Meet the Trainer – Sarah Gorbutt

Sarah G

This month we are featuring Sarah Gorbutt – Sarah joined Athelbrae at the end of 2018 having had a very successful and varied career.  She started in Telephone sales working call centres.

As with all our Associates, she has a wealth of experience in different sectors and life skills which have included her qualifying and working as an aerobic instructor, childminder, qualifying as a teacher and for 11 years, she was leading one of the largest primary schools in London as Headteacher. Under her leadership, the school moved from being one of the worst schools in Lewisham to Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ in just 4 years! So, she’s well experienced in dealing with challenges, change and transformative leadership, motivating staff and she understands that to get the best from people it is essential to help them to understand their role and their individual and shared responsibilities within an organisation.  She believes successful organisations are those that value good communication, are not afraid to ask themselves challenging questions and, whatever their size, are nimble in attitude and ready for change.

Her philosophy is that training and learning is a valuable investment which should be active, accessible and enjoyable. She believes that training must impact on practice and approach back in the workplace.

Sarah is a former aerobics instructor and a keen participant of Zumba.  She is also a singer and musician in two function bands. She sails with her partner in the UK and Europe and enjoys live music, film, cycling and walking.


Employment Law for April 2019 – 2 hour espresso session for HR & Office Managers

Last few places remaining on our Espresso session on 25th March at Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham – just 10 minutes from Junction 8 of the M20.

8.30 – 10.30 with industry specialist Janice on all aspects of updates and changes to employment issues from April 2019 including the potential impact of Brexit….assuming we’ll be in or out by then!

This 2 hour Q&A session is designed specifically for HR and Office Managers who are responsible for all aspects of employee interaction.

To book your seat, email or call 01892 832059

Just £75 per person and the hotel are supplying bacon rolls on arrival and plenty of refreshments.

We have a large number of HR staff from across South East business so a great opportunity to network with colleagues too. or 01892 832059 to book one of the last remaining seats.

Fun night out for colleagues, friends and Family!

You don’t need to be Einstein to join the Athelbrae Quiz night on 4th April!! 



Just a few colleagues, friends or family, £25 entry fee and a fun disposition to have a laugh whilst raising funds for Bladder Cancer UK.

4th April at 7 pm:
Chilston Park Hotel, just ;
6-8 people.
AND you may get the chance to walk away with the Athelbrae trophy – what more could you want on an April evening. Welcome drink & nibbles are even provided by the generosity of GM
Simon Barker – go on, put in a team and put your thinking caps on.  Message me or email to book your team table

Top tips for successful negotiating

“Everything is negotiable.  Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing”  Carrie Fisher

There are plenty of politicians and commentators both in the UK and wider world that would probably agree with this sentiment.  We’re talking about borders and backstops with Brexit; the US has been haggling over border finances with shutdowns vs demands; the Katowice climate change conference in December 2018 held talks on regulations that will govern the nuts and bolts of how countries cut carbon, provide finance to poorer nations and ensure that everyone is doing what they say they are doing.

There are some key things to bear in mind with every negotiation:-

Flexibility – Need vs Want –   The other side will have wants but – more importantly – they’ll also have needs. Accept that you are going to have to be flexible and concede, sometimes in crucial areas, in order for everyone to have a result.

Time management – we’ve heard a lot about “running down the clock” – have a time frame that everyone works to.  Think about those SMART objectives we all talk about – the final two are realistic and time frame. Structure a workable, manageable timeframe and be prepared to discuss adapting this to meet the needs of the parties.

Be respectful – everyone has their own values and opinions – just because yours differ from your opponent, doesn’t mean they are wrong and you are right.  Respecting each other’s position enables the talking to be productive and takes the personalities out of the equation.

Engage with all parties – the simple response for many is to dig in their heels and refuse to engage with all interested parties.

Be accurate and factual – don’t allow anyone in the negotiation to make fluffy statements and sweeping accusations.  Keep it focused and relevant.

WIIFM – What’s in it for me?  If you are negotiating a contract with a supplier, a client or a pay rise with your employer this is often the driver behind the discussions.  It might seem selfish, but knowing this can help to bring about healthy, productive solutions.

Meetings – don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings.  Make sure they are structured, with an agenda – if you end up going over the same old ground every time, the meeting has no point.

Walk away– sometimes the strength is knowing when there is nothing left to discuss and accepting that you’ll have to forego your negotiations.  This may not be forever (as in supplier/client/wage scenarios) but don’t flog a dead horse just for the sake of it.

Dignity – whatever else, always keep your dignity.  There’s nothing worse than having a “shouty” negotiating approach.

Sounds simple in theory and no doubt we have all been in situations where we’ve struggled to maintain these key points, but then as Carrie said at the start, no one said it would be easy!

Risk Assessment and Review (beyond GDPR) – 1st February 2019

Very excited to be working on our Espresso session for 1st February with industry expert Andy Styles.

A two hour packed session on all aspects of risk management and reviewing your risk plans.

Gatwick December 2018 – Dronegate… was a good indication of what can happen if your risk model isn’t updated, tested and found to be practical on all levels.

Are you willing to risk damage to your reputation?

Not to mention to impact on staff, clients, and suppliers.

8.30 – 10.30 at Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham (10 minutes from Junction 8 of the M20).

£75 per person and an opportunity to put questions to Andy and come away with practical and immediate recommendations for your business continuity.

To book, email or call 01892 832059.

Athelbrae Ltd – A look back over 2018

downloadWe 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.

20 years2018 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.

2018-12-02 15.01.29On 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.

Espresso Sessions starting in 2019


Looking forward to our first two espresso sessions coming in early 2019 ;

1st February – GDPR and Beyond – a packed two hour session with Risk expert Andy Styles.

Now everyone has got GDPR under their belts, there’s lots of developments coming in both GDPR and cyber security worlds in terms of news to communicate including:

  • What happened to BA and the implications for them (and any organisation) for GDPR/IT security
  • Recent court cases in the UK and EU regarding GDPR
  • The outcome of the Morrisons case including the vicarious liability for staff with privileged IT access
  • Post Brexit impacts for GDPR and DPA in 2019

****Especially relevant for all those with responsibility for the data records and processes in all businesses*****

25th March – Employment Law updates and news for HR Managers delivered by Janice Donaghue,

This two hour session, delivered by industry specialist Janice Donaghue, will look at the changes and legislation that will be coming in during 2019.

A must for all those in the business working with contracts, employment law and personnel issues that are impacted by updates to employee and employer legislation.

Janice is renowned for making the jargon laden content easy to comprehend and apply to your business.


Both these sessions run from 8.30 -10.30 at Chilston Park Hotel, Lenham (10 minutes from Junction 8 of the M20).  There’s refreshments, bacon rolls, pastries and an opportunity to network with business colleagues.

All presentations will be emailed out afterwards to attendees for use back in the workplace and there will be Q&A sessions with both Andy and Janice who will be able to provide you with all the information you need on the upcoming changes and amendments.

To book your place, email or call 01892 832059 and we’ll do everything for you.  £75 per person + VAT.