Datesand News

The Stars come out at night for UNICEF

unicef-2As a life-long Manchester United Fan, Jonathon was really delighted to receive an invitation for him and his wife Claire to join players and supporters at the annual  MUFC UNICEF charity dinner held this month. This year’s dinner celebrated 18 years of the partnership between Manchester United and UNICEF, the world’s leading children’s organisation.

Hosted by Mark Chapman and Rachel Riley and attended by all of the first team squad and staff, it was a star-studded occasion – topped off with a solo performance by Stormzy!

Jonathon and Claire report that the players were extremely friendly and open to talk and take selfies. Jonathon also mentioned that the only slightly morose looking figure present was, true to form, a certain Mr Mourhino!!

The annual event has helped to raise over £4 million for Unicef over the years. This year’s extravaganza netted over £200,000 for the organisation aimed particularly at its vital work in Thailand supporting education programmes for children with little or no access to schooling.

It was a great evening enjoyed by all – hopefully we’ll be invited again next year!

unicef-3 unicef-1


AALAS Bulletin from our social affairs correspondent, Ryan Hill

img_9138AALAS really does bring people together from across the globe for science, business and, of course, those highly enjoyable social events.

As the 2017 meeting drew to its close, it was only fitting for us Brits to follow tradition and conclude another fantastic conference with the now legendary Brits Night! Painstakingly organised by our own Nicky Windows, this year’s event saw the coming together of 43 British AALAS delegates.

The  evening was held  at an old school American bar named Buffalo Billiards. Pool and billiard tables were available to enjoy whilst socialising and catching up with fellow colleagues. The venue itself as well as the food and drinks were kindly sponsored by Agenda, Allentown, Datesand, Fuel 3D,  IPS, Rees Scientific, Sychem and Tecniplast.img_9152

Our sincere thanks to all the sponsors. With your support, everyone was able to enjoy yet another really successful Brits night.

The event ended at approximately 9pm. For many of us though, the party continued as we moved on to what had become our regular venue, The Blind Pig. There was music, dancing, lots of chat as well as more memories made and friendships forged.

NHS must drive forward life sciences

NHS must drive forward life sciences strategy, says Lords’ leader

November 28, 2017

lord-patelThe success of the government’s life sciences strategy hinges on the NHS using novel medicines and therapies, according to Lord Patel, the peer leading an inquiry into the sector.

Lord Patel is chair of the Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, which today takes evidence from big US pharma companies, including MSD, which has just announced a major investment in an R&D centre in London.

Representatives of two other big US pharma companies, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, will also give evidence this morning.

Originally trained as an obstetrician, Lord Patel has a strong background in biomedical sciences and is leading the committee’s inquiry into the life sciences strategy, after the sector was one of four that have been given special deals to boost growth.

The other three sectors are construction, automotive and Artificial Intelligence. The life sciences sector deal has been agreed, but more detail will be announced next week.

But Lord Patel is the latest to stress the importance of the NHS, the single largest consumer of health products in the country.

Unfortunately, the NHS has a reputation for slow adoption of the latest drugs and therapies, and the argument is that this must change if the pharma and life sciences sector is to achieve its true potential, as well as ensuring patients get the best possible treatments and outcomes.

He told pharmaphorum in an interview ahead of today’s evidence session that MSD’s announcement is “very important for the UK” and the life sciences sector deal.

The government is already trying to encourage use of novel drugs and therapies, by creating an Accelerated Access Pathway that will select a handful of products, hasten their clinical development, and encourage their use in the NHS.

But this is set against a backdrop of a continued squeeze on funding, and an annual struggle to meet waiting times targets in A&E and cancer each winter because services cannot meet demand.

Although the chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget pledged an extra £2.8 billion in funding to relieve pressures until 2020, critics have said this still falls short

“What this demonstrates is the confidence in life sciences and biomedical life sciences. It is true that biomedical sciences are quite strong. We are well regarded in our biomedical sciences and companies large and small will be interested if we can develop this.”

“What is important is how this will be driven by the NHS. It will only happen with the NHS,” said Lord Patel.

Lord Patel said that a body with oversight of the life sciences strategy will be a key part of the sector deal, and will need to be influential to steer the plan to success.

“There will be a creative council that will report to the government – it is important to see how high a level it is and how much authority it has.”

Labour has criticised the sector deals, saying that the government should be focusing on improving productivity, and pay and conditions, in industries such as hospitality.

In response to this, the crossbench peer said: “What the plan is about is investing over 10 years in life sciences. That does not mean we are not interested in other sectors, or other services.”

Married couples are less likely to get dementia, new study claims

Ella Pickover, 29 November 2017 Sunday Post

BEING married could help stave off dementia, a new study suggests.

married-coupleLevels of social interaction could explain the finding, experts have said, after the research showed that people who are single or widowed are more likely to develop the disease.

Experts conducted an analysis of 15 studies which held data on dementia and marital status involving more than 800,000 people from Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

Their study, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, concluded that lifelong singletons have a 42% elevated risk of dementia compared with married couples.

Those who have been widowed had a 20% increased risk compared with married people, they found.

But no elevated risk was found among divorcees compared with those who were still married.

The researchers, led by experts from University College London, said that previous research has shown that married people may adopt healthier lifestyles.

They may also be more likely to be socially engaged than singletons.

Meanwhile, the effect observed in people who have been widowed could be due to stress that comes with bereavement, they added.

Another explanation could be that developing dementia could be related to other underlying cognitive or personality traits.

Commenting on the study, Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “There is compelling research showing married people generally live longer and enjoy better health, with many different factors likely to be contributing to that link.

“People who are married tend to be financially better off, a factor that is closely interwoven with many aspects of our health.

“Spouses may help to encourage healthy habits, look out for their partner’s health and provide important social support.

“Research suggests that social interaction can help to build cognitive reserve – a mental resilience that allows people to function for longer with a disease like Alzheimer’s before showing symptoms.

“While people who are unmarried or widowed may have fewer opportunities for social engagement as they age, this certainly isn’t always the case. This research points to differences in levels of physical activity and education underlying much of the differences in dementia risk between single, married and widowed people.

“Staying physically, mentally, and socially active are all important aspects of a healthy lifestyle and these are things everyone, regardless of their marital status, can work towards.”

The study was published as Alzheimer’s Research UK launched its Christmas campaign calling for more funds for dementia research.

The Santa Forgot campaign, backed by presenter Stephen Fry, aims to raise awareness of the condition as well as funds for studies examining the brain.

Fry said: “The pace of progress is improving but research funding for dementia still lags behind. As other diseases move within the reach of medical science, we now understand that the great frontier is understanding the human mind.

“Just like aspiring to be a seafarer in the 18th century to discover the world and new continents, the most exciting thing that young students can do today is research into the brain. But scientists need our support, which is why I hope that Santa Forgot will inspire many more people to get behind life-changing dementia research this Christmas.”


rickRick Gordon

Warehouse & Dispatch

I have been with Datesand for three and a half years. My main roles are general warehousing and dispatch and so I make sure that all of our products go to the correct customers and that they receive their orders on time.

I love the job and like to overcome all the challenges I may and probably will face during the course of the day. The job stays interesting as every day is different from the last.

My opportunity to work for the company came by sheer coincidence. My best mate’s father-in-law is a director of the company. My friend passed my name on to him, which was fortunate as I had met Simon on several occasions, one time being the wedding day of his daughter where I had the privilege of being part of the occasion, representing the groom as his best man.

Since starting at Datesand the priorities in my life have changed considerably. I married my wife Sarah and became a father to my gorgeous daughter Rosie whrick-familyo has just turned 2.

There is nothing more important to me than quality family time. This can be anything from days at the zoo or having a quiet day at home watching films. We always try to book a holiday once a year to get away from the typical rainy Manchester weather.

For my sins and I don’t know why, every other Saturday I have the chance to watch Bolton Wanderers play and have the honour to hold a season ticket .

Christmas Quiz


Just for Christmas fun:

With Christmas fast approaching, we’ve been thinking about questions with a seasonal theme! We could just ask you to name all of Santa’s Reindeer pals but that does seem a bit easy!

Go on then! For our first ‘Just for Christmas Fun’ question.
a.) Name all of Santa’s reindeer without looking them up on Google or any other such quiz cracker?

Now for a slightly more testing one.
b.) These faithful, friendly, flying reindeer, are they boys, girls or a mixture?

Still on the subject of Reindeer –
c.) What is a Judas Reindeer?



a.) Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blitzen, and Rudolph. 

b.) According to Alice Blue-McLendon, a veterinary medicine professor specializing in deer, they are probably females. Reindeer grow antlers regardless of gender, and most bulls typically shed theirs before Christmas. Non-expectant females don’t shed their antlers until Febraury or March. Expectant mothers retain their antlers until calves arrive in the Spring – this allows them to protect food resources during the severe weather and have enough to nourish their developing youngsters. On the other hand, Santa’s flying wonders might also be castrated males, known as steers. Young steers finish shedding their antlers in February and March.

c.) This is a castrated male or steer specially trained to lead the herd to the place the herdsman would like them to go.


WIN £20 Love2Shop voucher & a tub of Christmas Chocs

Answer this question


Why wouldn’t you want one of these little chaps turning up in your Christmas stocking? What is it and why wouldn’t it be so welcome?


The winner will be chosen from the winning entries

Complete the form below to enter

Datesand Goes to America

Datesand has attended the US National meeting, Aalas every year now for a good many years – it’s been a great source of ideas and information as well as helping us to network with colleagues across the pond and from all over the world. For the last few years, we’ve also taken a trade stand and been very pleasantly surprised by the extremely positive reaction amongst the thousands of visitors. This year, the added bonus for us was that Aalas has readily agreed to support the newly instituted Janet Wood Innovation Award and, of course, the exhibition provided the perfect opportunity to spread the word about this important initiative. Representing Datesand at this year’s event were Jonathon, Nicky and Ryan. Here, Nicky takes up the story. 

After a 10 hour flight, the Datesand three plus colleagues from Agenda, Cambridge University, Manchester University, Pirbright Institute, MRC and DSTL arrived in an amazingly warm Austin, Texas. After a bite to eat and a couple of beers, it was an early night for all.

Sunday started early with Ryan and Jonathon to be found in the gym at 6am!! Jet lag has a lot to answer for!! Two breakfasts later, Ryan and I were ready to hit the convention centre and Jonathon was ready for the golf course for some informal meetings.

Disappointingly, only one of our exhibition boxes had arrived at the exhibition hall but luckily it was the one with the stand in and we were able to get set up. We were very pleased with the stand and by lunchtime we were done.


Our first business commitment was a dinner meeting with Andrea from the Andersons – our supplier of corncob bedding. A lovely evening was had by all. After the meal, a number of the other Brit contingent showed up in the bar (shocker!) and some folks headed out to continue the merriment. Ryan will be able to tell more on that…!

The main event started on Monday morning at 8.30am with the ribbon cutting ceremony and a busy week got underway. The three of us had a packed schedule ahead of supplier and distributor meetings, training sessions and of course, manning the trade stand for the 4000+ delegates registered.

Monday in Austin started bright and early with another trip to the gym and a hearty American breakfast.  The main trade show opened with the National Anthem and ribbon cutting ceremony and off we went…

Our stand position was great – right next to the coffee and food stations and by luck we also managed to bag an island booth.  Unfortunately our catalogues and a box we were transporting for the IAT didn’t make it to Austin and, as I write, are still lost in transit.  Nevertheless, the stand looked great and we wer
e ready and raring to go

Monday passed at a blur with nearly 100 enquiries.  The JWI winning products garnered most interest and the global audience at AALAS were super impressed by the Mouse Swing, Mouse Mezzanine and Tunnel Clip.  We’ve plenty to follow up and there is great promise for some big sales.  The day also included a good face to face meeting with our new Japanese distribution partners and a training session for Ryan with our colleagues at ClearH2O (he’ll report back on this separately and will be holding a training session in the near future for the team).  After a full on day we went out for a quiet dinner and headed home early to get set for day 2.

Tuesday started bright and early with a breakfast meeting for Jonathon and I with the team from ClearH2O to review our sales and how we canaalas-3 grow the business with them.  They told us about some exciting new products that they are adding to their range and we briefly touched on politics.  That gave us a clear signal that it was time to head to the booth for the day! While Ryan skilfully managed the booth, it was then onto a meeting with a potential exciting new partner company looking to launch their products into the UK – watch this space!  After a good couple of hours on the booth it was time for Jonathan and I to abandon Ryan again to head off to meet with another of our long standing partners, Bio-Serv.  Over lunch we discussed the potential for them to take on some of the JWIA products for the US market and also to get directly involved with future years’ JWIA.  It was then back to the booth via the pharmacy to pick Ryan up some more drugs (man flu?!) before we found ourselves closing up for the day and doing a swift turnaround to get out to the Innovive Party.  The free bar at the Innovive Party was well received and resulted in Ryan impressing (??) the local ladies with his dancing before heading off with them to continue “networking”.  The older ones among us (J, Pete and myself) headed off to find some food and then back to rest our weary heads.

Wednesday was the last day of trade and the morning had a steady flow of delegates to the booth.  Ryan and the Mouse Swing continued t
o be the stars of the show and we were completely out of samples mid way through the morning.  After the closing of trade at lunchtime it was straight over the the AAALAC International Lunch.

img_9122Datesand are a co-sponsor of the AAALAC Fellowship Award.  Every year one US and one UK & Ireland technician is picked to be awarded the Fellowship. The UK winner gets to spend a week in US animal facilities followed by attending the national AALAS meeting.  The US winner gets to visit UK facilities and attend Congress.  This year’s winners were Katherine M Marshall from the US and Alan Palmer from the Crick Institute.

Immediately after the awards lunch we bid farewell to Jonathon who was heading home and ryan and I went to pack up the stand.  There was then time for a well eimg_9138arned bit of R&R – I headed to Walmart which clearly wasn’t that relaxing! – before the (now traditional) Brits Night.  I had booked an evening of American Bar Sports for us and with around 40 attendees it was a massive hit.  The sponsors this year were Datesand, Agenda, Allentown, Tecniplast, Sychem, Rees Scientific, Fuel3D and the IAT. I can safely say that I am rubbish at pool (but did manage to beat Ryan!) but am pretty good at building a taco and organising an event!!

Thursday was our last day in Austin and a trip to the mall was on the cards for myself, Lou, Pete and Graham before we headed to the airport laden down with all sorts of stuff!  After a long flight home we were all glad to touch down in Manchester and get home to our families.

Always a fabulous meeting, this year’s AALAS did not disappoint.  Austin was a lovely, warm and friendly city with a vibrant downtown area.  Great business and great company all round!

Jonathon adds,

We took 73 leads on the first day (a record I think!) with the new Mouse Swing, first winning product from the first ever JWI Award, clearly the star of the show. There’d been a lot of interest and it seems that the advert in the show guide had really helped bringing people over to our booth!  Nicky did a great job making the arrangements for our business meetings and setting up a social evening with our British customers on Wednesday – we were expecting more than 30 of our friends and colleagues to be there.  As you’d expect Ryan, our relatively new National Sales Executive was a natural with the Americans and thoroughly enjoyed the experience …they loved his accent (and especially his singing!).

The pace was pretty hectic over the next day or two but the level of interest at the stand and particularly in respect of the JWI Award was very exciting. In addition to meeting up with our new distributor for Japan, we had important meetings with and finalised the appointment of new distributors for Israel, India, Korea and Canada – very exciting.

We also attended the AALAC International Luncheon and as joint sponsor for the AALAC Fellowship award I presented the prize to the UK Winner, Alan Palmer from the Francis Crick img_9156Institute. He’d spent the week travelling the USA, visiting facilities whilst the U.S. Recipient, Katherine M Marshall was in UK visiting facilities and attending IAT Congress.

We finally packed up the stand on Wednesday and headed home on Thursday after a busy but thoroughly enjoyable meeting with lots of new friends gained, new international colleagues in place, new ideas and information on board and a great deal of interest in our products and services clearly established. Looks like Austin was a great success in general and it definitely was from our point of view.

Logistics & Locations

the keys to effective delivery and stock control


envigo-diet-storeIt’s almost ten years now since we began working with our distribution partners just outside Cambridge. With so many key clients in Cambridge itself, London of course and other locations south of Watford, we realised that a distribution hub in the Cambridge area, with a good warehouse and a substantial fleet of vehicles was an absolute must. We’ve never looked back since then and as the UK’s leading bedding and enrichment supplier we have now developed strategic distribution locations in Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford and, of course, Manchester itself.

As well as allowing us to deliver swiftly and efficiently across the UK, these long-standing partnerships also facilitate intelligent stock holding around the country and the provision of vital contingency stocks close to where clients may actually require them.

At our Cambridge site, which serves most of the South of the country, we hold stock of key items for general use as well as specific, ring fenced stock for particular clients. Clients can choose to set up a standing order or agree an SLA to arrange for dedicated contingency stocks to be stored in the state of the art warehouse facility and delivered to order on a vehicle of choice from the fleet of 18 vehicles.

We think the advantages of our network of distribution for our clients and for our own peace of mind are very clear:

•  Clean, audited facilities suitable for the storage of bedding and diet

•  Locally managed and monitored stock

•  Fleet of vehicles ready to deliver on same day if required

•  Secure and safe

• Multiple sites for extra security, dynamic response and peace of mind

•  Contingency stocks on key lines

Contact us now if you’d like to discuss future possibilities for your delivery requirements and stock planning.

JWI Goes Global

We’re absolutely delighted, as readers will know, with the response to the first annual Janet Wood Innovation Award which attracted a host of really good ideas from the UK biosciences community and has led already to four new and highly innovative products being made ready for commercial distribution.


This Award has now gained the support of the US association Aalas, and the 2018 competition along with the new products on show from this year’s entries attracted a great deal of interest in Austin just this month.

We’re very excited to announce that the Janet Wood Innovation award has now been transformed into an international award with entries invited from every country in the world. Inspired by the great support offered by Aalas, we announced this development at the meeting in Austin a few days ago and we’ve alrejwiady received our first requests for entry packs from overseas colleagues.

So the competition is really hotting up and the key objective behind this initiative, to get innovative, practical ideas for enrichment from the people who live and breathe lab animal science and make them into actual, commercially viable devices, is further advanced as a result.

We’re very proud of this award and the importance it will hopefully have for our industry, its precious charges and the people who look after them – so, don’t delay!  Get those ideas flowing and contact us today for an entry pack which will provide you with everything you need to submit your entry for this year’s competition.

ISO Success


Early in October, Datesand was assessed for registration to the new ISO 9001-2015 Quality System Standard (International Organisation for Standardisation). We’ve been immensely proud to hold our registration to the prestigious ISO Quality Standard since 2008. The Standard is a very important measure of an organisation’s quality systems and is independently assessed every year by an accredited body looking carefully at every aspect of the quality systems of the companies involved.

For us, and companies like us, it’s confirmation that our key systems are sound and it helps us also to make gradual improvement to those systems and ensure that our direction of travel is appropriate and progressive. It also lets us know when things need adjusting and has really helped us to address key issues that have required attention over the years.

This year a new and slightly different Standard has been launched (9001-2015 which supersedes the previous 9001-2008)  and our Quality Manager Stephen have been working for many months now with the Directors and with specialist consultants to ensure that our quality systems and the teams involved in making them work are ready for the assessment. Stephen, and the rest of us, were able to breathe a deep sigh of relief following the surveillance visit. The assessor reported back verbally that we had passed with flying colours and that we can now proudly add the ISO 9001-2015 logo to our website and all our paperwork and display our new certificate on the reception wall here at HQ.

This follows hot on the heels of our reaccreditation, earlier this year, to the IIP Standard (Investors in People) which scrutinises the way in which an organisation recruits, trains and looks after the development and well-being of its employees. So, despite a very hectic year, many new developments and initiatives and the addition of several new members of staff to the team, we’re delighted to be judged to be doing the right things and, in particular, meeting the requirements of these two important accreditation bodies.