Author - Stuart | YLF


This time last year, the name Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL) meant very little to businesses in Milton Keynes, despite it being a global player within motorsports, marine, aviation and defence & security industries. Now, six months after they did the double at MKBAA 2018, picking up awards for both Innovation & Technologyand the coveted Business of the Year Award, Cheryl Brimson, Chief Operating Officer at ATL tells us that’s all changed.

“In many ways, we were Milton Keynes best kept secret before we won our awards in March” explains Cheryl. “There were a lot of shocked people in the room when we won, and none more so than us, as there were so many ‘better-known’ Milton Keynes businesses in the running for it…and to be told that the judges’ decision was unanimous, really was the cherry on top of the cake for us.

“We’re a tight knit team here and the sense of pride in the office after our win was huge, everyone really felt part of the collective effort that led to our awards.”

Having almost doubled its number of staff in the past year, due to customer demand, and having recently become a strategic partner with Porsche, it’s fair to say that ATL is a rapidly growing business, both in size and stature. We asked Cheryl how things have changed for ATL since their MKBAA win.

“It’s helped us massively, in terms of recruitment, I joined the company just over a year ago and I had no idea that it existed, but now that word is starting to get out we’re getting a lot more interest and the right applicants applying for our vacancies.

“It’s opened the door to apprenticeship opportunities too, something that we‘ve really struggled to get local colleges to engage with us about in the past, but we’re now in talks with MK College and hoping to have a couple of apprentices on board by the end of the year.

“The support we’ve had from other MK businesses since our win has been immense, our network grew significantly overnight and we were suddenly seen as a real player on the Milton Keynes business scene. I definitely didn’t realised how much gravitas the award would have, it is incredibly prestigious,” explains Cheryl. “I don’t know how we’re going to follow it up next year!”

ATL is keen to engage with the wider Milton Keynes Community too, including taking part in the Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival in 2017 and 2018 and supporting local charities, including Willen Hospice.

“Our hope is that in three years’ time, we’ll be recognised locally as a Nifty Lift type business, we know that we need to do our bit, in terms of apprenticeships and community engagement, but we’re in a much stronger position to do that now, thanks to MKBAA opening the door for us.”

“It’s a really exciting time,” Cheryl concludes, “we’ve been quietly making a massive impact on the F1 industry and now we’re in pole position to move our business forward locally and within other target markets.”

We’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more from ATL over the coming years!

To enter the MKBAA, or to book a table at the awards ceremony, visit To find out more follow @MK_BAA on Twitter, Facebook and join the discussion on LinkedIn.

Maaya crowned ‘best Indian restaurant’ in the South East of England

On Monday 17 September, Maaya Indian Kitchen & Bar represented Milton Keynes at the 8th annual English Curry Awards 2018, held at the glamourous Copthorne Hotel, Dudley.

The independent Indian restaurant, located in The Hub in Central Milton Keynes, had been shortlisted from hundreds of entries in the Most Wanted Restaurant of the Year category following a public vote, which then saw mystery dinners visit restaurants across the region.

Out of 15 shortlisted restaurants, Maaya scooped the top prize and won, making it the ‘best Indian restaurant’ in the region, according to the prestigious English Curry Awards.

The accolade makes Maaya, which opened in 2016, a multi-award winning restaurant, having received the LUX Best Indian Restaurant in Milton Keynes Award 2018 earlier this year and was awarded the highly acclaimed ‘Shortlisted’ award at the British Curry Awards in 2017.

“We are absolutely delighted, it was a great evening attended by some of the finest restaurant owners from across the country. We were proud to be representing Milton Keynes as a shortlisted entry but to have won against such talented competition is a dream,” said Mo Abdul, manager and owner of Maaya.

The English Curry Awards aims to recognise and reward the hard work, determination and dedication of those in the country’s booming curry industry.

The lavish, black-tie awards ceremony included a drinks reception, four course meal and entertainment as well as the awards ceremony itself.

The event was run by Oceanic Consulting, the UK’s leading ethnic consulting and promotions organisation in the UK, who have recently been shortlisted at the Asian Media Awards 2017 for their work in the Marketing & PR Sector, and are responsible for some of the most successful and well known events in the country such as The English Asian Business Awards and the British Muslim Awards amongst others.

They are also responsible for putting on the Scottish Curry Awards which is now in its eleventh year as well as the recently launched London Curry Awards which took place in April and were a massive success.

Overcoming Challenge was the Theme of Action4Youth’s 2018 Big Night Out

On 12 September, Action4Youth, a leading charity providing positive, often transformational experiences and activities, hosted an inspirational event at The Aylesbury Waterside Theatre for 1,400 young people, their families and guests, to celebrate their achievements. 

Dedication Awards for long service by volunteers were presented by Lord Lieutenant and Action4Youth Patron, Sir Henry Aubrey – Fletcher, to those who have spent decades supporting young people in the community.

Paralympian Alistair Patrick-Heselton shared his remarkable story of courage and achievement and then presented this year’s Young Leaders Awards to 23 young people from across Bucks.

Olympian Derek Redmond inspired everyone with the story of his race at the Barcelona Olympics, before presenting 350 National Citizen Service graduates with their certificates. These young people have raised a remarkable £24,078.65 for local charities this summer.

Martin Reed, a founding family member of Thomas International and Action4Youth Trustee, was so inspired by all of the stories of achievement by young people at the Big Night Out that he has pledged to match the amount raised by the NCS teams.

Martin explains: “The young people on this summer’s Action4Youth NCS programmes showed real creativity and dedication in their efforts to raise funds for local charities. It was inspiring to hear so many stories of success and I am happy to be able to reward them by doubling the money they have raised.  All of the staff and volunteers do a fantastic job in making the whole NCS process run so smoothly.

“I’m proud to be a trustee of Action4Youth, whose work with young people is so important in developing their confidence, knowledge and skills, and preparing them for future success.“

Throughout the evening young people spoke of the impact that Action4Youth’s programmes have had on their lives and of how they feel better equipped for the future and inspired to achieve, as a result.

Jenifer Cameron, CEO of Action4Youth said, “Our annual Big Night Out is the highpoint of our year. It is a joy to be joined by so many inspirational people of all generations but our focus, of course, is on the young people of Bucks and Milton Keynes who have achieved so much and who give us such hope for the future of our community.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to our Big Night Out event sponsors, iELive Event Services, Your Print Solutions, Buckinghamshire College Group and NHBC who also kindly sponsored the Club of the Year award, which went to Buckingham Youth Club.”

For further information about Action4Youth visit, or find us on Twitter and Facebook.


Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – Route Announced

The Department for Transport announced today their choice of the East West Expressway corridor which has options to pass either west or east of Oxford and is expected to take up to 40 minutes off the journey between the A34 south of Oxford and the M1.  In addition the new link will be built close to the East West Rail link, offering development of up to 1 million new homes.

Milton Keynes MP’s Mark Lancaster and Iain Stewart commented, “This represents a major investment into the economy of Milton Keynes and surrounding areas. It will transform travel time from the M1 to the M40 and release huge economic growth opportunities. The corridor is just the first phase of the project, a much more detailed piece of work will now be started looking at the exact route the road will take.

With the East West Rail project also well underway, it is clear the Government sees real potential in our region and is willing to invest huge amounts into our infrastructure.

We will be meeting Highways England soon and will be making it very clear we want the maximum benefit for Milton Keynes and to discuss how best we limit effects on the environment.”

The importance of tracking your numbers

When you send your leaflets off with a leaflet delivery company to be distributed, that’s not the end of the story. In fact, it’s sort of the beginning.

There are many different metrics that you should be tracking in order to measure the effectiveness of your leaflet campaign. These numbers allow you to see how much you have spent on a campaign and the amount of revenue that it brings back to your company. This is called tracking your ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI).

Metrics and numbers to track

There are several different metrics that you should be tracking when you send your leaflet campaigns:

Conversion rate to lead

What is this?
How many leaflets does it take to get one lead? If you send out 1,000 leaflets and get 20 leads, your conversion rate would be 2%.

Why is it important?
You can compare this statistic to other marketing campaigns such as online advertising or cold calling to see how the numbers compare. This is useful in identifying which marketing methods are most effective.

Cost per lead

What is this?
If the cost of your leaflet campaign is £40 per 1000 leaflets and you get 2 leads per 1000 then the cost per lead is £20.

Why is it important?
Use the cost per lead in conjunction with the average customer value metric detailed below. Compare the two numbers to check you aren’t spending more on obtaining the lead than they actually bring in to your business.

Conversion rate from lead to sale

What is this?
Not every lead that you get from your campaign will turn in to a sale. The conversion rate from lead to sale is the percentage of leads that go on to be customers. For example, if it takes 5 leads per sale, your conversion rate is 20%.

Why is it important?
If you know how many leads on average it takes to get one sale, you can plan your marketing campaigns effectively to target those leads.

Average customer value

What is this?
The average customer value is the average amount a customer spends with you. Work it out by calculating the average value of an order and multiply it by the amount of orders a customer places with you on average (e.g. one a year).

Why is it important?
It allows you to check that you aren’t spending more on your campaign than you are getting back.

Optimising your ad spend

Once you know the ROI of your leaflet campaigns and other marketing efforts it will help you to decide on how to spend your marketing budget for optimum profit.

For example, if a leaflet campaign consistently brings you more sales than an online advertising campaign, and the cost per acquisition for those leaflet customers is less than the online acquisition cost, it might make sense to scrap the online campaign and run a wider leaflet campaign instead.

Similarly, if you know that for every £40 you spend on leaflets you get £100 back, how many lots of £40 would you be prepared to spend to maximise your return?

How to improve the ROI of your leaflet campaign

There are many different factors that can affect the ROI of your leaflet campaign. Examples include the area it is being delivered to and the effectiveness of the leaflet design (including your call-to-action).

Check out our previous blog articles for hints and tips on getting the most ROI from your leaflet campaigns:

There is also lots more information about optimising your leaflet campaign in our FREE whitepaper: “101 Killer Headlines”.

Funding for extra capacity at MK Hospital confirmed

Milton Keynes University Hospital has received £630k to help with its bed capacity ahead of the winter period.

To make sure the NHS performs as well as it possibly can this winter the Government has provided funding to hospitals across the country to deliver improvements in their A&E performance.

A total of 81 new schemes, totalling £145 million of capital investment, have been prioritised from within the Department of Health’s capital budget for hospitals to help staff prepare ahead of winter.

This funding will enable the NHS to deliver additional beds, redevelop A&E units and upgrade wards, enhance bed management systems, and improve ‘same-day’ emergency care.

Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust identified a scheme that can help with its bed capacity, and has been allocated £630k.

Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said:

“I am pleased to see this additional support at this critical time of year, preparing for the winter period. The team did a great job dealing with the additional pressures last year and it is vital we prepare early this time round.”

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart added:

“It’s thanks to our strong economy that we can make this extra investment in the NHS. The Government are investing more money than ever before into the NHS and we will always fight for our fair share, particular as our population continues to grow.”

Last winter was challenging, but thanks to the efforts and dedication of hard working frontline staff, over 500 more people were seen in A&E and admitted or discharged within four hours every day. This further investment in the NHS will help those staff to deliver the best possible care for patients this winter.

MK Springers – Tumbling Forward to 2022

Based on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, MK Springers Gymnastics Club is certainly an incredible facility. Established 14 years ago, the club boasts 1200 members ranging from 6 months old to national champions.

An invitation to Mark Lancaster MP to visit gave the team an opportunity share their plans to build a 20,000 sq ft purpose built facility on the Fairfields site in the Western Expansion Area by November 2021 and be open for business in January 2022.

The new facility will provide a custom built gymnastics centre with a community space, including a café. Naturally, plans on this scale do not come cheap.

MK Springers, a registered charity, will need to find £2.5m minimum to make it a reality. Working with the support of the National Governing Body, British Gymnastics, they are exploring a combined bid with MK Council to Sport England.

Mark commented, “Having experienced the sheer scale of the club and the commitment from the team, coaches and parents, I believe there is every chance that the legacy project has an opportunity to become a reality.”

Gravity Trampoline Park jumps into Xscape Milton Keynes

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for the last few months but finally Gravity Trampoline Parks is preparing to open at Xscape, Milton Keynes on 15th September. Hot on the heels of its successful sister park located in Xscape Yorkshire, the Milton Keynes park looks set to deliver fun and fitness in a way that only Gravity knows how.

So, what can you expect to find at the new park? The huge arena will feature brand new trampolines, reaction climbing walls, ‘Dodge Attack’ giving volleyball a whole new dynamic, ‘Ultimate Wipeout’ to test your speed and agility and the brand new ‘Gravity RACE’ three lane obstacle course.

And if that’s not enough the Milton Keynes park will also feature ‘Gravity Rocks’ urban climbing walls – huge, irregular structures designed to pose ever-different, ever-more difficult challenges packed full of obstacles, twisty trials, inclines, turns, ups and overs – if you like a challenge, this is definitely for you.

Feeding the competitive streak yet further, there’s a new attraction to get that friendly rivalry going. ‘Ball-Pit Long Jump’ offers a two-lane race. Simply choose your opponent, then hurtle down your lane and jump! All you have to do is jump the furthest or it becomes…THE LANE OF SHAME! The park will also offer; an open bounce area, slam dunk lanes, slack line, merchandise and party rooms.

“We’re honing our knowledge and expertise to grow the Gravity brand to be able to deliver an improved offer each and every time a new park opens,” said Gravity Director, Michael Harrison. “Three words sums up the Gravity philosophy; ‘fun’, ‘fun’ and ‘fun’, and here at Milton Keynes we’ve added a fourth. We want everyone to enjoy every minute of their Gravity experience, from families, youngsters and toddlers to our corporate members. Fun and fitness is what it’s all about.”

Keep up to date on what’s coming up at Xscape MK – visit follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Mark Lancaster MP wears it pink for charity fundraiser

City MP Mark Lancaster added a splash of pink to his usual attire to support Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink fundraiser, which will take place on Friday 19 October to raise money for vital breast cancer research.

Mark was joined by over 200 other parliamentarians in Westminster last week, all encouraging people across the UK to take part on wear it pink day and raise money for Breast Cancer Now.

He is calling for all constituents in Milton Keynes to join him, as well as thousands of others across the UK to sign up and take part in wear it pink which takes place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to date has raised over £31million towards Breast Cancer Now’s important work.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink, whether at work, school or in your community. All you need to do is wear something pink, or hold a pink-themed event, and donate to Breast Cancer Now. With every penny raised, fundraisers across the UK will be helping the charity achieve its aim that, if we all act now, by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.

Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said:

“Breast cancer is still the most common form of cancer in the UK. Each year around 11,500 women and 80 men lose their lives to the disease. That’s why I’m so passionate about encouraging everyone in Milton Keynes to take part in wear it pink day on Friday 19 October.  

“Wear it pink is a great way to come together with friends and family to have fun whilst raising money for Breast Cancer Now’s vital research. As you can see from my photograph, all it takes is an additional splash of pink to your normal outfit!

“Breast cancer affects so many people and their families, so I hope that everybody will get involved this October and support this very important cause.”

Joining the politicians at Westminster was Donna Fraser, four-time Olympian for Great Britain and Breast Cancer Now Ambassador. Donna, 45, retired from participating in professional athletics after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009, aged just 36. Donna Fraser, who is now Equality, Diversity and Engagement Lead at UK Athletics, said:

‘“I’m delighted to be supporting wear it pink this year – it is a fun and fabulous fundraising event which brings families, friends and work colleagues together to help fund research into this devastating disease. 

“Breast cancer awareness and raising funds for research is hugely important to me – there are too many women being diagnosed with breast cancer, and sadly too many women still lose their lives each year. This cause is very close to my heart, and as someone who has personally been through breast cancer, I know the just how important it is to raise money for research, to help reach a day where nobody dies from breast cancer. For me, that day can’t come soon enough.” 

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“We are really grateful for the enthusiasm and support shown by the MPs at Westminster. Everyone looked fabulous in their pink accessories and showed just how easy it is to add a touch of pink to your everyday outfit. We hope that by wearing pink, Mark will encourage his constituents in Milton Keynes to get involved and fundraise in their homes, schools or workplaces, and help us to continue to fund world-class research into this devastating disease.

Wear it pink is a fantastic opportunity for communities across the UK to come together, have fun and show their support to this very important cause. By simply wearing something pink and donating what you can, you are helping raise much-needed funds to stop breast cancer taking the lives of those we love. Together we can take one step forward to help reach our goal that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.”

To take part in wear it pink this October, please visit for further details, fundraising ideas and how to register for your free fundraising pack.

Milton Keynes set to receive £360k from the Rough Sleeping Initiative

The Government has announced Milton Keynes Council will receive £360,000 as part of the national Rough Sleeping Initiative.

The new money is in addition to a targeted £30 million fund to support those sleeping rough and those at risk in 83 local authorities with the highest need.

Over the last few months, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has been working closely with local authorities including Milton Keynes Council to identify service gaps and create tailored packages to tackle rough sleeping in their area this year.

Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster said:

“This provisional funding is very welcome. We are starting to get a grip of rough sleeping in Milton Keynes, but we need to make sure that continues through the winter months and beyond. We have been working closely with the Homelessness Partnership and we have been regularly discussing the matter with ministers. The government wants to eradicate rough sleeping by 2027 but I am confident, by ensuring we are all working together and attain the funding we need, we can do it much sooner in Milton Keynes.”

Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart added:

“Tackling all aspects of homelessness is a big part of our plan for Milton Keynes. Too many people have been sleeping rough over the past few years. This funding, in addition to the recent cross government strategy will allow all relevant stakeholders working in this area, be that a local authority or a charity, to properly address the complex issues that come with rough sleeping.”

The government’s new Rough Sleeping Initiative team will continue to work closely with local areas to implement the plans for this funding and to monitor their progress.


Below are links to:

Letter from Housing Secretary on Rough Sleeping Initiative 19-20

2019-20 RSI Provisional Allocations GOV UK