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!

Alpha Team Take Third in Football Tournament.

A team of Alpha manufacturing footballers managed a third-place finish in a recent 5 aside against a host of other local businesses.

Organised by one of Alphas customers, the tournament pitched various local suppliers against each other at nearby Pulse centre in Wednesbury. Having battled through to the semi final stage, Alpha were eventually beaten 2-1 in a hard-fought game. The team ultimately took 3rd place after winning a play-off game, earning them a trophy at the post game presentation.

The event was a complete success and aside from a few achy limbs around the Alpha offices, everybody enjoyed the event. The Alpha team now plan to continue playing regularly and look forward to the opportunity to improve on 3rd at the next event.

Burgers all Round at the Annual Bri-Stor Group BBQ

It’s that time of year again where company Directors from across the Bri-Stor Group don their aprons and get behind the grill to flip burgers for every company employee.

The event, which takes place over three days, was conceived by Bri-Stor Group directors four years ago as a way of saying “thank you” and giving a little something back to employees for all their hard work throughout the year.

It has proved to be a great success and is now one of the most anticipated work days of the year across the group. Over 200 people will be fed during the course of the three days with Alpha Manufacturing, Bri-Stor Systems and Atlas Coatings employees each having their own BBQ day.

Bri-Stor Group Trio Complete Brighton to London Cycle

Last week, three Bri-Stor Group employees took part in the annual London to Brighton bike ride in support of the British Heart Foundation. Simon Webb, Robin Eley and Neil Andrews all braved the rain, described by the local press as “Biblical”, to complete the 55-mile ride in around 4 hours.

All three are keen cyclists and thoroughly enjoyed the ride, despite the challenging conditions. Rob, who is Alpha’s Commercial Manager commented:

“I’d hoped to complete the ride in a slightly better time but I’s not really what the day is about. We had a thoroughly enjoyed the event and got to see some brilliant costumes plus some weird and wonderful cycles. The torrential rain wasn’t what you’d call ideal conditions for a bike ride but even that didn’t dampen spirits. An all-round good day and great to have done a little in support of the British Heart Foundation.”



Just under 20,000 entrants arrived at the start line in Clapham Common on Sunday 23rd June to take part in the event, which is now in it’s 44th year. Since the event’s inception, elite and novice riders alike have pedalled more than 41 million miles between them and raised more than £70 million. Organisers estimate that this year’s riders raised a combined total of £2million towards various charitable causes.

Simon, Rob and Neil managed to exceed their donation target for the British Heart Foundation and were delighted to take part in the ride in support of the charity. Thanks to everybody who donated and sent messages of support!

Bri-Stor Group Employees to Cycle London to Brighton for BHF

Three long serving Bri-Stor Group employees are raising money for the British Heart Foundation by taking part in the London to Brighton cycle on Sunday 23rd June.

Rob Eley – Alpha Commercial Manager, Neil Andrews – Bri-Stor Group Systems Manager and Simon Webb – Bri-Stor Systems Managing Director, will set off from Clapham Common early on Sunday morning, taking the 55-mile route to Brighton beach.

The event will be celebrating its tenth year with this year’s event and is one of the most iconic UK cycle events. Thousands of cyclists, from all ages and experience levels will take part in the ride, raising funds for a wide range of causes.

Rob, Neil and Simon are all keen cyclists, regularly meeting up to cycle routes around nearby Cannock Chase and have been in training for a few weeks ahead of the event. The trio are cycling in support of BHF and are asking for donations in support of the charity. If you’d like to show your support, visit their Just Giving page.

Best of luck Rob, Simon and Neil!

Leek Wildcats Complete Debut Season Double

The Leek Town “Wildcats” under 8’s girls football team have completed a cup double of the Staffordshire Shield trophy and Staffordshire cup winners cup.

Back in January, Alpha were announced as team sponsors of the newly formed team, with managing Director Paul Clews keen to support local youth development:

“We do a lot for our young people through our apprenticeship programme through local events, projects and charity activities but this is something a bit different for the wider community. It’s great to be able to help local young people enjoy sports and hopefully they’ll do well in their first season”

The girls secured the first of the two trophies on 11th May after beating Lichfield City 4-1 and completed the double on the 18th May, collecting the Staffordshire Cup Winners Cup. Everyone associated with Leek Town and Alpha are incredibly proud of the Girls’ achievement so soon.

Alpha will continue the young team and wish them every success on and off the pitch during next season.