Staffordshire Manufacturing Group Supports Expansion of Local Blood Bikes Charity

Custom made racking and high visibility graphics supplied for two new bikes by Bri-Stor Group

Alpha Blood Bikes Sam WeaverEnabling the charity to extend it vital work, Staffordshire based manufacturing business, Bri-Stor Group, which consists of companies Bri-Stor Systems, Alpha Manufacturing, Atlas Coating and Hex Graphics, has supported Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes to add two new bikes to their fleet.

Headed up by Alpha Manufacturing Production Engineer and Blood Bikes volunteer Sam Weaver, the company has helped to design, manufacture and fit racking to the bikes, which will house temperature-controlled containers needed to transport blood, vaccines and other essential medical equipment across the country. High visibility graphics, akin to those used by the emergency services have also been applied to the vehicles.

The two new Moto Guzzi V85TT bikes, named Mark Mariner and Rainbow by the Blood Bikes Team, have already made their maiden trips, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes one from Leighton Hospital to the Medical School at Birmingham University, and the second to The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.

Production Engineer and Blood Bikes Volunteer, Sam Weaver said: “As someone who is passionate about the work that Blood Bikes do, when I saw an opportunity for our business to be able to contribute, I knew we had to get involved.

“It was great to be able to get stuck in designing the racks, fabricating and fitting them to the new bikes. Having such vast in-house capabilities meant that were able to quickly produce the parts for the bikes on-site in just a few days, as well as get the high visibility graphics applied by the HEX Graphics team at the same time. It makes me proud to be able to see the new bikes in action, made possible through our work.”

Blood BikesShropshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire Blood Bikes Fleet Manager, Nigel Howells said: “We are so grateful to Sam and the team at Bri-Stor Group for helping us with this project. The more bikes we have on the road, the greater the number of urgent medical items and blood products we can transport. Their work has added two more bikes to our fleet, enabling us to continue and expand our services.”

Bri-Stor Group hope to be able to continue to support the charity with new bikes in future.

Bri-Stor Group Donate Over £6,000 To Katharine House Hospice

Leading Staffordshire manufacturing business Bri-Stor Group, consisting of companies; Bri-Stor Systems, Alpha Manufacturing, Atlas Coating and HEX Graphics, has made a Christmas donation of £6,560 to its charity partner Katharine House Hospice.

Katharine House HospiceThe money has been raised throughout the year in a variety of fundraising activities, such as the most recent Christmas Jumper Day and Bake Off.

Katharine House Hospice provide a range of services which offer holistic care and support for people with advanced life-limited conditions across mid-Staffordshire and has been Bri-Stor Group’s official charity partner since 2020, chosen through an employee nomination process, and since then Bri-Stor Group has donated hand sanitiser units to the hospice as well as completing fundraising events such as a Unicycle Challenge.

On Monday 20th, the donation was handed over by Group HR Officer Jordanna Renshaw to Katharine House Hospice Senior Fundraiser Kelly Day. Kelly Day said: “As a hospice that does not charge for our care services, we rely on the kindness and generosity of the local community to help generate 2/3rds of the funds needed, almost £3m each year, to continue our care.

“It is businesses like the Bri-Stor Group which enable us to be able to continue to deliver the support that our patients really need. This generous donation will go towards continuing to provide our care services, such as patient at home visits and in-patient care at our 8-bed unit. We can’t thank the team at Bri-Stor Group enough for their continued support.”

Jordanna Renshaw said: “It was an honour to be able to deliver this donation to the charity today. Katharine House Hospice is close to the hearts of many of our employees, and it’s through them that these funds have been raised. A special thanks to Production Manager Rob Waterman and Key Account Manager Hannah Adams who have been instrumental in raising these funds.

“We hope our donation helps the charity in continuing it’s vital care services across mid-Staffordshire.”

Bri-Stor Group Team Raise Almost £1k For Movember Charity

Six employees from across the Bri-Stor Group companies Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems took part in no-shave November for men’s health charity Movember.

The team which included, Adam Deakin, Nick Thomlinson, Andy Gear, Louis Spalding, Corey Hammond and Dan Gill, grew their moustaches throughout November whilst raising money for a great cause.

The team were part of a total 220,000 men across the world who took part in this year’s fundraising, and managed to raise a final total of £960 for the Movember charity which has funded over 1,250 men’s health projects globally.

The money raised will go towards funding more than 1,250 men’s health projects in mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

Well done team, we’re so proud of your efforts and loved seeing your tash’s!

Neal Lafford promoted to Operations Director at Alpha Manufacturing

Neal LaffordNeal Lafford has been promoted to the role of Operations Director at Alpha Manufacturing, after joining the business 10 years ago as Business Improvement Manager.

After starting with Alpha Manufacturing in 2012 Neal has been instrumental in helping the business expand its capabilities, in fact it’s Neal’s process improvement expertise that was the catalyst for his promotion to Operations Manager in 2018. In this role, Neal oversaw all areas of production quality and engineering and his many and continued successes have led him to this new directorship.

As Operations Director, Neal will work closely with Commercial Director Robin Eley, and Managing Director Paul Clews to continue to bring operational excellence to Alpha and to bring the business closer to its industry 4.0 goals.

Speaking about Neal’s promotion, Paul Clews said: “This move to directorship is well deserved and recognises Neal’s dedication in his role as Operations Manager.

“Neal is someone who in the past 10 years, has worked tirelessly to expand our capabilities, improve processes and used his expertise in lean manufacturing and process improvement to oversee the implementation of key machinery as well as lead a large, expert team.

“In his new role, I look forward to working with Neal on strategy creation and implementation and our industry 4.0 objectives. I have no doubt that Neal will achieve great things in the role and continue to take the company from strength to strength as we continue to grow, with the opening of our new Chemical Technologies development opening next year.”

Neal said: “My time at Alpha has been full of career defining moments, and after starting almost 10 years ago as Business Improvement Manager, I have learnt so much and feel I have grown with the business. I still get a buzz every time we implement a new process or expand our capabilities with new machinery, and I am proud of my contribution to Alpha’s continued success.  I look forward to developing new strategies that will further enhance our reputation as a world-class manufacturer.”

Alpha Manufacturing Named Manufacturer Of The Year 2021 At Business Awards

Production Engineer Gemma Smith also awarded Young Employee of the Year

manufacturer of the yearStaffordshire sheet metal manufacturing company Alpha Manufacturing is celebrating its achievements after being named ‘Manufacturer of the Year 2021’ at the East Staffordshire and South Derbyshire Business Awards. Commended at an awards ceremony held on 11th November at the Pirelli Stadium in Burton, the fabrication company was recognised for its innovation during the pandemic, where the business quickly geared up its operations to support production of Covid-19 safety products, including hand sanitiser stations and protection screens used in NHS testing centres across the UK.

Alpha Manufacturing Production Engineer and former Higher Apprentice, Gemma Smith was also recognised at the awards evening, taking home the prestigious Young Employee of the Year award. The judges commended Gemma for her many achievements which include inspiring the next generation of engineers, raising awareness of women in engineering and apprenticeship routes, as well as her charity work which includes climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for an African children’s charity and taking on a Unicycle challenge to raise funds for Alpha Manufacturing’s charity partner and local hospice Katherine House, all whilst completing her degree.

Not only did the company take away these two awards, but it was also recognised as Highly Commended in the Best Use of Innovation or Technology category for its work towards Industry 4.0 Smart Factory goals, including implementing new technology and machinery such as the STOPA storage system which is the longest in the UK.

Talking about the win, Alpha Manufacturing Managing Director Paul Clews, said: “This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team. It’s the people that make a business and without them, we wouldn’t be winning this award.

“During the pandemic, we kept production moving on essential items and within three months had the whole workforce back working within regulations, namely on Covid-19 safety products. To think that the products made here in our Hixon facility have helped to keep the UK safe as the country opened up again, and to continue to see these products helping to keep the country moving, makes me incredibly proud.

Gemma Smith“A massive well done to Gemma too, who was our first ever Higher Apprentice here at Alpha, and who has continually pushed herself to be an exceptional role model to other young engineers. She always goes above and beyond in her role and is a real asset to our team.”

On winning the Young Employee of the Year award, Gemma Smith said: “I was totally speechless when they announced my name – I just couldn’t believe it. All of the other finalists were so worthy of winning, and so I was glad that I was able to share the stage with them.

“I just hope with this award I can show other young people, especially young women, what can be achieved through apprenticeship routes and to inspire people to go into engineering. I’m so lucky to have had the support of Alpha Manufacturing who not only funded my education but helped me every step of the way.”

Award Winners


Gemma Finally Completes Her UNI Challenge.

6 months after first committing to her incredible challenge, Gemma Smith has finally been able to complete it following the UK lockdown.

Back in February, Gemma was set a unique challenge, as a joint celebration of her University graduation and a fundraising activity in support of the Bri-Stor Group 2020 charity partner – Katharine House Hospice. The UNI Challenge was set; Gemma would learn how to ride the Unicycle over a three-month period, before completing a 600-meter journey through the Alpha and Bri-Stor factories.

From shaky beginnings, Gemma gradually started to master the Unicycle, practicing at home with friends over a two-month period. By late March she was nearly ready to take on the factory challenge but as the COVID-19 situation developed and the UK lock-down subsequently came into place, plans were put on hold. Following Alpha’s return to work after the lockdown, Gemma dusted off the Unicycle, re-started practicing and was soon ready to take on the challenge again.

This week, the whole of Alpha and Bri-Stor downed tools briefly to support Gemma as she glided gracefully (ish) around the gangways of the respective factories on her red unicycle. Starting at the entrance to Alpha, she travelled through the laser department, passed the CNC folding machines, through the turning & machining area, up a long ramp into Atlas Coating, past the assembly department, up another slight ramp into Bri-Stor and passed row after row of light commercial vehicle conversions, finishing, finally at Bri-Stor prototyping department – 600 meters from where she’d begun and very out of breath.

Speaking shortly after, Gemma described how she felt on completing the incredible feat.

“I was so emotional straight after; it was like a relief. Everybody followed as I went and were all at the finish line applauding and cheering. I’m really proud because at the beginning of practice I couldn’t even get on the Unicycle! Now I just want to get to my fundraising target because it’s such a good local cause. I’m really close and I’ll definitely be chasing people up for promised donations because that was really hard work.”

This is the first of many planned fundraising events that the Bri-Stor Group have been able to complete this year for Katharine House due the events of 2020 so far. However, we’re still committed to supporting the incredible work they do locally providing vital holistic care and support services for people with advanced life-limiting conditions across Staffordshire.

If you’d like to support Gemma and Katharine House, please click below to visit her JustGiving page and make a donation.


Hand Sanitiser Units Donated to Katharine House Hospice

Alpha Manufacturing recently donated these hand sanitisation stations to charity partner Katharine House to help them safeguard patients, staff and visitors.

COVID-19 prevention products have been in high demand of late as the country adapts to the “new normal” and business from all sectors implement safeguarding measures. Alpha have produced various sanitisation products as well as vehicle partitions and a range of internal safety screens. These hand sanitisers had been produced for a leading UK retail display supplier who had an outsource manufacturing requirement due to the unprecedented rise in demand for sanitisation products.

With the customer’s consent, Alpha manufactured these additional units and with the help of Hex Signs and Graphics, who supplied vinyl graphics and JR Industrial who provided sanitisation liquid, donated them to Katharine House. The Stafford based hospice have been charity partners of Alpha since the beginning of 2020 and like many charitable organisations, have been heavily affected by the pandemic.

Alpha and sister company Bri-Stor Systems had planned a series of fundraising events and activities throughout the year to support Katharine House. However, the pandemic and subsequent UK lock-down, meant that many of these had to be postponed. With restrictions now easing, plans are being made to complete events such as Gemma Smith’s UNI-Cycle challenge.

The donation of these units is a small gesture but one which will hopefully help Katharine House to continue operating safely during these challenging times and to continue the valuable work they do in and around Staffordshire. Their holistic care and support services are vital for people with advanced life-limited conditions across mid-Staffordshire and they rely support of local people and businesses to operate. From the Alpha team, thanks to everyone who helped make this donation possible.

Hand Sanitisers

Gemma Smith to Complete Challenge for Katharine House

Gemma Smith has dusted off her Uni-Cycle following the UK COVID-19 lock-down and is now more determined than ever to complete her unique challenge in support of Katharine House Hospice.

Way back in February 2020, Alpha Production Engineer Gemma committed to learning how to ride the Unicycle from scratch, before completing a 600-meter circuit through the Alpha Manufacturing factory. She had been due to complete the challenge in May and having put in hours and hours of practice, had nearly mastered it by Early April.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent UK lock-down meant that the challenge had to be put on hold. However, Gemma hasn’t lost her determination to complete the challenge and raise some much-needed funds for Katharine House. The Stafford based Hospice are one of many UK charity organisations heavily affected by the pandemic as lock-down and social distancing severely hindered planned fundraising events.

Research from the Institute of Fundraising earlier in the year found that one in four UK charities have seen their finances affected by the virus with projected losses of 48% to voluntary income and a third wiped off from their total income. Government grants have been crucial in helping many charities to survive and continue to offer much needed help to the most vulnerable in society.

For this reason, Gemma is committed to completing her challenge and doing her bit help Katharine House to continue their great work locally, offering holistic care and support for people with advanced life-limited conditions. The challenge will now take place at the end of September, giving Gemma a few more weeks to perfect her technique.

Here’s Gemma’s latest progress video, filmed this week after 3 months without practice:

Coast to Coast Sign Up

The Coast to Coast Challenge will take place over the weekend of 18th Sept (Fri) – 20th Sept (Sun). The ride will follow the Hadrians  cycleway and is approximately 125 miles from Siloth to Tynemouth. The route dictates that riders will need to on either a mountain or hybrid bike. Accommodation is yet to be confirmed but participants will be required to pay a £20 deposit to confirm their place. A maximum of 10 places are available and will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. A suggested minimum of £100 per rider to be raised for Katharine House.

Date: 18th-20th Sept

Route: Hadrians Cycleway (Siloth-Tynemouth)

Bike: Mountain/ Hybrid

Accommodation: TBC

Deposit: £20

Minimum Raised Target: £100

Sign Up

Coast to Coast Challenege

As Part of a busy 2020 calendar of fundraising events for the Bri-Stor Group, a team of cyclists from Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems will be taking part in a Coast to Coast Challenge.

The event, scheduled for September, will see the group travel up from Stafford to Siloth on the East Coast near Carlisle, where they will set off on a 125 mile journey along Hadrian’s wall all the way to Tynemouth on the West Coast.

The ride is planned over two days, with a stop off over night along the route. A support group of Bri-Stor Group employees will also follow in a Bri-Stor Systems Welfare vehicle and will be on hand to supply refreshments and support throughout.

The event is open to all levels of experience and experienced cyclists and novices alike have already signed up to take part.

As with all Bri-Stor Group fundraising events this year, all proceeds will be donated to the nearby Katharine House Hospice, who offer crucial care and support for people with advanced life-limited conditions across mid-Staffordshire.

If you’d support the Coast to Coast event, visit the just giving page and click donate.

Gemma Takes on UNI Challenge in Aid of Katherine House

Alpha design engineer Gemma Smith is celebrating her upcoming University graduation by taking on a Unicycle challenge in support of local Hospice Katharine House.

Gemma has been studying manufacturing production engineering at Derby University for the past 4 years whilst also working at Alpha as part of thee design team.

With her studies due to come to an end this year, Gemma has decided to take on a unique fundraising activity – The UNI Challenge. With no prior experience, she has committed to riding a Unicycle the entire combined length of both Alpha and Bri-Stor’s factory’s (around 600 meters.)

“I’m always up for a challenge and especially something funny or unique. It’s going to be a real challenge though as I’ve never ridden a Unicycle in my life. I think it will definitely make the end of my degree memorable and hopefully we’ll raise plenty of donations for Katharine House!”

The Katharine House Hospice was chosen as the Bri-Stor Group’s charity partner for 2020 following an employee nomination process. Based in nearby Stafford, they off crucial and valuable holistic care and support for people with advanced life-limited conditions.

Over the next 12 months, employees from across the Bri-Stor Group will be participating in a host of fundraising events, with all proceeds passed on to Katherine House.


Alpha Sponsoring Blurton Arrows U14’s for 2020 Season

Alpha are proud to be sponsoring another local football team for the 2020 season and beyond. Blurton Arrows have two under 14’s boys’ teams with one playing in the local U14’s Yellow league and one in the U14’s Red league. Alpha will be shirt sponsors for both throughout the year.

Both teams have made strong starts to the season, as coach Andrew Gay explains:

Blurton Arrows Red U14s

“Another really strong start to the season sitting second in the league with two games in hand on first place, were top of the group in the group stage of the Staffordshire Area cup, and have just been chosen to represent our centre in the Doug brown Memorial tournament.”

Blurton Arrows Yellow U14s

“This season was just about getting the lads used to each other with being together for the first time this season but they are far exceeding what we expected from them. They’re sitting

fourth in the yellow league with four games in hand on the third-place team and games in hand on second and first. Third place is well within their sights which would be a great achievement in their first season together.”

This sponsorship follows Alpha’s partnership with another local team – Leek Town Wildcats under 8’s girls’ team who had great success in their first full season last year. They managed a local cup double, winning both the Staffordshire Shield trophy and Staffordshire cup winners cup.

Alpha are delighted to be in a position to support the development of local talent and wish both the Blurton Arrows and Leek Wildcats the bets of luck for the season.

Alpha Get Festive for Local Hospice

Alpha employees turned out for work in their festive best today in support of the local Katharine house hospice.

Donations were taken throughout the day around both Alpha and Bri-Stor Systems as the whole Bri-Stor Group embraced the seasonal cheer with their cheesiest Christmas jumpers. All funds will be donated to nearby Katharine house.

The Hospice, based in Staffordshire, do valuable work in the local community, providing free hospice care services for those with terminal illnesses. The Bri-Stor Group are proud to be supporting Katherine House during 2020, following a recent employee nomination process. Throughout the next twelve months a series of fund-raising events will take place across the Bri-Stor Group, with all proceeds donated in support of Katharine house.

The 2019 Christmas jumper day was the first of these events and was a great success.


Alpha Supporting Santa With New Sleigh

Alpha are proud to have been involved in the creation of a new Santa’s sleigh for the local Stafford Rotary Club ahead of their month-long tour of nearby towns during December.

Members of the club had approached Alpha to laser cut the frame profiles of the sleigh and also supply a leisure battery to power its lights. The president of the club, along with senior members visited the factory last week to show off the finished sleigh and to thank Managing Director Paul Clews and Commercial Manager Rob Eley for their support.

Over the next three weeks, Santa will be out and about in his new sleigh, visiting as many of the local towns and villages as possible, a local tradition stretching back decades. Local children fill the streets of along the route to catch a glimpse of father Christmas as he passes by.

Members of the Rotary club will be on hand taking donations from local residents as Santa passes by. The Rotary club is a charitable organisation consisting of local business people and professionals, both active and retired who aim to serve the local community through fund raising and social activities.

All at Alpha wish Santa the best of luck on his travels over the next few weeks and hope he raises plenty of donations for local causes.

Leek Town U9 Wildcats Model New Kits For F.A Cup Tie

Leek Town FC under 9 girls team proudly modelled their new kits recently as they attended a Women’s FA Cup match as mascots to the first team.

As sponsors of the team, we like to follow the girls’ progress closely. Last year, Alpha supplied kits and training jackets for the team and have continued to support this year with a new set for the season.

The Wildcats enjoyed a great day out as Mascots for the Ladies 1st team, who battled to victory in a 7 goal thriller in their Women’s FA Cup Preliminary Round game against Kidderminster Harriers. Coming out eventual 4-3 winners, the 1st team ladies put the icing on the cake for the young Wildcats.

The young team enjoyed success themselves last year, completing a cup double in their debut season after winning both the Staffordshire Shield trophy and Staffordshire cup. We’ll be keeping up to speed on the progress of the Wildcats over the course of the new season and wish them the best of luck again!