Monthly Archives: September 2015

Lakeland sponsors TriathlonX with £1000 prize money

cyclists ascending

Leading homeware company Lakeland UK is the new sponsor of Triathlon X, the world’s most gruelling sports event, being staged at Windermere next year.

The company has donated £1000 as prize money for the winner of the iron-distance race which has already attracted some 200 entries from across the globe.

Now they and the organisers hope that other local and regional businesses will follow suit, so that prizes can be offered in other categories – including awards for the first woman and first relay team.

Triathlon X was staged at Wasdale this year but is moving to a more central location next June, starting at YHA Ambleside  at the head of Windermere. The YHA (England and Wales) is supporting the event, and a percentage of all the entry fees will be donated to YHA’s bursary fund Breaks for Kids, creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people to stay with YHA and have new, life-changing experiences.

Ambs YHA

The event will have steeper ascents than any “ironman” triathlon anywhere in the world. Competitors will swim twice round Seamew Crag island in Windermere, and then cycle all the Lake District passes on the route of the Fred Whitton challenge, some 112 miles. The marathon run of 26 miles will take the athletes out and back to the top of Scafell Pike via Elterwater and Great Langdale.

The total ascent on the cycle and run routes is 5150m, the highest in the world, with a projected winning time of four hours longer than Norway’s Norseman extreme race.

Lakeland UK’s managing director Sam Rayner said: “Triathlon X needed to get off to the best possible start and we were pleased to be the initial sponsor for the event.”

Organiser Mark Blackburn said: “We are thrilled to have the support of an internationally renowned company which has its headquarters locally at Windermere, and we are very grateful to Lakeland for their generosity. We believe that the prize money on offer is going to attract some of the world’s leading triathletes. “

He added: “It would be marvellous if other businesses now came on board so that we can extend the prize list, and encourage more entries which will mean more money raised for Breaks for Kids.”

The race will be staged on Saturday June 25. One local athlete, fitness instructor Ursula Brendling, from Ambleside, has decided to tackle the X as her very first triathlon, to mark her 50th birthday next summer. She is being sponsored to raise more money for Breaks for Kids.

Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s head of operations, said: “As the UK’s Adventure Capital the Lake District, Cumbria has an adrenaline fuelled calendar of outdoor challenge events every year and this event is no exception. There are plenty of events for the first time competitor, and others for more experienced athletes that require total endurance and dedication.

“Hosting TriathlonX on Windermere will allow even more people to access this high level event and allow them to come and embrace their adventurous side here in the Lake District.”

Companies who are interested in becoming involved should contact Eileen Jones:

Lakeland logo


Alison, queen of creativity, wins top award

ally with award

Windermere’s Alison Tordoff of Fidget Design has won the Creative Industry of the Year title.

The announcement was made at a grand ceremony in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens at the Enterprise Vision Awards which recognise women in business from across the North West.

Alison, whose designs grace homes and hotels across the country, including the award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel, was one of five finalists in her category.

She had completed a rigorous process to reach the finals, including an interview and a presentation to a panel of judges.

The award comes alongside the opening of her latest innovative project, the Special Spaces design hub in Windermere which brings together the region’s top designers of furniture and smart home technology.

Fidget Design, set up by Alison in 1997, has earned a reputation as one of the most creative and innovative interior architects in the UK. She has worked on a wide variety of prestigious projects with top brands including Jaguar, Aston Martin, The Samling, Langdale Leisure Club and award winning Serenity Spa at Seaham.

Her designs for the Cedar Manor won Best International Hotel interior at the Bloomberg Hotel Awards. She has since created a distinctive Welcome Lounge at the hotel which helped them win Best Small Hotel in Cumbria (and one of the top five small hotels in the UK, highly commended in recent VisitEngland excellence awards.)

Here she pioneered a new range, The Love District, home furnishings based on the landscape, history and traditions of the Lake District, including cushions embroidered with the outlines of the fells, and a Lakeland bookends wallpaper.

Married with two young children, Alison won the Cumbrian Businesswoman of the Year Title in 2003. She is a regular columnist with Lancashire Life magazine. She enjoys walking, scuba diving, hang-gliding and “anything adventurous”.

After the ceremony Alison said: “I want to communicate a message about the importance of good design, and believe that this award will provide me with the platform to do that, and to inspire others creatively. I am very keen to enthuse and encourage others in developing their creativity. The right atmosphere and design in any building can make or break its success.”

She added: “This award represents a hugely positive and empowering boost to my confidence regarding the way my work is perceived. Life has its twist and turns and the past few years have been no exception. I am a small business and along with my husband Richard need to juggle family life alongside my work commitments.

“As many would agree practical life and intense creativity don’t always confer. Sadly I lost my father 18 months ago which hit me hard. I am lucky to have amazing support from friends and family however, and my pride in the achievement that this award represents is a clear indication that I have managed to remain current, relevant and creative during this period. Thank you so much to the 30 judges who deemed me worthy of this EVA award.”

Owner of the Cedar Manor Hotel, Jonathan Kaye said: “Alison has been a massive influence at the Cedar Manor, creating all our fantastic bedrooms, suites and public rooms.  She is a big part of our award winning hotel.  We are already excited about future projects that are now on the drawing board.  Congratulations to Alison from all of us at Cedar Manor on the EVA award she won.”

Andrew Smith, managing director of Lakeland Fells Furniture and a partner in the Special Spaces project said: “Having worked with Alison for many years her success at the EVA awards comes as no surprise. The opportunity to convert her vision into reality always provides our team with refreshing challenges that assure clients the bespoke quality and individuality that they desire.

“The  ability to showcase Alison’s creativity within the setting of our Special Spaces showroom in Windermere now provides clients a tangible experience of just what can be achieved.”

Top hotel wins beautiful garden award


Windermere’s  award-winning Cedar Manor Hotel has picked up another trophy – for its lovely gardens.

The hotel was named runner up in Cumbria Tourism’s Jackie Sanderson Trophy at the Cumbria in Bloom awards.

Co-owner Caroline Kaye collected the award at the Cumbria in Bloom: Pride in Your Community ceremony at Dalton’s Chequers Hotel. The winner was the Lakeside Hotel.

The award is another prize in a remarkable year for the luxury hotel and restaurant. After being named Cumbria Small Hotel of the Year in 2014, Cedar Manor went on to reach the finals of the Visit England awards where it was highly commended.

It was then named Best Small Hotel in the national and international category of the Considerate Hoteliers awards, for championing good sustainable practice. And at this year’s Cumbria Tourism awards, staff member Patricia Torre picked up the coveted prize for Outstanding Customer Service.

Caroline Kaye paid tribute to the hotel’s gardener Kate Wright. “She has done all the work, and has spent years preparing our gardens to reach this standard.”

Cumbria in Bloom is a charitable organisation whose aim is the promotion, improvement and understanding of horticulture, floriculture and environmental issues for the benefit of the inhabitants of Cumbria. It is part of RHS Britain in Bloom scheme

From student halls to luxury hotels: new design team transforms the way we live


Andrew Smith

A team of young high-tech designers and craftsmen are transforming the guest experience at hotels and restaurants in the North.

The smart technology experts at Epixx have joined forces with furniture makers Lakeland Fells Furniture to revolutionise music, lighting and viewing in classy room settings.

Their latest project is at the Windermere Cranleigh Boutique Hotel where newly refurbished suites have 42inch TV in the bathrooms. And the music, TV and lighting is all controlled by the guests on an I-pad docked to the wall. epixx bedroom

“It’s a new way to bring smart technology to homes, businesses and hotels,” said Matt Holmes of Epixx (pictured below with Ben Tomlinson and Alison Tordoff). “Design has to be about how it works, as well as how it looks and feels.”epixx and ali 1

This is echoed by Andrew Smith of Lakeland Fells Furniture: “We create and install the surrounding furniture which is a big step ahead of what’s been available until now.  The furnishings in a room have to match the excellence of the sound and viewing experience that new technology can bring.”

The two companies have brought their expertise under one roof at a new showroom in Windermere, Special Spaces, which is now open. It’s been designed by another collaborator in the project, Alison Tordoff of Fidget Design, with decorative glass pieces by Jo Vincent.

Epixx have also installed an automated lighting control system at the Quite Simply French restaurant on Lancaster’s St George’s Quay. Also in Lancaster, Lakeland Fells have created some futuristic study pods (below)  and playstation pods at the Damside student residence, a luxurious new development near the city pod

LFF have also been working at the Crathorne Hall Hotel in Yarm in North Yorkshire, building two bars and a number of bedroom vanity cabinets in solid and veneered American Black Walnut.

Stephen Hargreaves, CEO of The Cranleigh Boutique Brand: “We have used used Epixx and Lakeland Fells for a variety of projects within our brand. Their attention to detail, creative approach and excitement for creating new and cutting-edge concepts makes me proud to know them. Working with people like this makes my life easier and my customers have an experience they cannot get anywhere else, it’s that simple.”

Wordsworth – and Downton Abbey: visitors from Down Under find the connection

christopher in the daffsfiona  downton pic

What’s the connection between William Wordsworth’s Lake District home at Rydal Mount, and Highclere Castle, the location of the popular TV series Downton Abbey?

The answer was revealed to an enthralled group of visitors from New Zealand who arrived at Rydal after visiting Highclere as part of a “Downton Abbey” tour of Britain.

They learned that the current Countess of Carnarvon, whose husband’s family home is Highclere, is the sister of Christopher Wordsworth, the great great great great grandson of the poet, and one of the owners of Rydal Mount.

Fiona, wife of Geordie, the eighth earl of Carnarvon, is also author of two books about Downton Abbey and the castle setting for the drama.

“Our visitors from New Zealand had waited a long time to book a tour of Highclere because the TV series has made the castle so popular,” said Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington.

“When they subsequently came here, they were thrilled to learn of the connection, and to hear that Christopher Wordsworth had been staying here recently.”

Highclere Castle lies to the west of London, not far from Newbury. Its gardens were designed by Capability brown, and there is also a permanent Egyptian exhibition. But it is the Downton location which attracts the most visitors, and they recognise many rooms from the TV drama, as well as exterior shots.

Says the Countess on the Highclere website: “You will see the Drawing Room in which Maggie Smith delivered many a withering comment to some unfortunate relation.”

Fiona is the author of two Downton Abbey background books which take the reader from the beginning of when the fictional  series started through to the end of the second World War.

Christopher and the Wordsworth family are owners of Rydal Mount, the home of William from 1813 until his death in 1850.

Pictured: Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon, at Highclere, and her brother,  Christopher Wordsworth,  in the Lakes

Hundreds of people, thousands of pounds: celebration of photo project raises money for charities

glynis and collage

Three charities were given a massive boost at the weekend at an exhibition and auction organised by a South Lakes photographer.

Hundreds of people turned up for the event, 100-to-1, staged by Glynis Bland, at The Villa at Levens, an exhibition of photographs of people aged from one to 100, the auction and a raffle.

The money is still being counted but Glynis estimates that “thousands” were raised for Macmillan Cancer, Bay Search and Rescue, and Alder hey Children’s Hospital. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams,” she said.

Star guest at the gala event held in the hotel’s exotic Pavilion was Stanley Taylor from Grange over Sands, the baby whose story prompted Glynis to set up the project. She photographed him when new-born, and then before and after his treatment for a hole in his heart at Alder Hey Hospital.

“Stanley’s story touched my heart,” says Glynis. “I’d photographed him as a newborn baby, before he was diagnosed, and when I went back I wanted to do something practical to help.”

Her portfolio of portraits of people from all over the country culminated in a huge collage which was shown at the event, and the publication of a book of all the faces. There was also a special commemorative book made for Stanley and his family.

There was drama during the afternoon when members of the Bay Search and Rescue Team who had come along to talk about their work were called away to a rescue, when a walker was involved in an incident at Silverdale.

Visitors bid for almost 50 auction gifts and promises offered by local businesses, many of which went for more than their face value. They included dinners and teas at top hotels and restaurants, a food-smoking course, guided swims, a computer and an oven.

During the afternoon, visitors paid to spot the mystery “rogue” face among the portraits on the collage, which turned out to be the singer Gary Barlow.

Among the audience was Sue McDonald from Carlisle, a fundraising manager for MacMillan Cancer. She’s one of the portraits in the portfolio, along with her daughter Helen, her grand-daughter Nadine Rigg (10), and her grandsons Liam Cromar (12) and Joseph McDonald (3).

“When I heard that Glynis was looking for volunteers, and that Macmillan was one of the charities to benefit, I decided to join in – and took the family with me,” said Sue.

It was a poignant time for them. Less than a week after the photo session, Liam’s mum died from cancer, age 29. “It’s very close to our hearts,” said Sue. “At Macmillan we are a source of support, helping with all the things that people affected by cancer want and need. It’s not only patients who live with cancer, we also help carers, families and communities.”

Glynis said that she was overwhelmed by support from local businesses and by the response from those who turned up for the event.

“I’ve met some wonderful people and heard some amazing stories through this project. I’m so pleased that so many people turned up on the day to support our charities.”

There are still 20 copies left of the limited edition book, priced at £25, with all proceeds to charity. They can be found on



Windermere hotel strikes gold again

cedar dining

Windermere’s Cedar Manor hotel and restaurant has again been awarded the gold award, the highest standard, by the Green Tourism scheme.

The award is proof that the hotel’s commitment to the best environmental practice is at the heart of its business.

A Green Tourism award shows that a business has been independently assessed and certified, so that visitors can choose the greenest option with confidence.

With over 2,000 members in the UK, Ireland and Canada, it is the largest and most established sustainable certification programme in the world. Green Tourism offers credible, trustworthy, independent guidance to tourism businesses wishing to operate sustainably.

The latest award follows the Cedar Manor’s success this summer in winning the Small Considerate Hotel National and International title, the top accolade for sustainable practice and care for the environment.

Owner Jonathan Kaye said that the Gold award demanded very high standards of good practice and evidence that the business was committed to continual environmental improvement. They also have to ensure that all staff are trained in the environmental programme.

“We are very pleased to be recognised again,” said Jonathan. “We are determined to prove that a luxury hotel can be run on sustainable principles. We maintain a respect for natural resources through conservation and material reuse and recovery, and use recyclable packaging and other materials wherever possible.

“We ensure the responsible use of energy throughout the business including energy conservation and energy efficiency, and buy environmentally friendly produce and products. It is something that we know our guests appreciate.”

At the recent Considerate Hotels award ceremony in London, the guest speaker, the  TV presenter and nature documentary film-maker, Simon King OBE, said that the hotel industry was one which was taking seriously threat to the planet.

He said that top hotels had the power to be opinion-formers and role models. “You hold the flag,” he said. And he warned: “We need to pay extra for our food; because cheap is costing us the earth.”

The Cedar Manor hotel also holds the Cumbria Business Environment gold award. Jonathan is also a Trustee of Nurture Lakeland, which inspires people to care for and contribute to the natural environment of the Lake District through a visitor giving scheme.