Thursday, 31 March 2011

Red Nose Report

Well with stories and photos flooding in from all across the country, you can expect a lot of updates this week and next.  Let’s start by looking at what everyone got up to for Red Nose Day – we have some great photos!

[caption id="attachment_402" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Jo Hall, Birmingham house"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_405" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Graeme Elbeck and Returns staff, Birmingham"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_404" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Gail Butler and Ann-Marie Winston, Birmingham"][/caption]

Birmingham started a day early, to maximise the number of people involved – looks like they had some fun.  Newcastle got busy with the cakes, as did Manchester who went cake-mad.  And somebody said Lynn Henshaw’s cakes were only useful for doorstoppers…

The Bristol Group had a cake sale, guess the value of the coins in the jar and guess the number of sweets in the jar.  Kelly Leech attended the Southern Regional Meeting in her PJs – managers had a choice of wearing PJs or donating £10, so quite a lot of money was raised there!  There’s a rumour that Nigel Wren wore his pyjamas but we have no photographic evidence…

[caption id="attachment_411" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Manchester"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_410" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Newcastle"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_412" align="alignleft" width="188" caption="Manchester cakes!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_413" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Bristol Group's Guess the Sweets in the Jar competition"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_414" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="Wednesbury's Fancy Dress"][/caption]

Wednesburyhad both cakes and fancy dress for their Red Nose Day – check out those costumes!  Wakefield House had cakes, a sweepstake and a brain-teaser.  Overall between all locations £2,359 was raised for Red Nose Day, so well done everyone.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

One for the footie fans

[caption id="attachment_392" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Paul Beare and Steve Hancock in their football shirts"][/caption]

Southampton have managed to raise an amazing £414 with their ‘Red & White Appeal’.  A lot of people paid good money to see Steve Hancock and Paul Beare wearing rival football shirts!  Steve is a strong Portsmouth FC supporter and was convinced to wear a Southampton FC shirt for a day. Meanwhile Paul, who is a Southampton FC fan wore a Portsmouth FC shirt.  The things we do for a good cause – in this case for Southampton Hospital’s charity. The money raised will go towards a specialist outpatient day unit for patients with leukaemia and other blood cancers.  Well done Steve and Paul – I bet the shirts were stripped off pretty quickly once the challenge was over…

Friday, 18 March 2011

A daily marathon

[caption id="attachment_369" align="alignleft" width="152"] Chris at one of the many runs he has completed[/caption]

Chris Benger, Acting Pack Manager, Newport is another marathoner who will be running the London Marathon on 17 April. Chris is running on behalf of LATCH, a charity which supports the special requirements of the children’s oncology centre in Wales.  LATCH helps families affected by cancer and promotes research into childhood cancer.

Chris has managed to raise a magnificent £1,130 in sponsorship so far, with £250 of that donated by his Smiths News colleagues in Newport.

Chris is no stranger to running - he either runs or cycles most days into work.  This is an incredible 26-mile round trip, although if he runs he just does it one way.  Still, it’s practically a marathon every day.

Cakes Galore

[caption id="attachment_376" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="L-R at Plymouth: Paul Lyndon, Tracy Welsh, Paul Latham, Tony Easton and Trish Taylor "][/caption]

There are likely to be a lot of cakes being eaten around our depots and offices today, with Red Nose Day in full swing.  And just to give you a flavour of what’s out there, both Plymouth and Reading have already had cake sales.

At Plymouth there was some competition between the men and the women – clearly some people have been watching a few too many episodes of Masterchef… 

Paul Lyndon produced a chocolate cake, Tracy Welsh made peanut butter biscuits, Paul Latham roped in his son Towen to help bake some gingerbread people, Tony Easton made a carrot cake and Trish Taylor offered some respite for those without a sweet tooth with a magnificent cheese and onion quiche.  They raised £34 for their efforts, which will be going in their ever-increasing fundraising pot.

[caption id="attachment_377" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Mmmm, Reading have come up with the goods..."][/caption]

Over at Reading Graham Adlington had to get his wife to make the cake – but it’s a beauty!  At £1 a slice this raised £20 for the depot.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

No rest at Newport

Newport have got lots of fantastic activities lined up for Community Week and have decided to support two charities.  They will be fundraising for St David’s Foundation, who run a local hospice, and for Torfaen Opportunity Group who work locally with children with disabilities.

They’re an adventurous lot in Wales it seems, with many of their planned activities taking place around bridges or water!  Claire Hockey, Customer Services and Alex Holland, Stockroom, are both doing an abseil from Newport Transporter Bridge on 26 March.

In May members of the Customer Services Department will be getting sponsorship to walk over the Severn Bridge from Wales to England and back again.

In June a team will compete in a Dragon Boat Race from Monmouth on the River Wye.  Scenic, energetic and all for a good cause – go Newport!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Mark Charlton, A-B rider, reflects on his love of bikes

[caption id="attachment_361" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Mark Charlton, Company Secretary & member of the Exec, wonders which bike to choose..."][/caption]

Yesterday, as I completed the details required for the A to B ride, I paused at the question, what type of bike will you be riding?

After all I have a garage full of them; fourteen in all - though in truth half of them belong to my sons and the others have seen little action in years. Nonetheless, it's still a lot and it got me thinking about where this obsession began...

My mother bought my first bike for me from the bin-men; I'd spotted it hanging from the back of their cart as they passed our house. She paid them ten shillings and told me to share it with my brother. It was purple and red with a step-through frame and a white sprung saddle. I learned to ride with stabilisers, removing one, then the other. When I first rode without them, I peddled straight into the back of a parked car and knocked myself out.

That bike gave me my first taste of freedom. I’d cycle down our tree-lined avenue to the cul-de-sac by the station, where I’d watch the children on the other side of the line, laughing as they sledged down the railway sidings on wooden boards.

Later I was given a green Hercules that had been left standing for years. I spent weeks taking it apart, scraping off the rust with brillo-pads, polishing the chrome. It had a three speed Sturmey Archer hub, but only two ever worked. Not that it mattered; to my eyes it had a cross bar, thin wheels and, most important of all, drop handlebars. It was a racer!

[caption id="attachment_364" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Mark cycling in the Alps. Will Aberystwyth offer similar challenges?"][/caption]

I soon learned that my Hercules was no racer at all, and that Sturmey Archer gears were considered naff. Ten speed derailleurs were the right stuff; Raleigh Choppers were acceptable too, the best for giving ‘backies'.

You’d find it hard to buy a junior racing bike nowadays, though the Chopper is making a comeback, re-launched as a retro alternative to the mountain bike. My boys don’t see the appeal. One wheel’s smaller than the other. It’s like a girl’s bike, they say. I think it’s marketed at Dads like those who, years ago, longed to ride on the other side of the tracks.

Newcastle take over burger van!

Newcastle are ahead of the game with their fundraising for Red Nose Day – they seized the opportunity to take advantage of the North’s love of all things sweet and turned Pancake Day into a Red Nose Day fundraiser.

[caption id="attachment_346" align="alignleft" width="300"] Newcastle's 'Three Musketeers' take on the cooking: L-R Stephane Quillec, Ian Rothwell and Phil Hall[/caption]

They raised over £100 from the event – that’s a lot of pancakes – and fed everyone the delicious treats.  They had the bright idea of asking local caterer Zoe Williams for the use of her van and she kindly obliged.  Zoe’s van is normally only used at night time but not only were Newcastle inundated with staff wanting to buy pancakes, they even had passers-by looking to purchase!

Trainee Distribution Manager Stephane Quillec, Manager Ian Rothwell and Apprentice

[caption id="attachment_347" align="alignright" width="300"] Hayley Foster, Donna Mains and Laura Kane are first in line with their custom![/caption]

Phil Hall were the ones asked to man up and serve the pancakes.  Seems there was quite the rush to be first in line to sample the goods.  The ‘Three Degrees’ Hayley Foster (Day Despatch), Donna Mains and Laura Kane (Customer Services), couldn’t wait to try them!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hair-raising efforts by Bristol Group

Where do the Bristol Group get their energy from?!  They’ve been steaming ahead with their fundraising events – they’re clearly a hardworking and efficient lot in the South West…

Jim Gorton, Bristol North Distribution Manager was sponsored to shave his head, raising £300, while Marc Blackford, Brislington Pack Line Manager, raised £176 from his colleagues by dying his hair pink!  Marc took his pink hair and his sponsorship form to a rugby match at the weekend and got his total up to £407 – what a hero.

Jennifer Brissett, Teleservices Operator, collected £150 from a sponsored silence (are her colleagues trying to tell her something?) and Louise Price, Teleservices Operator, revealed a second set of skills as a qualified nail technician and raised £30 by making the ladies’ (and gents’?) hands look lovely.

They also held a ‘Wear your PJs to Work Day’, which, judging from the photographs, some people took very seriously!  This raised over £90.

Melanie Eade, Warehouse Operator, very bravely volunteered to shave her head to raise money and she’s collected £500 in the process.  The first in a series of bacon roll sales kicked off on Friday too, raising £22.

Well done to the Bristol Group for their sterling efforts.  They are supporting 3 charities: Cancer Research UK, a local hospital’s baby ward and a local animal rescue centre.

[caption id="attachment_311" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Off it goes..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_312" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="A sign too soon - total raised now over £400!"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_314" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Quiet please! We're raising money"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_316" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Suitable night attire"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_299" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Before the big chop..."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_313" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Oh dear, nothing left! Still that's £500 for Cancer Research UK."][/caption]

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Running out of ideas? Help the homeless

[caption id="attachment_282" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="In 2010 Jeremy ran the London Marathon in costume!"][/caption]

Jeremy Mirams, Key Account Manager in the Trade Marketing Team, is just one member of staff in the Group running this year’s London Marathon. This will be Jeremy’s 4th London Marathon and 6th marathon overall.

A keen runner, Jeremy has put a lot of effort into his training – running before and after work and putting in long runs at the weekend, together with weight training, swimming and cycling.
"It’s taken a great deal of motivation to prepare for this marathon – I’ve even had to give up my Friday night fish and chips!"

Last year Jeremy ran the marathon dressed as Woody from Toy Story and attempted a Guinness World Record as fastest cartoon character.
“I didn’t win, but I did place 3rd behind Fred Flintstone and Buzz Lightyear! It was a bit hot in the costume though and it gave me cramp about 6 miles from the finish. This year there’ll be no costume – I want to beat my personal best of 3 hours 22 minutes and I can’t afford any hindrances!”

[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Jeremy out running in his local club colours"][/caption]


Jeremy is looking for sponsorship to run the marathon as he is supporting a very worthwhile cause - the charity Shelter, which looks after people with housing needs.
“Going out to train in the mornings in the freezing cold and rain is very hard. But each day on my runs I see the same chap sleeping rough in the park, obviously homeless. This certainly influenced my decision to support the charity Shelter.”


If you go to Jeremy’s Just Giving website page you can donate instantly using a debit or credit card. It takes only a minute and your money will go to a great cause.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Plymouth House brings Hope to local families

[caption id="attachment_271" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Hazel Hope at her local, the Chaddlewood Inn, where she recently held a fundraising Bingo Night"][/caption]

Hazel Hope, who works in HR Payroll at Plymouth House is an absolute powerhouse when it comes to fundraising, so Community Week is a great opportunity to highlight the work she does in her community.  Together with her friends and her daughter she runs a fundraising group at her local pub, to support families in the Plympton area. 

Hazel raises money all year round through various activities. Most recently her group raised £320 for a charity called Friends of Plymouth Portage, which works with children with disabilities. 

The money will go towards replacing a specially adapted caravan which has come to the end of its life.  The caravan is used by 32 local children and their families, enabling them to have a much-needed holiday each year.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

And action!

Reports are flooding in from various houses and offices around the country, of the exciting events and activities planned as part of the Community Week initiative.

[caption id="attachment_263" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Are you selling cakes on Red Nose Day?"][/caption]

Newcastle are holding some kind of fundraising event every week between now and June 27, including a night at the Greyhound Races in April and a Trip Down the Tyne in June.  Instore are getting active and organising a sponsored walk.  Borehamwood, Harlow and Stevenage are kicking off their fundraising with a Cake Sale for Red Nose Day. 

Reading have planned a 5-a-side football competition for June as well as a host of other events – they’re also asking visitors to the house to make a donation when they use the tea and coffee-making facilities.  Plymouth are also holding a 5-a-side football tournament and there are rumours of a rock-climbing or abseiling event too!

[caption id="attachment_262" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Fancy a bit of footie?"][/caption]

Football certainly seems to be a popular event and a good way to raise money – in just 2 hours Plymouth raised £140 from staff keen to be part of the competition.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

And the bonus number is...

June Wilkinson at London Travel News is busily organising a ‘Weekly Bonus Ball Sweepstake’ for the house.  They are gearing up for their first sweepstake, based on the Lotto draw taking place on Saturday 5 March.  Just one of the activities the house is organising, they are challenging staff to guess the Lotto Bonus Ball each week from the Saturday draw.  It’s £1 per entry and entrants have to pick a number between 1 and 49.  If someone guesses the correct number they win 75% of the prize fund, with 25% going to charity.  At the end of each month the winners get to choose which charity will benefit from the funds.  Good thing these gamblers are raising money for a good cause!