Strong Founder Recognised At PRCA Dare Awards

It was a proud moment for The Strong Agency on Monday as agency founder, Julie Wilson, was recognised in the PRCA Dare Awards, North West.

The prestigious awards, decided by a team of the UK’s leading industry experts, strive to seek out and reward the very best PR & communications professionals in the country.

And there was double cause for celebration for Strong as Jules was recognised in two categories, proudly receiving the title Professional of the Year 2022, an award that recognises outstanding performance and an individual’s significant contribution to the industry, and Outstanding Contribution During Covid-19.

This accolade recognises those who have gone above and beyond during the global pandemic and have volunteered their knowledge and expertise to support colleagues in their efforts to adapt to the demands of the crisis.  The award also celebrates those who have overcome challenging circumstances, championed professional standards and delivered exceptional support to the public relations community in 2021.

Speaking on the achievement, Jules said:  “The last 12 months have seen many examples of businesses selflessly and determinedly uniting to support one another through this difficult time.  To have our own contribution to the industry during Covid-19 recognised and receive these accolades is therefore incredibly humbling.

“It’s an absolute privilege to have been able to support our clients and peers through the pandemic and our thanks go to them for putting their trust in us during a period of such uncertainty.  Their continued success is the greatest reward we could ask for.”

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body and represents more than 35,000 PR professionals in 82 countries worldwide. With offices in London, Hongkong, Dubai, Singapore, and Buenos Aires, the PRCA is a global advocate for excellence in public relations.

The awards were announced at a ceremony at Manchester Hall on Monday June 13th.  A Grand Prix ceremony will be hosted later in the year.

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Football Legend Paul Scholes Joins Children in Launching Scholes Gym

Football legend Paul Scholes has joined forces with children Arron and Alicia to open a new state-of-the-art gym,  Scholes Gym, in his hometown, Oldham.

The 10,000 sq. ft development, designed by award-winning designer Mark Mason, sees a £500k investment, bringing new life to Lees Road.

Designed over two floors, the impressive facility features a functional fitness area with personalised track; personalised steel dumbbells; pin and plate loaded elite bodybuilding machines; a bespoke Astroturf; and top-of-the-range kit such as the plate loaded fly, which is designed to hit all chest muscle fibres.

Members also have access to a Batak reaction machine, a piece of kit rarely found outside of professional sports studios and applauded by elite sportspeople including Paul for improving reaction, hand eye coordination and stamina.

A range of cardio equipment with treadmills, assault bikes, rowers and ski ergs is also available to members with an enclosed studio playing host to cardio, strength, and conditioning classes including HIIT, Functional Fitness, and Abs Blast.

The Strong Agency was pleased to promote the launch providing media with an exclusive first look at the gym.  Widespread broadcast, print and online coverage was enjoyed including ITV News, TalkSport, The Manchester Evening News, The Manc, Global, Manchester World, Insider Media to name but a few.

Scholes Gym is open now.  To register visit

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Gino D’Acampo Launches New 360 Sky Bar at INNSiDE Liverpool

The UK’s favourite Italian chef Gino D’Acampo has opened the doors to his incredible new Sky Bar at INNSiDE Liverpool and we’ve been pleased to invite the media in.

Located on the 18th floor of the impressive new hotel, the Sky Bar provides enviable 360-degree views of Liverpool and beyond and they’ve been gripping the attention of media and guests alike.

Open from 12pm until late seven days a week, the coveted venue boasts a cocktail list that guarantees to see guests lusting for the weekend or an indulgent after work drink.  Created by Gino’s expert team of mixologists, expect to find an impressive mix of classic and signature drinks complemented by an inviting list of Italian small plates, Cicchetti, perfect for date nights, an indulgent bite over business, or enjoyed with family and friends.

Guests looking for a more substantial meal are invited to dine at Gino D’Acampo Old Hall Street the Italian chef’s impressive restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel.  Combining vast ceiling to floor windows, an extensive bar, and stylish open plan lounge and restaurant area, it’s the perfect place to see and and be seen.

For further information or to make a reservation visit: or for further media information and reviews please contact [email protected]

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Astra Signs Sponsors Spectacular Art Installation, Gratitude

Leading UK sign maker Astra Signs has announced its support of Gratitude, a spectacular public art installation designed to pay homage to the ongoing courage and dedication of NHS staff and all key workers during the pandemic.

Organised by global art company Wild in Art and sponsored by Astra Signs,  the free to visit exhibition consists of 51 sculptures, all designed by individual artists from different regions, and curated in partnership with creative ambassador Dame Zandra Rhodes.

The event, which launched in Birmingham and is available to see in Manchester now, will also tour Edinburgh and London before the sculptures are auctioned off at a later date, where substantial proceeds will be donated to NHS Charities Together (Registered Charity Number 1186569), which supports the NHS, including its hospitals, ambulance services, community and mental healthcare providers and vital partnerships.

Standing tall amongst the installation is Astra Signs’ sponsored sculpture, Faces of Lockdown, created by acclaimed Manchester illustrator and mural painter, Hammo.   As official signage partner the Manchester-headquartered company is also also providing expert direction on the logistics, design, branding and install of the impressive event, and producing all brand assets including floor vinyls, toblerones, fence panels and crowd barrier covers.

Speaking on the sponsorship, Founder and Managing Director of Astra Signs, David Derbyshire said:  “Gratitude is a spectacular and visually arresting art installation in aid of an incredible cause.  We’re thrilled to be able to support Wild in Art in the production of the event and to honour NHS staff and Key Workers nationwide for all that they have selflessly done to help others these last 18 months.”

The partnership is the latest in a long list of art and cultural events supported by Astra Signs and one we are delighted to promote.


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Luciano by Gino D’Acampo Launches at ME London Hotel

Gino D’Acampo is celebrating the launch of his new London restaurant, Luciano, located at the five-star ME London hotel.

Named after his first born, 19-year-old son Luciano, the beautiful 100-cover restaurant harnesses the five-star world-operating standards for which ME by Meliá is recognised, bringing upmarket Italian dining to the heart of the West End.

It’s a significant move for the leading Italian chef, with plans for further premium national and international restaurant openings.

In-keeping with the contemporary and cutting-edge design of the ME London hotel, Luciano is impressive, combining polished white marble surfaces and rich warm woods with bold wall coverings and brushed gold accent features to create a space that is both stylish and sophisticated, and yet relaxed.

At the rear of the restaurant an impressive open kitchen commands attention, headed by Executive Head Chef Lorenzo Minini.  The acclaimed chef has, throughout his 12-year career, worked at some of the capital’s most-celebrated restaurants including StreetXO, C-London Cipriani and Osteria San Lorenzo.

The à-la-carte menu, designed by Gino D’Acampo and Minini, is fitting for its location, incorporating a generous selection of Italian classic dishes with a focus on quality and ingredient provenance.

An authentic Italian service adds to the premium and yet informal dining experience, available to guests all day, every day with a brunch, lunch and dinner service until late.  An in-room dining service is also available for guests of the ME London hotel with Luciano working with the luxury hotel to host both corporate and lifestyle gatherings in the hotel’s incredible event spaces such as the Radio Rooftop and Marconi Lounge.

The Strong Agency is proud to work with Gino D’Acampo Hotels & Leisure.   For further media information or to arrange a review please contact [email protected]


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The Strong Agency Scoops Three Accolades At The PRCA DARE Awards

It’s been a proud few days for Strong, with the agency over the moon to have been awarded a hat-trick of accolades at this week’s 2021 PRCA DARE Awards.

The prestigious awards, decided by a team of the UK’s leading industry experts, strive to seek out and reward the very best PR & communications professionals in the country.

The Strong Agency was acknowledged in two campaign categories – Best Launch / Event and Best Low Budget campaign, for its work with independent women’s outdoorwear brand ACAI Outdoorwear; with Strong Founder Jules recognised in the individual categories and awarded the coveted title Professional of the Year.  The award recognises individuals for their strong leadership, initiative, performance and contribution to the industry.

Speaking on the agency’s success, Jules said:  “To have been able to support our clients through this difficult time has been a privilege.  To have that work acknowledged by our industry peers, humbling.

“It’s been a challenging 12 months with countless obstacles to campaigns presented; we’ve navigated each and every one of them head on however with the commitment, drive and determination that runs throughout Strong.  To see our clients come through the pandemic not only fighting but flourishing, and to have had the opportunity to play a part in that is the biggest reward we could ask for.  This recognition from the PRCA is the icing on the cake; it means a lot.”

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) is the world’s largest professional PR body and represents more than 35,000 PR professionals in 70 countries worldwide. With offices in London, Singapore, Dubai, and Buenos Aires, the PRCA is a global advocate for excellence in public relations.

The awards were announced at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday June 29th.  A Grand Prix ceremony will be hosted later in the year.

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Simon Jersey Kits Out Team GB for Tokyo Olympic Games

Leading uniform company Simon Jersey has revealed Team GB’s official formalwear for the Tokyo Olympics.

The bespoke suits were unveiled at an exclusive launch event hosted at the company’s headquarters and attended by British Olympians Elinor Barker, Dan Bibby and Mahama Cho.

The official formalwear supplier to Team GB for the third consecutive Olympic Games, Simon Jersey’s specially designed suits will be worn by athletes, coaches and staff at all formal engagements at the delayed Summer Games, which open on July 23.

We were pleased to support the Cheshire-based company in taking news to the press, working closely with the brilliant team at Simon Jersey and Team GB.  It was an absolute pleasure for Strong Founder Jules, who counts seven years working with British Cycling to promote a wide range of international cycling events and her experience of working with GB Taekwondo to host the 2015 World Taekwondo Grand Prix, amongst her career highlights, and a welcome opportunity to combine the agency’s sport and retail expertise.

Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion cyclist, Elinor Barker, was the first to showcase the chic blue slim-cut trouser suit, complemented with a red low tie blouse and matching clutch bag, which will be worn by Britain’s female Olympians.

She was joined by fellow Team GB athletes, Dan Bibby, whose rugby sevens side won silver at Rio 2016, and taekwondo star, Mahama Cho, who competed at Rio 2016 and secured a silver medal in the World Taekwondo Championships a year later. They unveiled the formalwear for Britain’s male athletes, which includes a stylish slim-fitting blue suit, paired with a white shirt and blue tie.

Speaking on the final preparations for kitting out Team GB for the Tokyo Olympics, Simon Jersey Managing Director, Matthew Stead, said: “Dressing Team GB is a real privilege and it’s down to us to make sure our Olympic athletes look and feel their best during formal engagements. Our team is highly experienced in working alongside Team GB and formalwear for the Tokyo Olympics has been specially designed with athletic body shapes in mind, delivering both comfort and style in equal measures.

“Our preparations for the postponed Olympic Games began in 2019 and with the challenge of a significantly extended time frame between our first sizing sessions and final fittings, we’re going to great lengths to make sure each and every suit is a perfect fit. We’re incredibly excited about seeing Team GB suited and booted in Simon Jersey formalwear to enhance their winning reputation. I’m sure they will do us proud, and we’ll be cheering them on every step of the way.”

Widespread national, regional and trade coverage was enjoyed.

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Five Nominations for Strong in the 2021 PRCA DARE Awards

The agency is over the moon to be nominated in the 2021 PRCA DARE Awards.

The shortlist, announced yesterday (April 22nd), sees the Strong Agency nominated in five categories, making it one of the most recognised agencies in the North West.

Nominations include the prestigious Small Consultancy of the Year award and, for agency founder Jules, Professional of the Year.  The agency’s work with client ACAI Outdoorwear is recognised in three categories including Launch of the Year, the Low Budget Campaign Award, and Consumer Relations Award.

Speaking on the news Jules said:  “The last 12 months have been difficult for all.  To have had the opportunity to keep doing what we love and support businesses through what has been one of the most challenging periods in our lifetime has been a privilege.  To see that work recognised by the industry’s leading governing body is incredibly humbling and something of which I’m beyond proud.

“We cannot wait to get together with our industry peers and to raise a glass to all nominees.  It promises to be a great night.”

The PRCA DARE Awards strive to seek out and reward the very best PR and communications professionals across the UK, decided by a panel of respected industry experts across the country.  The awards uncover impeccable talent and celebrate PR professionals far and wide.

Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at Manchester Hall on June 21st, 2021.

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Third Restaurant From Simon Shaw, Habas, To Launch This Spring

Simon Shaw, chef patron and creative director of El Gato Negro & Canto, has revealed plans for his third restaurant, Habas.

Opening this spring, the modern Middle Eastern restaurant and bar, located in the lower ground floor of a beautiful Grade 2 heritage building in Manchester, will provide premium drinks, dining, and live music until late.

The restaurant will be headed up by the multi-award-winning chef patron, supported by senior sous chef, Craig Rutherford.  It will focus on Shaw’s modern interpretation of Middle Eastern dishes, influenced by the region’s rich and varied cultures, with a greater emphasis on group dining alongside intimate dinners.

We’re keeping details of the design under wraps for now although diners can expect a total transformation of the expansive space with elements of the historic building lovingly restored in-keeping with Shaw’s sibling restaurants.

In Shaw’s own words; “It will be the type of venue that I like to go to.”

Upon launch Habas will be the third restaurant from acclaimed chef Simon Shaw, joining multi-award-winning El Gato Negro and sister restaurant Canto.  Both restaurants were recognised in the Michelin Guide Great Britain & Ireland, 2021, with El Gato Negro, Manchester, awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the fifth consecutive year, and Canto awarded a prestigious Plate MICHELIN.

Habas will be located at 43a Brown St, in the heart of Manchester.  For further news and developments sign up to the restaurant and bar’s newsletter at or follow Habas on @habasmcr

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El Gato Negro & Canto Recognised In The Michelin Guide 2021

This week saw some welcome good news for the hospitality industry as the Michelin Guide Great Britain and Ireland 2021  was unveiled.

There was much to celebrate at El Gato Negro as the acclaimed Spanish tapas restaurant was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the fifth year running.

The King St restaurant is the only Manchester city centre establishment to be honoured with a Michelin Bib Gourmand in this year’s list and to receive the accolade for five consecutive years.  El Gato Negro, Manchester, is led by Head Chef Milan Sojka for whom this is personally a second accolade, having also steered the King St restaurant to success in 2020.

Introduced in 1955 the Michelin Bib Gourmand list puts a spotlight on restaurants for providing “exceptionally good food at moderate prices.”

Providing further cause for celebration sister restaurant Canto was also listed by the prestigious guide.  Launched in September 2018 in the heart of Cutting Room Square, Ancoats, the Mediterranean tapas restaurant has, under the tutelage of Creative Director and Chef Patron Simon Shaw, and Head Chef Carlos Gomes, quietly established itself as one of Ancoats’ best restaurants and bars, loved for its laidback atmosphere and consistently good small plates.

Speaking on the success of El Gato Negro and Canto, Chef Patron and Creative Director Simon Shaw said: “In what has been such a tough year for everyone, to get the news that we have been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand is incredible and has given all involved a real lift.  It is one thing to be awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand but to keep it is massive and a real testament to the work of Milan and the team.

“To see Canto listed alongside El Gato Negro is something else.  To be recognised by the Michelin Guide in such a short space of time is a great achievement and hopefully something we can build upon from here.  He’s not a fan of the spotlight but this is deserved recognition for Carlos, and I couldn’t be more pleased for him.  It’s exciting to think what we could continue to achieve.”

El Gato Negro is one of the country’s most celebrated modern Spanish restaurants and Canto a real rising star.  We couldn’t be more proud to work with the team and are raising a glass to all involved.

Read more at The Business Desk, I Love Manchester, Manchester Evening News, and Manchester Confidential amongst others.

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