TSA autumn conference hits a new high

25 November 2019

The Textile Services Association (TSA) autumn conference, held at Ardencote Manor in Warwickshire, 18 September, was a high point for the association on many fronts

Opening the TSA autumn conference, Charles Betteridge, TSA Chairman, welcomed delegates alongside CEO David Stevens, and reflected on the past 12 months, saying frankly: “The TSA car had taken a wrong turn. It wasn’t actually in the ditch, but maybe had its wheels in the air. It was time for a change of driver, but it is difficult to find a CEO for a trade association. You can’t go to Tesco and pick one up there.

“Thank goodness we found David who is doing a fantastic job. He is someone who can talk about laundry and that makes a big difference to us. And he is enjoying it and putting in more than his contracted two days a week. He has the keys to the TSA car and it is back on the road. Not in the fast lane but that is deliberate as you will hear.”

Picking up the metaphorical baton from Betteridge, Stevens told the room: “The pre-conference dinner last night saw 91 attending, including new members Euroclean and Bryant Plastics - PHS and OCS have not officially signed up yet and are in talks now. It is a record turnout this year.” He added that 130 delegates were in attendance for conference day and he said that supplier partners are a massive support to TSA both financially and technically where their niche expertise is invaluable in TSA Knowledge Networks. “We still have room for one or two more Premier Partners so any suppliers wishing to upgrade, let me know,” he said.

On the subject of finances, Stevens said: “It is no secret 2018 was not a good year for TSA. When I took over, we (the board) had some seriously tough conversations very quickly. And to their credit, nobody dropped out of support because of that. We have had to turn around to the tune of £250k and we are now (after just a few months) on track to break even. It is your money! So, back on track with expenditure with checks and balances now in place.”

Stevens explained that one major saving, £12,000 per annum, has been made by ditching the London offices (with no meeting rooms or parking) for an office near Heathrow with parking and meeting rooms for members to avail themselves with, and which he says is far more accessible to members around the country than central London.

He went on to announce a new member of TSA staff, Emma Andersson, will soon be joining the TSA team using her skill sets for administration and finance. Shyju Skariah, technical services manager and Laura-Jade Heseltine, who has been promoted to now take responsibility for membership as well as events, are the other two full timers on the staff.

TSA conference had a new twist this time round with instant voting on projected projects and seminars and training going forward.

Charitable trust

Following up on the Spring conference there was an update from Anna Pangbourne about industry charity The Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust, on uptake from laundries invited to identify employee families whose children would benefit from grants from the Trust. Pangbourne reported that she was extremely pleased with progress. She also thanked suppliers and laundries that have signed up to support the charity. TSA members include Johnsons Hotel Linen, Micronclean, Sherry Textiles, Aeroserve and Swiss Laundry saying: “We are very pleased to have them all on board.”


Should TSA focus on this?

Yes, said majority


Working with ex-offenders

Rebecca Morgan, Johnsons Afonwen, spoke at the Spring conference about the company’s commitment to working with ex-offenders. “I am passionate about this. Why do we do it? Skill shortages, difficulties recruiting and Brexit has and is having an impact on that,” she explained.

She explained how following an invitation to attend an employers fair at an open prison, Morgan was amazed at how engaged inmates were. “So many just wanted a second chance. Straight away I could see how this impacted on recruitment costs. By employing ex-offenders you get good staff retention and bring them on at the same time. It makes a huge difference to them getting their lives back, stops re-offending and helps the taxpayer.

“Timpson (TSA spring conference, New Beginning, LCN, June 2019) does very well with on-site workshops but it is not for us. We have the workers shipped into our premises in a HMP van. There has been nothing but positive feedback on Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) scheme workers who are generally from category D prisons. We are now rolling the programme out and will be involving women prisoners in future.

“Prisoners apply to be considered for employment and we go to see them inside. Taking the time to do this gives them confidence that they are not ‘dead’ to society. We employ offenders who have been convicted of crimes from fraud to manslaughter. Each case is looked at separately and on merit. However, we won’t consider arsonists (insurance risk) or anybody who is likely to harm themselves or others.”


Should TSA focus on this?

Yes, said majority


Projects of the future
Energy Audit

David Stevens called on Richard Newton to report on TSA energy audit pilot which will shortly be rolled out to membership, saying, TSA scoped out a suitable laundry as guinea pig. It is just £330 for the day, he informed delegates, including a write-up – “and that is good value”.


Should TSA focus on this?

Yes, said majority


Women in the industry

Rhona Tait of TDS Laundry who heads up an all-female workforce spoke on the subject saying: “Any barriers or problems in senior management we have no issues –  but maybe because I am an owner.

 We as an industry do need to do more about getting women into posts and not hinder women getting into senior management. We need to look at issues if childcare, work life balance and how to make jobs work for women. If necessary adjust jobs to suit.

“And it is not just a male v female thing. Millennials…they would like the same things and they won’t do what the older generation did to have jobs.”


Should TSA focus on this?

Yes, said majority


Single-use plastics

Should TSA look at ways to limit utilisation of single use plastic? And also look into associated issues such as release of micro-fibres in the eco-system? Stevens said that a survey taken among members prior to the conference indicated that 90% agreed this was one to pursue.

Knowledge networks update

Stevens welcomed to the podium Shyju Skariah, TSA technical services manager, with his supporting cast of technical experts:

  • Gary Youngson, Elis
  • Mark Exton, Micronclean
  • Richard Newton, TSA technical expert


Skariah told the room that PPE training event has been delivered and proved very popular with BSIF’s Alan Murray presenting and “that looks like a good working relationship for the future.”

The event was hosted by Kannegiesser at its Banbury site with a full house of 32 attendees. This event came from a TSA Knowledge Network Project and the identified need to update the membership on the importance of PPE regulations and an update on the new guidance issued. “We now have a working group chaired by Clean. An October meeting is scheduled and we are now redrafting the current guide and developing raining on quality control and repair,” said Skariah.

“As for the Climate Change Accord seminar, all members were there and transferred good practices. We now plan to visit laundries and offer help.

“In May boiler management training was delivered over two-days by Byworth which was chosen for the job because of its quality of training. One day focusing on managers and another on engineers with attendees going away with a certificate for Attendance and Understanding of the Fundamentals of Boiler Management. This module will be re-run as and when demand dictates.”

The PPE seminar in June featured guest speaker Alan Murray from the BSIF (British Safety Industry Federation) who delivered a short session at the seminar as well as various speakers from the TSA membership pool.

He also said that the fire safety network – “as we know, linen, chemicals and flammable gas don’t work together” – is also ready to rumble. A cage ergonomics group has also been set up to help limit injuries in operation and handling and design.

He went on to urge more joined-up thinking across all sectors and disciplines and moving away from a ‘boxed’ perspective, thereby bringing everybody together – member suppliers, non-member suppliers, laundries – “and we can also deliver training”.

Apprenticeships – full steam ahead

David Kinson, TSA learning advisor, stressed the importance of young person engagement and told delegates he had successfully engaged with Careers Wales but was struggling with England and Scotland careers departments. However, he said, work is continuing and continuing well. “Textile care operative level 2 standard apprenticeships is ow up an running with a big milestone coming in March 2020 when the first cohort of apprentices will be ready for assessment. A Trailblazer group is putting standards together. NTG has been engaged to deliver training and then end point assessment.”

Lee Morris, NTG Training, said NTG is at the forefront of development training content ensuring the knowledge necessary for NTG to make assessments.

“We are probably the first to bring this to the market. We can deliver the model that best suits what you want in your organisation. It could be a classroom setting or one-on-one to minimise disruption and can also deliver training as free of charge e-learning and webinars,” said Morris.

“Learner progress is reported by visits from an assessor and reported back including problems or concerns and suggested next steps. NTG will fully involve the employer. Off-the-job hours is a Government requirement for 20% off-the-job retraining so people can function in all aspects of the process to combat people away or off sick.”

The scheme covers:

  • Apprenticeship standards
  • Commercial laundry
  • Dry/wetcleaning
  • EPA assessment knowledge test
  • Practical skills assessment


David Kinson said the TSA Skills & Education Group is now actively recruiting assessors and welcomes enquiries from people who are semi-retired or retired from the sector and who meet the below criteria:

  • Be independent of the apprentice, their employer and raining provider.
  • Hold, or be working towards, an assessor qualification and have had training from their EPAO in terms of good assessment practice, operating the assessment tools and grading.
  • Have relevant experience of working in the textile care sector in a management or technical consultant position.
  • Have knowledge of current industry, ie, worked within the sector within the past five years or able to evidence up-to-date knowledge gained through exposure to the industry and/or training.
  • Undertake a minimum of two days EPAO standardisation training a year.


Bug kill! Are they really dead? disinfection project

Dr Katie Laird, De Montfort University, is leading a project which is centred on the prevention of transmission of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) particularly on textiles. Current research projects include the survival of HAIs on nurse’s uniforms, C. difficile transmission on healthcare laundry and reducing the attachment of micro-organisms to textiles.

Stevens announced that the research is now being jointly funded by TSA and by the American linen rental trade body TRSA.

Dr Laird explained: “Sheets from a C. difficile ward where sheets had been infected with the bugs were collected and stored in bags in an outside storage area and after 24 hours infected area swatches were cut and then tested, and then the bag of laundry was washed and the fabric put through the ironer, too. Pre- and post-wash samples were analysed.

“We found 33 spores per 25cm on the bed sheets. So we know they do survive.What the tests do show is that it is best to get contaminated linen into the wash as quickly as possible and not store as this gives the spores the opportunity to develop their clinging propensities,” she said. The research is ongoing.

See  http://www.laundryandcleaningnews.com/news/newsinfection-risks-come-under-the-spotlight-6138277/


Wash up

The conference washed up with a bit of light relief in the form of stand-up comedian and TV personality Paul Sinha, who entertained entertain with his experiences from moving careers from the medical profession to comedy, and how a love for quizzes led to him becoming a general knowledge expert on ITV’s ‘The Chase’ making it a fantastic close to the autumn conference.



The 2020 TSA events calendar was then revealed with a re-run of the Spring and Autumn Conference. Dates ARE set, but the venues are to be confirmed. There will be a Laundry Engineering Training Course in January delivered by LTC Worldwide, and the National Congress again in November.

The Textile Services Management Course (TSMC) which successfully ran in March this year, was also in the pipeline to run given enough membership demand, as well as another Boiler Training course. The audience were asked to poll their interest on this and to email Laura-Jade Heseltine directly.

The TSA events calendar for next year will be circulated in the next coming weeks directly to the membership and will be available on the TSA website. Industry events will also be listed on their but should be specifically booked with those hosting directly.

TSA TEAM: Laura Jade Helestine, Shyju Skiarah and CEO David Stevens. Photograph courtesy of Richard Rigg from Thermopatch

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