Hanley Park is one of Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage parks, it is close to the university and you can walk through it to the city centre. The park underwent a multi-million-pound restoration after a successful bid for £4.5 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015 (visitstoke.co.uk, 2023). The restored facilities include public art sculptures, lake and fountains, boathouse, pavilion and floodlit sports zone for football tennis, basketball, and hockey.
The park is found in Shelton, Cleveland Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST1 4DX. It is within a 10 minute walking distance from the Stoke-on-Trent train station. It is a 5-minute walk from the university campus on College and Leek Road. There are two car parks near the park for the public’s convenience, named Hanley Park Northern Car Park, The Parkway and Hanley Park Southern Car Park, Ridgway Road. Then there is Cannon PI car park which is about 13 minutes’ walk to the park.
Hanley Park sports zone include artificial football pitch, four tennis courts, basket court and cricket wickets with nets. On every Saturday at 9am, Vitality parkrun holds a 5km run where anyone can register and take part.
Every Sunday morning, there is a group of people that meet up and play football. They play from 9am till around 12pm. Anyone is welcome to join as the group is very welcoming.
The community hub is open Monday to Thursday from 0830am to 1500pm. However, open day vary due to the weather. The community hub supplies activities for both children and adults.
Hanley Vitality Parkrun
It is a friendly, free and fun 5km community event that participants can walk, jog, run or volunteer to help to ensure that the event is a success every week. It is free to join in, however, one will have to register before attending the event. Once registered with parkrun, a scannable barcode will be issued so that you can get results after the run. You can run without the barcode, but you will not be able to get your finish time sent over to your email.
The entire event is organised by volunteers. If one wants to volunteer at one of the events, they can email: firstname.lastname@example.org to help. All help is acceptable as there are marshals to guide and encourage everyone that takes part. All the volunteers are friendly and welcoming to everyone. The participants are also friendly and encouraging as well. It is easy to network and make friends as everyone is friendly and willing to have a conversation.
Staff and students from the Business School have volunteered at this festival for many years. It has provided very useful training for the students in research methods and also in providing practical training for events and tourism students. Visitor surveys have been carried out to help produce information for sponsors and to evaluate how well the event has performed. This is a fantastic event and it scores very highly on customer satisfactionwe would say that it is the best food and drink festival in Staffordshire!
Despite moving from its ‘spiritual’ home of Westbridge Park this year to nearby Kibblestone Scout Camp due to development work, the team behind Staffordshire’s original gastronomic gathering is determined to put on a great show.
With one of its core aims being to celebrate Staffordshire as a foodie destination, this year’s Demonstration Kitchen, sponsored by Aston Marina, features an impressive line-up of homegrown heroes. Heading up the bill is the youngest ever 2 Michelin Star chef and 2020 Great British Menu champion, Niall Keating who, born and bred in Staffordshire, will be joined on stage by the Head Chef from his flagship Lunar Wedgwood restaurant, Craig Lunn. The pair will headline at 2pm on Saturday 12th; showcasing dishes inspired by their joint love of food, travel, life, sustainability, local produce and working with some of the finest restaurants in the world.
Other chefs taking the stage on Saturday include Adam Smith, who heads up the kitchen at the Dog & Doublet Inn at Sandon; Ben Manifold, Senior Sous Chef at No.26, Aston Marina; Jake Lowndes of Stone’s Michelin Guide-listed Little Seeds and BANT Registered Nutritionist Eva Humphries, otherwise known as the Wholefood Warrior. Sunday’s line-up includes James Cracknell, Head Chef at The Moat House in Acton Trussell; Head Chef at Aston Marina’s No.26 Lee Lawson; Sous Chef Stuart Bruce from The Woodlands Restaurant at The Chase Golf & Country Club; Amarpal Harrar of iCookIndian and Oksana Harris from COOK! Ukraine. All cookery demonstrations are included within the festival’s gate price, with no need to pre-book.
Get a taste of Staffordshire – and beyond…
In addition to Live Cookery Demonstrations, there’s a packed programme in the festival’s Talks & Tastings Tent, sponsored by local engineering specialist IEIS. Here you’ll find everything from local brewery beer tastings to cocktail making masterclasses, tips on foraging, the art of creating authentic Indian dhals – and pretty much everything in between. There’s also the chance to learn the stories behind some of the festival’s fabulous producers, with lots of tasting opportunities along the way.
When you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll find a host of Street Food stalls proffering global flavours, as well as the Butcher’s Block pop-up restaurant for those seeking a more refined dining experience. Drinks wise, a host of pop-up bars serving coffee, gin, cocktails and fizz alongside great local breweries and artisan cider producers will ensure you remain well-watered whatever your favourite tipple.
Shop till you drop – then party! The festival’s Gourmet Marquee will once again feature a host of gastronomic delights – from cheese and savoury snacks to exotic rubs and cooking sauces, enticing spirits and sweet treats. Meanwhile, a new Home & Garden Marquee will see a hand-picked selection of traders showcase luxury goods for the home and garden.
When you’re done shopping, head to the Live Music Stage, jointly sponsored by Granville’s of Stone and Barlow Motors, where a great line-up of local bands will entertain the crowds. Saturday’s acts include local performing arts students from Rooftop Studios, The Black Tie Bandits, Legends of Sound, Rock Choir and Brass Monkeys. On Sunday, Vibealicious, Block Jeans, Rock Choir and Hello Felix will provide the party soundtrack.
Families with young kids, meanwhile, will also find plenty to keep them entertained – the Little Foodies’ Zone includes a Children’s Farm stand and Panic! Family Circus, both of which offer free activities over the weekend, with circus rides, face painting and slushie-building fun also on offer.
To make getting to the event as easy as possible, free shuttle buses, sponsored by Stonegate Wealth Management, will ferry visitors from several stops around Stone town centre to Kibblestone, while on-site parking and a nearby Park & Ride service are also on offer.
The 2023 Stone Food & Drink Festival will take place on Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th July. Tickets are now available online at www.stonefooddrink.org.uk – £12pp/day (£10pp online before 30th June) or £20pp for a 2 day pass (£18pp online before 30th June) – accompanied under-16s get in free.
Before joining Staffordshire University she served as a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire teaching on a variety of, research, subject specific (tourism, hospitality and events industry based), enterprise and management modules to a range of students undertaking their foundation, undergraduate and post graduate qualifications.
Amanda has also lectured in the field of tourism, hospitality and events management in several international destinations including Cambodia and Poland and has also been a visiting scholar and block taught in China at Chongxing University and Xiamen University
Amanda has an extensive commercial background and has experience of the operational side of the industry. Amanda first graduated with an art degree and was an artist for several years, progressing from this she became a client manager helping to build and maintain relationships, and then as an event organiser – planning, organising and delivering numerous art events both nationally and internationally. Amanda firmly believes that we need to preserve the best of our culture and nature for generations to come.
Separate to lecturing, Amanda is a joint CEO and major shareholder of a building environmental controls company that specialises in reducing carbon footprints via environmentally friendly energy management systems in commercial buildings.
Linzi has been working within Health and Safety at Alton Towers for 15 years as part of a close-knit team of 5 and worked on the ‘Protecting the Magic for Managers’ training with a collective team from numerous Merlin Entertainments UK Theme parks and Legoland Resorts. This interactive training session taught us that safety at Merlin is a whirlwind; it spans from rides, hotels, and restaurants, to the work-shops, contractors and events of every attraction. As Linzi detailed the responsibilities of the HSE, EHO, and ORR at the park, she included relevant guidance documents and legislative works that must be abided by within each corner of every department – relevant to our own Law and Legislation module that we’re currently studying at Staffordshire University.
“Safety should always be a moving target – it is never complete.”
Linzi Ticehurst, 2021
During the session, the
one-and-only Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resort Operations Director) stopped
by for a couple of minutes to offer a few words on the topic – “the ability to
foresee; therein lies the challenge.” (Francis Jackson, 2021). Agreeing with
what Francis has said, protecting our guests and staff is the primary focus of
our safety department. The responsibilities lie not only in rectifying an
incident, but to prepare and take away the hazard in order to maintain the
magic for our guests.
I, myself (Lucy Moseley) have
been a part of the Health and Safety team at Alton Towers for 2 months up to
this publication and working close with the rides department as a fresh pair of
eyes on the resort has been an incredible, and rare, opportunity. It is my
responsibility to complete administrative work, inspect the rides on resort and
bring forward solutions to any arising issues – it’s the kind of role where no
two days are the same.
Finally, I would once again like to thank Linzi for taking the time to come and speak with us and share her knowledge on the significance of keeping safe at all times whilst working at the resort. The session that she provided was incredibly informative and well structured, so thank you, Linzi.
As the first weekend of October approaches, it’s not just the locals who anticipate The Stone Food and Drink Festival every year. After going virtual in 2020, with no live events taking place at all, it was a pleasure to volunteer at this year’s 2021 festival. Volunteering opportunities have been sparse over the last 18 months and many small businesses have taken a huge hit, meaning many events need all the help they can get, so I’m here to talk about my experience and how to get involved as an event volunteer yourself!
Stone Food and Drink Festival is located at Westbridge park in Stone and has been running since 2004. It’s a not-for-profit community event that supports local businesses, giving them a platform to showcase what they do and providing a fun filled event celebrating all things food and drink. The festival has a wide range of options to suit anyone, from local craft beers and liqueurs to street food and desserts in the Gourmet Marquee (which can all be enjoyed alongside volunteering!).
I represented Staffordshire University as an event marshal and as a third-year events management student. I spent the majority of the day networking with local businesses in and around Stone or helping out at the Demonstration Kitchen and the Talks and Tastings tent. This included encouraging guests to join the live events in each tent, handing out samples and being a friendly face for attendees to approach and ask general questions to.
The vendors and organisers were grateful to have a helping hand on the day and it was a lot of fun being able to watch demonstrations from business owners and to gain an insight to what an event looks like behind the scenes.
Small Business Spotlight
Joules –Joules Brewery are the main sponsor for the festival, who have recently opened a new venue called The Crown Wharfwhich opened in July 2021 and is located on Crown Street in Stone. The taphouse has become extremely popular with locals due to the friendly staff, lively atmosphere and of course, great beer! The new project also aims to bring a community theatre to the establishment calledThe Crown Wharf Theatreas there is currently no purpose-built event space in Stone where local arts and community groups can join to enhance their creativity and passions. They are looking for volunteers here.
Ten Green Bottles – Ten Green Bottles is a gin and craft beer bar who currently have two venues in Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Stone. The business attended the festival to talk the latest drink trends alongside Stafford Distillery, sharing their knowledge of quality cocktails and recommending the best ingredients. As well as handing out samples of their cocktail containing lychee gin infused with passionfruit liqueur and tonic (yum!), they also had a pop-up bar and a stall to purchase their products from. To check out all things cocktail, visit their websites linked.
Community events such as this one are so rewarding to volunteer at, as well as being a lot of fun to be a part of, particularly for students interested in areas such as events management like myself. At the event I gained valuable experience to put into practice at future events I either volunteer at or host myself and am looking forward to the next project! If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for next year or just want to attend yourself as a guest, visit Stone Food and Drink Festival’s website
If you’re a student at Staffordshire University looking for volunteer opportunities ask your tutors and try the Careers service
Staffordshire University is my home university, and, in September, I’ll be heading into my third and final year of BA (Hons) Events Management. Having lived in Staffordshire for almost all my life, I’ve tried and tested the best places for students to eat, drink and visit, and I’m here to tell you all about them!
Let’s start with some on-campus student union run facilities
and the two favourite hangouts for my uni friends and I: Ember Lounge and
Squeeze Box. Ember
Lounge serves classic pub food and drinks and is the perfect place to spend a
break from studying or grab some food with friends after a day of lectures. Squeeze
Box is my favourite place to head for a bite to eat in the morning, along with
either a takeout coffee or one of their infamous freshly squeezed orange juices
Moving on, we have the lovely Trentham Estate, an important local attraction to mention for many reasons. Firstly, their Event Volunteer programme, if nobody has told you already, it won’t be long before your lecturers and industry pros are emphasising the importance of volunteering to gain experience ready for your placement and graduate job applications, whatever course you’re taking. Trentham have a fantastic volunteer programme and last year I successfully applied and have worked on several events including the Christmas Fairy Lights experience, the summer concerts and market research for Trentham Live 2022!
With so many events, restaurants and attractions on offer, Trentham Estate is a great place to head for a day or evening out with friends and a fantastic place to catch up with family when they come to visit. Who wouldn’t love a trip to the Monkey Forest to get away from assignments for a while!? There’s even a Premier Inn on site you can recommend to your parents so they don’t have to crash in your flat!
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are filled with arts and culture, so what better place to take you to next than the Cultural Quarter in Hanley? Piccadilly and the surrounding area are home to a variety of entertainment venues including The Regent Theatre, showcasing phenomenal touring productions, and The Sugarmill, a great place to head to for local music and small gigs, as well as some great restaurants and cafes like The Slamwich Club and The Quarter.
Most recently, I visited The Quarter for lunch with my friend. Their menu is split into a Daytime Menu and an Evening Menu and the range of options is HUGE, with traditional classics, all-day breakfast and brunch and even Mediterranean style platters! I ordered the egg and salmon sourdough from the all-day brunch menu and my friend had the battered cod with chunky chips from the selection of main dishes. (My friend said she was still dreaming of the battered cod days later!)
Just a little further along in the Cultural Quarter, you’ll find the Mitchell Arts Centre, a small local theatre with a Café-Bar and even a dance studio and meeting rooms to hire. As someone who’s heavily involved in the local amateur theatre scene, I’ve spent a LOT of time here: watching performances, taking part in performances and volunteering (yes, more volunteering!) as Marketing & Events Officer for Stoke Amateur Theatre Society.
Last but not least, it would be incredibly remiss of me to not mention the UK’s largest theme park, the Alton Towers Resort. Of course, this is a GREAT place to have right on your doorstep, whether that’s for a thrilliant day out with friends or for some fantastical escapism with the family when they visit. You can find some great student offers on admission here!
It’s also a great place to work as student, with plenty of seasonal opportunities on offer, particularly if you are studying Events Management or Visitor Attraction & Resort Management. I currently work as a Team Leader on the Guest Excellence Team and have gained invaluable experience and loved every minute of working at the Resort!
For Events in Autumn 2021 have a look at Jon Fairburn’s blog by clicking here
Here’s a pick of some of the great events available if you are joining us at Staffordshire University this Autumn. There’s also a list of venues and other information sources at the end for more events
Tonia Barrett, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School
Most students decide to go to University as they want to learn, experience university life, meet friends, improve chances in their career, and gain more independence. Our Foundation Degree in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management (VARM) students achieve all of this and so much more. They leave with memorable and life changing experiences, broader knowledge, in depth understanding, increased determination, the skills to overcome challenges, an improved level of responsibility and time management skills. Are these skills you want to improve? Are you ready for a new challenge? Fancy meeting friends that that overtime become family? What we learn becomes part of who we are, check us out.
I have the great pleasure to be part of a growing programme full
of enthusiastic, energetic, innovative, creative, humorous, and imaginative learners.
This educational experience isn’t going to be easy, but after 2 years of
studying, and gaining employment at Alton Towers resort there will be no doubt
in your mind that it will all be worth it. Our VARM course looks for quality
over quantity, so you won’t be in a room with hundreds of other learners, just
liked minded people like you. We don’t strive for perfection at every entrance
gate, we train, teach, stretch, and individually challenge you to develop as
for us we are looking for progression not perfection in both your academic
studies and your employment experiences. While studying you will take part in debates,
discussions, individual and group assessments, you will design your own Visitor
Attraction business, you will investigate, read, research, and analyse current
practices. This course is a unique and bespoke opportunity for you to grow
personally and professional in a friendly orientated environment that is
supportive and inclusive to all learners. You will gain support from University
specialists from a wide field of organisational areas to include Tourism,
Events and Hospitality.
The VARM adventure includes 10-weeks paid placement in the UK’s leading theme park, Alton Towers Resort. The greatest showman once wrote ‘The noblest art is to make others happy’ (P. T. Barnum) and through your employment opportunities in the resort you will find yourself engrossed in delivering outstanding customer service, you will be able to build your communication skills, problem solving techniques, teambuilding as well as your own personnel management skills. While on your rollercoaster adventure, you will have the opportunity to gain access in student lead meetings with the Senior Leadership Team at the resort as well other unique opportunities. The exposure to these career driven individuals, not only helps with the writing of your assessments but also helps with your own career, motivation, networking, and drive to achieve your own dreams.
We are so much more than an educational establishment, we know through hard work, reflection, determination, motivation, and our support and guidance we can help turn your dreams into reality. As my favourite professor once said, ‘It’s not our abilities, but our choices that make us who we are.’ Dumbledore, Harry Potter. Throughout the success of VARM, it has been evidenced that the more you put in, the more you get out. Read the testimonials below from current and previous students, and then ‘make the right choice’.
Matt. Street Performer/Dungeon Attraction Manager. Graduated from VARM June 2021, moving into BA Business Management in September 2021. ‘Staffordshire University has given me the freedom to independently gain skills and understanding of the leisure industry, supported by teaching of theories and processes which can be applied throughout my job robes at Alton Towers Resort.’
Cameron. Animal Information Host at Shark Bait Reef by Sea Life. Graduated VARM June 2021, Business Top Up planned for September 2021.
‘Varm has been Fun, Friends and Fulfilment in myself. I’ve gained independence whilst being at Staffs both in my studies and work life. Grateful for all the opportunities and have really pushed and developed myself. A Clearer idea of where I want to work in the future thanks to the placements and working I’ve widened my network at Alton Towers.’
Nick. Guest Relations Manager. Distinction achieved in Fda Visitor Attraction & Resort Management, graduated June 2020. Currently studying Business management BA top-up. ‘VARM provides students with the chance to learn, gain experience and make unforgettable memories. Personally for me delivering a wealth of knowledge, after six enticing placements around the resort.’
Harry. Retail Team Leader. Level 4 VARM student, progressing to level 5 in September 2021. “Throughout my first year on the VARM course at Staffordshire University I have gained skills within a professional, safe, academic environment which I have been able to display through my work placements at Alton Towers Resort”
Carol Southall, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School
If current shopping trips offer any food for thought, beyond that is “not just any food”, it is that retail has much to learn from the leisure industry in terms of how to treat their customers. Beset with the accessibility issues raised by Covid-19, retailers with a physical high street or retail park/shopping mall presence are having to rethink how they do business. The ‘new normal’ is a commonly used phrase and yet, to date, the ‘new normal’ has, in so many ways, been anything but new, and anything but normal.
Two of the key areas in which there are clearly lessons to learn, are those involving queuing, so much a part of life in the UK even before Covid-19, and provision of toilet facilities. Recent news has highlighted scores of people rushing to shops on their reopening, and the ensuing lengthy queues to access those shops. Additionally, there has been negative press around the lack of available toilet facilities in public space, with councils being urged to reopen any closed public toilets. The Government’s drive to reopen the hospitality industry will further reinforce the need for public access to toilets.
Most of us know how to queue, we understand the need to do so, even if we don’t always like it. Queuing in fact is a stereotypical British institution, much like eating fish and chips and discussing the weather, it’s what people do. Given this high level of queue awareness, we might be forgiven in thinking that the organisation of a queue system is almost embedded within our psyche, and yet the variety of queue systems on any given retail park, at any given retail outlet, anywhere in the UK, is astonishing. On a recent visit to a well-known retail park, there were at least 20 different queues, all snaking in different directions, for different stores. Some made good use of barriers, some offered marked walkways to which they anticipated their shoppers would adhere. Some required people to queue past the store exit, meaning that shoppers had to walk straight past people, within a metre, as they left the store. Some had security, some didn’t. The variety was endless. What was quickly apparent however, was that queue etiquette was unilaterally present in them all. We accept whatever queue we’re placed in and wait, not always patiently, to progress along the line.
The British have taken shopping tourism to a whole new level. Days spent at retail outlets are considered as a leisure pursuit in their own right. Overnight stays near shopping malls often combine retail ‘therapy’ with dining out, a visit to a cinema, and opportunities for a range of additional leisure pursuits, including bowling, skiing, swimming, indoor mini-golf, and a host of other leisure activities aligned to family fun. Whilst lockdown has prevented such activity in recent months, anybody venturing out to a retail park or shopping mall could be forgiven in thinking that nothing has changed. Except it has, as the queues and lack of toilet facilities show.
The leisure industries have much acquired knowledge to pass on to retail. From queue management, through experience design, to provision of necessary facilities. When asked on a radio interview what people really needed when they attend theme parks, the suggestion “a loo, a view and a brew” was proposed as fundamental to enjoyment of the experience offered by attractions. Having toilet facilities, something entertaining and visually stimulating to look at, and somewhere to eat and drink were suggested as necessities to a day spent visiting an attraction of any sort.
When we go to a theme park, we understand that we will queue. The difference is that theme parks are designed with queuing systems in mind. Queue theory supports the argument that crowding and lengthy waiting times are major causes of visitor dissatisfaction. Enhancing the queue experience will encourage the customer to not only enjoy their shopping experience but will also increase the likelihood that they will revisit, which is particularly important if the high street is to stand any chance of a recovery, post Covid-19.
In the short-term putting more thought into the systems used to ensure shoppers are able to access retail outlets in more structured, better thought-out and even more entertaining way, will pay dividends, both in terms of visitor satisfaction and the ensuing profits. Added to this the installation of easily accessible, even temporary or portable public toilets, openly cleaned and sanitised at regular intervals, will help to ensure that the current economic recovery phase is facilitated and the transition to the ‘new normal’ made easier by this attention to detail, so integral to the leisure industry.