Liverpool’s Open Awards partners with charity to launch new braille qualifications

Chris Tattersall of Braille IT with Annette Summers and Rachel Newman of Open Awards

Liverpool qualification awarding body Open Awards worked with an East Lancashire charity to develop distance-learning braille courses which have now been launched nationwide.

Braille IT worked with Open Awards to launch three innovative new qualifications based around learning and teaching braille.

The charity was founded by Chris Tattersall, who began learning braille in 1997 after being registered blind at the age of 40.

He said: “Braille has opened so many doors for me. It’s been a chain reaction, and lots of steps forward that have led to working with Open Awards and launching these qualifications.

“This opens up opportunities for more people to access the qualifications and puts them on a national level.

“Once you start with braille it doesn’t end – you can carry on learning and improving forever.”

Formal accreditation by Open Awards gives the qualifications Ofqual recognition, meaning they can be delivered by other charities and educational establishments around the country.

Open Awards Chief Executive Heather Akehurst OBE said: “Open Awards is delighted to have worked with Chris and the team at Braille IT to launch these qualifications.

“The charity has done so much to support visually impaired people and their families in East Lancashire, and this partnership means their expertise in braille can be accessed by a nationwide audience.”

Launched in 2006, Braille IT offers free braille classes in Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley and Accrington. Classes are accessed by people who wish to learn braille due their own visual impairments, or sighted people including family members and teachers learning braille to support others.

Design of the three new courses is based on programmes developed by the charity in collaboration with Open Awards.

Two qualifications cover the production and use of braille content, while the third programme qualifies students to support the teaching of braille.

Students can complete the qualifications in person, or receive materials by post to study via distance learning.

Open Awards administrator Annette Summers was among a group from the awarding body who attended a taster session for the new courses.

She said: “As someone with a visual impairment, I was excited to hear about this new qualification.

“I had an amazing time learning all about braille and having a go at learning the alphabet in braille. I was so fascinated by it that I have now become a learner too. It really was such an inspirational and informative time.”

Development of the courses has also been supported by St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, which specialises in supporting students with sensory impairment and other needs.

Deputy Principal David Swanston said: “Open Awards approached us and asked if our braille team could have a look at the programme developed by Braille IT and verify the suitability of the course content and how it is delivered. 

“It’s nice to have another provider making braille more accessible, and we’ll continue to support Braille IT to ensure that the course is robust. 

“Where we can lend expertise we will do in the best interests of learners and staff – ultimately it’s about allowing more people to have more access to braille.”

The work of Braille IT is assisted by volunteers and Alison Hargreaves – a volunteer of 20 years and now Project Manager – who supports the day-to-day running of the charity and successfully secured Lottery funding to sustain its activities.

Alison said: “Everything that Braille IT has achieved so far is down to Chris, with his teaching skills and enthusiasm.

“Chris has worked really hard for 20 years to make these qualifications possible.”

National award for innovative Cambridgeshire STEM education nursery

An innovative Cambridge nursery specialising in STEM education and learning for early years children has been named as a winner of a national award.

Shelford Day Nursery, which offers a unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics pre-school curriculum, won the New Nursery of the Year category in the National Nursery Awards, held at the ExCeL London exhibition centre.

Panash Shah, director of nursery owner STEMtacular Childcare, said: “We’re overjoyed to have won this national award, which recognises our unique curriculum, inspiring learning space and our amazing nursery team.

“The inspiration for our nursery came from Cambridge’s role in some of the world’s most important scientific discoveries, and we are passionate about introducing children to STEM subjects from a young age.

“The emphasis for us is always on encouraging children to learn through play. The STEM-based curriculum that we have developed provides structure while still giving the children the opportunity to shape their own learning by exploring our interactive nursery space.

“We’re so proud of the nursery team, who create a fantastic atmosphere for the children and help them to learn in a fun and engaging way that prepares them for the transition to primary education.”

Shelford Day Nursery opened in March 2022 following the renovation of a former bank in Great Shelford.

The building and its grounds were completely remodelled to offer indoor and outdoor spaces where interactive learning is the major focus.

Children have the opportunity to experiment with water features, discover properties of different materials in sand and gravel pits and even develop their first engineering skills in a ‘construction zone’. 

There is still a place for traditional childhood games, with activities like hopscotch used to develop maths skills.

And children can gain first-hand experience of the force of gravity on a slide plunging from the first floor of the nursery to the outdoor learning space on the ground floor.

Inside the nursery, children have access to the latest technology, including interactive touch tables and a sensory room featuring colourful lighting and interactive fibre-optic installations.

Nursery Manager Deborah Parfitt said: “Winning this award would not have been possible without the contribution of our nursery team, who have embraced the idea of centring our curriculum around STEM and encouraging children to learn through exploration and experimentation.

“We place a lot of emphasis on staff training and have attracted a fantastic team who are dedicated to developing themselves and continually improving the education we offer to our children.

“We have found that many parents chose us because our STEM approach complements their professional lives, and that has helped us to foster a culture of continued learning at home.”

The £800,000 renovation project was supported by Growth Works, the strategic economic growth programme launched by the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority and Business Board to support businesses to accelerate and sustain their growth through consultancy and expertise, workforce skills development, and inward investment. 

The award is the second national accolade for STEMtacular Childcare, which also owns wraparound childcare provider Cambridge Kids Club – recent winner of the Play Setting of the Year category in the national Out of School Club Awards.

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Digital signature platform Videosign partners with OneID identity service

Digital signature pioneer Videosign has partnered with identity verification specialists OneID to further improve security options and convenience for users.

The new partnership allows Videosign users to verify identities using bank-verified data before signing contracts and documents.

Videosign Chief Executive Steven Tallant said: “Our new partnership with OneID means our users can quickly and easily prove their identity using reliable pre-verified information linked to their bank accounts.

“With 50 million adults in the UK already enabled for real-time identity checks, working with OneID offers a reliable and secure user experience with no form-filling, downloading or documents needed.

“We are very excited about the benefits this will bring to our users, enabling even more efficient workflows without compromising on security.”

Videosign launched in 2019 aiming to develop a solution more secure, efficient, and convenient than the traditional pen-and-ink signature.

Widely used in the financial services and legal professions, its online meeting platform has the built-in ability to create, sign and witness documents remotely.

Once signed with tamper-proof digital signatures, documents are stored securely alongside video evidence of the meeting taking place. 

OneID Chief Customer Officer Keith Mabbitt said: “By merging Videosign’s innovative electronic signature approach with OneID’s unique identity solution, a secure and straightforward method for authenticating individuals’ identities is established, ensuring the protection of Videosign’s customers and signatories.”

Videosign Head of Business Growth Nina Hinton (pictured) said: “Our users value the convenience that Videosign offers, allowing business to be done remotely without the need for unnecessary travel.

“Our partnership with OneID makes life even easier for our users by giving them the ability to verify who they are and sign documents even if they do not have identity documents with them.

“Using bank data in this way lets users sign whenever they want, wherever they are, on any device.”

Videosign continues to offer the option for users to verify identities by comparing individuals to passport or driving licence photos using AI-powered facial recognition.

Digital signatures used by Videosign comply with the highest eIDAS European safety security standards.

Grange solicitor welcomes launch of new estate agent service

A new estate agent has opened in Grange-over-Sands following the merger of Lowther Gardens solicitor Shirley M. Evans with Kendal-based Arnold Greenwood Solicitors.

Shirley, who has practiced in Grange since 1994, has welcomed the addition of a new branch of Arnold Greenwood Estate Agents alongside her legal offering following the merger in May.

She said: “It’s very exciting to have started this new chapter for the practice. I’m still here ready to help my clients in the way I always have, but I am now able to call on additional expertise to offer a wider range of services and help more people than ever before.

“The addition of the estate agency is another fantastic development and means that we can help clients to deal with the entire conveyancing process under one roof.”

Estate agency services at the Grange office are provided by the established Arnold Greenwood team of manager Dan Woolf and valuer Keeley Finlayson-Smith alongside Sophie Bainbridge, who joins the team as sales negotiator.

Dan said: “The new estate agency branch in Grange has got off to a great start. We had four properties on the books on the day we opened and we have had a steady flow of enquiries and visitors to the office ever since.

“We’re very happy to have the new branch up and running – it’s such a lovely area and everyone has been so welcoming.”

Established in Kendal in 1871, Arnold Greenwood covers a wide range of legal areas, including family and relationships, business and commercial property.

The merger means that a number of additional legal services including family law can be offered from the Lowther Gardens office, in addition to Shirley’s expertise in wills, probate, conveyancing, powers of attorney, and commercial property leases.

Partner Lee Hughes said: “Shirley’s track record of high-quality and personal service is outstanding, and we feel very fortunate to have welcomed her to the Arnold Greenwood team.

“The addition of our new estate agency in the Grange office gives us the opportunity to offer an additional service that builds on Shirley’s excellent work and reputation.”

Digital signature platform Videosign expands marketing and sales division

Digital signature and remote witnessing specialist Videosign has bolstered its sales and marketing division with a series of new appointments.

The expanded team is led by Nina Hinton, who joins the Liverpool-based software company as its new Head of Business Growth.

Videosign is an online meeting platform with the built-in ability to sign and witness documents remotely and verify identities using AI-powered facial recognition.

Nina has a background in business development in the education sector and brings additional board-level experience as a trustee of a charity supporting people with disabilities and/or health related issues.

She said: “I was attracted to joining Videosign because of the opportunities to find new ways of using the platform.

“Videosign was created for signing documents, but we’re interested in how else we can use it – for instance, we have seen a trend of clients using Videosign for exam invigilation.

“We want to focus on building relationships and finding out who needs the product and how it might help them.

“It’s about talking to people, finding out what their problems are, and unpicking that problem creatively.”

Further appointments to the team include Dan Bolton-Allen as Sales Development Manager, Jack Moore as Marketing Manager, and Finn Mason as Sales Support Executive.

Sales Development Manager Dan Bolton-Allen said: “It’s exciting to have joined a growing company with such a unique product.

“One of our priorities is working with the finance, banking and air travel industries to provide a solution to fraud and identity theft, using our highly-secure electronic signatures and verification tools to tackle common issues

“We are also working with users of Iress Xplan financial software to streamline client onboarding processes while maintaining security and regulatory compliance.

“The real joy of sales is finding opportunities to solve problems and helping people to find solutions they weren’t aware of.”

Videosign launched in 2019 aiming to develop a solution more secure, efficient and convenient than the traditional pen-and-ink signature.

Chief Executive Steven Tallant said: “I’m delighted to welcome Nina and her team to Videosign.

“Their combined experience of working in different sectors and focusing on finding new solutions to difficult problems can help us to unlock the potential of Videosign.

“Our fundamental aims have always been to help our clients to become more efficient and to do business more securely, and these important appointments bring additional knowledge and experience to help us offer further innovation and creative thinking to our clients.”

Merger sees established Grange solicitor unite with historic Kendal firm

A long-established Grange-over-Sands solicitor is to merge her practice with a historic Kendal firm.

Shirley M. Evans, based in Lowther Gardens, will continue to practise in Grange as the newest member of Kendal-based Arnold Greenwood Solicitors when the businesses merge in May. 

She said: “It will still be me, behind the same desk, and with the same phone number, ready to help my clients in the way I always have.

“I’ve had a long cooperative arrangement with Arnold Greenwood, and this merger means I can offer a wider range of services to clients in and around Grange.”

Shirley qualified at University of Bristol and Chester Law College, and worked for a large law firm in Manchester before relocating to south Cumbria in the early 1990s.

After a brief period working for an Ulverston-based solicitor, she took over the company’s Grange office to establish her own practice in 1994. Her main areas of expertise include wills, probate, conveyancing, powers of attorney, and commercial property leases.

She said: “I’ve loved every minute of it and I have particularly enjoyed being in Grange. As soon as I came here I could tell that it would be an excellent community in which to work. 

“I derive great satisfaction from helping others and I have the most loyal group of clients that I could ever have hoped for. My aim has always been for clients to leave my office feeling better than when they arrive.”

Alongside her legal work, Shirley has taken an active role in the community through a variety of posts, including Vice-Chair of Kendal’s hospital trust, a governor of Kendal College, Assistant Coroner for South Cumbria, clerk to the Tax Commissioners in Kendal, and tribunal judge.

She also became involved in a local support group for bereaved parents after losing her son in a road accident three years ago.

Established in 1871, Kendal-based Arnold Greenwood covers a wide range of legal areas, including family and relationships, business and employment law, dispute resolution, and commercial property.  

Partner Lee Hughes said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Shirley to Arnold Greenwood Solicitors. Her knowledge and experience, along with her strong reputation for providing excellent service to her clients, will be a huge asset to us.

“People in Grange can expect to receive the same high-quality and personal service they are used to, with the added bonus of access to the additional areas of expertise we can offer from our Kendal office.

“This is the natural next step in the close working relationship we have had with Shirley for many years.”

Rugby league stars endorse Manchester fashion label on a mission to champion mental health

A Manchester fashion label created to raise awareness of mental health issues is being championed by two north west rugby league stars.

Cerebral Clothing, which has pledged to donate 10% of its 2023 profits to mental health charity Manchester Mind, has received the endorsement of Warrington Wolves players Pete Mata’utia and Stefan Ratchford. 

Friends Charley Rich and Dan Lloyd, both 23, launched Cerebral Clothing in 2020 after suddenly losing a close friend due to a struggle with mental health.

Dan said: “Losing a close friend in that way came as such a shock to us, and we wanted to do something to help people who need support with their mental health.

“Our vision is to not only design and sell high-quality clothing, but to create a lifestyle brand that becomes synonymous with promoting awareness for mental health.

“We want to change the way young people communicate, as well as improving the overall attitude towards mental health in general.”

As well as donating part of their profits to Manchester Mind, Charley and Dan aim to organise events to raise further funds and build a supportive community promoting mental health awareness.

Manchester Mind is one of 105 local Mind associations nationwide, all of which are independent charities. 

Joanna Huddart from Manchester Mind said: “We’re touched by the kind commitment made by Cerebral Clothing, as their charity efforts will spark important conversations surrounding men’s mental health, whilst raising vital funds in aid of our services. 

“Manchester Mind are so proud to have Dan and Charley’s support and we look forward to working together this year.”

The ethos of the brand has gained endorsement from Warrington Wolves rugby league players Pete Mata’utia and Stefan Ratchford.

Pete said: “Charley and Dan’s story of losing their best friend was something that resonated with me because I’ve been through that situation myself and now I’m a big advocate for mental health.

“I try to get people to understand that it’s not the load we carry, it’s how we carry it. If we’re not speaking to each other about mental health, that’s when the load becomes heavy.”

Stefan said: “After meeting the team at Cerebral and listening to the story of the brand it was obvious that I should get involved and support them.

“Too often, people are told to ‘man up’ or ‘just get on with it’. Cerebral’s message that people need to open up about mental health is so important.”

Cerebral has gained a loyal customer following in the north west by creating high-quality unisex garments that are not only affordable, but fit well and boast a clean urban aesthetic.

The new 2023 range features everyday staples from comfy tracksuits and twin sets in neutral hues, to premium loungewear and baseball caps.

All products are responsibly sourced, using organic cotton and recycled fabrics, and produced in factories that meet the standards of the Fair Wear Foundation.

Charley said: “We’ve always liked to stay up to date with the latest trends and collections from our favourite designers, and that has been the starting point for our own range. 

“Essentially, we are our own target market, so we just try to design and sell what we know.

“What sets us apart is that we see it as our responsibility to use our brand to share that mental health message.

“Mental health can still be a taboo subject. We want to change the way people communicate, and help people to realise that support is there if you need it.”

Find out more at or search @cerebralclothing_ on Instagram.

Learn more about the work of Manchester Mind at

Notaries should exceed proposed federal security standards for remote online notarization, says Videosign CEO 

Videosign CEO Steven Tallant in New York

An electronic signature expert has welcomed anticipated regulations allowing Remote Online Notarization across the U.S., but warns that users must ensure they offer enhanced security features to prevent fraud and forgery.

The Senate is currently considering the SECURE Notarization Act, which will set minimum federal standards for Remote Online Notarization (RON) – affecting everyday transactions such as real estate purchases.

An electronic signature expert has welcomed anticipated regulations allowing Remote Online Notarization across the U.S., but warns that users must ensure they offer enhanced security features to prevent fraud and forgery.

The RON process allows notaries public to notarize documents remotely in a paperless process using electronic signatures.

Remote notarization has already been accepted in some states, and the new regulations propose a minimum standard for its use nationwide.

Steven Tallant, CEO of Videosign Notary, based in Liverpool, UK, has welcomed moves to allow RON in all states, but says users should choose their electronic signing software carefully to ensure its security features exceed the minimum requirements.

He said: “Use of electronic signatures was increasing before the Covid-19 pandemic, but the need for social distancing accelerated its acceptance among users.

“With lockdowns behind us, electronic signing remains widespread due to the convenience and efficiency it offers, and allowing RON across all 50 states is the logical next step for this way of doing business.

“However, my advice to any reputable notary public would be to go beyond the minimum standards when notarizing documents to give their clients confidence in the security of their documents and reduce the risk of costly litigation down the line.”

The SECURE Notarization Act requires audio and video recordings to be made of remote notarizations, and sets standards for identification of signatories. The bill allows a notary public to remotely notarize electronic records involving individuals in different states and outside of the United States, subject to certain requirements. 

Steven Tallant said: “The measures proposed in the bill offer some measure of security, but we recommend that notaries public take additional precautions that go above and beyond the minimum standard..

“Videosign Notary uses AI-powered facial recognition to compare an individual with their passport or driver’s license photo to confirm their identity prior to notarization.

“Additional evidence like IP addresses and timestamps made during the remote notarization process offer an additional layer of assurance alongside the video and audio evidence gathered while tamper-proof signatures are made.

“As use of RON becomes more widespread, offering all parties peace of mind should be the top priority for notaries public.”

RON can currently be used in many states for a wide-range of legal documents, including affidavits, property transactions and power of attorney. 

The new bill will require U.S. courts and states to recognize remote notarizations performed by a notary public commissioned under the laws of other states.

CEO takes to the skies to demo innovative electronic signature technology

The Chief Executive of a Liverpool electronic signature innovator used his company’s software to sign a new employee contract from a helicopter flying over the city.

Videosign Chief Executive Steven Tallant took to the skies to meet new Customer Success Manager Jamie Wilson and sign his new contract of employment remotely.

Steven said: “I’ve always said that our software offers businesses the flexibility to work from any location, but this proves that Videosign can be used literally anywhere you can get an internet connection.

“As well as offering our users convenience and efficiency, we also provide security features that provide incontrovertible evidence that signatures on documents are genuine.”  

Videosign is an online meeting service for remotely witnessing signatures of legal documents.

Facial-recognition software is used to verify the identity of signatories before tamper-proof electronic signatures are made, witnessed by everyone in the meeting and backed up with video and metadata evidence.

New recruit Jamie’s contract signing was witnessed in person by colleague Maria Murphy and the aerial meeting and signature was recorded via the Videosign platform.

Jamie said: “When I joined Videosign I never imagined I’d be talking to my new boss while he was in a helicopter, but it just goes to show how using the platform allows you to do business with colleagues and clients anywhere in the world – it eliminates the need to rely on face-to-face meetings even when signing contracts and documents.” 

The opportunity to hold the airborne meeting came about thanks to a friend of Steven’s who is training to be a commercial helicopter pilot.

Steven said: “My pilot friend was planning a flight to log as part of his training, and invited me to join him – using it as an opportunity to demonstrate the possibilities offered by Videosign was too good to miss.” 

Videosign, with bases in Liverpool and Glasgow, supports businesses in a wide range of sectors, including financial advice and conveyancing.

The company recently released a new instant-access version of the platform, allowing small businesses to sign-up and start using Videosign immediately.

Videosign was the winner of the Innovation Award in the Liverpool Echo Business Awards 2022.

Enjoy traffic-free cycling in the heart of Lancaster

Cyclists of all ages are invited to ‘Ride Lancaster’  as part of the Bay Health Festivals organised by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.  

The event, supported by Rosebank PR & Communications, will see a section of Lancaster’s one-way system reduced to one lane on the morning of on Sunday July 10, allowing visitors traffic-free riding from the Lune cycletrack to Dalton Square.

In Dalton Square, visitors will be able to explore the Bay Health Festivals event, including a number of cycling-related stalls and activities.  

UHMBT Lead Chaplain Ian Dewar, the organiser of the festival, said: “Cycling is great way to travel and brings massive benefits in terms of physical and mental health.

“Our cycling village aims to bring people together united by the simple pleasure of riding a bike, and hopefully encourage non-cyclists to give it a go.”

“Many newcomers to cycling can feel intimidated by traffic on the roads, which is why we’ll be creating a temporary segregated cycle route as part of this event.

“Traffic will still be able to move through the centre of Lancaster, but cyclists will be given exclusive use one of the lanes of the one-way system for a few hours to encourage beginners and families to join us.”

The event in Dalton Square will run from 9.30am to noon on Sunday 10 July. The segregated cycle route will be in place in Water Street, Chapel Street, Rosemary Lane, Stonewell and Great John Street throughout the event.

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