Family weekend!

Inspiration, News

Where to start?  I recently spent a long weekend with family and part of it with friends, I have a huge family with 4 siblings 10 nieces and nephews along with an extended family of what feels like hundreds of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second cousins, second cousins twice removed……….

When we were young I relished time with my family, we had similar interests, sense of humour and in the 70’s no digital games just a garden hose, jacks (someone will explain if you don’t know this) a tennis ball in a pair of my Mum’s stockings so we could play ‘my mother say’s (again ask someone)

Now as adults we all have different interests, ego’s, we live in a digital age that we all feel we must check constantly, we have our own family that are of course the best at everything in our eyes and we are happy to shoot anyone down who may think differently. Our children don’t have the same bond with their second cousins because we have all moved to different areas of the country and even different continents, this leads to stilted conversation sometimes, in particular various parts of the family have opted out of ‘normal civilisation’ and although the conversations about living off the land, being ecological and not having a carbon footprint all sound commendable the reality is limited chat, no common interest and a slight body odour emanating. We all say ‘I love my family to death but’ do we really mean this? I had a good think after and came to the resolution that I would hunt down and do bad things to anyone who hurt my family and I do love them but, I don’t want to spend too much time with them, we all gave the cordial, ‘we mustn’t leave it so long next time’ ‘let’s make a date’ but in reality I don’t feel we mean it and secretly we are all slightly relieved when we can go back to our own castles and slate everyone in private.


The next day I spent with my girlfriends, I literally spent the whole day in hysterics, belly laughing, looking at something inappropriate and knowing that they will also have clocked it and with one look doubled up without having to say a word. Finishing each other’s sentences, never tiring of talking about our past escapades and still finding them hysterical, knowing that bring a bottle always means two, that if my house isn’t spot on tidy no one is going to talk about it later and on the whole having the most brilliant day.

This leads me to the old analogy, ‘you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends’ True to a certain extent but, I am still fiercely proud of my slightly eccentric, eclectic, sometimes wholly inappropriate family and will keep in touch with them however, thankfully by good old Facebook where we can all hide behind our online persona, we can send the odd Happy Birthday or even just a smile.

Safe until the next family get together!

£5,000* and Paid Apprentice up for grabs to the Ultimate Tradesperson

Members, News



IRWIN®’s Ultimate Tradesperson Competition Calls on Outstanding Tradespeople to Nominate Themselves, Friends and Colleagues for the 2016 title

LONDON, UK [August 3rd, 2016] – IRWIN® Tools, innovation experts in the hand tool and power tool accessories industry for over a century, has launched its annual Nominate a Tradesperson competition to find the UK and Ireland’s Ultimate Tradesperson.

IRWIN is on the lookout for trade professionals – joiners, electricians, plumbers, metal workers and mechanics to nominate themselves or colleagues and share their stories of when they have gone above and beyond to get a job done, no matter how big or small.

Tradespeople worldwide rely on IRWIN for superior performance on the job and now IRWIN wants to celebrate the UK and Ireland’s best. The successful candidate will receive a year’s paid apprentice for 2017, £5,000 (€6,440) to help build their business and a range of IRWIN products including IRWIN’s new Pro Comfort Screwdrivers, WeldTec™ Circular Saw blades and VISE-GRIP® cutting pliers.

The winner will be announced at the Build Show on the 18th and 19th October at the NEC in Birmingham.

Ahead of the 2016 winner being crowned, between June to October a monthly winner will receive a prize package bursting with IRWIN tools to the value of £660 (€851) as well as an all-expense paid trip for two to the Build Show to the value of £850 (€1095).

The competition now in its second year gives IRWIN the opportunity to recognise the positive difference tradespeople are making to the UK and Ireland. IRWIN spokesperson Amber Popowicz, Senior Brand Activation Manager explains: “We established Nominate a Tradesperson to find tradespeople who through their skills and dedication make a real difference. This could be a tradesperson who has shown their commitment to instilling their skills in the younger generation by working with apprentices or someone who always goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional client service.”

2015 Winner, Stacey Greenwell, from Stoke-on-Trent added, “When I began my career over 15 years ago I never thought I would become the UK’s Ultimate Tradesperson. I started buying uninhabitable derelict properties and renovating them to provide affordable housing to help my local town. It’s been such an experience to have won and it’s been great to have been recognised by such a long-standing company like IRWIN.”

To nominate yourself, a friend, a colleague or family member who you think deserves the recognition of UK and Ireland’s Ultimate Tradesperson, and to find the full terms and conditions of this promotion visit:

Marxman and Dragons Den Deborah Meaden

Advice, Members, News

Marxman leaves a lasting impression and sees all Dragons vie to invest

Jenny, 50, a special abilities school assistant and Martin Chard, 50, a self-employed building maintenance man, are a typical couple bringing their four children, two Labradors and rabbit up in the picturesque county of Hertfordshire. But last night they found themselves in the enviable, and rare, position of having 5 of the UK’s biggest and most respected business people vie to invest in their business as all dragons made them an offer in the den.

Each of the dragons immediately saw potential in Martin’s invention and were keen to get on board.

Jenny and Martin were delighted to choose Deborah Meaden to be their partner and mentor given her vast experience and previous success with similar brands in the past. They gladly accepted her £50k investment for 30% of the business even though this wasn’t the top offer they received.

Jenny commented, “We had our sight set on Deborah from the very beginning.  She’s a fantastic businesswoman with a huge amount of knowledge and experience in this sector that will really help us develop our offering and expand our network.”

Marxman is a new tool addressing the common problem of being unable to clearly mark a drilling hole, something regularly encountered by professionals and DIY enthusiasts alike. With one push the Marxman delivers a burst of brightly coloured chalk that marks any surface ready for drilling or fixing, even at a distance from the wall.*

Deborah Meaden commented, “The best inventions come from people solving a problem that lots of us experience but don’t do anything about. Martin is exceptional in that not only did he recognise and solve the problem through his invention, but he did so in a simple, elegant and affordable way. I can see widespread use of the Marxman with it becoming an essential part of all home and professional tool kits.”



Martin Chard came up with the idea for Marxman six years ago while trying to fit a sink. He couldn’t mark the drilling position on the wall and see the marks clearly so after a few time wasting attempts he reached for a can of black spray paint in desperation and marked it with that. After several other frustrating incidents like this and lots of wasted trips up and down ladders with broken pencils and felt tips not doing the job he started the process of developing Marxman so other workers could benefit.

Once a search of the patent office came back clear in 2009, Marxman began to take shape in 2010 as the first early stage prototype was developed.  The first product was sold in 2014 and in March this year the duo secured a contract with trade retailer Wickes.

It was Jenny’s son Oren who came up with the name Marxman and up until recently the family have been manufacturing every unit themselves in order to achieve the level of perfection they wanted to ensure Marxman does the job.

Jenny commented, “Being on Dragons’ Den was extremely daunting and we were very nervous, we definitely got flustered when being grilled on the numbers – that’s not our forte!

“We are the first to admit that we have very little business experience and we know we need a lot of help.  We’ve been able to get this far thanks to the extraordinary support we’ve had from friends, family and the various businesses big and small we’ve asked advice from along the way. We are extremely grateful to everyone that has believed in Marxman and played a part in our journey so far.”

Jenny and Martin plan to use Deborah’s investment to increase manufacture and grow the awareness of such a useful tool.



Find out more:

Marxman Product Information

  • Marxman is available from and
  • It retails at £9.95 and dispenses 250 doses
  • Both Standard and Deep Hole Marxman can be used to mark a reference point directly onto any surface. From tiles and pebble dash to wood and metal, whatever the surface the mark will show clearly
  • The Standard Marxman can mark clearly through depths of 45 mm and under
  • The Deep Hole Marxman can mark clearly through depths of 45mm and over
  • Marxman is a British made product which uses non-toxic ingredients and has very low global warming potential


See how Marxman works –


Website –

Facebook – marxmanpen

Twitter – @marxmanpen

International Bognor Birdman Sponsored by Checkatrade




Bognor Birdman 2016 is getting off the ground, thanks to the support of a local businessman.

Kevin Byrne, founder of Checkatrade which is based in Selsey, has decided to sponsor this year’s event.

The flight competition originated in Selsey in the 1970s, where his company’s based, before moving to Bognor seven years later.

He grew up watching brave individuals launch themselves off the pier, and tells us his decision to help out’s down to his dad:

“I can remember he was part of a committee that was putting the Birdman on when it was in Selsey, and when I heard that the event was looking for a sponsor I just thought yeah I’ll do that, there’s a good connection there.”

There were concerns the popular event wouldn’t go ahead because grant aid was refused by the town council, and in Febuary the Worthing Birdman announced it has been cancelled ‘for the time being’.

In 2003 Virgin Atlantic sponsored Birdman, and 30,000 spectators gathered to watch Sir Richard Branson take off in angel wings.

That year’s event raised in excess of £70,000 for worthwhile causes.

Kevin added:

“We’ve never done anything like this before, this is something unique and special.

“We’re looking at putting some weight behind it and I know that Spirit FM have offered to give it some publicity, so it’s really exciting.”




The EFL has today secured a record value partnership with Checkatrade that sees the market leading trade vetting and monitoring website become the Official Title Sponsor of the EFL Trophy.

The competition has been renamed as the Checkatrade Trophy with immediate effect as clubs from Sky Bet League One and League Two get ready to compete with 16 Category 1 Academy teams from the Premier League and the Sky Bet Championship for the first time.

Kicking off week commencing 29 August, for the 2016/17 EFL season, the first stage of the Checkatrade Trophy will see 16 regionalised groups of four teams go head to head in the reinvigorated competition format. The groups include at least one side from each of Leagues One and Two, alongside one Category 1 Academy team.

Of each group, the top two teams will progress into the knockout stages of the competition, with eventual finalists going on to contest the showpiece Checkatrade Trophy Final at Wembley Stadium on 2 April 2017.

Shaun Harvey, the Chief Executive of the EFL said: “We are delighted to have signed up Checkatrade as title sponsor for our revamped competition – the Checkatrade Trophy.    With credibility and reputation critical to the success of the Checkatrade brand, we feel there are some strong synergies between us both and look forward to developing them throughout the sponsorship period that could run for a five year period.

“With major changes heading the way of the competition in 2016/17, including the introduction of 16 Category 1 sides, this partnership is the perfect platform for Checkatrade.  It will also present them with a rare opportunity to be directly associated with cup football in England and a Wembley Final.

“Like ourselves, Checkatrade recognise the huge potential in this competition and through their generous support and the changes we have made to the format, we are in a position to be able deliver additional prize money that makes participating in the Checkatrade Trophy an even more attractive prospect for our clubs.”

Kevin Byrne, Founder and CEO of Checkatrade, said: “As a football fan, it has been a long term goal to partner a well-known English football competition and as many of our listed trades are also fans, this makes our sponsorship of the new Checkatrade Trophy even more exciting.

“This considerable sponsorship is the latest step in our marketing strategy to remain firmly in the public eye. We’re delighted to be associated with so many well respected and prestigious clubs participating in the Checkatrade Trophy and we look forward to engaging with fans over the coming season.”

Creating the perfect man cave – by Rachel



“Man cave”
Noun Informal.
: a room or a space (as in a loft) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

2 3

Step 1 – Choose your cave space

Not many of us have an actual cave to work with so explore your options. Have a spare bedroom or office space? How about an unused garage or loft space? Perhaps you could invest in a shed? Depending on what you want in your man cave, you may not need a huge space, somewhere snug with enough room to spin around with your arms outstretched may be sufficient! However, if your idea of a perfect man cave includes a full size pool table, a swinging hammock and a gym area you’re going to need a bit more space! Also consider that the more obscure, unused or ‘outdoorsy’ the space is, the more time and costs that will be involved in making it into an inhabitable space.


Step 2 – Consult your partner/housemates

If you find yourself wanting your own personal man cave then it’s likely you already live in a shared space. If so, you may want to consult the others living in the house! Be considerate… You may need to be prepared to compromise if you’re intending on making a man pad all of your own that no one else is permitted to enter without knowing the password, Morse code blinking sequence and the secret handshake.


Step 3 – Prepare the room

Once you’ve chosen your space, access its current condition.


  1. Insulation
  2. Sound-proofing
  3. Lighting/wiring
  4. Flooring
  5. Decorating

If you’ve chosen a shed or a loft space for your man cave consider insulating, sound-proofing and wiring the space. Any good man cave will be dry, warm, have adequate lighting (dare we suggest remote controlled?!) and will be sound-proofed enough so as not to disturb others. Know your limits, get professionals in to do work where necessary especially if you encounter wiring or asbestos. Click here if you need help finding professionals! Once it’s a inhabitable space, paint or wallpaper it to your desire. Choose a flooring type that suits the vibe you’re aiming for. Carpet is cozy and inviting but it’s not very spill-friendly. If you’re after something more low maintenance or easier to clean, try wooden floor boards/laminate or even lino.


Step 4 (The fun part) – Equip your man cave!

By far the most important part! What do you want in your man cave? What vibe are you going for?

Ultimate chill out zone? A sofa, beanbag or even a hammock will be essential.

Music studio or entertainment suite? Every man needs a safe haven to play Fifa or Call of Duty, right? Or a widescreen for movie nights.

How about a fully stocked bar? If you don’t drink, try a slushy machine. Who doesn’t love a slushy?

Pool tables, foosball tables or even a mini crazy golf course guarantee a good time. Whatever your heart desires, go for it!

MOST IMPORTANTLY a man cave is simply not a man cave without a plethora of ‘stuff’ and gadgets. Are these things practical? Maybe. Are you going to use all of them? Absolutely not. Does it matter? Nope!

We will follow shortly with our top 10 favourite bits to add to your “man cave”



Update on Checkatrade Jailbreak!

Checkatrade foundation, News

Snowdrop Cheque Presentation
Photo shows: Di Levantine, Co Founder of Snowdrop and India Ede, Spirit FM
and Claire Allen, Checkatrade Fundraising Manager.

You may remember our charity Jailbreak event in May, which was a huge success, lots of fun and was all in aid of the Sussex Snowdrop Trust. They are a locally based charity that give care at home for children with life threatening illnesses providing nurses and financial help for their families.  We were delighted to visit their head office in Walburton recently and our fundraiser, Claire Allen was able to hand over a whopping cheque for £6,966!

Claire said ‘Snowdrop is a fantastic cause and we are delighted to have raised so much. We couldn’t have done it with the support of Spirit FM who promoted the event on the radio and followed teams on the day along with all the generous donations we received and the public’s help make the day so successful. A huge thank you to everyone who got involved and helped us make a huge difference’

Di Levantine, Co-Founder of ‘Snowdrop’ said ‘we are really delighted to receive this incredible amount from Checkatrade and it will make a huge difference to local families. We are going to be spending the money on Summer days out for 57 of the families we support, which will make some wonderful memories. These days are unforgettable for the children, their parents and siblings who also have to cope with so much. It’s the chance to all be together and have fun, something they all really look forward to doing.’

We are already looking forward to next year and if you’d like to get involved and enter a team, look out for more details or email [email protected].

Duratec security solutions become members of Checkatrade.




We’re delighted to announce that we have been accepted to be part of the website – the directory of recommended and trusted tradesman – and would like to thank all our customers who have helped us achieve this. To be included, we have undergone a strict vetting procedure and have been monitored to ensure we meet the required standards of trading.

Checkatrade is a free online search engine for consumers that offers a directory of trades and services in one place. By using the Checkatrade website, customers who are looking for reputable and reliable tradesmen in a specific area can be assured they will find high quality tradesman in one place in order to complete their projects. Customers also have the opportunity to view a full list of qualifications and insurance details without having to enquire.

All businesses on the site are continuously monitored to a strict standard by Checkatrade, as they gather feedback directly from consumers on the completion of all projects.  This ensures that all feedback posted is honest and reliable.

We are very proud to have 100 % transparency and we strongly believe in all of the statements mentioned within the Checkatrade standard: are happy we have found a site that cares about its customers as much as we do.

We hope this news will bring us closer together with our customers and allow us to show you how important your project and feedback is to us

It’s time to take a fence – and give it a facelift – by Craig Phillips.

Advice, Inspiration, News

This is a great time of the year to be getting outside and enjoying the garden, but what if your fences and garden shed are looking old and worn? You are not going to be able to settle and enjoy your time out there.

Truth is, you are going to be looking at your fences and thinking “If I don’t get them maintained and treated soon then it’s not going to be long before I’ll be having to replace them!!” The problem is, you’re also going to be asking yourself if you can afford to replace them. Fencing isn’t cheap and neither are sheds so what are the best ways to keep them in reasonable condition?

shutterstock_417372751 (2)

There are some really quick, easy and inexpensive ways to maintain both your garden fences and your sheds. If we use these, we will not only be making them look great but most importantly we’ll be making them last longer. Also, let’s not forget that well-kept fences and a good-looking shed can play a key role in keeping or even adding value to your home!

If you are planning on doing any maintenance work yourself, here are some helpful tips that you can follow:

  • start off by scraping off any old debris and moss that will have developed over the years by using a hard brush or a wire brush. On real stubborn areas you can even use a jet spray to pressure wash off any unwanted bits
  • wait for the surfaces to dry fully and then you can start treating the timber
  • there are loads of great colours available now for these kind of surfaces; most of them are water-based and won’t harm your plants or animals, but please do double-check when you buy them
  • there are two ways you can apply the treatments – one is with a paint brush and roller but the other smarter and more professional way to getter a better finish in a quicker time would be to apply your treatment with a paint-spraying system
  • you may find that fence panels are a rougher sawn timber than the shed materials and will be a lot more porous and will require more paint. It’s okay to apply two or three coats if you want to treat them really well
  • when it comes to the smoother timber on your shed you would be better off doing to two or three very fine coats of treatments, leaving each coat to dry and with a very gentle sanding between coats using a soft wire wool; this will help the coats to bond better and reduce the chance of the solutions running

shutterstock_306053579 (2)

Of course, if the task is a large one and you don’t have the time or tools to complete the work – or you simply don’t want to attempt to do the work yourself – you can always hire a professional. Reputable, fully-vetted tradesman capable of doing the work for you can be found via

Either way, please don’t put off treating your fences or your shed. When it comes to maintenance, the more often you do it the easier and cheaper it becomes. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to wooden materials that are exposed all-year round to the elements that the British weather serves us!

Good luck and let’s hope you get the chance to get out there and enjoy your garden.

Surely, summer must be just around the corner!!
Guest blog by Checkatrade ambassador Craig Phillips

Checkatrade are holding their first community Fun Day!

Checkatrade foundation, News

Checkatrade Funday Logo (Web)


Checkatrade are holding a community fun day on Sunday, 31 July from 1-4 pm at the Selsey Centre. We are supporting our own charitable foundation and also the fantastic RNLI, in fact some of our staff are crew members too and will be coming along dressed in the their kit and will be bringing smaller ones for children to try on too! 

All the activities and stalls are manned by staff and our charity champions who are giving their time to put on a great event and to help raise vital funds! Giving something back is at the heart of Checkatrade and we’ve got a fantastic team here that strive to make a difference.

We’ve got lots going on!

Bouncy castle (thanks to Bounceabout, Selsey for generously loaning us one)

Face and nail painting

Vintage ice cream

Come and enjoy some lovely cake and a drink as there will be plenty of refreshments on offer

Hook a duck

Guess the sweets

Beat the Goalie

Crazy Golf


Treasure map


It’s sure to be lots of fun for all the family and we hope you can join us! FREE ENTRY and parking available – just bring your pennies to spend on the activities and every penny raised will be divided equally between the charities!


If you would like to find out more, please contact fundraiser Claire Allen ([email protected])