Cotton Court Business Centre

Lancashire

Cotton Studios has great Success with Dance Talent Photoshoot!

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Cotton studios has recently commissioned to photograph over 60 young and talented dancers at Dance Talent Photoshoot. After several very successful shows the children starred in their own dance photoshoot with fabulous poses directed by Sue and Annie from the dance studio.

They had a blast at the Dance Studio and even a few of the Cotton Studios staff threw a few dance moves! Over 3000 photos later we were flooded with comments regarding the photos and how happy the parents were! We would like to thanks Sue and Annie at the studio for their fantastic directing skills and of course all of of the fabulous dancers for their time and patience!

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Clients UK Media & Events take on Lancashire Encounter!

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Cotton Court clients UK media & Events had a blast planning and executing the Lancashire Encounter Festival last week.

The Lancashire Encounter Festival is a celebration of everything that Lancashire has to offer and took place over a weekend in Preston City Centre. There was lots to do and see including the Procession of Light that was on Saturday night.

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On the Flag Market people gathered to watch and get involved with the Kuljit Bhamra dance troupe in front of the Harris Museum looking good in its golden illumination.

Then it was on to Fishergate for a different type of dancing and a piece called Light Migrations by the Ludas Dance group. The young dancers created a great atmosphere with their LED light bands and their movement to the upbeat music.

The entertainment didn’t stop there – the next stop for the crowd was the covered market area where there was a ‘Sound Intervention’.  Music and light projections plus some strange costumes!

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A celebration of gay pride and walking under red balloons were all part of the second day of Lancashire Encounter Festival. The annual Preston Pride event provided a splash of colour to the Flag Market!

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Client’s Vibe Tickets Smash Through Their Crowdfunding Target!

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Customer of Cotton Court and disruptive ticketing platform Vibe Tickets has smashed its £600,000 crowdfunding target.

Founder of Vibe Luke Massie told Business Cloud:

“To set a target of £600k and pull it off is incredible. It shows other firms in the North West what is possible,” he said.

“We’ve been talking for a while about how difficult it is to raise money through crowdfunding. Vibe is one of the few firms which has managed to do it successfully.

“An investment firm got us over the line, but I can’t say who they are yet because they are a public limited company.”

Vibe Tickets allows real fans to buy and sell tickets but also make new like-minded friends at the biggest events.

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Luke raised £310,000 in the first 24 hours after launching on Crowdcube, including £260k from serial investor Fletcher.

“At the beginning I was let down by a couple of people who were keen to invest £100k each,” added Luke.

“Of the 300 investors we have, only 60 have come through Crowdcube. The rest, more than £500k, has come from our users and investors – people we have approached directly.

Huge congratulations to Luke and the team at Vibe Tickets from everyone at Cotton Court!

Vibe Tickets raises more than half its £600K crowdfunding goal in 24hrs

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The online ticketing platform, which promises to resell tickets ethically, was founded by 23-year-old Young ‘Un Luke Massie who took to crowdfunding website Crowdcube to seek extra investment.

If Vibe raises the full amount within the next month, the business will be valued at £6m and will use the cash raised to expand its online offering.

Tech investor Scott Fletcher, who has put up £260,000 through the crowdfunding website, said of Luke: “He’s a force of nature. His vision and passion is infectious and goes to show that age is irrelevant when it comes to business.

“Vibe Tickets has the potential to disrupt the industry and that really appeals to me. I’ve got no doubt Luke will smash his £600,000 target but I think it’s vital that tech entrepreneurs like me get behind great businesses and great people.”

Fletcher isn’t the only entrepreneur who sees potential in the youngster. Tech specialist Matt Newing already invested £200,000 during Vibe’s first round of funding, which amassed £400,000 in total, Lancashire County Council has invested £5,000, and earlier in the summer Massie even turned the head of Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

Vibe Tickets made it all the way through to the live final of Virgin’s Voom business competition and, despite not winning, still walked away with £20,000 prize money.

“Not only did I get the chance to pitch to someone of the stature of Sir Richard but I got through to the last three and received the sort of advice that money can’t buy,” said Luke.

Vibe has until mid-September to reach its funding goal of £600,000.

Love Food Love Preston 2016 with Gregg Wallace & Emmerdale’s Danny Miller

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The annual Love Food Love Preston promotion from Preston BID was launched on Saturday 30th July.

The month-long campaign, to highlight Preston’s food and restaurant offer, began with the Lancashire Market taking place on Friargate, followed later that evening by a ‘Dine with the Stars’ event.

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Firms trading at the event included, Beechs Chocolates, a company with almost 100 year’s heritage in Preston.

The Lancashire Cookbook, a new publication showcasing the best recipes and places to eat in the county, was launched by BBC Radio Lancashire’s John Gillmore at the Market; featuring a section focussing on Preston’s growing and vibrant restaurant offer.

Friargate came alive with the sights, smells, colours and sounds of a street-market as families from across the county made Preston their ‘go to’ destination.

Later that evening, MasterChef’s Gregg Wallace and Emmerdale Actor Danny Miller visited eight Preston restaurants to enjoy meeting their customers and sampling the city’s tasty food offering, guests were ‘delighted’ to have the opportunity to meet and talk to the television personalities.   Alison Hedges from Lytham travelled to Preston specifically in the hope she’d meet one of the special guests; saying ‘I think it’s a great idea to do this, it’s brilliant.  I love eating out and it’s been a while since I’ve eaten out in Preston, it’s changed so much and I would safely say I’ll be back very soon’.

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Gregg, a firm favourite on our TV screens said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the food and company in Preston, there are some great restaurants here; it’s one of the friendliest places I have ever visited and the people are just lovely’.

Cotton Studios was once again on hand to capture the ‘Dine with the Stars’ event on behalf of Preston BID. You can see the full gallery here

Mark Whittle from Preston BID said: “The Lancashire Market has been a great event for the city, since it began back in 2010; it has attracted hundreds of thousands of people, many from outside of the locality.  The events are organised to attract additional customers to the city centre.  Whilst providing a great day for visitors, events such as these are vital to building relationships with customers who will support city centre businesses; it’s their investment that funds our work’.

Until 31st August people are being encouraged to try eating out in Preston city centre more often by taking advantage of specially created ‘Love Food Love Preston’ offers.

Simply visit www.LoveFoodLovePreston.co.uk and choose your special offer!

Downtown in Business Crowns Lancashire’s Elite!

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On Thursday 16th June 2016, Downtown Lancashire in Business celebrated the best in the business at the annual Lancashire Business Awards.

Rob presented Forbes solicitors with best legal practice of the year award at glittering Downtown in Business awards. The awards were a great excuse for many hard working individuals and businesses to let their hair down and enjoy a night of celebration.

Rob represented the Cotton Court team and said “Once again a great awards night put together by Downtown in Business at the Dungenhalgh hotel”

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Awards given away on the night ranged from ‘Networker of the year’ to ‘Business Personality of the Year’.

Frank McKenna, chief executive at Downtown in Business, said: “Congratulations to all the winners and nominees for this year’s awards. It is always fantastic to celebrate the hard working companies in Lancashire each year and see the level of support they are able to gain from their peers and their customers.”

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The winners were:

Male Networker of the Year – Daniel Rich, Barton Grange
Female Networker of the Year – Katie Beckham, The Write Angle
Best Employer of the Year – Denwa
Best Employee of the Year – Rebecca Kay
Best Newcomer of the Year – Eat My Logo
Best PR & Marketing Agency of the Year – The Write Angle
Best Digital Agency of the Year – Blush Digital
Best Social Media Presence of the Year – Marketing Lancashire
Best Legal Company of the Year – Forbes
Best Accountancy Firm of the Year – Beever and Struthers
Best Business Bank of the Year – NatWest
Best Property Business of the Year – Barnfield Construction
Best Recruitment Company of the Year – Laura Hartley Recruitment
Best Customer Focussed Business of the Year – Burnley FC
Best Hospitality Venue of the Year – The Emporium
Best Hotel of the Year – Tickled Trout
Best Business Enabler – Choose Chorley
Best Business of the Year – Magma Digital
Chief Executive Award – Marmalade Toast
Business Personality of the Year – Michael Conlon
Contribution to Lancashire – Tony Attard OBE

UCLan LaunchPad Challenge Weekend

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Last weekend 20 students from LaunchPad joined us at Cotton Court for a ‘The Apprentice/Dragons Den’ style challenge weekend.

The LaunchPad leadership development programme is unique to the School of Business and the School of Management at UCLan and provides students with opportunities to enhance their professional skills allowing them to become the global leaders of the future.

LaunchPad students learn about the challenges of the current job market from employer and graduate perspectives and the leadership approaches needed to address them, in both theory and practice.

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Students were split up into 3 groups that each focused on a area of Preston that was to be developed, these areas were: Preston’s Nightlife, The Market Quarter and the Redevelopment of New Hall Lane. The Students had one day to come up with a business and marketing plan will only a ‘budget’ of £2 million.

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The next day the groups presented their ideas and plans to a panel of ‘Dragons’ including our very own Rob Binns.  After the ‘Dragons’ debated the winner was finally chosen, it was the Redevelopment of New Hall Lane!

Well done to all of the students who took part and thank you to UCLan for choosing Cotton Court again to host their event.

 

Glovers Finalists – 128,000 Votes cast In Awards

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The results are in; 128,520 votes have been cast in Preston BID’s ‘Smiles Better Awards’, which recognise outstanding businesses and people in Preston city centre.

The awards, sponsored by Fishergate Shopping Centre and St. George’s Shopping centre, highlight the achievements of owners and employees of city centre businesses, and this year attracted more than 165 nominations from 142 businesses.

There are fifteen prizes up for grabs, including Independent Retailer of the Year, Multiple Retailer of the Year, Customer Service Champion and Restaurant of the Year.

Selected categories will now undergo mystery shopping visits, in order to find the outright winners.

The highest award, ‘the Special Recognition Award’ which cannot be voted for, will be awarded to someone who’s made a significant contribution to the city.

Last year the honour went to Friargate florist, Margaret Mason, who’s operated a business in Preston for almost fifty-five years.

Upon winning the special recognition awards, Margaret, who was visibly moved said: ‘I am speechless, I didn’t expect to win but I am thrilled.  It’s a team effort and I thank all my team for all their hard work, it’s a lovely thing to have been awarded and I am very, very grateful’.

Mark Whittle, from Preston BID which organises the competition said: ‘The businesses in Preston city centre consistently offer outstanding service, and the ‘Smiles Better’ awards are our way honouring these people and organisations.  It’s their efforts that keep people returning to our city centre time and time again, and for that, we thank them’.

Keith Mitchell, manager of the Fishergate Shopping Centre, said: “The large amount of votes cast is a tribute to all the great customer-focused work being carried out by staff in Preston’s shops, restaurants, bars and cafes.

“This positive response to the awards from the general public again highlights Preston’s growing and deserved reputation as a vibrant shopping and visitor destination that delivers fantastic levels of service.

“We’re very pleased to be backing this initiative which shows why Preston really is Smiles Better and recognises and rewards those people whose efforts make our city centre the special place it is.”

General manager at rSt George’s Shopping Cente, Andrew Stringer, said: “The Smiles Better Awards are a great way to recognise the hard work and efforts of the city’s customer services teams.

“The amount of votes cast reflects the exceptional service these teams deliver. Everyone who has been nominated does an excellent job in promoting Preston – we couldn’t operate without them.”

The prizes will be handed out at an invitation only ceremony on Tuesday 21st June, hosted by Radio’s John Gillmore and Danny Bee.

Click here for Official Finalists

Guest Blog – Doug Melia Safer Handling

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The Department for Education document entitled “Use of Reasonable Force – updated advice for head teachers, staff and governing bodies” isn’t a new thing. Variations of it have been around for some time now and I have yet to meet two organisations who interpret it in the same way.

Tonight I want to invite you to join me on a journey and using the principleground rules from the 1999 (make you feel old?) film “Fight Club”, to examine further some of the challenges staff may face when dealing specifically withmanaging children fighting.

#1 The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

The DfE guidance document addresses issues surrounding the use of force without discussing them in detail. The document highlights that staff are allowed to use force to:

“prevent a pupil from attacking a member of staff or another pupil, or to stop a fight in the playground”

This artfully vague statement gives the nod to staff having the power to“stop” fights, it doesn’t then give any further detail on the matter.

In one of my earlier posts I discussed duty of care and keeping yourself safe whilst weighing up the duty owed to those in your care, the guidance explains this as:

“The decision on whether or not to physically intervene is down to the professional judgement of the staff member concerned and should always depend on the individual circumstances.”

Reasonable force is something we have discussed in detail before, staff must ensure that any actions they take are reasonable in the circumstances. Meaning, should they be intervening in the first place? Could the circumstances have been avoided?

#2 Second rule: DO NOT talk about Fight Club

So important was its secrecy to the integrity of the club, it was listed twice. So lets look at a different angle. Don’t talk about it?  The guidance skirts around questions such as: At what point do we stop the fight? With how many members of staff? What determines a fight? Play-fights also? Verbal warning first? Using which holds?

Staff  are told to use their professional judgement, without the necessary information, instruction, training & supervision that decision may not necessarily be in the best interests of the child. So perhaps we should talk about it, I always ask when delivering training if anyone has had to break up a fight before, and if the person is comfortable enough, I get them to discuss the circumstances. Without fail, the person describing their experience always animates their disclosure using hand gestures, often which resemble a person swimming or attempting to swim.

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In the heat of the moment where a fight breaks out next to them or they round a corner and a member of staff is confronted with an advancing pupil, then the immediate physical reaction to separate or “hold back” an individual can often be instinctive. Pushing, pulling, stopping a child running in a corridor, catching a chair from tipping back or even turning a pupil by their shoulders and diverting them away from a confrontation all involve gross motor skills. Separating two parties is often a more preferable approach than wading in with some kind of fine or moderate motor skill based single person restrictive hold, which aside from having manual handling and personal safety implications, may result in more serious repercussions to explain.

Imagine sitting with Mum, explaining how you held her dearest Tyler whilst the other child hit him as hard as he could in his ear, with the  “free shot” you granted his aggressor. Might not be your finest hour at this year’s parents evening 

#3 Third rule: If someone says “stop” or goes limp, taps out the fight is over

Now, one thing I have observed about the majority of young children and fighting is; they aren’t very good at it.

Proportionately (which if we do need to intervene is exactly how we should be thinking) it may not be the best idea to wade in and try to stop the fight physically.  Take me for example, I am 6ft 3, 17 stone and have hands well, to give a clue to a nickname I once had “like shovels”. If two small children were fighting and I grabbed them and dragged them backwards separating them – I guarantee I would cause more harm to both of those children than if I had just let them carry on fighting!

I’m not saying that I would stand and watch, The point here is just because you have a power to do something does not mean you must use it, your duty of care both to yourself and the children  is absolute.

#4 Fourth rule: One fight at a time

Admittedly, sometimes there’s a lot of effort, a lot of shirt pulling, spinning round and grabbing but generally there is usually one party (or both) that have entered into this bout of fisticuffs fairly reluctantly. I’m not suggesting we just stand and watch or take a sweep-stake perhaps. If there is time to look at a less intrusive method, which is likely to work, resulting in a lesser harm occurring then surely where it isn’t necessary to use force, we shouldn’t? The very presence of an adult can sometimes be enough, or a clear confident and audible command could stop children in their tracks or even less than that? I mean, ask yourself why the children are fighting?

Not why they have started fighting, now that could be a variety of things, from misappropriated Match Attaxx cards in a primary school setting to a negligent“Like” on Facebook in secondary. No, why are they continuing to fight? In the film, one fight at a time meant having an audience – it may be more appropriate (and far more effective) in some circumstances to evict the crowd chanting“Fight, fight, fight!” before you consider physically intervening. Once the eyes are away from them, the fight in the duo often fizzles out.

Then sanctions against those encouraging the fighting could be a good way of instigating a cultural shift in your establishment, condemning fights as a spectator sport to being a thing of the past.

 #5 Fifth rule: No shirts, no shoes

As specific as the character in the film Tyler Durden was on fightwear, the guidance put out there by the government is specific in the detail of the fight’s location. Why a playground was my initial reaction? Don’t fights occur in other areas? Is there a difference that we need to be made aware of? Is it only “a fight” if it takes place on the ground area allocated for children to play? Location may affect your assessment of the situation but other than that plays no significant part in lawfully intervening.

Escorting a child from one side of a school to the other for example – legally is there a power to do so? Yes, absolutely the power exists. I have previously written posts explaining the legalities of restriction of liberty and the use of time out rooms, practically though is it always the best option to attempt, with their resistance to get them there? Police stations, prisons and hospitals are all ergonomically designed to allow staff to easily escort people who don’t want to be moved from one place to another. Think about it, wide corridors, ramps, laminated wall displays instead of pictures and ornaments, doors that open electronically or both ways and what is on the floors? Nothing. What happens to said floors in the evening? The floors are cleaned and buffed, partly for hygiene but it is easier to move those resisting than if they had the purchase of carpet beneath their feet.

Classrooms? Rows of chairs housing other children. Corridors? narrow, with amazing wall displays, doors that open inwards with fiddly handles and stairs. Yes stairs – I have a talent of falling UP stairs when I am at home, happy and calm. What then are my chances of successfully managing a challenging student and collaborating the movements of another colleague DOWN a flight of stairs when I am in a state of high emotional arousal? That risk assessment is not even worth attempting.

So as with any manual handling activity we must ask – do we need to move the object (child) in the first place? What is so urgent that we must immediately move the child?

#6 Sixth rule: Only two guys to a fight fellas

Do numbers matter? Numbers of staff? Number of people fighting? Well let us look at other activities, take moving a box for example. Your employer asks you to take a box down a flight of stairs, you survey it and on testing its weight find the object to be far heavier than you feel you could safely lift.

So, having been asked you lift it anyway and carry it through a classroom, stumbling due to its weight or shape. Subsequently, you and the pupil who broke your fall are now injured.

Would the staff member concerned be apportioned some of the blame? Yes of course the employer would have to by law produce a risk assessment for this activity but should the staff member themselves not have raised the fact that this assigned work activity was outside of their range of capabilities?

#7 Seventh rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to

The key is to stop incidents, but only when safe. If we look at two teenagers or even year 6 pupils in a primary school settings and make a bit of a threat assessment. Are the fighters big? Strong? Quick? Are they more able than ourselves? Or to rephrase, do we think that we actually could control them? Could we physically over power them to make them stop fighting? Is the likelihood of us succeeding in stopping the fight alone outweighed by these factors?

Removing classes of students using strategies to win time to call for help through containing pupils, moving objects and potential weapons out of reach, reminding pupils that the police are on their way are sometimes better alternatives than exercising your power to intervene, getting injured and failing in your duty of care.

#8 The eighth: and final rule…

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope it has been helpful if the links a little tenuous at times. Even if you aren’t a teacher, or you don’t work in schools, I’m sure you can see how this conveys to other settings and promotes an overall compliance with the human rights act. Ideally if we can isolate the triggers and target low level behaviours looking at sanctions & rewards rather than threats, we can minimise the residual risks of fights ever happening in the first place.

So, are you ready? Oh didn’t I say? As this is your first night at fight club.

Andy from Billboard PR1 – Big Fast for a Big Cause

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One of our great customers Andy Neale is taking part in a Zimbabwean style fast this week to raise money for a charity that is close to his heart- Progressio.

Andy has just returned from spending six whole months in Nicaragua living off rice and beans helping a remote community adapt to Climate Change. The fast is part of a project called ZimFast. ZimFast is a fundraising challenge to raise vital funds for Progressio’s work alongside people living in poverty. The challenge allow you to stand in solidarity with communities in poor and fragile countries like Zimbabwe, and take a glimpse into the lack of choice that extreme poverty brings.

Andy is just wanting £3 from 11 people to reach his target with his partner and friend. So if you haven’t done your ‘good dead of the day’ do it now!

You can read more here and donate here!