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Our Human Face

Mike's toughest challenge yet?

Many of you will remember the 'Iron Man' exploits of Touchstar's own Mike Smith (head of our Bulk Logistics team) from a few years ago. Well time marches on … and so does the intrepid Mr Smith. His challenge this time it is a 50km hike over 24 hours through the challenging peaks of Arran. Just take a closer look at the photograph ….. this isn't simple hill walking, this is genuine mountain terrain!

The arduous challenge is in honour of his Dad. As Mike explains: "he suffered silently through two nervous breakdowns. I'm hiking in honour of his strength facing down what many, misguidedly, perceived as a weakness. My 'mental' challenge is a 24 hour hike over some of Arran's most challenging mountains and terrain. The night section will take me to my dark places. I am lucky though- with the dawn the finish line will come and the dark will pass. Others are not so lucky and live, silently suffering, with the constant presence of their dark place." The hike is in support of the well known mental health charity, Mind. Mind provides essential support and campaigns for increased awareness and support services for the 1 in 4 of us that will suffer from a mental health issue. 1 in 4 is a huge number. It needs a huge amount of effort to address this issue and help those that need it the most. Donations, no matter how small, will be gratefully received and can be made via Mike's Just Giving page.

TouchStar Software Engineer Craig D’John Completes Yorkshire Warrior

TouchStar have sponsored Software Development Engineer Craig D’John in completing a 15km Yorkshire Warrior obstacle course – set in and around Ripley Castle – to raise awareness and funds for Charlie Proctor.

Charlie is a four-year-old boy battling a rare form of liver cancer known as Hepatoblastoma. His family and friends are attempting to raise £250,000 to fly him to America to undergo treatment after exhausting all available options in the UK.

Charlie has undergone more than twenty rounds of chemotherapy since he was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago. He has now stopped receiving the treatment in preparation for surgery.

After losing his mum to breast cancer in 2012 and an ensuing period of turbulence, Craig was encouraged by a friend to attend a boxercise class. This marked the start of a genuine interest in fitness, and with the help of his personal trainer Debbie, Craig has since gone on to incorporate running, weight lifting and numerous other classes into his weekly schedule. Charlie is Debbie’s nephew, and so the decision to run for him was an easy one.

Speaking about Charlie’s situation, Craig said:

“Having met Charlie and his family a few times at different fund raiser and social events, I can tell you that Charlie is trying to be just like any other four-year-old. It’s heart-breaking to see what is happening to him and how helpless his family feel. This is so close to me with the loss of my mum, and the fact that I have a little five-year-old. I don’t know how I would cope if the same was to occur in my family.”

In the last two years Craig has completed the Yorkshire Warrior and Tough Sh!t obstacle races and the Blackpool 10k, raising money for such charities as Cancer Research, MacMillan, and Winston’s Wish. Craig became a Yorkshire Warrior in a time of 02:01:19, finishing 108th in a field of 655 competitors!


TouchStar Access Time CCTV personnel helped give a little push to a ‘pedal for pounds’ charity bid yesterday on Wednesday 22 September.

TouchStar partner Crown Workforce Management Systems urged delegates to its annual customer conference to take off their jackets, loosen their ties and power up the pedals of a static bike in aid of Cure Leukaemia.

Clients from a range of different sectors were asked to ride a lap in a 20-mile ‘trip’ for which the company donated £10 per mile.

The activity took part during coffee breaks and lunch at the event which was held at the Chesford Grange Hotel & Conference Centre, in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, during blood cancer awareness month.

Crown’s clients took on the challenge and crossed the finishing line, raising a total of £200.

The company added a further £300 to the total – a contribution from a recent customer survey for which Crown donated £10 for every survey undertaken. This resulted in a whopping £500 donation to the charity.

Said Crown’s Head of Marketing David Hughes:
“We have a great relationship with our clients and suppliers and I knew that they would be eager to take part and help us raise money for this very worthy cause. It created a great buzz and helped shake off any lethargy that our delegates might have felt by sitting throughout the day.”

Lynden Jones, Sales Director of Touchstar, an access control supplier and his colleague, Jack Rollins, completed 10 miles on the bike which was set up outside the conference room.

“It was a fun thing to do during the breaks which helped break down any barriers amongst those attending the conference. All those who participated enjoyed their time in the saddle and it’s great to know that some funds are going to such a fantastic and deserving charity,” he said.

The annual user conference was attended by more than 90 representatives from police and emergency services, entertainment and leisure, manufacturing and engineering and retails sectors among others – included HR, finance and technology professionals.

The sessions covered a range of different issues such as employment law, workforce planning and absence management alongside overviews of updates to Crown’s Open Options™ system which incorporates time and attendance, HR management, rostering, business process management and workforce analytics.


As a Global organisation our products have been exhibited in most countries across the World ….but this has to be one of the nicest locations ever. Paul Biant (TouchStar Technical Account Manager) decided that he’s that attached to his demonstration unit that he’d take it on holiday …….. don’t ask us why, we scratched our heads too! :) The exact location is Cafe Graal in Montgenevre , which is in the French Alps. We’ve challenged Paul with finding some new applications for the rugged computer ….. maybe using the laser scanner to melt snow drifts or using the GPRS to order a mountain-top pizza delivery!


As we all know, the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is very much in the news as a viral phenomenon that’s benefitting the ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) charity. Celebrity participants include Stephen Hawking, Harrison Ford, Dr Who’s Karen Gillan and George W Bush. If you want to read more about the origin and progress of the challenge click here.

Not to be outdone our own Mark Hardy (Group Managing Director) bravely fulfilled his challenge... and, as you can see, his colleagues weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to give him a very thorough soaking! We’re still wondering about the wisdom of wearing a suit but we’re very proud of him nonetheless. The challenge involves nominating three people of your own choosing to maintain the momentum by accepting the challenge. Amongst others, Mark nominated TouchStar Group Operations Director Jon Hall... Jon we’re still waiting!

The Iron Lady

Sporting achievement is borne out of personal motivation. Sometimes the motivation is derived from a previous sporting background and the desire to continue to push the body to extremes. For others, the initial motivation can be something deeply personal and heartfelt. This was the case for our own Natasha Rourke (Financial Controller, TouchStar Technologies) who recently set herself a 5K charity run challenge. For Natasha this was as daunting as the prospect of an Iron Man event as she, literally, had never run since her school days. Her father-in-law, Peter Rourke, had tragically been struck down by a combination of a stroke and cancer and Natasha’s aim was to raise several hundred pounds for Cancer Care.

The 15th June saw Natasha, her sister-in-law and 12 year old niece take part in the Race For Life at Moor Park, Preston. The day was particularly poignant as it was Father’s Day and Peter had recently passed away. They all successfully negotiated the distance and in the end the amount raised was in excess of £1000! Natasha’s story is also a great example of how a passion for exercise can grow way beyond the original objective. She has kept diligently to a regular training regime and can now manage double the original 5K distance... and it doesn’t stop there. The latest target is the Great North Run which is a whopping 13.1 miles. We know you can do it Natasha!


Friday 27th June was a very significant day for the Bradford office as it saw the retirement of long-standing Project Manager, Neil Perry, after more than 25 years of dedicated service. Having previously worked for a number of household names such as the Halifax Building Society and Lucas Aerospace, Neil commenced work with Belgravium Ltd (as it was then) in January 1989 as General Manager (Engineering). He held a variety of engineering roles within the organisation before eventually becoming Project Manager.

Neil’s focus for the past decade has been on the co-ordination of new project implementations. Belgravium / TouchStar has earned an enviable reputation for smooth and trouble-free project roll-outs and this is due, to a large degree, to Neil’s technical expertise and diligent approach. Neil is known as a mild-mannered and cheerful individual and will be genuinely missed by all of his colleagues.

As a mark of respect, the Bradford Office was declared shut on the afternoon of 25th June and Mark Hardy (Group Managing Director) led a tribute to Neil at a local Chinese restaurant. Neil was presented with a variety of gifts, mostly related to his hobbies of gardening, rambling and DIY. His wife Anne intends to make sure there will be plenty of the latter! Good luck Neil... and make sure you stay in touch.