We saw a LinkedIn contact post a review of their year and thought it would be useful to reflect on our year at Athelbrae.
The uncertainty of Brexit has dominated the news channels but in all honesty has not impacted upon our business. Clients, old and new continue to commission training and we value the strong partnership relationship we have with our clients.
2018 saw us celebrate our 20th year in business. Keith started Athelbrae Business Consultancy (as it was known in the formative years) on 11th September 1998 following his 20 year career in Barclays. Kate joined the Company in 2004 when it became necessary for someone to be in the office to manage the operations as Keith was out delivering training. We have gone from strength to strength in these 20 years and now work with a wonderful team of over 20 Associate Trainers, (we added 3 Trainers to the team a couple of weeks ago to meet future client demand).
Our training has had a varied feel this year. We were delighted to work with Andy Styles, a specialist Risk Management Trainer who delivered training for Companies as they prepared for GDPR. He was virtually flat out prior to the May deadline, but similar to Y2K, when the world did not end on January 1st 2000, GDPR Day came and went and life still went on! Training in this area has now died off although clients are still using Andy’s services on a consultancy basis to look at their specific needs.
The other specialist area which has been very busy is training in all aspects of Mental Health, Personal Resilience and Well-being. Our Occupational Health Trainer, Hilary Lees started working with us last year and has now worked with a variety of clients helping their staff understand their own and their colleagues’ mental health issues. Unfortunately, this issue is featured on the news 3 or 4 times a week so it is likely that this training will continue well into 2019 and beyond which is great for business but a sad indictment of the world we live in.
We continue to work with some great clients, many of whom have been with us since we started in 1998. We had a team of 4 Trainers deliver a major 36 date Management Programme for a client in London and thanks to Leanne Davies, Louise and David Pearce and Janice Donaghue for their efforts in developing this unusual and effective programme.
We are delighted to be working closely with Steve Torjussen again. Keith and Steve met whilst working with Sky in Edinburgh shortly after they both started. He has been running a dynamic programme for one of our large manufacturing clients in Folkestone developing the Management Behaviours which has been extremely well received and is in the process of being re-commissioned for 2019 and beyond.
One of our Pharmaceutical clients in Dartford where we deliver a lot of work, including all of their new Managers attending Keith’s Getting to Grips with Management New Managers Programme recommended us to a Major Motor manufacturer with their head office based next door to them. After a number of meetings, we started working with this client in the summer. Lucy Britton, Louise Pearce, Mandy Rossi and Hilary Lees have delivered a number of courses under their ‘Core Curriculum Programme’ both in Dartford and Dublin for their European office.
One of the highlights of the year was being invited to speak at the Invicta Health GP Practice Managers Conference. Keith did 4 slots during the day on looking at complaints in a different way using the ‘black box’ thinking and on staff engagement. Invicta have taken over the provision of training for GP Practices in Kent and we have worked with all of the previous ‘incarnations’ over the last 20 years. We are busier now than we have ever been with this client and one of the most popular courses is Jo Battershill’s Supervisory Management course. Lucy has also delivered a number of Patient Service and Team Building sessions for GP Staff.
Two of our newer Associates, Jemma Fairclough Haynes and Denise Wilton have added to our offering with some excellent training on Equality & Diversity and maximising the potential of Social Media for Companies.
We still get requests for training in the MS Office products and Sarah Aspinall has been busy with a range of clients training staff in these areas, both on a group basis and on a 1:1 ‘Surgery’ approach.
On the personal front, it was a year of mainly highs and a couple of lows. We celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary in July and planned to celebrate it with our two children and spouses. However, our plans were thwarted when Francesca, our daughter announced she was pregnant and was not allowed to sail so the celebration was just with Adam and Cindy in the beautiful Norway Fjords. However, at the end of October, Francesca and Ben rewarded us with our first grandchild, Connor and he’s absolutely gorgeous!
In July, after months of legal activity, we are were able to extract ourselves from the toxic environment of a previous business relationship which had been dominating our thoughts in the early part of the year. We are truly grateful to Helen and Alex at Buss Murton for their help and support during this difficult time.
Keith had a cancer scare in the summer and underwent an operation to remove a growth from his bladder. Thankfully this appeared to be benign and he just needs to go back for a couple of checks next year to confirm this is not a problem.
Kate continued her voluntary work and took over as Chair of Governors at Bishops Down Primary School in Tunbridge Wells. A role which she really enjoys. She also became a trained Guide Dogs for the Blind Speaker as well. Keith continues to play bowls and took over as Club Captain of Paddock Wood Bowls Club.
Looking ahead to 2019, the Pipeline of work commissioned is at its highest point ever at this stage of the year which means we are excited with the amount and range of work being delivered during the year. We are adding to our offerings with new short and sharp, ‘Espresso’ learning sessions at our venue partner, the wonderful, Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham. The first one starts in February with “GDPR & Beyond” and is followed by the March event covering Employment Law. We also intend to extend our range of Public, Off-Site courses and are finalising a programme which will start in Q2.
We are also arranging our first Charity Quiz in April. Clients are being encouraged to enter teams for a fun evening of questions and networking with proceeds going to Fight Bladder Cancer which was very supportive of Keith during the summer.
In summary, a busy and successful 2018 working with some wonderful clients. However, we are only as strong as our fabulous team of Trainers who represent Athelbrae so well and we look forward to working with our clients and Trainers into 2019 and beyond.
So on behalf of Kate, Keith and Jaffa, our Office Junior, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.