Showcase your business at Dragon Boat Festival

Businesses have an upcoming opportunity to pitch themselves to some of the best Bradford talent of the future in a unique local event.

The National Dragon Boat Youth Championships at Bradford’s Dragon Boat Festival in June is a chance to showcase your business to hundreds of young people. The new education and careers zone on Friday 22 June will provide an already engaged audience of hundreds of youngsters from the UK’s youngest city and you could begin the conversation to help them make their own life changing decisions of the future, whether it’s through apprenticeships, work placements or employment.  You would also be alongside representatives from further and higher education, training schemes, employment and apprenticeship schemes and other businesses to enable networking and sharing of best practice.

Volunteer-led, community-created and charity-focused, Bradford Dragon Boat Festival takes place 22-24 June in Roberts Park, Saltaire.

The weekend is expected to attract 120 teams, 2,000 participants and 50,000 visitors with a media reach of 2 million.

Kersten England, Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Council, said: “This really is a not to be missed opportunity for businesses, educational institutions and careers organisations to all come together on the platform of a major event that is already capturing the imagination not just locally, but across the UK and now even globally.”

If you have something to offer young people and give them the best future possible, think about attending the festival youth day, Friday 22 June.

Click here for more info; or call 0845 293 0897

  • The Bradford Dragon Boat Festival has raised approx. £100,000 for good causes
  • It is a whole community festival, embracing Bradford’s diversity, ethnicity, culture and heritage
  • It has two major media partners, reaching millions

Bradford is now on the International Dragon Boat Federation’s calendar of events, with them particularly highlighting the UK Youth Championships.

Digital skills coaching session – Scarborough, 2 May

A Google Digital Garage event is set to be held at CU Scarborough, part of the Coventry University Group, on Wednesday May 2. The event, which is the only one in the county, has been organised by Yorkshire in Business and will provide essential information to help businesses succeed online.

Training will be delivered by specialist business advisers who will provide digital skills coaching including how to build a digital marketing plan, an introduction to digital advertising and how to use Google analytics. Yorkshire in Business has been providing business start-up advice and support for more than 30 years along the Yorkshire coast. The event is part of Google Digital Garage on Tour, which has seen workshops held in major towns and cities across the UK including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

Jennifer Crowther, Head of Operations at Yorkshire in Business, said: “It is a great achievement to bring Google to offer this analytics training in the area. This is a fantastic opportunity for all those who are self-employed and running local businesses to develop their marketing skills and knowledge provided by Google themselves. Yorkshire in Business couldn’t provide this without the support from CU Scarborough.”

Tina Steele, Employer Engagement & Business Development Manager at CU Scarborough, said: “It is excellent to welcome Yorkshire in Business to CU Scarborough to deliver a Google Digital Garage workshop providing free support and advice to businesses across the area. Being successful online is essential in today’s modern business world, and the session will help those attending gain new skills and make the most out of the technology available to them. It will also be a good opportunity to meet with likeminded businesspeople and entrepreneurs. CU Scarborough is committed to helping grow the local economy, and this is just one of the ways we are connecting with and supporting businesses in the area. I would urge anyone looking for digital support to come along.”

The session will be held from 10am to 1.30pm and places can be booked here. Further information can be found by emailing


Ahead Partnership secures national Chamber Business Award

Ahead Partnership, the Yorkshire based social enterprise that provides students with business-inspired learning to build aspiration and potential, has been crowned the Best Business and Education Partnership nationally at the Chamber Business Awards 2017.

Following a rigorous judging process, Ahead Partnership attended an evening of celebration at The Old Brewery in London on Thursday 30th November, where it fended off tough competition to be chosen the overall national winner. Its Make the Grade programme launched in 2011 and now helps over 60,000 young people explore career options and develop their employability skills each year.

Headquartered in Leeds, Ahead Partnership won the award for its work in helping improve the skills and career choices of young people in schools, colleges and universities across the country. Ahead Partnership finds exciting ways of bringing employers and educationalists together to create and run focused employability activities which build confidence, resilience and aspiration. Activities range from enterprise competitions, live briefs, careers panels and interview practice to workplace visits, mentoring and transition skills. Employers co-design and deliver the activities, ensuring strong labour market relevance.

The win comes hot on the heels of the release of the government’s new Careers Strategy which highlights the importance of employers’ involvement in careers programmes. Employer participation in well-planned, face-to-face activities with young people is vital to “support individuals to grow and develop.” Under this new strategy, schools and colleges are compelled to provide their students with at least one encounter with an employer each year. Make the Grade education partners are already achieving with Ahead Partnership’s help.

Ahead Partnership’s work also supports the government’s ambitions to improve social mobility through education as set out in the plan presented in December 2017. Access to networks of advice, information and experience of work is particularly valuable to young people from less well-off families. Make the Grade provides an extensive network of employers who help to guide, motivate and connect all young people to opportunity regardless of their background.

Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership, Stephanie Burras CBE, comments: “I am delighted that our Make the Grade programme has been recognised nationally as an exceptional way for employers to connect into their local schools, colleges and universities. Over the last six years, we have been working really hard to scale this programme whilst maintaining all the ingredients that have made it such a success. The impact that we achieve each year is entirely down to the diligence and enthusiasm of our exceptional team and our visionary partners from education and business who share our desire to bring opportunity to all.

“Skills gaps and mismatches are prevalent right across the UK whilst the labour market has never been more dynamic. Our activities help young people to better understand their opportunities by bringing them face to face with employers who are best placed to provide them with the very latest information.”

Francis Martin, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said: “Bridging the gap between the worlds of education and work is vital to empowering tomorrow’s workforce with the skills that businesses need. Ahead Partnership demonstrates the importance and benefits, to both students and employers, from such tailored and systematic engagement. They are truly worthy recipients of this award.”

For more information on how your business can volunteer to take part in exciting Make the Grade activities such as workshops and enterprise competitions please visit or call 0113 2467877.


Funding for IT upgrades

Grants for websites, ecommerce and IT projects

Funding is available to help businesses upgrade their IT connectivity.

The Government has launched a ‘Gigabit Voucher Scheme’, with up to £3,000 for firms in West Yorkshire Combined Authority area (which includes York).  The scheme is being delivered locally by Chamber member Exa Networks – more information, including terms and conditions and how to apply, available here.

(NOTE: Those who have received funding within the last three years are ineligible to apply.)

Paula’s pride at presidential role

Leeds Chamber President Paula Dillon has spoken of her pride at being asked to take on the top job.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with, Paula says how she is looking forward to being an ambassador for the Leeds business community, and proud to be part of an all-female team (her vice-president is Shulmans partner and Head of Planning, Amanda Beresford)

Paula also thanked her employer, Bond Dickinson, for encouraging her to take on the new role.

“The firm wanted me to do this and have been immensely supportive and my clients are too. I have had the most fantastic career here in Leeds and part of me taking on the role of president will allow me to continue to learn, that is a big thing for me. In my job, I don’t know what each day will bring but that’s how businesses work and you meet interesting people along the way.”

Read Paula’s interview here.

Yorkshire businesses take the lead at national awards

Ahead Partnership and Arena Group, have been crowned winners in the Yorkshire round of the Chamber Business Awards.

The Chamber Business Awards is one of the UK’s most contested and prestigious business award programmes. Each year, organisations of all sizes and from all sectors compete for the coveted titles and the national recognition they bring.

Arena Group, the hard copy and electric document management company, has won the excellence in customer service award.

Gary Putson, Sales Director for Arena Group, commented: “I am very proud to receive this award on behalf of the Arena Team. It recognises the commitment & effort put in to create a client-centric culture across the entire business. Last year we launched our Total Satisfaction Methodology (TSM), a unique method designed & built in collaboration with our clients, based on MSc action research and academic study. TSM frames everyday actions of all Arena employees and has helped us all raise the bar in terms of client satisfaction and retention rates in increasingly competitive markets. TSM also builds on the values upon which this business was successfully founded over 25 years ago – service excellence really is in our DNA!”

Furthermore, Ahead Partnership, the social enterprise which works to connects businesses and community, has taken first place in the Education and business partnership category.

Stephanie Burras, Chief Executive of Ahead Partnership, said: “We’re thrilled that Ahead Partnership and its very successful Make the Grade education business programme has been acknowledged with this regional award. The impact that we achieve would not be possible without the diligence and enthusiasm of a highly committed team and visionary partners in education and business, many of which are Chamber members.”
“This award reflects the excitement that all of our stakeholders feel around the programme and its ability to engage young people effectively and creatively in the world of work. We are looking forward to continuing our national growth, starting with our Sheffield City Region launch later this year.”

Both businesses will lead the way for Yorkshire at the national finals, which are taking place in London in November and will be joined by representatives from the West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, of which the businesses are members.

Hollywood stars in Bradford-based film

A new film made largely in Bradford, featuring international stars, will debut at a top festival next month.

Lies We Tell, starring Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel, is to be screened at London’s Raindance Festival in September.

Bradford, a UNESCO City of Film since 2009 – and the very first one, to boot! – is seeing more and more film and TV production companies seeking out destinations in the city in which to use as settings.  Recent examples include Peaky Blinders, Gunpowder, Gold, and Funny Cow.

The film goes on general release in 2018, with an expected screening in Bradford.

Read more on this in the T&A here.

New faces for Chamber Board

New blood for Chamber Board

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has some new blood on its Board.

The group that represents and supports businesses in Bradford, Leeds, York & North Yorkshire has gained two new directors.  Andrew Digwood of Rollitts solicitors and Suzanne Watson of Approach PR were both elected by members and took up their posts in July.  Ed Everard of Saville Audio Visual has stood down.Andrew Digwood

Andrew has worked in dispute resolution since 2004, acting for a range of clients including corporates, charities and educational institutions. His work includes tenancy litigation, copyright and design infringement, and professional negligence matters.  He has been a partner with the firm since 2012.  Andrew is a trustee of Leeds University Union and away from work his interests include motorsport, reading military history and cricket.

Suzanne joins the Board by virtue of becoming Vice-President of Bradford Chamber.  The Ilkley-based business woman has run Approach PR since its creation in 2001.  Specialising in advising clients on strategy, objectives and delivering powerful social and traditional media content, Suzanne has more than two decades of expertise in business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors, representing brands including GlaxoSmithKline, Northern Foods, Acorn Stairlifts and Delifrance.

Suzanne WatsonStephen Wright, Chairman of the Chamber Board and Managing Director of Thorite, said of the appointments:

“While we are sad to lose Ed, we are pleased to recruit people of the quality of both Andrew and Suzanne.  They are both keenly dedicated and successful business people with knowledge and experience in abundance.  These appointments can only strengthen what is already a first-class Board of Directors, to help steer and guide the Chamber as it continues to deliver quality services that connect, support and represent businesses in our patch and beyond.”

The role of the Board of Directors is to advise, challenge and ensure the business of the Chamber is run in a sustainable way for the long-term benefit of members, and act as ambassadors for West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

Pledge to catch the bus this clean air day

Buses are key to tackling congestion and reducing emissions: a fully-loaded double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road

Yorkshire bus operators First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev are aiming to clear the air across the White Rose County today (Thursday, 15 June 2017) by inviting motorists to promise to leave the car at home for the day – in a bid to improve the city’s air pollution.

The UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day has been launched to encourage people all over the country, including Leeds, to do their bit to tackle air pollution by learning more about its causes and by taking action to make the air that we breathe cleaner and healthier for everyone.

First West Yorkshire, Arriva Yorkshire and Transdev have come together under the Bus 18 partnership to encourage Leeds travellers to pledge to catch the bus. In fact, a fully-loaded double decker can take 75 cars off the road – helping to reduce congestion and improve air quality.

First West Yorkshire Managing Director, Paul Matthews said: “As one of the major operators in West Yorkshire we have a responsibility to reduce emissions on our roads, which is why, as part of the Bus 18 Partnership, we have pledged to introduce more environmentally friendly buses with less emissions to improve air quality by the end of next year, which forms part of a £71m investment that we are making in Leeds.

“Attracting more people to get out of their cars and use public transport, will help to reduce emissions on the roads, but some people still believe that buses are bad for the environment, when in fact a bus with an average double decker bus produces less pollutants per passenger than a full car. The latest vehicles that have been added to our fleet, including the buses used for the popular X84 service, are fitted with Euro 6 engines, which are the eco-friendliest buses that we can operate, right now.

“I’d like to encourage all car users across the region to travel by bus this National Clean Air Day, as together we can help to reduce the pollution in our cities and improve air quality for the future.”

Arriva Yorkshire Area Managing Director, Jon Croxford said: “Buses play a key role in efforts to improve air quality by reducing the overall number of vehicles on the road. Research by Greener Journeys has shown that without buses, congestion in city centres would be a fifth (21%) higher at peak times, significantly impacting air quality

“Encouraging more people out of their cars and onto public transport is therefore vital to tackling this problem, and is part of our commitment to creating healthier, less congested and less polluted cities today and for future generations.

“Arriva Yorkshire, along with other Bus 18 members continues to invest to ensure our buses are as green as possible, maximising environmental benefits for passengers. For example, Arriva Yorkshire will be launching 37 brand new, more environmentally friendly buses which will go into service in West Yorkshire from the 26th June, as part of an £8m investment.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “There is no better time than now to take the pledge to leave the car at home for the day and try the bus – and those who haven’t been on board for a while will be amazed by how much we have done to create buses that people want to be seen on.

“In the last 18 months we’ve ploughed millions of pounds in new buses across Yorkshire – most recently with a £2.34 million investment in 10 all new twin-deck buses for the popular Coastliner service linking Leeds and York with the Yorkshire Coast – each powered by low emission ‘Euro 6’ engines which are eight times cleaner and greener than the previous best Euro 5 standard.

“Just one of our double deck buses can take up to 75 cars off the road tomorrow. I hope Yorkshire motorists will hang up their car keys for the day and give our buses a try, to see for themselves how bus travel is now the low stress, high value way to clear the air across our wonderful county.”

There are many reasons to try the bus in Yorkshire for Clean Air Day. Here are just six:

  • The newest vehicles are powered by Euro 6 engines which offer 95% to 99% reductions in the most harmful pollutants, such as Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) and Particulate Matter (PM) compared with the Euro 2 and Euro 3 powered buses they’ve replaced.
  • As part of the Bus 18 partnership, operators in West Yorkshire have signed up to have their buses rated through the ECOStars scheme, which gives each bus a one to five star rating to show passengers how efficient the bus is. The higher the star rating, the greener the bus!
  • If drivers across the UK switched just one car journey a month to the bus instead, it would mean one billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2.
  • Buses can make town and city life better for everyone – nine out of 10 people say road traffic affects their quality of life.
  • Traffic congestion costs British businesses at least £11 billion a year in GDP – and the bill is forecast to reach £30 billion by 2030.
  • Low emission buses already on UK roads are already saving 55,000 tonnes of GHG emissions per year and delivering £8 million worth of health and environmental benefits – with more to come.