2019 Wrap-Up – A busy year at Crane & Staples

As we come to the end of another busy year at Crane & Staples, it is a good time to reflect on all the exciting things that we have been part of in 2019.

Charity and Fundraising

In February, we took part in the annual Great Legal Bake for the fifth time. This year, the bakes were bigger and better than ever! Well done to Tom Axon for being the overall winner and thank you to Barbara Fitzsimmons, Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield and Charles Trinder, Chair of the Welwyn Hatfield Citizens Advice Bureau, for judging the event. We were delighted to raise £311.80 for our local Citizens Advice Bureau and Eastern Legal.

Our fundraising efforts amped up again in the Spring. We took part in the March for March to raise money for new interactive playmats for the children at Lister Hospital. These were unveiled in the summer and we hear the children absolutely love them!

In April, Matthew Clibbon completed the London Marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Then in May, Michael Scutt took part in a 60k bike ride to support the Willow Foundation. Lizzy, Tom, Sophie and Sara had fun at the Bubble Rush for St Francis Hospice, and the very brave Tahir Nisar abseiled down the side of Lister Hospital to raise money for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust!

Later in the Summer, Bonnie, Lizzy, Tom, Sheryl, Katie and Annabel completed the Race for Life at Stanborough Park. We also had another baking event, the NHS Big Tea, to raise money for Lister Hospital. Thank you to Sheryl for organising this, and to everyone who brought in such delicious food.

We had fun watching the Children in Need Duck Race sweepstake in November. Well done to Vasoula, who won with ‘Beakwell Tart’ and thank you to Sabina and Gooby for organising this sweepstake.

This month, Sophie and Sheryl had the imaginative idea to choose the theme ‘Presents you would have liked as a child’ for our staff Secret Santa. Sophie and Sara then delivered these presents to the children at Lister Hospital and helped decorate the wards, as part of their December Smiles campaign. This meant a lot to the staff here and we were so pleased that we could help spread some cheer to the children who will be staying in hospital over Christmas.

We were also proud to support the 16 Days of Action against Domestic Abuse Campaign, and instead of sending Christmas cards this year, we have donated to the Hertfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline.

Annabel and Jeff kindly organised our Christmas party raffle this year, to raise money for the Willen Hospice, a cause close to our staff’s hearts. There were some fantastic prizes to be won and we are delighted to have raised £285 for the hospice.

We would also like to thank our staff members who have fundraised and volunteered in the local community throughout the year. Some of our staff regularly help at the local shelter and also assist at the Citizens Advice Bureau when they can.

Awards, Accreditations and Professional Achievements

It has been a fantastic year of professional achievements for the staff at Crane & Staples.

In June, Georgina Donnellan became the inaugural winner of ‘Hertfordshire Law Society’s Junior Lawyer of the Year’. She was presented this award by HLS President Judith Gower and Law Society President Christina Blacklaws, at the annual Hertfordshire Law Society dinner. Well done Georgina!

We were also delighted when Attia Hussain and Manish Patel were both shortlisted for the very prestigious national Asian Legal Awards. Attia was a finalist in the special ‘100 Years of Women in Law’ category, and Manish was runner-up in the ‘Company and Commercial Lawyer’ category. It was a fantastic event held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. Samantha Webb, Nadia Miah, Tahir Nisar and HLS President Judith Gower attended to support Tia and Manish. One highlight was meeting Asian pop royalty JuggyD! Thank you to the Society of Asian Lawyers for hosting such a great evening.

In September, we found out that we had been listed in three categories in the Legal 500. Our Family, Private Client and Property teams were all included in the 2020 rankings. We were described as a ‘long-established and respected firm dedicated to serving the community of Welwyn Hatfield.’ https://www.legal500.com/firms/762-crane-staples/2497-welwyn-garden-city-england

Additionally, Sharon Montgomery, Danielle Peters, David Bird, Bonnie Twiggs, Chris Brewis and Attia Hussain were all highlighted as ‘Recommended Lawyers’ for 2020. A special congratulations to Samantha Webb, who received the prestigious accolade of ‘Next Generation Lawyer’. This was a huge achievement for us and we would like to thank all of the clients and professional contacts who provided such lovely references.

Also in September, former letters administrator Nadia Miah completed her LPC and started her training contract in the Family department. Well done Nadia!

Sian Churchill had her first reported case in the Court of Appeal. The case, S (A Child: Adequacy of Reasoning) showed the pressures and strains faced in the family law justice system from the parties, solicitors, to the Judges themselves. Thank you to Counsel Victoria Teggin and Amy Stout of 3 Dr Johnson’s Buildings. https://www.crane-staples.co.uk/news/2019/11/reported-case-s-a-child-adequacy-of-reasoning/

Community and Social Events

We’ve taken part in a whole range of community events this year.

In August, we sponsored the showing of ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ at Welwyn Garden City’s Cinema on the Green. This was a great summer event, where local people could attend the outdoor cinema in the sunshine. As our movie had a musical theme, we gave our VIP tickets to 4 students from the local Stagecoach Theatre School. The students were a real credit to the school, and we are so pleased they enjoyed the event.

Karen Slatter also set up the Crane & Staples netball team this summer. In September, we won our first match against Bretherton Law and in October, we lost a very exciting match to Raydens. We are looking forward to more matches in the New Year. We also showed our support for Hertfordshire Police’s ‘Lives not Knives’ campaign by playing with the special ‘Lives not Knives’ ball. This campaign uses sport to engage with young people and educate them about knife crime.

We sponsored the Best Business Women Awards for the fifth consecutive year. Bonnie Twiggs and Samantha Webb were pleased to act as judges for the awards. They said the competition was especially tough this year as there were so many deserving applicants. Sharon Montgomery and Georgina Donnellan attended the ceremony in London, where they were pleased to present Carolyn Lewis of eLearning Marketplace Ltd with the ‘Best Business Woman in Business Services’ award.

This year marks the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919. This act finally allowed women to enter the legal profession. All year, we have followed the work of the First 100 Years Project and reflected on how far women have come in the legal profession and what we hope to see in the future. We really value diversity and inclusion at Crane & Staples and are pleased that four of our seven Partners are women. This year has highlighted how important it is to have inspirational women working in law, and we are particularly pleased that our junior women lawyers and trainees have been so involved in this project. We are also grateful to the men in our firm who have also engaged with this project.

This celebration of 100 years of women in law culminated in our Christmas tree entry at the St Francis Church Christmas tree festival. Staff members at Crane & Staples were asked to nominate an inspirational woman in law to appear in a bauble in the tree. We included famous women from legal history, famous women in law today and women in law from the local area, who represent people from our community. We are so pleased that we could do something to mark the centenary, and that we received such kind feedback from the women who featured on the tree. You can find out more about the women on the tree here.

In December, Michael Scutt and Annabel Andreou attended the awards evening at Stanborough School. They were delighted to present the ‘Crane & Staples Award for Services to the Community’ to the student Alex Baxter. Well done Alex! Thank you to Stanborough School for inviting us to this celebratory event.

Health and Wellness

We’ve also focussed on office wellness and employee mental health this year. Highlights include a pamper day from the team at Welwyn Luxury Beauty, an osteopath visit, lunchtime walks, healthy breakfasts, social lunches and informative talks on mental health and fitness. We are all very grateful for the firm’s continued commitment to employee wellbeing.

Staff News

We’ve welcomed some fantastic new staff to the team in 2019!

  • Tom Axon
  • Janet Martland
  • Sian Churchill
  • Karen Slatter
  • Amy Tapping
  • Vasoula Televantos
  • Lisa Murphy
  • Kamilia Kwiecien
  • Deane Harrison
  • Sue Mabey
  • Roy Gill
  • Freya Shailes

In April, Greg Ainscough, a Partner of Crane & Staples for over 30 years, readied himself for a relaxing retirement, which started off with a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show, from the staff. We all miss Greg’s advice and good humour round the office.

Time to get ready for the roaring 20’s!

There is lots to look forward to in Welwyn Garden City in 2020, as we celebrate the town’s 100th birthday! Throughout the year, the town will host a whole range of activities including the Garden City Lights event and a summer carnival. We are hoping to be involved with some of these events and look forward to entering a team of staff in the Dragon Boat race at Stanborough Lakes!

We are also nominated in two categories at the 2020 biz4Biz Awards. The awards are hosted by Strictly fan favourite Anton Du Beke, so we are really looking forward to it! Please follow this link https://www.bizawards.info/categories if you would like to vote for us.

We would like to wish all our clients and professional colleagues a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make 2019 such an exciting year for Crane & Staples!