Category Archives: Issue 12 July 19

Fantastic FELASA 2019

Datesand head to Prague!


From the 11th-14th June 2019, it was once again time for the much anticipated FELASA meeting – this year to be held in Prague, Czech Republic. Nicky recounts the action-packed week…



Kicking things off


The European FELASA meeting is only held once every 3 years and so is a really great opportunity for Datesand to shine, showcase our products and meet with our European colleagues and customers.  This year’s FELASA was also special as it had some significant firsts and lasts!

Preparation is the key to any conference – especially when it’s overseas and the stand has to travel ahead. Mark, Alanah, Josh and Sam all did a great job at pulling everything together and with the assistance of Kieren, made sure it got to the venue in good time for Ryan and me to set up.

Ryan and I set off from a rainy, cold Manchester on Saturday morning for our flight to Prague. An airport fire evacuation and a quick aeroplane snooze later and we were in the middle of a Czech heatwave! Ryan’s first FELASA meeting and our first time using an Airbnb flat for a conference took us into new territory but we soon found our “local” and were settled in. Sunday saw us get our first taste of the excellent metro system which took us directly to the conference centre in under 25 minutes. 

Following the footprints from the train took us straight into the amazing conference centre where we found our pallets ready to start setting up. What we had imagined would be a mornings work turned into a 10-hour marathon but, so it turns out, Ryan and I are excellent carpet layers!

Simon and Kieren flew in on Sunday evening and after a quick beer in the flat, we headed once again to our local” for some dinner.


Doing things Datesand style


Jonathon arrived on Monday evening and he and I headed out to Café 77 to meet with our Benelux distributors Bio-Services. Café 77 turned out to be more of a deli than a restaurant where the request for a menu seemed to be unusual! After a quick beer, the 4 of us headed off to find an alternative eatery and enjoyed a great meal.

Also on Monday evening was the Brit’s Night which had been organised by myself and Mike Douglas from Sychem. With 13 sponsor companies and an ever-expanding guest list, Ryan and Kieren were there from the start to ably represent Datesand. 

A night of unlimited food and drink with 80 or so UK customers is never to be turned down and as Jonathon and I arrived, the boys were rolling out to head off into the night with a large group! Another telltale sign that I’m getting old… a few beers and I was off in an Uber to hit the hay!


Tuesday started hot and sunny once again and proved to be another great day on the stand. We had pre-planned meetings throughout the day to meet with our European distributor teams along with customers from further afield who had flown in especially for the conference. FELASA 2019 attracted 1378 delegates from a massive 56 countries!

Tuesday evening was our Datesand night at the Prague Beer Museum. Around 50 invited guests came along to this very fitting venue to join us in celebrating Simon’s 65th birthday and wishing him the best of luck in his impending retirement. A great time was had by all and there truly was an international feel to the evening with colleagues, customers, suppliers over Europe attending. The beer flowed as freely as the conversation and a great time was had by all.


Ending on a high


Although some of us were signed up for the 3km run on Wednesday morning, the 6.30am meet didn’t happen. The combination of long days on the stand and the 30-degree heat (oh, and maybe the beer drank the night before) meant we chose to be fresh for the exhibition stand! 

Wednesday was another successful day with a good flow of delegates to the stand and some excellent meetings held. The highlight of Wednesday however, was the celebration of Simon’s birthday with cake, fizz and an impromptu video call from teams at both Manchester sites for a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday (technology is a wondrous thing!).

Wednesday evening was the last night for me, Simon and Kieren and was indeed Simon’s last day at Datesand. We decided to go for a team dinner and were treated to a gastronomic feast at the Bellevue Restaurant overlooking the Charles Bridge. Ryan carried on into the night to meet up with some customers and the rest of us went back for our last night at the flat.  

The final day of FELASA was Thursday with Jonathon and Ryan manning the stand and packing away.  Simon, Kieren and I avoided this by heading off for our flight home. For added adventure on Thursday, when Ryan returned to his room in the wee hours, he found his keycard had deactivated and had to spend the rest of the night in the spare room!  Luckily, the Airbnb host had someone come out quickly and sort the issue – Phew!

The last of the team came home on Friday and we all agreed that this FELASA meeting had been one of the best ever!


Eco Warriors

At Datesand, we are continuously trying to improve our green credentials by identifying problems that we can help to improve both inside and outside our business.


Most recently, we have organised a couple of litter picks near the Datesand HQ to ensure that the environment in which we work is as clean as possible, both for us and the community around us.

A few small teams have given up their lunch breaks to take to the streets and collect a large amount of rubbish from our surrounding streets in Manchester. We have ensured that we separate as much of this into recyclable and non-recyclable materials so that all the litter we have found can be disposed of as efficiently as possible.

Being so close to a major football stadium, it is, unfortunately, unsurprising to see so much litter lying around and tossed into bushes. It is, however, very eye-opening and acts as a huge reminder that more than just litter picking needs to be done to fight this problem.

Thanks to all the volunteers who have given a helping hand so far – you make the Datesand team proud!


We are fully committed to taking part in more picks all throughout out the year and are currently setting up a number of plans across the entire business to ensure that we are doing all we can and are making all the changes necessary so that we can do our bit to help the environment and contribute to the zero-carbon goal of Greater Manchester.


Nicky takes on Canada

From the 25-28th May 2019, Nicky flew over to Vancouver for the annual CALAS-ASCAL meeting. This was the first time a Datesand representative visited this particular exhibition and what a fantastic adventure it was! Read on to learn all about her exciting journey…


After a long, busy 9.5-hour flight, I landed in Vancouver mid-afternoon and headed to the hotel.  After checking in and getting my delegate badge, I made the effort and went for a t(run)dle along the river. It turns out that the conference is actually in Richmond which is about 30 minutes on the train from Vancouver itself.

Saturday morning started early… the jetlag kicked in and I was wide awake at 3am! The conference only had pre-booked workshops on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to head into a very wet Vancouver and be a tourist. The harbour is pretty impressive and seeing the seaplanes take off was a sight to behold. 

The weather was very “Manc” and it didn’t stop raining all day! The Gala dinner was on Saturday evening and had a pirate theme. I had made the effort to borrow a pirate’s outfit which I duly put on, had a disco nap, and woke up at 1am after it had all finished! Oops…

Sunday was the first proper day of the meeting and the weather certainly made a turn for the better! We had workshops in the morning and my Talking Poster Presentation session from 12.30pm. The turnout was great for the Talking Poster session with around 80-100 delegates staying for the whole 6 presentations. The subject matter was wide-ranging with each poster author being given 15 minutes to present their poster subject. The presentations were as follows:

1. Identification of cat pain using the revised Glasgow Feline Composite Measure Pain Scale: does training help?

2. Zebrafish Breeding Colony Solutions for Space-Limited Facilities

3. The Janet Wood Innovation Award – A Global Initiative to Invent and Introduce Novel Enrichment

4. Paced mating: a refinement opportunity for breeding rats

5. Fostering positive collaborative relationships between veterinary and research personnel when setting Humane Intervention Points

6. Comparative Approach to Monitoring Rodent Colonies for Infectious Agents


Sunday evening saw the opening of trade with food and drinks and a great turnout of people at the stand. Ryan Doyle, who we are working with, knows everyone! There was really good interest in our products and lots of samples were given out. A quick drink at the bar with Colleen from The Andersons and a sensible early night was had.

Monday evening was the Charles River event (which everyone is invited to), held at the Richmond Olympic museum where we got to try the bobsleigh, chair skiing and watch real Canadians practice ice hockey! 


Tuesday was the final day of the show and my last day in Canada. It was a fantastic show with some excellent networking opportunity and an opportunity for Datesand to showcase to a whole new market!


Changing the world one man at a time

“left alone the young men will burn down the village… just to feel the heat” – Old African Proverb


Director of Datesand, Nick Wood, spent a very inspiring weekend in July with the fantastic charity ‘A Band of Brothers’ who work with young men involved in the criminal justice system.

The charity aims to provide them with the support they need to transition into adulthood free of crime. This involves supporting these men with adult role models through intensive contemporary rites-of-passage experience and an accredited mentoring programme.



Nick would like to share his humbling experience with you and kindly ask to support this cause through A Band of Brothers Localgiving page which can be found here the ‘A Band of Brothers’ logo.




“Last weekend, I found myself sat in silence in the dark shadows of a forest in Worth, near Brighton, on a

rainy Friday evening in late July. I was surrounded by a group of strangers, all of us Men, embarking on a ‘Beyond the Hero’ weekend with A Band of Brothers. We had all volunteered to attend the weekend and had accepted an invitation to start the process of becoming mentors to young Men to discover what each of us had to offer in the way of teaching, guiding and providing elder wisdom to young men. 

I did not know or fully understand at the beginning of this weekend that I would be part of such an inspirational journey of self-discovery, personal healing, friendship and absolute trust, nor did I know I would be surrounded by the love, compassion and the deep care of a true brotherhood of fellow men. I now truly understand and know first-hand that A Band of Brothers deliver inspirational, effective and life-changing programs.

I am proud to be a part of this community and I look forward to helping young men find their way through life. I am humbled by the experience and I am most definitely ‘in’. It is now part of my personal mission to help raise awareness of this fantastic charity, to raise money and find resources to help A Band of Brothers and the wider community. Any help that you can give is greatly appreciated.”





Nick Wood, Director of Datesand Group

For further information or to get involved please head to

Datesand bids farewell to Simon Thorp


After some fantastic 65th birthday celebrations at FELASA on 12th June, Simon Thorp has officially retired from Datesand. 

To celebrate this momentous occasion in style, we threw a retirement party at Se7en Brothers Beerhouse in Manchester. It was a great opportunity to bring together colleagues, friends and family who all share the utmost admiration for Simon.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Simon for all of his incredible work with Datesand since he first jumped on board over 29 years ago!

Simon has been a vital cog in the Datesand machine and has contributed significantly to the great success of the business from day one.

All that have had the pleasure of working alongside Simon have thoroughly enjoyed his wisdom, enthusiasm and friendly nature.

I’m sure everyone will join us at Datesand in wishing Simon a long, healthy and happy retirement. Enjoy making memories with your wonderful family in this exciting new chapter.