People on the Move

Our weekly round-up of professionals being recruited or promoted within the North East business community.

South Tyneside-based Restaurant Design Associates (RDA) has appointed Jason Cartwright as project manager
South Tyneside-based Restaurant Design Associates (RDA) has appointed Jason Cartwright as project manager

Catering design company RDA appoints project manager

A North East catering design and installation firm has recruited an experienced manager to take the reins for a series of projects as the company’s client list continues to grow.

South Tyneside-based Restaurant Design Associates (RDA) has appointed project manager Jason Cartwright following a number of new contract wins.

Jason will be overseeing a range of projects including the installation of a hospital cafe, a kitchen refurbishment at a prestigious London school and a leading university’s kitchen and servery refurbishment.

His role will involve regular liaison with clients and sub-contractors, collating health and safety records, ensuring that jobs are completed on time and within budget, and coordinating detailed surveys of future projects.

Jason, who is a fully-qualified, JIB-approved electrician with 24 years of industry experience, previously worked as a contracts manager for an electrical contractor, where he designed and developed nationwide projects and managed a team of 20 electricians and office staff. He is also trained in asbestos awareness and has regularly conducted health and safety training for employees.

He said: “I’m really pleased to be joining RDA, which is well-known as a leading player in the catering industry with a talented team. I’m looking forward to working with a variety of clients across multiple sectors, from SMEs to large hospitals and universities.

“Having worked with RDA as a sub-contractor on several past projects, I was well-informed of how the company was structured and the type of work that they carried out, and the rest was an easy decision to make.”

Roy Addyman, director of RDA, said: “This is an exciting time for RDA as we’ve now completed more than 250 projects since setting up the firm in 2007 and this year is proving to be the busiest yet.

“As a result of our steadily growing client base, we wanted to recruit an enthusiastic, self-motivated project manager with strong organisational skills, and Jason was the ideal candidate for us.

“We have no doubt that Jason’s systematic approach and his extensive experience of managing projects from start to finish – as well as his impressive background in electrical work – will be hugely beneficial to our team.”

For further information about RDA, visit or tel: 0844 873 4993.

Garden centre blossoms following managerial appointment

Paul Barker has been appointed manager of the Poplar Tree Garden Centre in Durham
Paul Barker has been appointed manager of the Poplar Tree Garden Centre in Durham

A flourishing garden centre is sowing the seeds for success after boosting its management team.

Paul Barker has been appointed as general manager of the Poplar Tree Garden Centre, in Shincliffe on the outskirts of Durham.

He will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the centre and its Brambles Coffee Shop.

Paul joins the Poplar Tree after almost 20 years working at centres across the North East.

He said: “This was a perfect opportunity for me as the Poplar Tree is the premier garden centre for Durham built up over more than 40 years. It has a great reputation among its loyal customers and within the sector as well.

“After expanding our coffee shop, we have even more exciting plans in the pipeline which I am delighted to be at the heart of and which will only enhance our existing excellent customer experience.”

Poplar Tree was bought and redeveloped in 2003 by Frank and Sue Curry of Brambledown Contracts Group Ltd who run the centre with the assistance of their son Paul and daughter Caroline.

Over the past few years, the Poplar Tree has been transformed with the addition of two cafes with seating for 300 people, a function suite and extensive grounds as well as departments selling plants, garden sundries, giftware and its own Interflora Florist.

It also hosts a variety of community-based events ranging from the annual sponsorship of Durham In Bloom to business networking events and charity fundraisers.

Caroline Walker, Poplar Tree’s marketing manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Paul to the Poplar Tree team. He has knowledge, experience and integrity from managing several centres for Wyevale Garden Centres and a great enthusiasm for his work. He will set very high standards for our 46 staff as we enter an exciting period of growth.”

Apprentices gain full-time positions at software firm Wolf Group

Allan Lambert and Ben Nixon, junior software developers, Wolf Group
Allan Lambert and Ben Nixon, junior software developers, Wolf Group

Two teenagers from Newcastle who completed their ICT apprenticeships with Wolf Group have been offered full-time roles as junior software developers at the IT consultancy’s North Shields head office.

During the bespoke 12-month programme Allan Lambert, 18, and Ben Nixon, 19, have both achieved level three ICT qualifications and had the opportunity to work on real-world projects, including conducting pioneering software testing on behalf of clients such as Northumbria University and LetSafe.

Ben, who began his apprenticeship at Wolf Group in June last year, said: “It’s brilliant to have my efforts over the past 12 months acknowledged in the form of a full-time job. I really enjoyed the apprenticeship and it has definitely been a worthwhile experience.

“Helping to deliver high-end, bespoke software to clients as part of such a reputable company will be a fantastic opportunity for me at the beginning of my career.”

Wolf Group’s apprenticeship initiative, which forms part of the Wolf Academy, was one of the first of its kind in the North East. These latest appointments reflect the firm’s ambitious growth and expansion plans which includes further recruitment with specific focus on developers.

Marc Fowler, managing director of Wolf Group, said: “This is exactly why the Wolf Academy was established, to target the skills gap and provide training for a range of growing digital skills, in order to give great opportunities to the software developers of tomorrow, to be able to build a successful career.“

“As the first two of our apprentices to complete their courses since the Wolf Academy began, Allan and Ben have really proved themselves as valuable members of the team and we’re excited to be able to retain them within the business.”

Currently the academy has 12 apprentices enrolled on its programme with spaces on the next intake now available. It’s hoped the initiative will not only reduce unemployment but also help to create and sustain a reputation for innovation, technology and software development in the region.

The Wolf Group has been established for almost 17 years and provides IT consultancy and software solutions to SMEs and corporates. For more information visit:

New Jumpstart appointment will help North East businesses make savings on their R&D expenditure

New Jumpstart appointment Ian Wolfendale
New Jumpstart appointment Ian Wolfendale

Ian Wolfendale, a former business development manager with Insider Publications, has joined Jumpstart, a specialist in research and development (R&D) tax relief, as its North East of England client engagement manager.

Ian, who spent 12 years with his former employer, is a well-known figure in business and corporate finance circles, particularly through his work creating links between trading businesses and potential investors throughout the United Kingdom.

He said: “Jumpstart has recovered significant sums in R&D tax credits from HMRC for its clients in the North East but overall, uptake has been limited and, I believe, nowhere near the potential of the substantial sums that could be remitted back from the tax system to fund local businesses and permit them to support future vital investment.”

The total amount of money recovered by Jumpstart for its clients since it began trading in 2008 is more than £55m. While its average claim size is £29k, one particular success story includes an offshore engineering company that has been claiming R&D tax relief with Jumpstart for five years and as a result has recovered more than £1m from HMRC.

Jumpstart’s technical analysts are qualified to drill down into the most complex business and scientific systems and present information in a compliant form. Working with a range of companies has won them significant tax advantages by highlighting to HMRC the innovative aspects of their business practices.

Brian Williamson, managing director of Jumpstart, said: “Ian is a very welcome addition to the Jumpstart team. He will be covering the North East of England and is already renewing his relationship with professional advisers and company directors throughout the region to tell them about the advantages to be gained from R&D tax relief.

“Every year a potential £2bn can be claimed by UK companies in R&D tax credits; in the event some £600m of that went unclaimed in the last financial year.

“We believe there are millions of pounds worth of claims sitting waiting to be filed with HMRC and Ian is in pole position to assist companies in the North East to secure these funds.”

New MD for Controlled Blasting Solutions Ltd

Steve Young of Controlled Blasting Solutions, left, with Michael Dickens of Rivers Capital Partners
Steve Young of Controlled Blasting Solutions, left, with Michael Dickens of Rivers Capital Partners

North East firm Controlled Blasting Solutions Ltd is reaching for new heights, following its capture of accomplished director Stephen Young.

The new managing director will guide the explosives pioneer’s expansion, utilising the investment secured from the Finance for Business North East Angel Fund.

Controlled Blasting Solutions has developed a patented, self-stemming pyrotechnic device capable of breaking rock in a wide range of market segments including mining, dimensional stone, demolition and marine activity.

This revolutionary product significantly lowers the dangers of transporting, storing and using high-powered explosives.The Newcastle-based company offers explosive solutions which enhance safety, productivity and precision to a wide customer base.

The Angel Fund investment, which was provided via independent venture capital firm Rivers Capital Partners, helped to speed development of the product faster than expected. Now Mr Young, who has more than 20 years’ experience as a top-level manager, is confident he can steer the company through the stages of finalising the product and then on to the international market.

He said “My transition to Controlled Blasting Solutions was fast and easy because I share their philosophy of striving to make a product that delivers results in a way that reduces dangers. They have a pioneering technical system and with the professional advice of their investors, Rivers Capital, I have no doubt we’re going to send shockwaves through the explosives industry.”

Michael Dickens, fund manager at Rivers Capital Partners, believes that the addition of Mr Young can only strengthen an already impressive team. “Controlled Blasting Solutions are professional, knowledgeable and, above all, dedicated, which is what we want most from investees of the Angel Fund. It’s their team, who will be complemented perfectly by the skills of Stephen Young, which are going to make this company an explosive success.”

Experienced manager takes role at Thorn Baker

Recruitment consultancy Thorn Baker has appointed Melonie Debenham as operations manager
Recruitment consultancy Thorn Baker has appointed Melonie Debenham as operations manager

Recruitment consultancy Thorn Baker has appointed Melonie Debenham as operations manager to drive the expansion of its Newcastle office.

With more than 24 years’ experience in recruitment, Melonie’s remit at Thorn Baker will be to support the growth of the business via operations and business development across the industrial, commercial and engineering sectors.

Melonie is looking forward to helping Thorn Baker work towards its ambitious five-year growth plans, which will involve offering support to the firm’s existing offices and developing the growth of emerging locations such as Birmingham and Leeds.

She said: “I wanted to join Thorn Baker as I felt the way they worked would really suit me. I love the professionalism and their open and honest approach to recruitment.

“The company already has a great vision and it is all about maximising those ideas. It’s great that I am able to contribute towards these ideas and their current growth plans.”

Melonie has previously worked at some of the biggest recruitment firms nationally, globally and regionally. These include Tate Recruitment, Concept Recruitment and Randstad.

Her new role will include her developing the teams and sales strategy across the business as well as supporting new business and offices around the country.

Melonie added: “I love working in recruitment, it is all I have ever done for 24 years. It is fast-paced and there is something different every day as there is so much variation. I am really looking forward to my next challenge at Thorn Baker.”

Thorn Baker, which recently took a much-coveted three-star award from Best Companies, the national award which recognises leading UK organisations, is headquartered in Nottingham and has nine other regional offices in Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol, Chesterfield, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Mansfield.

It works across six sectors including construction, industrial, estates, facilities and maintenance, office and professional, technical and engineering and sales and marketing and has been named on The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For in 2015 list.


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