Northamptonshire Traditional English Country Pub Scoops Top Food and Drink Award

A family-run pub known for its outdoor dining and welcoming atmosphere has won a major award, recognising its excellent service and high-quality menu.

 The Brampton Halt, located in Chapel Brampton, has scooped the Food and Drink prize at the prestigious Northamptonshire Business Awards (NBA).

The glittering ceremony was hosted by comedian Stephen K. Amos and took place on Thursday, November 7, at Northampton’s County Ground.

 The pub, part of the McManus Pub Company, was purchased in 2003. It fast became popular for its outdoor space and beautiful views, which prompted the McManus family to inject more than £1m into restoring and renovating the venue.the brampton halt

It has been run by husband and wife team Tim and Donna Leah for more than 15 years.

 Landlord Tim said: “We’re hugely honoured to have picked up the Food and Drink Award at the NBAs this year. But running a public house is truly a team effort and we would not have been winners without every single person who works here, either front of house or out the back.

“Over the years we’ve really grown the business into a place that caters for all ages. In the day we’re a family-run pub that welcomes kids of all ages. In the evenings we get lots of young people visiting, keen to meet their mates and have a few pints, as well as older people who might seek a quiet corner and a read of the paper.

“We’ve also become a popular venue for weddings and parties after we had our outdoor kitchen fitted. Our newly renovated patio has opened the space up, so we can cater for even more people who wish to visit us over the course of the summer. If you haven’t been to visit us before, then you’re missing out!”

More than 50 people are employed at the Brampton Halt and many of them have been extensively trained to ensure customer service goes above and beyond.

Gary McManus, who has been at the helm of the family business since 1989, added: “The Brampton Halt represents the epitome of traditional English country pubs. We have a passion for excellence, coupled with constant investment. We pride ourselves in serving quality, locally-sourced food and beverages, combined with first-class service.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure in the winter months, the Halt is the go-to public house to visit because of its cosy interior, which we’ve recently renovated. In the summer, we throw open the windows and crank up the BBQ as thousands flock to us, happy to take advantage of the country views, the beautiful lake and the huge outdoor patio space we’ve created.

“This award is hugely deserved for the Brampton Halt team and we will continue to ensure it remains one of the most popular pubs in the county during all seasons.”

The NBAs are an annual awards programme which recognises exceptional businesses and business people across the county. All the winners are determined by an independent judging panel and they are scored against set criteria and marked through a bespoke software-based scoring system. On the night a total of 12 trophies were handed out.

Steeped in history, the Brampton Halt is located on the Brampton Way, the old railway line which ran through Northampton. The building is the former old stationmaster’s house and provides the perfect setting for fabulous BBQs, fireworks and family events.

The McManus Pub Company owns an estate of traditional pubs, country inns, sport bars and gastro pub restaurants in Northampton, Middlesex and Leigh-on-Sea.

Council teams up to tackle drugs in East Northants

Illegal drugs in East Northamptonshire have been sniffed out during an operation by East Northamptonshire Council, Northamptonshire Police and Alpha K9 Security Services.


On Friday 8 November 2019, ENC ran their most recent drug dog operation and a suspected Class A substance was recovered from one premises. During the evening, the team visited 15 licensed premises in total across the district and 11 stop searches were carried out by Northamptonshire Police of people who had been identified by the drugs dog. The majority of these searches confirmed drugs had been used by the individuals in the hours prior to being searched.


A Council spokesperson said: “We are proud to have joined up with Northamptonshire Police and Alpha K9 Security Services on these successful operations. Everyone involved has worked hard to ensure this was a success and a special mention should go to Raunds Town Council who funded the operation and are clearly taking proactive steps to keep their residents safe.


“The success we had wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the local community. This is an example of community engagement at its finest. We would like to thank local residents for the large amount of intelligence we have received concerning drugs and to those who were supportive whilst our staff were on the operation.”


DC Jane Manning of the East Northants Neighbourhood Policing Team, who led the operation, said: “By increasing both our visibility and visits to licensed premises, we are making it harder for those involved in the supply of drugs in our towns and villages.


“Having the resources of Alpha K9 Security Services available to us was invaluable to the operation, and we must thank Raunds Town Council for their support in providing the funding for the specialist drugs dog and handler.


“As a result of being able to take the dog into the licensed premises, we spoke to a number of people who confirmed they had used drugs earlier that evening, and enquiries are on-going into the possession of a suspected Class A drug.


“Detecting and preventing the use and sale of illegal drugs in our communities is a key part of our work, and it was great to speak with people during this operation to explain what we were doing and why – the general feedback we had from the public, patrons and landlords were positive.

“We will continue to work in partnership with Licensing Officer Rita Groves and her team at East Northamptonshire District Council, and the night time economy to provide a safe environment for visitors of all ages to enjoy.”


If you suspect drug activity in your area, and would like to report it, please contact Northamptonshire Police on 101.

New Deputy Managing Director appointed to Oxford Innovation

A leading light in the economic development of the Thames Valley has been confirmed as the Deputy Managing Director of the UK’s foremost innovation centre operator.

oxford innovation

Tim Smith MBE has joined Oxford Innovation in a new key role focussed on the day-to-day running of the company. Previously the Chief Executive Officer of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Tim brings immediate knowledge and experience of the critical part that innovative start-up companies play in economic growth.


Between April 2015 and March 2019, he led the implementation of a strategy that created or safe-guarded nearly 4,500 jobs, assisted 1,500 businesses and helped to train and upskill over 3,700 workers.

Tim Smith, Deputy Managing Director of Oxford Innovation

Tim Smith, Deputy Managing Director of Oxford Innovation

Tim will support Oxford Innovation Managing Director, Jo Stevens, who is leading the organisation’s ambitious growth plans, which include the management of more than 40 innovation centres across the UK and Ireland.


Jo said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Tim, who has spent many years leading on programmes of economic development for the Thames Valley and beyond.


“Our clients are wrestling with many of the issues that have been at the forefront of Tim’s in-tray, notably how to ensure that the presence of great universities translate into local jobs and economic growth as well as how to develop and support the ‘harder-to-help’ towns of a region.


“Oxford Innovation’s work is about making places work better, through the delivery of successful and sustainable innovation centres, particularly for small business, entrepreneurs and for the innovation economy; we and our clients will greatly value his experience and leadership.”


Established in 1987, Oxford Innovation has grown to become the country’s largest provider of innovation centres; flexible workspace and support for innovative, early stage business.


So far this year, three new innovation centres have been launched; two in Oxford and one Essex, with additional centres in Newcastle, High Wycombe and Aylesbury to be launched in the next three months. Future plans include a centre in Haverhill, Suffolk and a first centre in the Republic of Ireland.


Tim Smith said: “I have been involved with the SQW Group for several years and have long respected the integrity, professionalism and expertise of Oxford Innovation and its sister companies.


“I am delighted to have joined the company and look forward to helping it realise its growth ambitions and supporting even more innovators in the future.”


To find out more about any of the services Oxford Innovation provide visit:

oxin-centres.co.uk or call 01865 261480.


Grub Club Leicestershire-Northants to launch at Warner’s Distillery

Grub Club Events is launching a new group – Grub Club Northants-Leicestershire. The new group will hold its first event on Tuesday 3 December, at the multi-award-winning Warner’s distillery in Harrington, Northants.

Falls Farm Botanical Garden

Falls Farm Botanical Garden

The new group is an expansion of the existing Grub Club Cambridge – a business networking group for foodies, and movers and shakers in the food industry. Its first Leicestershire-Northants event will include a delicious dinner and the chance to network with others in the food industry.


Grub Club was founded by Vhari Russell and Cat New of The Food Marketing Expert. Vhari said: “This is our first event in this area, and we can’t wait to connect more food and drink businesses, as great things happen over great food and drink.”

Cat New and Vhari Russell

Cat New and Vhari Russell

As well as dinner, the event will include a tour of the distillery, allowing visitors to sample some of the innovative gins that have made Warner’s one of the most successful of the country’s many up-and-coming gin distillers. Warner’s was founded on the family farm in 2012, since when it has forged a reputation for creating novel and great-tasting gins as part of its mission of “Saving the world from mediocre gin”.


Tickets for the event are available from Eventbrite [LINK: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/distillery-tour-and-networking-tickets-79972829887] or visit grubclubcambridge.co.uk for more information.

Northampton Farm Opens its Field for Spooky Pumpkin Pick Your own Fun

A Northampton farm is opening up its field so visitors can pick their own pumpkins ahead of Halloween.

The Brampton Halt branch of Smiths Farm Shop has decided to go all out for the spooky season and invite families to come along and hand select which orange root vegetable they would like to take home.

Adrian's granddaughter Bunny has been helping out on the pumpkin patch

Adrian’s granddaughter Bunny has been helping out on the pumpkin patch

Smiths Farm shop staff will also be on hand to help each child pick their chosen pumpkin, while also telling them some facts about how they grow and harvest them each year.

Proprietor of the farm shop, Adrian Smith said: “Being a family-run business we wanted to hold an activity which gets children more involved. Every year we grow our own pumpkins

from seed in the greenhouse, and then plant them in the field, it’s such a magnificent plant that can produce such a large pumpkin from such a tiny seed.

Adrian Smith has been hard at work gearing up for Halloween

Adrian Smith has been hard at work gearing up for Halloween

“As well as helping visitors to pick their own pumpkin, we’ll also be on hand with suggestions on how to cook with the vegetable and its seeds. People are very happy to buy pumpkins, but aside from using them for Halloween, they seem to be stuck with what to do with them. So, we’re saying this year to do less carving and more cooking.”

The field will be open from 11am to 3pm on Saturday, October 26 to Sunday, October 27.

The Farm Shop, which also has another branch at Billing, has been growing pumpkins for 30 years. In addition to pumpkins, the farm also grows a large range of squashes, such as butternuts, crown prince and little gems.

Adrian added: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming the people of Northamptonshire onto our farm and carving out some fun. We’re sure the activity will pumpkin spice up Halloween, after all, if you’ve got it, haunt it.”

In a bid to reduce packaging waste, the Smith family are requesting people bring their own bags to collect their pumpkins in.

The family have been in business since 1958. Proud of their heritage, the company supports like-minded local food producers, providing them with an outlet to sell their homegrown products.

Local Groups Campaign to Tackle Food Poverty

This week members and supporters of Northamptonshire Food Poverty network have been supporting the national End Hunger UK campaign challenging government to set out a plan for ending UK food poverty by 2030. The network is supported by Northamptonshire Community Foundation as part of its community leadership activity.

According to the Social Metrics Commission around 8.4 million working-age adults, 4.5 million children and 1.4 million pension-age adults are living in poverty in the UK.

Community groups, charities and supporters around the county have already done a photo stunt to highlight World Hunger Day on Wednesday 16 October including local organisations such as Re:store Northampton, Tools for Self Reliance, Service Six, Springs Family Centre, Growing Together Northampton and Baby Basics.  This is part of a day of action taking place across the whole of the UK. Members of End Hunger UK want to get their message across that in 2019 in the fifth richest nation in the world everyone should have access to good food and nobody should have to go to bed hungry.

Cafe Track Window Display

Cafe Track Window Display

Other activities by local groups to raise awareness of food poverty include Café Track, a social enterprise, on Northampton Market Square having a display of woollen-made food by local community group the Woolly Crew with information on food poverty for members of the general public to take away.

Thomas Cliffe from Café Track which supports autistic people into employment said: ‘I think it’s as simple as stopping food poverty. Food is an essential human need. Anything we can do to start a conversation is worthwhile.’

Rachel McGrath of Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network said: ‘The intention is to raise awareness amongst the general public about food poverty and to create a talking point. We are asking people to contact their MP or local councillor to ask them how they will help tackle food poverty locally and nationally.’end food hunger

Buddies of Beckets, a community group supporting the maintenance and providing activities across Becket’s Park, have put up message boards across the park highlighting food poverty and yarn-bombing the park with woollen food and messages and facts about the End Hunger UK campaign.

Emma Heath from the Woolly Crew who has been supporting the activities of Northamptonshire Food Poverty network this week said: ‘Access to food should be a basic human right. If you’re hungry and not able to afford access to food, this also means you are at risk of mental health problems as well. We shouldn’t have kids in this day and age going hungry.’end food hunger

Northamptonshire Food Poverty Network will be sending woolly food and a message at the end of the week to MPs across Northamptonshire asking them to pledge to end food poverty by 2030 and to place the memento on their desk to not forget the plight of people living in poverty during their working day.

New Plan Unveiled to Promote the Nene Valley

The Destination Nene Valley project has launched a new Destination Management Plan (DMP) to set out the key objectives for tourism development and marketing across the Nene Valley for the next 6 years until 2025.


The plan is the latest phase in the Destination Nene Valley project, which works with different partners across the heritage, tourism and cultural sector to enhance and promote the Nene Valley.


Figures from 2016 show that there were 2.4 million visits to the Nene Valley and it is anticipated that the DMP will help to further develop tourism in the Nene Valley, recognising it as a destination of choice for people and wildlife alike. The new plan has been agreed by key stakeholders and members of the Destination Nene Valley project board and will shape the management of the Valley over the next 6 years across several key areas.


The key areas the DMP looks at are:


  • Creating an enterprising approach to rural economy
  • Improve access to the Nene Valley
  • Attracting visitors and spend from local, national and international markets
  • Encourage local communities to lead healthier outdoor lifestyles and promote green lifestyle


Andrew Langley, Chairman of Destination Nene Valley said:


“I am a passionate advocate of our great county and, the Nene Valley, one of its most outstanding natural assets. The Valley is full of hidden gems and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to enhance the Nene Valley for future generations to enjoy through this new Destination Management Plan.”


Sarah Peacock, East Northamptonshire Council Councillor and board member for the Destination Nene Valley project added:


“This new plan will ensure that the Nene Valley becomes a destination of choice for world class wildlife, as well as for visitors from across the county and further afield.


“The Destination Nene Valley team have been working hard with partner organisations, including local councils, Nenescape and the Environment Agency and we are so pleased with the final plan and its vision for the future of the Nene Valley.”


To find out more about the Destination Nene Valley project and the DMP, please visit nenevalley.net

The ‘No Mirror Challenge’ from QL in Wellingborough

Nene Local’s HQ yesterday was set up within the QL salon in Wellingborough.  As editor, Helen Dawson, had a day of pampering and the ‘no mirror challenge’ – read the first part of the story here  – Wellingborough Salon Provide a New Look.

award winning salon

I parked up and did a Facebook live on Welcome to Wellingborough then set foot inside Diana’s Gym on Finedon Road.  QL salon is within the gym, so plenty of easy parking!

Ql salon no mirror challenge

When I arrived the mirrors were already covered and another lady was in having the challenge too.

QL salon no mirror challenge

QL salon – no mirror challenge

Our hair was stripped of any colour so that a new colour could be applied, I said I was happy with anything, but you can opt for a more natural look and no colour stripping at all.

Once stripped of colour my hair was dried, the chemicals used seem very gentle as there was no ill effects on my hair.  Janine, who is an award winning colour technician began doing my colours, all in top secret of course!

QL salon no mirror challenge QL salon no mirror challenge QL salon no mirror challenge

As my colour began to work, I headed over to Lu at the nail bar and had my nails done – lots of sparkles for me!

QL salon no mirror challenge QL salon no mirror challenge

My nails were completed then it was back to Janine where she cut, blow dried and finished my hair.  Make up was expertly applied by Lu and I was ‘complete’ and ready for the big reveal!

QL salon no mirror challengeQL salon no mirror challenge

It was such a fun day.  Sitting without the mirror is a weird experience as you sometimes see a flick of hair in your periferal vision as it is styled…one begins to wonder – was I pink? purple? red? multicoloured?  The whole is day spent wondering and you build a picture in your mind of what you look like.  I have to say I was totally wrong what I had imagined but loved what I had!

QL salon no mirror challenge

QL Salon make a video of your day plus take lots of before and after photos, which are great as a reminder of your day.  I loved seeing friends react to my photos and I’m already wondering what to have done at the salon next!

QL salon no mirror challenge

QL salon no mirror challenge

Book the No Mirror Challenge for yourself …

For more information and to book


QL is within Diana’s Gym, 109e Finedon Road, Wellingborough

Lu Buckley 01933 275353

Email: info@quattrolounge.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QLnorthamptonshire

QL salon no mirror challenge

QL salon no mirror challenge


A Helping Hand to Keep Homes Warm in East Northamptonshire

Hundreds of fuel poor and vulnerable households in East Northamptonshire across the county are set to receive a helping hand to reduce their energy bills and the Warm Homes Fund.

council | nene local

East Northamptonshire Council, on behalf of the Northants Warm Homes partnership, has secured nearly £4 million to provide fully-funded central heating for homes that don’t already have it. The money will be matched by other grant monies and by contributions from landlords and local authorities to ensure that eligible homes won’t need to pay a penny.


Those households eligible for the Warm Homes Fund are those most in need of support, including people on a low income that have high energy bills, and who are vulnerable to the cold because of health conditions. Both owner-occupiers and private tenants can apply, and tenants will need the permission of their landlord.


Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, Cllr Steven North, said:


“With the colder months just around the corner, we are proud to be part of a scheme that will help residents across East Northamptonshire stay warm. This initiative is a perfect example of public and private sector agencies coming together to make a real difference to people’s lives.


We have already heard stories of how the Warm Homes Fund has helped people and hope that there will be similar successes in our District. I encourage everyone to find out more about the scheme and check to see if they are eligible.”


The Warm Homes Fund scheme will run until 2021 and fit efficient gas central heating in around 1400 fuel-poor homes across Northants, and is being run by Surefire Management Services (SMS) on behalf of all the local authorities. Nationally, the Warm Homes Fund has been established by National Grid and is administered by Affordable Warmth Solutions.


Gearoid Lane, Director of SMS said:


“We are delighted to be working with East Northamptonshire Council and other partners to deliver fully-funded central heating to homes in Northants. In the many areas across Britain where the fund is already operating, residents have been very positive about the support they have received. It will make a huge difference in helping people on low incomes to heat their homes effectively.”


Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of Affordable Warmth Solutions, said:

“We are excited about this investment from National Grid and are delighted to support East Northamptonshire Council to fund the scheme to address fuel poverty across Northants Warm Homes partnership. Solving the issues associated with Fuel Poverty continues to challenge many of our stakeholders and the feedback we’ve already received provides evidence of how the Warm Homes Fund will make a positive difference to thousands of homes throughout Great Britain.”


All support through the Warm Homes Fund scheme is subject to the eligibility criteria. To find out more go to www.northantswarmhomes.com  or call freephone 0800 038 5737. All visits will be by appointment only and assessors will carry photo ID.

‘Beat the Street’ Runners up Donate their Prize to Benefit Local Schools

East Northamptonshire turned into a giant game in spring, with more than 8,262 residents tapping ‘beat boxes’ around the district clocking up 73,373 miles travelling the distance of around the world nearly three times.

Ed Reeves, School Sport Manager for East Northants Area Schools, Dinky Gummer, Harry Wise and Eileen Bishop from Rushden Walking For Health Group

Ed Reeves, School Sport Manager for East Northants Area Schools, Dinky Gummer, Harry Wise and Eileen Bishop from Rushden Walking For Health Group

More than 11 community teams entered the game, delivered by East Northamptonshire Council, Freedom Leisure and Intelligent Health, with three teams receiving prizes for their efforts.


Rushden Walking for Health Group scooped the accolade of second place but decided that the £200 decathlon voucher could benefit more people if they donated this prize to the Wellingborough and East Northants School Sport Partnership.


The partnership is delivered by Northamptonshire Sport and works with schools across the area to enhance the quality and range of sporting opportunities available for young people.


Ed Reeves, School Sport Manager for Northamptonshire Sport and managing the Wellingborough and East Northants School Sport Partnership (WAEN SSP), said “I am delighted to have accepted a £200 voucher.


“Working very closely with the Rushden and Higham schools, I will be purchasing equipment with the voucher that will educate and enhance the sporting/physical activity experience of many children within the local schools.


“My sincere thanks go to all the walking group members for their hard work and for their very kind donation to Northamptonshire Sport and WAEN SSP.”


Rushden Walking for Health meet every Friday at Rushden Hall Park at 10:00am by the flagpole – everyone is welcome. The Walk is free and refreshments are available at the Hall afterwards.


Terry McEwen and Harry Wise from Rushden Walking for Health Group said: “We really enjoyed taking part in Beat the Street and were delighted to finish in the top place. We encourage everyone to be more active and we are very pleased to be able to donate the vouchers to the local School Sports partnership as we know that they will put the vouchers to good use, helping local children to be active and encouraging them to take part in a variety of sports.”


Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council, said: “A number of fantastic community groups took part in the Beat the Street game, pounding the pavement to clock up points for their organisation. It is great news to hear that Rushden Walking for Health have so selflessly donated their prize to benefit local pupils. I hope that the children are able to enjoy many hours of physical activity thanks to the new equipment that will be purchased with the voucher.”