#OurStars

Join us as we mark 100 years in 2017 by celebrating #OurStars – the staff of Neill & Brown past and present, our customers and those who have shaped our home city of Hull. Find out about our people and our journey right here!

Powerchair football and Sunday Roasts make Kai tick!

We catch up with the team captain of the Electric Eels, one of the beneficiaries of our #OurStars 100th Anniversary Charity Fund. Name: Kai Gill Job Title: National League Team captain for the Electric Eels A little bit about yourself... I began playing powerchair football in 2012 after attending a taster session. I knew from the minute I got into the chair that this was the sport for me. Within two years we made our debut in the national league championship (the second highest league in the country) and with each season we have improved our league position. Star likes Hull: The redevelopment of Fruit Market area is amazing. It has become my favourite spot to have a cup of tea and socialise with friends. Music: I enjoy listening to all types of music from the latest chart music to country music. Also, I love listening to the talented artists that we have in Hull such as Jack Conman, Ben Rainey, Bud Sugar, Love Our Records – the list goes on. Food: I really enjoy a Sunday roast dinner but why wait until Sunday? A roast dinner is good on any night of the week, especially as it starts to get darker. Sport: Obviously, powerchair football, but when I’m not playing I love watching all sports, mainly rugby league I’m a proud supporter of Hull KR. And, finally, a couple of questions… Which celebrity would you like to meet? Tough question… I’d like to meet Adam Hills, the Australian comedian renowned for his show on Channel 4, ‘The Last Leg’. If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? It’s always been my dream to represent my country in powerchair football. I won’t stop training hard or playing the best I can until I’ve achieved my dream. East Riding Electric Eels Hull & East Yorkshire Powerchair Football Club was established in 2012 by the parents of disabled children and young adults and has 26 registered players. They have two teams who compete in leagues that suit their level of play. The Electric Eels first team play in The MDUK Championship and the North East Regional League Premiership, while The Electric Eels Academy plays in the North East Regional League Championship and the Yorkshire League. The club’s main aim is to allow physically disabled people to play a fast-paced team game, something that most members have been unable to do previously. It is the club’s belief that participating in sports gives a huge benefit to disabled people and allows them to build teamwork, nurtures friendships and helps to boost confidence and self-esteem. One of the Electric Eels’ youngest players is currently performing at National League level and was selected for an International training camp in Paris last summer. Not all players compete; some come for social aspect. Attending the club is a way of getting out and making new friends which gets them away from the normal day to day troubles of living with a severe, and often life-limiting, disability. As a registered charity, the Electric Eels raise funds for training facilities and for providing special chairs required for the sport which can cost up to £8000 each. Kai Gill says, “most of our players thought that they’d never experience the thrill of scoring a goal or coming from behind to win a game. This gives disabled people a sporting purpose and an immense amount of enjoyment.” If you would like to help support this incredible local team you can visit the #OurStars 100th Anniversary Charity on MyDonate to make a donation – click here

27 years and counting!

We chat with our Logistics Director, Carl, to find out about that tricky work life balance. Name: Carl Andrew Job title: Logistics Director A little bit about yourself I'm born and bred in Hull and have one older brother. After a year at sixth form I joined Neill & Brown and 27 years later I’m still here!! I am married to Sarah and have two very special children Charlie (17) and Rosie (14) who make us both very proud. Star likes HULL: I love Hull it’s a great place to live with plenty going on. The resurgence of the marina area is probably the best part. Nice bars and restaurants. MUSIC: I like all types of music, including; The Jam, Style Council and Neil Diamond. Dance music is on all the time in our house as Rosie is always dancing and bouncing around! I also went to see Adele in concert last year. HOBBY: Going to watch my son play football and spend as much time with my family as possible. It’s a difficult mix at times given the nature of this job, but I wouldn’t change it!!! FOOD: A nice steak or piece of seabass, but you can’t beat good old Bangers and Mash! FILM: I don’t watch many films and can never remember the names of them when I do, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is still probably my favourite though… from what I can remember! SHOW: I’ve been to see quite a few shows. The first ever show I went to see was with Sarah to see Miss Saigon in London - I feel asleep after 10 minutes!! (Editor: Shocking!) I’ve also seen ‘Billy Elliott’, ‘The Bodyguard’, ‘Buddy Holly’. The best show I’ve seen was ‘Aladdin’ when we were in New York; it was amazing! BOOK: I don’t read a great deal, if anything it’s usually a sport biography. Harry Redknapp’s probably being the best I’ve read of late. SPORT: I like any sport, especially football. I’ve always liked watching Liverpool (and been to the occasional game) and I like going to watch Hull City, although it has been painful to watch recently. I did represent and captain Yorkshire in the national championships at volleyball in my early teens. PLACE: The Bahamas was a special place as Sarah and I went there on honeymoon. We have also enjoyed holidaying in Lagos and Portugal is our favorite family location with fabulous beaches and food. I think New York is an exciting and vibrant place with lots going on. And, finally, to finish … If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? I’d wish an end to all wars and that a cure for cancer to be found. I hope that my children fulfil their dreams and enjoy life to the full. Who do you most admire? My Mum. From growing up and with my Dad working shifts, Mum did everything and was everywhere. Even now, after cancer and a hip replacement, she is always on the go and will do anything for anybody (nothing is too much trouble!). The help Mum and Dad have given me and Sarah has enabled me to fulfil my dreams! What was your most embarrassing moment? One Christmas we went for a meal at a very special house (Mr & Mrs B’s), I had too much to drink (winter Pimms!) and spent a lot of the late night in the bathroom…..enough said!!!

He’s a high flyer, but our Bernie now concentrates on the roads!

He's a keen cyclist who keeps very active, we caught up with our Bernie to find out more. Name: Bernard Bennison Job title: Fleet Manager  A little bit about yourself I was born and raised in Hull. I am married with one daughter and two grandchildren. I have worked in transport most of my life and it’s a privilege now to be with N&B. Star likes HULL: Our time as UK City of Culture 2017 has been great. Long may the benefits continue. MUSIC: I have a wide musical taste from 70’s Rock to classical HOBBY: I have a lot of hobbies that keep me occupied. I am interested in cars, and love music and travelling. I also have a keen interest in flying. I used to hold a pilot’s licence for flying microlights. I learned to fly out of Pocklington and have spent time flying all over Yorkshire. Ever since I was at school I have enjoyed cycling and I would often cycle from Hull to Malton or Scarborough and back. Nowadays I only do a mere 60 to 80 miles a week! FILM: Alien SHOW: Thriller BOOK: I enjoy reading biographies, my favourite was Rudy Giuliani’s, the mayor of New York at the time of the Twin Towers disaster; it was an amazing read. SPORT: I enjoy a lot of sports including; Motor Sports, cycling and rugby. PLACE: I can’t choose. I like the USA, Canada and home. And, finally, two questions to finish … If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? Health and happiness for all my family . Describe your ideal weekend. Getting out on my bike, spending time with my grandchildren… and a beer!

David Bowie and horse riding are Star Likes for Ann Clarkson from Preston Road Women’s Centre

Neill & Brown supports Winner, Preston Road Women's Centre. Being part of Hull has always been at the heart of what we do so to help commemorate our landmark 100th year we chose to support two local charities. We spoke to Ann from the Preston Road Women’s Centre, one of our chosen charities. Name: Ann Clarkson Job title: Centre Coordinator A little bit about yourself... I’m from Hull and have worked at the women’s centre for 8 years. It’s a place where no two days are ever the same, some of the challenges the women and children we work with face are massive, but the experience of seeing a family come out the other side is amazing. Star Likes HULL:  The redevelopment of the Fruit Market area is incredible. It’s within walking distance of where I live; it’s great to see the area flourishing again. MUSIC:  As a teenager I loved David Bowie initially in his Ziggy Stardust era, but before that I also remember his Laughing Gnome single; he wasn’t known as David Bowie then. I’m still a fan of his music now. HOBBY: I inherited a love of horses from my dad who used to work with them on farms when he was a boy. It’s sometimes an expensive hobby but I’ve had so much enjoyment from them over the years I wouldn’t be without a horse now. FOOD:  You can’t beat a good roast dinner with all the trimmings SPORT:  Plenty of fresh air and exercise from the horse riding Anne tells us more about the Preston Road Women’s Centre: In Hull 25,000 women & 18,000 children are affected by domestic abuse. In England and Wales 2 women are killed every week by a current or former partner. On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police. Women and children are often forced to leave their homes in fear of abuse. Our charity, ‘Winner, the Preston Road Women’s Centre Ltd’ (registered charity number 1106884), also known as Purple House was established on Preston Road in 1999. We started in a room in a disused school to provide a safe space for women to access support, education, training and volunteering opportunities. Currently we offer support to around 5500 women and children per year who come to us with a range of issues, often experiencing domestic abuse. Our location in the centre of East Hull means that our services are accessed by families from all areas of the city. Families living in the rural areas of East Yorkshire lying to the east of Hull, including Hornsea and Withernsea, also utilise our services, as we are easily accessible by bus routes coming into the city. ‘Winner’ offers holistic support to women and children in Hull to enable them to have the best possible quality of life and to make the most of life chances available to them. We offer safe, accessible services and activities that meet immediate practical needs, emotional health needs and empowerment to make informed choices allowing them to reach their full potential. Typically, women access the centre at a point of crisis in their lives often whilst suffering from domestic violence and abuse. Services include: • Specialist Domestic Violence and Abuse support • Specialist Nursery childcare provision • Young Women's support project • Safe dispersed accommodation • Affordable Justice (Family law firm offering affordable legal services) • Comprehensive Volunteering programme • Accredited training opportunities • Community shop • User-led groups, e.g. our Art Therapy group If you want to do your bit to help this worthwhile Hull-based cause - click here to donate

Our Karl likes a good laugh

We asked our Karl about his Star Likes and found out more about his Wargaming antics... Name: Karl Barley Job title: Exports Coordinator A little bit about yourself... I’m from East Hull; I have lived there most of my life and just bought a house there with my other half. I spend a lot of my time wargaming, gaming, and talking about games. I like to travel to tournaments around the country with friends, which is great way to meet new people and spend time with people you don’t see too often. Star likes HULL: I’m very fond of my hometown, the people are great and the city itself is great, it’s got plenty to do and a rich history. MUSIC: I don’t get to many venues but the live music is Hull is really good; the atmosphere is always fantastic. HOBBY: Wargaming. I have become slightly addicted and now play more games than I probably have time for, and like all wargamers I have a pile of models that are unpainted. FOOD: I could eat pizza every day of the week. SHOW: A couple of years ago I saw Derren Brown at City Hall. It was an amazing show and I am hoping to go again. BOOK: I’m currently working through the ‘Wheel of Time’ series, would highly recommend to anyone into fantasy novels. SPORT: Rugby and Motorsports, I don’t follow as keenly as I’d like but I would always take the option. And, finally, two questions to finish... Which celebrity would you like to meet? That would have to be Rik Mayall or Robin Williams. I’ve spent a long time enjoying their films and shows and would have loved the opportunity to thank them for all of the laughs. The funniest things you've seen? Al Murray at Hull City Hall; by the interval I was in pain from laughing so much. Derren Brown, again at Hull City Hall. I never realised how funny he is. It doesn’t come across on TV and was a good surprise.

Our happy-go-lucky Gavin tells us about his Star Likes

"I'm a bit of a petrol head and I like getting my hands dirty..." Meet our IT Assistant, Gavin. Name: Gavin Thompson Job title: IT Assistant A little bit about yourself... Born in Hull, I have spent most of my life living here apart from spending 6 months in Harrogate with family when I was 17. I am a happy-go-lucky person and can talk for England! I am also a bit of a petrol head and enjoy getting my hands dirty fixing my cars. I enjoy spending time with my partner and our little girl. Star likes HULL: I have been to a few of the City of Culture events and have to say that I have really enjoyed them! This year has been fantastic so far. MUSIC: I’m an easy listener, I enjoy most types of music. It generally varies depending on the mood. I would say my favourite genre is Rock/Power Ballads HOBBY: I enjoy playing video games in my spare time. I also enjoy repairing/upgrading parts on my cars when they need replacing. FOOD: I’m a seafood kind of person - I see food and eat it! I enjoy Chinese food, there’s a small restaurant on the outskirts of Peterborough called Imperial Bento’s; I’ve never tasted food so good! FILM: I am a big fan of the Martial Arts films with Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme and many others. If it’s adrenaline fueled, I’ll watch it. BOOK: I rarely read now, but I own the Harry Potter collection and own the Wheel of Time collection by the late Robert Jordan. SPORT: I’m not a very big sport fan but I make the exception for Boxing. PLACE: I’ve been to a few places but the one I enjoy the most is Marmaris in Turkey, we always enjoy ourselves and appreciate the scenery. And, finally, two questions to finish... If your wishes could be granted, what would you ask for? For my daughter to be happy, healthy and successful in whatever she aspires to do For salad to taste a lot better; that way I may eat it! What is your earliest memory? I was 4 years old and was climbing our garden fence and slipped down catching a loose nail on the way down, it left a scar on my belly which I will always remember.

Our Angie is a bit of a history buff.

"Hull is the friendliest city I know", says our Angie. Name: Angie McDougall Job title: Deepsea Assistant A little bit about yourself... I’m a Hull lass born and bred! I left school at 16 and entered the world of publishing, reaching the dizzy heights of Assistant Editor on a local journal (OK the actual Assistant Editor was on leave! But that still counts, right?!)  From there I have meandered through life meeting new and exciting challenges, knocking at the door of education a couple of times on my way through. That was a buzz and a half!  I have three daughters and two grandsons who I adore. Star likes HULL: Hull is the friendliest city I know where locals still greet people as they pass by! MUSIC: I drive to work listening to Rock and drive home to easy listening, it’s like a workout for the brain FOOD: I’m a real foodie, I love it, can’t live without it… literally!! I love to try new things. FILM: I’m a Sci-Fi nut, anything from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ to ‘Transformers’.. Gotta love Optimus Prime! BOOK: I’ve just finished ‘The Doorstep Girls’ by local author, Val Wood, it was thoroughly enjoyable SPORT: At school I was into gymnastics. I was very flexible, now I groan getting out of a chair! PLACE: Every holiday becomes my new favorite place, most recently Corfu, beautiful! And, finally, two questions to finish... If you could go back in time, where would you go? As a history nerd I would love to enter Rome under Caesar Augustus cAD10 at its peak in terms of culture and architecture.  Having seen for myself what is left 2000 years later I can only imagine what a city of marble must have looked like. What was your most embarrassing moment? I walked part of the Cleveland way a few years ago, following heavy rain the previous day.  We walked from the coastal path through a field to a trackway only to be met with thick mud at the gate that had been churned up by walkers. Navigating my way across the mud I strode over but missed my target of solid ground.  I was going down in the splits, the only way to save myself was to drop onto my hands which rapidly disappeared from view.  I laughed so hard I couldn’t move and right on cue a group of walkers appeared at the gate. It felt like I was playing the weirdest game of twister ever!  I had no choice but to drop to my knees and crawl out… I stood up, looked at my audience and greet them with ‘Afternoon!’

This star was born in 1981

It's a Grade 1 listing for Our Star the Humber Bridge! It's become an iconic part of the Hull skyline and at Neill & Brown we get a great view of this awesome structure from our Hessle depot. On 17th July, during Hull UK City of Culture 2017, the Humber Bridge was awarded Grade 1 listed status, so we thought on the 36th anniversary of its official opening it also deserved #OurStars status. The Humber Bridge first opened to traffic on 24th June 1981, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 17th July 1981. It was built by the same engineers who built the Forth Road Bridge, crossing the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Previous to the opening of the Humber Bridge, travellers either had to catch the Humber Ferry between Corporation Pier, Hull to New Holland Pier, New Holland, Lincolnshire or drive all the way around using the M62, M18 and M180. As a result of the bridge opening, the road distance between Hull and Grimsby was reduced by 50 miles. With a total length of 2200m, the Humber Bridge held the record for the longest single span suspension bridge for 17 years, until the opening of Japan’s Akashi Kaikyō Bridge on 5th April 1998. Each tower of the bridge stands at 510ft tall and a total of 44,000 miles of suspension cable is used. The bridge is designed to tolerate constant motion and bends more than 3m in winds of 80mph. Every year the bridge is used by over 8million vehicles. The Humber Bridge is a truly tremendous structure and we are proud to be situated within its shadow. The bridge plays a vital role in Neill & Brown’s daily transportation services.

Our green fingered Peter

Sales administrator Mark Jardine interviews Neill & Brown’s CEO, Peter Brown, and finds out about 'straight line mowing therapy'..... As Neill & Brown celebrates 100 years in business, the third generation Brown and CEO, Peter Brown, marks 52 years with the family firm. During that time he has worked his way from being the office boy, on to customs clerk, before becoming the MD and then CEO. I caught up with Peter to chat about what he gets up to when he is not working to prepare Neill & Brown for the next 100 years. It’s understandable that as a ‘man at the top’, Peter likes to relax whenever time will allow. As well as being a keen gardener, he is also known for spending time in the kitchen making pickles and preserves made from his produce. In contrast to the more creative side of gardening, he’s also a stickler for detail. He tells me, “I find mowing the lawn very therapeutic. It is very satisfying to see straight lines in the grass!” Peter is very keen on the arts and was the first person to pledge money, through Neill & Brown, to the help the city’s bid to become UK City of Culture 2017. It has certainly been an exciting year so far, and Peter says, “I am pleased to see how UK City of Culture 2017 has benefited our city throughout the year and how this will leave a legacy for years to come. “It’s incredible to see the impact that this year has had on Hull’s profile, with our city getting worldwide recognition.” As the head of a global logistics organisation, who also has an office based in Hong Kong, Peter tells me that he has been very fortunate to have seen a lot of the world, “I love the Far East for its food and people, but recently I visited one of our sons who is currently living in Australia and I’d like to spend some more time exploring there. “But as long as I am with my best friend – my wife Moira – it doesn’t matter where I am. Wherever we are we always have a laugh and an occasional glass of wine!” It’s no surprise then that when I asked Peter to describe his perfect weekend, he said: “I would spend the day gardening on a Saturday, followed by a meal out with friends in the evening. Sunday morning I would have a round of golf before cooking Sunday dinner and having all the kids at home around the dinner table … perfect!” Star Likes: Music: I like lots of different types of music from Tamla Motown to Brass bands and El Divo. Food:  There is very little I will not eat or try, although on business trips to China I have been offered some very unusual food, but do prefer fish. Show:  I have seen The Phantom of the Opera a few times over the years and always enjoy it. TV:  I enjoy watching ‘Heartbeat’ on the TV as it reminds me of that era. It was a great time in my life – everything was so different then. Without any responsibilities, life was more carefree, but we all have to grow up. Books:  I only really read on holidays but I prefer WW2 fiction and mysteries Sport:   Playing golf and walking Hobby:   Gardening, cooking and golf. Not many people know that I used to be a train spotter! (They do now!) To finish, tell us about anyone you would like to meet, past or present. I’ve met Lord Digby Jones. I bought and read his book ‘Fixing Britain’; it’s a shame our politicians have not taken more notice of what he said. And I would like to have met Margret Thatcher as she seemed like one hell of a woman. This obviously will not popular with everyone, but I think she did a fantastic job for the country at the time.