Business Diary: February 19

ONCE, professional services firms raised cash for good causes by holding whist drives and cake stalls.

Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith

Diary was intrigued to hear about a group of lawyers who had a burning desire to go a step further.

Six trainees from Clarion in Leeds took the firm’s support for St Gemma’s Hospice up a degree by walking across a 20-foot bed of burning coals.

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Sarah Harrison, Florence Hiskey, David Grey, Nicola Collins, Jennifer Leithgoe and Sean Linley braved the coals, which were sizzling away at 1,237 degrees fahrenheit.

Ms Harrison said: “We didn’t practice before the actual walk, but there was a two-hour long motivational session called ‘Learn or Burn’ to help get everyone hyped-up and in the right frame of mind. The aim of the session was to get us to really believe we could do it – we were told to focus on being ‘strong, powerful and magnificent’. We were also encouraged to support all of the other fire walkers and create a real team spirit.

“We were then taken out to watch the fire being lit with a lot of paraffin and, initially, the flames were taller than me, which was slightly terrifying. It was an amazing experience and each of us felt different sensations.

“To me, the coals felt mostly wet with only small hot bits in them, but as you’re walking quite quickly, it’s hard to register. We all managed to complete the walk with only a couple of very minor burns and were rewarded with a ‘Fire Walk Challenge’ certificate and a well-earned glass of fizz.”

Say it with flowers

2013 is a landmark year for the University of York as it marks its 50th anniversary. But a York florist also has cause to celebrate.

Not only has it won a deal to supply flowers to mark the university’s celebrations, but it is marking its own special anniversary this year – 110 years in business.

Wardstheflorist has been supplying flowers to the university for the past four years, helping different departments as they welcome VIP visitors, open new departments and buildings, host events and celebrate achievements at graduation ceremonies.

David Bough, managing partner at wardstheflorist, which operates from its retail outlet on Clifford Street, said: “2013 is a landmark year for us and for the University of York so we’re delighted to be working with them.

“It was a privilege to see our flower arrangements take centre stage at the dinner that marked the 50th anniversary with the five anniversary honorary graduates including artist David Hockney.”

Prof Brian Cantor, Vice-Chancellor at the University of York, said: “We’ve been very impressed with the way in which David Bough and his team have worked with us and enhanced our celebrations with their creativity and professionalism. We are keen to support local businesses – especially long-standing organisations like Wards who quite clearly have stood the test of time by adapting their ways of working whilst maintaining their high standards – a lesson we should all learn.”

It fails to stack up

If there’s one group of professionals Iain Duncan Smith shouldn’t have messed with, it’s geologists.

The work and pensions secretary elicited an indignant response from the Geological Society of London after arguing shelf-stacking is more useful than geology.

His provocative claim followed the Government’s defeat over its flagship back-to-work scheme, when a graduate successfully argued an unpaid work placement at Poundland was illegal.

“Who is more important – the geologist, or the person who stacked the shelves?” argued Mr Duncan Smith.

But Professor Alan Lord of the Geological Society said geologists are “a vital part of that supply chain – mining the minerals essential for fertilisers, obtaining metal ores, discovering the fuel which transports produce to the store, and engineering our transport infrastructure”.

He added: “Many geologists spend a lot of time in challenging conditions – on oil rigs in the North Sea, in trenches and mines, conducting field work in all weathers. We certainly do not consider ourselves above shelf stacking.”

Striking similarity

The BBC strike caught quite a few people on the hop yesterday. There was much confusion as to where Radio 4’s Today and BBC’s Breakfast had gone.

But apparently the lack of proper news journalists raised hope that an old Yorkshire favourite could be brought back into service.

One viewer tweeted: “I do enjoy all the new faces on a BBC strike day – 24 hour News appears to be being presented by Howard from the Halifax adverts.”