East Durham Business magazine: Seaham Hall Hotel spa review

Nearly two years after my last visit to the wonderful Seaham Hall Hotel – a real gem in the North East’s crown –  because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was with open arms and ready-to-be-pampered muscles that I returned for a much needed spa day.

This time around I was joined by my husband Paul, who was preparing to turn 40 three days after our visit (I’ll not say he was celebrating exactly, more reluctantly accepting of the milestone birthday)…

Anyone who knows me knows there are few things I enjoy more than a spa day.

I have been lucky enough to experience breaks in some beautiful locations, but right up there with my favourites is Seaham Hall Hotel – a mere 30 minutes’ drive from my home in Stainsby, Middlesbrough.

It’s a beautiful hotel and spa, located a stone’s throw from the Seaham coastline and is without doubt one of the region’s most luxurious facilities – with previous guests including Take That, Little Mix and a host of premier league footballers.

So whenever I am booked in for a visit, I know I am in for a real treat. A chance to drift away from the pressures of running a business and being mam to two kids (I’ll be getting wrong off my daughter Darcey right now for calling myself ‘mam’ rather than mum!) to indulge in a day of rest and relaxation, lovely food, a cheeky glass of wine and the highlight, an indulgent treatment.

For this latest visit my companion was my husband Paul, with the day being the start of a long weekend without the kids to mark his 40th birthday.

To say we were ready for it was an understatement – I think we can all agree it’s been a pretty torrid time since the coronavirus pandemic started in the early part of 2020 so a day of doing nothing except moving from lounger to pool to jacuzzi to restaurant was just what the doctor ordered.

The sun was shining too, which made the outdoor space that is a real added bonus at Seaham Hall even more appealing.

After having a nice swim in the indoor pool and a laze on one of the comfy beds, we headed to the external hot tubs for a chill in the warm July sunshine.

I cannot tell you how nice it felt – lying back with the sun on my face, my husband next to me, the bubbles massaging our weary bones. It was as if someone was telling us life was finally returning to normal and better times lay ahead.

When lunchtime came, we headed to the Ozone restaurant where we were treated to a two-course Asian fusion meal, with a bowl of prawn crackers as an introduction.

As we always do, Paul and I shared courses and our choices were, for starter, duck spring rolls and battered squid, both served with a light salad and a sweet chilli dipping sauce, while for mains we opted for king prawn red Thai curry with rice and sizzling beef with noodles. Drinks were a rioja for Paul and a sauvignon blanc for me.

Everything was cooked beautifully and tasted so fresh (you can actually see the chefs prepare the food which adds to the experience). Although it was a lot for lunchtime, being on a three-day ‘holiday’ meant we didn’t really care. It’s a tough life at times!

Afternoon saw us sample all of the spa’s facilities including the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and even the freezing cold plunge pool – an interesting experience to say the least.

The final part of the day was, as it always is, the best: massage time. Included this time around was a 60-minute full body ishga massage. Ishga treatments combine the purest Scottish seaweed with natural spring water, which help create youthful, healthy and glowing skin – it was like they knew!

Sadly, the hour went much too quickly (time flies when you’re having fun as they say). I was in heaven and I didn’t want it to end. Every muscle seemed to drink in the oils that the masseuse used and I could feel the knots which I always have in my shoulders and back disappear.

My husband was equally complimentary about his experience – as someone who suffers with his back, he said the next few nights he slept the best he has for a long time, which he put down to the treatment.

It really was the perfect end to a fabulous day – and the perfect start to a long weekend which saw us heading across to Port Carlisle for a three-night break while our children were with their grandparents.

Now lockdown is over, I can rest safe in the knowledge that it won’t be 2023 when I’m next back to Seaham Hall for a spa break. In fact, I’m already planning my return with my usual spa companion, Danielle – we have both turned 40 this year after all so what better excuse than to treat ourselves to a day of doing nothing but relax and unwind!

East Durham Business magazine: Editor’s introduction

A VERY warm welcome to issue six of East Durham Business magazine – our first issue out of lockdown for almost two years!

To say the past 18 months have been tough would be an understatement, however we are gradually seeing life return to normal.

Offices are once again a flurry of activity, businesses are well on the road to recovery and face to face engagement is possible once more.

Hurray – how we missed the every day things we all took for granted before the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Producing issue six of our flagship magazine has probably been the most enjoyable and we are so proud of the end result.

It’s probably our most diverse issue too, featuring businesses from a broad range of sectors and from around the region, not just East Durham, which we think is testament to just how much our magazine’s profile has grown since we launched it in the summer of 2019.

Cover stars are the team at Central Doorset Manufacturing, Peterlee’s newest resident.

The company relocated from Seaham to the former Dewhirst building earlier this year to facilitate ambitious growth plans – and in just six months the workforce has doubled in size.

We chat to directors Martyn Sandison and Scott McIlvaney to find out more about their move, their unique staff training and development programme and what the future holds.

Also featured in this issue are Delanoy Funeral Services, issue four’s cover stars, as we find out how the first 12 months in business have gone for owners John Delonoy and Julie Stout; and County Durham entrepreneur Keith Gill, one of the founders of the Phileas Fogg snack brand, who has penned the first chapter of his memoirs, Taking It Head On.

Other businesses and organisations that we shine the spotlight on are East Durham Business Service, The Wills Guys and the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing programme.

One of the many benefits of being out of lockdown is that venues like Seaham Hall Hotel are back open for business – and I had no hesitation in taking up the chance to review the facilities on a spa day with my husband Paul which coincided nicely with his 40th birthday. Check out the At Your Leisure spread to see what we thought of our experience!

You’ll also see that from the packed news pages within the magazine that there is plenty of positivity out there, with many businesses reporting that not only is their covid recovery back on track but they are also now looking towards growth and expansion.

How welcome that is after months during the pandemic where many business owners questioned whether they would be able to survive.

As always, we welcome your feedback on our magazine so if you have any suggestions that could improve it, or want to get involved in issue seven, get in touch with me!

TMD Friction apprentices on the right track for permanent careers

THREE young apprentices are working towards potential careers with TMD Friction after being given the opportunity to learn while they earn.

The global automotive manufacturer, which has its only UK production facility in Hartlepool, has been making parts for the passenger car aftermarket since 1974 and now employs 449 people in the North East.

The recruitment of apprentices is a key element of the company’s succession planning strategy and through its close working partnership with Hartlepool College of Further Education, regularly looks to bring fresh new talent into the business.

The current tranche of maintenance apprentices are Jonny Davison, Jack Fallow and Stephen Smailes, with the later joining the company in February.

Jonny Davison, from Seaton Carew, spent time on work experience with the Oakesway Trading Estate employer before being offered a position on a Level 4 mechatronic engineering apprenticeship. The 20-year-old recently completed the qualification and is now undertaking a NVQ Level 2 in electrical and mechanical engineering, after which he will complete a year of on-the-job training to learn all the skills needed to secure a permanent position with the company.

Jonny said: “I am really enjoying my job. I love getting up every day and feel like I am learning so many different things. I am determined to do well and take the chances that come my way.”

Jack Fallow, 19, from Castle Eden is halfway through his four-year apprenticeship after which he will undertake a HNC qualification to equip him with the educational skills he needs to secure a future with TMD Friction.

He said: “I have been given a great opportunity with TMD and I am working so hard to prove myself. It’s a great company to work for and I feel everyone has really supported me during my apprenticeship.”

Stephen is the newest of the three to join the maintenance team. He was studying at Hartlepool College when they put him forward for a Level 3 engineering apprenticeship, which he started in February.

The 19-year-old, who lives in Hartlepool said: “I still feel very new to the business, so I am constantly learning and know there is so much to take on board. I love it though and really like the people I work with, who have helped me settle in so quickly.”

TMD Friction, which manufactures brake pads for 95 per cent of the models of Europe’s aftermarket, including emergency services vehicles and many of the major distribution small trucks and vans, moved to its current base on Oakesway Trading Estate in 1998.

The past 15 months have seen 52 new products introduced at Hartlepool and two new flagship customers added to TMD Friction’s portfolio of automotive manufacturers.

The company’s other UK sites in Elvington, Warrington and Cleckheaton have also benefited from investment to support operations at Hartlepool.

Jenny Wright, UK HR Manager at TMD Friction, said: “Attracting a mix of young talent and experienced personnel are absolutely critical to our long-terms plans for growth.

“We are delighted with the progress that Jack, Jonny and Stephen are making with us. I am certain they will prove themselves during their apprenticeships and training periods and there is no reason why they cannot go on to secure permanent positions with the company.”

TMD Friction employs a number of apprentices across the business.