Spring Newsletter 2017

Hello everyone and welcome to our Spring 2017 issue of The Great British Broker. As I write, the sun is streaming through my office window and I’m looking at daffodils in the garden, so I feel confident in wishing you all a very happy spring. Well, we certainly have a very informative issue of our newsletter this time around which we hope will educate and advise, in addition to being an enjoyable read.

March has been quite a tumultuous month in the world of insurance and we have an interesting article about recent changes to ‘The Ogden Rate’. What does this mean to you? Please read on to find out. You can also learn about our latest charitable partnership, how landlords can obtain the emergency protection they need and find out which of the beautiful gardens in Kent to visit this spring! In our regular Employee feature we will be turning the Spotlight on Leon Price, our Commercial and Private Clients Manager.

We are also looking forward to another busy summer of classic vehicle shows and have already taken ‘Victor’ our little Austin A35 out for a drive around Sevenoaks! We will also be undertaking our very own classic vehicle show this year at the beautiful Kenward House, but more on that later! In the meantime, that just leaves us to wish you all a very happy Easter and a jolly warm and sunny spring!

As your insurance broker it is our job to ensure that you have the peace of mind knowing that your personal and business assets are well protected. One aspect of this is monitoring the latest insurance industry news and being aware of any changes that may affect you as a customer. As of 20th March it was announced that the Ogden discount rate has been reduced from 2.5% to -0.75%. What does this mean and will it have an impact on you as a customer? Click here to learn more.

At Invicta you always receive a pleasant, helpful and friendly service, but what do you know of the terrific people who make up the Invicta team? In this spot of our newsletter we will introduce you to one of the Invicta staff members who, on a daily basis, help to provide our customers with quality and courteous service. In this issue we say hello to Leon Price, our Commercial and Private Clients Manager.

Invicta staff have always felt passionately about supporting the local community and working with various charitable organisations in the area. It is with this sentiment that we are delighted to announce our decision to partner with Kent Charity of the Year Award 2017 winners Kenward Trust. For nearly 50 years the Kenward Trust have been providing primary stage residential rehabilitation and recovery services for men and women at various locations across Kent and East Sussex. Invicta have already begun helping the Trust by implementing donation initiatives and planning fundraising events. If you’d like to learn more, please read on.

Here at Invicta we are always looking for ways in which we can provide additional protection and peace of mind for our clients. We believe it is important to provide clients with the option of being able to enhance their cover. In this article we are delighted to unveil the details of a new, cost effective Home Emergency and Legal Assistance cover for Landlords.

There is no better time to visit the Garden of England than in spring when everything is bursting to life with vibrant colours. To make sure you don‘t miss out on some of the most beautiful gardens in Kent when they are blooming in all their glory, we have compiled a list of some of the finest examples for you with the help of Visit Kent. What could be more relaxing than strolling in the spring sunshine through Kent’s English country gardens?

Spring News Letter

Hello everyone and welcome to our Spring 2017 issue of The Great British Broker. As I write, the sun is streaming through my office window and I’m looking at daffodils in the garden, so I feel confident in wishing you all a very happy spring. Well, we certainly have a very informative issue of our newsletter this time around which we hope will educate and advise, in addition to being an enjoyable read.

March has been quite a tumultuous month in the world of insurance and we have an interesting article about recent changes to ‘The Ogden Rate’. What does this mean to you? Please read on to find out. You can also learn about our latest charitable partnership, how landlords can obtain the emergency protection they need and find out which of the beautiful gardens in Kent to visit this spring! In our regular Employee feature we will be turning the Spotlight on Leon Price, our Commercial and Private Clients Manager.

We are also looking forward to another busy summer of classic vehicle shows and have already taken ‘Victor’ our little Austin A35 out for a drive around Sevenoaks! We will also be undertaking our very own classic vehicle show this year at the beautiful Kenward House, but more on that later! In the meantime, that just leaves us to wish you all a very happy Easter and a jolly warm and sunny spring!

Why has my insurance gone up?

As your insurance broker it is our job to ensure that you have the peace of mind knowing that your personal and business assets are well protected. One aspect of this is monitoring the latest insurance industry news and being aware of any changes that may affect you as a customer. As of 20th March it was announced that the Ogden discount rate has been reduced from 2.5% to -0.75%. What does this mean and will it have an impact on you as a customer?

What is the Ogden rate? Well, the Ogden rate or the ‘personal injury rate’ is a system that is designed to calculate future losses in personal injury and fatal accident cases. When courts are assessing compensation awards and how much interest the money will earn when invested, they take into account this discount rate. The higher it is, the lower the initial lump sum. As you can see with a reduction from 2.5% to -0.75% initial lump sums to be paid out by insurers is going to increase significantly.

For example, the insurer Allianz has demonstrated that if a 30 year old man earning £25,000 a year was seriously injured and required nursing care for the rest of his life, the compensation awarded before the rate reduction would be £2,791,000. Following the reduction in the Ogden rate the compensation would now be calculated as £6,325,000!

As you can imagine this is going to have a major impact on insurance company profits. For example, Admiral are anticipating a hit of £185 million this coming year and Aviva are preparing for £385 million!

You are probably wondering how all of this will affect you? Well, the insurance companies are planning to pass on the additional expense to their customers. In other words: you.

Any insurance policy type that is affected by personal injury claims will see premiums increase. Therefore we can expect to see premium increases for motor, public liability, employers’ liability and motor-trade.

Industry analysts have warned that the average annual comprehensive motor premium will rise by up to £75 and young drivers could see increases up to £1,000.

Now is the time that people really need an independent insurance broker to help protect their interests. If you are reading this then you have already made that wise decision. When you receive your renewal documentation and note that there is an increase in your premium, this is most likely due to the reduction in the Ogden rate. However, we work with over 130 different agencies and you can be assured that we have worked diligently to review the markets of your behalf and have obtained the best possible premiums for and cover to meet your demands and needs.

Remember we are only a telephone call away, so if you have any additional questions or require further information about how these industry changes may impact your insurance then please feel free to give us a call on 01732 471950.

Employee of the month Leon

At Invicta you always receive a pleasant, helpful and friendly service, but what do you know of the terrific people who make up the Invicta team? In this spot of our newsletter we will introduce you to one of the Invicta staff members who, on a daily basis, help to provide our customers with quality and courteous service. In this issue we say hello to Leon Price, our Commercial and Private Clients Manager.

With 23 years experience in the industry, Leon has a wealth of insurance knowledge. He started his insurance career back in 1994 as an office junior / trainee personal lines broker in Gillingham, Kent. He was quickly bitten by the insurance bug and soon realised it would be the profession for him. Progressing through various roles, including Personal Lines Manager at Blackmore Heath in Sittingbourne, he soon found a passion for solving complicated insurance requirements and so decided to focus his attention on commercial and private clients. In 2008 he moved to Woodstock Insurance Brokers in Maidstone where his line manager was Steve Gamage (the now MD of Invicta). Steve and Leon soon forged a great friendship together and quickly realised they shared the same visions and goals in wanting to offer insurance with integrity to the people of Kent and beyond. Leon is Cert CII qualified and is currently studying for his diploma. Leon loves mentoring employees to help them pass their insurance exams.

Leon’s ethos is to provide expert advice in plain English and to go the extra mile for his clients by offering exceptional customer service. Leon is always seen sporting his now infamous cheeky smile and has built his hard working team from his own positive mould and is immensely proud of their achievements. The commercial and private client team’s role is to provide exemplary service to our customers ensuring their businesses and beautiful homes are protected against every eventuality.

Leon considers himself as being a good old fashioned family man. He is married to the lovely Donna, who Leon calls his rock, and they have been together for almost 20 years. They have three amazing children Jade (17), Kailey (12) and Riley (6) and cherish time spent together.

Leon is a very sociable animal and can often be found spending time in his local village hostelry enjoying a cold pint of Guinness with his large circle of friends. Whilst Leon is a petrol head and loves all forms of motor sport, his real passion lies with his beloved football team Arsenal. He is a fourth generation supporter and can usually be spotted in the North Bank of the Emirates stadium cheering for the red army! Having had the privilege to meet several Arsenal players over the years including Charlie George, Perry Groves and Laurent Koscielny, he still holds out hope of meeting his ultimate playing hero Thierry Henry.

Leon’s Favourites:

Favourite film: Leon the Professional

Favourite album: Kings of Leon – Only by the Night

Favourite TV Shows: Leon – animated French cartoon

Favourite Holiday Destination: Lyon

Favourite Book: My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

Favourite Drink: black liquidation with the froth on the top!

“Thank you for featuring me in spring’s Employee Spotlight! I am very proud of what we have achieved here at Invicta Insurance Services in such a relatively short time. We genuinely care about our customers and get immense pleasure when we are able to resolve a problem for them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my clients for their loyalty over the years and Steve for his vision and leadership and cannot wait for our next step.’

Supporting the Kenward Trust

Invicta staff have always felt passionately about supporting the local community and working with various charitable organisations in the area. It is with this sentiment that we are delighted to announce our decision to partner with Kent Charity of the Year Award 2017 winners Kenward Trust. For nearly 50 years the Kenward Trust have been providing primary stage residential rehabilitation and recovery services for men and women at various locations across Kent and East Sussex. Invicta have already begun helping the Trust by implementing donation initiatives and planning fundraising events.

Kenward Trust is a charity that has been helping people to transform their lives for nearly 50 years by addressing substance misuse and homelessness issues, bringing hope, help and support to both men and women.

Located at the beautiful Kenward House in the heart of the Kentish countryside, the Trust offers people the opportunity to change their lives and reach their full potential. They have grown and expanded across Kent and East Sussex and now have a national reputation for excellence in the field of drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation.

In addition to this work, Kenward Trust also run projects that offer practical support and resettlement assistance for ex-offenders and currently have a programme in development to provide support to military personnel suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Just a week ago we were excited to learn that Kenward Trust had won two awards at the Kent Charity Awards 2017, including the top prize of Kent Charity of the Year.

We believe that Kenward Trust and their staff, who work tirelessly in often very challenging situations day in and day out, deserve our support. The service that the Trust provides to the local community and the difference they make to so many people’s lives is incredible, which is why we are proud to be their partner.

We have already set up an insurance initiative that will see donations made to the Trust by Invicta every time a policy is taken up by a Trust employee, volunteer, family, friend or supporter.

On Monday 17th April (Easter Monday), between 10.30am and 3.30pm Kenward Trust are holding a free event which will include a farmers market, craft fair stalls and various countryside attractions. So please come along and enjoy a family friendly woodland walk or just relax with a coffee and slice of cake in the Sage & Time Café. Invicta will be there too, so please stop by and say hello!

For September we are organising a fundraising classic car event in the grounds of the stunning Kenward House which we hope will raise funds and increase awareness of the excellent work undertaken by the charity. So, please put also Classics at Kenward in your diaries for Sunday 17th September 2017.

If you would like to learn more about Kenward Trust and the work they do, please visit their website: www.kenwardtrust.org

 

Protecting landlords

Here at Invicta we are always looking for ways in which we can provide additional protection and peace of mind for our clients. We believe it is important to provide clients with the option of being able to enhance their cover. In this article we are delighted to unveil the details of a new, cost effective Home Emergency and Legal Assistance cover for Landlords.

Our Commercial team not only sell commercial insurance but they also listen to our clients. They want to learn more about their client’s business, their needs and requirements and how they may be of more assistance. Having spoken with many landlords it was quickly apparent that there was a need for a competitively priced Home Emergency policy that would give landlords broad cover in the event of an emergency at one of their properties.

We took up this challenge and have been working hard with our underwriting partners to produce a policy that would meet these needs.

We are delighted to inform all landlords that we can now offer the Landlords Home Emergency policy in addition to Landlords Legal Assistance Insurance.

Landlords Home Emergency Insurance

As a landlord, the one thing you dread is receiving a phone call in the early hours of the morning from a tenant saying there is water pouring through the ceiling or the electrics don’t work. Wouldn’t it be so much less stressful to know that there is a number that your tenant can call which will ensure that someone else deals with the emergency for you? This is the benefit of this policy.

In the event of an emergency, this policy will provide the insured (including tenants) with advice on how to immediately protect themselves and the property.

They will then arrange for an approved repairer to assess the situation and carry out emergency repairs up to a maximum limit of £500 per call out.

Emergency Situations covered include:

Plumbing and Drainage

  1. Plumbing and Drainage
  2. Complete Failure of the Domestic Electricity Supply
  3. Main Heating System
  4. Water Supply
  5. Emergency Gas Supply Pipe Cover
  6. Inoperable Toilet
  7. Security
  8. Roofing
  9. Alternative Accommodation
  10. Pest Control
  11. Cooker / Oven

How much would this kind of peace of mind cost you? Just £65.00 per year.

Landlords Legal Expenses Insurance Policy

The expense, work and inconvenience of having to deal with the legal implications of squatters, property vandalism or chasing rent owed is something no landlord wants to deal with. This Landlords Legal expenses insurance policy has been designed for Residential Landlords who wish to cover themselves for the cost of the legal fees in the event of a breach of tenancy agreement.

Cover includes:

1. Pursuit

Solicitors will negotiate your legal rights with a policy limit of up to £50,000:

  • After an incident of physical damage to your property
  • In trying to get possession of your property that you have let under a Tenancy Agreement.
  • To evict anyone (including squatters) in your property who has not got your permission to be there
  • To recover any rent your tenant owes for your property

2. Defence

Solicitors will defend your legal rights if an incident arises from the letting of your property leads to you being prosecuted in a criminal court. Policy limit up to £50,000

3. Hotel Expenses

The policy will pay up to £50 per day up to the limit of cover for hotel expenses whilst you try to get a possession order for your property so that you can live in it. Policy limit up to £1500.

How much would this kind of peace of mind cost you? Just £40 per year.

If you would like to learn more about these policies and how you can enjoy their benefits then please call a member of our commercial team on 01732 471965.

Spring in Kent

There is no better time to visit the Garden of England than in spring when everything is bursting to life with vibrant colours. To make sure you don‘t miss out on some of the most beautiful gardens in Kent when they are blooming in all their glory, we have compiled a list of some of the finest examples for you with the help of Visit Kent. What could be more relaxing than strolling in the spring sunshine through Kent’s English country gardens?

1. Hole Park Gardens

Often described as one of the best places to see bluebells in the country, Hole Park Gardens in Rolvenden, Kent, is also renowned for its 16 acres of private gardens still owned by descendants of the man who planted it in the 1920’s.

Visitors to Hole Park Gardens will enjoy the effect of a huge bulb planting programme which took place in 2015. 15,000 bulbs of various kinds have been planted to add to the large number already present. These include the very dark purple tulip ‘Queen of the Night’ which will make a striking new addition to the rose garden and long borders in May. Many narcissuses have also been added around aged trees on the lawns along with several choice Crocus’s, including ‘Pickwick’.

Owner, Edward Barham, has regularly introduced more varieties into the wild flower meadow. “We are expecting a very impressive display this year”, said Edward.

Group visitors to the gardens in late April and early May will be captivated by this spectacular display of bluebells, which can be seen in the gardens and woodland. Key to the enjoyment of the famous Bluebell woods is The Bluebell Barometer on Hole Park Garden’s website, which indicates the best time to see this exceptional natural display.

Formalised gardens combine with natural woodland (16 acres of gardens and 10 acres of woodland). The recently renovated sundial garden with its pretty mosaic path has been planted for a long flowering season and alliums are a striking new feature of the camellia walk.

Light lunches and delicious homemade teas are available in the coach house and a plant stall will also be open throughout spring.

Hole Park Gardens, Rolvenden TN17 4JB

2. Goodnestone Park Gardens

Goodnestone Park Gardens is a peaceful and romantic garden with connections to Jane Austen.

It has been described by various writers as ‘the very heart of rural England’, ‘one of the loveliest gardens in Kent’ and ‘a haven of beautiful tranquillity hidden away in South East Kent’.

Goodnestone, Nr Wingham, Canterbury, CT3 1PL

3. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, near Sevenoaks, Kent is an historic listed hillside garden that the whole family will enjoy.

The gardens are renowned for carpets of bluebells in the woodland in early spring, and a spectacular array of rhododendrons and azaleas in late spring, as well as magnificent views to the Weald of Kent and rare and ancient trees.

The gardens capture children’s sense of adventure and exploration, with den building in the woods, the adventure playground and finding their way through the hedge maze, and of course there’s the Riverhill Yeti who can sometimes be spotted hiding in our woods much to the delight of the whole family!

After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the gardens, there is the Riverhill Cafe & Shop, where you can enjoy a light meal or afternoon tea.

Riverhill, Sevenoaks TN15 0RR

4. Leeds Castle

The Loveliest Castle in the World.

Rising majestically from the still waters of its moat, surrounded by 500 acres of parkland and gardens, Leeds Castle is without a doubt one of the most beautiful venues in Kent. Coined ‘The Loveliest Castle in the World’, it is the perfect place for a great day out with the family.

Leeds Castle has always been a palace to entertain and impress, with every generation leaving its mark. Today’s interiors are the result of the massive refurbishment by top European designers throughout the 1920s and 30s for its last private owner, Lady Baillie.

Whether you’re passionate about porcelain or want to walk the beautiful grounds, each year brings a new daily programme of activities and events.

Maidstone, ME17 1PL

5. Hever Castle & Gardens

The Childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Be inspired to come and visit this thirteenth century romantic castle – once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Set in magnificent gardens from the majestic formal Italian Garden and topiary, to the informal meanderings of the lakeside and Sunday Walk. The Water Maze on Sixteen Acre Island and the Yew Maze challenges both adults and children alike!

The warm and welcoming atmosphere of Hever Castle and Gardens will give you a day to remember.

Hever, Edenbridge TN8 7NG

6. Penshurst Place & Gardens

Described as ‘the grandest and most perfectly preserved example of a fortified manor house in all England’, the Sidney family home of Penshurst Place has been the place for poetic inspiration and lavish Royal hospitality for over 650 years.

The house at Penshurst showcases a marvellous mix of paintings, tapestries and furniture from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, with a unique medieval Baron’s Hall and decadent staterooms on show.

The jewel in the crown is the 11 acres of Elizabethan walled gardens; stunning displays divided by a mile of yew hedges into ‘rooms’; each garden is planted to give a succession of colour as the seasons change.

There is fun for all the family with events, activities and workshops throughout the season, including a toy museum, adventure playground and woodland trails.

Penshurst, Tonbridge, Kent TN11 8DG

7. Brogdale Collections

The National Fruit Collection is the World’s largest collection of fruit trees and plants.

This Kent tourist attraction offers a unique family day out in Kent and also an opportunity for education, exercising both the mind and the taste buds!

For the ideal day out in Kent explore Brogdale’s Fruit Orchards full of fruit trees including apples, pears, plums, cherries, cobnuts, strawberries and quinces.

Experience demonstrations, tastings and fruit displays during the Fruit Festivals.

Tour Guides will entertain you with the historical background to the fruit varieties in season and offer tastings while you explore.

Brogdale Farm, Faversham ME13 8XZ

8. Godinton House & Gardens

Godinton House is a delightful Jacobean house. Wonderful carving, furniture, porcelain and contrasting decoration reflect a fascinating history. Set in 12 acres of beautiful gardens and surrounded by tranquil parkland. Homemade teas and plant sales available all season.

Please note: there is only partial access for disabled visitors to the gardens and house.

Godinton Lane, Ashford TN23 3BP

9. Great Comp Garden

Great Comp Garden is the delightfully quirky creation of the late Roderick and Joy Cameron who moved to the 17th Century Manor in 1957 with the idea of developing the garden into a plant man’s delight.

Roderick and Joy rolled up their sleeves and created an eccentric hideaway in Platt, complete with an Italian Garden, ruins to explore and a garden which now boasts one of the best displays of Magnolias, Azaleas, Salvias, Crocosmias, Dahlias and other exotic plants in the region.

The year begins with Snowflakes & Hellebores, followed by Magnolias, Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Summer brings a wealth of colourful, rare and exotic shrubs and perennials, especially Salvias; these unusual and long flowering plants are particularly well represented at Great Comp with their display extending between May & October.

The Old Dairy Tearooms are open on site every day and provide mouth-watering home-made cakes in a charming setting.

Comp Lane, Platt, Sevenoaks TN15 8QS

10. The Secret Gardens of Sandwich

The Secret Gardens of Sandwich, which is encircled by the old stone city walls, is an oasis of serenity waiting to be explored.

At the heart of this stunning Kent attraction stands the Grade I-listed manor house, The Salutation, which was designed by famous English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens also devised the three-and-a-half acres of ornamental gardens with the help of Gertrude Jekyll. After lying neglected for 25 years.

The Secret Gardens has undergone a remarkable transformation in the last four years thanks to the dedication of the owners and their determined team. Now restored to its original beauty, The Secret Gardens really is one of the finest gardens in Kent today.

Knightrider Street, Sandwich CT13 9EW

Invicta Insurance Services announces latest Kent acquisition

PRESS RELEASE

On 1st April 2017, Invicta Insurance Services will acquire the entire general insurance portfolio of Priory Insurance Brokers, a nearby independent insurance broker based in Gillingham, Kent.

“This acquisition comprises high quality property and commercial insurance risks with much of the business being local. The type and location of these policies closely reflects our target markets.” said Steve Gamage, Managing Director of Invicta Insurance Services. “This will be the first of several acquisitions we intend to make this year in support of our aggressive growth plans.”

Ken Wilson, Director of Priory Insurance Brokers, said “We chose Invicta because they represented the best home for our loyal customers. I am impressed with their standards of service and I’m confident that they will go the extra mile for my customers.”

Steve Gamage, Managing Director of Invicta Insurance Services, added “We remain keen to acquire further quality portfolios from other brokers or IFAs interested in selling some or all of their business discreetly, swiftly and at a fair price.”

Winter Newsletter 2016

Hello everyone and welcome to our Winter 2016 issue of The Great British Broker.

It is hard to believe that winter is upon us once more but listening to my neighbour scrapping the ice off his car windscreen has certainly brought it home! However, with the ice and cold comes the season to be jolly!

Here at Invicta we have enormous respect for the people who own or work in care homes throughout the UK. Ensuring that senior members of society enjoy a full, rich and dignified life is so important, especially today as we see an ever increasing older population. The Care Sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, so why are so many insurance companies pulling out of this market? We don’t think that’s fair so have decided to step in and help.

At Invicta you always receive pleasant, helpful and friendly service but what do you know of the terrific people who make up the Invicta team? In this spot of our newsletter we will introduce you to members of the Invicta staff who help to provide our customers with quality and courteous service on a daily basis. As this is the festive issue of our newsletter we have decided to feature our three talented apprentice Customer Service Advisors Jess, Jaide and Jessica!

Christmas is a time of celebration and relaxation for most, but it can bring extra challenges for owners of small businesses. From supplier closures to staff holidays, the festive season can put extra pressure on SMEs, resulting in many having to forgo their celebrations. With decision -makers facing a number of extra challenges, we’ve put together some top tips for our business customers, which could help to ease pressure and allow them some respite during the festive season.

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun, so we have put together a list of 10 festive celebrations taking place in Kent this year!

Visitors to the Garden of England will be spoiled for choice when it comes to fun-filled days out, irresistible shopping opportunities, places to party and stunning winter scenery. Residents will be amazed at just how much there is to see and do right on their doorstep – from Christmas markets and sparkling castles, to ice skating and a festive train journeys!

Being British we do like to talk about the weather and we certainly seem to be getting all the extremes lately! In the winters of the past, snow was always a major concern when driving but today rain and flooding seem to be the biggest worry. As we saw from Storm Angus a few weeks ago, things can certainly get wet pretty quickly at this time of year and it may not be too long before you find yourself sitting in your car pondering the question: ‘Can I drive my car through that enormous puddle?’

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Winter Newsletter 2016 Intro

Hello everyone and welcome to our Winter 2016 issue of The Great British Broker.

It is hard to believe that winter is upon us once more but listening to my neighbour scrapping the ice off his car windscreen has certainly brought it home! However, with the ice and cold comes the season to be jolly!

Yes, it is once more the holiday season when we are treated to rosy faced carollers, mince pies, mulled wine, sparkling lights, cheerful Father Christmas and long days battling around the shops!

Here at Invicta this is one of our favourite times of the year. Each year we have a fun and festive holiday dinner, buy each other ridiculous Secret Santa gifts and wear silly Christmas jumpers to raise money for charity!

Between our festive celebrations and excellent customer service, we have still managed to put together what we think is a very interesting and entertaining newsletter for you. This quarter you will find out more about the three wonderful Personal Lines Apprentices and what they like most about Christmas. You can also find out where to go in Kent for a fun holiday experience and how Invicta have stepped up to provide quality insurance for the Care Industry. We have also included advice on surviving the holiday season as a small business owner and more tips to help you be safe on the winter roads.

That just leaves me to say thank you on behalf of everyone here at Invicta for your support and business in 2016 and we look forward to providing you with our trademark, quality broking services in 2017.

In the meantime, please let us wish you a very safe and happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Caring for the carers

Here at Invicta we have enormous respect for the people who own or work in care homes throughout the UK. Ensuring that senior members of society enjoy a full, rich and dignified life is so important, especially today as we see an ever increasing older population. The Care Sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK, so why are so many insurance companies pulling out of this market? We don’t think that’s fair so have decided to step in and help.

It has been well publicised recently that a lot of insurance companies have been pulling out of the care home market, which is difficult to understand as statistics show the Care industry to be one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the UK:

  • 1.5 million people employed in the care Sector in 2013 – expected to grow to 2.5 million by 2025
  • 11 million people aged over 65 in the UK – the first time in history
  • 23.2 million people aged over 50 in the UK – over a third of the population
  • Dementia is one of the main causes of disability in later life
  • 1 in 3 people in the UK will die from dementia
  • £23.3billion approximate cost of dementia to the UK per year
  • 25% of all hospital beds are occupied with older patients with dementia

At Invicta we think Care Home owners need and deserve to have the best possible insurance cover in place; cover that can be provided by a knowledgeable, professional and friendly team.

So for the past few months we have worked closely with top insurance underwriters to make this happen. We attended the National Care Awards in London which afforded us the opportunity to network with senior figures in the care industry and have also conducted our own care home market research to learn more of what care home owners expect and want from an insurance policy.

Jess Jaide and Jessica

At Invicta you always receive pleasant, helpful and friendly service but what do you know of the terrific people who make up the Invicta team? In this spot of our newsletter we will introduce you to members of the Invicta staff who help to provide our customers with quality and courteous service on a daily basis. As this is the festive issue of our newsletter we have decided to feature our three talented apprentice Customer Service Advisors Jess, Jaide and Jessica!

Here at Invicta, we believe that apprenticeships are a valuable way of developing new and exciting talent. Apprenticeships in insurance are work-based training programmes that are an excellent and cost-effective way of developing new staff.

We are extremely lucky to have three superb apprentices who are looking to obtain the necessary qualifications and experience to be insurance professionals and launch their careers with us here at Invicta.

As it is that festive time of the year we have decided to add a little seasonal spirit to our Employee Spotlight and find out what our apprentices enjoy most about Christmas!

JESS MILES:

Having gone to school at the local Knole Academy, Jess Miles started out in Business Administration but soon realised that she wanted a more specialist focus to her career. In May 2016, she joined the Personal Lines customer services team at Invicta to gain the experience and qualifications in her new chosen vocation of insurance. Since joining Invicta she has become a key member of the team and always enjoys a friendly chat with our customers.

Jess’ Seasonal Favourites:

Favourite part of Christmas: The Dinner!

Favourite Christmas Film: The Grinch

Favourite Christmas Song: Wonderful Christmas Time

What’s the most essential ingredient of Christmas dinner? Yorkshire Puddings

What do you want to find in your Christmas stocking? A Million Pounds please

Favourite Panto: Cinderella

Best Christmas Cracker Joke: Who is Santa’s Favourite Singer? Elf-is Presley!

Favourite Festive Drink: Baileys

JAIDE DOCHERTY:

Living in Orpington means that Jaide, of all our apprentices has the longest journey to work every day! However, she knows that to be a great insurance broker you need to gain the best experience and for that you have to join the best firm! Jaide attended The Priory School in Orpington and having spent time as an Accounts and Administration Assistant soon decided that insurance would be her chosen career path. In September this year Jaide joined Invicta and has quickly become a valuable asset to the Personal Lines team.

Jaide’s Seasonal Favourites:

Favourite part of Christmas: Food!

Favourite Christmas Film: Elf

Favourite Christmas Song: Santa Claus is Coming to Town

What’s the most essential ingredient of Christmas dinner? Pigs in Blankets & Gravy

What do you want to find in your Christmas stocking? Terry’s Chocolate Orange

Favourite Panto: Peter Pan

Best Christmas Cracker Joke: What do you get if you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite!

Favourite Festive Drink: Baileys

JESSICA ROPER:

Jessica turned her back on a career in retail as a senior sales assistant at a large branch of GAP to pursue a career in the insurance industry. Taking advantage of our apprenticeship scheme, Jessica was welcomed into the Invicta Personal Lines department in September this year. Bright and bubbly, Jessica has already become an important member of the Invicta team! In addition to offering a friendly service to Invicta customers her enthusiastic team spirit has seen us all dressed up in pink and eating homemade pink cupcakes in aid of Breast Cancer Research!

Jessica’s Seasonal Favourites:

Favourite part of Christmas: Opening Christmas presents

Favourite Christmas Film: Elf

Favourite Christmas Song: Driving Home for Christmas

What’s the most essential ingredient of Christmas dinner? Pigs in Blankets

What do you want to find in your Christmas stocking? A new car!

Favourite Panto: Peter Pan

Best Christmas Cracker Joke: Where does Santa go when he’s sick? To the elf centre!

Favourite Drink: Champagne!

SME Christmas tips

Christmas is a time of celebration and relaxation for most, but it can bring extra challenges for owners of small businesses. From supplier closures to staff holidays, the festive season can put extra pressure on SMEs, resulting in many having to forgo their celebrations. With decision -makers facing a number of extra challenges, we’ve put together some top tips for our business customers, which could help to ease pressure and allow them some respite during the festive season.

According to Zurich Insurance’s latest SME Risk Index, almost half (49%) of decision-makers say they have worked on Christmas Day, with a staggering one in five (18%) having actually gone into work. One in ten (9%) have missed their children’s nativity play due to work pressures, and 14% have not taken any annual leave at all this year.

So here are our top tips for our SME customers:

Managing staff

There are three public holidays over Christmas and New Year, and many staff will want to take additional leave around these. Staff sick days and winter weather can also contribute to absence due to an inability to make it into work.

Reduced staff may account for much of the extra pressure business owners feel during the festive period, making it especially important to manage staff numbers, workloads and tasks.

Most businesses will have annual leave policies that ensure enough people remain in work to keep the business functioning. It is also advisable to make an extra effort to ensure any important work is completed, especially if the office is closing for any period of time.

Cash flow issues

Christmas bonuses, overtime pay, and extra outgoings can all increase spending over the holiday season. With banks and other businesses also under-staffed or closing over the Christmas period, this can make it difficult to chase up payments from debtors, affecting cash flow and putting strain on a business’s balance sheet.

To reduce any risk of insolvency, SMEs may consider issuing invoices earlier in December than they typically would, altering standard payment terms temporarily, or even looking at short-term financing to smooth out any potential cash-flow issues.

Supplier delays and customer communication

For some SMEs, especially those in retail, Christmas may be the busiest time of year. However, while some businesses may be looking to capitalise on an upturn in demand, their suppliers could be winding down.

To make sure trading can continue at the intended pace, it is important to be aware of any supplier plans and stock up in advance.

Delivery companies will be especially busy, but it is crucial to ensure customer expectations are met for those sending products via post. Liaise with delivery companies and inform customers of the latest date that orders must be made in order to receive goods in time for Christmas.

Businesses should also make sure that advance warning is given of any office closures or reduced openings. As they say, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it and managing customer expectations is vital to avoid potential issues.

Making information prominent on a business website and sending a customer email are both recommended.

Protecting business premises

Winter weather can bring added risks for properties, including escape of water from frozen pipes and damage to roofs from weight of snow. If there is a limited staff presence over Christmas and New Year, problems can go undetected and cause additional damage.

Businesses should take appropriate action, such as draining outside taps and keeping central heating at an ambient temperature, to avoid incidents. If any staff are working at the business premises over the festive period, owners should make sure they are aware of what to do if a leak occurs, such as the location of the property’s stop cock to shut off the water.

Businesses should also be aware of the heightened risk of theft. Thieves will know that many businesses close over Christmas, giving them ample opportunity to break in. Security systems should be tested and it may be beneficial to put some lights on timers to simulate the presence of workers.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish all business owners a very happy, safe Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Christmas attractions in Kent

The countdown to Christmas has officially begun, so we have put together a list of 10 festive celebrations taking place in Kent this year!

Visitors to the Garden of England will be spoiled for choice when it comes to fun-filled days out, irresistible shopping opportunities, places to party and stunning winter scenery. Residents will be amazed at just how much there is to see and do right on their doorstep – from Christmas markets and sparkling castles, to ice skating and a festive train journeys!

1. The Christmas Market at Leeds Castle

Dates: 10th/11th – 17th/18th – 22nd/23rd December.

Leeds Castle hosts the annual Christmas Market on the Cedar Lawn overlooking the Castle. Discover an array of seasonal gift ideas, toys, decorations, food and drink. Visit the Leeds Castle reindeer and birds of prey in the animal area.

Enjoy the nostalgic fairground attractions, children’s rides and a daily programme of live musical entertainment at the band stand. The organ from the beautiful traditional horse carousel will add to the festive atmosphere and is a favourite with families. Leisurely trips will also be available on the big wheel, giving spectacular birds eye views of the Castle and Christmas market.

The Christmas Market is open 10am to 5pm and is included with the price of admission.

2. Canterbury Cathedral Service of Carols for Christmas

23rd and 24th December.

Two identical Public Carol Services held at the stunning and atmospheric Canterbury Cathedral to celebrate Christmas. Entry to the services is on a first come, first seated basis.

Service on the 23rd December starts at 19.30 with Doors opening at 18.00

Service on the 24th December starts at 15.00 with Doors opening at 13.30

3. Hever Castle – Once Upon A Castle

12th to 24th December (DAILY).

Children and adults all enjoy a great panto…oh yes they do! This Christmas Hever Castle celebrates the history of pantomime in Once Upon A Castle.

Walk through the rooms of the Castle, adorned with beautiful decorations and welcoming log fires and learn about the evolution of pantomime, from its origins through to the well-loved stories and characters that we know today.

Follow the snowy Christmas trail and discover the story of Jack and the Beanstalk as you wander through the illuminated gardens as dusk falls.

Pre-booked Father Christmas tickets still available but call now!

4. Dreamland Margate -The Frosted Fairground

10th December 2016 to Monday 2nd January 2017.

Dreamland transforms into a magical winter experience with The Frosted Fairground!

As well as the vintage rides there’s also lots of yuletide treats to behold across the amusement park each day it’s open.

Join Teddy and Betty on the Garden Stage for their Christmas show, enjoy the Pop-Up Panto or even enter the magical festive den and enjoy a Christmas tale told in the cosy comfort of The Secret Story Tent.

You might even be lucky (unlucky) to be serenaded by the flash carollers.

All this and more at The Frosted Fairground this Christmas. Yule be a fool to miss it!

5. Christmas Ice Skating in Tunbridge Wells

18th November 2016 to 2nd January 2017.

Set in the beautiful splendour of Calverley Grounds’ amphitheatre and bathed in twinkling festive lights, the Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink is back, bigger and better than ever.

The ice rink welcomes skaters of all ages and abilities and is perfect for a family day out, a romantic first date and a festive office party – or just a great fun night out with friends. Larger groups are also warmly welcomed.

Easily accessible by bus and National Rail, the rink is in the heart of Tunbridge Wells surrounded by an extensive offering of shops, bars and restaurants. For those wishing to watch friends and family enjoying themselves, the spectator’s area is back, adjacent to the rink and offers a range of drinks and food.

Tickets are on sale and can be purchased in person at Assembly Hall Theatre Box Office or online at www.tunbridgewellsatchristmas.com and by calling 01892 554645.

6. Owletts – A Christmas Carol Parlour Play

Shows take place on Saturdays and Sundays from 3rd to 18th December.

Lasting approximately one hour, Owletts tenant Bella Baker performs her one-woman show based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’.

Bella’s re-telling of the classic story will draw you into the world of Scrooge with audience members invited to assume characters (no acting experience or expertise required)… Will you be Scrooge, or perhaps Marley with his chains? How about the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present or Yet to Come?

It’s more than a story… During Victorian England, families and friends would join together and play parlour games, attempt jokes and impressions and sing songs. This parlour play is no exception so be prepared to enjoy a traditional time of traditional fun, for all ages.

£12 a ticket, including a seasonal drink and a homemade mince pie.

Please note that each performance is limited to 13 people.

7. Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway – Santa Specials

Trips are available throughout December.

For hundreds of families who return year on year, no Christmas would be complete without joining us for one of our famous Santa Specials. Included is a steam train ride to see Santa in his grotto, a visit to the Model Railway exhibition, festive nibbles and treats for all, plus the snow machine!

8. Ightham Mote – Christmas Magic at the Mote

Daily from 26th November 2016 to 1st January 2017 (closed 24th & 25th December), 11am to 3pm.

Wander through Yuletides of yesteryear in our 700-year-old moated manor decorated for Christmases past. Experience the true magic of Christmas with carols by candlelight then work off the festivities on our annual Boxing Day Ramble.

9. Bluewater – Ice Skating & The Grotto

Ice Skating

17th November 2016 to 2nd January 2017.

Our beautiful outdoor ice rink promises great skating for all. The ice rink is covered with a clear roof and twinkling lights so you can take to the ice no matter the weather.

This year our ice rink will be located in a brand new setting beside the lake outside the West Village with hot drinks and refreshments available from one of our alpine cabins and a dazzling, giant Christmas tree at the centre.

Look out for our photographer who will be taking to the ice to capture photos of your best moves!

Photos will be available for you to purchase from a log cabin beside the rink.

Perfect for beginners or experienced skaters and skating lessons will be available.

The Grotto

24th November until Christmas Eve.

Visit Father Christmas in his traditional toy workshop at Bluewater, located outside the West Village in a brand new log cabin grotto.

You’ll be greeted at the entrance by Bubbles the Elf who has told Santa all about your visit and can’t wait to take you to meet him. Bubbles will guide you through the workshop but along the way you need to help him look out for the missing keys to Santa’s door. You will have to go on a magical journey through the Toy Workshop to find Santa’s keys and our special guest, Paddington Bear!

Photo opportunities will be available with Santa and Paddington and can be purchased as you leave the Grotto. At the end of your visit each child will receive a luxury plush toy.

10. Sevenoaks – Sleeping Beauty Pantomime

December to 8th January 2017.

We can’t leave without mentioning that our local Stag Theatre here in Sevenoaks will be hosting a star-studded performance of Sleeping Beauty over the holiday season!

This year stars EastEnders’ Ricky Norwood alongside 90’s pop sister act Cleopatra, who will be reforming to play Sleeping Beauty’s pantomime fairies. Sevenoaks Panto regulars Jasette Amos, Peter Brad Leigh and Richard Tate also star in this fun, entertaining and positively hilarious pantomime adaptation of Sleeping Beauty!

Big Puddle

Being British we do like to talk about the weather and we certainly seem to be getting all the extremes lately! In the winters of the past, snow was always a major concern when driving but today rain and flooding seem to be the biggest worry. As we saw from Storm Angus a few weeks ago, things can certainly get wet pretty quickly at this time of year and it may not be too long before you find yourself sitting in your car pondering the question: ‘Can I drive my car through that enormous puddle?’

Of course you should never attempt to drive your vehicle through any standing water but if you do find yourself in a situation where you have little or no choice we have put together a quick guide to help you navigate flood water on the roads as safely as possible.’

1. Take it slow

This is key when attempting to drive through floodwater. Driving fast is likely to drown your engine and leave you stranded looking foolish. Keep the vehicle in first gear and crawl through the water keeping the engine revs up to avoid water entering the exhaust pipe.

2. Size matters

Yes it’s true and if you happen to carry an type of measuring device with you in the car then check the water depth if possible. Remember that it’s best to avoid any standing water that is deeper than six inches and flowing water deeper than four inches.

3. Make a pretty bow

Entering the water at one or two mph and then increasing the speed slowly to three or four mph will create a bow at the front of the vehicle, pushing water away from the engine bay.

4. Become a voyeur

If in doubt, park up near the offending water and wait for another driver to attempt it. If they’re successful you have peace of mind, if they aren’t you seek an alternative route. However, always remember to offer the other driver assistance before heading off.

5. Dry your brakes

When you have successfully made it to the other side don’t just confidently speed off because you may get a nasty surprise at the next junction when you can’t stop! Once you are free of the water drive away slowly, braking gently occasionally to dislodge any excess water, mud or leaves from the brakes.

6. Remember, there are other ‘less sensible’ drivers everywhere!

All of the advice that you have just read may be for nothing if you don’t pay attention to other drivers. In flooded road situations there will always be the driver who will race through the water at full speed, drowning your car and effectively ruining your chances of a successful crossing. Make sure no one is around before you enter the water. The added wait will be worth it when you watch a bad driver flood their engine and have to wait for a rescue service!

So over the coming winter months please be safe on the roads at all times whatever the weather. If you have any questions or require any assistance in respect of your motor insurance please don’t hesitate to call us on 01732 471 950.

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DIYSOS : The Big Build

On Thursday 13th October, Invicta Insurance Services were invited to Minster on the Isle of Sheppey to participate in the filming of the BBC One television show DIY SOS: The Big Build. It was a gloriously sunny, autumnal day and after 9 days building the most amazing home for an incredible family, this was the final day of filming: The Big Reveal.

DIY SOS: The Big Build is the BBC’s flagship home renovation programme. It has been running for 16 years and attracts up to 9 million viewers per episode in its prime time slot on BBC One. This ambitious show, presented by Nick Knowles and his team of ‘Purple Shirts’, takes on extremely Big Builds in just 9 days. They completely rely upon the support and generosity of the local community of trades people, suppliers and volunteers to carry out the work, to help truly deserving families transform their homes.

The amazing and unique Ratcliffe family, who were chosen for the programme from many applicants, have four adopted children, each with very complex and life limiting medical conditions. The couple, who originally fostered the children, went on to adopt them and open up their home to help the children flourish in a safe and loving environment.

All of the staff here at Invicta were so inspired by Garry and Kyle Ratcliffe’s incredible story that we decided to donate complimentary household insurance with full accidental damage cover on both the buildings and contents for their lovely new home.

Steve and Mark with Nick Knowles and his team of Purple Shirts

Steve Gamage and Mark Jessup were absolutely delighted to be able to attend the last day of filming on behalf of Invicta, which saw Garry, Kyle and their four children tearfully thank everyone who was involved in building their brand new home in just 9 days.

Garry addressed all the volunteers saying: “We are overwhelmed by people’s generosity and the finished house is better than our wildest dreams. To everyone who has been working on the project, words cannot describe our appreciation. You have all made our children’s lives so much easier and just perfect. You have made a forever home for our forever family. The house is absolutely beautiful. The teams have really thought of every single little feature that is needed for our four special children.”

We were privileged to see the new home, which is beautiful and contains the facilities and modifications required to meet all of the medical and mobility needs of the children. One of the highlights of the day for Steve and Mark was having the opportunity to personally present the family with their insurance documents in front of their new home. They were also able to meet Nick Knowles and the team of ‘Purple Shirts’ who thanked Invicta for donating their services.

We have not been informed as to when this episode of the show will be broadcast, but we are hoping it will be sometime in the New Year. In the meantime, we would like to wish Garry, Kyle, Hayden, Curtis, Isobella and Phoebe all the best as they settle into their new home.

As part of our commitment to supporting the local community we will be actively looking for other projects that we can support and sponsor going forward.

Autumn Newsletter 2016

Hello everyone and welcome to our Autumn 2016 issue of The Great British Broker. Firstly, please don’t worry, we are not moving to Channel 4 anytime soon!

Well, it’s that time of year when the leaves are starting to turn, the nights are drawing in and there is that slight chill in the air when you leave for work in the morning. However, there are so many wonderful things about autumn which is why it is one of our favourite times of year; the beautiful autumnal colours that grace the Kentish landscape, the smell of wood smoke in the air, apple cider, conkers and of course the latest issue of The Great British Broker arriving in your Inbox! What could be better?

As part of our commitment to support our local community and the people of Kent we will be donating a full year of household insurance to an incredibly deserving family who live on the Isle of Sheppey. The family who are taking part in an upcoming episode of the BBC One television show DIY SOS: The Big Build will receive complete insurance cover on the buildings and contents of their brand new home this October. We were so moved and impressed by their story that we really felt the need to assist them in some way. Read on to learn more.

The long hot days of summer are drawing to a close. The leaves are starting to turning brown, we have all been on our holidays and there is now a chill in the early morning air. However, there is still so much to do and autumn is a wonderful time to celebrate all that the Garden of England has to offer. Vineyards and orchards prepare for harvest, castle walls are ablaze with burnished ivy, woodlands are rich with golden colour and attractions light up with dazzling fireworks and ghostly goings-on! With the help of Visit Kent we have compiled 10 hidden autumn gems that you won’t want to miss.

Halloween to Bonfire Night, what a fun week of the year! Carved pumpkins, children in costumes trick or treating, fancy dress parties and then just a few days later it’s the sound of crackling bonfires and the oooohs and ahhhs as the rockets whoosh and explode in the sky! However, it is not only the likes of you and I that enjoy this time of year. Sadly criminals do too. So, with the help of our friends at Aviva we would like to share some advice on how you can keep yourselves and your property safe this autumn!

One of the highlights for us this summer was the Biddenden Tractorfest and Country Fair. In addition to being the main sponsors of the event, Invicta were also asked to organise the classic car section of the show. This quickly grew and ended up becoming The Invicta Insurance Services Classic Car Attraction! Tractorfest, as it is known, is located in the heart of the Weald of Kent on a mid August weekend and every year the event is filled with fun, sun, tractors, cider, classic cars, thousands of smiling visitors and so much more!

At Invicta you always receive pleasant, helpful and friendly service but what do you know of the terrific people who make up the Invicta team? In this spot of our newsletter we will introduce you to one of the Invicta staff members who, on a daily basis, help to provide our customers with quality and courteous service. In this issue we say hello to Scott Simmons.

Having a damaged windscreen is a big pain at the best of times but repairing or replacing an ADAS windscreen can also be extremely costly. ADAS or Advanced Driver Assistance Systems offer automated electronic safety features which are designed to help the driver while on the road. The system uses cameras and sensors that can implement safeguards and take over control of the vehicle to help avoid accidents or collisions. A lot of this technology is actually embedded in the vehicle’s windscreen.

Autumn Newsletter 2016 Intro

Hello everyone and welcome to our Autumn 2016 issue of The Great British Broker. Firstly, please don’t worry, we are not moving to Channel 4 anytime soon!

Well, it’s that time of year when the leaves are starting to turn, the nights are drawing in and there is that slight chill in the air when you leave for work in the morning. However, there are so many wonderful things about autumn which is why it is one of our favourite times of year; the beautiful autumnal colours that grace the Kentish landscape, the smell of wood smoke in the air, apple cider, conkers and of course the latest issue of The Great British Broker arriving in your Inbox! What could be better?

So, how was your summer? Perhaps you went on holiday to sunnier climes or did you stay in jolly old England and dodge the showers. Did you go to Wimbledon? Watch some cricket or just enjoy long lazy days in the garden? Whatever you did we hope you had a glorious time.

Here at Invicta we had a splendid summer. We sponsored various events throughout the area including the Biddenden Tractorfest and Country Fair which you can read all about in this newsletter. We took part in a sponsored walk for Folly Wildlife Rescue and were even invited to attend the Goodwood Revival. We also pottered around the county in Victor, our 1959 Austin A35 van, meeting some lovely people and attended local networking events.

Well then, what do we have on offer for you in this interesting and informative seventh issue of our newsletter? This quarter you can learn how we are helping a Kent family on BBC One’s DIY SOS: The Big Build. Find out more about Scott Simmons in the Employee Spotlight. How to keep safe and enjoy Halloween and Bonfire Night. The Top 10 things to do in Kent this autumn and more!

We hope you enjoy this issue and we would like to wish all of our customers and friends a very enjoyable, safe and agreeable autumn.

DIYSOS

As part of our commitment to support our local community and the people of Kent we will be donating a full year of household insurance to an incredibly deserving family who live on the Isle of Sheppey. The family who are taking part in an upcoming episode of the BBC One television show DIY SOS: The Big Build will receive complete insurance cover on the buildings and contents of their brand new home this October. We were so moved and impressed by their story that we really felt the need to assist them in some way.

As I’m sure you all know, DIY SOS: The Big Build is the BBC’s flagship home renovation programme; it has been running for 16 years and attracts up to 9 million viewers per episode in its prime time slot on BBC One. The ambitious show, presented by Nick Knowles and his team of ‘Purple Shirts’, takes on extremely Big Builds in just nine days. They completely rely upon the support and generosity of the local community of tradespeople and suppliers to carry out the work, to help truly deserving families transform their homes.

The team are going to be completely rebuilding the home of a family on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent which we are sure will change their lives forever.

The amazing and unique family who have been chosen for the build have a number of adopted children, each with very complex and life limiting medical conditions. The couple, who originally fostered the children, went on to adopt them and open up their home to help the children flourish in a safe environment.

The family’s home is currently a cramped 3 bedroom bungalow with 1 bathroom which is now completely unsuitable for taking care of children with such complex special needs. The family not only cannot afford the work but the time it would take to do it on their own and the impact it would have on their lifestyle is just not realistic.

Having spoken with both the BBC and the family themselves we were so inspired by their incredible story of love over adversity that we wanted to contribute to the success of this DIY SOS project in some way. As local Kent based insurance brokers we decided to offer the family a full year of complimentary household insurance with full accidental damage cover on both the buildings and contents for their lovely new home.

Obviously we can’t reveal too much detail about the upcoming episode or the family in question but we are proud to share the news of our involvement and we will productively be looking for other future projects that we can support going forward.

Autumn in Kent

The long hot days of summer are drawing to a close. The leaves are starting to turning brown, we have all been on our holidays and there is now a chill in the early morning air. However, there is still so much to do and autumn is a wonderful time to celebrate all that the Garden of England has to offer. Vineyards and orchards prepare for harvest, castle walls are ablaze with burnished ivy, woodlands are rich with golden colour and attractions light up with dazzling fireworks and ghostly goings-on! With the help of Visit Kent we have compiled 10 hidden autumn gems that you won’t want to miss.

1. Kent Life

Mark hop harvest season and enjoy a rich slice of rural life at Kent Life, Sandling near Maidstone. This fantastic family attraction celebrates the county’s rich hopping heritage, and is home to Britain’s only remaining hand-picked hop garden. Sort your Fuggles from your Goldings, and savour the aromas as they dry in the country’s last working coal-fired oast house.

2. Brogdale

Kent’s gentle climate and fertile soils are the perfect environment for fruit growing, and at Brogdale National Fruit Collection in Faversham, you can be in apple heaven in September and October. The collection boasts more than 2,000 varieties of apple – take a walking tour of the orchards then sample from of the fruits on site. October’s annual apple festival is treat for all!

3. Biddenden Vineyards

Raise a toast to the gorgeous grape, as harvesting commences across Kent’s vineyards. Ortega, the grape variety for which Biddenden is best known, is harvested from September while apple pressing and bottling starts in October – you might see some of the juicy action on a tour of the vineyards. Chapel Down in Tenterden is another ‘grape day out’, offering tours and tasting of their award-winning wines, ciders and beers, and their luxury wine and fine food store selling local produce. If you’re salivating for more, the staggering Hush Heath Estate near Staplehurst offers stunning walks and tours, and pink fizzes that are sure to tickle your tastebuds.

4. Bedgebury

Marvel at this 300-acre Pinetum, which contains over 12,000 trees and shrubs from across five continents. Ramble or cycle through this stunning forest as leaves begin to drop, and keep a look out for vivid yellow larches or show-stopping Dawn Redwood and Swamp Cypress amid evergreens. The red, chestnut, ochre and copper hues catch fire in the early morning autumn sunlight.

5. National Trust Properties

Kent is home to a number of National Trust properties: Knole House, Ightham Mote, Chartwell, and Scotney Castle to name a few. Escape to their grounds this autumn and enjoy woodland walks, breath-taking, picture-perfect gardens, historic houses and buildings packed full of stories to tell. Make some new memories this fall courtesy of the National Trust.

6. Walmer Castle

Who would have thought that the gardens at Walmer Castle near Deal, so frequently blasted by salty winds from the English Channel, would be such a picture all year round? The Kitchen Garden is at its height at this time of year with a wide range of fruit, vegetables and cut flowers; apples and pears splash colour across the orchard. Glimpse cyclamen peeping from beneath trees in the Paddock and Woodland followed by autumn crocus, and catch Japanese anemones in their starring role in the Queen Mother’s Garden.

7. Shepherd Neame

After your bracing autumnal walks and adventures, what better way to unwind then inside one of Kent’s traditional pubs? Shepherd Neame has a wide range of beautiful pubs based in period buildings, offering roaring fires, comfy arm chairs and delicious Kentish ales to warm your toes this autumn. Many establishments also have mouth-watering menus, packed with seasonal, Kentish fayre. Treat yourself!

8. Quex Park

This rambling, delightful estate in Birchington truly has something for everyone at this time of year – stunning grounds flush with autumnal colours, a fascinating museum of curio and games, a crafts village and brimming nursery, play centres for little and big kids, a bustling farm shop and delightful tea rooms. Their Halloween activities during half-term are not to be missed.

9. Churches Conservation Trust

Take a moment of quite reflection and visit some of Kent’s most hidden yet most striking venues. The Churches Conservation Trust look after a large number of deconsecrated churches across the country, many of which have fascinating stories and retain their eerie beauty. Escape the churches of Romney Marsh or visit the North Kent churches that inspired Charles Dickens.

10. Hever Castle

One of the most famous castles in England, Hever is a joy to behold all year round but it is ablaze with burnished beauty in the autumn. The castle – the childhood home of Anne Boleyn – is the perfect place for a romantic retreat, as guests can explore the castle and grounds, get lost in the maze, take a peaceful boat trip on the lake, and then bed down in the estate’s luxury bed and breakfast.

Invicta House, Amherst Hill, Riverhead, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2EL
Tel: 01732 471950 Email: info@invictainsuranceservices.co.uk
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