Colors: Blue Color

For the ninth consecutive year, NH Hotel Group will support the WWF global initiative Earth Hour, switching off the lights of its hotels' façades all over the world.

With this gesture, which will be made by the Company between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm on Saturday 25 March, NH Hotel Group is demonstrating its firm commitment to respecting and protecting the environment in which it runs its business.

With its commitment to this WWF initiative, the Company aims not only to involve its hotels and employees across the world, but also its clients and help increase society's awareness of the importance of looking after our planet for future generations.

Commitments to sustainability

As a result of its commitment to the sustainable development of its operation, NH Hotel Group has completed various initiatives, enabling it to reduce its carbon footprint by more than 70% and its energy consumption by 29%, involving not only the Company as a whole but also the suppliers with whom it works.

NH Hotel Group also has ISO 14001 certification in terms of environmental performance, and is the first global hotel chain to obtain ISO 50001 certification, the most important standard in energy management systems. The Group also supports renewable energies and 78% of the energy supplied to its hotels is green energy.

The biggest initiative against climate change

Earth Hour is an initiative led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), supported every year by hundreds of millions of people all over the world, joining their voices for the protection of the environment.

Since its creation in 2007, more than 7,000 cities have taken part in this initiative, enabling millions of people, companies and governments to join voices to demonstrate that a future based on clean energy is possible.

The Race for Life - Pretty Muddy five kilometre obstacle course will be coming to Sandwell Valley on Saturday 30 September, bringing hundreds of women together to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

It’s the first time this muddy version of the Race for Life has come to Sandwell and the council are calling for local ladies to scramble over A-frames, crawl through mud pits and have fun with your friends, all in a bid to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

A 5k race is great for all abilities; any girl or woman over the age of 13 can apply and make a difference. The event takes place from 10am at Sandwell Park Valley, with the route leading participants through a mixture of terrain including grass, paths and woodland areas.

Councillor Richard Marshall, cabinet member for leisure said: "The Pretty Muddy Race for Life event is a fantastic opportunity for local women, together with their friends and families to raise valuable funds for Cancer Research UK.

“It’s exciting news to hear that Sandwell Valley will play host to such a positive and inspiring event later this year.”

Local Sandwell ladies are urged to show their support through taking part in the Pretty Muddy obstacle event in September - sign up now at

Event registration costs are £10 for girls aged 13-15 and £19.99 for those over 16.

Farmers at Sandwell Valley are working on a special breeding programme to increase a stock of very rare goats on the fields in West Bromwich – and to preserve the breed for ever.

The attractive black-and-white Bagot goats are part of a special conservation effort to increase their numbers, because there are now fewer than 200 registered breeding females left.

The council is helping with the scheme to breed the goats naturally and by artificial insemination methods in a project run by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST).

Melissa Underwood-Grattage, working farm manager at Sandwell Valley, said the Bagot goats are owned by the RBST and in the care of Sandwell staff to care for as an approved farm park.

She said: "We have successfully managed to harvest four grade A embryos from four of our nanny goats.

"These have been frozen and put into the RBST’s gene bank and we are pleased with the result because this was the first time that this has ever been tried with primitive goats."

Farmers at Forge Mill Farm in the Valley helped with the work during a month-long fertility programme.

Melissa added: "In theory, by storing frozen embryos we have helped to preserve the breed for ever.

"We have also successfully bred the other four nanny goats and the first of them gave birth on 28 February. The offspring from these goats will form part of our breeding stock here at the country park in years to come.

"The goats which are at Sandwell Park Farm and Forge Mill Farm are particularly popular with our visitors and do an important job in managing some of our land through conservation grazing."

Tom Blunt, the field officer co-ordinating the project, said: "We are extremely happy with how the work has gone and would like to thank the team at Sandwell Park Farm for their part in helping us achieve a successful outcome."

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for leisure, said: "It is pleasing to know that the work our staff have been doing to protect this breed is proving to be so successful.

"I am sure that the visitors to the Valley attractions will be pleased to see these very attractive animals in the fields and to know that they are part of a scheme to save a species."

The Bagot is believed to be Britain’s oldest breed of goat with records of them being around in 1389 at Blithfield, the Staffordshire home of Sir John Bagot.

The exact origin of the Bagot is unknown and there are two leading theories.

One is that they were brought to Britain during the Crusades in the Middle Ages and the other that they originated from native goats in medieval times.

A new vision for canalside living in the heart of the City of Wolverhampton has been revealed at MIPIM in Cannes. City of Wolverhampton Council is working with the Canal & River Trust, Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Network Rail, and the West Midlands Combined Authority in the Canalside Delivery Partnership to develop the city centre’s canalside area.

Canalside lies just minutes away from the £132 million transport Interchange, with the majority of sites in the ownership of the partners. As part of the scheme, a city centre living proposition for more than 600 new homes is this week being showcased to investors and developers at the international property forum in France.

Other ideas for Canalside include an anchor leisure scheme clustered around existing historic buildings, which could include restaurants and a micro-brewery.

Creative workspaces and a marina development are also being considered, and LED and feature lighting around the canals and tunnels is being progressed.

City of Wolverhampton Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Housing and Assets, Councillor Peter Bilson, said: “Canalside is a large and exciting opportunity that will require determined and skilful leadership to realise the opportunity.

“The new image gives us a glimpse of how spectacular this area of the city could look.

“The partnership is working together to bring about a nationally significant development at this wonderful heritage location.”

Cheryl Blount-Powell, Senior Development Manager Midlands and North West, Canal & River Trust, added: “We strongly believe that waterways have an integral role to play in helping people to lead happier, healthier lives.

“By combining our in-house waterside regeneration and development skills with those of our consultants we form a really effective partnership, and Wolverhampton’s Canalside certainly has a very exciting future ahead.”

Spring has sprung at the iconic Orangery at Blenheim Palace and to celebrate a new seasonal Menu, they are hosting an exclusive wine tasting dinner on 5th April, with spectacular views of the Duke of Marlborough's private Italian Garden.

The art of 'Wine pairing' will be a key part of the event, and wine specialist John Ferguson-Smith has selected a range of unusual wines that pair perfectly to the flavours of each dish carefully designed by Head Chef Billy Bush.

On the evening, John and Billy will discuss each course's flavours and John will go on to explain why he has selected each wine. Grapes have been identified from unusual regions, or for their particular style, so that they are a little out of the ordinary to provide an interesting culinary match. An example of this being the choice of Albarino from New Zealand. This grape is nearly always associated with Spain, so this dinner is designed to offer a different perspective and a twist on the 'standard' wine choices we make.

The evening will start at 19.00 with a champagne reception followed by three courses, with a choice of two dishes per course and a wine specially selected for each dish. There will be an element of competition as guests at the event will be asked to vote for their favourite pairing at the event between dish and wine.

John works for Hatch Mansfield, which is one of the key wine and champagne suppliers Searcys work closely with. John has enjoyed his whole career in the wine industry, and his knowledge spans across the range of regions and styles. Searcys have previously run a range of wine pairing dinners which have always been very well received.

Birmingham City Council is launching the Zero Hero Challenge for students to make their mark on how to reduce waste and there’s £500 Amazon vouchers up for grabs for the winner.

Birmingham is a student city, with over 65,000 students from over 150 countries currently in Higher Education. In a bid to reduce waste across the city, Birmingham’s students are being asked to enter a new competition, the Zero Hero Challenge, to create their own social media video providing ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible, both at their places of study and where they live.

For the last year, everyone who lives or works in Birmingham has been encouraged to become a Zero Hero and reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.

The campaign has been developed in conjunction with the Cleaner, Greener Streets initiative, and is committed to providing online and offline resources supported by the dedicated CleanerBrum website to support those keen to help make Birmingham a Zero Waste City with a target of no waste to landfill by 2035.

The Zero Hero Challenge offers a great way for some of the brightest minds in the city to get involved in the campaign.

Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment explains the rationale behind the Zero Hero Challenge: “Students comprise a large proportion of Birmingham’s population, so it’s important that they help to create a zero waste city. Given the high calibre of students across the city, we have no doubt that there will be some fantastic ideas for videos, all with the potential of becoming a viral sensation!

“The £500 Amazon vouchers are not only being given as a prize but as an acknowledgement of the winner’s support for the cause. We’re looking for really imaginative ideas that will have measurable results, so we can see the real impact of the winning video.”

Any students wishing to take part should create a video around two minutes long and upload it to Facebook, YouTube or Twitter with the hashtag #ZeroHeroChallenge, preferably with Birmingham City Council tagged in too (@bhamcitycouncil on Twitter). The closing date for entries is 31st March 2017.

The doors of five new luxury boutique accommodation offerings have opened in Regional NSW, upping the ante of accommodation available across the State.

According to the STR Global Tourist Accommodation Snapshot, the demand for accommodation in Regional NSW has experienced strong growth, increasing 6.5 per cent in 2016 with 2.2 million room nights sold and occupancy rate growing from 62.6 percent in 2015 to 66.4 percent in 2016. Overall, Regional NSW received over 20.6 million domestic overnight visitors in the year ending September 2016, an increase of 6.8 percent on the previous 12 months.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “There is a demand for accommodation in Regional NSW, including luxury accommodation which gives travellers the chance to relax and recharge. Increasingly travellers, particularly those visiting the State's food, wine and beach destinations, are after stylish and bespoke accommodation that lets them switch off and feel refreshed.”

“Travellers to NSW are always on the hunt for great accommodation, be it luxury, eco, unique, or in an impressive location. I'm delighted that visitors to NSW now also have these stunning properties to choose when booking a getaway.”

More than 500 delegates from across the East and West Midlands attended the first Midlands Engine Trade Summit in Birmingham. Businesses keen to start exporting or step up their global reach took part in the day-long event at The Vox, to learn how the Midlands Engine can support their plans for international business growth.

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, who delivered the keynote speech, said the Midlands Engine is a commitment to harness the region’s 11.5 million people, a fast-growing economy and to create jobs and growth that spread prosperity.

He said: “When it comes to the Midlands, it is clear that with great potential comes great expectation. If the Midlands matches its predicted growth over the next 15 years, it will; create 300,000 jobs and inject £34 billion into the UK economy. The Midlands Engine is how we go about meeting that expectation.”

More than 27,000 businesses in the Midlands export nearly £40 billion worth of products to over 100 countries and that the Midlands Engine will provide practical support for businesses, including 20 trade missions by 2020.

Already 80 Midlands firms have taken part on missions led by DIT across the globe, which should generate £5 million worth of deals over the next 12 months.

Mr Garnier added:

“We are putting companies into rooms with buyers from Shanghai, New York and Dubai. A simple face to face meeting with the right contacts can be a game changer.”

Afterwards, delegates took part in specialist workshops, where they heard from a range of experts about how they can export their goods and services overseas. Dozens of one-to-one meetings were also booked with experts in the fields of finance, overseas markets and export.

Ian Harrison, acting director of the Midlands Director of Exports, said:

“We were extremely pleased to see more than 500 attend the first Midlands Engine Trade Summit. It is testament to the fact that there are many ambitious businesses across the East and West Midlands that want to tap into the opportunities overseas.”

Twenty-eight Export Champions were unveiled at the Summit, all exporters from the East and West Midlands. They will engage with SMEs and local businesses, promote the Department for International Trade’s Exporting is GREAT campaign and digital tool, which helps UK businesses break onto overseas markets.

The Export Champion programme will provide practical advice and support to drive further growth in exports.

Birmingham St. Mary’s Hospice is encouraging people to secure one of its limited edition, expertly crafted flowers to celebrate the lives of their loved ones. The local Hospice has commissioned 1,500 wrought iron flowers as part of its new Forget Me Not appeal.

The flowers will go on display in Brindleyplace from April 24- 1 May, and by making a donation ahead of that, people can have their own keepsake flower dedicated to their loved one as part of the display.

People who have made a donation will then be able to keep the flower after the event as a permanent tribute to a loved one. The colourful flowers have been designed and crafted by the Midlands based British Ironworks Centre.

For one week, the striking installation will include as many as 1,500 flowers, each one dedicated to the memory of loved ones lost whether they were cared for at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice or not. The floral display will be showcased at Brindleyplace’s central square, and visitors to the display will be able to make a donation to secure one of the flowers.

Prominent local figures are signing up to show their support for the campaign and include Local radio personality Llewela Bailey as well as West Bromwich footballing legend Brendan Batson. Both will be dedicating their flowers to honour the memory of their spouses who were cared for by Hospice staff during their final months.

Former West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal defender Brendon Batson said:  “I’m really happy to be a part of the ‘Forget Me Not’ appeal because I know first-hand the great work the Hospice does. When my beloved wife Cecily was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in 2009, I was touched by the care and support from nurses at the Hospice allowing for her to be cared for at home.

“Each ‘Forget Me Not’ symbolises the celebration of a loved one and I’ll be dedicating my flower to Cecily. I hope the people of Birmingham get behind the appeal by donating and dedicating a flower to someone’s life and I look forward to seeing them on display in Brindleyplace.”

Each flower will help fund the valuable work at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, which provides vital care and support to local families living with terminal illness. Flowers will be available for a donation from Monday 13 March by visiting

City of Wolverhampton Council has revealed at MIPIM a stunning new artist’s impression showcasing Urban & Civic’s £55 million Westside development.

Enabling works are currently underway on the leisure-led mixed use scheme at the heart of the city centre, and strong demand from occupiers means construction on the first phase remains on track to start in early 2018.

The MIPIM presentation in Cannes also highlighted a 100-plus bed opportunity for a hotel investor to be part of the scheme, which sits across 6.4 acres on three adjacent parcels of land.

Westside will also bring to the city a multiplex 12-screen cinema, 50,000 square feet of additional leisure space, new restaurants covering 40,000 square feet, and a multi-storey car park in phase one.

Phase two will deliver more than 300 new city centre homes and 50,000 square feet of retail and leisure space.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “Plans are progressing well for Westside and it is a fantastic city centre scheme, as this latest image shows.

“It has already attracted unprecedented demand from occupiers and will gain added profile at this week’s MIPIM event.

“Urban & Civic possess an excellent track record in delivering comparable high-quality schemes in the UK and have the financial support in place.

“There is a general enthusiasm around the Westside opportunity, and optimism concerning the groundswell of regeneration activity across the city, where £3.7 billion of investment is on site or in the pipeline.

“The outstanding proposals put forward by Urban & Civic perfectly meet our expectations of a regenerated Wolverhampton.”

Construction on phase one of the project is expected to be complete by early 2020. It encompasses land between Penn Road Island and Salop Street, including the current School Street and Peel Street car parks and the area around Market Square.

Phase two incorporates parts of land between Salop Street and Darlington Street, including the Fold Street car park. Works on this section of the development are likely to be completed in 2022.

Urban & Civic Property Director, Philip Leech, added: "We are proud to be the developers of this prestigious city centre leisure scheme which for the City of Wolverhampton will become a game changer both culturally and economically.

“Leisure-based urban regeneration is a specialism of Urban & Civic and we are looking forward to completing a destination which will serve the city for generations to come"

"Hot from the desk of the Superkart Charity Challenge we’re proud to introduce our fantastic Premier Sponsor and official media partner “The Phoenix Newspaper”." Known and respected as the newspaper from the community for the community, the “Phoenix” have taken up the challenge and will be whole heartedly supporting our charity challenge as an on-going project to connect and promote the business’s involved, our local communities who are competing, and the 7 nominated charities who we are raising funds for.

Include Me TOO, a national (United Kingdom-based) charity, joined hands with the Commonwealth Youth Council, an international youth-led NGO, to advance mutual objectives. Include Me TOO an award winning charity has led on disabled children and young people, and their families, from a diverse range of backgrounds participation and inclusion for over a decade, with innovative and creative approaches. The charity is committed in promoting and supporting social justice, equality, inclusion and the rights of disabled children and young people.

People with disabilities are being invited to one of Birmingham’s leading art galleries as part of the national award-winning Disabled Access Day campaign. The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA), in the Jewellery Quarter, is one of a handful of organisations in the city that is participating in the initiative over three days from Friday, March 10. RBSA has organised a host of activities on March 10, including free talks by artists, for Disabled Access Day, whose theme this year is ‘You and Somewhere New’ and encourages disabled people, their friends and families to try something different and visit places they’ve never been to before.

City of Wolverhampton Council has joined forces with a local allotment association and community group to breathe new life into Goldthorn Assembly Hall. The Himley Crescent hall, which was built in the 1950s to serve the Goldthorn Park residents, has been vacant for four years. Himley Crescent Allotment Association has now secured a seven-year lease with the council and formed a management group with Wolverhampton Vocational Training Centre (WVTC) to put it back into use.

Commute-hating Brits would be willing to travel for no more than 1 hour 14 minutes, even for their dream job. A survey found that Londoners are willing to endure the longest commute at an hour and a half, meanwhile Manchester residents would be willing to commute just 23 minutes each day. When quizzed on the things that made commuting frustrating or annoying, Brits admitted that getting stuck in traffic infuriated them the most (63%).