HABC’s Mary takes centre stage

Mary playing the trombone on stage with Lesley Garrett and the Bel Canto Choir.

HABC’s Mary Golder got the opportunity of a lifetime recently as she appeared on stage with international soprano singer Lesley Garrett.

The quality assurance auditor accompanied the acclaimed singing star as part of the celebrations to mark 50 years of the Dore Male Voice Choir at Sheffield City Hall on 8 March 2014 in front of a packed house.

Mary accompanied Lesley Garrett – also known as the ‘Doncaster Diva’ due to her South Yorkshire roots – on trombone, which she plays as part of the Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) Brass Band. 

 ‘Appearing on stage with one of the world’s most famous soprano singers was amazing,’ said Mary, ‘and a bit different to my day to day role of providing support and guidance on quality assurance and best practice to our Centres.  Lesley Garrett was really nice and friendly, and an incredibly down to earth person.  It was a fantastic experience and a great way to help celebrate the Dore Mail Voice Choir’s 50th birthday’. 

Mary will also be playing with Leeds-based indie band Chumbawamba later this year as part of a touring show, Coal, as well as getting the opportunity to perform alongside Jarvis Cocker – someone the Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) Brass Band first encountered in 2013.

Mary said, ‘The band recorded a live score for Jarvis Cocker’s BBC4 documentary The Big Melt – which tells the story of Sheffield, the steel industry and the people who worked in it – on the opening night of Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2013 at the Crucible Theatre, but there weren’t any trombones required that evening so we go the night off.  This time however I am hoping to get my chance to perform alongside Jarvis!’

The Sheffield City Hall performance with Lesley Garrett will be broadcast on Songs of Praise on BBC1 this May.

Licensing event for Oxon, Bucks and Thames Valley landlords and alcohol retailers

If you’re a pub landlord or alcohol retailer in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and the Thames Valley, then HABC will be hosting an event this April to help you protect your customers and business.

The workshop, on 10 April 2014 at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, will focus on understanding and working with licensing regulatory bodies on the key issues of the day including reducing underage sales, crime reduction, test purchasing and social responsibility initiatives such as Best Bar None and Pubwatch.

Open to anyone involved in the licensed trade – from pub landlords and shop managers to council officials and training providers – the event will feature speakers from local authorities across England and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on best practice.

Christian Sprenger, Managing Director of HABC, said, ‘The licensed trade has undergone so many changes of late that it’s hard to keep track, so we’re calling time on the confusion. Our event will cover the main issues affecting those involved in the selling of alcohol and will provide them with practical solutions for working with the authorities and helping to create a safer environment for staff and customers’.

Speakers at the event will include:

alcohol retailer

Sgt Mark Worthington, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
Mark is involved in and runs crime and disorder initiatives in Northampton, including the town’s Best Bar None (BBN) scheme. Mark will be speaking on underage sales with reference to the police’s views on this topic and how they work to reduce this, as well as discussing crime and social responsibility initiatives such as BBN and Pubwatch.


Brandon Cook, spokesperson at Trading Standards Public Protection Team
Brandon will take attendees through the latest details and guidelines for ‘Test Purchasing’.



Patrick Crowley, Licensing Team Manager at the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – Patrick will discuss how to practically work better with licensing departments/officers as well as pick up on current practical and topical issues.  Attendees will then understand and be able to answer very practical questions that their learners may ask whilst attending courses they run.

Tickets for the event at the Kassam Stadium on 10 April 2014 cost £55 plus VAT for existing HABC members, and £95 plus VAT for non-members.

Highfield staff set the pace for blind charity

The team put themselves through the paces as they completed a 10k run around Lakeside on Sunday 9 March 2014 to raise money for VICTA, which supports blind and partially sighted people under the age of 29.

And for three of the runners it was a dry run for an even greater challenge as they will be competing in the London Marathon on 13 April to raise even more money for the charity.

Chris Sprenger, Highfield Group Managing Director, said,

‘It was a great effort by all the team and I am really pleased that we were able to raise more money on the day, which goes towards the £2000 we have already raised so far. The money will go towards helping VICTA in its work to provide equipment, services and events that help blind and visually impaired children and young people develop socially, emotionally and educationally, as well as offering their parents a vital network of support and information. Myself, Ben Cressey (Director of Apprenticeships and Work-Based Learning) and Diana Hill (Corporate Business Development Manager) will be running the London Marathon next month, and with £2000 already raised, we’re on track to reach our target of £3750’.

The event, which saw 43 members of staff running on the day, also included a barbeque afterwards for friends and family to raise further funds for the charity.

To contribute to the charity, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/giving/ and search for ‘VICTA’.

On the road with #NAW 2014

And so we’re back in the office after a long and busy week supporting National Apprenticeship Week 2014, with five roadshows across England taking in London, Dudley, Doncaster, Manchester and Newcastle.

It’s been a successful week, and we think we’ve helped a few businesses make the leap and decide to get involved in apprenticeships. We were particularly impressed by how involved many of the people we spoke to already were in helping young people and learners, and we certainly took our fair share of questions. We’ll pull together the best ones and post them on here for everyone to have a look at.

Our next apprenticeship event is at our National Conference at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester on 13 November. We hope to see you there, but in the meantime, here’s some pics from last week’s events.

HABC’s apprenticeship challenge for England’s employers and educators

England employers

England employers and educators are being challenged to get involved in apprenticeships this March as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of work-based learning.

Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC) will be showing employers and educators across the country how great businesses are made by apprentices at five free events around England as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 (3 March to 7 March).

The events and locations are:

  • London – 3 March
  •  Dudley – 4 March
  • Doncaster – 5 March
  • Manchester – 6 March
  • Newcastle – 7 March

 And the awarding organisation – which is one of the UK’s top ten educational bodies – will be demonstrating how apprenticeships can help businesses reduce recruitment costs, retain staff and improve performance whilst showing a commitment to the local community and young people.

Jason Sprenger, HABC Chief Executive, said, ‘We’ll be challenging employers and educators across England to get involved in apprenticeships, and inviting them along to find out more.  We’ll show how by putting apprenticeships and learners at the centre of everything you do, you can improve the bottom line of your business whilst giving young people genuine career opportunities. 

Apprenticeships give young people the chance to learn a trade whilst earning money and working towards a recognised qualification.  They also give employers the chance to mould and develop the future workforce in a way that meets the needs of their business.’

Sue Renny, Apprenticeship Programme Manager at AS Watson UK – parent company of Superdrug and Savers – said, ‘We have been delivering apprenticeships for more than six years now.  The focus for us is our 16-18 school leaver programme, where we offer young people an opportunity to take the first step into the world of work whilst working towards a nationally recognised qualification, in this case a retail skills level 2 apprenticeship.

Our success rates have been fantastic and we have been able to offer almost 75% of our apprentices a permanent role on completion of their qualification – more than 30% of these being offered supervisory roles.’ 

To find out how we stack up against our competitors for end-point assessment, simply visit here.