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Bloggers Set To Inspire At Libraries NI #GetBloggingNI Co Down Event

Get inspired to blog at Newry City Library

All will be revealed about the secrets of online writing at a free Blogging Inspiration session at Newry City Library on Thursday, 28 November from 6:00pm to 7:30pm.

The Libraries NI event is designed to encourage potential bloggers to get started and will provide hints, tips and tricks towards success as well as giving participants an inside glimpse of the enjoyment of being a blogger.

Speakers will include Kilkeel woman Maura Ward, famed for her blog, the Geriatric Traveller and online safety expert Wayne Denner.

Seventy year old Maura started her blog after being inspired by her son’s online travel diary which started to make him money.

She said: “I must confess that as he reported the income rising, the more interested I became.

“Eventually, in 2012, I decided to blog about the travelling I was doing, but I aim mine at an older demographic – and there begins the saga of Geriatric Traveller.

“Initially I was very gung-ho and devoted considerable time and effort to it. I made a small amount of money, but nothing that was going to change my life.
“Soon afterwards I started my Geriatric Traveller Facebook page as well, largely because I hoped it would be a conduit to my website.
“I am constantly amazed at the interest the page generates, and it gives me such a good feeling.

“Without any conscious effort on my part, I have amassed some 3300 page followers, and a recent post had over 6000 views, which was absolutely gobsmacking.”

Newry dad Wayne Denner, founder of podcast Zero Lives Left came to blogging from a different angle.

He said it started almost by accident through his background in online safety.

“I realised that many parents had questions when it came to keeping children and young People in their care safer online and that they needed useful and helpful information.

“I decided to create an Online Safety blog to provide helpful and practical online safety information for Parents, Carers and those who work with Children and Young People.

“It has now become one of the most trusted and respected eSafety blogs in the UK and Ireland.”

He said blogging has given him the opportunity to build and create his own personal brand and a place to communicate with a much larger audience.

This has led to video blogging and podcasting becoming a central part of his communication strategy and has led to him becoming a regular media commentator with BBC, ITV, RTE, Virgin Media Ireland & u105.

Wayne said: “Everyone has a story to tell & value to add and blogging provides people with an easy and simple way to express themselves and create content.

“For many people, me included, the hardest part was starting.

“I am not a natural writer in fact in the early days it was something I struggled with but like with anything over time my style and the writing improved.

“One of the most important and rewarding things for me personally is the content that I am creating is helping people that’s what makes the difference.

“It’s the feeling that you get when you receive an email from a reader who says ‘Thank You’ the piece of content that you created helped then when it comes to Online Safety.

‘I am delighted to be involved in the #GetBloggingNI session in Newry City Library, as a local content creator and blogger it’s great to be able to share my experience & learnings to help inspire others to start on their content creation journey.

Chartered Marketer Christine Watson of Training Matchmaker will facilitate the session, which is hosted by journalist and content creator, Tina Calder of the Content Club and Excalibur Press.

Christine said blogging is no longer the preserve of the few.

“In recent years there has been a surge in interest in blogging, vlogging and podcasting across Northern Ireland.

“It’s a fantastic way to connect with like-minded people, immerse yourself in your passions, keep your mind healthy and active and an excellent excuse to get out and about and use your local library.
“Attendees at the Blogging Inspiration event in Newry City Library will be sure to leave with the motivation, encouragement and practical knowhow they need to begin or amplify their blogging journey.”

Libraries NI Service Development Manager Julie Reid said: “Libraries NI is pleased to offer this free Blogging Inspiration event to introduce people to the art of blogging.

“Storytelling is forever evolving and blogging, vlogging and podcasting is quickly becoming the new platform for telling stories through text, images and video.

“Whether you’re blogging for business, documenting your family history or keeping a record of travelling expeditions, you’re using the power of words to tell a story.”

“We’re delighted to once again team up with Christine Watson to present this event at Newry City Library on Thursday 28 November and look forward to welcoming our speakers Maura Ward and Wayne Denner as well as host Tina Calder to the library.”

The event at Newry City Library is part of the ongoing Libraries NI #GetBloggingNI series which will run into 2020 across Northern Ireland.

Officially presented by in collaboration with Libraries NI, previous events in the #GetBloggingNI series included Blogging Inspiration sessions, a six-week Get Blogging Course and five Blogging for Wellness roadshows.

This event is free and booking is essential. Book your place at Newry City Library on 28 November at:

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Northern Ireland Construction Company Named Winner of Prestigious Responsible Business Award

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community NI, Ian Henry, Director, Henry Brothers Ltd and Jennifer Cruickshank, HR Manager, Henry Brothers Ltd)

Henry Brothers Ltd has been named NI Responsible Company of the Year at Business in the Community’s 2021 Responsible Business Awards.

A panel of independent judges awarded Henry Brothers with this prestigious top award for demonstrating the implementation of a wide range of successful corporate responsibility initiatives that strategically address key issues and challenges in a way that creates value for both society and the business.

Winners in all eleven responsible business categories were announced at a hybrid Awards event, hosted in-studio by TV and weather presenter and journalist Barra Best and broadcast live across Business in the Community’s digital platforms.

Northern Ireland’s leading responsible companies were recognised for outstanding contributions to their people, the planet and the places where they operate, with categories that cover all themes in responsible business, including wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, environment, community, digital innovation, and more.

The Awards, organised by responsible business network Business in the Community, take place annually and in 2021 the event was run in partnership with JP Corry, SPAR and Department for Communities, and in association with Ulster Business and U105.

The eleven 2021 winners were:

  • Age-Friendly Business Award, sponsored by Age-Friendly Network – Bank of Ireland
  • Diversity and Inclusion Award, sponsored by Belfast Harbour – AMS
  • Education Partnership Award, sponsored by Allen & Overy – Heron Bros. Ltd
  • Environmental Leadership Award, sponsored by Heron Bros – Danske Bank
  • Innovation in Employability Award, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport – Translink
  • Investing in Your Community Award, sponsored by Arthur Cox – PwC
  • Responsible Digital Innovation Award, sponsored by Allstate NI – Sentireal Ltd
  • One-to-Watch Award, sponsored by Ciena – Dowds Group
  • Responsible Product / Service Award, sponsored by Translink – Huhtamaki
  • Wellbeing at Work Award, sponsored by Larne Port – Northern Ireland Water

Kieran Harding, Managing Director, Business in the Community says: “Congratulations to each of the winning organisations for leading the way in responsible business. This year has been really challenging for a lot of businesses and people in Northern Ireland, so I want to thank our winning, highly commended, and shortlisted organisations for continuing to make responsible business action a priority.

“The judging process of the Awards is robust, and the standard of entries was phenomenally high this year. All winners demonstrated true leadership in the area of responsible business and their entries are sure to inspire others in their own responsible business journey.”  

Online attendees of the event enjoyed a community digital showcase highlighting positive stories of business action for the benefit of communities during the past year.  Entertainment pieces included a performance of uplifting original song ‘Calendar’ by Northern Ireland singer Daisie Conway, and a specially commissioned poem ‘Defining Hope’ screened at the event was written and performed by Belfast-based poet Niamh McNally.

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Par Equity Seeks to Double Northern Ireland Funding to £20m

Pictured (l-r) are Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity and Ronnie Geddis, Par Equity’s regional chairman for Northern Ireland.

Edinburgh-based venture capital firm has already invested £10m in the region

Par Equity, an Edinburgh-based specialist in high-growth early-stage tech businesses, is increasing its support for cutting-edge companies in Northern Ireland to £20 million after a string of successful transactions.

Established in 2008, Par Equity has built a strong reputation for backing young, innovative companies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England’s northeast and supporting them with its growing team of expert advisors.

The company, which has already invested £10 million in a range of successful early-stage companies including Datactics, Cumulus, Plotbox and TriVirum, said the additional funds would help ambitious local firms to develop new technologies and expand into new markets, unlock other forms of funding along the way.

Andrew Noble, partner at Par Equity, said:

“We’re hands-on investors at Par Equity and, together with our network of industry experts, we’re providing that much-needed business advice as well as the financial support.  We’ve identified, and heavily backed, some excellent companies in Northern Ireland and we’re excited about unearthing new opportunities in the region over the next two or three years.”

Par Equity’s first major funding success in Northern Ireland was Belfast-based digital imaging analysis and software company PathXL in 2012. Since then, it has provided essential finance, direct support and management advice to some of the region’s most successful new companies.

In April 2021, Par Equity invested further in Trivirum, Plotbox and Datactics, leading investments rounds of up to £3.5 million. This included a £2 million investment round into data management specialist Datactics following on from its initial investment into the company in 2019. The Datactics investment round, which was supported by other existing investors, Kernel Capital and Clarendon, will see the company grow to beyond 50 employees and into profitability.

In addition to these three investments, Par Equity also provided a £1.1m bridging round in Belfast start-up Cumulus Neuroscience last year, leveraging a further £6 million of investment from the UK’s Dementia Discovery Fund.

The funds are being used to help Cumulus develop a new, industry-leading integrated physiological and biomarker platform that provides clinical trial data and AI-powered insights to accelerate the development of therapies for Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders.

Cumulus Neuroscience’s CEO, Ronan Cunningham, said:

“Great ideas can be the foundation of a great business, but without the necessary funding, the potential for growth will always be capped. We’re delighted that after just a few short years, we’ve secured the finance we need to accelerate our technology to market and address exciting new growth opportunities on the global stage.

Funding through Par Equity, the Dementia Discovery Fund, and other partners are helping us to scale-up quickly and establish ourselves as a market leader in our space.”

As one of the larger investors in Northern Ireland, Par Equity believes it can help fill a gap in the market and provide the scale of funding fast growth companies need to get to the next level, but which is not currently available through local financing options. In 2020, Par Equity appointed Ronnie Geddis as the chair of its investor network in Northern Ireland deepening its activity in the region.

“Like Scotland, we know that Northern Ireland businesses don’t always get their fair share of venture capital funding in the UK and that business often struggle to get that next level of funding they need to really scale up their operations,” said Ronnie Geddis.

As someone who has invested and been in receipt of investment in Northern Ireland, there is a clear role for Par Equity to bring its scale and expertise to Northern Ireland to help some of our most exciting businesses achieve the global success they deserve,” added Ronnie.

Par Equity has invested in more than 60 companies since it launched in 2008. Collectively, those companies have raised £266 million from investors.

Earlier this year, it secured three major awards at the UK Business Angel Investment Awards 2021, including Angel Group of the Year, Scale-up Team of the Year and Exit of the Year.

A panel of 37 judges reviewed the hundreds of nominations received across the 12 categories to select the leaders and trail blazers from the UK’s investment ecosystem.

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