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Half of adults want more effort from partners on Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day has been dubbed a waste of money with novelty mugs and cheap underwear amongst the worst presents.

More than half of the 2,015 adults polled, said their partner should make more effort, rather than splurge on presents they don’t even want.

Respondents reported the rubbish gifts they had received included ‘wrong’ perfume, socks, candles and even, a car mat.

But while most said the day of lovers is a waste of time, one in three said they’d be gutted if their better half did nothing to celebrate.

Travel together

The research by Railcard.co.uk, found that one in five said a trip away would be the best romantic gesture with the Lake District top destination in the UK.

Relationship expert and coach, Sarah Louise Ryan, said: “Couples who travel together often end up more fulfilled and happier in their relationship.

“There are many reasons for this; inclusive of the fact it encourages communication and can deepen feelings of commitment as they plan their trips ahead of time, looking towards the future.

“Travel allows more opportunities for romance and time outside of the day-to-day routine, meaning romantic sparks can be reignited.

“Where flowers and chocolates can play a part, this Valentine’s Day I’d encourage all couples to carve out some time to book and experience a romantic getaway, whether for a day trip or a long weekend.”

The study also found 36% had considered a trip together as a way to rekindle a floundering relationship.

JPS secures £1m contract with Housing Solutions

Jewson Partnership Solutions (JPS) has secured a new three-year contract worth £1m with Housing Solutions, a leading provider of affordable homes in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. 

Delivering on the supply and storage of the building materials required to develop and maintain Housing Solutions’ portfolio, JPS will be supporting residents in properties ranging from one-bedroom apartments through to three-bedroom family homes across the seven local authorities in and around the Maidenhead area.  

Offering a managed service solution, JPS has developed a dedicated centre for Housing Solutions’ operatives within its Jewson branch in Maidenhead.

Scott Cooper, managing director of JPS, said: “We’re very proud of our new partnership with Housing Solutions, which we know is going to have a significant impact on a community that need it. 

“Housing Solutions are focusing relentlessly on delivering high-quality housing and maintenance services. The service we’re providing will help support their commitment to provide housing stock of the highest possible quality. We look forward to working closely with Housing Solutions, supporting them in creating communities where residents are proud to live.” 

Steven Brookfield, director of property and development at Housing Solutions, said: “One of our key priorities is to keep our residents’ homes in good condition and resolve any issues that arise quickly.  Our new partnership with Jewson means that we can continue to deliver rapid, high-quality repairs, ensuring that residents live in a safe, comfortable, and secure environment.”

The Met launches Christmas Tree Appeal

The Met Police has launched its annual Christmas Tree Appeal to ensure thousands of children in London don’t go without a gift on December 25.

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley was joined by 11-year-old Alicja Mglej to switch on the lights of the Christmas Tree outside New Scotland Yard, to officially kick off the campaign.

Alicja was the chosen winner of a competition to design the poster for this year’s campaign, from hundreds of entries by pupils across London primary schools.

In 2022, the appeal bought presents for more than 16,000 children in London.

Since the launch of the campaign in 2011, generous donations from members of the public has meant that more than 150,000 children woke up to a gift under their tree. 

Those who want to help to ensure disadvantaged children in London wake up to a Christmas present this year, can visit the online shop to make a purchase. If you prefer, you can also make a donation of cash here.

New CEO appointed at CILT (UK)

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK – CILT(UK) is delighted to announce the appointment of Paul Adams as its new chief executive officer.

With more than 20 years of global experience in senior leadership roles, Paul joins CILT(UK) from the Institute of Directors (IoD) where he held the role of national director / chief operating officer for two years.

Prior to this, Paul (pictured) held various CEO roles within the charity sector, including CEO of the Civil Mediation Council from 2018 to 2021 and CEO of the Clive Richards Foundation. He also served for 17 years in the military, including front line service in several conflict zones.

Keeping the country moving

He said: “I am delighted to be joining CILT(UK) as its new chief executive. The profile and significance of logistics, transport and supply chain as a sector has been made ever more prominent since its important role in keeping the country moving during the pandemic and I look forward to building on this momentum in my role as CEO.

“I am excited to have the opportunity to represent such a vital area of the UK economy and look forward to connecting with members and the profession during my tenure.”

Vikram Singla FCILT, chair of the board at CILT(UK) said“After a comprehensive and thorough search for a suitable CEO, the Board has found a strong and passionate leader in Paul. His extensive experience in membership organisations, charities and education will help guide the Institute through an important period of growth as we move into the next phase of our journey into becoming the Institute of choice for all those working in the many facets of logistics, transport and the supply chain.

“I also thank Andrew Weatherill, director of finance and company secretary at CILT(UK) for leading the organisation over the past few months as Interim CEO.”

Paul will start his new role on Friday, and will be based at CILT(UK)’s head office in Corby, Northamptonshire.

He has led both small and large teams in the not-for-profit, membership, training and commercial sector. Paul has a BSC Hons from Reading University, a PGCE from the University of Cardiff and MBA from University of York.

New Study Links Childhood Pets to Adult Career Success, According to Jollyes

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Jollyes has conducted a groundbreaking survey that highlights the impact of having a childhood pet on an individual’s career success in adulthood.

This study reveals that nearly 80% of the UK’s top earners attribute their professional achievements to the influence of their childhood pets. The survey by Jollyes uncovered several critical findings:

  • A notable 86% of top earners in the UK feel that their childhood pet was instrumental in developing a deeper appreciation for life.
  • Approximately 78% of the UK’s most successful individuals agree that their childhood pet helped them develop career-aiding traits such as adaptability.
  • Over 75% of Senior Managers and 70% of Directors believe their ability to engage in conversation is partly due to having a pet during their childhood.
  • 73% of top earners concurred that pets in childhood strengthened their family bonds.
  • 84% of senior professionals and 75% of Directors reported that experiences with childhood pets taught them resilience, helping them overcome career setbacks and challenges.
  • 68% of high earners in the UK acknowledge that their childhood pet had a direct positive impact on their work approach.

The results of this study offer a fresh understanding of how pets in childhood can contribute to future success, reinforcing the idea that ‘Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas.’

A Knight, Adultery, Double Murder, and Devil’s Boiling – The Birth of Cognac

The creation of Cognac, a globally cherished spirit, is steeped in a tale involving a French knight, a devilish encounter, and a crime of passion.

According to legend, the Chevalier de la Croix Maron, also known as the Lord of Segonzac and Knight of the Maron Cross, returned from war only to find his wife with another man. In a fit of rage, he committed a double murder. Haunted by nightmares where the devil boiled him twice to extract his soul, the knight believed these visions were punishment for his sins.

Seeking to escape his tormented dreams, he turned to brandewijn, a Dutch spirit. But not even this could alleviate his nightly sufferings. One night, staring into his glass, a revelation struck him: perhaps, like his soul, the brandewijn needed a second ‘roasting’. Following this epiphany, he instructed his servants to distill the liquor again, resulting in a revolutionary, smoother, and sweeter drink: cognac.

While the actual evolution of cognac is thought to involve the French refining the art of double distillation, the tale of the Lord of Segonzac adds a mythical layer to its history, captivating the imagination of many over the centuries.

In a tribute to this extraordinary story, Mark Littler Ltd has unveiled a rare 29-year-old Grande Champagne Cognac, available in a limited edition of 247 bottles, each priced at £150. Acclaimed critic Angus MacRaild of Whisky Fun lauded the cognac as “excellent and very enjoyable!”, highlighting its “distinctly chocolatey” nature and a “rustic and autumnal” profile.

Grande Champagne, at the core of the Cognac region, is celebrated for its chalky soil, conducive to growing grapes for top-tier cognac production. This region is behind some of the world’s most exclusive cognacs, including Remy Martin Louis XIII. The 29-year-old Grande Champagne Cognac by Mark Littler Ltd, reflecting this esteemed tradition, is now available for enthusiasts.

For details about this exceptional cognac or to secure a bottle, click here.

Natural Baby Shower grows sales by 75% to £28 million as more parents seek eco-friendly nursery goods

Clifton Vaughan and his partner Victoria Hampson at the opening of their Natural Baby Shower shop in Bagshot, Surrey 

Natural Baby Shower has grown sales by 75% to £28 million as more parents seek eco-friendly nursery goods.

Business is booming for the Surrey-based family firm founded by Clifton Vaughan and his partner Victoria Hampson who have three children together.

The couple set up Natural Baby Shower 18 years ago because they could not source the sustainable natural baby products they wanted for their children in the UK.

Staff numbers have more than doubled from 35 to 75 at their Bracknell headquarters to cope with the sales rush.

Turn-over has shot up from £16 million in 2020 to £28 million last year and it is expected to exceed £30 million this year.

Vaughan said: “We got the idea for the business after we had our first child Dylan and could not find the natural, sustainable baby products in the UK which were readily available in New Zealand where we had been living before when Dylan was born.

“We wanted  to house the very best products for parents, babies and the planet all under one roof.

“We have grown from just the two of us at the kitchen table at home to a team of over 75 employees and have just moved into a new warehouse in Bracknell that is big enough for us to triple our sales and still not move.

“We carefully choose the very best products from more than 130+ brands and pride ourselves on the very best customer service.

“We understand that running a business can have an impact on the natural environment so we ship in as few deliveries as possible, only use sustainable materials and source products with lifespans that go the distance.”

As well as their successful website which generates 95% of their sales, the couple also run a babycare shop in Bagshot.

They live in Ottershaw, Surrey, with children Dylan, 19, who has just started university, Marley, 17, and Lola 12.

They strive to create work patterns that are as family-friendly as possible for the majority of their staff, with most employees working three days in the office and two days from home.

Customer service is open to 8pm each night because they found they got a glut of calls between 6.30pm and 8pm after the baby has gone to bed. 

A key part of their success has been bringing in software automation for their ordering and stock control from specialists Brightpearl and Inventory Planner.

Vaughan explained: “We have a pick-and-pack warehouse which uses Brightpearl software to handle all our orders. It is so efficient that we can deliver most items the next day if they are ordered by up to 4pm.

“I am really pleased with our warehouse and distribution – it is top notch and we have lots of capability.

“I have been with Brightpearl for ten years and it is right in the middle of my tech stack giving me accurate figures on my orders, financials and stock. 

“We then push all that data into the Inventory Planner software so that we can generate accurate information on the stock we require in future.

“It means our whole sales process is automated through these two key pieces of software.

“Prior to this kind of automation we would be selling products which we hadn’t yet ordered, so customers were waiting longer than we would have liked for their orders.

“Our purchasing team works really closely with Inventory Planner and it is crucial to running an efficient and accurate stock forecasting operation.

“That is where you can quickly come stuck as a business – by over ordering and not having close control on stock. 

“We feel we have our fingers on the pulse on our inventory that improved forecasting has really added to our efficiency.”

Running a business and bringing up three children has been a struggle at times.

Vaughan said: “Our journey into parenthood not only led us to discover some of the best products, but also having our kids at home kept our energy levels high!”

Combining Technology and Tradition: Muslim Marriage Services’ Unique Approach to Matrimony

In London, Hajji Laird Mostafa has launched Muslim Marriage Services (MMS), a platform addressing the modern challenges of Muslim matrimony with a blend of technology and traditional values. Utilising secure Digital ID technology, MMS aims to facilitate trustworthy matrimonial connections for Muslims globally.

Highlighting the platform’s mission, Hajji Mostafa said, “Worldwide, there are two billion Muslims, and around 300-400 million are single and keen to marry. We want to make it easier for them.” This statement underscores the need for innovative solutions in the face of rising divorce rates and online fraud within the Muslim community.

Some challenges are universal, such as online fraud. That and a 42% divorce rate for Muslims in the UK and 31% amongst North American Muslim communities contribute to added shame and stigma for many individuals involved – and often their families. Finding another partner after a failed marriage can also be contentious.

MMS focuses on students and young professionals, offering a secure online community unique in its use of Extended Validation Site Security Certification. “We are here to help Muslims find love built on trust and digital security. That’s why MMS is the only matrimonial service on the planet to use Extended Validation Site Security Certification,” explained Hajji Mostafa.

The platform handles necessary background checks and integrates traditional elements like chaperones and guardians, maintaining cultural integrity. MMS currently operates in the UK, North America, Europe, and the Middle East, with 50% of profits aiding underprivileged communities.

Looking ahead, MMS plans to organise live events for potential couples and has formed a partnership with Insightology (UK) to provide emotional support to its premium members, further enhancing its comprehensive matrimonial service.

VirtualSignature-ID Unveils Innovative Qualified eWitnessing Solution Supported by GBG

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  • Pioneering the market with its revolutionary eSignature-ID solution, VirtualSignature-ID is introducing a re-verifiable method for electronic document signing and automatic eWitnessing.
  • Offering unmatched identity and eSignature verification, the solution sets new standards in accuracy and reliability.
  • In line with HMLR guidelines, this advancement eliminates the necessity of a physical witness during electronic document signing.
  • As a Government-approved ID Service Provider (IDSP) and backed by a Qualified Trust Provider (QTSP), VirtualSignature-ID now acts as the digital witness for document signing.
  • GBG, a global leader in digital identity expertise, supports this breakthrough.
  • The solution is currently available, with a special launch promotion at this month’s LegalEx London.

VirtualSignature-ID, a frontrunner in regulatory technology for eSignature and ID verification, assists professional services, financial institutions, and various commercial organisations in maintaining compliance and minimising risk. Its innovative Qualified Electronic Signature solution, featuring reusable and re-verifiable ID, automated eWitnessing, and document certification technology, debuts at LegalEx 2023.

The Government’s initiative to curb fraud through digital KYC and AML checks has led VirtualSignature-ID to develop a sophisticated document signing platform and mobile app. This technology integrates seamlessly into existing case or document management systems and enhances workflow processes.

Recognised by HMLR, Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) are considered the gold standard in e-signatures, offering conveyancers a “Safe Harbour”. The QES application process strictly verifies signatories’ identities, including NFC technology for ePassport verification. VirtualSignature-ID’s app complements this process, enabling 3D video selfies and ID document scanning. The multiple layers of technology employed by VirtualSignature-ID, including geo-location and anti-tamper features, ensure a high level of accuracy and fraud detection, making it a reliable virtual witness.

David Kern, CEO of VirtualSignature-ID, commented on their Gateway partnership with HMLR: “we have been in dialogue with HMLR registrars and are delighted to have received confirmation that “a solicitor does not need to be separately registered with HMLR to deal with transactions which meet HMLR’s Digital Identity Standard”, indicating a move beyond the pilot scheme.

In its search for top-notch identity verification and fraud prevention software, VirtualSignature-ID partnered with GBG. CEO David Kern remarked, “We have been working with GBG for some time. They have over 30 years of experience in location intelligence, identity verification and fraud prevention and are widely recognised and respected in their field.”

Boris Huard, Managing Director, Identity and Fraud at GBG, shared, “At GBG, it’s our mission to build trust in a digital world and our partnership with VirtualSignature-ID, is another example of how, together, we are helping everyone to transact online with confidence.”

VirtualSignature-ID, listed on the Gov.UK as an approved Identity Service Provider and supported by Quality Trust Service Provider Globalsign, is showcasing its eWitnessing solution at LegalEx London, stand 351, on 29th and 30th November.

For more details about VirtualSignature-ID’s eWitnessing and other solutions, visit www.virtualsignature.com.

Swype® Shines in Yorkshire with 40% Growth Amid Market Challenges

Swype®, a top-tier design and marketing agency in Yorkshire, has defied industry challenges by achieving a remarkable 40% growth over 18 months. This period has witnessed a surge in their turnover, an expansion in their customer base, growth in team size, and a move to a new high-profile office in Leeds, while maintaining their presence in Sheffield.

The firm has been lauded with several awards, including the Clutch Global 1000 B2B Leaders, DNA Paris Design Awards 2023, the Global Web Excellence Awards 2023, and being recognised as Yorkshire Prestige’s Branding Agency of the Year 2023/24. They have also been ranked in the Clutch Top 100 for SEO and Creative Agencies in the UK.

Founder and Head of Digital, Wesley Ashton Holmes, said: “It’s been a challenging period for us but ultimately generating growth, enhancing our reputation and delivering an unbeatable service is what Swype® stands for.” The agency’s broad service offerings and their method of delivery are key attractions for companies seeking Wesley and his team’s expertise.

Swype® stands out with its team of creatives and digital marketing professionals specialising in Branding, Websites, and Digital Marketing. Their integrated approach ensures that projects are aligned with clients’ objectives, avoiding the disjointed results often seen with competitors.

Managed directly by Wesley, client interactions are tailored and collaborative, allowing for customer involvement in shaping strategies and outcomes.

The agency prioritises results, focusing on the impact of their work on clients’ businesses. This includes impressive returns from marketing campaigns and Google Ads.

Always evolving, Swype® ensures that strategies remain dynamic and responsive to clients’ changing aspirations and market conditions. Their diverse client portfolio across various sectors reflects the agency’s growing acclaim.

Wesley attributes this success to hard work and a unique, customer-focused approach. Swype® excels in specific areas, including Branding, Websites, SEO, and Paid Marketing, rather than offering a broad but less specialised range.

Founded by Wesley Ashton Holmes at just 25 years old, Swype® has grown both in creativity and commercial success. Wesley’s qualifications from Sheffield Hallam University and the Digital Marketing Institute have contributed to this success.

The diverse talents and customer-centric philosophy of the team have been instrumental in taking Swype® to greater heights. With a strong business pipeline and initiatives like the £1500 grant for start-ups, the future is promising. Plans for a new London office and a US expansion to support their growing international client base, including a UK teeth whitening brand planning a US venture in 2024, are in the pipeline. To apply, contact the team on their website or email directly.

EHR Systems’ High Expectations Hindered by Lack of IT Support

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Despite the substantial investments in Electronic Health Records (EHR) technology by healthcare providers, the growing global adoption rate of 13.53% per annum alone isn’t sufficient to tackle the critical challenges of staff shortages, patient care, or clinician burnout. The implementation of EHRs, which was intended to streamline healthcare services, is ironically becoming a source of burnout for many clinicians.

Moreover, with the evolving needs of patients and the expansion of healthcare organisations, a significant 70% of users believe their current EHR systems will fall short in meeting future requirements. This situation underscores the urgent need for robust IT support to ensure the effective functioning of EHR systems.

The IT skills gap poses a significant challenge, with 37% of organisations experiencing project delays or cancellations due to a lack of IT expertise. Further complicating the issue, 86% of organisations find recruiting and retaining IT/tech talent exceedingly difficult.

Addressing this critical need, MediConfig, a new EHR consultancy, has been launched to assist both UK and US healthcare organisations and their IT teams. Offering services on a retained or project basis, MediConfig’s consultants, with 17 years of expertise in Cerner Millennium, provide comprehensive support including onboarding, training, troubleshooting, maintenance, and advanced configurations.

Etienne Boshoff, Managing Director of MediConfig, emphasises the importance of effective EHR implementation, stating, “Getting EHR implementation right is key to making big changes in healthcare. And to make sure these systems work well, fit your specific needs, and continue to evolve as your organisation does, you need strong IT support in place. Without it, the problems you’re trying to solve – such as burnout, staff shortages, and disjointed patient care – will only be exacerbated.”

Research from a JMIR Medical study reinforces this viewpoint, highlighting that the return on investment from EHR systems is maximised only when paired with significant IT support.

MediConfig, in celebration of its launch, is offering complimentary introductory meetings to address Cerner EHR issues.

For further details about MediConfig, please visit https://mediconfig.com.