Cheering success. BQ's out to make an impact!

Birmingham Press Club is about to welcome the launch of a new print product in the region. Here, former Birmingham Mail editor STEVE DYSON provides a sneak preview of his BQ West Midlands magazine.

As the economy bumps along the bottom of what’s been such a painful recession, there’s never been a better time to launch an inspirational business magazine. That’s because in the good times, it’s almost too easy to find success stories and to throw praise around willy-nilly. During those booms (remember them?), readers sometimes see such reports as too self-congratulatory, and often dismiss them as mediocre business chiefs patting themselves on the back when, actually, they would have had to try damn hard to stop the money rolling in.

BQ West Midlands will be sent out direct to around 10,000 top business leaders at the end of February. What we’ve tried to provide them with is a selection of winning stories across a range of industries. Find out how the sixth generation of a family firm of metal-bashers in Birmingham city centre copes with downturns. Read all about the human side of one entrepreneur whose child’s near-tragedy contributed towards her current role leading a Midlands charity, increasing revenues by 25% in the last three years. And discover how a musician became an inventor – now selling tens of thousands of his new instrument.Take the piece on an old Rover executive, for example. He didn’t quite know what he was letting himself in for when he left the car giant to join a Black Country parts firm. As the recession started to bite, the banks grabbed back all their loans – leaving his company with just £50 in the bank, dwindling orders and nearly 200 workers to worry about. And that was when he sprang into action, remembering all the training he’d had over 30 years at Rover. For anyone in industry, his story is a thriller – yes, restructuring and cutting costs, but also taking the brave decision to insource a variety of processes, invest in new machinery and transform the very nature of the company. His firm, by the way, is now set for annual revenues approaching £40 million.

The in-depth analysis doesn’t end there, as we’ve also great exclusives for the first edition of what will become top business folk’s favourite quarterly read. We’ve interviewed three of the region’s most memorable candidates on BBC1’s The Apprentice. Not the winners, mind, but those who came close. Did the gruelling TV experience with Alan Sugar help or hinder? And what do they think of the support young entrepreneurs get in the West Midlands? They tell all in a riveting ‘20 questions’ section.

We’ve also commissioned the chief executive of one of the region’s leading football clubs to describe what it’s like running a sports business during a recession – especially when the team itself is struggling. And we take a top business leader out to lunch – to find out how he and Lord Heseltine plan to put membership business organisations’ noses out of joint this spring.

So where’s this BQ West Midlands all come from? Well, to cut a long story short, my first editorship was at the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough. My managing director at the time, Alastair MacColl, has since left and his company now owns Room 501 Publishing, which has successfully launched three BQ editions in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland. He plans to expand the brand further, and so approached me to launch BQ West Midlands. BQ, by the way, stands for Business Quarter – it’s not just a Brummie take on the cheeky GQ magazine!

And so there you have it... the spring edition of BQ West Midlands will be out soon. My role as editor is part-time, by the way. Dyson Media, my media training, advice and strategy business – continues as before. Go to find out more.

Villa Park to host 'Top Gun' penalty shootout

A one-off penalty shootout with a difference is to be held at Villa Park – between two Birmingham business journalists. Birmingham Mail business editor Jon Griffin and former Birmingham Post business editor John Duckers are to dust off their boots in front of around 40,000 people for the charity event.

The shootout will take place at half-time during next month’s Manchester City game – with two teams of three taking 12 penalties in total. Aston Villa agreed to the shootout after Griffin and Duckers shared last year’s Midlands Business Journalist of the Year when judges appointed by event organisers Birmingham Press Club were unable to separate their entries.



The two writers, both members of Birmingham Press Club, decided the “top gun” title should go to a shootout – and Villa officials agreed the event could be held in front of a packed crowd at the home game against the current league champions on Monday, March 4. The event is being held to raise funds for Aston Villa charity Acorns Hospice, which helps terminally-ill children and their families, providing hospice care at centres in Selly Oak, Walsall and Worcester.

The event is being supported by Barclays, who are helping with the fundraising. Guests on the night will have the opportunity to bid for an Aston Villa shirt signed by the current squad in order to raise further funds for Acorns. If you are interested in tickets for this event, please contact Lisa Kennedy at Barclays on 07775 548426.

Griffin and Duckers will each captain two teams of three and the event will be refereed by regional Barclays executive Ray O’Donoghue while Press Club Chairman Ed James will act as goalkeeper on the night. He said: “I’m a Villa fan and so are my boys, who will also be at the match. Their big favourites are goalkeepers Brad Friedel and Shay Given – so no pressure on me then when they watch me performing between the goalposts!”

The dynamic duo are also being joined by two former Villa players who are making up the two teams – England international Tony Daley and England B international Riccardo Scimeca Mansfield Town supporter FC Griffin, aged 57, said: “I last kicked a ball in anger over 20 years ago but this is such a good cause that I’m quite prepared to make a fool of myself in front of 40,000 people.”

Sixty-one-year-old Duckers, a Moseley RFC follower, said: “Rugby has always been my game rather than football so I already have a good excuse if the ball flies over the bar.” Ray O’Donoghue of Barclays, said: “We are delighted to support this one-off event, which aims to help a very worthy cause.”

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Entries for this year’s Midlands Media Awards, which take place in June, are now being accepted from journalists, photographers and broadcasters from throughout the region. Full details on how to enter the awards are obtainable from Paula Kelsey on 0115 841 9699 or 07774 741883 or by e-mailing details are also on the official Midlands Media Awards website at

Flan's funeral planned for Feckenham

The funeral service for former Birmingham Evening Mail photographer Tony Flanagan, who died on February 4 after a six-month long battle with cancer, is to take place at St John The Baptist, Feckenham, Worcestershire, on Friday, February 15 at 2:00 PM.

Paying tribute to Tony, who died two months after his 60th birthday, David Brookes, editor-in-chief at Trinity Mirror Midlands, said: “I had the pleasure of working with Flan at the Post and Mail in the late 70s and 80s – and it was a real pleasure. “Flan was a truly professional, award-winning photographer, but more than that he was a great colleague who brought the newsroom to life.


“Outside of work he had the same zest for life and I’ll remember him with a broad smile on his face and a pint glass in his hand. “Many people in the media industry will be saddened by news of his death.” Tony began his career in 1972 as a trainee photographer with the Birmingham Evening Mail and spent 15 years as a staff photographer with the newspaper before going freelance in 1987.

During his career, Tony won a number of awards and as a freelance worked for the national and regional Press as well as numerous public relations agencies, public bodies and business organisations.