News story: Douglas Gurr appointed to the National Gallery Board

first_imgDoug is Country Manager of Amazon UK. He joined Amazon in December 2011 and was President of Amazon China from 2014 to 2016.His previous roles included teaching mathematics and computing at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, working for the UK Government, partner at consultancy firm McKinsey, founder and CEO of internet start-up Blueheath and 5 years on the Board of Asda-Walmart. Doug has two degrees in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and PhD in Computing from the University of Edinburgh.Outside work, Doug is Chairman of the British Heart Foundation, and a Trustee of the Landmark Trust, non-executive Director of the Land Registry and was until 2014 Chairman of the Science Museum Group of national museums. He is a former Scottish international triathlete, 12 times Ironman, keen ski mountaineer with over 20 first ascents, and an enthusiastic mountain runner, recently completing the Bob Graham 24hr Round, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, and the Spine Challenger. Doug was born in the UK but his parents were New Zealanders and he grew up mostly in Africa before returning to the UK to attend high school and college. He is married with two children.This role is not remunerated. This reappointment has been made in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s Governance Code on Public Appointments. The process is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. The Government’s Governance Code requires that any significant political activity undertaken by an appointee in the last five years is declared. This is defined as including holding office, public speaking, making a recordable donation or candidature for election. Doug has made no such declaration.last_img read more

Press release: True grit – the husband and wife keeping motorways moving this winter

first_imgShe was enticed into the haulage industry by her father, Jeffrey, who was a HGV driver. Karen works on vital routes including the M5, M50, A49 and the M42. And she says some motorists still look twice when overtaking her on the motorway. Karen Smith-Storer and her husband Neil work for Highways England as gritter drivers in Worcestershire.The pair – together for 12 years and married for three – have been working around the clock this winter to keep the Midlands’ major A-road and motorway network running freely.Karen – who lives in Worcestershire with Neil – has worked in her role for the past 11 years. The former HGV driver and Class 1 licence holder says there’s a healthy rivalry between her and her husband. In snow and ice: drivers should stick to the main roads where they can and only travel if necessary. Drivers are also encouraged to make sure they have a winter kit in their vehicle, including an ice scraper and de-icer, warm clothes and blankets, and sunglasses to cope with the low winter sun. In high winds: drivers should slow down and avoid using exposed sections of road if possible. Lorries, caravans and motorbikes are at particular risk. In heavy rain: drivers should keep well back from the vehicle in front, gradually ease off the accelerator if the steering becomes unresponsive, and slow down if the rain and spray from vehicles makes it difficult to see and be seen. In fog: drivers should switch on their fog lights and not use lights on full beam as the fog will reflect the light back. If drivers really cannot see, they should consider stopping until it is safe to continue. It’s quite funny and it always makes me smile because I have seen several male drivers look at me and they are clearly surprised to see this petite woman driving such a large piece of equipment. I really love my job and I really enjoy the solitude of driving the truck and being in my own office, of sorts. That said, the camaraderie of the team in and around the depot which we work out of makes the role what it is. But it isn’t always plain sailing working as a gritter driver. Despite weighing in at some 26 tonnes, last year 36 Highways England gritters were driven into by motorists.The pair – who operate from the Strensham depot next to the M5 – have thrown their support behind calls from Highways England for motorists to leave plenty of distance between themselves and the gritter in front of them.Each spreading machine is limited to 40mph and must travel in the middle lane to ensure the salt is spread evenly and safely across the whole of the carriageway.Neil added: During severe winter weather drivers are urged to follow this advice: I often see cars trying to undertake me and driving in the hard shoulder where there could be a stranded vehicle in snow or a breakdown. The advice would always be to overtake on the outside lane and leave plenty of distance between themselves and those driving the machine. The back of a gritter is the most vulnerable area as it’s where the salt spreading equipment is located. If it’s struck it can mean the gritter has to be taken off the road to be repaired, which is costly and could affect critical services in extreme weather conditions.Highways England’s national winter and severe weather team leader Paul Furlong added: We do have a laugh about it when we are together at home, albeit my husband knows I am the better driver out of the two of us. We’re lucky in the sense that working and living together hasn’t impacted on our relationship. There have even been times when we have crewed up together and it’s quite nice to work with Neil as we have that familiarity and understanding of the other person’s traits. I think it really helps with pressurised situations at work because we have that support and understanding for one another. We do have some banter between us but it’s nice because we can learn from each other and that’s how we look at it. I also think that’s one of the aspects that I enjoy the most around the job because our company is very good at listening to what we tell them, and they will always do what they can to train us and help us to develop new skills. Although the vast majority of people support our gritter drivers by leaving a sensible distance and only passing when it’s safe to do so, we do have occasions when people misjudge the situation and end up colliding with one of our vehicles. We have also noticed a growing problem with driver using the hard shoulder to undertake gritters, risking a collision with stationary vehicles on the hard shoulder and causing a hazard to gritter drivers who need to exit at motorway junctions. It’s really important that we keep traffic moving and our gritters are out on the network enabling us to do that. Neil says he loves working alongside Karen. General enquiriesMembers of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.Media enquiriesJournalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.last_img read more

Press release: Highways England launches £20m competitions to revolutionise roads

first_imgThe company aims to build on the nation’s great history of innovation and has set aside £20m to invest in projects which change the way the country’s motorways and major A roads are designed, managed and used.It is inviting ground-breaking entries which will help develop digital roads – connected vehicles and infrastructure, design and construction that reduces cost and improves safety, better and more predictable journey times – and to improve air quality.Anyone interested in entering the competition is encouraged to join a webinar, hosted by Innovate UK and Highways England on Thursday 14 February.The types of benefits which road users and local communities could see as a result include better quality journeys, improved road safety, more efficient use of vehicles, enhanced public spaces and improved health.The competitions come as the company continues to plan for the future, the changing roads landscape and the increasing automation in vehicles and systems.Entries open on 11 February.Mike Wilson, Highways England’s Executive Director for Safety, Engineering and Standards, said: Examples of projects could include roads which repair themselves, robotic construction methods, and improved connections between different modes of transport.One competition is for unproven feasibility projects which through a second phase closed competition could be further funded for development. The other competition is for proven projects at development stage.To lead a project, entrants can be an organisation of any size, and can either work alone or with others as subcontractors.Entries must be suitable for a trial on England’s strategic road network. Projects are expected to start by September this year.The funding comes from two of Highways England’s Designated funds – ring-fenced pots of money – which the company has set aside for innovation and air quality projects.The bids will be administered by Innovate UK, the innovation agency which drives solutions to the greatest challenges facing the UK by connecting businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into reality.Entries can be submitted from Monday 11 February 2019 to 8 May 2019.Further details of the funding, and of the webinar are available on the Innovate UK websiteGeneral enquiriesMembers of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.Media enquiriesJournalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer. Highways England is delivering the Government’s current £15bn road investment programme and paving the way for the second programme which will start in April 2020.In June 2018 the company launched an ‘innovation portal’ – an online platform to help identify projects which could make roads safer for motorists and road workers, improve how information reaches those travelling around or help deliver an ambitious roads programme.And in October it showcased to an international audience the pioneering work it was leading to transform journeys with innovative technology allowing vehicles and the roads to ‘talk’ to each other.Now the company is casting its net wider and looking to invest in creative solutions covering six themes: This is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs, collaborative partnerships, and organisations of any size to help shape the roads of the future. We want to explore new and innovative approaches and invest in the best. And we’re keen to engage with a wider network than we have traditionally worked with. Together we can make great improvements both to people’s journeys and communities and the environment around our network. Design, construction and maintenance Connected and autonomous vehicles Customer mobility Energy and the environment Operations Air qualitylast_img read more

Northern Ireland sets bakery targets

first_imgBakery and snacks firms in Northern Ireland have announced plans to grow turnover by 73% by 2020, according to a recent strategy published by Agri-Food.The achievement would see turnover in the sector rise to £445m, with a whopping £1.3bn set aside by the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland, over the next seven years.A target of 141% sales growth, to £245m, has also been set for sales outside Northern Ireland.Set out in a strategic action plan, called ‘Going for Growth – Investing in Success’, the goals were agreed upon by leading representatives from bakery organisations and major Northern Irish processors such as Irwin’s Bakery in Craigavon, Co Armagh.The strategy contained 118 recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive to grow an industry that already contributes over £4bn to the local economy and is the region’s biggest manufacturer and leading exporter.It also calls for recognition that there is a single supply chain, and that all links in the chain work closely together on delivering products that will attract a premium in international markets.Overall, the strategy, originally commissioned by the Northern Ireland Executive a year ago, wants to see a 75% increase in the sale of food and drink outside Northern Ireland. Currently, Northern Irish producers sell almost £3bn abroad, mostly to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.last_img read more

Warburtons pulls out of France

first_imgPlant bread baker Warburtons has said au revoir to the French bread market – after it decided to stop selling its Le Toastie loaf there.Last summer it started selling long life white, brown and seeded loaves – marketed as “the everyday English bread” – in more than 200 supermarkets across the Channel.However, the Bolton-based company told The Grocer, a sister-title to British Baker, that: “It was not cost effective to continue to produce and distribute the extended shelf life range solely for France.”The decision follows Warburtons’ exit from Eastern Europe at the end of last year.Its bread products were listed in Tesco stores in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland for a year, but the baker pulled out because of high transport costs and a lack of suitable manufacturing partners in the region.As part of its export push, Warburtons also developed a frozen range that is selling successfully to expats in Spain and elsewhere.last_img read more

‘Gay cake’ row company given extra time

first_imgThe Equality Commission has given Ashers Baking Company extra time to respond to the threat of court action.Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur told an Irish publication, he had written to the commission requesting four weeks to respond to the threat, and the equality body had agreed.Court action was warned when the bakery, owned by a Christian family, refused to make a cake which promoted gay marriage. The company is concerned that its version of what happened was not expressed to the Equality Commission before the latter decided that the bakery’s actions were ‘unlawful’.The customers had requested that the cake feature the logo of ‘Queerspace’, a Belfast-based campaign group for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in the area. Ashers Baking Company turned the order down on the grounds that it did not support its own beliefs.Gay marriage is not legal in Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK in which it is not on the statute book.last_img read more

Wright & Sons teams with Celebrity Masterchef finalist

first_imgBread and cake manufacturer, Wright & Sons, have teamed up with Coronation Street actor and Celebrity Masterchef finalist, Wendi Peters.The company arranged the collaboration with the star to create a series of instructional films on how to bake with Wright’s range of mixes.The range targets families who want to bake and save money, and the videos aim to promote the product’s ‘simplicity’.The videos will launch on the company’s Youtube channel with the celebrity finalist, who will show viewers how to make bakes like Chocolate Muffins, a classic Madeira cake and a white Bloomer Loaf.Two further films are available to watch online by using Wright’s on-pack codes.  David Wright, managing director of Wright’s, said: “We are delighted to be working with Wendi Peters. By creating a series of short films, fronted by such a well-known and passionate baker, we are able to demonstrate just how simple and effective our products are and re-emphasise our ongoing commitment to consumers by adding value to their precious time at home and in the kitchen.”This investment follows the company’s investment in a new factory at Delta Park, Enfield, which was completed in February 2014.last_img read more

Biscuiteers smashes crowdfunding target

first_imgOnline hand-iced biscuit retailer Biscuiteers has secured £1.25m in crowdfunding from 784 investors in 31 countries.The business launched its crowdfunding campaign on 4 October this year through online equity investment platform Crowdcube.Having originally set out to raise £550k, Biscuiteers now has the second largest number of investors for a raise this size on the Crowdcube site.As a result, it will now join the Funded Club of 44 companies who have successfully raised more than £1m since Crowdcube was established in 2011.The average investment in Biscuiteers was £1,590 and the most common £100. The campaign was awarded a triple gold rating by crowdrating.co.uk, an independent guide to crowdfunding opportunities.Biscuiteers said the money is to accelerate growth in marketing, manufacturing, infrastructure, retail and international expansion.“We were overwhelmed with interest in our campaign – it was particularly lovely to have so many of our own customers among our investors,” said Biscuiteers founder and managing director Harriet Hastings.“We are hugely excited by the new opportunities this has created for the business.”last_img read more

Watch Full Show Videos Of Phish’s Two-Night Wrigley Field Run

first_imgLast weekend, beloved jam band Phish made their debut at the beautiful Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. The home of the Chicago Cubs welcomed Phish fans for two great nights on June 24-25, seeing the band bust out some rarities, play some debuts, and treat fans to their patented brand of great jamming.Among the many highlights from the two nights was the return of “Fluffhead,” covers of “I Am The Walrus” and “Space Oddity” – the latter performed a cappella – and some great jams in tunes like “Tweezer,” “Down With Disease,” and more throughout the run.You can read each show’s recap in full below:Phish Performs ‘Space Oddity’ A Cappella, Debuts New Song At Wrigley Opener [Videos/Gallery]Phish Busts Out ‘I Am The Walrus,’ Revives ‘Fluffhead’ For Wrigley Field Finale Thanks to DrFunkenstein2k on YouTube, we can share full videos for each of these marvelous performances below. Rock out with Phish below!Setlist: Phish at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – 6/24/16Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Chalk Dust Torture, Martian Monster > Rift, Yarmouth Road, Sand, Miss You[1], The Wedge, Free > Blaze OnSet 2: Down with Disease[2] > Fuego > Twist > Twenty Years Later > Waste > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Backwards Down the Number Line, Loving CupEncore: Space Oddity[3], Run Like an Antelope[1] Debut.[2] Unfinished.[3] Phish debut.Setlist: Phish at Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL – 6/25/16Set 1: The Moma Dance, AC/DC Bag > 555, Waiting All Night, Heavy Things, Happy Birthday to You, 46 Days, I Didn’t Know, Divided Sky, Cavern > Good Times Bad TimesSet 2: Carini > Tweezer > Fluffhead > Piper -> Steam > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood > Tweezer RepriseEncore: I Am the WalrusNotes: This show was webcast via Live Phish. Happy Birthday was played for Phish tour manager Richard Glasgow. I Am the Walrus was played for the first time since June 29, 2010 (229 shows).last_img read more

The String Cheese Incident: A Triumphant Return to Montana

first_imgGolden hills rolled gently behind the stage. In the opposite direction, an expansive range of mountainous peaks sprawled in a breathtaking panorama. The legendary big sky of Montana extended into infinity – a phenomenon one must witness to realize how the state truly lives up to its title. In the center of all this splendor, an intimate audience glowed with jubilation, welcoming The String Cheese Incident back to Missoula for the first time in fourteen years. Throughout their two nights in a lush field behind the Big Sky Brewing Company, the band made it very clear how pleased they were in returning to Montana. Hailing from Crested Butte, Colorado, they always have conveyed a heightened sense of comfort when playing mountain towns. The relaxed atmosphere set the tone for a pair of shows revealing The String Cheese Incident at the apex of its powers. Timing often proves to be an overriding factor in life’s finest moments and such was the case for me in making a triumphant return to the realm of the Cheese. From 1997 – 2002, I was head-over-heels for this band and saw them as many times as possible. The passion began to fade and Cheese shows no longer ranked on my priority scale. Over the past two years, I’ve heard friends rant and rave about how well the band is playing. Occasional listening didn’t seem to back this up and my skepticism persisted. It took an alignment of the stars, circumstances and a bit of subtle nudging to magnetize me to Missoula.The majority of my doubt didn’t lie so much with the band’s musical prowess, but more so the selection of new material they’ve been focusing on. Perhaps receiving the subconscious memo that a retro focus was just what the doctor ordered, the band dropped jaws midway through the first set with a shocking bust out. On the shelf since 2007, “Bigger Isn’t Better” adopted a fresh identity as a piece of slow-burning, bluesy reggae psychedelia. The lyrics could not have been more apropos considering the sparsely-attended concert and the simplistic spirit of Montana. Patience is a virtue with this band as they never rushed any of the songs, allowing their potential to fully blossom.The old school momentum continued in the second set when the band used “Rhythm of the Road” as a springboard for dynamic exploration. This 18-minute version soared on the wings of a sinister melodic theme spearheaded by Michael Kang’s mandolin wizardry. Bill Nershi’s newfound (at least to me) propensity for playing electric hollow body or Telecaster is an exciting addition to the band’s arsenal. Both Kang and Nershi’s manipulation of tones creates layers of intrigue within any given song. The kinetic energy collided in the set-closing climax, “Roll Over.” This song’s glorious intro continues to offer one of the most euphoric moments across the jam band landscape.If the first night in Missoula was great, then the second has to be considered an instant classic. From start to finish, the show oozed with swagger, continuity and creativity. The band vocalized its exuberance in having spent the day on the nearby Clark Fork River. Their state of bliss was infectious, permeating every aspect of their performance. “Little Hands” galloped onto the scene like a beloved, old friend. The lyrics carried extra poignancy and weight delivered in these timeless surroundings.He’s been with them for awhile now, but Jason Hann is still the new guy. His addition was a stroke of genius, as Michael Travis is left to channel the full scope of his rhythmic mastery into pacing the Jaguar as it roars around the track. His ninja-like agility and field of vision guide him to put the pedal to the metal at just the right time. Hann is enraptured with his many toys (his expertise on the talking drum is worthy of universal renown), applying tribal nuances which do more than just complement the whole. He is an entity of his own, repeatedly standing out with both his playing and rainbow unicorn smile.String Cheese covers a vast range of styles, all of which they make their own. They were founded on bluegrass and still draw from that well. However, it’s the jazzy, tropical, Cheesy twist on this discipline which is even more compelling. Following a seamless, riveting transition from “Little Hands,” “Indian Creek” was a definitive example of how “on” the band is right now. The synchronicity of all their moving parts is remarkable. This spritely, instrumental journey encapsulated so much of what makes anyone love them. But it wasn’t just oldies paying dividends. New material like bassist Keith Moseley’s bouncy “Sweet Spot” and Kang’s “Believe” fit gracefully into the repertoire.Funk aficionados were gleefully satiated after a relentless ride through “Pack It Up.” The Herbie Hancock-esque instrumental saw Moseley bully his way through the mix, gurgling like a river rapid while an animated Hollingsworth explored his whole bag of tricks. Moseley continued his tear in the second set, belting out The Beatles deep cut, “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.” Coming out of left field and starting on a dime, the Abbey Road track ended up being the improvisational centerpiece of both nights.String Cheese jamming is defined by intricate, yet organic calculation. There is no meandering. They know each other so intuitively, they are the definition of symbiosis. Blazing new trails under the big sky, this transcended any casual assessment of spontaneous sonic creation. The magic continued with a march through the inevitable “Rivertrance” which, when presented in open air, is utterly massive, primal and spiritual. Combined with the sacred geometrical projections on the screen, this can be perceived as aural therapy. Speaking volumes to the band’s feelings about their fresh crop of compositions, they culminated the masterpiece of a set with Kang’s hauntingly seductive, rhythmically complex ode to his wife – “Beautiful.” He has achieved a maturity and precision in his vocal delivery which sounds better than ever.I don’t know if it’s always like this; it’s hard to imagine how that would be possible. But for these couple days in Montana, we bore witness to a band plugged in to a powerful source of inspiration. A band devoid of ego and totally in tune with each other. Six men who emanate a sense of reverence with their past and contentment with the present. A group which honors where it comes from and relishes where it’s going. Most importantly perhaps, over 20 years in to a roller coaster of a career, having as much fun as ever.last_img read more