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Birmingham’s iconic landmarks to be celebrated in The Big Sleuth

A Birmingham artist promises to celebrate the city’s most iconic landmarks when he produces his artwork for the Big Sleuth, the free public art event taking place this summer in aid of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Slobodan Topalovic, known as Bobby, will transform his Sun Bear sculpture into Brummie Bear, which will include a number of Birmingham’s architectural gems such as Selfridges Birmingham, the Rotunda and St Martin’s Church, for the charity event.

The Big Sleuth - the follow-up to the Big Hoot, which saw 85 colourful giant owls on display across Birmingham in 2015 - is a 10-week art trail presented by public art specialists Wild in Art in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Hospital. It is expected to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity.

32-year-old Bobby has been commissioned by luxury department store Selfridges Birmingham to create an eye-catching design.

The artist, who is undertaking a PhD at Coventry University in coach design and road safety and has a Master’s degree in transport design, has a keen interest in visual identity, architecture and design research. It’s why his design features road and rail networks, as well as landmark buildings in the city.

He said:“I got together with Selfridges because the design I submitted initially included an overview of different architectural themes of Birmingham city centre, and this included the Selfridges 'silver discs' that cover the façade of the store. Selfridges saw the design and felt that this fitted in with its brand.

“I was absolutely thrilled to have been chosen, especially because my Sun Bear will be a tribute to Birmingham’s architecture, celebrating the most visually arresting and instantly identifiable parts of Birmingham’s visual identity.”

The artist, who lives in south Birmingham and whose brother Milan will also be producing an artwork for the Big Sleuth, added: “I love the fact I have had the opportunity to paint some of my favourite buildings on the bear and that my favourite building, Selfridges, features so heavily on the design. I’m also really keen to help raise money for Birmingham Children's Hospital and this is a really fun way to do it. I made a point of really putting extra effort into the design as hopefully this will make people dig deeper into their pockets at the final auction and raise as much for the hospital as possible.”

Sam Watts, general manager at Selfridges Birmingham, said: “We’re really pleased to be supporting the Big Sleuth this year and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. We can hardly wait to see what Bobby produces because the preliminary drawings look amazing in their own right. We’re looking forward to unveiling it when the trail opens in July and playing our part in raising thousands of pounds for a brilliant cause.”

The Big Sleuth is a 10-week public art trail that launches on July 10 and will see up to 100 165cm tall sculptures of Sun Bears, the world’s smallest species of bear that is threatened with extinction, located across the city, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Sandwell and Resorts World.

Later this year, the sculptures will be auctioned off in aid of Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital. In 2015, sale of the owl sculptures raised more than £500,000.

PR By Clive Reeves PR

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Kendall and Kylie Jenner launch collection at Selfridges Birmingham

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Kendall and Kylie Jenner launch collection at Selfridges Birmingham

The world has watched them living their jet-set lifestyles on Keeping Up with The Kardashians, witnessed their modelling careers reach stratospheric heights and now we can emulate the Jenner sisters’ style as the Kendall + Kylie collection heads to Selfridges Birmingham.

While Birmingham is no match for the glamour of Calabasas, the trendsetting Jenner sisters’ collection means that women can still capture the California look with a range of cool basics for the perfect capsule wardrobe, plus statement dresses for a special occasion.

With prices starting at £70 for an asymmetric, stretch-cotton top right up to £420 for a cotton twill and leather bomber jacket, the collection caters for a wide variety of occasions and price points. 

The collection features on-trend, versatile bodies, cropped high-rise twill cotton trousers, cute jersey dresses and summery crepe playsuits.

KENDALL & KYLIE Pleated crepe mini dress_£280.jpg

It’s the latest collection from the Kardashian clan to hit the leading department store in the city centre.

Good American, sister Khloe Kardashian’s collection, launched exclusively in Selfridges in autumn 2016, to huge acclaim. The inclusive brand is designed to fit all body types and empower women of different shapes and sizes, celebrating curves and confidence. Its entire size range makes use of leg and butt-sculpting fabric, high-rise fits and a gap-proof contour waistband.

Yeezy, the clothing range from their brother-in-law Kanye West - also available in Selfridges Birmingham - is also going down a storm with men and women who love urban styling. The collection features cotton hoodies, sweatpants, shearling jackets, plus boots and trainers for that distinctive minimalist street vibe.

And while Kim Kardashian West doesn’t have her own collection out (surely it’s only a matter of time) you can head to Level 4 to find one of Kim’s favourite brands,  Balmain in the store. The latest collection includes a range of fantastically wearable pieces, from foiled-logo cotton tees to smart wool and silk blend blazers.

It’s definitely getting easier to keep up with the Kardashians’ style. For further information visit www.selfridges.com

PR By Clive Reeves PR Birmingham 

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Work experience lad promoted to Service Manager

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Work experience lad promoted to Service Manager

A Wolverhampton schoolboy who chose to go into the workshop of his local truck dealer for his work experience assignment in 2003 has been promoted to the role of Service Manager.

Dainer Taylor, now 30, was a pupil at Deansfield High School in East Park when he thought he might want to become a motor mechanic, and after two weeks working at Guest Truck and Van he decided that commercial vehicles were what he wanted to work on.

The father of two said: “My dad was in the army and he’s a very practical chap. I learned from him at a very early age that gaining a skill such as motor engineering would put me in good stead to support myself and to bring up a family. I was always fascinated with mechanical stuff and I love to work with my hands.”

Dainer Taylor, Service Manager

Dainer Taylor, Service Manager

“Guest Truck and Van took me on as a trainee straight from school and I have worked my way up through the workshops with various levels of responsibility until my recent promotion to service manager. Our workshop looks after all sorts of trucks and vans. Today in the workshop we have a variety of delivery vehicles, two ambulances, a street sweeper and a horse box, so there’s always something different and interesting to work on.

“The biggest difference in my new role is having to deal directly with customers, which is a big change after spending so much time on the tools. I’m pleased with how my career is progressing and working within a company that has locations right across the region, there is always the opportunity for more development. I’m making sure that I keep up to date with the latest truck technology and help out with training the younger team members where I can.”

Guest Truck and Van Managing Director Robert Spittle said: “We have a long history of apprenticeships, training and nurturing young talent. Dainer is doing a great job and is a great example of the sort of opportunities that are available to youngsters who are keen and are prepared to work hard.”

The West Bromwich headquartered family business is the largest IVECO dealer in the UK and employs 458 people in 14 locations across the Midlands, North and East Anglia.

PR by Clive Reeves PR in Birmingham

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It’s clear that Selfridges wears the Birmingham coffee crown

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It’s clear that Selfridges wears the Birmingham coffee crown

When you need that cup of morning coffee - or a pick-me-up to deal with the afternoon slump - Selfridges is THE place to head to for Birmingham’s best selection of caffeine-rich hits.

With a plethora of cool coffee goodies, the leading department store has everything a coffee lover needs – including the world’s first colourless coffee - to make it through the day, from breakfast right up to that after-dinner espresso.

Coffee on toast for breakfast? Why not? Selfridge’s exclusive Flat Brew espresso spread - a world first -  is an irresistible alternative to jam, marmalade or chocolate spread. Dark-roasted Arabica beans are combined with cocoa butter, cream and sugar to give a real kick to your morning toast, bagel or croissant.

Fancy a mid-morning latte or cappuccino? Selfridges is the only retailer in the city that sells genuine grand cru Nespresso pods. Whether you like intense, balanced or fruity/flowery aromas - or like to mix it up, depending on your mood - you can enjoy the unique flavour of Nespresso blends. Just add a dash of frothy milk.

If you love the flavour of coffee but want to keep those pearly whites bright, Selfridges Birmingham sells Clear Coffee, the world’s first colourless coffee drink. Made from high-quality Arabica beans and water, Clear Coffee does not contain preservatives, artificial flavours, stabilisers, sugars or sweeteners. The concept was developed by London-based brothers who were in search of a coffee alternative that did not stain their teeth. The totally transparent caffeinated creation is said to have a the rich taste of a 'potent cold brew.'

 

Sometimes, you want a little je ne sais quoi to make that coffee a little more exciting. If you crave extra flavour, it’s time to try Little’s, American-style flavoured coffee with its roots in Finland. Launched by American Henry Little and his Finnish wife Leila 25 years ago, the pair when were inspired by speciality coffee roasters in California who added natural extracts to coffee beans. When they returned to Finland, they began their own enterprise and by the early 1990s were among the top coffee roasters in Scandinavia. The couple moved to England with their children in 1995 and Little’s has grown, now selling a range of ground and instant coffees infused with flavours such as coconut, amaretto, spicy cardamom, and Havana rum.

Grumpy Mule makes coffee with a kick - and a conscience. Its range of ground Fairtrade coffees is sourced fairly and sustainably, ensuring that their growers share in the business’s success. Its smooth Rwanda Musasa is distinctive, with a clean, lemony flavour, while its organic Sumatra Gayo Highlands is smooth, full bodied with underlying herbal notes.

Prefer a refreshing cup of tea? Selfridges Birmingham has it covered. Forget your bog-standard dusty bag, elevate the tea-drinking experience by indulging in a pot of Williamson tea. Renowned for its sustainably managed farms in Kenya, Williamson is a fifth generation tea farmer and producer  with 140 years’ experience. Each tea is grown on a single farm and its range includes Earl Grey, Duchess Grey and a range of rich black teas.

Teapigs has one mission - to get this tea-loving nation enjoying a proper cuppa of real tea. Since it was launched in 2006, it has used whole tea leaves, herbs, berries, spices and flowers to guarantee maximum flavour. Teapigs are a real favourite among the discerning Selfridges Birmingham clientele.

Combining wellbeing with luxury, Niche Tea comprises six teas, each of which is presented in an elegant tea tube. Its natural ingredients are said to improve your skin, digestion, hair, mind, boost your energy levels or get a better night’s sleep.

Whatever your preferred drink - get the kettle on; we fancy a brew.

For further information visit www.selfridges.com

PR By Clive Reeves PR Birmingham

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Maple Hayes Dyslexia School Celebrates Success

Pupils Katie-Rose Bridgeman (left) and Heidi Fletcher pictured with Mr Ian Dudson, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire (centre), Dr Neville Brown (left) and Dr Daryl Brown (right)

Pupils Katie-Rose Bridgeman (left) and Heidi Fletcher pictured with Mr Ian Dudson, the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire (centre), Dr Neville Brown (left) and Dr Daryl Brown (right)

Star pupils at Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield have been recognised for their excellence at the annual prize giving day.

Certificates, cups and trophies were awarded to students who have excelled and achieved academic accolades, sporting success or made a positive contribution to general school life over the past 12 months.

The awards were presented by Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Mr Ian Dudson, who was also shown around the specialist school by Dr Neville Brown, founder and principal.

He said: "One of the great privileges of being Lord Lieutenant is getting to meet people who do extraordinary things. Maple Hayes is giving these young people the opportunity to achieve and from what I've seen here today, and the awards I've presented, these pupils are doing very well indeed."

Dr Brown added: “We are never less than awed by the progress that our talented pupils make because they usually come here after struggling with literacy at other schools. It’s always real pleasure to come together to celebrate their efforts and achievements. Our annual prize-giving also enables parents to acknowledge just how well their children are doing.

“Every year we are proud to send another cohort of students into the world of further education and work after completing their GCSEs. It’s an especially important celebration for us because that academic milestone was an unlikely prospect for many of them before their literacy problems were addressed at Maple Hayes.”

PR By Clive Reeves PR Birmingham

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Record 106,000 Muslims attend Eid celebration in Birmingham

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Record 106,000 Muslims attend Eid celebration in Birmingham

Birmingham welcomed a record-breaking 106,000 Muslims on Sunday June 25 for Europe’s largest Eid celebration - the day to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Celebrate Eid took place at Small Heath Park, where men, women and children gathered for morning prayer before enjoying festivities such as fairground rides, miniature golf and laser clay pigeon shooting, as well as food and drink from local food stalls.

Organised by Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre (GLMCC), Celebrate Eid is now in its seventh year and has grown in popularity since the first major event in 2012, when 12,000 people attended. Last year’s event brought 88,000 people to the city to take part in the celebrations.

A spokesperson for Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre, said: “This celebration is one of the most important in the Islamic religious calendar and it’s an opportunity for us all to come together in peace and unity. We’re all overwhelmed that so many people from different faiths and from across the world have travelled to Birmingham for this year’s Celebrate Eid.

“We’ve been working for months with five local Mosques and our charity partner Human Appeal to organise the community for a memorable day of prayer, games and fun.”

During Ramadan this year, worshippers at GLMCC raised £435,000 in a single night for international humanitarian aid charity Human Appeal, which comes just weeks after it handed over a cheque for £1.2 million. The money will go directly to the Saving Syria project, which is raising funds for orphans in the war-torn country. The money was raised on the 27th night of Ramadan last week (June 21), which is called Laylat al-Qadar - or Night of Power.

Othman Moqbel, CEO of Human Appeal, said: “It is a great honour once again for Human Appeal to be part of Celebrate Eid; the biggest gathering of Muslims in Europe. As well as tragedy throughout the holy month of Ramadan, there has been unrivalled generosity. British Muslims have given so much to help those in need here in the UK and around the globe. This Eid we celebrate the generosity of the Muslim community.”

More than 100 people volunteered to help clean the park when the celebrations ended.


To learn more about the Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre’s initiatives, visit http://www.greenlanemasjid.org/  

PR By Clive Reeves PR Birmingham

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Sherwood invests in new Sheffield body shop

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Sherwood invests in new Sheffield body shop

Sherwood Truck and Van in Sheffield has invested £150,000 in a new body shop that includes a super-sized, state-of-the-art spray booth.

The company, located in Highfield Lane, Handsworth, opened the workshop as part of plans to expand its services to businesses across the region.

Robert Spittle, group Managing Director, said as well as the new spray facility, the body shop also has the space to repair trucks, trailers, caravans and motorhomes.

“This is a significant investment for our Sheffield branch,” he said. “The fact that we are able to provide services to both the commercial vehicle sector and also to caravan and motorhome enthusiasts who want to keep their pride and joy in tip-top condition means we are able to widen our customer base.”

Matt Ward and Darren Wood

Matt Ward and Darren Wood

The investment has also enabled the company, which is the largest IVECO dealership in the UK, to employ commercial body specialist Darren Wood, who lives in Tankersley, Barnsley, and 22-year-old apprentice Matt Ward, who is taking a body and paint course at Rotherham College.

"Apprentices have always been essential to our business and there's no substitute for giving young people hands-on experience at the same time as formal training,” added Robert. “Body work is a practical skill that can only be refined by practice."

Sherwood Truck and Van also employs over 25 staff at Sheffield.

PR by Clive Reeves PR in Birmingham.

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Conference Aston records best-ever Q1 and record May figures

Conference Aston, Birmingham’s largest residential conferencing venue, has recorded its best Q1 performance with a 10% increase in revenue compared with 12 months ago, as well as doubling the number of residential delegates against target in May.

The conferencing venue and hotel, which are part of Aston University, welcomed 15,000 delegates and hotel guests between January and March this year, from a wide range of organisations such as West Midlands Police and Jaguar Land Rover .

Cementing its status as a leading conferencing venue in the city, Conference Aston also recorded an impressive May, coming in at 37% ahead of budget with over 4,000 day delegates passing through its doors. The month also saw 1,284 residential delegates stay at the venue, twice its target.

Paul Bunce, marketing manager at Conference Aston, said with Birmingham enjoying a resurgence in the number of corporate and leisure visitors, as well as residential conferences, it was gratifying that the venue was playing a significant role in attracting people to the city.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen a real increase in the number of organisations wanting to hold their training, events or meetings at Conference Aston and that has translated into ever-growing numbers of guests and an increase in revenue,” he said.

“One of the reasons for growth is an increase in residential conferencing which has been a slow part of the market since the recession. In the first five months of this year, volumes of residential conference delegates is up 16% ahead of expectation. Day meeting volumes are also up 21% against predicted volumes.

“Q1 2017 was particularly positive for us and we are thrilled that we’ve recorded our best figures yet for the quarter compared with previous years. With the proposed HS2 terminal being located very close to Aston University and Birmingham attracting increasing numbers of international events, we believe that our future as a leading conference venue in the city continues to be bright.”

Earlier this year (April), the venue attained a TripAdvisor gold GreenLeader award for its commitment to environmentally friendly practices, and is already looking forward to a bumper 2017.

Visitors from across the globe will be heading to Conference Aston for the International Conference of Urban Pests in July, while in November, the Prosthetics Event, with 1,000 delegates, returns to the venue.

Data from Marketing Birmingham’s Regional Observatory earlier this year revealed that the number of both international visitors and overnight visitors to the city have doubled in the last three years.

Birmingham has also been voted the most popular destination outside London for meetings, conferences and events for six successive years by the annual British Meetings & Events Industry Survey (BMEIS), with visitor expenditure reaching £82 per head last year, compared with £61 in 2013.

To find out more about Conference Aston, visit www.conferenceaston.co.uk

PR By Clive Reeves Public Relations 

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Armstrong Bell provides top marque telephone system for car dealership

A major car dealership has revved up its telephone system after appointing Worcestershire company Armstrong Bell to overhaul its telecommunications systems to cope with increasing demand.

Hills Ford, a family-owned dealership that has two Ford sites in Kidderminster and Malvern, asked Armstrong Bell to undertake a wholesale revision of its telephone system because its two old BT telephone systems were no longer fit for purpose.

Replacing the ailing ISDN system with a state-of-the-art business VOIP alternative, Armstrong Bell supplied its market-leading cloud-based system with 60 of the latest Cisco 7800 and 8800-series handsets.

The Bromsgrove-based telecommunications specialist worked closely with Hills Ford, which also runs Brookhire car and van rental in Malvern as well as Hills self-storage from its Kidderminster base, to create a bespoke, connected system that could cope with the volume of calls going to all three sites.

Catherine Heath, Director at Hills Ford, said: “A ringing phone is an opportunity not to be missed, so to suffer outages and downtime is not viable when we are actively growing the company. We spoke to a number of suppliers and asked Armstrong Bell to undertake the project because we were impressed with its personal touch as well as its expertise.”

Armstrong Bell installed more modern and efficient cabling throughout to ensure the business had maximum flexibility and seamless connectivity, a SIP-hosted telephony system with reporting system that automatically upgrades its software and provides call-forwarding and out-of-hours messages, headsets for staff at Brookhire as well as 60 handsets.

Catherine said: “The new system is so much better than our old one. Calls used to be transferred and left ringing on an extension but now it goes straight through to the first available operator. This improvement alone enables us to provide better customer service because we can make sure people get through to the right person and team.

“We were nervous about changing the telephones because a few months before we’d changed our document management software for invoicing and sales, which caused considerable disruption. But thankfully our concerns this time were not realised because the transition was smooth and efficient.

“Offering the personal touch is absolutely key to our business and we were confident that Armstrong Bell had the same ethos. It’s also a local company and we were impressed with how thorough it was throughout the process - from the planning visits to installation and training. We couldn’t have asked for better.”

William Copley, managing director of Armstrong Bell, said: “The beauty of having a hosted system is that it is constantly updated with latest software and so there is very little on-site maintenance. We were able to use our expertise in complex communications systems to ensure that Hills Ford had the most efficient telephone system in place for its needs, ensuring that no calls would be left unanswered. The brand new Cisco handsets offer long life expectancy - critical for anyone investing in new equipment.

“Our priority was the system’s users, ensuring that they understood how it works and how to make the most of its functionality. We continue to provide training and close support to Hills Ford to guarantee a smooth transition, and work alongside the organisation as it adapts its way of working. We worked very closely with the management team to understand how the business works and how we could support it.

“We pride ourselves on listening to an organisation’s needs and not selling for the sake of it. We are proud of our reputation and are delighted that we have another satisfied customer.”

PR by Clive Reeves Public Relations Birmingham

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 Birmingham Muslims raise £435,000 for charity in a single evening

Birmingham Muslims raise £435,000 for charity in a single evening

Generous Birmingham Muslims attending a major Ramadan prayer meeting last night (Wednesday, June 21) have raised an incredible £435,000 for a humanitarian charity working to help Syrian orphans.

Attendees at evening prayers at Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre (GLMCC) for the 27th night of the holy month of fasting, which is called Laylat al-Qadar or Night of Power - the day Muslims believe Mohammed first revealed the verses of the Quran.

In what was the largest amount raised ever by the mosque in one evening, worshippers pledged the cash for Saving Syria campaign, which is run by Human Appeal, the fastest growing British Muslim faith-based charity that delivers aid and development programmes to some of the world’s poorest and underprivileged nations.

It will use the donation to support the charity’s orphanage in Turkey, which has fully trained staff that provide psychological aid to children who have lost families and been displaced as a result of the war.

The donation comes just weeks after the Mosque’s fundraising arm Taskforce GLM handed over a £1.2 million cheque to Human Appeal following just eight months of fundraising from within Birmingham’s Muslim community.

And in the past month, Taskforce GLM has raised about £90,000 for the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and sent volunteers to London to organise food, bedding and clothing in conjunction with Birmingham-based security firm ISA Support Services. It has also raised £28,000 for the victims of the Manchester attack, which killed 22 people and injured 116.

GLMCC Centre Manager Amer Ijaz said: “Zakat, the giving to charity, is a fundamental requirement of Muslims during Ramadan and we have been overwhelmed once again by the community’s generosity, who have donated £435,000 in a single evening. Because Taskforce GLM is run by volunteers, we are able to give every penny donated to Human Appeal to be spent on humanitarian aid.

“We’ve also supported those affected by appalling tragedies closer to home by sending a team to help set up a support service in London after the Grenfell Tower disaster and raising funds for those who have lost everything in the fire. We also sent a donation to a charity helping families affected by the Manchester attacks.”

Othman Moqbel, CEO of Human Appeal, said: “As well as tragedy throughout the holy month of Ramadan, there has been unrivalled generosity. British Muslims have given so much to help those in need here in the UK and around the globe. This Eid we will celebrate the generosity of the Muslim community, in the face of efforts to divide Britain’s communities with violence, we will spread the love needed to conquer the hatred.

“Nothing demonstrates our commitment to solidarity with our brothers and sisters more than people giving to help people they have never met before and may never meet. We are asking everyone to embrace and celebrate that solidarity this Eid.”

As one of the country's most forward-thinking and innovative mosques, Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre works tirelessly to fundraise and help its community. Along with their 6,000 congregants, Green Lane has spearheaded programmes such as food banks, knife banks, careers advice, and a professional counselling and mentoring service.

To learn more about the Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre’s initiatives, visit http://www.greenlanemasjid.org/

For more information on Human Appeal, visit https://donate.humanappeal.org.uk/

PR By Clive Reeves PR Birmingham