Aspiring chefs to step up to the plate with launch of new NI Chef Academy


Aspiring chefs to step up to the plate with launch of new NI Chef Academy

NI Hospitality School extends partnership with three of the region’s top hotels to facilitate new training academy with guaranteed employment for six newly qualified chefs


Aspiring chefs are being called to step up to the plate and enroll on a brand-new training course, launched today by the Northern Ireland Hospitality School, offering students the chance to gain a chef qualification and secure guaranteed employment with one of Northern Ireland’s top hotels.

The brand-new Chef Academy will see six successful candidates selected to undertake a year-long scholarship delivered through on-the-job training at one of Northern Ireland’s top hotels; Adair Arms Hotel, Galgorm Resort or Tullyglass House Hotel, where they will ultimately secure guaranteed employment.

Successful candidates will gain a nationally recognised qualification (FDQ Level 2 Diploma in Professional Chef – Northern Ireland), delivered by training partner South Eastern Regional College (SERC).  The course involves not just classroom learning, but on the job training with our highly skilled kitchen brigade as well as unique experiences with our local food producers.

Representing an investment in year one of nearly £250,000 the new academy aims to recruit six locally based chef apprentices for its first intake in September, with applications now open.

The announcement follows the launch of the Northern Ireland Hospitality School last April, part funded by Ballymena-based charity The Gallaher Trust. To date, the school has already supported 24 students in gaining full-time employment with partnering hotels through its dedicated Bar Academy.

The launch of its new Chef Academy is the latest development in the school’s ambitious plans to support the hospitality sector locally and provide a pathway to employment for those seeking a career in the industry. Each year, the NI Hospitality School aims to facilitate employment for six chefs and 24 bartenders in a £685,000 annual investment, providing a significant boost to local employment.


Lauren McAteer from The Gallaher Trust said:

“Since the NI Hospitality School was launched last year, we’ve been delighted to see the response from young people keen to get a foot on the hospitality ladder, as well as from those looking to make the move to a new career within the hospitality sector.

We’re very pleased that the school offers students a dedicated education centre which is focused on providing first-class training and development; as well as real-world experience of a busy kitchen environment and learning from the very best across three of Northern Ireland’s top hotels. For us, the fact that the school facilitates employment for all of the graduates is the ultimate goal and one that makes these courses so attractive to students.

The Gallaher Trust is delighted to continue our partnership with the Northern Ireland Hospitality School and looks forward to welcoming a new batch of qualified chefs, particularly at a time when the hospitality industry is facing recruitment challenges. This will no doubt add great value to Galgorm, Adair Arms Hotel and Tullyglass House Hotel.

The launch of the new Chef Academy complements the School’s dedicated Bar Academy and further underscores their commitment to firmly establish the NI Hospitality School as a centre for excellence. Well done to all those involved.”


Thomas Turley, South Eastern Regional College Lecturer in Hospitality and Catering, said:

“I’m delighted to work with the Northern Ireland Hospitality School to launch a brand-new Chef Academy dedicated to nurturing a new generation of culinary talent.

The new course is an ideal opportunity for anyone interested in becoming a chef to gain experience in a busy kitchen working under the supervision of passionate chefs at the top of their game, all whilst gaining a nationally recognised fully-funded qualification and securing guaranteed employment at the end of the 12-month programme.

Apprentices can enjoy a competitive benefits package including an attractive hourly rate above the recommended National Living Wage and receive a mix of on and off-the-job training with ongoing mentorship support. The blended learning approach also includes off-site training, with chef apprentices offered the opportunity to learn about sourcing, meeting some of the region’s top food suppliers and even getting to cook alongside a leading chef for a high profile dinner event.

The quality of the programme is second to none and offers aspiring chefs a real foot in the door to a fantastic new career alongside top employers. With no formal entry requirements, the course is accessible to everyone that can demonstrate a passion for cooking and a real drive to build their career as a chef. With just six coveted places up for grabs, I would encourage anyone interested to step up to the plate and apply today.”


Applications close on 29th August 2022, with successful candidates enrolled from mid-September.

For more information, or to apply, please visit

Leading international choir festival scales up with launch of global Virtual Choral Trail


Leading international choir festival scales up with launch of global Virtual Choral Trail

City of Derry International Choir Festival gets warmed up for 20 October launch with call for choirs around the world to join its showstopping virtual choral event

Ahead of its launch on 20 October, the City of Derry International Choir Festival (CoDICF) in Northern Ireland is calling out to local, national and international choirs to join its 2021 Virtual Choral Trail and secure their spot in the Festival’s unrivalled event line-up.

CoDICF is one of the leading choir festivals globally and the only event of its kind in the United Kingdom. Introduced in 2020, the Virtual Choral Trail was part of the hugely successful entirely digital programme of musical and choral events at the festival, featuring 40 choirs from 12 countries over six continents.

Choirs interested in taking part in this year’s CoDICF Virtual Choral Trail should submit a video of their best performance of 3-5 minutes in length by 30 September through the Festival’s website –

Galgorm Collection acquires historic hotel The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn


Galgorm Collection has confirmed the purchase of the historic, four-star luxury hotel The Old Inn in a multi-million-pound deal.

The investment by Galgorm Collection, which owns the world-renowned Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort and a number of other properties across Belfast and Antrim, includes £1 million in further development and extension plans to the property.

The company has also confirmed that all existing team members will be retained across the North Down property which is currently preparing to safely reopen its doors as soon as hospitality restrictions are lifted.

Colin Johnston, Galgorm Collection Managing Director, said:

“Galgorm Collection is committed to cementing the region’s reputation as a world-class tourism destination through our property portfolio. The Old Inn is one of the region’s most historic and appealing hotels, located in a unique and charming location which makes it a perfect fit for Galgorm.”

With a history dating back to 1614 and links to the world-famous local author C.S. Lewis, the iconic thatched-roof property has become one of the country’s top hotels, having received the prestigious accolade of AA Hotel of the Year in 2017/18 after a series of enhancements and extensions.

Occupying a prominent 1.5-acre site in the heart of Crawfordsburn village, the property is located adjacent to Crawfordsburn Country Park, offering a tranquil escape just 20 minutes from Belfast.

The hotel boasts 33 individually styled bedrooms, two wedding suites, and the 78-seater Lewis restaurant. As part of its investment, Galgorm Collection plans to develop the property to the rear of the site.

“With an initial strategic investment of £1 million, we are planning to build upon the hotel’s award-winning credentials and extend the site to incorporate a boutique spa with infinity pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, private cabanas and relax space. 

“We’re thrilled to add The Old Inn and its fantastic team to our collection and take this iconic property forward into a new era for tourism and hospitality. We are confident we will be in a position to reopen the restaurant and bar mid-to-late May, based on the easing of Government restrictions. Reservations for future stays can be made from 19th April and we look forward to safely welcoming guests back to enjoy a fantastic stay”, added Colin.

As well as supporting its world-class leisure proposition, the latest move by Galgorm represents a further strategic investment of the group’s hospitality assets, but also reinforces the company’s ongoing commitment to the tourism industry and Northern Ireland as a whole.

The acquisition of The Old Inn adds to the group’s already impressive suite of hospitality assets, which includes the award-winning Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, the 3AA Rosette River Room Restaurant, Gillies Bar & Grill Restaurant and Fratelli’s. The group also operates Castle Kitchen & Bar at Galgorm Castle Golf Club in Ballymena.

In Belfast, it also operates restaurants Fratelli’s on Great Victoria Street and Café Parisien, offering a French brasserie-style menu in the iconic Robinson & Cleaver building overlooking City Hall on Donegall Square.

Last year, the group confirmed the purchase and refurbishment of its latest hospitality venture, The Rabbit, located in Templepatrick at the site of the former Templeton Hotel, which is due to open on Friday 18 June 2021.

For more information please visit or to book visit

New hospitality training school launches offering guaranteed employment with three of Northern Ireland’s top hotels


The Gallaher Trust has announced the launch of the Northern Ireland Hospitality School offering enrollers the chance to gain a hospitality qualification and secure guaranteed employment with one of Northern Ireland’s top hotels.

Over the next three years, The Gallaher Trust will invest almost £260,000 in supporting the Northern Ireland Hospitality School, a brand new educational centre focused on providing hospitality training and a pathway to employment for those seeking a career in the industry.

Backed by City & Guilds, the school will offer a six-week Level 2 Award in Professional Bartending (Cocktails) course delivered in partnership with the Northern Regional College.

Upon successful completion of the course, newly qualified bartenders will be guaranteed employment at one of Northern Ireland’s top hotels; Adair Arms Hotel, Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort or Tullyglass House Hotel. With an estimated 72 jobs available over the next three years, the hospitality partnership represents a combined investment of more than £1.3 million into local employment.

Ian Paisley MP, Chair of The Gallaher Trust, said:

“I’m delighted to launch the Northern Ireland Hospitality School and confirm a significant jobs boost for the local area today. The Gallaher Trust is an independent charity committed to promoting job creation and skills development and providing support for disadvantaged adults in the Ballymena community.

The idea for the Northern Ireland Hospitality School came from a group of passionate industry professionals who wanted to fill a gap in the market for people looking to change or start their career in hospitality and, after years of planning, it’s fantastic to see the school open and ready for its first intake of enrollers.

For us, facilitating a pathway to employment is key to the school’s success and we’re thrilled to be working with three of Northern Ireland’s leading hoteliers to provide guaranteed jobs alongside first class skills training with education and delivery partner Northern Regional College all of which will meet the tenets of the Trust.”

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has also given some support and their Chief Executive,

Anne Donaghy added:

“After a challenging year for the sector, and for those employed in the hospitality industry, today’s announcement is a positive step forward in working towards recovery and generating new career opportunities. It’s also a fantastic boost for the local economy and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to supporting education and employment.”

Ashley Douglas, Northern Regional College Lecturer, said:

“We’re thrilled to partner with the newly established Northern Ireland Hospitality School and deliver a fantastic new training programme for those keen to pursue a career in hospitality. The new City & Guilds course offers a real mix of training, from basic bartending to the art of mixology, sales techniques and finance training to personal development.

We’re also excited to welcome the first intake of 12 enrollers in May, with a view to placing successful candidates into employment by late June. With no formal entry requirements, the course is accessible to everyone that can demonstrate a passion for delivering excellence and offers a fantastic opportunity for those interested in a career in hospitality to get a first foot on the ladder with a top Northern Ireland employer.

With further course intakes planned for late 2021 and into 2022, I would encourage anyone interested in applying for the course to visit for more information.”

Lidl announced as first retailer to become JAM Card friendly in support of vulnerable customers


Lidl Northern Ireland, together with the NOW Group, has announced it will be the first retailer to become Just A Minute (JAM) Card friendly across its network of stores in the island of Ireland over the coming weeks. Lidl has also committed to sponsoring 6,000 JAM Cards which contributes towards keeping the cards free and accessible to those who need them.

The announcement comes ahead of World Autism Day on Friday 2 April and is the latest move by the retailer in demonstrating its commitment to vulnerable customers and supports further in-store initiatives dedicated to meeting their needs.

Earlier this year, Lidl completed a needs assessment by reaching out to autism charities in Ireland and discovered that more than 85% of respondents felt a form of voluntary identification would be beneficial at times when more vulnerable customers need ‘Just A Minute’ to relieve stress levels while shopping. In response to this, Lidl has been working closely with the NOW Group which supports people with learning difficulties and autism. The organisation developed the JAM Card with its service users designed to allow users additional time and patience when in people facing environments such as supermarkets. Over the coming weeks, Lidl Northern Ireland is rolling out detailed JAM Card training and tools to employees in their 41 stores nationwide with hopes that the new initiative will help to support customers with learning difficulties, autism, or communication barriers.

JAM Card was originally developed for those with learning disabilities and difficulties. However, it can be used by anyone with a communication barrier including people with Asperger’s or autism. It can also be used by those who have a brain injury and people who may feel self-conscious about their ability to effectively communicate when engaging with others.

Angela Connan, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Lidl Northern Ireland commented on the news:

“We’re delighted to be the first retailer in Northern Ireland to become JAM Card friendly across all 41 stores. This initiative is another positive step in our journey to becoming a more accessible retailer for everyone and a great example of how we actively listen to our customers’ feedback and make tangible actions.

“By becoming JAM Card friendly, we’re furthering our commitment to providing excellent customer care and, alongside our existing in-store initiatives such as dedicated weekly autism evenings, we’re helping support vulnerable customers even further. We hope that all of our customers will feel even more comfortable while shopping in stores, with the assurance that our employees will understand and give those who need some extra time, ‘Just a Minute’.”

Maeve Monaghan, Chief Executive of NOW Group who is behind the JAM Card scheme, said:

We are so pleased that Lidl has partnered with NOW Group to become JAM Card friendly and recognise the value of investing in training their staff to provide great customer service for people with both visible and hidden disabilities. 

“It may be ‘Just A Minute’ but that extra time and understanding can really support and comfort those with communications barriers, helping to give them equal access to the services they need every day, like shopping.

“Our participants developed the JAM Card so to see the scale of staff training and promotion to Lidl shoppers across Northern Ireland is a great boost to them. It is proof that they came up with a truly innovative idea and that JAM Card training is a great way to improve customer service for all businesses.”

NOW Group Ambassador, Ciarán Delaney, has tirelessly promoted the JAM Card across the island of Ireland and is a leading advocate for the rights of disabled people.

The JAM Card supports and encourages independence for those with a range of disabilities.  I am thrilled that Lidl Northern Ireland has become JAM Card friendly; it means their customers can shop with confidence knowing that staff will discreetly acknowledge that some shoppers might just need a bit more time”, he said.

The JAM Card is available free of charge to anyone who needs it. For more information, please visit

Galgorm Collection set to open The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat this summer


Galgorm Collection has announced the opening of Northern Ireland’s newest luxury hotel in an investment worth £10 million that will create an additional 26 hospitality jobs, taking its total workforce to almost 100 team members, and provide an exciting welcome break for visitors from this summer.

The 33-bedroom boutique hotel and spa – The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat – will open on 18 June and follows the purchase and dramatic transformation of the former Templeton Hotel in Templepatrick, a picturesque Co Antrim village located only 20 minutes from Belfast and 10 minutes from Belfast International Airport.

The property was acquired by Galgorm Collection in 2018 and now offers stylish accommodation, a luxury outdoor spa and lakeside walk, an onsite bar and restaurant and an exclusive-use events space for weddings and conferences.

Galgorm Collection Managing Director, Colin Johnston, said:

“After more than 18 months of extensive redevelopment and a challenging year for the hospitality industry we’re thrilled to throw open our doors and welcome guests to enjoy this unmatched new experience.

Not only does this represent a significant investment in the local economy and cements our longstanding commitment to support and grow our tourism industry, but it comes with 26 new hospitality roles which we are currently recruiting for.”

Extensive refurbishment work has been undertaken to upgrade the hotel’s 33 guestrooms which come equipped with all the latest mod cons.

Additionally, a £2 million outdoor spa area offers guests a lakeside tranquil space for relaxation, with unique attractions including Swedish saunas, aromatherapy steam room, halotherapy salt chamber and Roman inspired baths and hot tubs. Exclusive to The Rabbit is a lakeside beach complete with heated sand, a Lake Bar, sunken lounge and plush cabanas for a laid back, luxurious experience.

The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat will safely welcome its first guests from Friday 18th June 2021 and stays can be booked online at

“We’re all about good times at The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat and guests can expect a truly unique experience; from relaxing on our brand-new heated beach with lakeside views, the only attraction of its kind in the island of Ireland, to enjoying a personal cocktail turndown service from the comfort of our stylish rooms.

With full safety measures in place and a fresh new offering, The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat is the perfect place for reuniting with loved ones and enjoying memorable new experiences and we look forward to welcoming guests this summer,” said Colin Johnston.

Following an extensive £2.5 million refurbishment, The Rabbit Restaurant and Hunter’s Bar first opened to diners in July 2020, seating up to 180 guests and boasting a large outdoor terrace for al fresco dining. Internally, the restaurant is home to an extensive wine cellar featuring the finest labels from around the world, whilst a showstopping bar adorned in glistening bronze takes centre stage along with its extensive cocktail menu.

In addition to the accommodation, spa and bar and restaurant offering, The Rabbit Hotel & Retreat has also opened the doors to its brand-new banqueting suite and wedding venue The Loft, offering unabridged luxury in a magical setting.

With high vaulted ceilings, chandeliers adorned with foliage, marble dining tables, dramatic fireplaces and a stunning romantic lake view from the spacious outdoor terrace, the fairy-tale setting is the ideal backdrop for a picture-perfect wedding day. Operating a one wedding a day policy, The Loft is available for up to 140 guests.

Galgorm is renowned for creating world-class hospitality experiences throughout their award-winning properties in Northern Ireland. Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort has received numerous awards and accolades for their stellar service and offering, including receiving the Four AA Red Star Award for excellence in quality and hospitality last year, as well as previously holding the coveted title of Global Luxury Spa Hotel of the Year.

For more information visit

Lookers Completes Senior Management Appointments


Lookers plc has confirmed the appointment of Chris Whitaker to the role of Chief People Officer, effective immediately, completing a series of Senior Management appointments.

One of the UK and Ireland’s leading motor retail and aftersales service groups, Lookers plc said this key appointment marks a new and important milestone in the company’s plans for new growth and development.

An accomplished Group HR director with almost 30 years’ experience, Chris joined Lookers in August 2020 and has been acting as Interim HR director since October. Chris will now lead the company’s HR and internal communications operations in his new role as Chief People Officer.

Lookers’ Executive Committee now comprises Chief Executive Mark Raban, Chief Operating Officer Duncan McPhee, Chief Financial Officer Anna Bielby, Chief Information Officer Andy Garrett, Chief Risk Officer Marcus Kenny and Company Secretary Phil Kenny.

Mark Raban, Chief Executive Officer, welcomed the appointment:

“I’m delighted to announce the appointment of Chris Whitaker to the role of Chief People Officer, further consolidating our senior management team and providing a strong base from which to drive new growth and development.

“Our people are our most valuable asset and I have every confidence that Chris will continue to harness the outstanding talent, skills and experience we seek to build further on this unrivalled core strength.

“With his fresh impetus, Chris has already made a fantastic contribution to the Group and he will bring invaluable experience to the role as we prepare to safely scale up our operations again when restrictions are eased. I am delighted that Chris is joining our Executive Committee and I look forward to working closely with him in the weeks and months ahead.”

A graduate of the University of Huddersfield, Chris is a forward thinking, strategically focused and pragmatic leader with proven expertise in attracting, retaining and developing talent.

Chief People Officer, Chris Whitaker, said:

“I’m thrilled to be joining the senior team at Lookers at an important, exciting time in the company’s development and I look forward to assisting in delivering a new, shared growth right across our network. This appointment is a privilege, and I would like to thank my colleagues for their support as I embark on this new and focal role.”

Earlier this month, Lookers announced the appointment of Paul van der Burgh as a non-Executive Director from 1 April, joining the Board with non-Executive Chairman Phil White CBE and non-Executive Directors, Heather Jackson, Vicky Mitchell and Robin Churchouse.

Lookers represents 31 vehicle manufacturers, selling and servicing a wide range of new and used vehicles from a network of 160 dealerships in the UK and Ireland.

Lidl Northern Ireland & McCulla Launch Fully Green Transport Fleet


Lidl Northern Ireland has become the first retailer in the UK and Ireland to launch a fully green transport fleet powered by waste-to-energy generation, in partnership with leading local logistics company McCulla Transport.

The new fleet of eight bio-methane powered trucks marks the first significant business integration between the transport and retail sector in Northern Ireland and represents a major step forward for Northern Ireland in its move to slash carbon emissions.

In the coming weeks, using food waste collected from all 41 Lidl Northern Ireland stores, McCulla will start to create fully renewable bio-methane gas at its anaerobic digester (AD) plant in Lisburn to power a sustainable, next generation transport operation which then delivers produce to Lidl stores across Northern Ireland every day.

The new sustainable transport fleet will deliver improved efficiencies and reduce the retailer’s carbon emissions of these vehicles by up to 93%.

Conor Boyle, Regional Director of Lidl Northern Ireland said:

“This partnership with McCulla underlines our commitment to developing sustainable and innovative solutions which create real impact in every area of our business. From using renewable electricity to power our stores to advancing our Plastic Pledge and introducing numerous in-store initiatives to reduce waste, Lidl Northern Ireland is leading the way.

We’re thrilled to now be the first supermarket retailer to successfully integrate the first waste-to-energy sustainable transport model. McCulla’s fleet covers more than 2,300 road miles per day, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of fresh and chilled foods to more than 300,000 weekly customers across our regional store network. The introduction of this new ‘green fleet’ operating on fully renewable biomethane as its primary fuel source will save more than 93% in carbon emissions due per bio-methane truck.

We’re proud to work alongside McCulla to pave the way for the sector and for Northern Ireland in driving a cleaner, greener economy through responsible business practice.”

With more than 50 years’ experience in the haulage industry, McCulla is one of the leading providers of ambient, chilled and frozen logistics solutions throughout the UK and Ireland and has been working with Lidl Northern Ireland for the last 5 years. Remaining family-owned and operating from Lisburn and Dublin, McCulla employs 235 staff across a variety of roles, the most recent being employed to manage the company’s new customs clearance division.

Ashley McCulla, Chairman of McCulla, said:

“Since 2017 we have been producing all of our own electricity from an anaerobic digester (AD) plant at our site in Lisburn but our ultimate goal was always to use energy produced by the AD plant to power our logistics fleet as well. Working with Lidl Northern Ireland, we’ve delivered on that ambition and we’re honoured to be part of a real first for the industry, and for Northern Ireland.

For many retailers dedicated to decarbonisation, transport and logistics can be challenging. However, with our expertise and experience and dedicated partnership with Lidl Northern Ireland, this milestone initiative will deliver major environmental benefits for years to come.

Working with a likeminded and forward-thinking partner like Lidl Northern Ireland has been key in the successful delivery of this project. The circular economy nature of the partnership relies on both organisations being fully committed to integrating sustainable new business practices. After months/years of planning and preparation, we’re proud to see our new green fleet finally roll out across the region.”

Commenting on the announcement, Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said:

“I very much welcome the announcement by Lidl and McCulla Transport today which is another tangible step in Northern Ireland leadership in decarbonising our energy system, in this instance in the ground-breaking displacement of fossil fuel in our transport sector. It is also a concrete example of the circular economy in action, which is an important part of our green economic recovery.”  

Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Edwin Poots welcomed the announcement:

“I am absolutely delighted to see the introduction of Northern Ireland’s first green logistics fleet by one of our biggest supermarket retailers. Low emissions transport has been a long-term goal for many businesses and its widespread adoption is a key goal in helping us reach our goals for tackling climate change.

Today’s announcement demonstrates how industries can work together cohesively to deliver practical solutions for businesses, consumers and communities and I applaud McCulla and Lidl Northern Ireland for their work in realising this ambition. Achieving emissions reductions means we must work collectively, and I’m delighted to see responsible businesses stepping up to the challenge.  This is good for our climate, will create green jobs and will benefit our environment.”

The introduction of the new green transport fleet is the latest move by the retailer in delivering on its dedicated sustainability commitments as part of its overarching corporate social responsibility framework ‘A Better Tomorrow’.

In December 2020, Lidl Northern Ireland received Silver level CORE accreditation through Business in the Community – a prestigious accreditation in recognition of its commitment to doing business in a way that is better for employees, the planet and communities.

Lidl Northern Ireland was also announced as a climate champion and the retail sponsors of the Business in the Community Northern Ireland Climate Pledge. By signing this, Lidl Northern Ireland will be one of the first companies in Northern Ireland to commit to reporting GHG emissions, reviewing progress towards targets and implementing a strategy to meet sustainability targets.

The retailer was also awarded ‘Green Company of the Year’ at the 2019 Business Eye Awards, and has previously been awarded the coveted ‘Outstanding Achievement in Corporate Social Responsibility’ at the Chambers Ireland CSR Awards, retained the award for Excellence in Environment and won the Excellence in Community.

McCulla Ireland has also received a number of accolades in recent years, with recognition at five separate industry events for its commitment to environmental protection, including the prestigious 2019 Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Awards for Excellence.  Ashley McCulla has also been commended as Family Business Director of the Year at the Institute of Directors Awards and was a finalist in the 2019 EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition. The company also won the Entrepreneurial Spirit award at the Irish News Workplace & Employment Awards in 2019.

For more information on Lidl Northern Ireland’s commitment to sustainability visit

For more information on McCulla visit

Galgorm Collection launches recruitment drive for over 180 new hospitality jobs


Galgorm today announced the launch of a brand new recruitment drive to hire more than 180 additional new team members for a range of hospitality roles for its hotels and restaurants in Ballymena, Belfast and Templepatrick.

From chefs to bar tenders, spa therapists and managers, to facilities staff, housekeepers,  drivers and night porters, the company behind the world renowned Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort said the roles will help to meet anticipated demand when the hospitality sector reopens in the coming months.

Galgorm Collection said it is investing more than £5m in annual wages creating the new roles, which include both full and part time positions and forms part of its advanced preparations for the full and safe reopening of its properties.

Colin Johnston, Galgorm Collection Managing Director, said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to confirm more than 180 brand new jobs and to commence recruitment for a wide range of hospitality roles across our collection of properties. This new initiative will expand our team by an additional 25 per cent and bring our total workforce to 900 team members.

“Today’s announcement confirms our commitment to further developing our world-class hospitality provision and reaffirms our confidence in the sector’s recovery. We are currently working towards an April start date for our first new team members and we look forward to the Executive confirming a reopening date for hospitality and tourism sector so that we can begin onboarding our new recruits and facilitating a return to work as soon as possible.”

The announcement was welcomed by Economy Minister Diane Dodds:

“I warmly welcome the jobs announcement made by Galgorm Collection today and their commitment to recovery. This is positive news and represents a strong foot forward in Northern Ireland collectively forging a path to recovery. The hospitality industry has faced unprecedented challenges over the last 12 months and our focus now is on ensuring a safe and sustainable reopening of the sector when the time is right. Galgorm has continued to demonstrate strong leadership for the industry and this announcement will provide a beacon of light for the rebuilding of the sector.”

Tourism Northern Ireland Chief Executive John McGrillen also welcomed the news:

“The closure of the hospitality sector across Northern Ireland has been sorely felt and the full impact of this still remains to be seen. Today’s announcement will provide a much-needed

lifeline for many hospitality workers in an industry hard-hit by the pandemic and I hope this important announcement will help provide renewed confidence and momentum in working towards the sector’s recovery.”

The world-renowned and multi-award-winning Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, located in Ballymena, is set to hire an additional 94 team members across its accommodation, spa and restaurants. Recently named Best Spa Experience within the UK and Ireland at the Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2021 and crowned Resort Spa of the Year at the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2020, the new hires will bolster its 720-strong team and build upon its award-winning credentials.

In Belfast, 60 new team members will join Galgorm’s two city centre restaurants, the iconic Café Parisien located in the former Robinson & Cleaver building, offering unrivalled views of Belfast City hall, and family favourite Fratelli’s restaurant located in Great Victoria Street. The new roles include a mix of chefs, servers and food and beverage managers.

An additional 26 team members will be recruited to support the opening of Galgorm Collection’s newest venture, The Rabbit Hotel, located in Templepatrick. With a planned June opening, the new roles span across the hotel’s front of house and accommodation offering as well as roles within its brand new spa area and popular restaurant and bar.

For more information on the roles available and to apply, visit

Rainbow Communications embarks on new plan for growth with Radius


Leading Northern Ireland IT and telecoms solutions provider Rainbow Communications is on new path for renewed growth after being acquired by Sunday Times Top Track 100 company Radius Payment Solutions.

Rainbow, founded in 1998 by Eric Carson and Martin Hamill, and which has more than 10,000 customers across Britain and Ireland, is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest tech successes.

The acquisition by Radius Payment Solutions provides Belfast-based Rainbow Communications with a new and solid platform for growing its brand across the island of Ireland and an expansion of the range of innovative services on offer for a wider range of companies.

With Rainbow’s experienced and committed delivery team, it delivers and implements vital communications, including cloud computing, mobile networking and high tech telecoms services for many of the region’s Top 100 companies and SMEs of all sizes.

Rainbow Communications founder Eric Carson said:

“For more than two decades, Rainbow has been at the forefront of tech innovation, driving digital connectivity for businesses right across the region and beyond, making it easier to communicate, to do business better and to compete effectively.

“For 2021 and beyond, I’m also excited to be passing the reins to a invigorated team who will lead a new and successful period of growth for the company.”

The Rainbow Communications brand and delivery team remains intact following the acquisition.

Rainbow Communications’ Stuart Carson added:

“We are delighted that by working alongside our new Radius team and our own long-established staff, Rainbow’s future growth and ambition is secured with a company which has the same forward ambition and ethos as we have always had and we look forward to the benefits of such a compelling integration will bring for new and existing clients in the weeks and months ahead.”

Earlier this year, Rainbow was accredited as a global Microsoft Silver partner, putting it in the top five percent of companies in the world which holds the award. It followed a rigorous audit of its operations by Microsoft which determined its top ranking for providing the best solutions for its customers.

Its newly-acquired silver status puts Rainbow Communications ahead of its competition, demonstrating a specific, proven skill set to clients alongside high quality, consistent delivery. It also means its staff are now part of Microsoft’s global network and support hub, sharing resources, training, and best practice advice.

Ray Ferris, Managing Director, Telecoms, Radius Payment Solutions, said:

“The acquisition of Rainbow Communications gives us a greater platform to provide non-mobile services to our growing customer base in Ireland. Rainbow has an excellent reputation in the local market and compliments our growing mobile business to give customers more choice with their transition from legacy technology to cloud services.

We are really looking forward to working with the teams and integrating the business with our Radius Connect team in Belfast.”

Radius Payment Solutions features in the 2020 Sunday Times Top Track 100 list, which is sponsored by HSBC and Linklaters.

Having achieved a turnover of £2.6 billion last year, Radius ranked 24th in the list. This is the ninth consecutive year that Radius has received this accolade, which recognises the contribution to the economy made by Britain’s largest 100 private companies.