the parent company (a PLC orphan was how Mark described the company). In 2015, a further finance deal enabled the group to expand with the acquisition of PLG in the Northeast. In 2018 the latest refinance deal, with alternative finance company Duke Royalty enabled the group to acquire the remaining shares of Tufwell Glass to form the group as it is today.

Mark is a very modest capitalist, who doesn’t have a particular ‘grand plan’ for commercial acquisitions, however he has a good eye for spotting an opportunity when the time is right and is not afraid to be opportunistic. Going through some tough times with difficult market conditions has focused the new management teams on what matters to grow each company and realise commercial success. He is a big believer in transforming attitudes towards customers and proactively seeking new business rather than waiting for orders to arrive. Each business is committed to processing orders and confirming the supply date within a few hours. Integrating the businesses within their customers supply chains and trying to improve communication at all stages has been one of the keys to growth.

Much of this transformation has come from some good senior hires along with working hard to change the teams’ attitudes to be more customer orientated and focus on delivery. Some recruits have experience outside the glass industry as well as some from within it but all are prepared to knock on new doors and ask for an order rather than have a chat about the state of the local football team! As the group has grown, customers have also appreciated having more than one UK manufacturing site to call upon, which adds security and flexibility into their supply chain.

Having a larger market share has improved the commercial buying clout of the group and allowed specialisms to flourish. Tufwell Glass are market leading, through short lead-times, in the supply of partitioning glass for commercial applications. PLG is a market leader in over-size production capabilities providing bespoke glass for stunning structurally engineered pieces often in iconic construction projects. At Brownhills in the Black Country the business is split in half. 50% of the sales are made to measure, bespoke products for tradespeople, the other half comes from having large stocks of flat glass in standard stock sizes products, for example for double glazing businesses. As Mark explains “apart from printing and glass bending there is nothing we cannot do. We do everything else”.

The management team are unafraid to challenge traditional ways of working. “We are confident in taking a long, hard look at ourselves to see how we can make the most of our opportunities” says Mark. The way the group has grown has meant that, at times, we were very driven by decisions that would help manage the short term cashflow, and less focused on the longer term, strategic decisions. We have been fortunate to have good people around us. Mark Smith at Lloyds has been supportive at every stage and a non-exec board member has been invaluable in introducing us to contacts in the corporate finance arena.” The group is now successfully building a cash buffer and Mark has his expert eye on another related acquisition opportunity.

As the group success has grown, Mark describes how he takes satisfaction from being able to employ around 140 people “making stuff”. He believes there is always a fine balance to be struck between having group systems and processes that add efficiency and profitability but not losing sight of the unique character and flavour of the original businesses. Whilst they are building their reputation with larger customers who need products supplied across across the UK, many of their customers remain those who prefer to deal with someone they know, like and have trusted for many years. Black Country tradesman still phone up and ask for Rose or Linda at Brownhills, and many remember their fathers doing the same!

The competitive engineering streak is alive and well in this team. Mark describes how he joins his Father and his Brother in motorsport activates at the weekend, often racing around a circuit against other cars. As a child Mark’s hobby was Go Karting. Now his son, who loves Lego, is getting excited about a visit to Silverstone, his youngest, a daughter, seems also to be developing a no-fear personality. After buying Brownhills he says the family weekend conversations were mainly work related but they realised recently this has changed with work rarely being mentioned. Whatever their next project, the future looks bright!

Marks's Mental health Marathon | United Glass Group

RGS Worcester support Mental Health Seminar on Tuesday 16th July

The Royal Grammar School (RGS)  are hosting the Mental Health Seminar – Practical Help for You and Your Business –  in the Godfrey Brown Theatre on Tuesday 16th July from 8am until 11am. The seminar is a charity event, with funds raised going support Mental Health UK. Attendees are invited to make a suggested donation of £25 or more via this Just Giving site

About RGS

RGS  are a family of four schools: the Senior School,  our two Preparatory schools, The Grange and Springfield, and recently RGS Dodderhill has joined providing education for girls between the ages of 4 and 16 years.  All our schools take great pride in providing the very highest standard of pastoral care.  This is at the very core of what we offer because we recognise that, if we get this right, then our pupils will be happy and, if they enjoy school, then they will work hard and be successful here.

We appreciate the challenges of growing up in Britain today, including those who have a supportive family and school, and we work passionately to ensure that our young people have the skills to cope with this, enjoy their adolescence, and look forward to happy, fulfilling and productive adult lives.

Pastoral care at RGS

The schools have a strong reputation for pastoral care being one of our real strengths, and we have in place the expertise and capacity to deliver a programme of care that we believe is unique and unrivalled.  Providing care tailored to the needs of the individual is our core principle and has many layers enabling us to always respond appropriately.

Provision begins with each child enjoying age appropriate education through  Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education (PSHCE) lessons, tutorials and Assemblies. We host external speakers including our annual Pastoral Information Day, when guest speakers of international repute for their area of expertise deliver interactive sessions to pupils. In the evening, we invite our parents to lectures. Speakers have included the campaigner and journalist, Martin Daubney, the former Mental Health Champion for schools, writer and social critic, Natasha Devon and Teresa Hughes of the Centre for Child Protection based at the University of Kent.  The passion and expertise that such professionals share with our community cannot be underestimated and it is heartening when young people reference what they learn from them many years after their visit to the School.

So, we educate and raise awareness of current issues that we believe are a challenge for our young people to negotiate in their adolescent years.  However, alongside this we are also acutely aware that, as many young people negotiate adolescence, they struggle at this juncture in their lives and particularly when facing external challenges, for example, a parental separation or a family bereavement, which they feel are outside their control.  This can manifest in a number of ways and to different levels of intensity including low mood, loss of self-esteem and, in severe cases, feeling that they cannot go on.  We are extremely fortunate at the RGS Senior School to have numerous ways in which we can help our young people and their families deal with such situations.

Our extensive pastoral provision for our young people centres on the team around the child.  With a diverse and skilled team of staff, we aim to offer a holistic approach when working with our young people to help them cope with and resolve such issues. This team comprises not only a pupil’s Form Tutor and Head of Year but, in addition, a dedicated Head of Lower School and Sixth Form, and a Health Centre with fully qualified Nurses, one of whom is a Mental Health qualified nurse with extensive experience in the Health Service.  We also have a School Counsellor, who comes with a wealth of experience and expertise in the field of Child and Adolescent Mental Health and who utilises a number of different therapeutic approaches, again tailored to suit the individual.

Alongside the work that the School Counsellor does, we also have a Relaxation Specialist, who offers individualised and group sessions to develop in our young people the invaluable benefits for life that this practice can provide.  As one Year Nine boy recently said of our Relaxation Specialist, “He has the most calming voice and the techniques he has taught me enable me to really relax when everything is going at 90 miles an hour”.  Another commented, “This academic year has been an emotional roller coaster. I have been lucky enough to have been supported by the pastoral care, the relaxation offered and many conversations with my Form Teacher and Head of Year enabled me to overcome those difficult times”. A year Eleven boy said “The Relaxation techniques helped me to harness my concentration and fulfil my academic potential”.

RGS staff training

Keeping current with professional training is, of course, crucial, and in recent years we have benefitted from specialist bereavement training, suicide prevention and Mental Health First Aid practitioner training from  our School Counsellor and external providers.  We take great pride in spending time getting to know our pupils and this enables us to adapt our care specifically for the individual and their particular needs.  We are particularly excited by the Compassionate Focused Therapeutic Approach and have delivered training sessions to staff about this and are now working to utilise this with pupils, as we believe it will be pivotal in ensuring that many avoid life-impacting mental health issues and that it will provide them with skills for life, not only for their time with us.  We always want to work with our young people alongside their parents; where we need to, we will guide and work with parents, as we understand that many see that adolescence today is very different from their own experiences, and our parents really value the sense of community and professional support the Schools’ family offers.

 What RGS pupils and parents say

  • “There is always someone there to listen”.  Year Seven boy.
  • “Form time feels more like a family than a class and you can tell your Form Teacher almost anything”.   Year Ten girl.
  • “The ability to communicate with each member of the pastoral team, whenever we feel it necessary, is an indelible aspect of what makes the pastoral care at RGS so good. The students unequivocally feel that, if we have any issues concerning school life, the Sixth Form team will be more than willing to help us”.  Upper Sixth boy.
  • “The pastoral care within the Sixth Form is excellent on focusing on the individual needs of each student.  The Sixth Form team and Tutors take a genuine interest in the lives and well-being of the pupils and I have personally found that the School’s holistic approach to education is so beneficial”.  Lower Sixth boy.
  • “Dr Andrew is supportive and kind when your parents need to whinge”. Year Ten girl.
  • “Very understanding – you know they will respect your privacy”.  Year Eleven boy.
  • “Always caring and kind; I always feel I am in safe hands”.  Year Ten girl.
  •  “Thank you so much for picking up on this so quickly.  I have every confidence in the support network at school and know that, by working together, we can keep him moving forward”.  Year Eight parent.
  • “We are so grateful for you ensuring that his transition was as smooth as possible.  I also appreciate you taking the time to listen to our concerns and for dealing with them sensitively and swiftly.  Thank you for bring X’s smile back”.  Year Seven parent.
  • “Thank you so much for speaking to X today.  She was feeling so much happier and much more confident tonight. She told me all about your conversation.  Truly she is so very grateful at RGSW, with incredible support and guidance whenever she needs it”.  Year Nine parent.
  • “I will finish by telling you how wonderful you and all the staff are.  You all show such commitment and love towards her”.  Year Eleven parent.


About the Mental Health seminars

With everyone becoming more aware of mental health issues amongst our family, friends and colleagues, it’s important that we understand how to provide support.  In these seminars you’ll learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations and appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Our final speaker will talk about their practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.

To book your place on the Worcester seminar email and put Worcester 16th July seminar in the email.

Agenda for the morning

8.00-8.30  – Light refreshments.
8.30            – Opening remarks and introduction.
8.45             – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
9.30             – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
10.15            – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
11.00-11.30 – Close and light refreshments

Hereford Cathedral School support Mental Health Seminar on Tuesday, 16th July


Hereford Cathedral school are hosting the Mental Health Seminar – Practical Help for You and Your Business –  in their Powell Theatre on Tuesday 16th July from 2pm until 5pm. The seminar is a charity event, with funds raised going support Mental Health UK. Attendees are invited to make a suggested donation of £25 or more via this Just Giving site

.Marks Mental Health Marathon | hereford Cathedral School headmaster Paul Smith

“Hereford Cathedral School is pleased to support Mark’s Mental Health Marathon” says Headmaster Paul Smith. ” It is vital in today’s ever-busy world, that business leaders are well-equipped to support employees’ wellbeing and manage mental health issues in the workplace. As a school, we are committed to providing a healthy environment for both our staff and pupils, contributing to an improved quality of life. We recognise that our staff are our greatest asset and we are keen to support wellbeing initiatives. We look forward to welcoming local businesses to our Powell Theatre for the upcoming Mental Health Seminar on 16th July. ”

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Sponsor HCS sports day summer 2019

With everyone becoming more aware of mental health issues amongst our family, friends and colleagues, it’s important that we understand how to provide support.  In these seminars you’ll learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations and appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Our final speaker will talk about their practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.

To book your place on the Hereford seminar email and put Hereford 16th July seminar in the email.

Agenda for the afternoon

2.00-2.30 – Light refreshments.
2.30          – Opening remarks and introduction.
2.45           – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
3.30           – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
4.15            – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
5.00-5.30 – Close and light refreshments.

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Lloyds Bank


Meet Chris Hutchinson of Aardvark Marketing

Chris started Aardvark Marketing in the summer of 2005.  The company he worked for was acquired by Motorola and he had the choice between another employed job in marketing or an opportunity to try something different on his own.  Friends and neighbours said it was a brave decision, but it just seemed the right thing to Chris, although he did wonder if they could see something he couldn’t!


Through his previous employed roles, Chris had worked with many agencies and consultancies and liked the idea of the variety working with a portfolio of clients might provide.  “I’m OK with a bit of routine, but I like new challenges too”.  Chris believed there was an opportunity to help small and medium sized businesses approach marketing in a more strategic and structured manner, drawing on his experience working in large companies on some of the best-known brands in the UK and overseas.


Chris’ ethos can be summed up as ‘delight the client but be prepared to tell them what they don’t want to hear’.  His belief is that all marketing activity is optional, and it needs to justify itself as an investment decision.  Understanding their clients’ customers, planning carefully and measuring results is critical.  “Our role is to ensure our clients have the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their marketing. “


The biggest challenge at Aardvark is to persuade the businesses they could help to talk to them.  Too many businesses focus on trying new ideas or hoping for a ‘silver bullet’ instead of building a robust strategy, implementing marketing activity consistently, and measuring results.  Recommendation and referral are key to the company’s success and they devote a lot of time and energy to nurturing their network of introducers. Aardvark have adopted a strong project management approach with clients to improve efficiency and transparency. Today many of their clients have shared access to their project management system as well as getting regular monthly reports and marketing KPI’s.


As the business and the team has grown, there have been changes. Aardvark have shifted their product mix from mainly project work to over 90% retained clients, some of whom have worked with them for 10 years.  They introduced the Marketing MOT around 2010 and the Sales Generator in 2014.  In 2018 the newest service – Marketing Manager – was started specifically for businesses with more limited marketing budgets yet who need the professional and expert support Aardvark provide. The changing business has been noticed and Aardvark have been recognised with 8 awards for excellence and innovation in the last 5 years. These were awarded for a range of services from marketing automation, social media and content marketing to project management and outsourced marketing.


According to Chris, the secret to success is being easy to deal with yet prepared to roll your sleeves up and do whatever is required. Most important is to help clients get better results from their marketing and achieve their business goals.


Chris Hutchinson met Mark Smith of Lloyds at a networking event over 10 years ago and discovered a shared ambition. Chris recalls their meeting “I liked Mark’s approach to his clients, making the effort to really understand their business. He was either very interested in marketing or was too polite to tell me to shut up!” Mark has introduced Chris to several of his clients, and Chris interviewed some of Mark’s recent ‘wins’ to help him understand in depth how they felt about the decision to switch and the switching experience. Chris was delighted to be asked to support Mark with his Mental Health Marathon.


So, what will happen at Aardvark Marketing in the future? “In the current economic climate, predicting the future is a dangerous game!” says Chris. “As with any service business, we need to keep our sales pipeline moving, finding and converting potential new clients, but not at the expense of supporting our existing clients. As the world of marketing continues to change at an ever-increasing pace, so we need to continue to invest time in understanding the new opportunities and how they might help our clients.”

Marks's Mental health Marathon | Aardvark Marketing

Mental Health Seminars – Practical help for you and your business, Tuesday, 16th July

Marks Mental Health Marathon | Lloyds Bank


Mental Health Seminars – practical help for you and your business

With everyone becoming more aware of the prevalence of mental health issues amongst our family, friends and colleagues, it’s important that we all understand how to provide practical support for  people who are at risk of poor mental health or diagnosed with a mental health condition.

These are free events are for business owners, with a suggested donation of £25 or more to Mental Health UK, via this Just Giving site, to support Lloyds Bank’s national charity, Mental Health UK.

In these seminars you’ll learn more about how you can improve your ability to manage mental health issues in your business, understand your legal obligations and appreciate the implications of getting this important issue wrong. Our final speaker will talk about their practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.

We look forward to welcoming you to RGS Worcester in the morning or to Hereford Cathedral School in the afternoon.


Date: Tuesday, 16th July

Time: 8am to 11am

Venue: The Godfrey Brown Theatre, Royal Grammar School, Upper Tything,Worcester, Worcestershire. WR1 1HP

To book your place on the Worcester seminar email  and put Worcester 16th July seminar in the email.


8.00-8.30 – Light refreshments.
8.30             – Opening remarks and introduction.
8.45              – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
9.30              – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
10.15              – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
11.00-11.30  – Close and light refreshments.

Date: Tuesday, 16th July

Time: 2pm – 5pm

Venue: The Powell Theatre, Zimmerman Building,  Hereford Cathedral School, Church Street Hereford, HR1 2NG


2.00-2.30 – Light refreshments.
2.30          – Opening remarks and introduction.
2.45           – Mental Health UK – support for you and your business.
3.30           – Harrison Clark Rickerbys – legal obligations and implications.
4.15            – Bishop Fleming – Honest and practical experiences of a business leader in managing personal and employee wellbeing.
5.00-5.30 – Close and light refreshments.

To book your place on the Hereford seminar email  and put Hereford 16th July seminar in the email.


Lloyds Bank Mental Health Awareness seminars

Meet Martyn Rees of County Building Supplies

Martyn isn’t one for titles or formality. He’s the MD at County Building Supplies which has grown from a “two bloke, one van and a passion to get things done” start-up with his mate David Lloyd in 1987 to a highly successful business group of 6 companies serving 10 locations throughout the Midlands. Starting out as a building merchant the business now has specialist services for Kitchens & Bathrooms, Heating & Plumbing, Renewable Energy and, their latest business, an online car detailing supplier. Customers get free delivery if they are within 20 miles of any location (Cheltenham, Coventry, Droitwich, Evesham, Malvern, Monmouth, Nuneaton, Tetbury).

The secret to his success is, according to Martyn, running the happiest builders’ merchant in the world. He’s a firm believer that work should be fun as well as business, calls all his staff on first name terms and directs operations in an informal manner. Staff are all treated with the same respect whether they are the newest member or the longest serving area director. He’s not averse to playing the odd practical joke on fellow directors and identified with being the naughty boy at the back of the classroom in his youth. Today he still enjoys working and has absolutely no plans to retire. Fridays are his work from home days but he’s still very ‘hands on’, making good use of his tablet to stay in touch with email and calls. He won’t thank you for a formal introduction either, no MD title is required, he’s just introduced as “Martyn from Malvern” whenever he’s visiting one of their many sites.

Martyn has a knack for getting on with people and immediately makes you feel welcome when you meet him. He loves being a company rep on the road so much that he still goes out every Tuesday and Thursday meeting new customers and catching up with his ‘friends in business’. This week he’s exchanged garden plants with a customer during his visit. Martyn readily acknowledges that his world is price competitive and the business is a member of a larger buying group to ensure their prices are kept as competitive as possible. It’s not all about a direct cost comparison and County Building Supplies will make every effort to get a part out to a customer quickly because they understand that a contractor doesn’t want to be kept waiting several days. This means, unlike some of their competitors, his trade customer won’t have to pick up a hotel accommodation bill because the item isn’t available the exact day he needs it. In his immaculate showrooms, customers are welcomed, given specialist advice and help with their project, and shown the best products for them to achieve what they want whilst getting good value out of their budget.

What’s so impressive about County Building Supplies is staff loyalty. The average length of service in the business is an incredible 18 years! Because he’s created this happy and productive working environment, Martyn has never had a problem with either staff recruitment or retention. He’s proud that one member of staff who joined the business as a ‘Saturday boy’ remembers their progression from their first pay cheque to being promoted through the ranks up to Director level. Taking the initiative is encouraged, with the newest service, car detailing supplies, being run very successfully online by one of the newest and youngest on the team.

Within the industry Martyn is obviously well liked and respected, and he’s on the Board of Directors for his Commercial Buying group, as position he owes to the votes of his fellow members. Martyn admits this is useful for the business as he always has the ear of another MD or Sales Director whenever necessary. It’s his belief that he works in a friendly industry, he recalls a conversation with an economist attending one of the annual trade events and contrasting the friendly welcome with another trade body where hardly anyone spoke to him.

Martyn is very happy to sponsor Mark Smith with his Mental Health Marathon. Martyn’s comments about Mark are that he’s almost too nice to be a bank manager and is always available for a chat, even if this is in the evening. He says Mark always reacts promptly to what he wants, really understands what he wants and will sort it out, fighting his corner if necessary. Martyn continues to expand the business, which he has managed to do consistently through good economic times and recessions, so he appreciates having a good banker on his side. In the pipeline are plans for new sites in Hereford and in Tewkesbury, which I’m sure will be staffed by more of the friendliest people in the business!


Marks' Mental Health Marathon | County Building Supplies