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Azure News Archive


John Taylor becomes Azure Garden Centre Director


John Taylor - Azure Garden Centre Director

I am pleased to announce that Azure Garden Centre’s Board have appointed John Taylor as a director – with effect from 1st June.

On everyone’s behalf I wish John every success in the future.

I am sure that he will continue to drive the Garden Centre forward – building on the excellent work he has already done.

Peter Elliott OBE

Azure Chief Executive & Azure Garden Centre Managing Director

Azure Annual Report 2016

Azure Employment Services Spotlight Newsletter May 2016

Azure Employment Services Spotlight Newsletter December 2015

Syncopa support Azure for a second year!

As in 2014 Larry Roberts, proprietor of Syncopa, organised a charity golf day - with Azure the beneficiaries.

Nine teams supported the event which was held at Bedlingtonshire Golf Club on 3rd July 2015 - in glorious weather.

The team prize went to Elanders UK with a score of 93 – just pipping Document Solutions (after countback). The longest drive winner was James Wilkinson of SJP and the nearest the pin was won by Tony Tomlin of Document Solutions.

At the informal post event dinner Chief Executive Peter Elliott OBE was able to speak about the charity’s work and thank the participants for their support.

The event resulted in Syncopa being able to donate a cheque for £1,100 to the charity and Larry presented this to Peter a few days afterwards.

Syncopa donation cheque for £1000

Azure are extremely grateful to Larry (and to everyone else associated with this successful event).


Azure Employment Services Spotlight Newsletter July 2015

Azure Charitable Annual Report 2015



Diana Woodhall

It is with great regret we report the peaceful passing of Diana Woodhall.

Diana, aged 83, died on 2nd August 2015 following a period of illness. Until relocating to a care home Diana lived in Bellingham for many years.

Diana was the Charity’s first paid employee – appointed August 1982 in the capacity of fundraiser. A combination of her warm personality and her undoubted tenacity proved very effective. Her work, alongside others operating in a voluntary capacity,  enabled the Charity to become better established financially thereby providing the springboard for the organisation Azure is today.

Diana remained a member of the charity and for many years she and her late husband Deryk were regular attendees at the Charity’s AGM - when she could hear of the progress being made.

Diana’s funeral was held on 19th August in Winstone near Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
She will be sadly missed - and fondly remembered for her significant contribution. RIP.

Diana with Sir William and Mrs Leech in 1989 showing off a SHAW bird box

Diana with Sir William and Mrs Leech in 1989 showing off a SHAW bird box


Azure Employment Services Newsletter Jan 2015

Azure Annual Report 2014

Azure Employment Services Newsletter May 2014


Azure Employment Services Newsletter Jan 2014 - PDF

Azure Annual Report 2013 - PDF


Azure Support Services New Website


Azure Work Choice Newsletter August 2013 - PDF


Azure Work Choice Newsletter January 2012 - PDF

Employment Services Skillsbuilder Newsletter Vol 1 2012 -PDF

June 2012

Azure Annual Report 2011 - PDF


June 2011

Azure Annual Report 2011 - PDF


June 2010

Azure Annual Report 2010 - PDF


June 2009

Azure Annual Report 2009 - PDF


December 2008

Azure Company Newsletter - December 2008 - PDF


June 2008

Azure Annual Report 2008


February 2008

Employment Services Newsletter Issue 7 - February 2008


Azure Garden Rooms - Artists Impression

Cafe Azure is serving up some real progress!

UPDATE July 2008 - Construction of Cafe Azure is now complete.

Please go to for updates and recent photos.


December 2007

Azure Company Newsletter - December 2007 - PDF


September 2007

Employment Services Newsletter - September 2007 - PDF


August 2007

Azure Company Newsletter - August 2007 - PDF


July 2007

Azure Annual Report 2007 - PDF


April 2007

Azure Company Newsletter - April 2007 - PDF


October 2006

Workstep - Compliments all round for Gail

Workstep Client Gail pictured with supervisor Denise

Gail Hunter (pictured left) was both surprised and delighted to be handed a very complementary comment card by a customer last month. Gail, who works as a Catering Assistant for MacLellan and accesses support through Workstep, quickly passed the comment card onto her supervisor. The positive comments were expressed by a regular customer who highlighted Gail’s friendly manner and stated how she was missed whenever she was on holiday.

Gail has worked for the catering service based within the DWP building at Longbenton for more than 20 years. During her time with the company, Gail has established a very efficient work routine which she starts at 7am each morning.

Gail’s supervisor, Denise Cullen agreed with the recent customer comments, saying, ‘Gail is greatly missed if she is ever off work and her colleagues often give her a big hug when she returns, as they are so glad to see her back.’

Azure Company Newsletter - December 2006 - PDF

Employment Services Newsletter October 2006 - PDF

Azure makes the grade with the Adult Learning Inspectorate

ALI Quality Achievement Grade 2 logo

Azure Employment Services is celebrating after earning the approval of the government’s Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). The ALI recently inspected the Charity’s Workstep provision and the results have just been officially released.

Azure was awarded grade 2 for leadership and management, equality of opportunity and overall delivery of the Workstep programme. A grade 2 is considered to be good by ALI standards.

The report identified that the Charity had implemented a wide range of strategies to support their clients to overcome personal and work-related barriers. ALI also acknowledged that Azure was very effective at matching clients to employment opportunities.

The inspection involved four inspectors spending a week within the organisation. The inspectors carried out interviews and observations with Azure staff and also with clients and employers accessing the Workstep programme.

Azure Employment Services would like to thank everyone who took part in the inspection process and for helping to make it so successful.

A complete copy of Azure's inspection report can be downloaded from the ALI website.

July 2006

Azure Company Newsletter August 2006 - PDF

Azure Annual Report 2006 - PDF

Carol Robson - Training Manager

Going to Gdansk

Azure's Training and Development Manager, Carol Robson, is going to Gdansk.

Carol will be one of five representatives from the UK delivering workshops at a conference in Poland. The conference is being held in Gdansk by the RC Foundation on Wednesday 23rd of August. Carol will be delivering a 2 hour interactive presentation outlining the success of Azure's Horticulture and Basic Skills course.

Update: Some photos of the trip courtesy of Gordon A Jones

Conference Venue in Gdansk
The Conference Centre
Conference Room Gdansk
The Conference Venue
Workshop with Magda Skiba (Translator) – President of the Polish Association For Persons with Mental Handicap

June 2006

Race for Life

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life is the biggest women-only fundraising event in the UK with races taking place all over the country. Over 3000 women came together on Sunday 21st May 2006 at Saltwell Park to walk, jog and run the 5km course round Gateshead.

Race for Life is sponsored by Tesco and so it was not surprising that the staff of Tesco South Shields were keen to take part in the annual event as usual.

Race for life participants from Tesco South Shields

Suzanne, who accesses Azure’s Workstep programme has been working as a General Assistant at the branch for 3 years now and each year she has taken part in the Race for Life.

Altogether, 65 women from the store turned out on the red hot day in May and stuck together to take on the 5km course dressed as Cheerleaders. This year the race was even more personal for the Tesco team as a colleague has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently receiving treatment.

Not surprisingly, Suzanne took every opportunity to gather sponsorship for the event and managed to gain support from the Employment Services team when attending a training course at Azure.

In total the Tesco team raised £2,464 for Cancer Research UK and also gained some valuable publicity for the event with a full page article in the Shields Gazette, with a follow up story due out soon.

May 2006

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Wendy and Susan are pictured with colleague Bill and Restaurant Manager Ann Westberg

Wendy and Susan, both Restaurant Associates at BHS in Newcastle have been recognised for their commitment and dedication to their work.

Susan has recently been awarded with a gold ‘A’ badge for cleaning while Wendy was recognised for her customer services skills and has also been awarded with a gold ‘A’ badge. The ‘A’ stands for Above and is the first of four stages in the BHS employee recognition scheme known as:
Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

Wendy and Susan are pictured with colleague Bill and Restaurant Manager Ann Westberg. Ann moved to her current position 3 months ago from another BHS store and has already established an excellent working relationship with the entire team.

Between them, Wendy, Susan and Bill have over 27 years of service with BHS. However, they are still among the few remaining clients accessing support through Azure’s Workstep programme not technically employed by the company they work for everyday.

Vicki Arkle, Workstep Adviser with Azure, is working very closely with the BHS Regional Human Resources department to ensure that the employment status of the 3 colleagues will be transferred over to BHS in the near future.

Employment Services Newsletter April 2006 - PDF

April 2006

Azure Company Newsletter April 2006 - PDF

Azure Garden Centre launches new website

To complement the change of name from Shaw Garden Centre to Azure Garden centre and the redevelopment of the Shop site and outdoor area, we have launched a new website.

At the moment the website is in Phase 1 where some of our stock is listed and departments are listed for easy navigation.

Phase 2 will include all stock with even greater depth of navigation into your chosen product.

The final phase will bring an element of e-commerce with options for buying online and organising delivery.

January 2006

Employment Services Newsletter January 2006

A New Start for a New Year

Bob Tabiei in his new employment

Bob Tabiei, originally from Iran is starting out the New Year with a brand new job. Bob came to the region 1 year ago as an asylum seeker with his eldest son. Bob had worked in Iran for the past 24 years as an Auto Electrician before leaving for the UK early in 2005.

Bob has now settled in Gateshead and his wife and second son have since joined them from Iran in order to reunite the family. Bob regularly visited his local Jobcentre to look for work and applied for many vacancies, but after several months Bob soon realised that his recent heart operation was making employers wary of taking him on.

In March last year, Bob met with Stuart Bentham, the Disability Employment Adviser based at Gateshead Jobcentre to discuss his situation. Stuart referred Bob to our Employment Services department and it was here that he met Tony Kelly, an Adviser in our Workstep team. Tony quickly set about trying to match a suitable vacancy to Bob's requirements.

While Bob was looking for work and applying for jobs he attended an ESOL course (English for Speakers of Other Languages) at Gateshead College.

Towards the end of December, Tony matched a job vacancy within Newcastle University’s Union Society, an employer the Charity already has strong links with. Bob applied for the job, had an interview and was successful. Bob has settled in very quickly to his new job as a Porter within the Union Society, he said, ‘I accept that I am at a different time in my life, it is a new environment for me but it is like working with friends and family.’


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