Golden college in top 10 for cyber security as apprenticeship interest grows

COLEG CAMBRIA has retained its position as a leader in cyber security education.

The college – based in Deeside, Llysfasi, Wrexham and Northop – received a gold award from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as part of its CyberFirst initiative, which aims to address the UK’s cyber skills gap.

Cambria is one of only eight institutions in Wales to achieve this benchmark.

The good news comes as interest grows in the college’s popular Digital Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Cyber Security, aimed at prospective learners pursuing a career in IT, software development and engineering, or those already in a relevant position and looking to upskill.

The course includes modules on Local Area Network Essentials, Security and Data Ethics, Web Servers and Authentication, Business and Enterprise Programming, Software Engineering, and Penetration Testing.

Cambria’s Director of Business Solutions Nigel Holloway said maintaining the gold accreditation is a “major USP” for the college’s suite of digital and IT qualifications.

“Given the emphasis and strategic importance of combatting cybercrime on the international stage, for Coleg Cambria to be among only a select number of organisations nationwide to hold this standard is a significant milestone,” he added.

“It gives our learners confidence in the courses we run and demonstrates to our industry partners that we are at the forefront of advances in this sector.

“The programmes we deliver – notably the fully funded Digital Degree Apprenticeships – hold even more weight as a result.

“A big thank you to all of our team for their hard work in not only reaching this standard but going above and beyond it, year after year.”

The Digital Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Cyber Security – in partnership with Bangor University – runs for three years and consists of nine hours of in-person and online delivery per week, split over one six-hour day and one three-hour evening session. For more information, visit the website: www.cambria.ac.uk/our-courses.

CyberFirst covers a broad range of activities including thousands of free places on CyberFirst courses at UK universities and colleges. Each activity is designed to seek out diverse people with potential, offering the support, skills, experience, and exposure needed to be the future first line of defence in our CyberFirst world. Visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberfirst to find out more.

Solar pioneers sign major deal to help decarbonise global shipping industry

GRAFMARINE secured a new partnership with a global leader in the decarbonisation of the international shipping industry.

Based in Manchester and Anglesey, Grafmarine is at the forefront of developing Nanodeck technology for the maritime sector.

The company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Njord Accelerator to conduct a proof of concept, followed by a pilot installation which aims to fully explore the capabilities of solar tiles in the maritime industry.

Njord stands out for its role in enhancing the relationship between ship owners, charterers, vendors, and financiers. The organisation’s primary goal is to increase fuel efficiency of vessels, reduce their carbon footprint, and cut down greenhouse gas emissions.

Through this partnership, Grafmarine’s solar energy generation and management system, designed to capture, store, and manage clean energy at sea, in port, or at anchorage, will be validated.

Grafmarine has developed durable square panels and aesthetically pleasing hexagonal tiles that can be affixed to any vessel, showcasing its innovative approach to sustainable maritime technology.

Chris Russell, Engineering Director at Grafmarine, said: “Working with Njord is a privilege. Their guidance and support will be crucial as we refine Nanodeck technology.

“This collaboration not only marks a significant milestone in improving our product but also plays a vital role in introducing us to potential customers and partners within the maritime and shipping industries – it’s a pivotal step forward for us.”

Njord, headquartered in Denmark with a global presence, offers services including Technology Screening, Solution Design, Installation Partnership, and Njord Performance.

Steen Sander Jacobsen, Head of Technical at Njord, said: “At Njord Accelerator, we’re committed to supporting technology providers in advancing the green transition.

“Grafmarine’s solar tiles, known for their scalability, flexibility, and durability, represent a promising solution for the maritime industry. We’re excited about the potential this partnership holds.”

For more information on Grafmarine, visit www.grafmarine.com and follow @grafmarineltd on social media.

To learn more about Njord and its services, visit www.njordsolution.com.

Cohesity Extends Collaboration to Strengthen Cyber Resilience with IBM Investment in Cohesity

Cohesity has announced a deepening of its cyber resilience collaboration with IBM. The enhanced relationship will accelerate the development of essential cyber resilience capabilities to address organisations’ critical need for increased data security and resilience across hybrid cloud environments. With this announcement, Cohesity completes its Series F financing, with IBM joining NVIDIA as a strategic investor.

The most recent Cost of a Data Breach report sponsored by IBM Security shows the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million, a 15% increase over the previous three years. To help clients tackle this issue head-on, IBM has delivered Cohesity capabilities into IBM’s end-to-end cyber resilience platform, IBMStorage Defender, strengthening customers’ ability to recover from data breaches and cyber-attacks.

IBM is a powerful partner in the enterprise cloud and IT infrastructure market. They bring decades of expertise to our relationship, in addition to their investment in our business to help fund incremental research and development to offer customers even stronger cyber resilience,” said Sanjay Poonen, CEO and President, Cohesity. “We’re thrilled that IBM is working with us as we continue to help combined customers detect threats rapidly and maintain operations during an attack to avoid business interruptions.”

“Data breaches continue to be one of the biggest threats organisations face to advancing business outcomes,” said Ric Lewis, SVP, Infrastructure at IBM. “We’re excited to deepen our collaboration with Cohesity to bring clients innovative end-to-end software-defined solutions designed to increase their cyber resilience and help avoid business interruptions.”

Cohesity’s collaboration with IBM has brought Cohesity DataProtect together with IBM’s Storage Defender Solution to help their joint customers protect, monitor, manage, and recover data. Cohesity DataProtect is a high-performance, secured backup and recovery solution. It is designed to safeguard your data against sophisticated cyber threats and offers comprehensive policy-based protection for your cloud-native, SaaS, and traditional data sources. DataProtect converges multiple-point products into a single multicloud platform deployed on-premises or consumed as a service.

IBM Storage Defender leverages AI and event monitoring across multiple storage platforms through a single pane of glass to help protect organisations’ data layer from risks like ransomware, human error, and sabotage. Additionally, IBM Storage Defender is anticipated to include a cyber vault and clean room features with automated recovery functions designed to help companies restore business-critical data in hours or minutes from what used to take days.

Skin clinic named best in Wales following expansion, investment and charity campaign

PURE Perfection Clinic added another prestigious accolade to its long list of titles at a national prizegiving.

The trailblazing business, based in Rossett near Wrexham, was named Best Clinic Midlands and Wales at the Aesthetics Awards, hosted by TV personality Vernon Kay.

Director Sara Cheeney and her seven-strong workforce were also commended for Clinic Team of the Year at the ceremony, held at London’s Grosvenor House.

Sara, an ambassador for the world-famous Hydrafacial aesthetic treatment and UK trainer and key opinion leader for Zo Skin Health, said they were “completely shocked” to receive the trophy.

“We were all stunned when they called out our name, it took us a few moments to process before we went up to collect the award!” she added.

“Pure Perfection has won several prizes over the years but none bigger than this, so we are absolutely thrilled.

“It’s testament to the hard work and dedication of all our team, who have worked tirelessly over the last year to maintain our high standards following a challenging time for the industry post-Covid.

“We ourselves have gone from strength to strength and being named best in the country reflects that, so we are privileged and thankful to the judges, and our loyal customers, for their support.”

The good news followed a period of investment at the Chester Road site, which included redevelopment of the premises, a revamped treatment room and expansion, with new faces joining in past months.

The mum-of-two, from Llangollen, has also been busy as one of the founding members of the Star Box campaign for the charity Awyr Las, a care package for patients using the Shooting Star Unit at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

The Unit cared for her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and she says the appeal is “a form of therapy”, an outlet to give back and helping others on their “cancer journey”.

Having been put into a ‘false menopause’ while undergoing treatment for the condition, she wants to help more people in that position, having seen a surge in demand for support in past years.

As NHS waiting lists for skin treatments continue to rise, Clinic Manager Marianne Burrell says they aim to meet rising demand by continuing to invest in state-of-the-art technology unavailable elsewhere in the region, including CO2 and vascular lasers.

“We will keep raising the benchmark for aesthetics in Wales and beyond, which means introducing the best machinery and training,” she said.

“The clinic has experienced an increase in the number of men visiting for a wide range of services we offer, which is fantastic to see, and there will be new health treatments for women, which will be rolled out this year.

“We have also seen a rise in acne treatments and the results have been very positive, producing lasting results for patients, while also adapting our clinical pathway to meet the holistic needs of all our customers.”

Marianne added: “There is a lot happening and Pure Perfection continues to grow; to win such a huge award gives us confidence we are moving in the right direction, and that the best is yet to come.”

The Aesthetics Awards are the most prestigious and longest-standing awards ceremony in the UK medical aesthetics industry. striving to promote best practice, safety, efficacy, and recognise the top leaders in the field.

With more than 400 entries and 950 guests attending, the evening brings together the very best in aesthetic medicine.

Visit www.aestheticsawards.com for more information and a list of all the winners.

For more information on Pure Perfection Clinic, visit the website www.pureperfectionclinic.com or follow Pure Perfection Clinic (@purepclinic and @pureperfectionrossett) on social media.

For more on the Awyr Las Star Box fund visit www.awyrlas.org.uk/starbox.

EDB Mauritius returns to London for another exciting edition of the Mauritius Property & Investment Forum

The Economic Development Board (EDB) Mauritius is set to return to London this spring, to host the second edition of the Property and Investment Forum, following the success of its 2023 event.

Taking place at the Conrad London St James Hotel in Westminster on Friday, May 31, 2024, this flagship event aims to provide valuable insights into the exciting growth and development opportunities on the island for Business Leaders, High-Net-Worth Individuals, and Property Investors.

Commencing at 09:30 hrs, the Property and Investment Forum will feature esteemed speakers from Mauritius – including government officials, leading real estate developers, legal experts, notaries, tax specialists, prominent banks, and management companies – enabling UK business leaders and investors to understand how the Island has maintained a strong economy in recent years compared to national markets.

Mauritius shines as a beacon of innovation, strategic foresight, and economic resilience. Positioned as the star and key of the India Ocean, the island stands as a testament to the transformative power of innovation and diversified economic strategies. Consistently recognized for its excellence, Mauritius boats impressive accolades, including ranking 13th worldwide and 1st in Africa for ease of doing business. Mauritius unwavering political stability and commitment to economic freedom further solidify its status as a premier destination for discerning investors and ambitious entrepreneurs.

The business opportunities in Mauritius are vast and varied, ranging from financial services, tourism, and real estate to emerging sectors such as information and communications technology, higher education, biotechnology, and renewable energy.

Committed to establishing Mauritius as a leading investment platform for economic growth, the Economic Development Board also plans to leverage the Forum to attract more UK citizens to the island.  For the period 2019 to September 2023, Mauritius has registered 91 million GBP in terms of Foreign Direct Investment from UK. As at date, more than 400 British have pledged interest in its Premium Visa and 395 as Retired Non-Citizens.

The Property and Investment Forums play a key role in enabling us to achieve this and in showcasing what life, business and investment could look like in Mauritius. We are, therefore, delighted to return to London this Spring – particularly following the success of our 2023 event – and look forward to educating more business leaders and investors on the opportunities available for personal and professional growth in Mauritius.”

To find out more about the EDB Mauritius Property and Investment Forum and to register your interest by clicking on the following link:

https://forms.edbmauritius.org/cn/al935/London

In the Welsh Wind Distillery announced April release of first whisky

Award-winning Ceredigion distillery, In the Welsh Wind, is releasing its first whisky at a celebration day later this month.

Only 680 bottles are available of this limited edition and the company is extending an open invitation to join in the launch celebration at the distillery, near Cardigan, on April 26.

Whisky enthusiasts and those curious to know what all the fuss is about are invited to join the In the Welsh Wind team for a day of discovery.

Crafted with care and dedication, the company’s inaugural single malt whisky release is a tribute to Welsh craftsmanship and heritage with an ‘In the Welsh Wind’ twist.

Distilled in a state-of-the-art iStill, each bottle promises a distinctive flavour profile that captures the spirit of Welsh whisky.

“We are incredibly excited to share our first whisky with the world,” said Ellen Wakelam, founder and director of In the Welsh Wind Distillery. “This release marks a significant milestone for us as we make our mark on the Welsh whisky industry.

“We invite whisky enthusiasts and curious minds alike to join us on April 26 for a day of celebration and camaraderie. Come and experience the beauty of West Wales, taste the essence of Welsh craftsmanship and raise a glass to the future of Welsh whisky-making.”

The release event, held at the flagship distillery, offers attendees a unique opportunity to be part of Welsh whisky history.

Guests will have the chance to take a free tour of the distillery, meet the passionate individuals behind In the Welsh Wind and learn about the business’s commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and sustainability. Visitors can also taste and purchase this first edition whisky, while stocks last.

The distillery will be open from 8am until 6pm on April 26. To book a tour, please visit the website: https://inthewelshwind.co.uk/products/whisky-launch-day-tours.

For those who prefer not to indulge in whisky, coffee and cake will be available from local coffee truck Tarten. For those unable to visit the distillery, some bottles may be available online after the launch event.

Auction success for Mid Wales sellers as snuff box collection makes £12,000

Two Mid Wales vendors are in the money following a successful Asian art auction in Shrewsbury yesterday (Wednesday).

The owner of a large collection of Chinese snuff bottles saw her 43 lots make £12,000, including buyer’s premium, while another seller from the Welshpool area saw an small Tibetan gilt bronze figure make £4,600 at Halls Fine Art’s auction.

Top sellers in the snuff bottle collection were a group of eight Chinese jade and hardstone snuff bottles from the 19th and 20th centuries which made £1,400 and a Chinese blue and white porcelain snuff bottle bearing the Yongzheng mark which sold for £1,350.

“The snuff bottles were collected over a long period by a couple, but the husband has now passed away,” explained Alexander Clement, Halls Fine Art’s Asian art specialist “His widow, who lives on the Mid Wales coast, has kept some of her favourite pieces but decided to part with the rest because they were being kept in boxes.

“I was delighted with the prices achieved for the snuff bottles, with all but a couple of the lots selling.”

The 18th or early 19th century Tibetan figure of Padmasambhava, one of the founding fathers of Tibetan Buddhism in the eighth century, was originally purchased by the seller’s late grandfather.

The 9.5cm high figure was acquired by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Moore Kirkwood (1865-1933) while serving with the Indian Army in Tibet from 1903-04.

“These figures are normally hollow cast and they either have a flat metal plate on the base or are completely open,” explained Alexander. “Those with a plate are filled with prayers and offerings.

“The one we sold didn’t have a plate but it did have tiny paper scrolls that were rolled up tightly inside, which made it an interesting example.”

Top seller in the auction was a Chinese carved celadon-glazed ruyi vase and cover bearing the Qianlong seal mark which sold for £21,000.

“The main message from this auction is that the Asian art market remains very selective but the right objects are still able to make headline grabbing hammer prices,” added Alexander. “These objects are still out there waiting to be discovered which is really exciting for us as auctioneers.”

Specialists from Halls Fine Art are holding an antiques valuation event at the Monty Club, Newtown on Wednesday next week from 11am to 2pm to raise money for Newtown Marie Curie Fundraising Group.

The AFA Group Celebrates Substantial Team Expansion

Manchester-headquartered AFA Group, the parent company of Clear Start Accountants and AFA Insolvency, has significantly bolstered its employee base over the last quarter with twenty three new appointments.

Welcoming half of the group’s recent recruits, leading personal insolvency specialist AFA Insolvency, has considerably extended its team. In the past three months, the firm has appointed individuals to a series of positions including Debt Advisor, Drafters and Quality Monitoring roles.

The AFA Group’s accountancy and personal budgeting division Clear Start Accountants, has also made a series of appointments, strengthening its customer service department. The business offers accountancy services for sole traders and smaller firms provided by a team of qualified accountants, as well as its pioneering, tech-enabled, personal budgeting service for both business and private individuals.

The significant growth follows hot on the heels of another record period for the group, which closed the year (2023) with a highly impressive 87.5% uplift in value of sales – rising to a noteworthy £15 million, from £8 million in 2022.

Fiaz Ashraf, Founder and CEO of the AFA Group, commented: “As we continue to experience monumental growth, it is a pleasure to offer a variety of job opportunities in the region and welcome a wealth of new team members to the AFA Group. Expanding our dedicated team is absolutely crucial in helping us to maintain an exceptional level of service for our customers, as we continue to support them with various aspects of financial management.”

With an employee base of over 150 people, and operating from its state of the art, contemporary headquarters in Universal Square, Devonshire Street North, Manchester, as well as from its offices in Stockport and Canada, the AFA Group is the parent company of several high-growth businesses including AFA Insolvency and Clear Start Accountants. The group offers via its various divisions a suite of services to support individuals and companies with financial management – from monthly budgeting services and debt management, to general accountancy support.

To find out more about Clear Start Accountants visit: https://clearstartaccountants.co.uk/

Wecasa partners with Plan A to measure and disclose their Corporate Carbon Footprint

Wecasa has partnered with Plan A to measure and disclose their Corporate Carbon Footprint (CCF), and to ultimately implement a sustainability strategy that is in line with the vast constraints that come with being a tech scale up facing steep growth. 

Founded in 2016 and based in Paris, France Wecasa is a data-driven marketplace that transforms care services by focusing on user experience. Expanding into the UK market in 2021 the platform has quickly become the go-to online booking platform for at-home wellness and care services. Wecasa helps its clients find time to take care of themselves and bring greater balance into their lives, no matter how busy their schedule. In doing so, Wecasa has employed over 10,000 independent workers.

For Wecasa, providing greater balance in people’s lives also comes with environmental balance. Wecasa strives to lead by example within the home services sector through supporting sustainable value creation in all aspects of their operations – for the business users, customers and employees.

Wecasa’s solution

Accordingly, Wecasa leveraged the following solutions to ensure sustainable value creation is supported in all aspects of their operations.

  1. Wecasa used the Plan A Sustainability Platform to calculate their company emissions – with a key focus upon scope 3. 
  2. Specific focus has been placed on the business users commuting to the customers, including a recurring in-depth analysis based on distance travelled by these professionals, the geographic location, as well as the type of service provided (e.g. massage or cleaning).
  3. Decarbonisation workshops with the Wecasa executive team were led by Plan A’s Sustainability experts and Customer Success team in order to analyse Wecasa’s CCF report, and to discuss how Wecasa can implement a decarbonisation strategy as a hyper-growing company.

While Wecasa encountered several challenges relating to their rapid expansion and a significant emphasis on scope 3 emissions, Wecasa demonstrates its resolute aspiration to emerge as a prominent figure in the realm of sustainability by actively addressing indirect emission reduction. The leadership team at Wecasa is dedicated to embedding sustainability as a foundational principle within the organisation with objectives entailing instigating strategic and operational advancements across the enterprise and its value chain.

Antoine Chatelain, co-founder and CEO of Wecasa said: “Wecasa is an at-home services app that connects clients with self-employed pros. Yes, Wecasa is a business platform, but a responsible and sustainable one. Our ambition is to showcase another side of platforms, all while making at-home services more accessible. This starts with making the invisible visible and being inclusive as well as taking environmental responsibility. Our partnership with Plan A sets us up for a result-based method that keeps us accountable.”

Their forthcoming strategy involves the integration of Wecasa into the new Plan A Sustainability Platform. This strategic move will empower Wecasa to scrutinise and assess emissions through customisable dashboards, marking a significant step towards the achievement of their sustainability objectives.

Wecasa’s results to date

As a business, Wecasa is best in class in terms of their direct emissions, or emissions they can easily influence (i.e. scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions, excluding suppliers and the commuting of their business users). This is thanks to the sustainability practices that Wecasa’s leadership have implemented as foundations of their operations, such as:

  • Energy-efficient buildings (utilising renewable energy)
  • Strict internal business policies (i.e. sustainable sourcing policies for food and beverages)
  • Limited employee commuting by car
  • Optimised and environmental-friendly Cloud servers
  • Office waste recycling and favouring of recycled products (IT, phones, office supply)

As Wecasa continues to grow steeply, they commit to engage in sustainability across three key areas to mitigate their carbon emissions – each sponsored and driven by their executive team:

  1. As a SaaS platform, Wecasa holds little further opportunity to reduce the emissions which they have direct control or influence over (i.e. scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions, excluding suppliers and the commuting of their business users). As such, they commit to continually optimising their data collection processes, and becoming net-zero by investing on high quality carbon removal projects with Plan A’s carefully selected partners.
  2. With regards to the platform’s business users, Wecasa is committed to support these professionals with their carbon transition. They intend to do so by developing new functionalities in the platform to improve commuting measurement, reduce the average distance travelled by the professionals to go to their customers, and optimise their appointment schedules. They also plan to do this through educational communication campaigns to their professional users (e.g. providing information on available subsidies and success stories) to influence them to transition to greener mobility.
  3. Finally, concerning their supplier emissions, Wecasa aims at kicking off a supplier engagement strategy focusing on optimising their investments with media partners. Wecasa strives to make their voice heard as sustainability pioneers – paving the way for larger players. 

Herringbone Is the First UK Kitchen Company to Ban the sale of High-Silica Quartz Following Disturbing Reports from America and Australia

Herringbone Is the First UK Kitchen Company to Ban the sale of High-Silica Quartz Following Disturbing Reports from America and Australia

In response to recent reports highlighting the health risks associated with high-silica quartz in engineered stone, Herringbone, the family run bespoke cabinet and furniture maker, is the first UK firm to announce it will be phasing out the sale of high-silica quartz worktops to its clients. This is the first company in the UK to take a stand against high-silica quartz, which is the dominant worktop material currently in the industry. While there appears to be no risks to clients or installers of this material, the risk comes when it is produced and cut by stonemasons. The decision comes in the wake of alarming findings from reputable sources, such as the report from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the announcement of Australia becoming the first country to ban high-silica engineered stone due to health concerns by July 2024.

The UCSF report sheds light on the health risks posed by the use of high-silica quartz in engineered stone, linking it to serious respiratory illnesses amongst workers in California. This revelation prompted widespread concern, leading to increased scrutiny of materials used in worktop surfaces globally. Similarly, Australia’s proactive decision to ban high-silica engineered stone by July 2024 underscores the urgency of addressing the potential risks associated with this material. Silica is naturally occurring in stone such as granite and marble at between 5-40%, however, in engineered quartz it can be as high as 97%.

Being a progressive industry leader in their field, Herringbone cannot sit back and watch – the company’s owners William Durrant and Elly Simmons want to act with immediate effect. This family run business, based out of Canterbury in Kent, recognise the responsibility to priorities the health of all stonemasons by taking immediate action against the use of high-silica quartz in its products.

William Durrant, owner Herringbone, said Our priority is to keep our staff, suppliers, and clients safe and so we will no longer be offering high-silica quartz options to new clients. Our stonemasons are confident that they have the strongest health and safety measures in place to protect their team and use water cutting to ensure this is safely done in their factory. However, for us these risks are not necessary when there are alternatives on the market. We apologise to our clients that this is quite a big change for us in a short period of time, however, we wanted to act quickly to prevent anyone from being harmed. We are the first company in the UK that we know of to ban the sale of high-silica quartz, but we hope that more companies follow suit in the coming months. We hope you can understand why we made this decision and can stand behind us in working to keep the industry safe and accountable.”

This stone is currently one of the dominant products in the market in the UK. While this product is not currently being considered for a ban in the UK, it will be banned in Australia from July 2024 and other countries are considering similar bans. Importantly, there are no risks to clients once this product is installed or installers of this material on-site, however the risk comes when it is produced and cut by stonemasons and dust is created. For us, these risks are just a little too close to home and not necessary when there are alternatives on the market.

Herringbone is staying true to their ethos of using sustainable materials ethically sourced by asking their clients to pay slightly more for a worktop that is safer for stonemasons. 

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