Reflecting back on 2018

It’s been an interesting year with lots of uncertainty and extremes. Some would say a year of paradoxes. Good and evil. Hot and cold. Ups and downs.

It’s a family tradition in our house to watch the Queen’s speech. Regardless of what your personal views are about our Monarchy here in the UK, the messages threaded through the speech are always powerful and thought provoking.

Her Majesty talked about faith, family and friendships. She also talked about the Commonwealth and the bond they share for a better and more peaceful world. Despite their differences they respect one another’s opinions.

“Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human-being is always a good first step.” Her Majesty.


Brexit has dominated our news feeds for the last two years. Regardless of your political affiliation you cannot escape the noise. It’s not just uncertain times, it’s rather confusing times. No one really knows what’s going to happen in the future. There are some very conflicting views and an abundance of opposing information.

Some people are predicting a major recession and a collapse of the UK economy. Others have a ‘Keep calm’ attitude and say the Brits will get on with it as Brits do best. By March 2019 we should have a clearer picture of what the “deal or no deal” looks like or maybe not.

The rise of the Robots

Robots are taking over the world of work! It’s actually not all bad news. Rather than it being a binary choice – one or the other. Robots or people? There are more examples of robots working alongside people or is that the other way around!

Robots taking over repetitive and routine tasks is an advantage. They can work quicker, more accurately and much more productively. This is good for productivity and the longevity of the industry. It leaves the more interesting and challenging (value added) tasks to people.

“By investing in technology that augments their workforce, they are ensuring that people are focused on the tasks that are more fulfilling, better utilise their skills and capabilities, and through that, improve employee’s well-being and contribute to better organisational outcomes.” Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD

Environment Matters

Our environment is another topic that’s been constant throughout this year. Sir David Attenborough Patron of Population Matters says it’s not too late to make a positive difference in the future.

Some of the major headlines:

  • Plastics: Single use plastic to be eliminated in the UK
  • Waste disposal: Landfill mountains pose environmental problems
  • Climate change: From the beast from the east to the longest hottest summer ever!
  • Fracking: Cuadrilla is the only company in the UK responsible for the controversial drilling of shale gas
  • Alternative energy: Windfarms, Wave Energy, Biofuels, Geothermal Power, Natural Gas, Biomass Energy, Tidal Energy etc.
  • Population: Our planet took until the 1800s to get to 1 Billion people. Now we add a billion people every 12-15 years.

“Instead of controlling the environment for the benefit of the population. Perhaps it’s time to control the population to allow the survival of the environment.” Sir David Attenborough.

Cyber Security Threats

In the year that ramped up cyber security and protecting our data we saw the introduction of GDPR (who could forget), we also saw threats increased.

You could argue Facebook is rarely out of the news. This year the main story was the Cambridge Analytical scandal which came to light in March of this year.

The NHS attack was the ‘biggest ransomware’ offensive in history. Ironically, this sophisticated malware was originally developed by NASA to gain access to computers used by terrorists and emery states.

Artificial Intelligence AI

Another growing technological advancement is AI. And there’s a big paradox here too. Massive advancements in gathering data to make better decisions. However, AI is now being used to intercept devices to gain access to valuable data relating to the above – cyber security attacks.

AI can help automate processes and systems. Online banking and voice activation technology. It can improve our lifestyle allowing us to focus our time and attention on other tasks.

Retail and the High Street

December (particularly the Christmas shopping period) are of great importance to the Retail sector. If the hype is to be believed, it’s been pretty poor this year.  Furthermore, there wasn’t the footfall on the High Streets.

Julie Palmer a partner at the insolvency firm Begbies Traynor said there was still hope for the industry if businesses were nimble.

“It is not all doom and gloom, and there are learnings from successful retail stories. If retailers want to thrive, they will have to bring greater value to their brands. They need to get better at anticipating, and responding to, next generation demands and expectations,” she said.

“In 2019, we will see more openly environmentally friendly, ethically and socially conscious brands thriving in retail,”  – Julie Palmer

However, we still saw many High Street store closures in the last year. Maplin’s, John Lewis, Homebase, HMV, etc. Read the article on BBC’s website

Inspirational Stories

Let’s finish on some inspirational and good news stories from 2018. Stories that will restore (if needed) your faith in humanity.

Thai Football Team: All 12 boys were rescued from a Thailand Cave. An unbelievably risky and complex operation. With a special thought to the Thai Navy Diver who lost his life attempting to save the boys.

As I write this blog, I see in the news British divers Richard Stanton and John Volanthen will be recognised in the New Year’s Honours List and given a George Medal for their work saving a stranded Thai boys football team.

Royal Weddings: We experienced two Royal Weddings this year. The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was held on 19 May 2018 in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The wedding of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank took place on 12 October 2018 also at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Royal baby: Prince William and Katherine had their third child Prince Louis Arthur Charles. Born on the 23 April 2018 at St Mary’s Hospital, London

Royal Air Force Centenary: RAF commemorated their 100th birthday.

Remembrance Day: This year was also marking 100 years since the end of WW1 – Armistice Day.

Fancy a swim around the UK coast: A British man became the first swimmer to circumnavigate Great Britain 1,780-mile (2,864km) trip that took 155 days. Ross Edgley was joined by 300 fellow swimmers as he made his triumphant return to dry land in Margate in Kent.

Wishing you all a safe, peaceful and prosperous 2019!