Belfast Telegraph

Cracking Christmas for Northern Ireland business chiefs

By Staff Reporters

Northern Ireland’s bosses reveal their plans on how they will spend holiday as firms take a festive break.

‘Church and carol service - and then my mango pavlova’

Nigel Smyth, CBI regional director

On Christmas Day we are going to my sister-in-law's after a church and carol service in the morning, and a little drink.

We will be there until the late evening.

There will be about a dozen of us there, and I'm preparing dessert - mango pavlova.

Then, on Boxing Day, we'll probably go for a walk in the morning, and have family and friends down in the late afternoon.

We will hopefully get to our house in Portballintrae for the weekend, and enjoy some port and cheese, as well as perhaps enjoying a round of golf.

'A log fire and sherry-sodden cake before I sing in choir'

Johnny Andrews, NI Conservatives economy spokesman

Traditions include listening to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the radio as I round up the Christmas pressie visits.

Home to a log fire and my own sherry-sodden Christmas cake and then off to sing with St John's Malone choir.

An early start on Christmas morn with a hearty breakfast to last me through to a late lunch after a short service in church.

 Theme this year will then be take it easy, relax, get some walking and let it snow.

'I'm cooking for 12... so it's all systems go in the kitchen'

Diane Poole head of PR for Stena Line

On Christmas morning my family and I get up early to exchange gifts before going to church.

I'm cooking for 12 so it will be all systems go in the kitchen getting everything prepared.

There will be a surprise visit from Santa for the little ones and the looks on their faces always makes the day even more special.

The evening will be spent having a few drinks and lots of laughter with loved ones and then we get ready to do it all over again on Boxing Day.

'I'll visit our three hotels and then home to open presents'

Howard Hastings, MD Hastings Hotels

On Christmas morning I'll go to church with my family and then I will visit three of our hotels, the Culloden Estate & Spa, the Europa Hotel and the Stormont Hotel, to wish the staff a merry Christmas and welcome some of our guests.

Then I'll go home and help my wife Phil with the final preparations for our Christmas dinner which I'm looking forward to enjoying with our three children Jessica, Matthew and Oliver.

I hope they've all bought me nice presents as I'm sure they think I deserve it!

'I'll be on Skype with my children in Australia'

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI

I live in Derry and spend a lot of time commuting, so having four extra hours in the day and less time commuting is great.

This will be a chance for me to get cooking and carving and visiting family that I hardly see for the rest of the year because I am so busy.

I fill my time with things I should have been doing all year, plus nothing beats a Northern Irish bar at this time of year.

This year will be very different for the family as two of my children are now in Australia, one is settled and one is travelling.

That means dinner will be with my wife and I and our youngest son.

Back when I was growing up, my aunt used to fit 27 of us into a two-up, two-down house, and this year we won't even have a fourth person to pull the cracker with. However, we will be using Skype to keep in contact with the kids in Australia.

It is difficult at this time of year not to have your family around you.

But it is amazing that technology has now stepped in to help keep loved ones closer together.

'I'm exhausted after a busy year of travelling'

Declan O'Mahony of Heartsine

This Christmas we donated more than 100 of our defibrillators to our staff in Northern Ireland.

The employees can decide whether to place their defibrillator in their house or car to protect family, friends and members of the local community when on the move or whether to install the device in a local school, office, shop or community centre. We wanted to stay away from the usual sorts of gifts such as chocolates, wine or vouchers and gift our employees with something really special and significant.

This week I also met with a man from Dublin whose life was saved by a HeartSine defibrillator.

He told me he was thankful that he was alive to celebrate his family this Christmas. This year I have done a lot of travelling.

I was in Japan, India, China and all over the USA.

It's been a really busy year and business is booming.

But I am exhausted.

Normally my wife and three kids and I go skiing at Christmas but because I have been away so much, we're all staying at home in west Cork.

'Looking forward to winding down with wife and family'

Colin Anderson, CEO of communications firm ASG

As co-chair of the Heenan-Anderson Commission, I've had a busy few months and am looking forward to winding down with my wife Hilary and the family, including grandchildren.

Jake is two and Bear is one in January, and they will be visiting with their mum, our daughter Kelly and partner Matt.

Kyle and his wife have their first Christmas as a married couple and Geoff is on his way home from Istanbul.

He has been singing in Naples and Rome and recently played Kenickie in Grease at the Gaiety in Dublin.

‘One day off and then I’ll be on call for all our restaurants’

Bob McCoubrey of Mourne Seafood

I'm going to be heading down to have dinner and spend the day with my parents.

We will be having a traditional Christmas turkey dinner, ham and all the usual trimmings.

I'm just getting Christmas Day off and I'll be back working and keeping an eye on things from Boxing Day on when we open again in Dundrum.

I'll be on call for all our restaurants, when everything gets back up and running again.

It's the time of year when you can't afford for things to break down, or go wrong.

'We usually go for a big walk up to Scrabo on Boxing Day'

Michelle Hatfield, Belfast City Airport

I was working right up until Christmas Eve, which I enjoy, as there is a lovely buzz about the airport at this time of year.

We also picked up my in-laws, who flew in from Leeds Bradford, who are spending Christmas with us. I met my husband in England while we were both at university and it was a tradition for them to go on a big walk on Boxing Day.

We've replicated that here and we usually do a big walk up to Scrabo and have been doing so for 11 years.

'Things are manic at moment - it's been a busy time for us'

Bernard Sloan, owner of Whitewater Brewery

We've just opened up a new pizzeria in Saintfield, so things are manic at the moment. It's been a very busy time for us. It's downstairs in our basement area, and we have a new wood-fired oven which we brought in from Italy. As for myself, I'll be taking Christmas Day and Boxing Day off.

I enjoy cooking, so I'll be doing that along with family and friends. We tend to finish up late on Christmas Eve in our bar, sometimes after midnight, so it's up early on Christmas Day to get things going.

Belfast Telegraph