Movers & Shakers: Melissa Abbott of Stowmarket-based Muntons becomes national vice chairman of BFBi

Melissa Abbott of Muntons who has been appointed national vice chairman of the Brewing, Food & Bever

Melissa Abbott of Muntons who has been appointed national vice chairman of the Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry supplier�s' association (BFBi). - Credit: Archant

Melissa Abbott has been appointed national vice chairman of the Brewing, Food & Beverage Industry suppliers’ association (BFBi), the first time this role has been held by a woman.

She also becomes one of the youngest people ever to have held the post, which involves a two-year term and traditionally leads on to the position of chairman.

The BFBi, founded in 1907 and originally known as the Allied Brewery Traders Association, has a rich history of achievements for its members representing the food brewing and beverage industry at Governmental level.

Melissa said: “The BFBi brings together representatives from across the industry offering an opportunity for face to face discussions.

“The trade days and social events such as cricket matches, charity cycle runs and quizzes are informative and fun and present ideal opportunities for networking amongst peers within our industry.”

She added: “My hope is that I can bring some youthful energy and drive to the association to ensure that it continues to bring benefits to our members and the community at large.”

In addition to the BFBi appointment, Melissa has also recently been made a trustee of the Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust. This appointment sits comfortably with her work at Muntons, where she is involved in environmental and sustainability initiatives throughout the supply chain.

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Last year she helped to create a series of wildlife walks within Muntons’ 45-acre site in Stowmarket through which runs the River Gipping – walks much enjoyed by Muntons staff during their breaks.

::Jon Bloor, a partner at Suffolk and Essex law firm Prettys, is to lead a new cross-practice IT and Digital Media team, in response to continued growth in mobile technologies and online platforms and an increase in enquiries triggered by the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.

Currently much of the law applying to online business is driven by EU regulations, such as data protection, where new guidelines have been introduced as recently as July, and other areas including privacy, online marketing regulations and cross border selling.

Jon said: “Clients both in the UK and overseas who operate online have already raised concerns about the impact that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union may have on these regulations.

”While it is too early to be able predict how the UK government will deal with these regulations as we transition out of the European Union, it is clear that safeguarding digital assets remains a priority for businesses.”

As part of the new service offering, Prettys is supporting regional, national and international businesses in a variety of ways including developing end user licence agreements for mobile applications distributed via App stores, licensing terms for new online platforms and cloud services, as well as more traditional protection and licensing of intellectual property rights.

Jon added: “As clients develop more complex online and mobile services they tend to find that standard legal documentation doesn’t meet their needs. We tend to get involved where there are cutting edge or ‘disruptive’ elements to the service which need bespoke legal documentation from lawyers who really understand the sector.”

::Suffolk County Council welcomed Abdul Razaq as its new director of public health and protection. Abdul brings with him a wealth of experience as a public health specialist and director, having worked for a number of authorities in the North West area of the UK. Abdul’s previous role was based in the Greater Manchester area as director of health at Trafford Council, a role he has held since 2003. In his previous role Abdul oversaw the transition of the public health service transition into the local authority. He has also served as the Greater Manchester area lead on public health intelligence for the last ten years, the lead director for Dementia within Greater Manchester devolution and lead director for the early detection of cancer working with NHS and CCG professionals.

Abdul said: “I am very pleased to be joining the senior management team at Suffolk County Council at such an exciting and challenging time for the organisation and for residents. It is a beautiful part of the UK to come to live and work and support those members of the community who need a public health service that offers an integrated and efficient service. I look forward to meeting and working with colleagues across the county in the NHS and CCG teams and embracing the Suffolk way of life.”

Chief executive Deborah Cadman said: “Abdul brings with him a very impressive set of skills and experience from other parts of the UK. I am very pleased that we have attracted Abdul to come and work with us in Suffolk and he understands the exciting challenges that lie ahead as we consider the opportunities that devolution offers and how we can work strongly in partnership with colleagues in health and social care.”

::Laura Hook has been promoted to quality executive at Essex law firm Birkett Long.

Laura, 28, who grew up in Manningtree, began her career nine years ago with Birkett Long as an admin assistant and soon realised she wanted to progress.

“I absolutely love how varied my job is – the quality team is always doing different things,” she said.

After working with the quality manager at the firm, Laura jumped at the chance to become quality assistant, and has now progressed to quality executive.

Her new role involves assisting the quality manager and helping to ensure that the firm complies with legal regulatory bodies such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society of England and Wales.

::Birkett Long Independent Financial Advisers has launched a financial planning training scheme to bring new talent into the business.

Its first trainee is Joe McArdle who will spend the next two years training on the job with the firm, which has an office in Colchester, and learning from mentors while being supported in taking six tough financial-planning exams.

The 23-year-old, who is a keen footballer and guitarist, became interested in financial planning while working for the investment platform Cofunds, which gives advice to financial planners.

He said: “As a result, I spoke to many experts in the business and became very interested in the role; however the cost of the exams and lack of support by not working within a firm such as Birkett Long IFA, made the prospect daunting.

“When the opportunity arose with the trainee financial planner programme here, it was simply an opportunity I could not ignore and I was delighted to be offered the position.”

Joe added: “I was attracted to the role because it offered exactly what I was looking for and what anyone else should be looking for if they are planning to become an Independent Financial Adviser.

“Birkett Long offered help, support and training through working with experienced financial planning managers together with providing financial support towards passing the required exams to become a financial planner.

“Also, being able to work with the team at Birkett Long IFA provides me with additional support in passing the exams by working with, and learning from, people who have a lot of knowledge and have been in the industry for many years.”

Essex law firm Birkett Long, which is a separate business and runs alongside the IFA wing, has a tried and tested training contract scheme for lawyers and it was felt that as it had been so successful the business model should be duplicated.

Nicola Ward, team leader and financial planning manager at the firm, said: “Each new trainee financial planner will be allocated a qualified and experienced financial planning manager to be their mentor for the duration of the two year trainee programme.

“This relationship is to remain in place following successful completion of the programme and qualification for a period of time deemed appropriate, but for at least a further two years.”

::Power workers in Suffolk who have clocked up 180 years in the industry between them have had their long service recognised by employer UK Power Networks.

The company, which delivers electricity to 8m customers across East Anglia, London and the South East, rewards staff who have given 40 years of continuous service at a special 40+ Club event.

Joe Freezer, a linesman from Stonham Aspal, has notched up an impressive half century, having joined the industry as an 18-year-old labourer in 1966. After a year he became a linesman and has spent most of his career working on the high voltage overhead lines in Suffolk.

“I have enjoyed my working career as a linesman and have worked with many skilled and great people over the years, many of which have become good friends,” he said.

“Working outside in all weather conditions has its challenges but there is no way I could ever have worked indoors for the last 50 years.”

Mick Weller, a development manager who lives in Felixstowe, has also notched up 50 years. He joined the industry in 1966 and after his four-year apprenticeship, he spent much of his career doing various roles in the south of England before taking up two secondments – one in Saudi Arabia for four years and then another in Uganda for two years.

He returned to the UK in 1997 as an operational safety engineer in West Sussex and has held various health and safety roles and has been based in Bury St Edmunds since 2006.

Mick said: “Probably one of the biggest changes I have seen in my 50 years has been computer technology. In the 1960s, an engineering query would have to be entered onto punch tape and physically taken from head office in Hove to the Worthing computer centre to run on the main frame computer and we had to wait some time for the outcome. Now answers are received almost immediately via a laptop.

“While my secondments were probably the most challenging and exciting times in my career, I have always enjoyed my work and since leaving school have never woken up in the morning dreading having to go to work.

“I have liked the variety and uncertainties that have greeted me each day – and still do!”

Paul Flack, a field engineer from Ipswich, joined the industry in 1976 as an apprentice and qualified as a linesman four years later.

He spent much of his 40 years working on the overhead lines before becoming a field engineer in 2003 – but it was his time as a linesman which has given him some of his most memorable moments.

Paul said: “I worked in Ipswich during the Great Storm of 1987 and for the East Midlands Electricity Board after the blizzard of 1990.

“With the ‘Ipswich Team’ I competed in the Milton Challenge – a company competition to show line, jointing and fitting skills. The team won four times in succession and represented the company at the International Lineman’s Rodeo held in Kansas City, USA, three years in a row.”

Andrew Townsend, a network manager from Stowmarket, joined the industry as an apprentice linesman and has had several roles over the last 40 years including foreman, engineer and project manager.

He said: “My career started on September 6 when Dancing Queen by ABBA was number one, petrol was 77p a gallon, a pint was 32p and a loaf 19p. It was also the long hot summer when the temperature was above 28 C for 22 days.

“I have had eleven totally different jobs in the last 40 years. They have been many and varied, however I still look forward to going to work every day – in life if you believe that the glass is half full, then it usually is.”

Chief executive Basil Scarsella said: “I’m proud to have such loyal and committed staff, who have given years of continuous service to their local communities and the electricity distribution industry. Their knowledge and experience is first-class.”