Friday, 30 December 2011

Movember Madness

[caption id="attachment_1390" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Back row: Alex Lewis, Chris Townrow, Stuart Birch, Ross Jones, James Lamb Front Row: Adam Buchanen, Steve Goode, Mark Falcon"]Movember Madness[/caption]

There was a certain machismo in the air at the Worcester office in November, after seven hirsute volunteers agreed to put their faces on the line and raise money for Movember. Running every November, participants get sponsored to grow a moustache and show their support for men with prostate cancer and other male cancers.

In Bristol, Alec Moody, Pack Line Manager has also joined in the Movember madness and is hoping to raise £300 for his moustache. By the time you read this, Alec and the pictured Worcester team will have, as the Movember website puts it, groomed, trimmed and waxed their way into the annals of fine moustachery.

It’s not just the guys who are getting involved –Helen McHugh, Supply & Allocation
Executive who’s organised the event, has a few fundraising ideas of her own: To make fundraising more appealing, I’ve agreed with Chris that, if he raises more than £150, I’ll give him a week of tea and silence! James managed to negotiate an even better deal with Helen – I’ve agreed that if James raises more than £100, I’ll make his tea for the entire month of December.

So far the combined total raised between all participants is a fantastic £907.

If you would like to make a donation to support the Smiths News Team in Worcester (aka Hairy Smiths) or Alec Moody in Bristol you can find their profiles on the Movember website as follows:

Hairy Smiths - did anyone get their tea or silence?

Alec Moody - there's a chance to view a very fine moustache.

There are a number of photos and updates on there. Check them out! Funds raised benefit The Prostate Cancer Charity, The Institute of Cancer Research and the Movember Foundation.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

High Wire Act

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Tall!"]Guy's Tower[/caption]

On 24th September 2011, Publisher Account
Manager James McGuirk took it upon himself to
descend nearly 500ft of skyscraper in aid of a
children’s charity.

For some unknown reason I agreed to
abseil down Guys Hospital Tower for a great charity called Echo, which supports children with heart difficulties.

In case you’re not familiar with Guys Hospital, it’s next to London Bridge Station, and is an impressively sized building – rather James than us! The tower he was dangling from is a massive 469ft high, and is the tallest hospital in the world. In fact, it’s one of the tallest buildings in London, beating the London Eye which is a mere 443ft – although, as James notes, abseiling down that one could be an issue.

James has already smashed his fundraising target of £250 [£305 when this post was first published], and you can still donate to this fantastic cause at  James' Just Giving page. To find out more about the great work that Echo does for children with heart conditions visit their website.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wembley Winners

To kick-off the post-Christmas slump, here's a tale of sporting achievement from October's Dispatches...

[caption id="attachment_1339" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Steve (far right) and the team celebrate their success"]Wembley Winners[/caption]

Steve Edwards, House Manager at Lancing, fulfilled a lifelong dream by leading a team to victory at Wembley* in the recent Newstraid (Key Group) 5-a-side football tournament. The victory was a family affair as the line-up included three of Steve’s sons, Sam, 21, Jake, 19, and Callam, 15.

To be honest, I didn’t kick a ball, said Steve, I am no way skilful enough. I just gave
instructions from the sidelines!

The Lancing side had to win seven games to win the tournament and beat Comag 1-0 in the final. Most importantly, the team’s efforts raised £150 for charity.

* = A sports centre somewhere in Wembley, admitted Steve, not the Wembley Stadium. ;)

A fantastic total - it would be great to know which charity benefitted from all your efforts, Steve. If anyone reading this knows, please leave a comment below.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Mission to Malawi

Our last Travellers' Tale this week, whisks us away from our wintry weather, to the heat and dust of Africa...

[caption id="attachment_1366" align="alignleft" width="225"]Mission to Malawi 1 Nicola carrying a toddler in the traditional manner[/caption]

Nicola Wright had only just started at Bertrams when she headed to Malawi for three weeks to get involved in a project designed to bring educational opportunities to children in rural areas. It was the trip of a lifetime for Nicola:

I used up most of my holiday for the year, but it was totally worth it!

Nicola packed plenty of things for the children such as pens, paper, skipping ropes and, of course, books! She explains:

I arrived on a Malawian public holiday so the kids were out of school and eager to play. That day, I played football, sang songs, danced, skipped, drew pictures and had the impossible task of trying to remember everyone’s names – prompting giggles from the children as, yet again, I got another name wrong.

[caption id="attachment_1367" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Mission to Malawi 2 Sheltering from the hot sun[/caption]

Nicola set to work making learning fun. She taught the children the alphabet, sang nursery rhymes with them, and played games. It was exhausting, but there was nothing more fantastic than seeing all the smiling faces!

[caption id="attachment_1368" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Mission to Malawi 3 It wasn't all work and no play![/caption]

It wasn’t all hard work for Nicola, as she also found time to visit Lake Malawi and go on safari. She’s even planning her next trip – I’m often asked if I’ll go back, and the answer
is not if, but when.

Even though she’s back in the UK, Nicola is keen to carry on helping the children she met in Malawi. Many of the children where I stayed walk miles and miles each day with no shoes, and children with cuts on their feet often get infections.

She’s collecting children’s shoes from friends and neighbours, which will be sent to
Malawi for these children, and would love it if the staff at Bertrams could help out. If you’ve got a pair of shoes that your child has outgrown, why not pass them on to Nicola and give them a new lease of life in Malawi? Any donated shoes are sure to be very much appreciated by the children who’ll receive them.

Email: Nicola dot Wright at bertrams dot com for more details.

[NB the email address is written out to prevent being picked up by spam programs]

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Triumph in Paris

Our second Travellers' Tale sees Head of Corporate Development, Max Livingstone-Learmouth heading off on his bike...

[caption id="attachment_1325" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Max and Sarah celebrate at the L'Arc de Triomphe, the traditional finish for the Tour de France"][/caption]

Max is clearly not a man whose dream holiday consists of a sunbed and a good book. Along with his wife Sarah, Max realised a long-held dream by cycling the exact Tour de France route in July, two days ahead of the professionals.

We cycled a total of 2,085 miles in a total time of 146 hours and 56 minutes! That’s 21 stages at an average speed of 14.2 mph, with 107 miles on average per day. We didn’t make the podium at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with the pros, but as they say of all riders who complete the Tour: now we are ‘Giants of the Road!

We don’t consider ourselves hardcore bike racers, we like to go for more old school touring, with panniers on the bikes, nice hotels and plenty of French food at night, although we did put the panniers in a support van on this particular trip as the distances were so long.

The mere mortals among us would probably classify 143 miles on a bike (the longest day) or a 2,744 metre climb in snow and sub-zero temperatures (the highest ascent) as pretty hardcore, but Max and Sarah have had plenty of practice over the years! Over the past decade they have both run more than 10 marathons and cycled over 10,000 miles.

Max joined Smiths News in March and is particularly grateful to his boss Jonathan Bunting for allowing him to take to the road as planned:

Needless to say, I wouldn’t normally take so much holiday so soon in to a new job, but I had been planning it for over a year before I joined Smiths News, and Jon was great about it. He might think I am crazy, but life is all about dreams – personally and professionally – and he insisted we didn’t cancel.

So will it be a more relaxing sun, sea and sangria vacation for Max and Sarah next year?

Unlikely! We have a challenging but very exciting corporate development agenda for the year ahead, and as far as holidays go, we are planning to run a marathon in San Sebastian later this year, and having cycled from John O’Groats as far as Venice over a number of previous trips, there is plenty more of the globe to continue our journey!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tall Ships Adventure

We're finishing off 2011 with a look back at some of the fundraising stories which made Autumn's editions of Dispatches. First up is Anya Perry's Traveller's Tale...

Tall Ships Adventure Anya Perry

Anya Perry, Corporate Development Executive, recently took part in a Tall Ships race in Scandinavia. The race was from Stavangar in Norway to Helmstad in Sweden and took 6 days to complete. Anya and the rest of the crew sailed on The Stavros, at 60m long the smallest of their Class A ships, some of which reached up to 120m long.

One of the rules for entering the race is that at least half the crew have to be under 25, giving a fantastic opportunity to young people to partake in an amazing experience.
Anya describes her time on board:

Every rope on the boat had to be pulled by hand as there were no automatic winches, which was a different sailing experience for me. 

We also had to climb the mast in order to stow the sails away, and getting up in the middle of the night to go on watch was a regular occurrence, so it was a pretty different experience!

There were 69 boats in total on the seas, with 20 competing in Class A. Each crew consisted of up to 60 people!

Well done Anya, though I'm glad it was you on that mast rather than me!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Conquering Ben Nevis to raise money for charity

[caption id="attachment_1279" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Ben Nevis Conquered - Lynn and Tom proudly display their certificates"][/caption]

We have our first fundraising update, following last week's appeal for more of your news...

Lynn Henshaw, Manager of Manchester House and Tom Sheehy, Regional Director for the North have raised over £2,300 for Kidney Research UK by taking part in a sponsored walk up Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. The event which was organised by Kidney Research UK had a team of sixteen professional climbers to support everyone who was taking part. Lynn and Tom successfully reached the top within nine hours, this was mainly due to bad weather but they were overjoyed when they had accomplished the challenge. Lynn Henshaw said:

“I wanted to walk up Ben Nevis and raise money for Kidney Research as my husband had a kidney removed seven years ago due to cancer and then earlier this year we found out he had another tumour on his remaining kidney. He had an operation to have the tumour removed in September and thankfully the operation went well. I wanted to raise money for them as they still need to conduct more research to help save lives; this was my way of saying thank you.”

[caption id="attachment_1280" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Lynn Henshaw suitably attired for the day"]Lynn Henshaw suitably attired for the day[/caption]

Lynn started her training in August this year, using a cross-trainer and joined Slimming World, resulting in her losing a stone in weight. After finding out that Lynn’s husband’s operation was in September, Tom Sheehy Northern Regional Director of Smiths News Depots decided to join Lynn and do the Ben Nevis walk with her to support her on such a tough challenge.

[caption id="attachment_1281" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Tom Sheehy looks delighted to have made it to the top"]Tom Sheehy looks delighted to have made it to the top[/caption]

“We started the ascent at 7am. The walk up Ben Nevis was tough; the weather didn’t help at all, as there was 40 mile an hour winds and rain. You could not see anything from about a quarter of the way up as the clouds and mist was so low, the views I believe are amazing! It was an incredible challenge for us and I’m very proud to say we have climbed the highest mountain in Britain, all 4460ft! I would like to say a big thank you to everybody who sponsored us” said Lynn.

Carol Bonham, North West Fundraising Manager for Kidney Research UK, said: “We’re extremely grateful to Lynn and Tom for all the effort they’ve put in to training for this event, not to mention raising such a fantastic amount of money for the Charity.” To donate money or to contact Kidney Research UK visit