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Ground Collection to Bolster Foundation’s Charity Support


Help raise funds with Birmingham City Football Club and Eze Group and make a difference

Blues fans are being urged to give generously to a ground collection at our home fixture against Bournemouth on Saturday October 25 which will raise much needed funds for a number of local charities supported by the EZE Group Foundation.

The club’s diamond partner EZE Group has organised the ground collection with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust and Caudwell Children being among those charities to benefit.  The charity team at QEHB is dedicated to improving the experience of patients, their families and the staff who care for them at the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals.

Thanks to the generous support of donors like the EZE Group Foundation, hospitals are able to provide a level of patient care beyond what NHS funding alone can deliver.

Over recent months the charity has launched a partnership with Ladies Fighting Breast cancer which aims to raise £1 million to bring screening and treatment services together in a fantastic new environment at the hospital.

In the summer, supporters also welcomed the Prince of Wales to open Fisher House, a ‘home from home’ for the loved ones of military patients being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. The 18-bedroom facility offers comfort and emotional support to the families.

Latest charity supported

Caudwell Children, a charity committed to changing the lives of disabled children, is the latest good cause to receive the support of the EZE Group Foundation.  Since its formation in March 2000, Caudwell Children has provided services worth over £27million to thousands of children with over 500 different medical conditions.  Its seven core services – Family Support, Equipment, Treatment, STEP, ACT, Enable Sport and Destination Dreams – play a vital role in improving the well being of sick and disabled children across the UK.  Caudwell Children is widely recognised as one of the country’s fastest growing children’s charities. Since its inception, the charity has doubled every pound raised, achieved through supplier partnerships, which means every pound donated works even harder.

Last season a ground collection organised by EZE Group raised more than £2,400 for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the armed forces charity.

Dominic O’Reilly, CEO of EZE Group, said: “The collection last season was one of the best ever and we’re hoping Blues fans will once again dig deep to support a number of very worthy local causes.”


  • Two of EZE Group’s darting dream team spent the last three weeks in the Southern Hemisphere competing at the last three stops of the 2015 World Series of Darts. James Wade and Simon Whitlock experienced mixed fortunes during tournaments in Australia and New Zealand. World number six Wade enjoyed runs to a final, semi-final and quarter-final, while Australian ace Whitlock’s best showing was a quarter-final placing in Auckland. The trio of tournaments, which followed World Series events in Japan and Dubai, kicked off in Perth, where Wade claimed his best result. ‘The Machine’ reached the final after defeating Peter Wright and world number one Michael van Gerwen but was denied glory by Phil Taylor. A week later in Sydney, Wade lost out to Wright in the last eight but came out on top when the pair met again at the same stage in Auckland, where the left-hander had beaten Paul Nicholson in the last 16.   Wade missed out on a second final appearance of the trip after suffering defeat at the hands of Raymond van Barneveld in the semis. Whitlock’s highlight was his victory over Stephen Bunting in Auckland but Taylor put paid to the world number ten’s chances of progressing further. Both players were received exceptionally well by crowds in all three cities. The events were screened to millions of viewers worldwide. The line-up for the World Series Finals will be announced in due course.  
  • First European Title for Eze Group Star     EZE Group Darts ace Robert Thornton won his first European Tour title after hitting top form in Dusseldorf on Sunday. The Scottish ace defeated Kim Huybrechts in the final to win the European Darts Open. Thornton, who had defeated Dimitri van den Bergh to reach the final day, saw off fellow EZE Group ambassador Simon Whitlock in the last 16 before sealing a 6-4 success against Jelle Klaasen to reach the semi-finals. A Fabulous Performance There, he produced the performance of the tournament to claim a fabulous 6-1 triumph in another battle against EZE Group man James Wade, in which 'The Thorn' averaged almost 112. And he continued to play brilliantly in the final, posting a 106 average in a 6-2 defeat of Huybrechts. "I'm really pleased with how I played and I'm over the moon to win," said Thornton who completed the victory with a 116 finish. "I seemed to get better as the weekend went on and it is a great feeling to win a European event because they are not easy. "This sets up my confidence well for the Matchplay and the rest of the year." Thornton, who rose back to number eight in the world rankings after adding £20,000 to his haul of prize money, is back in action in Blackpool next week when he takes on Keegan Brown in the first round of the World Matchplay. Thornton’s fellow EZE Group ambassadors Wade and Whitlock will also be in action, with every match being shown live on Sky Sports and various channels worldwide.
  • Second Title of 2015 EZE Group star James Wade won his second title of 2015 at Players Championship 13 in Wigan on Saturday. The world number six produced some fantastic performances before clinching the success with a brilliant fightback against Kim Huybrechts in the final.Eight-time major winner Wade eased past Steve Douglas and Dirk van Duijvenbode in the early stages of his run to glory, dropping only one leg in those two matches. He then saw off Dave Ladley, Vincent van der Voort and Ian White to reach the semi-finals.There, he defeated World Youth Champion Keegan Brown 6-1 to set up a decider with fellow Premier League player Huybrechts. Victory from the jaws of defeat ‘The Machine’ fell 5-3 behind in the final but won three straight legs to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Wade’s form is encouraging ahead of the upcoming World Matchplay, which he won in 2007. The draw for the prestigious tournament, which takes place at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in a fortnight, was made on Monday - with Wade being pitted against Australia’s Kyle Anderson while his fellow EZE Group ambassadors Simon Whitlock and Robert Thornton were drawn against Jelle Klaasen and Keegan Brown respectively.
  • Two of EZE Group’s arrows aces are heading to Australia and New Zealand for a triple header of World Series of Darts events. James Wade and Simon Whitlock will both be competing at the high-profile events in Perth, Sydney and Auckland. Whitlock, whose place as an Oceanic representative for the three events was confirmed last week, is aiming for glory in his homeland of Australia. “I’m really looking forward to returning to Australia for the Perth Masters and the Sydney Masters,” said the former European Champion. “I played in both events last year and really enjoyed them and this time around will be even more special to me as I am representing my home continent. I’m very excited about the first event in New Zealand too. “It would be fantastic to win one of the three tournaments and that is the aim I have in mind.” Wade had already been selected as one of eight players representing the PDC in the events. The three tournaments will be played in August in the following order:- TABtouch Perth Darts Masters HBF Stadium, August 14-16 Sydney Darts Masters Qantas Credit Union Arena, August 20-22 Auckland Darts Masters Trusts Arena, August 28-30 Both Wade and Whitlock, who are currently world ranked 6 and 8 respectively, will, as always, have the support of EZE Group and will be sporting our logo on their playing shirts. EZE Group will provide reports and updates on their progress throughout the World Series of Darts and other professional events in 2015.
  • A day to remember Brave Blues fan Mike Whitehouse had a day to remember when he led out the team at St Andrew’s after being nominated for a special EZE Wish by his brother Peter. Mike, aged 67, who lives in Morchard Bishop near Crediton in Devon, has been battling against incurable cancer since being diagnosed with the illness last August. Despite regular trips to the hospital for chemotherapy treatment, Mike who spent 30 years as a weapon’s inspector in the army, has vowed to do all he can to live life to the full. A VIP day at St Andrews's As well as leading out the players, Mike enjoyed a VIP day at St Andrew’s where he watched the action unfold from the luxury of the EZE Group box and afterwards met the man of the match, Blues goalkeeper Darren Randolph.   Commenting on his brother’s EZE Wish, Peter said: “With Mike now living near Exeter it’s a long way for him to travel to see the Blues and I wanted to give him an extra special treat and one he could remember and tick of his bucket list.”   Mike, who was brought up near St Andrew’s in Small Heath, first started watching Birmingham City when he was 11 years old and recalls the night Blues played the mighty Barcelona in the European Inter City Fairs Cup. During his time in the army he served in Germany, Northern Ireland, USA, Falklands, Belize and various European countries and depending on where he was stationed would always try to fit in a home or away fixture. Bringing back many happy memories “I enjoyed the day enormously and as the EZE Group box is directly above the spot where I used to stand on the Kop watching the game, it brought back many happy memories,” said Mike.
  • LIFELONG BLUES FAN MEETS NEW BOSS ROWETT Lifelong Birmingham City supporter Pam Allsopp came face to face with new boss Gary Rowett after being nominated for an EZE Wish by her son Richard. Pam, who lives in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield,  had a pre-match briefing with Rowett ahead of Saturday’s goalless draw against Cardiff at St Andrew’s where she watched the action unfold from the luxury of the EZE Group box. Pam, who moved to Birmingham from Luton as a youngster, began following the Blues as a 13 years-old in the late 1950s and has been a regular ever since. Her dad took Pam to her first ever game at Villa Park to watch his home club Luton in a league fixture ahead of the FA Cup final, but she quickly converted to Blues and became a season ticket holder soon after. A supporter from a very early age Such is Pam’s passion for the club that she decided to take son Richard to his first ever game when he was just three weeks old and regularly collected him from school early so she could follow her beloved Blues during mid week away fixtures. Richard nominated his mum for an EZE Wish, an initiative from Blues diamond partners EZE Group which is designed to recognise and reward fans who have overcome adversity, undertaken selfless voluntary work in the community or shown outstanding loyalty to the club. “Mum has been a season ticket holder since the 1950's and has supported Blues through every high and low,” said Richard.  “She is a regular contributor on local radio phone-ins and I’m sure her vast knowledge of the game and passion for Birmingham City came over in the meeting with Gary.”  A friendly chat with the boss Pam says that Gary Rowett was her “first choice” for the Blues role.  “I think it’s a really positive change which was long overdue and it was great to have the opportunity of meeting Gary before the game. We chatted about how well he had settled into the role and afterwards he presented me with a signed ball.” Over the years Pam has witnessed many memorable games but those that she fondly recalls include the Carling Cup Final against Arsenal at Wembley, the day Blues clinched promotion in the play off final against Norwich at the Millennium Stadium and an FA Cup tie at St Andrew’s in the 1960s when Blues came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3. As for her favourite all-time players, Pam cites Alan Campbell, Terry Hennessy, Bert Murray Barry Bridges and the promotion winning group from 1972 as among her roll of honour. Dominic O’Reilly, CEO of EZE Group said: “Fans like Pam are the life-blood of football and we were delighted to recognise her loyalty to Blues by granting this special EZE Wish to meet the new boss.”
  • Eze Group and Help Harry Help Others EZE Group, the lifestyle and leisure specialists, has stepped up its support for Help Harry Help Others by becoming official patrons of the Birmingham based charity. Over the last two years the EZE Group Foundation has helped raise thousands of pounds for Help Harry Help Others through a variety of joint initiatives involving Birmingham City F.C including match-day collections, raffles and other money spinning events such as donating the shirt sponsorship rights for a one off game. The Blues official charity Help Harry Help Others is the official charity of Birmingham City FC and EZE Group is a diamond partner of the club. Georgie Moseley, chairman and founder of Help Harry Help Others, said: “We have enjoyed a brilliant relationship with EZE Group over the last couple of years so are delighted they have agreed to bolster their support by becoming one of the charity’s official patrons. We look forward to working with EZE Group and strengthening our relationship further so we can continue to provide valuable backing to young cancer sufferers and those families the disease impacts upon.” Dominic O’Reilly, CEO of EZE Group said: “We have been tremendously impressed by the team at Help Harry Help Others who work tirelessly to raise funds which can really make a difference to individuals and families who are struck down by cancer. We will be working with the charity to further maximise our links with Birmingham City FC and reach out to supporters across the West Midlands region and beyond.” A charity with an inspiring history Help Harry Help Others has been the official charity of Birmingham City FC since 2012. Like many others, the club was inspired by the brave story of young Harry Moseley who first visited St Andrew’s to sell the bracelets shortly before he died of brain cancer, aged just 11. In two years Harry raised more than £650,000, winning the hearts and minds of others through his determination, love of life and, most of all, his desire to “make a difference.” All cash raised through the partnership with EZE Group will go towards funding vital research into brain cancer and supporting families of children living with all forms of cancer The charity’s mission to help cope, help care and help cure has touched the hearts of millions of people including young children. You can help To find out more about the charity, please visit www.hhho.org.uk, follow them on twitter - #HHHO Day, @harry_moseley or like their Facebook page by searching for ‘helpharryhelpothers.’ Donations of £5 can also be made by texting Harry to 70800. Eze Group’s membership based leisure and lifestyle programmes are giving a growing number of consumers the flexibility and choice they need to make the most of their free time. Members and their families can enjoy countless activities and destinations, plus a host of other lifestyle benefits and experiences which have been specially negotiated by EZE Group to provide outstanding value compared to normal retail prices. For more details about EZE Group, please visit www.ezegroup.com
  • EZE Group Darts Stars Hit Winning Streak! EZE Group darts aces Simon Whitlock and James Wade are enjoying a sizzling start to the summer after both claiming big wins on the professional tour.The signs are great for the pair ahead of the prestigious World Matchplay, which takes place later this month in Blackpool. Whitlock clinched his first title of the year with victory at Players Championship 12 in Coventry, where he defeated Wade in the final to secure the winner’s cheque. Wade then continued his impressive form by winning claiming his first tournament victory of the year with a brilliant European Tour triumph in Gibraltar. So with the EZE group sponsored stars on a hot streak, the dynamic duo both fancy their chances at the World Matchplay. Former European Champion Whitlock, who is currently fourth in the world rankings, said: “I’m really happy with my form lately but my next target is to win another major. “EZE Group have been fantastic to me so to win another big title would mean a lot as it would be testament to the belief they have shown in me. That gives me great confidence and it is showing in my form.” Seven time major winner Wade has also set his sights on another major success, with a repeat of his 2007 triumph at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens firmly on his radar. “I feel like am back,” said Wade, who has move back up to fifth in the world rankings.
  • PRESS RELEASE 27 May 2014 EZE GROUP WIN LIBEL ACTION AGAINST ALBERTO GARCIA AND MIND TIMESHARE Eze Group is expecting to be awarded substantial damages after successfully progressing a libel action against Mind Timeshare and the blog owner Mr Alberto Garcia.   Following the landmark High Court ruling EZE Group’s media lawyers Pinder Reaux are now in contact with Wordpress in order to request the removal of all libellous material and disclosure of the blog contributors.   Last year EZE Group was successfully granted a High Court Order to expose the people behind the damaging blog postings that appeared on the Mind Timeshare website.   Despite this, the blog hosting platform Wordpress, refused to adhere to the High Court order for the defamatory postings to be removed, citing concerns that it was contrary to the right of free speech as set out in the First Amendment of the American Constitution.   Unperturbed Dominic O’Reilly, EZE Group’s CEO instructed city media lawyers Pinder Reaux to commence a libel action against Mind Timeshare and the blog operator.   The action gave Mind Timeshare and Mr Garcia the opportunity to prove legitimacy of the comments contained within the blog, but after proceedings were served via electronic format (due to Mr Garcia’s evasiveness) no acknowledgment or defence was received.   On May 16th 2014 in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court, London judgement in default was granted due to the failure of Mr Garcia to reply to proceedings.   A damages hearing to assess the award of damages payable by Mr Garcia to Eze Group will now be set for the first available hearing after July 2nd 2014.   Commenting on the successful proceedings, Dominic O’Reilly said: “This is a classic case of persistence beating resistance and we are now awaiting the award for the damage caused to our business reputation and the financial loss suffered as a result of the postings.”   Mr Spyrou of Pinder Reaux media lawyers added that ‘people should exercise extreme caution when considering contributing to blog sites as the internet can entice people into making comments that they may well regret later’
  • Despite losing his sight nothing was going to stop Birmingham City fanatic Stephen Fildes from having a ball at St. Andrew’s last Saturday– in more ways than one!   As part of the club’s EZE Wishes campaign, Stephen a member of the Birmingham City Disabled Supporters Club, was chauffeur driven to the game against Huddersfield Town where he delivered the match ball to referee Darren Deadman.  Stephen, aged 35,  then sat back and listened to the action unfold in the luxury of EZE Group’s executive box in the Kop, before being presented with a signed Blues shirt by  man of the match Emyr Huws.   A lifelong Blues fan, Stephen travels to both home and away games even though he is registered blind after losing his sight nearly six years ago due to suffering with diabetes. During this time Stephen, who lives in Solihull, has also undergone a kidney and pancreas transplant which meant him missing out on the team’s Carling Cup triumph over Arsenal at Wembley.   John Starkey, who nominated his friend for the EZE Wish, said: “Stephen has had a transplant and has been extremely poorly in recent years, but none of this will ever stop him from supporting the Blues.”   A season ticket holder in the Kop, Stephen attends home games with his dad Alan and away fixtures with the Disabled Supporter’s Club.   Despite Blues going down 2-1 to Huddersfield, Stephen had a memorable day out at St. Andrew’s.  “At first when I received the call, I thought it was a wind up by friends, so couldn’t believe it when I was told I had been nominated for an EZE Wish.  I’ve supported Blues all my life and nothing gets in the way of me going to the games,” he said.   Dominic O’Reilly, chief executive of EZE Group, Birmingham City FC’s diamond partners, said: “We devised the EZE Wishes campaign for supporters just like Stephen.  He has shown tremendous courage despite losing his sight a few years ago and we were delighted to be able to give him this special treat.”
  • Rugby League World Cup 2013 is delighted to unveil another commercial partnership ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off, with the agreement of a sponsorship deal with leisure, entertainment and lifestyle providers EZE Group. As bespoke suppliers to the entertainment and leisure industry, EZE Group provides a host of leisure and lifestyle options for those planning their free time. EZE Group will enjoy fantastic exposure through their partnership with the global sporting event of 2013 with the company’s distinctive branding appearing on pitch-side perimeter boards on match days. The agreement also includes extensive hospitality rights. It is the first time in 13 years that the Rugby League World Cup has returned to the UK and matches are scheduled to take place across 21 venues including Wembley Stadium, The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and Old Trafford, Manchester. EZE Group Commercial Director Abdul Rashid said: “We are delighted to be supporting Rugby League World Cup 2013, which is a major international sporting event. “It is a brilliant shop window for promoting our brand to the millions of spectators watching games live or on television.” Rugby League World Cup 2013 General Manager Sally Bolton said: “This partnership represents yet another new brand being welcomed to the sport, and there’s no better way to start than at our biggest ever international tournament. “EZE Group offers an unique service and are already strongly associated with sport through their partnership with Birmingham City FC. It is pleasing that they have chosen Rugby League World Cup 2013 as their next commercial investment.” Rugby League World Cup 2013 begins on Saturday, with a fantastic Opening Ceremony and explosive double header of matches under the roof at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. England will clash with arch-rivals Australia in arguably the sport’s biggest match, and co-hosts Wales will meet Italy, barely a week after both sides recorded impressive wins in their warm-up matches.
  • A teenage Blues fan who overcame cancer was given a close-up view of his favourite team when he was granted an EZE Wish to shadow the club photographer at a home game. Charles Hayes, aged 18, watched and took photos of Birmingham City’s 4-1 home victory against Sheffield Wednesday from the pitchside and also joined the suited players and manager Lee Clarke in their line-up for a pre-match photograph. Afterwards he met man of the match Jesse Lingard who scored all four goals on his league debut. Charles, a carpentry apprentice who lives in Hurley near Tamworth, was nominated by his grandmother Roberta Hayes as part of the EZE Wish initiative by the club’s diamonds partner, lifestyle and leisure company EZE Group. Dad Glen, who like Charles is a season ticket holder in the Tilton Road End, said: “His grandmother, and indeed the whole family, are very proud of him. She felt he deserved the treat after all he has gone through and put his name forward. He had a fabulous day and we want to thank everyone who made it possible.” Charles was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphona as a child and underwent eight months of chemotherapy. He came through it and has been in remission for 12 years and is able to live a normal life. The keen Blues supporter said: “It was different experience taking photos and watching the game so close to the action. It was an amazing game. I was nervous earlier going on the pitch, but having my picture taken with the whole squad and Lee Clarke was probably the best part of the day.” As part of shadowing club photographer Roy Smiljanic, Charles also enjoyed sandwiches in the press box before the game and was given guidance on taking photos for potential use in a match-day programme.
  • 13 August 2013 Whitlock Breaks World Record! EZE Group’s darts sensation Simon Whitlock is a world record holder after hitting the bullseye from the longest distance ever. Whitlock, who has been sponsored by EZE Group since the beginning of the year, took part in a challenge to beat the existing record of 5.05 metres at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on Monday. And it took the Australian ace just four minutes to take that record away from former England cricket star Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff as he pinned the bull from 5.1 metres. The world number four went on to beat his own record twice more before his World Cup team-mate Paul Nicholson matched the feat of bedding the bullseye from a whopping 5.235 metres to share the world record. “I’m very proud to have a world record to my name,” said Whitlock, the former European Darts Champion. “There was a bit of pressure ahead of this attempt so it was nice to beat Freddie nice and early and I’m only too happy to share the record with a top darts player and friend in Paul Nicholson. “It was all about keeping my technique as close to normal as possible and aiming very, very high. It’s a cool thing to have to your name and it is great to have done it here in Australia.” Whitlock is back in Australia ahead of the PDC’s second event of their new World Series, the Sydney Darts Masters, which takes place at the end of the month.
  •   Press Release   EZE WISH GIVES FANS CHANCE TO LINE-UP IN BLUES TEAM PHOTO-CALL  Two lucky Blues fans will have the chance to line-up alongside the first team squad in the pre-season photo-call as part of a new diamond sponsorship deal announced with EZE Group, the lifestyle and leisure experts. Last season’s main shirt sponsors and principal partners will be continuing with the popular EZE Wishes campaign after announcing a new deal with Birmingham City FC which will see them become the club’s official diamond sponsor and travel, leisure and entertainment partner. EZE Wishes is designed to recognise and reward those deserving fans who have either overcome personal adversity, carried out outstanding work in the community or shown tremendous support for the Blues over the years. Last year more than a dozen supporters were recognised through the EZE Wishes campaign and now, to mark the start of the new season, EZE Group and BCFC are seeking nominations for the first 2013/14 wish – lining up alongside the first team squad for the traditional club photo-call. Dominic O’Reilly, chief executive of EZE Group, said:  “We have developed a tremendous relationship with the club and the fans over the last two seasons and are delighted to be continuing as diamond sponsors for the forthcoming season. “The EZE Wishes campaign in particular has been a big hit with supporters and we’re looking forward to fulfilling even more dreams for fans over the coming months.” Ian Dutton, commercial manager at Birmingham City FC said:  “EZE Group has been an important partner over the last two seasons and we are really pleased to be continuing with the relationship under the new diamond sponsorship.” Fans have two chances to take part in the pre-season photo-call which will take place at St. Andrew’s on Monday, July 29.  To make a nomination for an EZE Wish they should email ezewishes@bcfc.com stating why that person deserves to line-up alongside the players. Alternatively, they can visit the EZE Group “Facebook” page and by liking it they will be entered into a free draw for one lucky fan to be selected for the photo-call. “This season even if fans aren’t selected for an EZE Wish they will have a second chance of winning money can’t buy opportunities through the club, simply by visiting and liking our Facebook page,” added Dominic O’Reilly. The closing date for both the EZE Wish nominations and Facebook draw is mid-day on Wednesday, July 24th.
  • MARY WINS DREAM FLORIDA TRIP IN EZE GROUP BLUES DRAW Blues season-ticket holder Mary Woods is looking forward to a dream holiday to Orlando after winning a prize draw organised by the club’s shirt sponsor and principle partner EZE Group. Mary, from Warwick, won the Florida prize at the end of the season after submitting regular nominations for the EZE Group Birmingham City FC Player of the Month awards.  All fans who nominated a player for the monthly award during the season were entered into the draw to win a trip for two to Florida. Blues young midfield star Callum Reilly made a surprise visit to Mary’s home in Warwick to present the prize and she is now looking forward to visiting the sunshine state with daughter Sarah who has also been a season ticket holder for the last four years. Originally from the east end of London, Mary started supporting the Blues when she became the landlady of a popular pub in Birmingham City Centre.  “I’ve been following Blues for 10 years and ever since I became interested in football after chatting to regulars in the pub,” explained Mary. Commenting on her holiday success, Mary said:  “I’m absolutely amazed as I’ve never won anything in my life.” Dominic O’Reilly, chief executive of EZE Group, said:  “As a company, we are all about providing memorable lifestyle experiences, so it’s great to be able to treat a loyal fan like Mary.”
  • Eze Group are happy to share with you some photo’s taken during the action filled ‘Bring Your Boots’ tournament recently played at St. Andrew’s. There is always an element of sadness when a football season ends, but one of upsides of this period in the footballing calendar is the fact that events such as ‘Bring Your Boots’ take place. ‘Bring Your Boots’ was a tournament sponsored by Eze Group, comprising of six teams made up of fans. The six-team competition saw Clarity Copiers lift the silverware after defeating Jossy’s Giants in the final. Some really great football was witnessed as well as some: tough tackling, hard knocks and a lot of fun. All in all the players and spectators (and Eze Group) had a fabulous day. Modern professional football, with its highly paid players, can sometimes come in for criticism – justified or otherwise – so it was great to see a variety of abilities and playing styles prove that the ‘beautiful game’ can be highly enjoyable to watch, even when practiced by players somewhat closer to the grassroots of the game. We at Eze Group are very proud to have been able to get 6 teams onto the hallowed turf of St Andrews and left a lot of players, family and friends with some great memories.
  • Personal finance writer Gemma Hughes shares her top tips for buying foreign currency. 1. Don’t buy too far in advance If you buy currency a long way in advance you risk losing potential interest on it and gamble on how much the exchange rate may change before you travel. You may decide to have £100 or £200 in cash to use when you arrive in your destination, but you are better topping this up by using a cash machine than exchanging large sums. However keep in mind that not all debit or credit cards can be used abroad, and your bank or credit card provider may charge you a fee for taking money out overseas. 2. Keep spare foreign currency If you travel a lot, especially within Europe or the United States, it is worth holding on to any leftover cash each time you travel so you don’t need to buy as much for your next trip. 3. Debit cards When you need cash abroad, the cheapest, easiest and most flexible way to buy will most likely be with your debit card in a cash machine. You will usually be charged a fee (normally 1.5-2 per cent) and the exchange rate used will be ‘loaded’ against you by as much as 2.75 per cent. However it is still likely to work out cheaper than, or just as cheap as, buying cash from a bureau de change. It is also useful to note the minimum fee for cash withdrawals – it could be more cost effective to take out a larger sum at once than lots of small amounts. Be careful using your debit card for purchases as well, some banks now charge you each time you use your debit card to buy things abroad. 4. Credit card If you don’t pay off the balance of your credit card every month, common sense will tell you to use it as little as possible. It is also not advisable to use your credit card to take money out from a cash machine as you will pay a ‘cash advance’ fee on this. However, if you do pay off the balance on your credit card every month and as a result don’t accumulate substantial charges, there are benefits to using a credit card abroad. Firstly, you will get free credit until you need to pay off your balance, and secondly you will get a competitive exchange rate without extra commission charges. Thirdly, you get additional consumer rights and protection. You are covered against the insolvency of a company that charges you for goods or services in advance, and under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you buy something with a credit card abroad and it turns out to be faulty, (and you are unable to get a replacement) you can claim a refund from your credit card provider. 5. Currency cards Currency cards are credited with a fixed amount of sterling or foreign currency before travelling, and are like electronic travellers’ cheques, although more flexible as you can use them to directly pay for goods in shops and restaurants or use them to withdraw money from cash machines. You usually have to pay a registration fee, but the idea behind the cards is to help you budget, by setting a fixed amount of spending money. They also protect against fraud, although no more than a credit or debit card. As these currency cards can be topped up by friends and family in Britain, they could be very useful for younger travellers or those on a gap-year looking to have an emergency reserve. Gemma Hughes writes on personal finance issues for and is a long term foster carer.
  • Tenerife is generally associated with year-round sunshine, warms seas, sandy beaches and package holidays. The perfect place to relax and enjoy a fortnight’s break. However there is a wilder, more adventurous side to the island too. With everything from plummeting canyons to volcanic caves, towering mountain peaks and lush pine forests, Tenerife's stunning landscapes provide a backdrop for a wide variety of mountain activities. Whether you're up for a leisurely walk through the wilderness or a challenging rock climb, there are mountain activities for every taste and level of expertise. Get out there and explore! Those looking for an action-packed getaway should not dismiss Tenerife. Here we've listed our favourite action-packed activities: Hiking The highpoint for walkers on Tenerife is the caldera of the immense volcano called Mount Teide. This amazing active volcano is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a national park. Join a party of walkers to explore the vast, rugged region surrounding the imposing volcano or, for the more adventurous, scale the magnificent edifice itself. Diving Tenerife is recognised around the world as a centre for first-rate diving. There are several Professional Association of Diving Instructors courses available on the island that will teach you the basics to diving, and allow you to dive into the glorious, warm waters just off the island. Biking For those who enjoy extreme mountain biking, Tenerife is the place for you. Some of the isolated mountainsides of the island are off-limits to mountain bikers, but there are many that offer fantastic riding in amazing weather conditions. Bike hire is available all around the island, so you will have no excuse not to jump in the saddle and take on the mountains. Quad bikes If you prefer a bike with four wheels and an engine, then quad biking could be the sport for you. Tenerife has two quad biking options, Quad Park, which gives you the chance to take local tracks to experience the thrill of quad biking, or the Quad Safari that takes groups off-road into the rugged mountains. Instructions and safety equipment is supplied. Ocean kayaking Why not explore the stunning volcanic shores of Tenerife from an ocean kayak? Available from as little as 10 euros an hour, you can explore the inlets and rocky coves from your very own kayak. Tuition is available for the inexperienced from El Cardon at Punta de Teno. They will also organise equipment hire and can give you information on the best places to explore. Tenerife may have a well-earned status as an island holiday paradise, but look below the surface and a volcano of thrill-seeking fun awaits. Do not overlook Tenerife when planning your action-packed holiday.
  • EZE Group granted another deserving Blues fan an EZE Wish last month, as part of our EZe Wish Campaign. Blues fan Kieran Stanley was given a rare chance to see behind the scenes of important pre-match preparations, prior to the recent fixture at home to Sheffield Wednesday. He had the opportunity to assist the club kit manager before the match. Kieran is sixteen and lives in Sheldon and has courageously battled Cystic Fibrosis from age one. He is a regular supporter in the Tilton Road Stand, along with his dad John, who nominated Kieran for his EZE Wish. After the game Kieran was treated to VIP hospitality in the EZE Group executive box. Kieran has to undergo physiotherapy twice a day, but still gets on with his life as normally as he is able to. His dad John says, “He was diagnosed when he was just one, but despite everything he has never complained and has just learnt to deal with the illness. Kieran is a fitness fanatic and the doctors are amazed at how well he has done.” Since he started supporting Birmingham City, Kieran has hardly missed a game at St. Andrew’s and he and his dad regularly travel to away fixtures. John added, “It’s brilliant for him to help the kit manager prepare the dressing room and a great gesture by EZE Group and the club. Kieran lives and breathes the Blues and I’m sure it is something he will cherish for the rest of the life.” EZE Wishes are part of a campaign to recognise those supporters who have shown outstanding loyalty to the club, have overcome hardships or are extraordinary members of the community. If you know a deserving Blues fan, you could grant their wish to meet players, be a mascot on match day or enjoy VIP hospitality in the executive box.
  • Eze Group is lucky enough to have strong ties with the beautiful Canary Islands. The fifth largest of these stunning islands is La Palma, a great holiday destination if you are looking for a hidden gem. La Palma isn’t on most people’s radars but that is part of its charm. Known as ‘Isla Bonita’ it is largely unspoilt and underdeveloped, offering a peaceful and authentic picture of the Canaries. Located 200km west of the Moroccan coast in the Atlantic Ocean, the 728 square kilometres that make up La Palma are home to around 80,000 inhabitants, many of whom are employed in the subsidised banana plantations. Banana plantations are prevalent on the island, especially in the coastal regions. If you visit the island you will see bananas growing pretty much everywhere you go! La Palma is considered very steep for its land mass, with many areas growing steeply upwards from coastal regions to volcanic tips. It is the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands and around half a million years ago, the volcano, Taburiente, collapsed with a giant landslide, forming the Caldera de Taburiente, which is definitely worth a trip to see. The three main tourist areas of the island are Los Cancajos on the east coast, and Puerto Naos and Tazacorte on the west coast. Los Cancajos Los Cancajos is the main resort on the island, and services as the main beach area and seaside town for the capital, Santa Cruz de La Palma, located 4km away. It’s a relatively new resort (there was no village or harbour here prior to the hotels being built) and features hotels, bars and restaurants, grocery stores, sun loungers, showers, a children's playground and three black sand beaches, separated from each other by rocks. Los Canajos is a small and quiet resort compared to its other Canary Island counterparts, but offers all you need in one place with easy access to other parts of the island. Watersports are popular here, and it is recognised as one of the best places on the island to snorkel and dive. Although it does not have the best weather on the island, it does have more constant temperatures due to the cloud cover caused by the prevailing wind from the north-east. Many coach excursions leave from Los Canajos so you will be able to pick up a tour to visit the rest of the island. There is also a regular bus service to Santa Cruz. Puerto Naos Puerto Naos is situated on the south-west coast and has one of the best beaches on the island which is formed from ground volcanic rock. It was originally a traditional fishing village and had a small landing place for boats carrying bananas, but little remains to be seen although the village itself is still fairly underdeveloped. This is a popular tourist area due to the beach and the climate (Puerto Naos has good temperatures all year round making it a popular winter spot). It mainly consists of privately owned apartments, but there is a wide range of bars and restaurants, tourist shops and a few supermarkets. At the end of the beach there is the hotel Sol La Palma. Tazacorte Tazacorte is located on the west side of the island and claims to be the warmest place of the island. It is split into two main sections, Tazacorte and Puerto Tazacorte. The town of Tazacorte is situated approximately 1km above the coast and overlooks the ocean and the banana plantations. It is the main centre and houses the shops, supermarkets, government buildings, as well as new and old houses. Puerto Tazacorte is the village around the beach and harbour and is very attractive with a black sand beach and promenade. It has may cafes, bars and (fish) restaurants along its long boulevard. Around 85% of the land in Tazacorte is used for banana plantations, as crops grow well due to Tazacorte having the greatest number of hours of sun in Europe during the entire year. The harbour at Tazacorte is the base for private yachts, dolphin watching trips, the local fishing fleet, a cargo ferry and the fish farms off the coast.
  • ITV had a huge impact on the popularity of darts when then cancelled its World of Sport programme marking a very dark time for the sport. When they dropped all coverage after the World Masters tournament in 1988, professionals began to worry about the lack of interest and sponsorship money coming in. Sponsors didn’t want to commit to the dingy and dour image the sport was portraying. Fly forward nineteen years and darts is now one of the largest commercial and sporting triumphs, despite the tough economic times we are living in. The PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) are arranging more and more tournaments all over the world. The reputation of darts has not only improved in the UK, but is gaining popularity all over the world. Sky Sports have just started their new season of McCoy’s Premier League, bringing in more and more commercial success and awareness. Darts sponsorship is also at a record high. The British Darts Organisation Lakeside tournaments are still being broadcast on the BBC in January every year, and the people competing in that organisation are just as famous as their wealthier colleagues in the PDC. So what has changed the perception of this sport? One of the features that made darts so unpopular in the 80s could be the reason for its triumphant return. Since the Sky Sports revolution, the pub has become an important place for those who want to watch live sport on the TV. And, remembering that the venue of darts tournaments is essentially a large pub itself, with beer, banter and camaraderie why wouldn’t it be a popular day out for live sports fans? There is a lot of enjoyment gained from watching darts today. Players shirts are now overloaded with sponsors, there are advertising boards competing for attention around the venues and we even have celebrities turning up for a good night out. New sponsorship money has resulted in prize funds increasing at a spectacular rate, with the PDC championship carrying a prize fund of one million pounds – something that would never have been envisioned in the late eighties. Darts has created sporting heroes. James Wade, Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor have become household names in the sport. Phil Taylor even came second in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2010, beating Jessica Ennis and David Haye. People are able to relate to these stars, feel they are able to engage with them and stand in awe of their mathematical skill and the accuracy with which they throw on a consistent basis. The world has fallen in love with the simple game of arrows. It has transformed from a simple past time between mates into a global brand in little over two decades. But when you strip back the money, the show business and the glamour, the game is still one we can all relate to and while that’s the case, the full house signs will be up in arenas all around the world for years to come.
  • This weekend’s home game against Nottingham Forest will be dedicated to Birmingham’s Official Charity Partner to raise awareness and funding for Help Harry Help Others. This follows on from the charity’s first fundraising boost at St. Andrew’s in October, which raised an incredible £7,500. All money raised will aid the charity in achieving its aim – help cope, help care and help cure cancer. The Help Harry Help Others logo will also be shown on the matchday shirts alongside the EZE Group logo. EZE Group have also donated VIP hospitality for 10 people and their collection allocation to the cause. To help kick-start fund raising for Saturday’s game, Blues players Nathan Redmond and Callum Reilly visited the charity’s HQ in Church Road, Yardley where they joined volunteer supporters in a busy bracelet making session. HHHO have free reign of the stadium at the game and will be doing a bucket collection in and around the stadium, as well as continuing the mass bracelet session with an army of selfless supporters. Bracelets, in the Blues colours, will be available on Saturday from a HHHO collector or throughout the season from the Kop Ticket Office, Blues Superstore and the Kop Reception. Help Harry Help Others was founded in 2009 by Harry Moseley, a courageous boy who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at seven years old. Despite being ill, Harry set up the Help Harry Help Others campaign and made bracelets to raise money, so that he might be able to find a cure for brain cancer and prevent others being ill. Bracelets are now a powerful symbol for the charity. Harry devoted the last few years of his life to raising money for research into brain tumours but sadly lost his battle with cancer at eleven. During these last years he managed to raise over £650,000 in his fight to make a difference and support others. After Harry’s death his family ensured Harry’s hard work and legacy would live on and made his dream of having his own charity come true. As a result of their determination Help Harry Help Others is now a registered charity which embraces Harry’s values. Harry was a generous, caring boy who not only wanted to raise money for cancer research, but wanted to inspire other children to do good things and help others. Harry’s mum and HHHO chairman and founder Georgie Moseley, said: “Harry was a big Blues fan and St Andrew’s was one of the first places he visited to sell the bracelets. We are extremely grateful to the club and sponsors EZE Group for the support they have provided and are really looking forward to the support of Blues fans at the game on Saturday.” If you would like to find out more about the charity please visit www.hhho.org.uk follow: @harry_moseley or like their Facebook page. You can also donate £5 towards this worthwhile by texting 'Harry' to 70800. Birmingham City are also running a competition to win one of four sets of family of four tickets to the upcoming Blues v Watford fixture. To be in with a chance of winning, they are asking fans to tweet a picture of you and your friends wearing your Blues Help Harry Help Others bracelet to @bcfcdotcom with the hashtag #HHHODay by 9pm on Saturday the 16th of February. Anyone under sixteen must have parental permission before sending in photographs. The winner will be announced on Tuesday 19th February.
  • EDWARD’S TRUST LOOKING TO SCORE WITH BLUES FANS Edward’s Trust, the Birmingham based bereavement charity, is hoping for a big result with Blues fans this weekend. A  match-day collection  is taking place at the Brighton & Hove Albion fixture on Saturday, January 19  thanks to a special partnership the charity has formed with the Birmingham based EZE Group Foundation. As well as being Blues shirt sponsors and principal partners EZE Group also supports a number of local charities through its Foundation. Edward’s Trust was established in 1989 by Peter and Hilary Dent after the death of their son, Edward, aged just 7 from cancer. During the past 23 years the charity has helped thousands of children and families from Birmingham and the West Midlands during serious illness and bereavement.  Edward’s Trust provides: Support for anyone affected by the death of a child aged under 18 years. Support for any parent affected by the death of their own child – no matter what the age of their child or the cause of death. Support for children aged 4 to 18 years, bereaved of a primary carer, either at Edward’s Trust or through outreach work in schools. Training and consultation for professionals working with bereaved families. Complementary therapies and respite bereavement care for parents and carers. Stephanie Bradbury, Fundraising and Development Manager at Edward’s Trust, said:  “We are enormously grateful to the EZE Group Foundation, BCFC and all the fans for supporting our collection. We hope to raise much needed funds to allow us to continue our life changing work. The Trust needs to raise at least £1,000 each and every day of the year to maintain the services currently available. We do not receive any government funding so we are urging supporters to give as much as they can afford.” Fans can make a difference by texting Kite19 £5 to 70070.
  • As well as being Blues shirt sponsors and principal partners EZE Group is delighted to support a number of local charities through the EZE Group Foundation. For Blues next home fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion on January 19th the EZE Group Foundation will be teaming up with a Birmingham based charity Edward’s Trust to arrange a match day collection. Edward’s Trust was established in 1989 by Peter and Hilary Dent after the death of their son, Edward, aged just 7 from cancer. During the past 23 years the charity has helped thousands of children and families from Birmingham and the West Midlands during serious illness and bereavement. Edward’s Trust provides: • Support for anyone affected by the death of a child aged under 18 years. • Support for any parent affected by the death of their own child – no matter what the age of their child or the cause of death. • Support for children aged 4 to 18 years, bereaved of a primary carer, either at Edward’s Trust or through outreach work in schools. • Training and consultation for professionals working with bereaved families. • Complementary therapies and respite bereavement care for parents and carers. Stephanie Bradbury, Fundraising and Development Manager at Edward’s Trust, said: “We are enormously grateful to the EZE Group Foundation, BCFC and all the fans for supporting our collection. We hope to raise much needed funds to allow us to continue our life changing work. The Trust needs to raise at least £1,000 each and every day of the year to maintain the services currently available. We do not receive any government funding so please give as much you can afford. For further information contact Stephanie Bradbury on 0121 456 4838 or email stephanie.bradbury@edwardstrust.org.uk or have a look at their websitewww.edwardstrust.org.uk. You can make a difference by texting Kite19 £5 to 70070.
  • Deserving Blues fans are being given the chance to have their special wishes granted for the 12 days of Christmas, in a new initiative launched by the club and its shirt sponsor and principal partner, EZE Group. This exciting plan to grant exceptional Birmingham City supporters a wish for the 12 days of Christmas, whether it’s meeting the players, being a mascot on match day or enjoying a little VIP treatment in the Blues executive box, is to launch Eze Group’s ‘Eze Wishes’. Eze Wishes will recognise those supporters who have shown outstanding loyalty to the club, have overcome hardships or are extraordinary members of the community. Dominic O’Reilly, chief executive officer of EZE Group Europe said: “We all know of those deserving Blues fans who are worthy of recognition, whether it’s through their dedicated support for the team over the years, amazing voluntary work in the community, raising money for charity, or the strength they have shown in tackling personal difficulties. “Working with the club we want the fans’ help in identifying those people who deserve to enjoy a very special EZE Wish – whether it’s meeting their favourite player, receiving a signed Blues shirt, being a mascot on match day or enjoying VIP hospitality in our executive box. Whilst we can’t influence what happens on the pitch, we might be able to give a fan a once in a lifetime opportunity to train with the team, lay the kit out on match day, prepare the pitch or serve the tea at half-time – it’s all about helping dreams come true.” The 12 days of Eze Wishes is already proving to be a success with Eze Group making many dreams come true. Lifelong Blues Fan Sarah Gooding (pictured) was on hand to help launch the campaign when she was invited along to train with the first team squad at the club’s Wast Hills training ground. Sarah, aged 21, from Warwick, was only five when she watched her first Blues fixture at Grimsby and has only missed two games home and away in the last seven years. Thirteen-year-old Kieran Murphy, who lives and breathes the Blues was granted an Eze Wish. Despite suffering with cystic fibrosis Kevin lives life to the full, and has now been given the opportunity to lay the team’s kit out in the dressing room thanks to dad Trevor who nominated him. An Eze Wish was also granted to eighty-year-old season ticket holder Trevor Deeley, who first saw the Blues play in 1935 when he was only three years old. Adrian Howell nominated Trevor for a VIP day out with his grandson, in recognition of his outstanding involvement in the local community. When Callan Brady lost his dad to pancreatic cancer in May this year he decided to raise funds to help fight the disease. After a traumatic year which saw Callan and his family help care for his dad, Callan’s sister Chalsey decided to nominate the Blues fan for an Eze Wish. Callan will meet the players at Blues Wast Hills training ground. David Lloyd has been fighting cancer for the last three years, which has had an effect on the number of Blues games he is able to attend. He and his son Chris, who was nominated separately by friend Karen Bailey for the amazing support he has shown his father, will be attending a VIP day out at St Andrews thanks to Eze Wishes. The most recent wish of the campaign has been granted to fanatical Blues fans, sisters Jessica and Rebecca Ford from New York. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the two girls have shown their true community spirit by raising funds and helping co-ordinate support for needy kids and local families still living in temporary accommodation after the devastation of the storm. The girls will be walking out with the team as mascots when they visit St Andrew’s for the New Year’s Day fixture against Cardiff. If you know a deserving Blues fan and would like to nominate them for an Eze Wish, Birmingham City FC has set up a dedicated email address – ezewishes@bcfc.com. Fans are being urged to write in with their nominations including what they would like the person to receive by way of a wish, and why they deserve to be treated.
  • Jenny Cowen was unlucky to miss competing for Great Britain at the London Games, but  that hasn't detered her from getting back on the board aiming for the next competition. London 2012 During the second week of the Olympics I set off to London with my family to support some of my Team Mates who were competing there.  We were all really excited and were looking forward to experiencing the Olympic atmosphere. We were not disappointed; there was a real buzz all around the Olympic Stadium and surrounding areas.  Although I had been lucky enough to have trained in the Olympic Pool before the Olympics the atmosphere was much different.  All the supporters were upbeat and enjoying themselves.  Moving around the Olympic Park was easy and everything was well organised.  It seemed strange walking around the Olympic Park and Westfield Shopping centre and bumping into a lot of people I know through my sport. We watched the Women’s 10m Platform events (this would have been my competition if I had of been selected to compete).  The atmosphere was electric with so many British supporters being there.  The spectator galleries were full and there was a real sense of optimism and anticipation amongst the crowd. It was ironic in many ways watching these events because as much as I wanted my GB Team mates to do well, I was also supporting my international diving friends too.  Sitting there in the crowd seeing all the girls/women I compete against internationally made me wish even more that I was part of the GB Team competing there and more determined than ever to be part of the GB Team in Rio.  I have to admit that I have never experienced the same support from a spectator’s crowd when I have been competing, not even at the World Championships. As the competitions progressed I knew just how some of the divers where feeling, elated when their dives went well, disappointed when they didn’t go to plan, relief and anticipation when they had finished their last dive.  We all enjoyed watching the competitions but I was secretly feeling quite frustrated because I knew that if I had been selected and I had dived well I would have been more than capable of getting into the finals! Back at training I was still only doing 2-3 pool sessions a week but Boot Camp with my strength and conditioning coach was getting tougher and more tiring.   However it has been worthwhile because I have gone back to my normal training session stronger, faster and fitter!  I can definitely feel and see the benefits of my summer training programme. Now that all the emotions of the Olympics have settled down and training has returned to normal I am determined to train as hard and as best that I can to get to the Commonwealth Games and 2016 Olympics in Rio.   I am ready for the challenges that I will face over the next four years.  This time I will do it!!!   THE 2016 OLYMPIC CYLCLE BEGINS…..  
  • A Football Boot in Both Camps Birmingham City FC and the Eze Group July 9th 2012 - The Eze Group are announced as match day shirt sponsors and principal partners for the 2012/12 season. Strengthening the already deep ties of last season - when the Eze Group were BCFC official travel, leisure and entertainment partners. Aston Villa FC and the Eze Group August 13th 2012 - The Eze Group announced sponsorship of the Aston Villa Old Stars football team and become the AVFPA official business partners for the 2012-13 season.  The AVFPA being the non-profit organization set up to provide care and support for former players and their families in need. It's Sometimes Hard To Be Impartial When You're Partial What happens when you are slap bang in the middle of a conflict you think shouldn’t be taking place? At times you may feel like a corporate UN. But unlike the UN, where you may well be bounded by strictures of neutrality, you have close ties and affections to both sides? Do you pick the one you like the most, and be accused of favouritism or favour neither and be accused of sitting on the fence? Do you try and support both sides and be accused of playing them both against each other, or walk away and leave them too it? For a moment forget the UN and go to corporate sponsorship, in particular think of the corporate sponsorship of football. Given the same scenario, one of a corporation doing its best to support two opposing groups, you can now add the accusations of; wanting to have your cake and eat it, being mercenary or throwing your money around to please everyone. Now let me tell you a little secret, one you might not be aware of, strange as it may seem, corporations have geographical and family ties too you know. If you’re British, those geographical ties often come with links to a certain local football club (unless of course you support Manchester United, but that’s another matter altogether). Corporations and their senior executives often have sporting likes and dislikes; remember corporations have wives and children and friends who may well support football teams as well. Corporations can even hold, within their dark and secretive boardrooms, allegiances to a certain club; in short corporations may sometimes actually be football supporters. Which brings us to the Eze Group (geographically based in Birmingham and with many of its staff, senior and junior, linked to Birmingham by ties of birth and domicile) and their seemingly divided loyalties (or wish to don the blue helmet), when it comes to football sponsorship.  The Eze Group finds itself, by choice, having links to both Birmingham clubs and hopes to do so for the foreseeable future. Now the aficionados of each club might see this as impossibility, a circle that cannot be squared. Their fierce loyalties may well have it that no man or organisation can have cordial dealings with both clubs. Diehard fans might disagree but, on the whole, the second city rivalry is a far more fraternal one than most and when compared to other big city rivalries, it is a reasonably friendly rivalry. Although the Second City Derby has not been played as often as it should have recently (there wasn’t a league contest throughout the entire 1990’s) but is still the subject of very real emotions in and around Birmingham and is as toughly contested a derby as any other in English football. This has been the case since the first derby took place back in Muntz Road in 1879 - I think the modern billiard table like surface is a long way from the one described that day by Villa players as “only suitable for pot holing”.  Those “only suitable for pot holing” pitches certainly continued for another century and played a part of my formative years watching top flight football. The groundsman has upped his game considerably since the 1980’s – perhaps with the help of some of that new corporate money flowing around the game. So the Eze Group find themselves in something of a quandary. You see one of the things about the sponsorship of highly partisan teams is that the sponsor doesn’t necessarily increase sales among the support of the team they are sponsoring, while at the same time there is a good chance of losing sales from the support of their opponents. McEwen’s lager in Scotland learned this costly lesson when it sponsored one half of the old firm, a mistake it hasn’t made since. So let’s look at that once again – you don’t benefit from an increase in custom from the team you are sponsoring, but lose custom from its rivals. A veritable lose lose situation, and even sports loving sponsors don’t like to pay to actually lose business. So football sponsorship can take a bit of courage. But as any football lover will tell you, heart can rule head and where football is concerned heart can often rule balance sheet too. So by linking to both Birmingham giants; maybe we are hedging our bets, covering our corporate vitals or doing so out of; a genuine regard for both clubs, a history of support at board level, and strong family and geographical ties to both great clubs and this wonderful city, what do you think?
  • We at the Eze Group entertain many of our clients here on Tenerife. While we all know you can sail to Tenerife, most of our clients get here by aeoroplane and some of them might just suffer from a bit of flying anxiety. Today we welcome guest blogger and flight anxiety expert Ryan Rivera. Ryan has some tips that just might help you overcome those tarmac jitters.    Fear of Flying Traveling can be a fun-filled experience.  Many people love to travel because they get the chance to see wonderful places and meet new friends.  However, there are those who despise the thought of traveling. This is true especially if they know that they need to be aboard on an airplane to be able to reach their destination.  If flying is such a beautiful experience to some, it can also be a totally nerve-racking experience to people who have this fear of flying. In most cases, the fear of flying brings with it some other types of fear.  Some people’s fear of flying stem from their fear or being inside enclosed spaces or claustrophobia.  Others develop the fear of flying because of their fear of heights. There are also those who are too afraid to fly because they think about being hijacked or crashed in mid-air. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to relieve one from the fear of flying.  Some of these are the following: Be comfortable. This may seem difficult to do once you are already inside the plane.  But, you need to do things that will lessen your symptoms of anxiety while traveling.  It would also be helpful if you request your chosen comfortable seat upon booking your flight. See to it that you can freely move your feet while sitting.  Your carry-on bags must be placed on your lap not on the floor in front of you. Bring your comfy socks or small favorite pillow. Carrying small things from home during your travel would be like bringing your comfort zone with you. Get distracted. Bring anything with you that will help you get distracted from thinking about your fears. Bring a crossword puzzle to make your mind busy with something wholesome. Bring your iPod and listen to your favorite music. If possible, make a conscious effort of talking to the person beside you. Avoid doing nothing all throughout the duration of the flight. Find ways to make your mind busy thinking about something else. Breathe deeply. Once your anxiety starts to creep in, breathe deeply.  Deep breathing must be done from your diaphragm. Do this several times until you sense that your chest feels lighter. If you want, you may close your eyes while doing deep breathing.  This will help you become more focused on the way you breathe and lets you forget about your fearful thoughts. Deep breathing is also an effective way to ward off any symptoms of panic attacks. Avoid coffee. You should avoid drinking coffee before and during the flight.  Coffee contains a stimulant that makes you even more anxious. Studies have already proven the fact that coffee can indeed make you feel jittery. It would be better to drink an herbal tea which provides a calming effect. Be positive. Your fear of flying will only be exacerbated if you keep entertaining those negative thoughts that enter your mind. Once you notice these negative thoughts, be quick enough to steer your mind away from it. Instead of worrying, think of all the good things that await you upon your arrival. Of course, you are traveling because you have this “good” purpose in mind. Therefore, think of the ways on how you can achieve your goals for traveling. This will help you look at the positive side of traveling and of being in that airplane. Think logically. The fear of flying is often caused by ruminating thoughts of an impending danger.  This is the reason why you need to counter these thoughts with logical thinking.  Keep in mind that all airplanes are thoroughly checked before the flight.  Therefore, rest assured that the airplane is in good condition.  This will help ease your mind from thinking about the possibility of experiencing an airplane crash. Most of all, airplanes are one of the safest modes of transportation being used by millions of people around the world. So, why would you be afraid of it? The fear of flying is real.  You have to be aware that you are not the only person who is suffering from this predicament.  However, applying those above mentioned tips will definitely help you become more comfortable during your flight. About the Author: Ryan Rivera used to suffer from anxiety attacks for seven years.  He now dedicates his life helping other anxiety sufferers through his writings.  You can read more of his articles at Calm Clinic.       
  •  Top flight Highboard diver and Eze Group sponsee Jenny Cowen, unfortunately didn't make these Olympics. But did that deter Jenny or stop her training? This article shows that top sports people posses mental as well as physical attributes missing in the rest of us. Missing the Cut After the Olympic trials I was given a week off training.  This was an unexpected but welcome short break and I had time to relax and reflect on the Olympic Trials.  It gave me time to overcome my disappointment in not being selected for the Olympics and start preparing myself for the next four years training cycle and hopefully selection to the Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. During this week off I was asked to go down to London to do some filming for an advert.  This was a fantastic experience as not only was I filmed diving off the boards but under water and in a studio too.  It was so interesting to see what goes into producing an advert.  I was one of four athletes from different sports in the advert and a lot of the moves were filmed in slow motion.  I am really looking forwards too seeing the end product. There was a strong Olympic buzz when I returned to training as my coaches and five of my Team mates had been to get their Olympic kit and where still training hard for their competitions.  Although I was still disappointed that I had not been selected as part of Team GB I was enjoying the build up to the Olympics with my team mates. As Team GB set off to their pre Olympic training camp in Southend, I set off for a holiday in Tenerife to visit my brother who is working out there and the Eze Group Team.  I was pleased to be able to visit Eze Groups Head Office and personally meet the Team out there. It was a good opportunity for me to thank them for their sponsorship and support.  After enjoying my holiday it was back home and back to training. My training schedule is very light at this stage, only doing lead ups towards new dives for next season.  Whilst my coach is away at the Olympics I am going to be on a 6 weeks fitness boot camp.  This is where the majority of my training will be on dry land with my strength and conditioning coach with only a few pool sessions a week.  This will help increase my strength ready for the beginning of next seasons training schedule on my coaches’ return from the Olympics. Although I am not competing in the Olympics I am going to support and watch my Team mates compete.  GOOD LUCK TEAM GB!
  • Midland giants Birmingham City FC attended pre-season training today and found themselves in the company of a new and dynamic sponsor, as well as a particularly smart looking manager. The reason behind this sartorial shift was the fact that the Blues proudly announced their renewed business links to the European leisure and lifestyle experts - the EZE Group. After a very fruitful and mutually beneficial partnership last year (when the EZE Group were shirt sponsors) the duo decided to extend their relationship to a greater depth. The EZE Group have been pioneers in the leisure industry for over a decade, a decade which has seen one innovative product after another unrolled by a first rate management team. From concierge service to theatre tickets, travel arrangements to restaurant reservations, the EZE Group have been constantly extending their reach both in terms of products and geographical location. Now that they have expanded their excellent customers service and delivery expertise into the realms of sport – who knows what the future may hold. So the for the 2012/2012 season the distinct EZE Group logo will adorn the front of all home and away shirts, as well as match day clothing and host of other locations. Following on from last year’s highly successful commercial partnership – when EZE Group were official travel partners – a host of deals have been announced today including the sponsorship of 6 matches and the hosting of an executive box for every home game. Although the actual kit is yet to be unveiled, Blues boss Lee Clark today welcomed his team back for pre-season practice whilst wearing an EZE Group training kit and looking particularly happy about the forthcoming seasons prospects.
  •   Airline Travel Tips Taking a little time out to take a vacation or travel the world can be hugely therapeutic; the monotonous stress of day to day life can be put on hold for a while you enjoy a week (or more) in the sun. A luxurious vacation can quickly become stressful if you have not properly prepared however, so with the use of some of these handy hints and tips, you can ensure your trip is as stress-free as possible. Packing Packing all of your clothes and essentials into a suitcase is an obvious part of the travel preparation process, but once you're checked in, your luggage is carted away on a conveyor belt, and will not be seen again until you collect it upon arrival. Taking a few extra precautions to minimize complications here could save you a lot of time and stress, so give a little extra thought when readying your luggage. When packing your suitcase, place a business card or piece of paper with you name, address and contact details including your mobile phone and hotel/destination name. This will help the airline contact you in case your name tag falls off and there should be any mistakes with the placement of your possessions. Many people opt for the typical large, black suitcase, meaning it could be difficult to distinguish exactly which one is yours when it comes to collecting; to help pinpoint exactly which case is yours, tie a piece of colored ribbon or tape around the handle. Customizing your luggage will also prevent other passengers with similar suitcases picking yours up by mistake. Don't Trust your Memory It's all too easy to assume you will remember to pack your passport and boarding pass before leaving the house, and by failing to secure these items before the high-pressure rush that comes the day of your flight, you're at risk of forgetting the two most important items. When at home, pack your passport and boarding pass in an easy access spot in your carry-on luggage, this will allow you to quickly retrieve it at check-in and keep it in a safe spot to. Be sure to double check before heading out of the door, and take a moment each time you take it out, to acknowledge yourself placing it back and zipping up your bag. Once you have reached your accommodation, it's fair to assume many people would feel more comfortable about leaving certain precious items in the safe along with their passport and boarding pass. This is a great way to secure your valuables, but also another easy way to forget them when leaving. To be sure you remember to retrieve them, take one of the shoes you wish to fly in and put it in the safe with it, this will present a clear and unavoidable time to remember your belongings are in the safe before leaving. Airport Security Passing through airport security is can be a stressful time for many people, so to reduce the time it takes to get through the checkpoint, place any metallic objects on your person into your carry-on luggage before joining the queue. If you are carrying a laptop through security, be sure to put your big bags through before the laptop, this will ensure that it will come out last. If you get delayed while passing through the metal detector, the laptop will not be vulnerable at the end of the conveyor belt and you will have a bag to place it in ready and waiting. So there we are, some simple yet useful tips to ensure your travels run as smoothly as possible! Daniel Travis-Brown travels regularly and likes to share his hints and tips whenever possible by writing on behalf of Glasgow MF Airport Parking ; for more clever tips follow Dan on Twitter @DanTravisBrown
  • With the Olympic Trials drawing closer my training over the past few weeks had going very well.  Together with my coach we were making any necessary changes to my dives in order to perfect them.  As I had made some big improvements on two of my more difficult, higher tariff dives it was decided that they were now ready to compete in major competitions. I can’t begin to explain whether I was feeling more nervous or excited as the competition got closer as I just wanted to perform well and be selected for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics. As the Olympic Trials were taking place at the pool in Ponds Forge in Sheffield the Leeds divers did some training sessions there during the two weeks prior to the competition.  This enabled us to acclimatise to a different pool and for me to get used to the newly widened 10m platform board.  Apart from not doing any weights sessions in the two weeks prior to the Olympic Trials there was no difference to my training schedule – 25hrs over 6 days in a week. Being advised and supported by nutritionist, a sport psychologist and a life style manager was also a huge help.  Obviously life for the past month has been training, eating, sleeping and just a little bit of work.  Social events have been on hold until after the competition. One day in the week prior the British National Championships/Olympic Trails competition there was a media day at the pool.  All the Olympic hopeful divers at Leeds Diving Club were filmed and interviewed by a Japanese Film Crew, BBC Leeds, Look North and the Yorkshire Evening Post. Team Leeds arrived in Sheffield on the Wednesday before the competitions started on the Friday.  We had two training sessions on both the Wednesday and Thursday and a Team meal on the Wednesday evening.  The team atmosphere was good but we were all beginning to feel nervous. The competitions started on the Friday with the mens and womens 3m springboard and 10m highboard synchro events.  The spectators and the atmosphere was fantastic.  As I was not competing until the next day I was able to soak up the atmosphere and be prepared for the enthusiasm of the spectators, which was by far the best of any British National competition I have ever competed in.  It’s true evidence that diving is becoming a much more popular sport in our country. Final my competition day arrived and again I can’t describe how I was feeling. I knew that this was my final chance to perform well enough to be selected for Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to do it well.  I was up early to train, which went well.  The atmosphere at the pool was once again fantastic.  I watched my younger brother David compete in some of the first completion of the morning, the mens 3m springboard prelim before I went to warm up and get ready for my competition.  Then it was my competition! Womens 10m Highboard.  The rush of adrenaline I had and the spectator’s enthusiasm was amazing.   I was feeling quite nervous but used techniques that my sports psychologist had taught me to control my nerves.  My prelim competition went really well.  I performed every dive well and qualified for the finals in 3rd place.  I was elated as I was only 1.50 points off 2nd place and 11.55 points off 1st and I got a new Personal Best score (343.85).   My coach was really pleased with my performance as I was going through to the final in a strong position.  All I had to do was repeat my performance in the finals that afternoon.  Unfortunately my finals competition did not go as well as the prelim and I ended up coming 7th.  I was really disappointed and frustrated with myself as I knew at this point I would not be selected for the Olympic Team.  To pull myself round I looked at what I had achieved – a new PB, competed two new high tariff dives to a very high standard (scored 8’s & 9’s on my inward three and a half somersaults) and had been selected as a possible Olympic diver. Although I have not made the Olympic Team I am more determined to put every effort into my diving career, work hard with my coach and all of the British Diving support staff to improve my diving even more.  Then hopefully I will make it onto the Commonwealth Team in 2014 and the Olympic Team in 2016. I now have a week off training but when I return I will be set new training schedule and my new goals for the next year. 
  • The Eze Group are proud to sponsor the dedicated and talented Jenny Cowen. Jenny is not the only one nervous as the Olympic team will be announced on June 10th The Final Run In With the highboards being resurfaced and out of action at Leeds Diving Club I set off to Plymouth for a week’s training.  I took the opportunity to watch some films on the 6.5hr train journey. I was quite excited to be training at the new Life Centre Pool in Plymouth with some of my GB Team mates (Sarah, Tonia, Brooke and Tom).  It is always a treat to train at a new pool for the first time. My week of training went well and I was especially pleased with improvement of my inward three and a half somersaults from the 10m board. On one of the days that I was training there I was invited to join in with the Plymouth divers to perform in a display for 250 people from one company who are sponsors of the Olympic Games.  The display went well and I was very pleased with the performance of my inward three and a half somersaults in front of such a big crowd. Unfortunately the highboards were still out of action for the week after I returned so I took the opportunity to improve my springboard dives in preparation for the upcoming NER diving competition. With reduced training time on the highboards due to them being resurfaced in the lead up to the NER diving competition I performed an inward two and a half somersaults off the 5m board instead of the planned inward three and a half somersaults from the 10m.  All my other dives where performed off the 10m board and I was pleased with my performance and 1st Place.  I was also very pleased with my 1m competition as I got a new Personal Best score and another Gold medal. Training is now intense and concentrated on my 10m dives in preparation for the Olympic Trials/British National Championships. Team GB has maximum places in every diving event at the Olympics but it still means we are competing for only 2 places in each of the individual 10m and 3m events and 1 place in the 10m and 3m synchro events.  The Olympic team will be selected and announced after the Olympic trails/British National Championships 8-10th June.
  •   Eze Group Sporting Achievements No I’m not talking about the 10 yards doggy paddle badge I got at Butlins way back under the premiership of Harold Wilson. I’m talking of another premiership, the Premiership , the English football Premier League in fact. Because Birmingham City FC, who proudly wear the Eze Group name on match days, are heading towards the big league or as I write they might be – we headed home from Blackpool with a 1-0 deficit. The Eze Group’s Jenny Cowen is also vying for an Olympic spot and the honour of representing her country at the London Olympics. So all in all it’s an exciting couple of weeks ahead. Jenny and the Blues of course both have something in common, the complete in their respective sports with financial assistance provided by a commercial entity – the Eze Group Now business and sport have a rather strange relationship these days, especially with a growing number of purists calling for a return to the old days, the days before business got involved in sport – if ever such a pure state existed. History tells us that sport has always had close ties to business. If we look at football, even the clubs founded by churches (and there are a few today in the Premiership) relied on the largesse of local businesses for kit and facilities. As business has evolved so has football and so has the cost of running any type of sports club at or near the top level. Football clubs for example have had to improve methods of promotion, as well as fostering a culture of community action and involvement. Football clubs in particular have seen running costs rise exponentially and have needed forms of revenue other than gate receipts (which today barely make up a third of a clubs income). I have respect for the purists mind you; they want a return to a lesser more complicated and more egalitarian time. A time perhaps before the ‘prawn sandwich ‘ brigade moved in – as the ferocious Roy Keane so memorably put it. When i stood on the terraces in the 70’s fathers and sons, mainly drawn from the surrounding area filled the stands, no corporate boxes, no highly paid consultants, no £100 tickets, no shirt sponsors; but also no foreign superstars, no smooth playing surfaces, no seating and cover from the rain (for the average fan anyway) and a standard of football that, when I see old replays on telly, was quite frankly shocking. A couple of years ago I was at the Emirates and to be honest was horrified to see fans taking escalators to their seats – as you can tell my love of the modern game is tempered by a ‘days when men were men’ mindset.  But why shouldn’t the 21st century fan be taken to and from their seats quickly and safely? With all this money comes, comfort, great views, great football, easy access to and from the ground, oh and good food (sorry Roy). Stadiums like the Emirates are not built on match day ticket sales, nor on match day revenue and television is money combined, that would only fill the pot just over half the way to the top. For the modern football club is an insatiable beast - the third and often time largest stream of income comes from commercial revenue. Yes that’s right corporate sponsorship, such as that provided by the Eze Group shirt sponsorship, provides every major club in Europe with over 35% of its income. So the next time you’re standing next to a ‘purist’ griping about the ‘good old days’ when shirts were unadorned by things such as the Eze Group name, remind him that but for match day sponsors his team would probably be only fielding 7 men.
  • The Rise of the Expat When I first visited Tenerife, all the way back in the early 70’s, it was definitely Spain. The people spoke Spanish, the food was very different from the stuff served up back at home and most people living there were- well they were Spanish. Roll on a couple of decades and what do we have? Certain small urbanisations have a decidedly cosmopolitan feel to them, with no real dominance achieved - a Dane living next to a German, who has an Englishman on the other side, is a common type of situation. Some, normally older, longer settled areas are still Spanish, but some villages are very obviously English and I mean very English indeed. English shops, English run bars (including the occasional full English pub with horse brasses and carpet), English speaking restaurants often showing signs with ‘English breakfast served all day’ chalked up for their non-native customers. They started coming in small numbers in the 70’s increasing each year till this wave of English speaking immigration finally started to retreat with the economic chaos of the last few years. Many factors combined to create this invasion (for the most part bloodless); cheap wine, high pensions, year round sun, high house prices back home and a feeling among many Brits that things back home weren’t as they used to be. This feeling of a country changing for the worse is a Europe wide phenomenon but nowhere felt as keenly as in Britain. The Sunny Side of the Street Urbanisation after urbanisation full of Brits and living as only us Brits can do - without regard to the lifestyle or climate around us. But how things have changed now, the once unheard sound of Spanish is returning, the fried breakfast and pint of lager are now rare, a strange thing is occurring. The Brits are disappearing; not totally but some coastal towns, formally full to the brim with Brits, are either empty of rather more Spanish then they were even a couple of years back. Rather like a combination of factors causing their appearance a strange combination has caused their disappearance. The cost of living has rocketed, the Euro has made things much more expensive and the fall in house prices back home has made the thought of owning a Spanish home, once within the reach of many, a cause for dreams rather than a real aspiration. Nonetheless there is a cause for the return of these, not so homesick expats; a cause beyond that of just finance. Simply put many people through countless years of living abroad have come to realise that things can be far from perfect over here, and they have simply returned home to be with the things they know best.
  • Tenerife, sea, sun, sand! That’s what most of us think when were hear the name Tenerife mentioned. Year round sun, holidays, depending on your taste you can add all sorts of things – cheap beer, good windsurfing, incredible mountain bike tracks, all night clubbing. It offers a lot but, for this writer anyway, it hides a lot too. One assumes standing at the little immigration shack at La Reina airport that everyone is coming for the same type of holiday as you. They are coming for the same Tenerife as you – beaches and beer. I didn’t know, for example that Tenerife has 7 specific types of climate (among the most varied small areas on Earth) – desert and alpine scenery mix with tropical jungle and temperate valley.  Well Tenerife certainly has it’s subsets of travellers to match its varied climates. I suppose it’s true of many places, but Tenerife really does have different subcultures, different types of holidaymakers, and very different types of holiday maker (if you look closely).  It has people with interests that over lap – the mountain walker and the cyclist perhaps- and people who would have very little in common with each other – the astronomer and the scuba diver. And yet I’ve met birdwatchers who like fishing and once met a hardened clubber (straight from the club) at a taxi rank who was heading back to his hotel to change before heading off on a horse trek to the Orotava Valley – a place so beautiful being able to see double might make one grateful. I didn’t know until recently that Tenerife is a must see place for birdwatchers, over 56 varieties are found here – and they are extremely varied for such a small landmass, it is in fact a beacon for nature lovers and ecologists, but I didn’t ’know that either.  Coming as I do from a big city in the UK I’ve always marvelled at the huge amount of visible stars, it still surprised me to find out the fact that Tenerife and the Canary Islands as a whole are home to many observatories, and away from the ever encroaching light pollution of the coast, you’ll find many star gazer traversing the night sky. But you see back then before I made Tenerife my home I only thought of it as a ‘sun, sea and sand’ type of place. Growing up as I did in the 70’s, I like most Brits took Spain to be a place of cheap package holidays and unusual habit – bullfights and dictatorship come to mind – but little did I know that Spain has so much to offer and this small corner of Spain has a good deal more than cheap beer (the Euro has put pay to that) and year round sun and the people who visit here do so for many varied reasons.
  • The Highboard diver Jenny Cowen gives us another gripping installment of her diary. The Eze Group are proudly sponsoring her attempts at Olympic qualification. A fine example of dedication and determination, Jenny is an inspiration to us all (especially those armchair Olympians, among whose number I unfortunately count myself). After a hectic few weeks leading up to the G Star competition, club championships and Eze Groups Charity Foundation Golf Dinner life has quietened down and returned to its normal training regime. Over the past few weeks I have been training hard and preparing my list of dives for the Amsterdam Cup competition later this month. I will be competing in the women’s 10m highboard event and the women’s 1m springboard event. In training I have been doing lots of repetitions for each of the lead up stages of my dives.  Each lead up has had to be perfect before my coach would let me move on to the next lead up and then the dive itself. Sometimes the smallest change to a movement in a particular part of a dive can have a huge impact on the overall performance of the dive. This has helped me to make improvements for each dive which in turn will hopefully give me higher scores in competitions.  One dive that I have made major improvements on is my back two and a half somersaults with one and a half twists. With my coach perfecting each of the lead up stages of this dive I am now able to consistently perform it to a higher standard.  This means that I should now be able to gain higher scores for it in competitions. I am still making steady progress on my back armstand triple somersault dive.  Like all the other dives each lead up stage has to be consistently performed well before moving on to the next stage of the dive.  My goal is to have this dive ready to compete for next season. As part of my overall training programme I do two strength and conditioning sessions a week, have regular physio (if and when needed) and weekly massage sessions.  The strength and conditioning sessions are with a weights coach and these sessions benefit me by improving and maintaining my core stability and by making me stronger which makes it easier to perform my dives.  I enjoy my massage sessions especially after a hard weights session. Last week I was allowed to miss one training session so that I could celebrate my 21st birthday.  I had a fantastic afternoon/evening with my family watching Cirque Du Soleil in Manchester.  Once again we saved a considerable amount  by booking the tickets through Eze Group. After the last few weeks of training I am prepared for the Amsterdam Cup competition next week.  I am looking forward to meeting some of my international diving friends again and hopefully doing well in my competitions.
  • You should be now know that the Eze Group are official shirts sponsors of Birmingham City FC. I thought if only fitting that I might share with you the history of shirt sponsorship. Tracing its origins all the way back to that maverick Derek Dougan and his days at Kettering. We at the Eze Group are proud to follow in such illustrious footsteps In a southern League game against Bath City played on January 24, 1976, Kettering made a record of being the first and only British club to enter the pitch with a sponsor's name printed on the soccer players' shirts after the signing of a deal with a local business firm Kettering Tyres. This decision that would later transform the perception of soccer across the world is attributed to Derek Dougan; who served as both chief executive and manager for Kettering FC. However, this debut not free of opposition from various stakeholders. A few days after signing the deal for Kettering Tyres to be the main sponsor, The football association made its influence felt by ordering the immediate removal of the slogan. Subsequent attempts by Dougan to make the slogan appear like Kettering T, so as it would be seen to mean Kettering Town bore no fruit, which prompted him to return to his former soccer club Wolves. The order was accompanied by a threat of £1,000 fine if the deal would not be scraped. Shirt sponsorship was eventually legalized within the English game in 1977, after which the rest of the world followed on Kettering Town's footsteps. Apparently, Kettering Tyres was the first business to sign a sponsorship deal with a football club, and 30 years later major business organizations such as Umbro, Nike, Fila and Adidas have entered into similar deals. The companies used community initiatives to enter into soccer shirt sponsor market in the early years. By the early 1980s, in England competition was building up with many companies emphasizing on soccer club shirt sponsorship. Abroad, the engraving of product names on soccer club shirts was already a common practice. A year after Kettering FC signed the soccer sponsorship deals; Liverpool FC also signed a similar sponsorship deal with Hitachi in England. Initially, the sponsorship deals were limited in size by the existing Football League in a bid to sustain the soccer fans' loyalty and also due to the restrictions by BBC, whereby it did not permit to carry advertisements in the games it broadcasted. This was based on considerations that advertisements for products such as alcohol and cigarettes were considered not suitable for soccer shirts. Later, companies began to shift focus from exclusively soccer shirts to include the shorts as well. For instance, the national team in England has no sponsor for shirts even though the names and logos of major sponsors appear on the training kits as well as around the national stadium. Shift in cost of soccer sponsorship In later years, many clubs began signing sponsorship deals with major firms with the most outstanding being the 2002 Tottenham Hotspur four-year deal with kit manufacturer Kappa worth £15 million. In the same year, Spurs signed a new £4 million shirt sponsorship deal with travel firm Thomson. In the year 2006/07, the cost of shirt sponsorship at some of the top clubs especially those that take part in the major leagues was approximated at £20 million a year, giving an impression that only large private companies would extend sponsorship deals. History has kept itself alive for all to see for the last forty years, whilst many billion pound businesses are rushing into a spending spree in the name of sponsoring soccer clubs. It should be kept in mind that Kettering Tyres did not spend even a fraction of the amount of money Qatar Foundation has paid to sponsor Barcelona FC. The sponsorship deal approximated at 170 million Euros between Barcelona FC and the non-profit Qatar foundation is perceived to be the largest sponsorship deal in the history of soccer. Although many have criticized the deal as being manipulative including former club president Joan Laporta, who in his comments would prefer the soccer club jerseys to carry the UNICEF logo; the sponsorship still remains and reflects how the soccer sponsorship has come a long way. In later years, many clubs began signing sponsorship deals with major firms with the most outstanding being the 2002 Tottenham Hotspur four-year deal with kit manufacturer Kappa worth £15 million. In the same year, Spurs signed a new £4 million shirt sponsorship deal with travel firm Thomson. In the year 2006/07, the cost of shirt sponsorship at some of the top clubs especially those that take part in the major leagues was approximated at £20 million a year, giving an impression that only large private companies would extend sponsorship deals. Recently, Shirt Sponsorships have been on the rise with companies gaining brand exposure out of the deals. Among the most notable soccer sponsors are electronic companies such as JVC and Sony that have sponsored Arsenal FC, Sharp, Vodafone which sponsors Manchester United FC, Coca Cola, Mintel among other companies. Mobile phone groups have also began to make their presence felt through soccer sponsorships, with statistics indicating that Chelsea FC tops the list of sponsorship deals (£20m) and Portsmouth closing in at the bottom (£500,000) a year. As a matter of fact only four other clubs in the Premier League-Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Newcastle earn more than a quarter of Chelsea's proceeds from soccer sponsorship. Apparently, eleven major clubs earn approximately £1 and £2 million a year from similar deals, with more companies showing interest in soccer sponsorship deals.
  • Where The Canary Islands Started - And Where They Might End Volcanoes have been called majestic by some people. However, for others who's lives have been devastated by the fire spitting mountains, view them as a curse. In your history book, you may see pictures of the ruin that Mt. Vesuvius wrought on Pompei, in fact many people have traveled to Pompei just to see these very ruins that many people fled from those many years ago when the eruption started. There are many different shapes of volcanoes, such as the Stratovolcanoes, which slope gently inward until the top where the angle upwards sharply. There are also the shield volcanoes, which appear to be gentle hills, until they erupt that is. Scoria cone volcanoes are numerous, they are like small cones. Volcano eruptions most are most commonly seen in the 'Pacific ring of fire'-which is an area encircling the Pacific basin-where there are a total of 452 volcanoes. All volcanoes have two basic parts, the vent, or crater, which is where the magma, or the pressure in the earth's crust escape. They also all have a conduit, which is basically a 'magma transport tube', most volcanoes also have magma, but I'm sure you knew that. Some volcanoes also have something called parasitic cones, which are cones that are stuck to the volcano's sides, and also have a vent, allowing more magma to escape. Volcano eruptions are caused when the earth's crust has pressure under it, and the magma rushes around to find somewhere else to go, volcanoes are ideal for it's purpose. Sometimes the pressure build-up isn't strong enough to push the lava up all the way, in which case the magma settles back down, releasing gases as it goes down. The gases are sometimes enough to cause that eruption, sometimes it isn't. If the gas isn't enough, then the magma waits patiently until some more magma happens along, until there is enough for, well... I'm sure you get the idea. When volcanoes erupt, it can cause people in the surrounding area scrambling for a safer place to be, their actions are justified, as volcanoes are a deadly force of nature. Houses are usually covered in ash, which can cause the roof to collapse, especially if it is wet ash. Roads and fields also get covered in ash, ash also makes it hard to breathe. Lava flows will knock down houses, and trees, and lava flows will also cover roads. However, lava flows are usually too slow to kill people. Volcanic gases aren't normally deadly however the gases caused by eruptions can bother people with breathing problems-such as asthma-and are worse the closer you get to the vent. The weather may be changed by volcanoes as well, many times thunderstorms are seen around eruptions because the ash that is shot into the clouds is amazing at bonding with water droplets, causing them to become very heavy. In Haiwai vog-volcanic fog- is becoming a problem, because the SO2 (Sulfuric Dioxide) combines with the humidity, or water droplets, in the air causing foggy air. The air quality has been very poor since the eruptions started way back in 198. Recent volcanic eruptions include the ones from last year, like El heirro which erupted last year in the Canary islands. Mt St. Helens is also a much talked about volcano which has erupted more than any other volcano in the last four thousand years, one of it's many eruptions turned the day into night, causing some street lights to turn on in different cities, it also shot a plume of ash up eighty thousand feet in the air in fifteen minutes. In Colima, Mexico, and Dukono, Indionesia there is ongoing volcanic eruptions. However, most volcanic eruptions are still centered around the Pacific ring of fire. In short, volcanoes are a fiery beast, which answers the call of the earth's pressure, and the right conditions to raise it's plumes of ashes to the sky in a salute to all it's kinds. Many people fear them, others see them as a great thing to travel to. There is an entire study committed to volcanoes as well. There are many tourist locations where you can see volcanoes, as well as a multitude of online videos, and sites where you can learn more about them.
  • A guide to the ups and downs of Olympic High Diving Eze Group Foundation beneficicary and Olympic hopeful Jenny Cowen has brightened the cold winter's days with her efforts toward selection and London Olympic participation. As we've followed her progress avidly we thought it might just be an idea to get acquainted with her amazing sport. Diving as a sport in the Olympics is characterized by a combination of gymnastics and dances. It is an event where the athletes' strength, flexibility, skills and styles are being judged as appropriate in accordance with the requirements set for each kind of dive. Judges scores the divers in three basic positions: takeoff (which carry 3 points of the total 10), flight (another 3 points) and entry (3 points). The 1 point remaining is for judges' consideration. Furthermore, judges also score the dive of the athlete in accordance with the conformity of the body to the dive requirement as well as the "splash" of the water as the diver lands. High diving in Olympics is one of the anticipated sports by spectators around the world. This sport has been part of the Olympics way back 1904 at Summer Olympic Games and through the years remain an event in two categories: springboard and platform. It was initially called "fancy diving" due to its somersaults and twists. It is the acrobatic exhibition that is most loved by the spectators of this sport. As a whole, this swimming competition is being managed and controlled by the International Swimming Federation. Chinese divers became famous long before the Americans do. The first diving event in the Olympics was called "fancy high diving" which consists of platform diving as well as "plunge for distance" event. In 1908, springboard diving was introduced in the Summer Olympics of that year replacing the "plunge for distance event". In 1912, a woman platform diving was considered as part of the Olympic Games. By the year 1920, woman's springboard diving became one of the anticipated change in the diving competition which became part of the Olympic Game. In 1996 Olympics high diving remains the same up to the inclusion of synchronized diving in 2000. In the present day competition, Olympic springboard high diving takes place in a 1m and 3ms rise from the water surface while the platform category takes place on a 32 ft height. Of the two categories, springboard high diving competition is more difficult but the height to overcome in platform category is a big challenge for divers. Sydney 2000 Olympics introduced another spice to this event called the synchronized diving competition. For the spectators of the Olympics, synchronized diving event is an opportunity to compare the ability, skills and talents of the two competitors. The divers may perform the same routine or opposite routines. Whatever dive routines they performance, judges score the diving skills of the athletes according to excellence performance and coordination or synchronicity of the routines. Again, divers are judge during takeoff, flight and entry. If you are a diver, you might be interested in knowing how to win a diving event. Here are some tips you might want to consider. 1. High diving is an event that needs the accumulation of scores from the different dives performed. The higher the scores the better is your chance of winning the competition. 2. To gain more scores, you have to constantly practice the number and kind of dives required. In doing so, pay particular attention to how judges score a particular dive; and practice a lot using the guide. 3. Divers are allowed to submit the kind of dives they will perform during the competition. Make sure to submit the dives that you are very much in command. Do not overdo it or perform another dive or else a zero score will be granted. 4. Usually for a highly recognized competition such as the Olympics, a lot of divers give the same kind of dives to perform. Sometimes what matters most in winning the competition is not the difficulty of the dive but how the diver sequence the routines or dives. Olympics high diving has changed a lot from its origin. It humbly starts with basic routine dives in a platform with not more than 5 meters. However, as the years pass by organizers of this event continually update the competition both for the divers and spectators. In started out in the platform diving competition, and then added an excitement to it using a springboard and now a synchronized diving. All of these forms of high diving events in the Olympics provide excitement and fun for spectators around the globe who are watching a live performance or over a television set. These different events in the diving competition are one of the most anticipated sports in the Olympics. The more diversified the events, the more it creates excitement and thrill among its fans around the world. We that's it from us armchair divers at the Eze Group, fingers crossed for Jenny.
  • Eze Group's Guide to Travel The Eze Group gives a few pointers on places to go and more importantly how to get there. The world is becoming  a much smaller place and we at the Eze Group Tenerife would like to take this opportunity to share some tips. Air travel travel, especially throughout the holidays, is frequently frustrating for people and that is before anybody boards their flight. The entire process of dealing with airport terminal security, while essential, is possibly probably the most loathed areas of air travel travel for many people. Individuals going with children have much more difficulty passing through security while coping with young children, and that's why the Transportation Security Administration has modified rules for air travel people age 12 and more youthful. Singapore, a small nation located in the Southeast Japan, continues to be one of several favorite place to choose vacationers around the world. Vacationers enjoy Singapore because of its site visitors points of interest, different culture, and most importantly, it's meals! You will find occasions that you might cancel your travel because of some emergency or important situations. Many people often cancel their worldwide trip before the particular date of travel. Other medication is interrupted to carry on their exploration and have to leave the place to go for some vital reasons. In this case, you don't have any choice but to cancel your vacation. For a moment conclude, will waste you and lost some dollars. With travel cover, you're certain to have your hard earned money or travel expenses back. Travel cover isn't normally the top of priority record when planning holidays however it ought to be. Visit companies understand that, which explains why these folks normally demand vacationers possess insurance. Travel cover coverage typically addresses cancellation in addition to curtailment, personal responsibility, personal possessions, injuries & sickness and crisis assistance. La Manquita may be the identify of the cathedral inside Malaga and the introduction of the cathedral proceeded for a few decades. Because of this , that cathedral bears any mark regarding styles originating from differing people like Neo-Classical, Rebirth and Baroque. Alcazaba can be found close to the cathedral this also fortress turned up throughout the Fifteenth century. The specific Moors built this type of fortress within their rule above Malaga and it is the place of fantastic historic benefit in the area. In case you look under in the the top fortress, a look at the primary harbour and Malaga metropolis is excellent and amazing. Should you steer clear of the fort, you'll achieve the castle known to as Gibralfaro, situated presents itself the pile. The City Hallway from the metropolis reaches the feet of the pile and also the memorial from the metropolis stands close to the Town Hallway inside a plaza. Driving your RV is among the how to benefit from the natural splendor of the wonderful country, and you'll discover that investing your trip traveling the freeways of the area of the country will allow you to determine all of the wonderful sites. However, it is crucial that you are for the travels, here really are a couple of things that you'll want to tote around when you are traveling within an RV. This means that you could fly interior and exterior more compact air devices, so visiting an airport terminal within the nearest large city is no more an issue. Additionally, it means that you could land right alongside one last destination since the plane may take off and land at more compact, easier international airports. This will get you nearer to your preferred place and helps you save travel time from the airport terminal. It is among the conveniences that flying on the private jet provides you with. We at the Eze Group are not as  accustomed to privates jets as we'd like to be but I hope you enjoyed our little pointer. More from us next week.
  •  Eze Group Sponsee Jenny Cowen Training Hard Olympic diving prospect and recipient of Eze Group Foundation sponsorship brings us the latest instalment of her journey towards competition in the London Olympics. Those of us who have never competed in sport at the highest level often forget that behind those few moments of actual competition lay many thousands of hours of intense training. We at the Eze Group find these blogs from Jenny immensely interesting and we feel very proud indeed that we can support this hard working, talented young woman in her Olympic hopes. The past few weeks of training have been Chinese style.  Pung a Chinese coach has been at the City of Leeds Diving Club to coach the Senior National Divers whilst the Head coach and Assistant Head coach of the club where away at competitions. Pung has coached former Olympic divers in China and GB.  I have met Pung before as he has been in the UK for 4 years now coaching the senior world class divers (one being Tom Daley) at Plymouth Diving Club. Training with a different coach can sometimes be a challenge for divers as they have to adapt to different styles of coaching and methods of diver/coach interaction. His coaching style is different but very effective. His sessions where hard work but enjoyable and he has taught me some valuable new techniques.   I gained so much from his coaching as he did a lot of work on the techniques of basic skills and dives.  I had to perform the new techniques very precisely and perfectly before moving on to develop my more difficult dives.  Sometimes this meant repeating the same skill over and over again until it was perfect. The lead ups on the lower boards for my new dive which is now back armstand triple somersault are improving. When my coach is back I will be progressing and performing the next lead up for this dive. Pung also told us many interesting stories, both in the past and the present, about diving in different countries and cultures.  He told us about the time when he was a diver and got reprimanded for being too happy during training! This is because in China training is a serious matter and you are not allowed to show any emotion whilst training. Tomorrow my coach will be back from competitions and my training schedule will return to normal.  I am looking forward to training with him again, showing him what I have learnt with Pung and hearing about the competitions he has been to. Great stuff from Jenny and a great eye opener for us armchair sports fans (not forgetting sponsors). We at the Eze Group Foundation can feel only proud to be associated with such a determined and gifted young lady.
  • Tenerife and Tourism We at the Eze Group situated out here in Tenerife can sometimes feel a little far removed from the mainland, but what is true for Spanish tourism is certainly true for Tenerife tourism and quite frankly many people, when they think of Tenerife think of the Eze Group. Known as a top tourist destination worldwide, Tenerife is a place where you can spend glorious holidays – days of fun and relaxation. A beautiful country that has a lot to offer, Spain is one of the most visited countries worldwide. I hope the following with help you learn a little more about tourism in Spain, how this industry started and how it came to its present state. How the Tourism Industry Began Before the World War II, Spain was already recognized as a popular tourist destination especially among the Northern Europeans. During this time, Spain served as the perfect place to escape the harsh winters of other countries. The Mediterranean sun and seas attracted visitors from all over Europe, creating a big impact on the economy of the country. The development of tourism in Spain continued through the years and went on boom during the 1970’s. During this time, Spain has recovered from the damages that happened during the Civil War under the leadership of Francisco Franco. Economic reforms were introduced along with developmental policies which then led to the economic boom, also known as 'Spanish Miracle.' The developments in the country attracted more visitors which were not just from Europe but also from the other parts of the world. Government Support for Tourism in Spain With the number of tourists flocking in Spain all year round, tourism makes a huge impact on the country's economy. In 1951, the government recognized the need for a tourism governing branch, which then led to the creation of the Ministry of Information and Tourism which later on became the Ministry of Transportation, Tourism and Communications during the 1980’s. Today, there are several tourist information offices in all of the major cities around the country as well as the sites of interest. The ministry is heavily involved in the development and maintenance of tourism in the country. Promotional activities are continuously done which include distribution of maps, advertisements, lists of shops and accommodation. Information offices are also well-maintained since these are where visitors are encouraged, advised and assisted when making plans on visiting Spain. The government also supervises the accommodation, restaurants and hotels in Spain even if these are privately owned, any older visitor to Spain will attest to the fact that they are well regulated and inspected ( certainly in comparison to days of old). These are regularly classified, inspected and controlled to meet the ministry's standards. The prices also are controlled thereby preventing overpricing. These establishments are also mandated to have complaint books where shortcomings were identified during the ministry's inspections. Tourism in Spain Today In the last two decades, Spain has remained on the top five world tourist destinations. Millions of tourists visit the country every year, with the greatest number to be recorded as 60 million which was back in 2007.  We here on the Canary Islands clocked an impressive 5 million that year.This number placed Spain as the second most visited country worldwide behind France which garnered the top spot. Constant developments are being implemented by the Spanish government to attract more tourists since the tourism industry brings in billions to the country's economy. Aside from the government standards that establishments catering to tourists should meet there are also other actions done such that Spain is visited all year round. Previously, tourists visited Spain for its warmer weather, which left businesses stagnant during the colder months. Nowadays, there are various activities that can be done in Spain during winter such as skiing since there are several mountains and ski resorts in the area. All year round, there are various activities that can be done in Spain. Aside from visiting the beaches and other natural attractions, there are also various natural parks, theme parks, shopping centres and other areas that can keep visitors occupied.  Whether it’s the world famous Spanish nightlife in Spain or the incredible variety of folk events and festivals, tourists can learn more about the Spanish culture and traditions, regardless of the manner in which they interact with Spanish culture. These days, tourists tend to get choosy as to where they are going to spend their holidays. Planning usually takes some time with so many factors to consider such as the place, the cost, schedule and a lot more. This is when an experience leisure provider such as the Eze Group comes into its own, booking, arranging and guiding the potential visitor. As a result of people becoming more varied as to where they spend their holiday budget and the decrease in long haul air costs European travel has experienced something of a dip recently.  But Tenerife still remains to be a top choice as proven by the increasing number of tourists every year.
  • The EZE Group are proud of you Jenny Another excerpt from the training diary of Olympic 10m board diver Jenny Cowen. We at the Eze Group are proud to be able to sponsor this wonderful young women and to help her attain her goals. The last weekend in January I was competing in the British National Cup Competition in Southend.   It was good to be training and competing at such a good venue.  The pool has only been open for just over a year and both the dryland and pool facilities are excellent.  It was also nice to catch up with all the other divers from around the country. We arrived in Southend on the Wednesday prior to the competitions beginning on the Friday to train.  My training sessions went well and I felt ready for my competition which was on the Saturday.  My event, the women’s 10m platform, was the second one of the day and the prelim had fifteen competitors.  We were all feeling the pressure as only the top eight would qualify for the finals. Throughout the prelim competition all fifteen competitors battled for the top eight places. I was very pleased with my third position especially as my back 2 ½ somersaults with 1 ½ twists had a low score.  The final was very exciting and nerve racking as all of the top six prelim qualifiers changed place in the final. I maintained my third position right until my last dive, back 2 ½ somersaults piked, which went slightly over on the entry resulting in a lower score than I normally achieve on this dive.  This was disappointing as my finals score was 30 points higher than my prelim score, but the few points I lost from that dive put me in fifth place in the final.  All I have to do now is wait to find out which international competitions I will be selected for and continue training hard for them. The Eze Group logo on my costumes, tracksuit and t-shirts generated a lot of interest between divers, coaches and some parents. I was proud to say that I am an Eze Group Ambassador and sponsored by them.  The logo was even recognised by one diver. Since returning from Southend training has been going well. Along with training all my dives I have started to learn a new dive, back armstand double somersault.  At the moment I am practising the back armstand on the 7.5m board.  Training will be Chinese style for the next few weeks as Leeds Diving Club has a Chinese coach visiting and coaching us. The prelim competition saw all of the competitors underperform at least one of their dives.
  • We've not exactly given them the shirts of our back but... We at the Eze Group are very proud to announce that we are now the official Birmingham City FC match day shirt sponsors. We at the EZE Group are very proud to be linked to the Championship club – strong contenders for promotion and a return to their rightful place in the top flight. Our new shirts opening run out had only one dampener, the great British weather. It really was a chilly night with quite a few is that rain/sleet/snow moments. The points were shared, with fellow promotion hopefuls Southampton, in a hard fought goalless drawn. This goalless draw the Blues unbeaten home record but failing to add to their six successive wins. The Birmingham based club and we at the EZE Group are currently organising a Golf day in aid of Charity and as part of the charitable works done by the EZE Group Foundation. So watch this space for more news on the growing partnership between the two upcoming leisure giants both on the way up. The EZE Group are not only helping support football but of course are also sponsoring Olympic diving hopeful Jenny Cowen in her pursuit of a medal and have some very exciting sporting news and link ups with some great new partners in the pipeline, but I think that should be kept for another day.
  • Jenny Cowen, is a member of the City of Leeds diving club and is currently training hard in the hope of selection as part of the GB Olympic diving team for London 2012. We at the EZE Group consider it an honour to be able to sponsor,Jenny who is not only talented but hard working. Jenny is also one of our  Eze Group Ambassadors helping to promote  her sport as well as the EZE Group Charitable Foundation. I am 10m up, the acoustics change up here, voices echo, it’s slightly eerie but strangely familiar.  My feet are cold but they grip the rubber and I am balanced right on the edge. I don’t look down, I look straight ahead, it doesn’t matter how many times I have done this, it’s almost like doing it for the first time every time.  The spring of the board jettisons me and I reach up then my body responds to all my training and I am focused.  If you want to know what it feels like I guess it’s a bit like how I would imagine flying.  I am free in the moment it’s simply me and my spirit…. Seconds later I hit the water it feels good, it feels like I belong, it is me.  Hello my name is Jenny and I dive, it is something I was born to do. It is my life. I guess some people will think I am crazy and others mad, to willingly throw myself off a 10m high diving board.  But really it’s nowhere near as frightening as you may imagine, even with a few twists and somersaults added into the equation. I am a member of the City of Leeds Diving Club where I train on average 28 hours a week over 6 days. My inspiration to be a diver started at the age of 7 when I used to sit on the balcony of my local pool watching my older brother diving.  So instead of sat being bored I began diving too.  It wasn’t long before friendly sibling rivalry set in – anything you can do I can do better!  Little did I know then how much I would actually achieve in diving.  I was a member of the Junior Great Britain Diving Team until I was 18yrs old and have been a member of the Great Britain Senior Diving Team since I was 17yrs old.  In 2011 I was selected to represent Great Britain at the World Championships, European Championships and the World University Games in the Womens 10m highboard events. My ultimate goal this year is to qualify and be selected to be part of the GB Diving Team at the London 2012 Olympics, along with other International Competitions. The British National Cup Competition at the end of January is my next major event. From the results of this competition divers are selected to represent Great Britain in International Competitions.  The points scored and the results from International Competitions go towards the final Olympic selection after the British Gas National Championships in June. Before July I will also be competing in the NER Championships and the G-Star Invitational  competition. I would like to thank Eze Group for sponsoring me and appointing me as one of their Ambassadors.  Being an Eze Group Ambassador is an honour and I am excited about being able to help to promote Eze Group and their products, represent them at events and being involved with the Eze Group Charitable Foundation.
  • John S. Is an EZE Group member who taken pen (and courage in hand) to write his first ever article for us. He lives in Trowbridge in England, is married with 2 children and 3 tiring but lovely (his words not ours) grandchildren. He recently retired after a long career in the haulage business. So you’ve brought up the children, made that last repayment on the mortgage and from now on the times of stumbling out of bed to the noise of the sleep shattering alarm are far behind you. So what now? Maybe all of the hours spent viewing Grand Designs have motivated you to undertake that property development venture you’ve been recently considering, or perhaps you’ll invest in a set of binoculars and sign up for the Neighbourhood watch, or possibly you’ve made a decision to, after many years of planning, write that prize winning book, so you embark for some wintertime sun, searching for creativity and inexpensive vino. With luggage loaded and passport ready, you sally forth for conquest and fame, but no sooner do you start preparing your Booker Prize winning acceptance speech, than are you confronted with high blood pressure inducing airport queue’s and flight hold ups. You board the aircraft and to your horror, discover yourself sitting beside a Tourettes suffering individual who ceaselessly mumbles to you for the whole length of the journey. However that’s fine, since you possess a fine pair of earplugs; experienced traveller here. Arrived safely, the burden of the world has been removed from the shoulders, so when you take a position by the luggage carousel, the old anxieties begin to sneak back, 20 minutes later still no suitcases; a message is played on the tannoy: “Any unattended baggage will be taken off and destroyed”. Occasion for a swift beverage, l think. Following a confident breeze through immigration, you jump in a cab and off to the resort, the cabby has no English therefore uncomfortable chit chat is effectively side stepped, letting you take pleasure in an uncomplicated enjoyable journey. During which you absorb the lovely surroundings and adapt to the warm local weather. You reach the resort and place your suitcases in the room prior to going to dinner to get a bite to eat, ideas of the booker prize come firing back and you also choose to take an early night and make a start on the masterwork the very first thing, next day. While you rest in bed, it all of the sudden strikes you that you could have overlooked locking the door to the garden. The following morning you are woken by the noise of feral cats stuck in a standard territorial dispute. The second cup of coffee is finished and you set out with note pad to hand, giving the battle-weary moggies a wide berth and off out in to the pleasingly unfilled promenade. You actually coast downhill towards the harbour, attracted by the great azure ocean before you, its spray faintly perceptible, you halt to get a light breakfast and gaze out on the compact town below, a delicate breeze delivers with it the fragrance of jasmine coming from a close by court-yard, light shimmers off the ocean’s surface as a sense of tranquillity takes over you. You are feeling pleased you've made the trip. It is only now that that tranquillity and creativity spreads throughout your soul and so you open up your note pad and commence writing away. While you write, gradually, the town awakens. Your muse exhausted you go down to the esplanade, young children run happily throughout the congested marketplace, seagulls range over the multi-coloured bunting overhead and that which was once a slight hint of spray has turned into a deafening roar. You go to the breakwater as the sight of an enormous cruise liner comes into view, watching as the passengers stiffly descend the gangplank. Time passes and night time arrives, the buildings and sea become cloaked by an orange glow as the sun sets on the harbour; you walk back to the esplanade to a  find a quiet location and draft the acceptance speech. You find a lovely restaurant while having a couple of glasses of very nice wine and feeling a genuine peace and tranquillity fills your tired body from top to toe. Then all of a sudden a phone call from your daughter-in-law, bad tidings from home … … You had forgotten to secure the rear door.
  • EZE Group What a wonderful year to have to review. We at the EZE Group have had a great year this year. Our staff numbers have increased by 30%, this has be predicated on a huge rise in both the numbers of people choosing to spend their leisure time the EZE Group way and also the large amount of new and exciting leisure and lifestyle products that have been introduced by the group in 2011. So we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our planning and development teams for some truly inspirational work this year. Our wonderful operations staff have also insured that our existing range of products have revised and reviewed keeping our members happy, ever mindful of the phrase “the customer is king”. Our second to none administration staff have once again proved their mettle, insuring the smooth running of our many services. Those wonderful (mostly) ladies, seem to see solutions where others might see problems. Keeping everything running smoothly and always with a smile. Any review of the year would not be complete without a mention of our Regency Shores operating from  new sales office in Granada Park. From the very outset a new level of professionalism and purpose have imbued the team and our sales figures have continued to rise month on month and often above target. So a mighty thank you goes out to, what must be one of the finest teams in Europe. Our new, state of the art, UK booking offices have been planned and built and will be opening early in the New Year. All in all this has been a great year for the EZE Group and its continued growth. Birmingham This review must mention Britain’s second city for two reasons; not only are we close to opening a new booking office in Birmingham but 2011 saw the EZE Group become the official travel partners of Birmingham City FC. After a thorough review of our products and company standards the Championship club were more than happy to become part of the growing team of EZE Group supporters. EZE Group Malta Our Malta based franchise holder Travel Synergie and continued to market our products and have helped the EZE Group system reach new members. Like their Tenerife based colleagues our Maltese team have attained target after target and look set only to reach higher and greater levels of membership growth next year. We on Tenerife can only say – bravo and here’s to a better year next year. The Coming Year Having been sworn to secrecy this writer can’t say much about the coming year other than, when next year’s review comes to be written a great deal of very exciting developments will have unfolded. The EZE Group are also sponsoring a number of Olympic hopefuls so watch this space for  a medal or 2 come August. One secret I can let slip is that as part of a promotion in conjunction with some other companies interested in promoting tourism in Tenerife, the EZE Group have over 1,000 holidays to give away in Tenerife next year. But shush - don’t say where you heard it. To end this review of the year all I can say is – is 2011 been a great year and let’s all hope that next year is better. Happy New Year to all our friends – new and old.
  • Most people view Christmas as a time of rest and fun but as an EZE Group employee, Christmas to me means one thing work and lots of it. Christmas is our busiest time. High – high season if you like. As I write, on a shelf, or should be be on shelves nearby, I can see lots of Christmas cards. Most of them having the type of illustration that we have come to regard as traditional Christmas scenes. You know the ones, very red breasted robins perched on branches, full bearded Santa’s laughing heartily, lots of Christmas trees, and lots of snowmen, a few wise men variations, teams of reindeer and quite a few red nosed Rudolfs. The Virgin and child seem to be going out of fashion as does a lot of religious imagery, but the ones I really love, the ones I remember well from my childhood, they really do seem to be disappearing. I’m talking of the Dickensian cards, all horse drawn coaches, well wrapped coach men, frozen lakes and icy cobbles. I absolutely love those winter scenes. Things certainly did seem to be a lot more Christmas-like back then – weather wise anyway. In fact all those frozen lakes and rivers may have a basis in truth, things really were much colder a couple of hundred years ago - something to do with sunspots, I think I once read. You see the reason I gaze so longingly at a frozen lake or red nosed man in top hat, the reason I dream of snow ball fights and frozen breath, the reason those winter scenes really hold so much allure for me, the reason I long for long for cold at this time of year is that this Christmas, like most, I’ll be having my Christmas dinner outdoors on the veranda. Yes dear reader you’ve guessed it, I’ll be spending this Christmas in Tenerife. Now I’ll be the first to admit that a cold winter in England is something I don’t ever really yearn for at any other time of year, but having said that I do miss Christmas back home, but Christmas is actually our busiest time of the year, it’s an all hands to the pump job. The EZE Group members are over here in full force. I may be alone in my yearning for the cold and a bit of snow (although in reality there’s precious few frozen lakes, horse drawn coaches and even the red breasted robin doesn’t seem to exist in the numbers it once did). My colleagues at Regency Shores have for the most part deserted us. Back to the land of traffic jams, train delays and the, oh too regular, flight delays. For the most part I like living and working in Tenerife but certain things still have the power to draw me back to thoughts of dear old blighty. Christmas cards are certainly one of them. We at the EZE Group take this opportunity to wish all our old and new friends a very Happy Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
  • Here a short contribution from my colleague Bruce Drexel, Bruce is director of Corporate Affairs at The EZE Group. Here he speaks warmly of, and in praise of his colleagues at  Regency Shores . It’s commonly agreed which profession could be referred to as ‘the oldest profession’, but there’s a lot of disagreement as to what is the second oldest profession. Since Joshua sent 2 spies out to reconnoitre the walls of Jericho (where they stayed in the ‘guest house’ of Rahab a follower of the oldest profession), citing this Bible story people have referred to spying as the second oldest profession and a whole raft of commentators have named their chosen profession as the second oldest, from fisherman to cowboys and among them Ronald Reagan, who called politics the second oldest profession. But no, neither spying nor politics are as basic to human survival, as long lasting or as a necessary grease to the most basic of economies as my profession – selling. Even the most basic transaction of the most very basic nature, need that extra little push (or tug) of salesmanship. When our neo-lithic ancestor first decided to barter his finely carved antler horn for a beaver pelt and then to his horror found that his neighbour had got 2 beaver pelts for his carved antler horn, the onus has been on our fellow man to get the most value for what he’s got. Selling is a much maligned profession, but people forget selling is the very basic building block to the world economy. Salesmen have helped not only shape the economy but shape the world. It was salesman or as they were known back then traders, that opened up the planet. It was the salesman (traders) looking for new products that discovered the continents of America, Africa, Australia. Fur traders did there bit in mapping inhospitable Siberia and the jungles of New Guinea seemingly never to be charted (after countless and well provisioned Victorian expeditions ended in, sometimes cannibalistic, failure) were only opened up by 2 Australian prospectors hoping to barter (sell for profit) their trade goods. It’s plain to see that, what had been impenetrable to; scientists, explorers and the military, was just new, and as yet unassigned, territory to our intrepid brothers in sales. The mountainous, malaria infested, head-hunter ridden, jungles of New Guinea were seen by Europeans for the first time, just a few years before my birth. This says much for good old fashioned hard work , fearlessness and salesmanship- the 3 go hand in hand. Indeed it took some level of salesmanship not to end up with one’s head shrunk in the New Guinea of the 1920’s. We have much to thank the salesman for but society and certainly the arts have portrayed a life in sales as a dark stressful calling (just think Death of a Salesman, or Glengarry Glenross and you’ll get the picture). But marketing is a necessity of business life, and when things slow down or people don’t buy what they should be buying, who is called for? Yes, once again, it's the salesman to the rescue, take for example Stalinist Russia, even the collectively minded Soviets realised that people never bought life Assurance, although it’s a much needed product and so allowed it’s sale to be the only commission only profession permitted. How many grieving Svetlanas and Irinas have a competent Insurance man to thank for their comfortable widowhood? As the great salesman and public speaker (I highly recommend you find him on Youtube) Zig Ziglar said “Nothing happens until someone makes a sale.” Wise words indeed, so this whole economy we enjoy, the fruits of exploration, the choice of products and in the final analysis the ability to see the benefits of something, only after it has been explained to you by someone knowledgeable about that product. All of these flow from one thing - the much maligned and sometimes derided salesman. Bruce Drexel