Thomas Consulting Staff Forum 2022

Thomas Consulting Staff Forum 2022

Thomas Consulting Staff Forum 2022

Well, the TC Staff Forum 2022 took place this month and for the first time in five whole years…. With one thing and another they have been put back time and time again, most recently due to the pandemic. But here we are, Manchester bound, on a sunny October Morning.

We have the offices from Shrewsbury, Lancaster and Chorley all meeting up at the Manchester Chamber for a fun-filled morning of Company updates, projections, marketing and what the future holds for us as a business, but I won’t bore you with all of that…… let’s get down to the fun bit.

So, after a morning of updates it was time for the Team-building event and this year we were heading to the Crystal Maze Experience in Manchester City Centre. For those of you that remember the show……. and those that don’t where have you been…… we had to tackle a number of challenges in the various zones in order to win crystals to take to the “””CRYSTAL DOME””” at the end.

We had 4 teams on the day which were, Julian’s Angels, Sheer Force, Peaky Blinders and Sharons Beaches. So not only were we competing against the maze but each other which made it even more fun and truly showed who the competitive ones are…. not to mention any names, but they know who they are!!!!

So, let’s go into the Crystal Maze, I have to say some of us were slightly apprehensive of what the day held but were soon laughing and getting right into it as the time went on. We had 70 minutes of 25 grown adults running around the maze like children and simply having a right good laugh… what a wonderful way to let your hair down with colleagues you haven’t seen for years and what a bonus being able to tell your bosses what to do, especially if you’re a team leader!

After all the running around the maze and encouraging your teammates, which some might call screaming and shouting, we then enter the Crystal Dome which is just like on the tele. We walk in, hold onto the rail, and wait for it……” WILL YOU START THE FANS PLEASE”. Hold onto your wig’s ladies and gents because it gets windy. The tokens are whizzing around everywhere, you’re trying to put a strategy together on how you are going to collect these flapping foils and then the whistle goes…… Well that’s the strategy gone, better just start jumping around trying to catch the blighters and hope for the best.

Once finished and you’ve have straightened your hair and taken a breath it’s time to wait in the foyer for all the teams to gather, look at the TV of shame and await the results on how you have done and were we really find out who the competitive ones are. Suffice to say we all did pretty well, we had a wonderful time together and finished off the day with a well-earned refreshment.

The question is what next?

Coast to Coast Cycling. Whitehaven to Tynemouth.

Coast to Coast Cycling. Whitehaven to Tynemouth.

Coast to Coast Cycling. Whitehaven to Tynemouth.

The germ of an idea of a long cycle ride was mooted when ten of us were cycling in the Elan Valley during a relaxation of covid regulations in 2021. The germinator, later to become the group’s pack leader began emailing details to us all in early 2022 & before long commitments to be part of the group, invoices for accommodation etc., were settled and we were on our way to start the 138-mile coast to coast journey from Whitehaven to Tynemouth which some may refer to as the ‘short one’.

The more seasoned cyclists complete the route in 3 days but no, not us, we required a more leisurely tour of the north Pennines in a 5-day trip.

We took on the advice to travel from West to East, taking advantage of the prevailing westerly winds which, we were told would be behind our backs, at least most of the way. Not always the case as I will set out on my recount of day 4 of our journey.

Vehicles were loaded and the occupants made their way up the M6, across the A66 & descended on Whitehaven in readiness for an early start the next day.

Donning our matching tangerine cycle shirts on which was printed ‘Irish Sea to North Sea – July 2022’ we then rode to the aforementioned water to dip our rear wheels in, as apparently is the custom before making our way out of Whitehaven and onwards towards Keswick, for our second night’s stay.  The journey a mere 31 miles.

En-route we stopped for a hot drink and a rest in Low Lorton for we have cycled 21 miles. A relatively younger cyclist joined us in the rear garden and began telling us that he only had another 35 miles to go having already cycled 90 that morning. For such an achievement this young man deserved the respect from us all.

We continued our journey to Keswick arriving later in the afternoon. The route took us through the Whinlatter Pass & probably one of the finest scenic parts of our trip.

Descending out of the pass & down into Keswick for the end of our fist day & overnight in our arranged accommodation with suitcases delivered.

Our second full day took us from Keswick to Penrith. Whilst a relatively short 22 miles it too took us through some incredible landscape, stopping off at Castlerigg Stone circle and cycling beneath Blencathra a 2,848-foot mountain.

We also passed through the village of Greystoke in which there stands a castle & from which a connection with Lord Greystoke & the fictional character of Tarzan was raised as a possible matter of interest.

Overnight in Penrith & an evening meal at The George with a certain sideshow that gave a topic of conversation for some time after.

Back on the road the following morning of Day 3 our group of 10 somehow became one of 11 for a short while. A seemingly knowledgeable cyclist on enquiring where we were headed for took responsibility for leading us to the promised land.

In a very short period of time our new leader who I seem to recall we referred to either as JC or was it CJ gave our group a running commentary on the geographical, geological, historical & evangelical aspects of the area on this Sabbath day.

To cap it, JC/CJ was a very able cyclist & was adept at talking to his gears/bike to make it go faster, much to the mirth of those close behind him.

It wasn’t too long though before JC/CJ filtered away from his newly formed followers to make his own way in the day.

We were soon past the halfway stage at 72 miles when we were approaching the next major hill climb at the Hartside Pass heading to our next overnight accommodation at Alston which our guidebook tells us is the highest market town in England.

As we had arrived earlier than expected we were able to visit the South Tynedale Railway & Hickins’ Café which gladly welcomed cyclists before moving onto the Country House which our Leader had booked us all into.

On Day 4 we would be traversing Cumbria, Northumberland & County Durham heading for our next overnight accommodation in Consett. It is on this journey that we found how hard it can be to battle a wind. Rather than be blown along from behind, we experienced a cross wind so strong when we were exposed on the high moorland at Stanhope Common that cycling proved futile. The only way forward for a couple of miles was on foot pushing our bikes.

Nevertheless, we persevered & were soon rewarded with a masterful downward section of 5 or 6 miles on the Waskerley Way which led us to our final overnight stop at Consett & closer to the finishing line.

We knew when studying the maps & elevation that the final 28 miles was downhill or at least on level ground & took us past Gibside National Trust & along the Derwent Walk towards Newcastle Upon Tyne.

By this time, we had re-donned our tangerine cycle shirts to make the final ride along the Tyne, past the Gateshead Millennium tilting bridge & other famous city bridges before seeking out the route to Tynemouth & the North Sea.

Our arrival in the early afternoon at Tynemouth allowed us to dip our front wheels in the North Sea thus completing the time-honoured tradition of completing the C2C Irish to North Seas as well as visiting the café where Jimi Hendrix reportedly bought fish and chips from though sadly it was closed when we were there.

We didn’t end up cycling 138 miles. Instead, we did 152 miles & ascended over 12,000 feet.

Given that all riders were of mature age we’re pretty pleased with our achievements & will cherish the memorable trip & the friendships that have developed along the way.

The question is what next???

Kickstarter Isabel Syms tells us of her journey

Kickstarter Isabel Syms tells us of her journey

Kickstarter Isabel Syms tells us of her journey

After I graduated from university last summer with a BA in History but very little actual work experience, job-hunting became months of time-consuming application processes following by generic rejection emails, or no replies at all. Dispirited, I finally applied for Universal Credit to boost what I earnt from a bit of bibliographical work I was doing at home.


I had several appointments at the Jobcentre Plus, involving me telling my jobs coach about my latest unsuccessful, and soon-to-be unsuccessful, applications, when they told me about the Kickstart scheme – the government pays local companies to take on young people who are struggling to start their careers. Many supposedly entry-level jobs demand professional experience, despite being entry-level, so the Kickstart scheme helps give young people that important experience. I was given a link to the Kickstart site and the contact details of specific roles I was interested in.

Getting this job through the Kickstart scheme has been wonderful – instead of sitting around at home feeling glum and getting nowhere, I’m in an office with a small, friendly team, gaining more experience, learning new skills, earning money, and feeling better about myself; these definitely made up for adjusting to the 9-5 Monday-Friday week. Meanwhile, Thomas Consulting has gained an eager member of staff to help support the business.

For the first couple of weeks, I’d always come home exhausted but also excited by all the new things I’d learnt each day – new administrative procedures, new software, new details about how an engineering consultancy works. I’m getting more used to working here now, but every day I still learn something new. Not only do I help with the general admin, managing information on projects and sending fee quotes to potential clients, but I also am encouraged to bring my fresh pair of eyes to Thomas Consulting’s online PR. I’ve also been able to go on day-courses on PR & social media and Google Analytics, run by the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce (of which Thomas Consulting is a member), giving me even more opportunities to learn new skills.

I would highly recommend the Kickstart scheme both to other young people struggling to get entry-level jobs, and to companies looking for enthusiastic new staff-members.

Stay safe and well from all of us at the Shrewsbury Office: 01743 237940.

Biodiversity – Sustainable Drainage Systems

Biodiversity – Sustainable Drainage Systems

Biodiversity – Sustainable Drainage Systems

Here at Thomas Consulting we are looking to continually promote the four pillars of sustainable drainage systems.

We are particularly focusing on the pillar of Biodiversity, the development of ecosystems. By considering this in our projects we can create improved communities and living spaces; whilst enabling us to bring people closer to nature.

When considering this across our designs we can learn to understand that promoting biodiversity does not have to be a mitigation of damage to nature through the development of infrastructure; it can be seen to promote the development of ecosystems and provide areas where nature and infrastructure can co-exist to develop and learn from one another.


Through intuitive design we can create new corridors for nature to connect to new landscapes, we can improve the quality of watercourses and even prevent the likelihood of natural disaster. When we consider biodiversity, it provides designers with a perfect opportunity to provide betterment of mistakes the industry may have made in the past or simply improve the natural resource the land has provided by improving water quality or providing more amenable spaces.

At Thomas Consulting we continue to improve the standards of infrastructure across the UK such as our partnership with CNG Fuels, who are providing the distribution of Bio-Compressed Natural Gas, a more ethically sourced fuel which has both cost and environmental benefits. Through the designs we provide for CNG we incorporate biodiversity through the provision of swale systems and detention basins and/or balancing ponds which either utilise existing topography and natural geology, or in some cases improve the land and in turn provide new landscapes for nature to enter and thrive in.

If your project features Biodiversity aspects and you need expert advice, please contact Thomas Consulting. We have a wealth of sustainable and biodiversity experience that can help nature and infrastructure co-exist.

Ground investigation finds extension to be stable

Ground investigation finds extension to be stable

Ground investigation finds extension to be stable

Phil Howden inspected a property this week. The house has suffered from damage following deep excavation works near the property by a Statutory Undertakers’ Contractor, with heavy plant causing significant vibration. The Contractor had also needed to dewater due to high ground water levels.

The property is about 60 years old and was extended at the front about 30 years ago. A Consulting Engineer acting for the Statutory Undertaker inspected the property and reported that the front extension had suffered from foundation movement. They excavated trial pits and reported further that the extension was founded on a raft on Peat. They recommended that the extension was stabilised by underpinning.


When Phil inspected the property he discovered that, contrary to the previous Engineer’s report, damage indicated that the more historic original house had suffered foundation movement relative to the extension. A further ground investigation confirmed that the more recent extension was not founded on a raft, but on a pile and ground beam foundation. The investigation confirmed also that the original house was founded on a raft.

The second ground investigation confirmed the observations made by Phil that the extension was adequately founded and stable. It did not need underpinning.

If your house has been damaged and you need expert advice, please contact Thomas Consulting. We identify the full extent of damage, the likely causes, the prognosis and what remedial work is needed to repair your house to keep it safe.