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Wednesday 03 June 2020

IFS provides manufacturing sectors with MindFuel

IFS logoAs organisations consider how to move forward in the COVID-19 world, it is clear landscapes will differ significantly across industry sectors but the need to learn and engage with peers will be a common thread.

Against this background IFS has launched MindFuel, a free digital meeting place to share opinions and advice, and access industry-specific online sessions. mindfuel.ifs.com caters specifically for the Construction; Defence; Energy, Utilities & Telecoms; Field Service; and Manufacturing industries.

Competition doesn't disappear but when it comes to exploring how to do things differently - which COVID-19 is a catalyst for - there is value in cross-organisation collaboration and exploration. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   digital  

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Wednesday 03 June 2020

Instem healthy despite write-down

LogoCambridge-based Life Sciences solutions provider Instem plc built on the momentum created H119 (see here) to deliver an encouraging set of full year results. Revenue for the twelve months ending 31st December was up 13% yoy to £25.7m and adjusted EBITDA rose by nearly 20% over the prior period to £4.9m. A £3.2m impairment provision related to Instem’s struggling early phase clinical data collection business, however, drove the AIM-listed company into the red by generating a loss of £0.9m for FY19 (£1.7m profit FY18).

The bigger picture for Instem nevertheless remains positive. Levels of recurring revenue increased by a further 9% last year to £14.9m. This was underpinned by both a material growth in SaaS sales, which rose by over 16% to £6.4m, and continued expansion of the company’s SEND family of non-clinical data review centric technology enabled outsourced services. Furthermore, the good organic top line improvement in FY19 was augmented by the earnings enhancing acquisition in November of drug discovery and development advanced informatics and prediction technology specialist Leadscope.

The company is also well positioned to navigate successfully through the fall out from the cornavirus pandemic The majority of Instem’s revenue comes from clients whose laboratories are regarded as "essential businesses" and therefore remain active, with many working on COVID-19 related vaccines and therapies. The company reports to be both very busy and as having good visibility over a strong H120 performance.

Instem’s senior management is cautiously optimistic that this momentum will continue through the remainder of the year and would appear to have some good reasons so to be. Alongside the publication of its FY19 results, the company also announced that it had just closed a deal with Biotoxtech in South Korea. The contract is worth approximately $1 million, the majority of which will be recognised as revenue in 2020.

Posted by: Duncan Aitchison

Tags: results   saas   AI   machinelearning   data  

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Wednesday 03 June 2020

Service Robotics secures regional investment funds

Service Robotics logoBristol-based care tech provider, Service Robotics, has raised £600k in its latest funding round. The company, which was shortlisted for last year’s TechMarketView Innovation Partner Programme (TIPP) in association with Civica Innovation Partners, secured £300k equity investment from the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Investment Fund (CIOSIF) and investment from Britbots and the Enterprise 100 Angel Investment Club. Additional funding came via an overfunded campaign on the Crowdcube crowdfunding platform, which attracted over 300 investors. It follows an earlier Crowdcube campaign that ended in January 2019, which raised £160k.

Service Robotics’ proposition is based around its GenieConnect companion robot service, which uses a voice enabled robot to offer connectivity and support to older adults. It is designed to enable extended independence through information, connectivity and loneliness alleviation. The solution is delivered via a monthly subscription plan and includes one-to-one video or audio chats with the company’s health and wellbeing support team.

The latest funding will be used to further develop the business, expand its pilot program and establish a Cornwall project office in Bude.

Last year, Service Robotics started working with Torfean County Borough Council after the local authority secured £1.25m from the GovTech Catalyst Fund. The funding for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition is intended to help develop data and digital technology to deliver better adult social care in Torfean. Service Robotics was one of five suppliers to be awarded a contract through the competition in November 2019, after the council whittled down from 86 supplier applications. Phase 1 of the competition is now complete and the council is working with the Cabinet Office to assess which suppliers have the potential to progress to Phase 2, which could be worth up to £500k each.

The importance of staying connected to family and friends has been clearly highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for many of those in later life, loneliness has had a significant impact on health and wellbeing long before the outbreak occurred. Technology will have an increasingly important role in helping vulnerable adults live independently and will attract significant interest from investors over the coming years.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   startup   socialcare   robotics  

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Wednesday 03 June 2020

Keytree evolves back to the workplace solution

key tree logoThe details of how to affect a safe return to workplaces is taxing for businesses and individuals and the deeper the consideration the more nuanced the issues become. Technology to support social distancing within workplaces is appearing and is being fine-tuned as further issues are identified. Kudos to Keytree and its Matrix Booking team for its rapid response to the problem of pinch-points as staff enter workplaces.

We wrote recently about how the company had extended its Matrix Booking software that facilitated smart room, desk and equipment bookings to address the intricacies of social distancing and the need to manage variables like office capacity, split shifts, visitor management, desk layouts and allocations, and cleaning schedules. A (virtual) meeting with property management professionals from across the public and private sector in early May revealed that co-ordinating the flow of people into office buildings was emerging as a pressing issue. Fast forward just four weeks and the Matrix Booking team had built and beta tested a Flow Management solution specifically to manage the flow of people to and through buildings to avoiding overcrowding and enable physical distancing in communal areas. The first instance went live with a customer on 1 June and several others are in train. 

Capita logoTechnology does have a role in supporting safe working, and other solutions are in the works. Capita for example, is exploring a Proximity Smart Distancing solution that brings together Bluetooth, IoT sensors and Low Power WAN (LPWAN) to enable smart distancing. Sensors could be placed on lanyards, badges, hard hats and so on to automatically notify individuals if they breach pre-defined distance levels. Audible alerts or vibrations could cater for quiet and noisy environments.

What is clear is that back to workplace solutions are needed rapidly and have to be readily adaptable as new issues are identified - while also protecting individuals' privacy. 

Posted by: Angela Eager

Tags: software   covid-19  

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Wednesday 03 June 2020

TrueLayer brings Payments Initiation to Crown Commercial Services

TLInnovative open banking technology provider, TrueLayer, has been selected for a significant UK Public Sector initiative.  The London-based provider of APIs to the banking industry has been chosen by the Cabinet Office’s, Crown Commercial Service (CCS), to be part of its Payment Acceptance Framework. Going forward, TrueLayer will help public sector organisations to accelerate payments via its Payment Initiation Service (PIS) based on Europe’s PSD2 reforms (see: Open Banking momentum starts to build).

TrueLayer is one of the companies helping to facilitate the growth of open banking. The company provides API-based services that enable financial services organisations and third-party providers capitalise on the free-flow of banking and customer data.  Open banking is an increasingly global trend and TrueLayer recently expanded its footprint to APAC (see: TrueLayer heads to Australia to ride the open banking wave).

The remit of the CCS meanwhile, is to help ensure cost-effective public services, by providing government departments with policies, advice and “third-party” services. The adoption of PIS has the potential to save the UK public purse a significant amount by avoiding the large sums it pays out in transaction costs every year. PIS payments are made direct between two parties and offer the opportunity to bypass the complex and costly route travelled by traditional payment transactions. The move should also increase financial inclusion, by broadening access to benefits to those without credit or debit cards.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: payments   OpenBanking   psd2  

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Wednesday 03 June 2020

Zoom users, revenues, profits and value...zooms ever higher

ZoomZoom screenshotI guess if you had to choose just one company that had epitomised the COVID-19 period, it would be Zoom. Few companies make it into everyday language such as ’to hoover’. ‘to google’. But now we all ‘zoom’.

Last night Zoom held  - yes you guessed it - a Zoom meeting attended by over 3000 to announce results to end Apr 20. Revenues were up 169% at $328m - exceeding even the highest analyst forecasts. Zoom is now estimating revenues of $1.8b for the current FY - up from $623m in 2019. And they actually turned a profit of $27m - up from $198,000 a year back.

Zoom only makes revenue from its paying business customers. Its consumer clients not only get Zoom free (with a 40 minute limit on calls) but advert-free too - although Zoom’s founder, Eric Yuan, said this might change in the future. 300m participants have used Zoom on some recent days - up from 10m in Dec 19. So good to see Zoom increasing its number of business clients by 354% yoy to c265,000 with 769 companies paying more that $100,000. In addition 100,000 schools worldwide use zoom for online classes - also free.

Zoom shares are up around 500% - from $36 to $214 - since its IPO just over a year ago in Apr 19 and up over 200% this YTD. Zoom is now valued at $59b - around 33x anticipated revenues for its current FY.

Posted by: Richard Holway

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

Excitable Welsh agri-tech Agxio raises a little bit of dosh

logoI truly worry when a two-year-old start-up talks up their platform as “defin(ing) the next generation of artificially intelligent machine learning innovation … deliver(ing) robotic automation to beyond human scale AI/ML problems.” All this on the back of a £750k raise.

This is Aberystwyth-based agri-tech start-up, Agxio, which claims to have developed “the World's first in-season command centre for progressive, precision agriculture … deliver(ing) 10x performance at scale.”

The thing is, when you cut through all the BS, I get the notion that Agxio might actually be doing something important for the agriculture industry, but this gets totally lost in the marketing noise.

Anyway, the funding apparently comes from a mix of existing and new investors and the Development Bank of Wales.

We’ve written about a number of agri-tech start-ups in the past, such as Wefarm (see Backers plough $13m furrow for AgTech Wefarm) and Kisanhub (see Notion sews $1m seed funding in ‘AgTech’ KisanHub). In both cases, the focus is on the ‘agri’ more than the ‘tech’. Agxio could do well by taking a leaf out of their book.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

Luminous adds glow to Temporall’s quest for leadership insight

logoI have read and re-read the PR and scoured their website, but I just do not understand precisely how London-based ‘organisational insights’ start-up Temporall actually goes about ‘giving key performance insights to leadership teams’.

There’s lots of management-speak about ‘culture analytics’ and how their platform “connects fragmented data from across a company, to help leaders understand how work gets done”, and colourful infographics. There’s a worthy vision statement too: “to create a world where no leader is held back by partial insight”.

Clearly Temporall has believers, both in terms of clients (including Blue Prism) and investors, witness a £1m+ seed funding round led by Luminous Ventures. The start-up was founded in 2017 by former Google Channel Sales Director, Thomas Davies. According to the blurb, Davies is predicting 900% revenue growth over the next couple of years and is set on “Establishing a new technology category set for mainstream global demand within (the) next five years.”

I really am none the wiser.

Posted by: Anthony Miller

Tags: funding   startup  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

IBEX secures funds to develop X-ray tech

IBEX logoX-ray imaging software specialist IBEX Innovations has secured £535k in a venture round led by existing investors North East Venture Fund (NEVF), with participation from IP Group and private investors.

The Sedgefield-based business was founded by Dr Gary Gibson in 2010 and has been dedicated to developing medical X-ray imaging software solutions since 2014. Its IBEX Trueview technology utilises a physics engine and artificial intelligence to model X-ray interactions with a patient, helping to build a precise 3D model of scatter and body composition from a single 2D radiograph, which provides better image quality at a lower radiation dose.

The latest funds from NEVF, which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Mercia Fund Managers, follows a number of earlier investments from NEVF and IP Group, including £1m rounds in 2019 and 2018. The business also secured a €1.6m grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in 2017. The latest investment will be used to commercialise new software designed to help detect breast cancer.

After many years of research and development, IBEX has now started making sales of its Trueview technology, this includes sales to US-based 3D imaging specialist Curvebeam last year and to Planmed, a medical imaging technology manufacturer in Finland, earlier this year.

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: funding   startup   AI   healthcare  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

US CMS sales push Intercede revenue up 3%

US CMS sales push Intercede revenue up 3%Intercede followed up on its profitable first half with FY20 results that saw revenue expand 3% year on year to £10.4m. It also doubled its annual income from £500k in FY19 to £1m in FY20 as the continued tight control of staff-related costs helped bring operational expenses down from £10.1m to £9.2m.

Though headquartered in Leicestershire the cyber security supplier makes most of its money selling and supporting its MyID credential management system (CMS) to buyers in the US engaged in public key infrastructure system deployments. Over three quarters (77%, or £8m) of Intercede’s FY20 turnover came from North America, up from 69% in FY19, with only 1% of revenue sourced from UK buyers - down from 3% in FY19 when we included Intercede in our list of Hot 10 UK Cyber Security Suppliers poised for significant growth.

The ongoing shift to the MyID v11 platform drove a big increase in support and maintenance revenue (up 15% to £5.5m) though at the expense of software license sales which dipped 28% to £2.6m.

While the FY20 figures are minimally impacted by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, the same cannot be said for FY21. For the moment though, the surge in homeworking appears to be working in Intercede’s favour - management reported a sales pipeline which is up 40% on the same period in 2019.

Posted by: Martin Courtney

Tags: results   identity   PKI   cybersecurity   FY20   CredentialManagementSystem  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

*UKHotViewsExtra* Brit and Google Cloud accelerate London Market transformation

BritLeading commercial insurer, Brit, has announced plans to launch a new AI-based Lloyd’s syndicate in collaboration with Google Cloud. Scheduled for its London Market launch in 2021, the algorithmically driven incubator “Ki” is being backed by Brit, Fairfax and other private capital investors. The business will be a stand-alone venture, run by a dedicated team reporting to Brit’s Group CFO, Mark Allan, who will act as Executive Chair. 

Ki will use AI to evaluate Lloyd’s policies and provide automatic quotes via a digital platform that can be accessed remotely by brokers, anywhere and at any time. Cover will be selected via a process using a proprietary algorithm, developed in conjunction with the Computer Science department at University College London (UCL)

Advanced analytics is shaking up the traditional insurance ecosystem and its approach to pricing. Coupled with machine learning (ML), the sophisticated use of data is starting to replace human expertise in the assessment and management of risk. Meanwhile, innovative technology providers, including the likes of Concirrus and Loadsure, are helping to transform long-established, manual processes within the London Market and the commercial insurance space.

HVPTechMarketView clients, including HotViews Premium subscribers, can learn more about these developments via UKHotViewsExtra "Brit and Google Cloud accelerate London Market transformation".

If you are not yet a TechMarketView subscriber and would like access to these or any other of our resources, please contact Deb Seth.

Posted by: Jon C Davies

Tags: insurance   LondonMarket   lloyds  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

CirrusHQ gets funding and new Chairman

cirAmazon Web Services partner, CirrusHQ, has received £400k in new funding and has appointed Alastair Mills as Chairman. The funding round was led by Mills and Ronnie Smith, who together founded Six Degrees Group in 2011, which was acquired by Charlesbank Capital Partners in 2015. 

Mills also holds non-executive board positions at The Good Till Co, WeSeeHope and is a Partner at VC fund Prefcap. Smith is also on the board of TiG Group. Both investors have now joined CirrusHQ’s board of directors. Daemonn Brody has appointed as Managing Director.  aws

The funding will be used to drive business growth in CirrusHQ’s target markets of education and public sector (and aspects of enterprise too). The company says it is the first and only UK Consulting Partner to hold the AWS Education Competency.

The educational sector is of course very disrupted at the moment with most schools and universities using online learning to engage with students. Cloud technology is playing a central role here, with many institutions having to rapidly experiment with new approaches. In the new academic year the university sector will look very different as overseas students stay away from the UK and as many classes remain virtual. We’ll catch up with the team at CirrusHQ shortly to learn more about their strategy as we move beyond the pandemic.

Posted by: Kate Hanaghan

Tags: publicsector   education   funding  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

BAE Systems' CORDA cements Dstl relationship

BAE Systems logoBAE Systems’ CORDA has cemented its relationship with the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) for at least another five years. BAE Systems CORDA is a modelling and analysis consultancy, kept independent from the rest of the BAE Systems Group. Its new contract, which can be extended for up to a further two years, is named ASTRID (Analysis for Science and Technology Research in Defence) and is worth up to £350m. The framework contract is open to any customers in MoD and in wider Government with in-scope requirements.

ASC has already delivered over 300 separate analysis activities for customers that took advantage of that framework. ASTRID will continue to provide cutting-edge analysis designed to underpin UK defence and security decision making, while endeavouring to introduce further innovation. BAE Systems CORDA “will source and select the best supplier from its specialist supply chain to conduct analysis and inform decision making”. There will be a drive to increase the percentage delivered by SMEs.

The aim of the framework is to ensure the best decisions are made when the MoD (or other Government organisations) are faced with strategy, policy, and investment challenges. It will operate across five areas: strategy, policy and enterprise, capability and investment for platform and system-level capabilities within current and future force structures, organisational structures (including back-office support, systems and processes), enabling services (including modelling and data collection) and horizon scanning. Subject to Intellectual Policy Rights, the research can be re-purposed and shared across other areas within Government facing similar challenges.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

Tags: publicsector   contract   defence   analytics   data  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

Latest TechMarketView Research

TMV logoMay was another very busy month here at TechMarketView. Over the month our expert analyst team wrote nearly 200 UKHotViews articles, keeping you abreast of daily developments in a fast-changing UK tech market. But UKHotViews is just the appetiser – we also published a host of reports and more in-depth UKHotViewsExtra articles for our many subscription clients. 

We’ve only got space to list key reports below – click the title to access the report if you subscribe (remember to login first!). If you don’t currently have a corporate subscription and you’d like details of our 2020 packages, contact Deb Seth (dseth@techmarketview.com) for more details.

REPORTS

Report imageCOVID-19 Vulnerability and Resilience: Top 20 SITS Suppliers – analysing the largest Top 20 providers of Software and IT Services to the UK market against eight key characteristics for prospering during the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. Which suppliers are best positioned?

COVID 19: Impact on UK Tech Suppliers– A TechMarketView Snapshot Survey - taking the pulse of the UK tech sector to see how suppliers are coping with impact of COVID-19 on their business during lockdown. What is their view on the outlook?

COVID-19: The impact on UK public sector software and IT services (PublicSectorViews) - Examining the impact COVID-19 has had on central government, local government, health, defence, education and police with predictions for the impact over the remainder of 2020 and longer term, as well as our recommendations for suppliers.

UK Financial Services SITS "Prospects for a Post-COVID-19 World" (FinancialServicesViews) - COVID-19 has already become one of the top drivers within UK financial services SITS, in terms of technology innovation and digital transformation initiatives.What are the major priorities for both end-users and SITS providers in the sector and what is the likely impact of the coronavirus over the short and longer term?

Cloud and Infrastructure Services Supplier Prospects 2020 and beyond (Tech Insights) – analysing the ten leading players (by revenue) in the UK Infrastructure Services market. What will need to do to be successful this year and beyond? What are the potential hurdles that will prevent suppliers reaching their potential in the short and mid-term?

Digital Marketplace Dashboards P12 2019-20 (PublicSectorViews) – analysing key sales data from the UK public sector’s G-Cloud and Digital Outcomes & Specialists frameworks; which suppliers have won the most business through the frameworks & where?

IndustryViews Corporate Activity Q1 2020 (Foundation Service) - Our quarterly review of the UK software & IT services M&A scene. How was merger and acquisition activity in the sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic during Q1 2020? 

Posted by: HotViews Editor

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

SHSCT partners with Civica to deploy employee app

Civica logoFollowing its work with the Department of Health to launch a new COVID-19 information app in Northern Ireland (see Tech Goodness: Northern Ireland COVID-19 app launched), Civica has developed a new employee app for the Southern Health & Social Care Trust (SHSCT).

The SHSCT employs c.13,000 staff and provides health and social care services across the five council areas of Armagh; Banbridge; Craigavon; Dungannon; and Newry and Mourne.

The New Connect app was developed in four weeks following a design workshop, which was run online, with Civica, SHSCT and Belfast-based UX specialists Big Motive. It will provide a central hub for employee resources, including podcasts and newsletters; information on benefits and wellbeing; access to chatbot functionality; and allow the SHSCT to push notification of important announcements e.g. PPE availability.

Although the development of the app was driven by the need for the SHSCT to ensure employees had access to the latest information during the COVID-19 crisis, it will now form a key HR and Communications tool in the Trust’s wider transformation strategy. The SHSCT  is also looking at using the app to provide online and virtual training as well as clinical guidance for medical workers in the future. This is another example of how the pandemic is helping to accelerate digital transformation in the public sector. 

Posted by: Dale Peters

Tags: chatbot   app   northern+ireland   healthcare   covid-19  

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Tuesday 02 June 2020

Edtech Learning Labs raises £500k

Learning LabsBirmingham-based Edtech Learning Labs has raised £500k to help students improve their foreign language skills with investment coming from combination of existing investors and the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), managed by VC firm Midven.

Learning Labs was set up in 2013 by Veejay Lingiah and Richard Allen, originally developing FlashSticks, a language learning system based on 3M’s Post-it Notes and sold in high street stores. This has now morphed into the app based FlashAcademy that incorporates a mixture of flashcards, videos and an object translator to engage learners - all designed to help get away from “lengthy grammar drills or boring vocab sheets”.

FlashAcademy enables users to learn English from 45 different home languages. The clever thing is that the software allows users to learn any new language from each of the “home languages”, providing some 2,000 different language learning permutations. This means that whilst a student can learn English from Spanish, they can also learn French from Spanish, French from Urdu etc etc.

The timing looks particularly good for Learning Labs with so many students, schools and colleges adopting remote learning during the COVID-19 lockdown. Indeed, Learning Labs claims to have added some 20,000 new students to the platform since March and will looking to use the funding as a springboard to greater adoption.

Posted by: Marc Hardwick

Tags: education   language   edtech  

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Monday 01 June 2020

UKHotViewsExtra: Methods passes £100m turnover milestone

Methods GroupMethods Group, which encompasses Methods Business Digital & Technology, Core Azure, and Methods Analytics, has passed the £100m turnover mark. Result for the year to 30th April 2020 reveal turnover of £101.5m – an increase of c5% on the previous year.

The year started slowly with business negatively impacted by Brexit paralysis. However, things soon picked up and demand has continued to be strong over the last quarter. TechMarketView subscribers can read about performance across the different businesses, the impact on profitability, the Group’s employee attrition turnaround, and prospects for the year ahead in UKHotViewsExtra: Methods passes £100m turnover milestone.

IUKHotViews Premium logof you are not yet a subscriber, please contact Deb Seth to find out more. If you are a subscriber – including those signed up for UKHotViews Premium – you can download the research note now.

Posted by: Georgina O'Toole

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Monday 01 June 2020

Thomas' Mini Triathlon for LimbPower

LimbPower logo

Those of you who are regular readers of UKHotViews might remember the story of Thomas, the son of our Chief Analyst, Georgina O’Toole. It is almost a year since Thomas underwent an elective through-knee amputation of his left leg at Great Ormond Street Hospital following ten years of trying to fix a congenital deformity.

Thomas and prostheticThis coming Sunday – 7th June – will be Thomas’ ‘Ampuversary’! He wants to do something to mark the occasion. And he couldn’t think of a better way to do that than raising money for the charity – LimbPower – that has supported him and his family over the last twelve months.

LimbPower was launched in November 2009 to engage amputees and individuals with limb impairments in physical activity, sport and the arts to improve quality of life and to aid lifelong rehabilitation.

Three months after Thomas’ amputation, Thomas joined the charity for an outdoor activity weekend in Hereford – it was the perfect environment, surrounded by other children with similar stories, to rebuild his confidence. He participated in climbing, paddleboarding, canoeing, and exercise sessions. Since then he has continued to attend numerous events and made a lot of friends.

To give back to the charity, Thomas has committed to rising early for a 10-minute swim in the ‘Great Pond’ and will be following that with a 1-mile run and a 5-mile cycle. He would really appreciate your support if you can. His JustGiving page is at Thomas’ Triathlon for LimbPower.

Posted by: HotViews Editor

Tags: fundraising   charity  

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