Latest News | 3 November 2021

It’s never too late to make a change (unless it’s a nappy)

Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust
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Here, in his latest monthly column reflecting on the news over the past month, our Press and PR Executive Robin Johnson looks at the headlines.

We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s never too late” – a statement that urges us to never give up on our dreams.

Of course, you can be “too late” for a meeting – or to write a monthly column.

The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that I didn’t write the last Friday Morning Takeaway and instead, my colleague Kathryn stepped into the breach. What’s that? You didn’t notice? I’m hurt.

For those left devastated at missing out on their monthly fix of my ramblings, I did have an excuse – and a pretty good one at that. In September I became a dad for the first time.

Yes, my wife and I took Derby’s reputation as the home of manufacturing to its extreme and ‘manufactured’ a baby son called Seth, which meant I was off on paternity leave. He is beautiful, adorable and a sleep thief.

Rest assured (or rather not), within days of my wife falling pregnant, I was hot-footing it down to the Derby County club shop to buy Rams-related bibs, baby grows and even a cuddly polar bear toy. Little did I know at the time how much the club needed the cash!

Oh dear, I’ve just looked up from my computer while writing this column and noticed that baby Seth has just thrown up on his Rams bib.

I think we all feel a little bit sick at Derby’s current predicament – but I’m confident a sale will go through soon and the club can rebuild again.

Our managing director John Forkin, together with Derby City Council, recently met with the administrators to emphasise the importance of Derby County to the area and offer broader stakeholder support to the cause.

Anyway, I digress. For someone aged the wrong side of 45, who thought his chance of becoming a dad were pretty much over, the phrase “It’s never too late” never rang truer. Indeed, I feel like the Mick Jagger of our street.

You could also apply the phrase to Derby. In recent times, the city has announced some lofty ambitions.

For example, to become the UK City of Culture 2025, to become the UK centre of excellence for future fuels, to create a top-end performance venue – the list goes on.

I’m sure there were one or two who scoffed when Derby announced it had put itself forward to bid for City of Culture.

Well, guess what? In October, it was announced out of 20 bids that Derby had made the longlist of eight. (Read the full story here)

Yes, we are the home of big manufacturers, we are the UK capital of innovation – but it’s never too late to reinvent ourselves as a capital of culture also.

Alternatively, what about the nation’s food and drink capital? We are lucky enough to have some cracking places to eat and drink in and around Derby – all of whom have survived the major challenges presented by the pandemic.

Last month saw the welcome return of the Marketing Derby Food and Drink Awards – and what a return.

Sadly, I had to stay home and change nappies – but I’m told a good time was had by all. Hearty congratulations to all the winners and finalists. If, like me, you were unable to attend, you can read all about it here.

Derby is also trying to reinvent itself as a green city. For example, it has ambitions to be at the heart of the push to net zero by becoming a centre of excellence for future fuels.

Our aforementioned major manufacturers – Rolls-Royce, Alstom and Toyota – who are all involved in making things that move us – have a key role to play.

With COP26 taking place this month, it is good to see companies like Rolls-Royce putting their shoulder to the wheel in the climate change push.

It’s no coincidence that ahead of the summit, the company was one of just 12 UK companies to exhibit at the Global Investment Summit, which took place in October, showcasing its green tech, including its efforts to electrify flight. (Read the full story here)

The company also recently teamed up with fellow giants Shell and Airbus to call for more collaboration in the aviation sector to achieve net zero targets ahead of schedule. (Read the full story here)

They are dead right – partnerships are key to achieving any environmental goals.

On our doorstep, we have evidence of such collaboration. In October, we reported that Derby City Council had formally announced a partnership with Kinto, Toyota’s mobility brand, the University of Derby, and Derby College Group to launch, what is believed to be, the biggest trial of green travel mobility in Europe. (Read the full story here)

And what contribution can rail make? There’s no need for Derby to reinvent itself as a centre of rail technology – it already is and has been for some time.

The city is home to the largest cluster of rail companies in the UK – in the world even, depending on who you talk to.

And last month, Rail Forum Midlands held its annual conference, bringing together key figures from the industry. (Read the full story here)

Creating a green railway was very much part of the discussion. There is also an opportunity for Derby itself to play a key role, particularly if it is chosen as the home of Great British Railways, which is something we reported on back in September. (Read the full story here)

Derby is associated with the manufacture of planes, trains and automobiles – but I forgot to mention boats. Yes, that’s right, boats.

Last month, plans to stage trips on Derby’s River Derwent moved a step closer after a purpose-built boat, called Outram, was recently launched on the water by the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust. (Read the full story here)

The trust is hoping to launch return passenger trips from the city centre to Darley Abbey in Spring 2022.

As you would expect, Outram is an environmentally friendly boat, fitted with solar panels to top up its power source of lead carbon batteries.

And working with graduate manufacturing engineers from Rolls-Royce, the trust has developed a small remote-controlled boat called ARTEMIS, which can be operated from the Outram to collect harmful plastic waste from the river. Clever stuff!

It is fantastic to see the city and our companies leading from the from the front when it comes to pioneering green products and initiatives.

But the bottom line is that we can all make a contribution to the journey to net zero, both in our workplace and our homes (although I appreciate that for many people the home is their workplace now!).

We can all make subtle changes to our lives, which can make a collective difference. You know what they say? It’s never too late!

Anyway, have a safe and productive November and I look forward to catching up again soon.

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