Author - Stuart | YLF

MK Entrepreneur Speeds into Pole Position

Just two years after taking the plunge and starting his own business, Ben Turner of Simply Race was standing centre stage at the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards (MKBAA) collecting the hotly contested trophy for Young Business Person of the Year. Now, only a few months later, Ben is looking forward to being a judge at the 2018 awards and says he is astounded at the pace his business is growing and the benefits of the awards to his brand and personal profile.

We bumped into Ben at the launch event of the 2018 awards and asked him a few quick fire questions.

Tell us a bit about your background and your business Simply Race?
I started working for a karting company as a flag waver and marshall in my teens, and then got promoted to Assistant General Manager whilst I was studying at University. Shortly after leaving Uni, at the age of 21, I became GM of that karting company, but always had the idea of indoor simulated driving in my mind and was keen to develop my business model.

At 23 I set up Simply Race, a dedicated facility of 10 (now 15) simulators, where enthusiasts and amateurs alike can race in a relaxed and safe environment, which is affordable, accessible and most importantly, fun.

We pride ourselves on having the highest quality hardware and most up-to-date software, giving motorsports enthusiasts the most realistic and reliable experience possible off the track. We wanted to develop the social side of motor racing too, and at Simply Race, corporate groups, private parties, and friends can enjoy the competitive element of motor racing, whilst also enjoying a drink at the bar in our relaxed venue.

How did you hear about the Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards? And what prompted you to enter?

I saw some posts about the awards on Twitter and thought they looked really interesting. With a slightly different business model to anything else locally, I thought that we would stand out and had a good chance of being shortlisted. In fact, I was really surprised when we got to the evening to see how stiff the competition was for this category, I hadn’t realised that there was so much young business talent in Milton Keynes.

How did you feel when your name was announced as the winner of Young Business Person of the Year?

It was slightly surreal to be honest! I’d spent most of the evening convincing everyone that had come to support me that I wasn’t going to win, and that the others in my category were much better than me, so that in my head when it didn’t happen I wouldn’t be disappointed and could take the positives away, that I’d been shortlisted and we’d all enjoyed the food and the entertainment. I really like the way they do it actually, talking about that person first, which prepares you slightly more for when you do have to stand up. It was surreal, but great and I feel like things happened very quickly afterwards, with lots of people coming over and congratulating me.

So, how has it changed things for you and for Simply Race?

I feel like winning the Award at MKBAA has given me much more of a presence in the Milton Keynes business community. I’m getting lots more followers on social media, getting invited to lots of events and networking opportunities. It’s definitely helped to open a lot of doors and raised the profile of our brand.

We were excited to hear that you are going to be joining the judging panel for the 2018 awards, how did that come about?

I got a call from the organisers out of the blue and just said yes straight away… that’s the way I tend to work, I say yes now and then work out how I’m going to find time for it later! It was a real honour to be asked and I’m looking forward to getting involved.

I’m interested in looking at submissions and analysing the entries that come in, and seeing how the other judges look at things and how my views compare.

What will you be looking for (i.e. what makes a winning entry) from this year’s MKBAA entrants?

The main thing that I’m going to be looking for is passion for the job that their business does, and what makes it different, interesting or innovative compared to other businesses within that sector.

What advice would you give to businesses who are thinking about getting involved in the awards, either by entering, sponsoring or attending MKBAA 2018?

I’d tell them to do it, what have they got to lose. It’s amazing exposure, even if you don’t win – every shortlisted entry has their business showcased to 600 people at the awards dinner and it’s a great place to connect with other local businesses.

City MPs Launch Commuter Survey to get Your Views

Milton Keynes MPs Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart have launched an online survey to attain the thoughts of rail passengers who regularly use the West Coast Mainline – specifically those who use the current Virgin services from Milton Keynes Central.

Companies will soon bid to form the West Coast Partnership, who will be responsible for the current Virgin services on the West Coast Mainline from April 2019 and will additionally operate the initial HS2 services in 2026, between London and Birmingham.

Mr Lancaster and Mr Stewart are keen to write to the companies vying for the contract to inform them of exactly what commuters in MK are looking for over the coming years.

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart added:

“As vice-chair of the West Coast All Party Parliamentary Group, I will do all I can to ensure that the voices of the commuters in Milton Keynes are being heard. Filling out this survey will give Mark and I a greater understanding about your valued thoughts and views on what is working and what more needs to be done.”

Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said:

“As Milton Keynes has a growing population of commuters, it is vital that their voices are heard throughout this process. If you have concerns with costs, on-board facilities or the state of the station etc. we want to know. All the responses will put together and sent in a joint letter to the three consortiums who will be bidding. The more responses the stronger our arguments will be.”

This survey will help to accumulate the views and feelings of people who use this service regularly, to improve their experience in the future. The survey includes questions on improvements to facilities, along with the services that are provided to locations, such as Edinburgh, Manchester and London Euston, all across the West Coast Mainline.

The three consortiums who will be bidding are:

•First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Ltd and Trenitalia SpA.

• MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company.

• West Coast Partnership Ltd a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3.

An invitation to tender will be issued to the shortlisted consortia in November, with a contract expected to be awarded in November 2018.

The survey can be found and completed at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/576363C

Maaya Indian Kitchen has been shortlisted for the ‘curry Oscars’

Today, Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar in The Hub received a letter from the British Curry Awards announcing that it has been shortlisted.

The independent restaurant will represent Milton Keynes as it competes for the title of the best Indian restaurant in the South East. The awards will be held on Monday 27 November at the glamourous Battersea Evolution, and will be attended by over 1,600 restauranteurs, celebrities and royalty and will be broadcast live in over 200 countries.

This is the second year Maaya has been shortlisted for the most prestigious Indian restaurant awards in the UK.

Maaya, which opened earlier this year in The Hub, was shortlisted for the best Newcomer award last year and made it to the final 14 from the 230,000 overall entries.

“We are incredibly excited to have received this letter. The nomination for the British Curry Awards is directly from the public, which is very special and then we submit all our details to the organisers for consideration to be shortlisted. We will keep our fingers crossed and look forward to attending the event in November, said Owner and Restaurant Manager, Mo Abdul.

MERRY WOOF-MAS AT FROSTS GARDEN CENTRE IN WOBURN SANDS

Do you or someone you know have a beloved four-legged friend they simply cannot be without? Well Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands has the ultimate Christmas experience for dog owners! For a limited time only, Frosts will be opening a Christmas grotto called Santa Paws, exclusively for dog lovers! Owners and their four-legged friend can enjoy the ultimate Santa experience which includes activities such as mixing your own doggie treats, and of course meeting Santa!

The experience will run on either Thursday 23 November or Thursday 30 November at various sessions throughout each day. Each owner will receive a mince pie on entry to the grotto as well as a special treat for their canine friend too! The experience is £7.99 for one dog and one owner (£3 for additional owners) and the experience creates the perfect photo opportunity so be sure to take advantage of the range of photo and gift options too.

The Santa Paws experience is back by popular demand and booking is essential. Spaces are limited so it is recommended that you book as soon as possible. To book and find out further details of all events, head online to www.frostsgardencentres.co.uk/events or call 0800 954 9484

Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
Newport Road
Woburn Sands
Milton Keynes
MK17 8UE

Father Christmas has started planning already!

He’s making his list and checking it twice and will definitely be out in December (weather permitting) around Milton Keynes.

He will, along with his helpers from The Rotary Club of The Brickhills, be on Newport Pagnell’s Poets Estate on Sunday December 3rd. He will then visit Bletchley Poets Estate on Sunday 10th, then the final outing will be on Sunday 17th around Far Bletchley/Saints Estate. Each night they will be out between 6pm and 8pm, covering as many streets as they can, but if the weather is really bad may not be able to go out.

Please look out for them and if you could spare some money, they’d be very grateful; last year they collected raised over £2,000 for local charities. This year the charities receiving the donations will be Open Door and Helping Hands

The Rotary Club of the Brickhills are always keen to welcome new members; to find out more call 07563089373

PREPARE FOR FESTIVE MAGIC THIS CHRISTMAS AT FROSTS

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands has a very special date for your diary, because Santa is coming to town!

To celebrate the festive season and to officially launch the huge new Frosts Christmas display and grotto, the date for everyone’s diary is Sunday 5 November at 10am. FREE for all to attend, families will flock to the centre to welcome Santa arriving in style, along with his trusty magical real reindeers, elves and some magical friends! The procession will begin at 10am and will last an hour, which will officially launch the countdown to Christmas Day.

Don’t let the magic stop there though, because it continues into the magical Santa’s grotto! Opening the very same day at 11.15am, this special and unique experience is perfect for the whole family and will last approximately 45 minutes. Once guests have entered Santa’s magical wonderland, the fun truly begins with singing alongside Santa’s bashful elves and making some reindeer food to sprinkle on Christmas Eve. The adventure then continues into Santa’s living room where families will listen to an enchanted story read by Santa himself. With lots of surprises along the way, it is the ultimate Santa experience for the whole family to enjoy and one not to be missed this Christmas. All children will then leave the grotto with an extra special gift from Santa’s workshop.

Tickets to the grotto are priced at £14.99 for children over 6 months old*, and £4.99 for adults. Photography is not permitted in the grotto however professional photographs can be purchased on the day, with photo packages also available. Pre- booking is required and full payment is required when booking. To book and find out further details of all events, head online to www.frostsgardencentres.co.uk/events or call 0800 954 9484.

Santa’s Grotto will be open at weekends only from the 5 November and then daily from the 1 December with various sessions available. The grotto will then close on Christmas Eve at 5.45pm.

* Any babies under the age of 6 months visiting the grotto with an older paying sibling will not need to pay for a ticket. However, if they are visiting by themselves, they will require a child’s ticket as they are partaking in the Grotto experience.

Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
Newport Road
Woburn Sands
Milton Keynes
MK17 8UE

Make all things festive this Christmas at intu Milton Keynes

Get ready to jingle all the way to Christmas Day and get Christmassing with intu Milton Keynes!

With everything shoppers need to fill their stockings, sparkle at the office party and ‘wow’ on Christmas Day, the festive season at intu Milton Keynes starts and ends with surprise and delight. Here’s a roundup of Christmas this year at intu.

The festive season kicks off in true ‘spirit’ – literally – as THOR’S tipi bar comes to the centre on Friday 10 November. The giant 30ft high tipi with pop up bar will open in Oak Court, complete with an atmospheric fire pit, cosy faux furs and a cocktail list to die for, stop by for a festive tipple, open daily from 10am until late!

From the 10 November, little ones can jump into a sea of snow and throw snowballs in the free ‘Snow Garden’ plus letter writing to Santa opens – with each letter receiving a personal response from the big man himself.

The following weekend, on Saturday 18 November, intu will host the Milton Keynes city centre light switch on in the afternoon. Prepare for fun, music and magic for the whole family, more details will be announced nearer the date. Then it’s Black Friday weekend from the 24 to the 26 November, the perfect chance to grab a bargain or two and a great time to find a gift for someone or for yourself!

For those less-blessed with wrapping skills, fear not because the 1 December sees the launch of the charity gift wrapping station with all proceeds going to benefit over ten local Milton Keynes charities. Perfect timing because the following day, intu Milton Keynes welcomes the city’s first ever Etsy Local market with over 40 traders showing off their handmade goods. Plus, for even more choice this season, visit the intu Milton Keynes Christmas Village, with dozens of local stalls selling unique gifts from 15 December until Christmas Eve.

Finally, to keep you entertained and ensure that the Christmas spirit is complete, shop to the sounds of schools’ choirs and local groups in December including the Milton Keynes Pipe Band, Junction 14 and numerous local school choirs including New Chapter Primary and Newton Leys.

“Christmas day can feel like it’s over in a flash and here at intu we feel the build-up is just as exciting.” says marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes Kirsty McGiff. “From festive shopping, meals out with friends and getting excited about the gifts you’re going to give, to all the parties and great experiences with loved ones, there is so much to look forward too. This year, it’s all about Christmassing at intu and our plan is to ensure people enjoy Christmas for weeks, not just for a day, so we have some amazing events, activities and offers throughout November and December, which will delight our shoppers and make this Christmas a truly memorable one!”

Keep an eye on the intu Milton Keynes social media pages and the What’s On section at www.intu.co.uk/miltonkeynes for full details of Christmas at intu Milton Keynes!

MK50 WEBSITE COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED

After months of organising, dozens of charity entries and hundreds of public votes, the winner of the WSaaS (Web Solutions and a Service) competition to donate a website has been announced as, Ride High MK.

Ride High, based in Milton Keynes helps disadvantaged children and those having difficulties in their daily lives, by giving them the opportunity to learn to ride and look after horses and ponies. The charity was one of five that were shortlisted in the competition that included The Henry Allen Trust – Henry’s Happiness, Safety Centre Milton Keynes – Hazard Alley, The Harry’s Rainbow Charitable Trust & Levi’s Project.

The public were invited to vote on WSaaS’s Facebook Page for who they thought should win the prize. Ride High received the highest number of votes with 261 in total.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have won the website competition. Ride High is proud to be a Milton Keynes charity and we are looking forward to working with WSaaS to create a website that we can be proud of too; a website that will help us to change the lives of many more children and young people in the future. Thank you to everyone who voted for us”. Helen Dixon, Marketing and Fundraising Manager, Ride High.

WSaaS, which creates complete website solutions for small to medium sized companies, ran the competition as it’s gift to Milton Keynes to celebrate the town’s 50th anniversary. David Vallance, Director at WSaaS said: “We have been overwhelmed by the response from the public. I cannot thank the charities enough for getting involved and we’re delighted to be able to offer Ride High a brand new fully functional website.”

WSaaS’ team of experts will now work with the charity to offer its Pro Platinum package for 24 months, which comes with Analytics and Marketing Assistance, and includes:

o            Unlimited adds, moves and changes to the Website
o            Web Hosting
o            Domain Registration
o            Email Marketing Platform
o            SEO for 10 pages
o            Advanced Web Analytics
o            Marketing Advice Line
o            Social Media Setup and Strategy Consultation.

More info available here wsaas.co.uk/web-design.

The total value of this prize is over £5,000 and an example of the type of website that will be created can be seen at: www.wsaas.co.uk/our-work

For more information about WSaaS, visit www.WSaaS.co.uk or call the team on 01908 047495.

About WSaaS:

We are specialists in all things marketing, web and design. Our senior team have both executive and ‘hands-on’ experience in a wide range of fields, including sales, marketing, graphic design, web development and IT product engineering, we believe this makes us different. The combination of this expertise coupled with proven business development skills is a winning formula for our clients.

We deliver quality websites (as a service), combined with highly targeted multi-channel marketing, which is closely aligned with business messaging (USP’s), goals and objectives. Every business is different, as are the available in-house skills, which is why we have a very personal and flexible model that is scalable and adaptable. This approach means that we can provide as much or as little help as is required, from simply supporting your website to delivering individual or multiple marketing campaigns.

Through our Virtual Marketing Team offering we can also provide a more comprehensive service, literally a virtual extension of your business; developing strategy, creating content, managing and delivering campaigns as well as reporting back return on investment (ROI) to senior management or board level.

A website forms the hub of most modern marketing methods with different campaigns and platforms driving traffic back to that one focal point. If your website does not portray your brand in a professional way, is difficult to navigate or the messaging is inconsistent with the marketing which has driven people to the site, you are unlikely to convert opportunities to leads resulting in a very poor ROI.

For that reason we are brutally honest, this usually starts with telling clients that although we can deliver them a slick new website, it is going to do very little for them without some form of closed-loop marketing. However, the great news is, with our Websites as a Service model our clients save a significant amount of upfront capital expenditure on their websites, enabling these funds to be diverted into revenue generating marketing campaigns appropriate for their business and prospects.

PREPARE TO BE AMAZED THIS HALLOWEEN AT FROSTS

This Halloween, be prepared for a ghoulish week of half term fun to keep your little monsters entertained! Frosts Garden Centre in Woburn Sands have a cauldron bubbling with family fun this October half term, including the return of the amazing John Lawsons Halloween Circus!

Opening on Monday 23 October, the John Lawsons Spooktacular Halloween circus is back for one week only! Everyone’s favourite friendly clown, Bippo, will of course be making an appearance, as well as some fantastic and thrilling new performers including Miss Chelsea and The Marshalls, who will be wowing crowds with knife throwing from a quad bike! Plus, Miss Claire-Marie will be back again with her bubble fantasy, Angel and Victoria Bojilov will be impressing crowds with their amazing juggling skills, all while balancing on a slack wire and get ready to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahh’ at Ross Shirley on the aerial straps!

The circus will run until Sunday 29 October and shows are held at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm*. Tickets are just £7.99 per person (children under 18 months go free) and the circus is suitable for the whole family.

Pre- booking is required for the circus and spaces are limited. Full payment will be required when booking. To book and find out further details of all events, head online to www.frostsgardencentres.co.uk/events or call 0800 954 9484.

*Please note there will be no 4.30pm session on Sunday 29 October.

Frosts Garden Centre, Woburn Sands
Newport Road
Woburn Sands
Milton Keynes
MK17 8UE

MK Dons Sport and Education Trust (MK Dons SET) & Milton Keynes City Orchestra (MKCO) partner to presents a Sporting Prom.

To celebrate MK Dons SET 10th Birthday and Milton Keynes 50th Birthday, MK Dons SET presents an evening of iconic sporting themes along with a traditional ‘last night of the proms’ spectacular to be performed by Milton Keynes City Orchestra.

This event will take place in Arena MK on Friday 17th November with the doors opening at 6.30 pm and the programme beginning at 7pm.

The support programme kicks off with a performance of the winning ‘Song for MK’ followed by many well-known (and some not-so-well known) songs with sporting connections

Conducted by Damian Iorio, the Orchestra’s programme will feature well known sporting themes, that we’ll be linking to local sporting milestones, such as Match of the Day; Ravel’s Bolero (Torvill and Dean’s music for their iconic gold medal winning routine from the 1984 Olympics); Chariots of Fire; Nessun Dorma (used as the Theme for Italia ’90 coverage) amongst others.

The finale will deliver a ‘Last Night at the Proms’ experience with rousing renditions of all the traditional favourites including Jerusalem; Rule Britannia; and, Pomp and Circumstance. It cannot fail to please and is the perfect pre-Christmas event and a great way tocelebrate the SET’s and Milton Keynes’ birthdays.

Tickets are now available to buy and you can do so by visiting MK Dons Box Office or calling 0333 200 5343 or online at: www.mkdonsset.com/set-10th-birthday and ticket prices are £20 for an adult, £10 for a child and £50 for a family (2 Adults & 2 children)

You can have a front row experience and enjoy the atmosphere to its upmost by purchasing a table of ten for £400 (Limited number available)

John Cove, Chief Executive of MK Dons SET, expressed ‘We’re delighted that MKCO are supporting us not only with SET’s birthday celebrations but also MK50. It’s fantastic that we have been able to adapt the set to include iconic sporting themes which represents sport in Milton Keynes. We look forward to welcoming and celebrating with the MK Community’

Marian Livingstone, Chairman of MKCO, added ‘ It’s a great honour for MKCO to be chosen to celebrate the 10th anniversary of MK Dons SET, we have great admiration for the community impact of this highly successful MK charity. This is our first time performing under cover in the arena and our music director Damian Iorio has had great fun working up the sporting music programme with the SET team. A unique MK50 concert finale. ‘

For any enquiries on this event you can email: sportingproms@mkdonsset.com