Category Archives: News

Employee Ownership Association Conference 2018

The slogan for the Employee Ownership Association Conference was

“Be Involved, Be Informed, Be Inspired”

This is indeed what a party of 10 members of staff from Middleton Hall achieved. Over 700 delegates met as part of the growing EO community. We counted up how many individual people we talked to; between us the total was about 350! That is 350 people at different stages of their EO ‘journey’ who shared their experience of “thinking about”, “just become recently” or “established” as employee owned organisations.

As well as making the all important personal connections, we attended all the keynote speakers’ presentations. These included Andy Street (Mayor of the West Midlands and previously Managing Director of John Lewis and Partners), Deb Oxley (CEO of EOA), Chris McDermott (Managing Director of Cambridge Weight Plan) and Alastair Sawday (Founder of Sawday’s Canopy and Stars). The whole event was compered by Martine Croxall, BBC News TV presenter.

The 10 staff, who work in various mixed roles and are in the project team that is preparing for the move to EO, split up to ensure they attended almost all of the 22 smaller and more specialist seminars and workshops. Participation was encouraged so that, again, the benefit of people’s experience was well communicated. Session titles included “We are employee owned. Now what?”, “I am an employee owner, what does it mean?” and “Are we ready for EO?”

The event was held over two days, with a gala dinner and awards ceremony on the evening of the first day. This was an opportunity to relax a little after a pretty full on day.

The whole event has given the team much to reflect on. It is clear that Middleton Hall is well prepared with four months to go before the transition. Minds are turning towards the detail of the final steps and then the post-transition period. There is exciting work to be done!


Christmas Fair Countdown!

Christmas Fair Poster

We’re all set! The mulled wine is brewed and Santa has waxed his whiskers in preparation for his visit to Middleton Hall’s Christmas Fair (he’s really quite high maintenance you know).

The poster says it all – it’s going to be a lovely day. Give us a ring on 01325 332207 if you would like any further information. Otherwise we’ll see you there!

Brownies and Guides work with Residents on Remembrance Day Project

Carer and artist Gill Ashman painting purple poppies made from recycled plastic bottles with the 1st Middleton St. George guides and brownies and resident Ruby Barnham in the art studio at Middleton Hall Retirement Village. Photograph: Stuart Boulton.

Forty local Brownies and Guides descended on Middleton Hall for a very special evening.

This year, being the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, Middleton St George has really pulled together and arranged an extensive programme of village-wide events. All corners of the community are involved; we were delighted to have the support of the youngsters in helping us with our own contribution.

At Middleton Hall, we decided to recognise the animals as well as the people who fell and were injured in the wars. The purple poppy is the symbol of remembrance for animals. Gill Ashman, Carer in Hotel Living, Middleton Gardens led a fantastic project in supporting residents to make lots and lots of beautiful, unique poppies! These will attach to a wicker horse, for display in the village. She also made a horse’s head, which will be dressed with a garland of purple poppies.


Jeremy’s Blog – Sharing Success and Corporate Greed

Executive pay is never far from the headlines. Last week, the Chief Executive of a British Housebuilding company walked out of an interview with a BBC journalist when asked about his bonus of £75M. His bonus had in fact been reduced from £110M after adverse publicity centred on the elevation in the company’s share price from the government’s Help to Buy scheme. He was one of three directors of the company to receive frankly eye watering bonuses this year, causing the generally understated Vince Cable MP to comment that it was “reminiscent of the worst excesses of corporate greed that helped to create the financial crisis, when short-termism was heavily incentivised and long-term planning ignored“.

I was puzzled as to why he felt he needed £75M, let alone whether he deserved it. Windfall wealth does not appear to lead to great happiness in life.

Certainly, if I worked on one of the building sites for that housebuilder, I might feel slightly aggrieved after several years of low or no pay increases. The reaction in the social care sector, where front line employees are traditionally poorly paid for such essential work, would be outrage if such a bonus was paid to a Chief Executive and rightfully so.

Thinking and planning for the long term is one of Middleton Hall’s underlying values and we have been carefully planning over the last few years how we can better share our success in the long term under a change of ownership.

Owning a company like Middleton Hall has been a great privilege over the last 23 years, but it is unlikely I will still be leading it in another 23 years (in fact, I am more likely to be a customer at that point) and that has been a dilemma for me. Selling to a bigger company endangers the values and ethos that have helped Middleton Hall become the success that it is today. Even if that sale is to a caring, values driven organisation they in turn at some stage will be purchased by someone else. The social care market is littered with once caring businesses that are a shadow of their original owner’s ethos under a more profit driven direction.

Because I do believe, business is not just about money. Particularly in social care.

We have been very pleased therefore to announce how we will solve my ownership dilemma. In April 2019, I and the other shareholders will sell Middleton Hall to its employees. The company will become the first Employee Owned Retirement Village in the UK, based on the John Lewis model of an Employee Ownership Trust.

I happen to believe our employees are the best people to ensure our success continues in the long term and certainly it will prevent any corporate greed as well as sharing rewards fairly.

I am still left wondering just what I would do with £75M …

Shaken not Stirred at 007 Coffee Morning

Secret agent James Bond made a special appearance at the 007 themed coffee morning, hosted by Middleton Grove.

Residents and staff made some super preparations for the event, with displayed collages and a table of themed goodies as prizes for the quiz. There was fantastic mocktail menu and a number of Miss Moneypennys were on hand to help serve. Shaken not stirred of course.


Recognising World Mental Health Day

The wellbeing of our staff is extremely important.

This year, for the first time we are officially recognising World Mental Health Day. A well-supported raffle was held, not least because of the draw of the three prizes – a day off work, afternoon tea at Rockcliffe Hall and a Reiki massage! It was drawn by a resident – thank you!

It was a valuable day that highlighted the help that is available for mental health issues. Personal difficulties are not a failure and we are without doubt a supportive team at Middleton Hall.

Questionnaires were distributed; the responses will help us to plan future initiatives. If anyone has any thoughts or comments about mental health in the workplace, please contact Jill Milner, HR Administrator.




Blooming Fantastic!

Middleton Hall once again wins gold at Northumbria in Bloom. For the 8th consecutive year, the team not only won the gold title, but also some exceptional ‘judges’ comments’.

The new Mediterranean themed garden is attractive and tasteful … the wildflower area and wildlife walks are superb additions to the entry … the whole site achieves the highest of standards in all areas of the competition and is to be commended.

Maybe the reason for the continuing success is that the team never stops planning and is full of ideas of how to improve the grounds further to help residents enjoy their surrounds to the utmost. Watch this space for announcements coming soon!

Middleton Hall to become Employee Owned

September 10th 2018 is a landmark date in the Middleton Hall journey with the announcement by Managing Director, Jeremy Walford that Middleton Hall is to become an ‘employee owned’ company from April 2019. This is exciting news for Middleton Hall, particularly for staff and residents, and initiates the next chapter for the Village.

Although employee owned companies are still relatively small in number in England, momentum is growing as evidence emerges of its many benefits. Well-known companies such as John Lewis, Waitrose, Tiptree, Riverford and Cambridge Weight Plan are all examples of employee owned companies. Moving to employee ownership will build on the vision and values that Middleton Hall lives by currently and provides a sustainable plan for the long term, ensuring continued investment, high staff engagement and customer focus.

Please read Jeremy’s personal EO statement here, in which he explains why he thinks employee ownership is the way forward for Middleton Hall’s employees, residents and the whole community.

A Veritably Victorious Village Show

Without doubt, the inaugural Village Show showed Middleton Hall at its best. It drew residents, staff and their families together, displaying their obvious talents.

The event was a just a seed of an idea a year ago (if you pardon the pun). Everyone pulled together to make it a reality and it truly was a happy day.

Staged in the marquee, the show featured 26 entry classes, from pumpkins to beans, sunflowers, flower arrangements, breads, scones, jams, chutneys and homemade drinks, ceramics, paintings and scarecrows. And, it seems, everything in between. Plus dog! Lots of dogs!

The competitions and the dog show were hotly contested but with good spirit. Thank you to the judges, many of whom were external and expert in their respective fields.

As well as competitions, we enjoyed a line dancing display from the Texas Toe Tappers, Morris dancing by the Harlequin Women’s Morris Dancers, face painting, a BBQ, and many handicraft stalls.

All in all, it really was a great day, and one that everyone is keen to arrange again next year. Looking forward to it already!


Residents Nail Sports Day!

There was a fantastic turn out for the annual Resident Sports Day, one of the highlights at Middleton Hall. All residents are welcome to compete and spectate and it really is a very sociable day with lots of shared laughter.

Over 20 residents competed in the five events; boules, bowls, pitch and putt, putting, and table tennis. A spot of lunch in the pavilion provided a welcome break from the activities, then on they went with admirable energy and drive. There wasn’t an event of chatting, but if there had been, it would have been a close-run thing.

The day was valuable practice for the next calendar sporting event – the Resident v Staff Sports Day on 30th August. On your marks!