nene local | helen dawson


Archive for: February 2018

Smart Homes: Fad or Science Fiction?

Smart Homes: Is it just a fad?

Smart Homes and virtual assistants have always been a part of science fiction, but with the recent popularity of virtual personal assistants like Amazon Echo’s Alexa and Google Home, it’s beginning to look like the idea is just now becoming the new standard for all properties. Much like the invention of the internet or mobile phones, can we foresee Smart homes becoming a necessity in the coming years? Nene Local spoke to Andy Franco, owner of Soteria UK Security and Automation LTD, to find out the extent of smart devices today and how they could influence modern living.

Soteria UK offer the new and easier way of controlling your home. It caters to energy management, security, access control and entertainment. Soteria UK allows you to know who’s at your door, helping to prevent burglaries, manage energy costs and prevent children from watching what they shouldn’t, all from one handy application on your smart phone bespokely designed for you. They also provide CCTV cameras and timed lights that give the illusion that your home is occupied to any potential criminals when you’re not. Keeping in line with saving energy, these security measures will run on less capacity, meaning you’re saving money whilst protecting your home.

soteria | nene local

How does it work?

Any device with an electrical supply can be ‘made smart’. This ranges from closing curtains without getting up or telling your bath to be at a certain temperature from your phone, ready and waiting for you to get home after a hard day’s work. All devices in your home are connected to your phone via the Azure cloud, the same software used by the US government to keep all their valuable files safe from hackers, so it gives you the peace of mind that your property is safe from both physical and virtual intruders.

Smart Homes are going to be the norm in a few years. Future generations will grow up wondering how we ever survived living in a time where our gadgets didn’t do everything for us, much like my generation wonders now how anyone had a social life before the invention of the internet and mobile phones!

Further along the line, Smart Homes may incorporate AI (artificial intelligence), meaning that your home will be able to make decisions of its own to cater to your lifestyle, effectively being your very own virtual butler.

For more information about how Soteria UK can help you with home or office security or to chat to them about creating your own Smart Home; contact:

smart homes | soteria | nene local



Telephone: Andrew Franco on 01536 214223

Soteria UK Security & Automation Ltd
Unit 2 Dale Street, Corby, Northamptonshire
NN17 2BQ


Can’t Sleep? Can Orchard Clinic Help?

Orchard Clinic tell us what is the best diet for a good nights sleep.

What you eat and drink will have a major impact on the quality of your sleep. Sleeping is the time when your body sets about serious repair and maintenance work. Quite simply, if you don’t get enough sleep this repair work won’t happen, which is a health disaster.

For a good night’s sleep try the tips below:

  • Have a glass of warm milk before bed – milk contains one of the eight essential amino acids, tryptophan, which helps relax you and induce sleep because it helps to control the sleep cycle.
  • Turkey, tuna, figs, bananas, avocados, walnuts or yoghurt also contain tryptophan.
  • Lettuce contains tryptophan and lactones, which are a natural sedative.
  • Carbohydrate–rich foods (like potatoes, brown pasta and brown bread) stimulate the body to produce the sleep-inducing serotonin hormones and help our brains to refuel overnight.
  • Calcium and magnesium have a naturally tranquillizing effect; they’re found in seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
  • Chamomile or valerian tea are great relaxers.
  • Melatonin, another sleep-regulating hormone, is also found in bananas, tomatoes, sweetcorn and rice.
  • Don’t eat too late at night. Try to allow at least two hours before you go to bed. If you really do need a late night snack, a bowl of cornflakes with milk raises serotonin levels.


  • Caffeine which is found in coffee, tea and chocolate, so a late-night cocoa isn’t the best way to get off to sleep.
  • Sugar gives a rush of energy which is the last thing you need before trying to get to sleep.
  • Alcohol may make you drowsy at first and help you to drop off to sleep. But, a few hours later, it produces a burst of norepinephrine, a hormone that can jolt you awake in the small hours.
  • Curries contain too many stimulants such as garlic and ginger.
  • Cheese, ham and bacon all contain tyramine which increases our adrenaline levels, so pizza is out as a late-night snack too. Tyramine is found in raspberries, soy sauce and chocolate as well.
Extra help may be in the form of L-Theanine, this is an amino acid that helps calm the brain, making it more likely to stay asleep says nutritional expert Paul Chamberlain.
L-Theanine is available at the Orchard Clinic and costs £15.65 for 60 tablets.
If you have a medical condition consult your doctor before taking supplements.
eat to sleep
(Extracted from 10 Years Younger nutrition bible by Nicky Hambleton-Jones)

Healthy Eating on the Menu in East Northants

Four more food businesses in East Northamptonshire are now award winners for offering healthy eating options on their menus.

The caterers are recognised for their menu choices through a healthy eating scheme known as ‘Eat Out Eat Well.’


The Eat Out Eat Well Award was developed to reward caterers who make it easier for their customers to make healthy choices when eating out is assessed and managed by a range of Trading Standards, local Environmental Health teams and Public Health. It has three levels – bronze, silver, and gold.


East Northamptonshire Council (ENC) has awarded four more businesses with the nationally recognised award:

Healthy eating on the menu in East Northants

  • Stanley Street Eats (Barnwell) achieved gold
  • Love Food JM Ltd (district) achieved silver
  • Jamaica Blue (Rushden Lakes) achieved bronze
  • Rose and Crown Public House (Rushden) achieved bronze


The level of award is based on a scoring system (bronze 80-100, silver 101-119 and gold 120+) that takes into account the type of food on offer, cooking methods, and how the meals are promoted to customers.


Stanley Street Eats has over 20 years of catering experience and currently offers relaxed festival food for events. Paula Marshall, Co owner of Stanley Street Eats, said: “We are thrilled to have received the gold award and have had positive feedback from our customers already. I attended ENC’s nutrition course, which I found really helpful and informative. It helped us to focus on our cooking processes and the ingredients we use to optimise the healthier options. It is important for our customers to be able to purchase food and be confident it is good for them and taste great too.”


Love Food JM Ltd offers hot school meals to a number of schools in the district. Mandy Love and Jacqui Kilkerr set up the business in 2014 when they felt school dinners needed to change. Managing Director, Mandy, said:


“We have worked very hard with ENC’s help to achieve our silver award and we are on track to achieve gold! We worked in conjunction with the school, the children, parents and our environmental health officer to create a menu that was chosen by the children but endorsed by the adults and healthier options were created from what the children wanted to see on their menu.


“All our meals are cooked from fresh each morning and are nutritionally balanced, checking for sugar, salt, carbohydrates and saturated fat, as per school food guidelines. Our menu has various choices for children to choose from and the general response to our food has been great. We have increased the uptake of school meals across the board and now provide for 15 schools.”


Examples of food being served across all award holders in the district include tuna in spring water, low fat mayonnaises, reduced sugar desserts, salad with all sandwiches and caterers using healthy cooking options such as grilling, steaming or oven baking in limited fat.


ENC Leader, Councillor Steven North said: “To achieve the Eat Out Eat Well Award, businesses must offer a varied menu with healthy options and using healthy cooking methods.


“Our officers have been picking up prospective ones on their food inspections, but the businesses themselves or members of the public can refer anyone for an assessment.


“These days we are all much more aware of how important it is to have a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle, and I congratulate all 27 of our award holders for taking this seriously and continuing to raise the profile of healthy eating among consumers.”


For more information on Eat Out Eat Well in East Northamptonshire, including a list of those who have received the award, visit


To find out how your food business can apply for and receive the award, please contact the Council’s Health Protection Team on or 01832 742055.



Packaging Firm Director Raises £1,130 for Homeless Charity

The “camaraderie” of fundraisers helped the director of a Wellingborough transit packaging company brave freezing temperatures for an all-night sleep out to raise awareness of homelessness.


Patrick Mulhall with fellow fundraisers at this years Big Sleep Out

Patrick Mulhall with fellow fundraisers at this years Big Sleep Out

Patrick Mulhall, Managing Director of PALLITE, based in Sinclair Drive, Park Farm North, successfully raised £1,130 for the Northampton Hope Centre by taking part in their Big Sleep Out on Friday, January 26.


He was sponsored to swap the comfort of a warm bed for a night with just cardboard to sleep on, a sleeping bag for warmth, and a plastic sheet for shelter from the winter elements.


He said: “I can thoroughly recommend the Big Sleep Out to everyone. It’s a great way to raise money and gain empathy of the conditions homeless people face, particularly at this time of year. There was a lovely atmosphere, the camaraderie amongst those taking part really helped people get set for the night. I want to thank everyone for their support.


“It makes you appreciate how tough it must be for those having to deal with living on the streets on a daily basis. We all need to do our bit to halt this.”


Patrick joined more than 165 other people at a specially designated area at Sixfields Stadium, home of Northampton Town Football Club, for the 12-hour stint from 7.30pm to 7.30am the next day. Early indications show this year’s participants have collectively raised approximately £50,000.


He hopes more people will join in next year and has plans to create a PALLITE community shelter to encourage people to take part.


Hope Centre CEO, Robin Burgess, said: “The Big Sleep Out night felt much colder than the temperature suggested so we are extremely grateful to everyone who stayed with us and braved the cold and damp.


“We really hope that, although we pushed a lot of people out of their comfort zone, it really made them appreciate what it is like to be homeless.


“If you know someone who took part but haven’t sponsored them yet, please do. They really did earn it.”


The Big Sleep Out helps to raise awareness of homelessness and the work of the Northampton Hope Centre. Last year £60,000 was raised and went towards supporting the work of the shelter, which provides showers and a warm place for people to visit and enjoy a hot drink. Other work includes helping people find volunteer roles and employment.


People are still able to sponsor Patrick by visiting:

Charity on Track to Raise £500,000 for Cancer Research

A children’s charity set up in memory of a five-year-old Wellingborough girl who lost her battle to cancer is on target to raise £500,000 for research into the disease since its launch.

Niamh Curry

Wellingborough-based Niamh’s Next Step has announced the fundraising milestone to mark its fifth anniversary.


Niamh Curry passed away in May 2012 after battling a type of childhood cancer called neuroblastoma for 18 months.


In January 2013 her parents, Chris and Samantha, set up the organisation in her name and it has so far successfully raised more than £450,000. The money is used to fund research into the disease as well as supporting other families affected by the illness.


Around 100 children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma each year in the UK, of which only around 30 per cent will survive. There is currently no government or NHS funding into research of this type of cancer in the UK.


Chris, 45, said: “We have raised a phenomenal amount of money since this all began. Every year my wife Sam and I think it’ll be quieter this year and every time things go mad again.”


For the last five years the charity has joint-funded the UK’s annual levy to the European research network that carries out studies into neuroblastoma.


Research has also been funded in collaboration with Sparks, the children’s medical research charity at Brunel University, Uxbridge and the Institute of Cancer Research at Newcastle University.


Chris added: “Money has also been used to pay for wheelchairs and walking aids for children who have had neuroblastoma. We’re also well aware of the impact a diagnosis can make to family life – when your world is turned upside down, you still have a mortgage to pay and a car to insure and tax so we are here to offer practical advice to other families and we have helped out with mortgage payments and rental costs.”


A Gala Ball, held bi-annually, is the charity’s top fundraiser, bringing in between £40,000 and £50,000. The stand-out event over the last five years, which raised £25,000, was when world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua MBE visited Northampton on behalf of the charity.


Chris added: “The up-coming charity football match will top it all. My wife, Sam, has always wanted to hold an event like this, we wanted the time to be right and it’s all coming together. Alan Carr joked that Northampton isn’t going to know what’s hit it with himself and his good friend Katie Price coming to town.”


Already 2,000 tickets have been sold for the all-star game, taking place at Sixfields on Sunday, April 15. Tickets are just £10 for adults and £5 for children.


To book tickets click here


Rev Up Your Business Event Returns for a Second Year

A group of Northamptonshire businesses are joining forces to host a seminar for startup and growing businesses.

Rev Up Your Business 2017

Titled ‘Rev Up Your Business’, the event ran for the first time in February last year and saw around 30 delegates attend and learn about how to market themselves effectively, plan for growth, access funding and recruit staff.


Responding to demand to run another event, the team behind Rev Up Your Business have brought together a line-up of experts who will talk about topics including employment law, content marketing, funding, how to identify profit-making opportunities in your business, and the importance of having the correct terms and conditions in place.

Speakers include Alan Price of Business Finance Services, Brian Wrigley of Maximum Profit Growth, Dave Williams of Onefoursix, Kerry Gibbs of BEB Consultancy and Simon Merriman of Solved HR.

The event is aimed at those in the early stages of setting up a business or companies looking to grow and will take place on Wednesday 7th March at Greens Restaurant at Collingtree Golf Club in Northampton from 8am to 11am. Tickets cost £10 per person and can be booked online via Eventbrite.


To find out more, go to Any questions about the seminar should be directed to the Onefoursix team on 01604 779035.

Life Changing Summer Scheme for Teens in Northants

Sign-ups for national youth empowerment programme, National Citizen Service (NCS), are now open in Northamptonshire to any 15-17-year-olds looking to have a life changing summer and boost their CV.

The unique four-week programme is focused around fun and discovery with teens spending time away from home, learning new life skills and also volunteering at least 30 hours of their time to a community project or charity of their choice.

Amy Bakrania from Northampton attended the NCS summer programme. She said: “Before going on NCS I was often prone to sticking to my routine and rarely tried anything new. Like many teenagers, it was easy to fall into the habit of staying indoors watching Netflix and playing on my phone and I don’t think I realised what I was missing out on.

Amy Bakrania

“Signing up to NCS was a little scary initially – I didn’t know many others going and most of the activities were completely new to me, but I’m now so glad I gave it a go. The amount I learnt, the people I met and the opportunities I had to develop during the programme really made me realise the importance of trying new things. I’m now much more adventurous – even if I’m a little nervous about something, I’m willing to give it a try and know it’ll be worth it. It’s definitely an experience every young person should go through – some of the stories I will remember forever!”

Since going on NCS, Amy has gone on to join the regional youth board and give assemblies on her overseas volunteering. She now claims she is much more adventurous and is urging others in Northamptonshire to follow in her footsteps this summer.

The government-backed scheme costs no more than £50, which covers the entire experience from food and accommodation to activities and travel, with bursaries available on a case by case basis.

Phil Everett, from The EBP the regional NCS provider, said: “NCS is a fantastic way to spend the summer after all the hard work of studying for GCSEs. The four-week programme starts with some fun outward-bound style activities followed by a week away at university-style accommodation learning new skills. The last two weeks of NCS involve creating a social action project within the local community to leave a lasting legacy.

“Spending the summer doing something completely out of the ordinary can be quite daunting for some teens but the difference we see in the young people who take part in NCS is really quite amazing. During the programme we see them grow into young adults that not only make lasting friendships, learn new skills and have loads of fun but also become aware of their local community and conscious of the impact they can have on their surroundings.

“NCS also looks great on CVs and UCAS recommends referencing it on personal statements.”

The NCS summer programme will start on 25 June 2018 – with more dates available throughout the summer holidays.

Phil added: “Places are filling up fast in Northamptonshire so I would urge anyone interested in changing their summer from the same old, same old, to something amazing to sign up straight away.”

For further information and to sign up to the summer NCSEM1 programme visit or call 01522 574101.

Former Pro Footballer Wins Top Care Accolade

A Northampton-based home care company, run by former Northampton Town defender, Ray Warburton and his wife, Jo has been awarded England’s top care accolade by inspectors from England’s care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Home instead team

Back Row L-R: Denise Hill, Christine Allen (Registered Care Manager), Ray Warburton, Jo Warburton, Theresa Pocklington
Front row L-R: Cassy Buzzard, Kelly Mennim, Marcia Lawrance, Bianca Bounds

CQC inspectors, whose report on Home Instead Senior Care Northampton has been published this week, said that the company had achieved consistently outstanding outcomes for clients. The report stated that Ray, Jo and their registered care manager, Christine Allen, ensured that ‘people were at the heart of everything’ the company does.


Ray and Jo set up the local office of Home Instead in 2011. Since then the business has gone from strength to strength and currently provides care for 90 clients and employs 80 staff.


Clients of the home care company, whose service allows them to remain living in the comfort of their own homes, were effusive in their praise for the care they received. One said, “All the caregivers are very friendly and they are here for me, they will always have a chat.” Another said, “No one could be better.”


Inspectors were also impressed by the effort the care team made to empower clients. In order to allow one particular client to share their views and express their wishes the caregivers learnt Makaton, a form of sign language used by the client.


Another example of Home Instead going the extra mile was a caregiver who took time to carry out research on strokes to enable them to better understand the needs of clients who had suffered strokes and how they may need to adapt their approach.


Inspectors said ‘The provider was not only committed to providing the most trusted and respected home care service in Northampton but also to work alongside other agencies to change the face of ageing’.


Speaking about the achievement, Ray Warburton said, “Everything that we do is informed by the needs of our clients and their families. We work very hard to ensure the wellbeing of our lovely clients and to bring peace of mind to their families.


“This is our focus and it is a whole team effort. We are very grateful to our caregivers who deliver such compassionate care and to our office staff who keep everything running smoothly.


“Jo and I were delighted to read the report and feel very proud of being named as outstanding.


“It’s been a bit of a journey from the football pitch – I loved that career and feel blessed that I have been able to turn my hand to something completely different, working alongside Jo. It is just so rewarding.”


In achieving this most coveted of ratings, Home Instead Senior Care Northampton joins a very select group of companies. Only two per cent of adult social care providers have achieved this rating since the introduction of CQC’s new Ofsted-style approach to inspection and regulation in 2015.


Home Instead specialises in providing companionship-based care to older people and their service allows their clients to remain living in their own homes for longer than would otherwise be possible. For more information, visit or call 01604 211190.


The Outstanding Rating CQC report can be viewed here: Home Instead Northampton CQC report


Success for Young Referees

Northamptonshire FA’s latest Referee Course a success at Embankment Sports and Athletics Arena.

A total of 22 aspiring referees attended Northamptonshire FA’s Basic Referee Course at Embankment Sports and Athletics Arena in Peterborough last week (12-16 February), with all candidates passing the final assessment.

NFA Referee Course

The predominantly practical-based course, which was held over three days, focussed on teaching the referees how to effectively apply the laws of the game in match-based scenarios. After registration and some pre-course activities, the participants were handed theoretical information on the laws of the game before enjoying some practical work on how these laws are implemented.


Positioning, movement and management strategies, as well as guidance on reporting misconduct, were all taught before the candidates underwent their final assessments.


Luke Scott, Northamptonshire FA Referee Development Officer, said: “The referees really enjoy our courses. The majority of the candidates we get on the course are under the age of 18, and that age group in particular prefer a practical approach to learning, especially in a footballing environment.


“This course challenges them physically as well as mentally, but it is ultimately a very rewarding experience for them all. After completing the course the referees must oversee five games of 9 or 11-a-side football before discussing their progress at a call-back evening with the County FA. They’re then required to sit a Laws of the Game exam which, once passed, will certify them as a fully qualified referee.


“But our referee offering doesn’t stop there. We offer the candidates two years worth of on-going support through our Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) Academy. As part of the Academy we allocate referees to Northampton Town Academy fixtures, which gives them a chance to operate in a safe environment with referee coaches on hand to offer advice.”


Hollie Lewis, who attended the course, added: “It was a great course. I liked taking part in the flagging session and having the opportunity to practice refereeing with others. Even though I was the only girl on the course everybody made me feel welcome.”


To find out more about refereeing in Northamptonshire and to get yourself involved, please visit or contact Luke Scott via or 01604 678401.


Entries Now Open for Rushden’s First ever Sport Relief Mile

Freedom Leisure, which operates three leisure centres in East Northamptonshire on behalf of East Northamptonshire Council, is working alongside both the council and Rushden & Higham Rugby Club to deliver the first Sports Relief Mile in Rushden – and everyone is welcome!

They are hoping that as many people as possible will don their tracksuits or fancy dress costumes and walk, jog or run the Sport Relief Mile 2018 Rushden course for charity. As one of the UK’s biggest fund-raising events, Sport Relief aims to bring the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives.

The Rushden event will be taking place from 10.00am on Sunday 18 March on the grounds of Rushden & Higham Rugby Club’s sports ground. Entry is just £1 per person and people are invited to run, jog or walk with family and friends.

Emma Sylvester, Active Communities Manager at Freedom Leisure, said: The organisers of Sports Relief 2018 are promising that it will be bigger and better than ever so we are keen to get our local residents involved. From tiny-tots with their families, gentle park walkers to super sprinters and fun-runners dressed up in their favourite fancy dress outfit, we urge you all to unite with us for this incredible cause. We will not only be hosting the Sport Relief Mile however, we plan to put on a fun day for all, and hope that even those who don’t want to do the mile will still join us.

“Come on Rushden, please together and support this event, in a bid to change lives.”

Among the activities on the day will be face painting, circus skills entertainer, hot and cold food including a BBQ and ice cream, plus a chance for the children to meet Jim Trainer, the Freedom Leisure mascot.

For more info or to enter the Rushden Mile please visit or phone 01832 742195.

sport relief mile

To fund raise or donate please visit our Just Giving Page: