Monday, 31 December 2012

Bertrams Party in Style

Bertrams Party Collage

Lamb Inn Norwich Betrams Party in StyleOur final festive posting for 2012 is from Bertrams :)

Norwich's The Lamb Inn  was the chosen venue for 100+ warehouse and office staff to get together and party in style.

There was a buffet, disco, 1 free drink for staff plus 20% off all drinks all night. Sounds great!

Tickets for the evening were sold out. Feedback from the night says it was fun with a great atmosphere, good tunes, lots of good food a great bunch of people.

There's one mystery left to clear up: someone’s stripy boxers were being thrown about the dance floor? Now who’s the owner of the stripy pants?

Answers can be left in the Comments below. Keep them clean please - as were the pants, I hope ;)

Festive Fun For Great Ormond Street

Borehamwood Cakes
GOS posterBorehamwood put their festive cake decorating skills to the test recently to help raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Amongst the cupcakes were lots of angels, presents, puddings and Christmas trees to name but four!

As well as the scrumptious goodies, there was a sweepstake using the poster and guidelines available on Great Ormond Street's website.

The cake sale raised £94.50 to add to the £30 raised via the sweepstake.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Superstars: The Result

Michael Jamieson proved he's a top sporting all-rounder by finishing runner-up to boxing's Anthony Joshua in last night's entertaining Superstars programme. Michael was leading at one point having equalled the programme's record score for archery with 46 out of 50. He seemed shocked to have shot so well!

He then proved he's more comfortable IN the water than on it by promptly capsizing his kayak (hence the teasing from his dad) in the pool. A supplementary swimming match featuring Michael, Rebecca Adlington and commentator Iwan Thomas was another highlight.

Good-ish performances on the track and cycling saw Michael in fifth spot going into the final event, the dreaded gym tests. Here he showed his tweets about good sessions in the gym during his Olympic training weren't idle talk. Anthony Joshua was surprised to find Michael had beaten him to the winning score to secure a commendable second spot.

In other news, Michael's 200m breaststroke performance merited 49th place in the Top 50 Olympic Moments shown over Christmas. There's another chance to see this programme tomorrow night (31st December) at 8.30pm on BBC3.

Going forward, Michael has been appointed a British Gas Ambassador. His new role involves helping to promote swimming at all levels of the sport. British Gas Brand director Susie Plume said:

“It was fantastic to see his great performance in London this summer and his swim in Istanbul reinforced his status as a great role model and ambassador for the sport.”

Friday, 21 December 2012

Decking Their Desks

[caption id="attachment_4601" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Who can you spot amongst the festive elves? Who can you spot amongst the festive elves?[/caption]

Everyone at Rowan House has been getting in the festive mood by decking their desks! Just like last year, the teams around the office have interpreted the Christmas spirit in their own way and come up with lots of inventive ideas for their decorations.

Jan and Sue from the Blue Apple canteen were drafted in as impartial judges to decide this year's winners. After much deliberation, the Data Management Team's Little Shop of Christmas Horrors (can you spot it below?) carried off the prize.

With such festive cheer in abundance, all that remains is to wish all Dispatches readers a very Merry Christmas!

Deck Your Desk Collage 2

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Darren Finds His Ho Ho Ho

Ho ho ho it's Santa.JPGDarren Turner (Operations Director at Bertrams) had a key part to play recently when he (shhhh! don't tell anyone) dressed up as Santa for Friends of Stoke Ash primary school's fundraiser, near Eye.

The Friends raise funds for equipment for the school, plus support children from under privileged backgrounds who cannot afford items such as being able to go on school trips e.g. the Friends are paying for some children to go to Aladdin in Norwich.

Says Darren:

We raised £480 at the school Christmas fair, I raised over £80 as Santa. Sorry the picture is not brilliant but it was dark in the Grotto.

Thanks for helping Dispatches get in a festive mood Darren :)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Michael Bags Another Silver

On Friday evening at the World Short Championships in Istanbul, Michael Jamieson again showed he can dig deep to produce the goods when under pressure.

After admitting to some 'ropey swims' earlier in the week, Michael qualified as an 'outside smoker' in lane 8 for the final of the 200m breaststroke. A slow reaction time off the blocks and 6th place at the first 50 metre split were perhaps not quite what Michael had in mind for his last race of the championships.

However, a strong second 50 metres saw him gain three places into third spot at the 100 metre turn and a further gain into 2nd at the 150 metre mark. After that, it was deja vu with Michael trying to catch his Olympic nemesis Daniel Gyurta down the final 50 metres.

Gyurta won again, but Michael can take much away from these championships in addition to a new British record (2:03:00). As in the Olympic trials, he's proved he can overcome earlier performances that don't match his exacting standards. He's also proved he's not a 'one hit wonder' and can handle the pressure that the fame and fortune of being an Olympic medallist brings.

With his Bath team-mate Andrew Willis finishing in 5th, these two can continue to work off each other in training to target Daniel Gyurta the next time they meet. I'm looking forward to reporting a golden hued result soon :)

Overall, there was a good improvement in performance by Team GB with one gold, two silvers and three bronze medals won during the competition.

Back from Istanbul, there was plenty of opportunity to spot Michael on TV last night during Sports Personality of the Year as he was seated just behind Lord Coe. If you missed him, then you'll find he's shown in the Superstars lineup featured in the double Christmas/New Year issue of Radio times on page 11. Superstars will be broadcast on BBC1 on December 29th at 6.45pm.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Aaron Has a Special Invitation

InvitationAaron, Jaimie Dorward's son had a thrilling invitation recently - to help the National Autistic Society celebrate its 50th birthday!

For such an important occasion, the chosen venue was no ordinary one. It was no other than the Speaker's House at the House of Commons!

Naturally, Aaron couldn't turn down the invitation to such an exciting opportunity and Jaimie accompanied her son on the long trip from Yorkshire to London, using her Volunteer Time from Bertrams to do so.

Although the event was held in the hallowed halls of Westminster, it wasn't about politics but all about celebration. Here's Jaimie and AaronAt the Reception with Jane Asher with Jane Asher, who's been the President of the National Autistic Society since 1997.

And what was it like? Jaimie says it was brilliant!

It looks an amazing place from the photo Jaimie, no wonder you and Aaron had such a wonderful time :)

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Some News from the Tow Path Tribe

[caption id="attachment_4550" align="alignleft" width="1024"]The cheque presentation The cheque presentation[/caption]

QEHBCWorcester's Tow Path Tribe have been in touch with news of the presentation they made recently to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity (QEHBC). You may remember they walked over 30 miles along the canal towpath from Birmingham back home to Worcester during the summer.

Here's their official report...

Close-knit colleagues from Smith News in Worcester completed a 31 mile sponsored walk in memory of much-loved colleague Nigel Dean.

The 13-strong team set out at 6am from Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and followed the canal towpath to Diglis Basin in Worcester, which they reached at 6pm.

The sponsored walk raised over £1,000 for the Critical Care Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) which cared for Nigel until he sadly passed away earlier this year after a brain haemorrhage.

Nigel worked for Smith News for 24 years and is greatly missed by his colleagues in the Copy Allocation department and his family, including wife Sharon and sister Jo.

Sharon and Jo both came to QEHB to help present the cheque to Anne Waller from QEHB Charity.

Sharon said: “QEHB is a wonderful hospital and the staff in the Critical Care unit were just fantastic. They were always willing to answer our questions and were always on the go, caring for patients. Although Nige lost his brave fight, the hospital did their absolute best for Nigel and I want to thank them so much. Nigel was a great Dad and husband – he crammed so much into his life. I and my boys waited for the walkers on the finish line to cheer them home - I hope the money they have raised will help other families cope with difficult times.”

As well as the sponsored walk, the team at Smith News also held a cake sale and other fundraising activities. Clare Morgan said: “Nigel was such a character with a big heart. We all miss him and our team walk was a way of remembering Nigel and the great times we had together. Many of Nigel’s clients contributed to the total - we had an amazing response.”

Erica Perkins, Critical Care Manager, added: “On behalf of the team at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, I would like to thank Smith News for their fantastic fundraising. We are planning a number of environmental improvements in Critical Care, including making our relatives’ rooms more comfortable by ordering additional furniture and hanging some new artwork. The money they have worked hard to raise will make a difference to the lives of patients and their relatives.”

As well as the pictured Certificate of Appreciation, the team also received a lovely letter of thanks from QEHBC.  NB the £1118 raised is in addition to the £2225 already donated to Acorns Children’s Hospice also on behalf of Nigel.  A fantastic achievement by the team.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Michael's Next Target

We've news just in that Michael Jamieson's arrived in Istanbul for the World Short Course Championships which are due to start tomorrow. Olympians aren't allowed to rest on their laurels for long!

Short Course means the competition's held in a 25 metre pool, so accurate starts and turns have a much bigger part to play than they did in the lung bursting 50 metre length pool of the Olympics. We don't yet have details of which events Michael will be swimming in, but I see from the schedule there's 50, 100 and 200 metre breaststroke events this time around.

We'll keep you posted with any further news. NB Michael's heading back to the UK in time for Sunday's Sports Personality of the Year, so keep your eyes peeled for him appearing on the show!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Mobros Extra!

The turn of December last week saw a few chilly top lips as the Movember competition came to a close and moustaches were given the chop! Although we featured some of the most impressive 'taches in our December newsletter, they were plenty more contenders – here are a few of our favourites!

[caption id="attachment_4488" align="alignleft" width="1024"]This year's MoBros from Worcester This year's MoBros from Worcester[/caption]

First up we have a picture of 2012's Team from Worcester to compare with their efforts from last year. Did they do any better this time? You decide...

Winning MosNext we reprise the award winning pinup Mos revealed in last week's December newsletter: Winner Paul Whittingham from Bertrams, plus runners up Trade Marketing's James Bullen and The Consortium's Adam Courthold.

NAC Banditos

The NAC Banditos show an impressive likeness to their proposed After shot we showed you previously!

Next we have a mixture of familiar and new faces showing off their final Mos...

[caption id="attachment_4508" align="alignleft" width="640"]Andy Aitkens (The Consortium), Andy Dunkerley (WMS), Robert Mackenzie (WMS) and Robin Denton (Dawson) From left to right and top to bottom: Andy Aitken (The Consortium), Andy Dunkerley, Robert Mackenzie (both Trade Marketing) and Robin Denton (Dawson)[/caption]

WMS guys... and finally, the remaining guys from Trade Marketing line up to reveal an impressive variety of 'tache styles!

So far our 28 Mobros have raised a fantastic £1,985 between them. There's still time to  donate and get them over the magic £2,000 mark. Here's the full list of donation pages for your final contributions:

  • Andy Aitken

  • Adam Courthold

  • Robin Denton

  • Ian Howat

  • Simon Lockett

  • NAC Banditos

  • Trade Marketing

  • Paul Whittingham

  • Worcester

Editor's Note - 12th October 2013 - the donation pages are no longer available on the Movember website, so the above links have been removed.

Movember is a fun way to raise awareness for men’s health charities so well done for everyone who got involved!

Update 10/12/2012: Thanks to your clicks through to the donations pages this morning, the total raised now stands at £2,005 :)

Friday, 23 November 2012

How's It Growing?

With just a week left to grow, we have news of new MoBros and lots of 'tache-tastic 'Mo' progress to show you!

There are now 28 Movember participants in Smiths News, hailing from 7 different locations...


Paul Whittingham joins the fray with an impressive Mo!

Saying It’s about time we did some charity work for men’s bits, Paul adds: It's just me and my moustache. Caption could be Hulk Hogan or Seth Armstrong from Emmerdale? – you choose!

Ideas anyone?


Simon Lockett adds another new Mo and location to our Movember progress :)

Simon has a Just Giving page set up for his donations. Judging by the comments there, his new look is proving to be a 'marmite moment' - 'OMG', 'no likey' and 'the tash really suits you' are just a few of the remarks made thus far!

The Consortium

Andy Aitken and Adam Courthold  are growing well.

Adam is regularly updating his Mospace with progress. He supplied the latest picture of his Mo to left, and his Mospace has some nicely drawn cartoons of what he's hoping to achieve by the end of Movember.


[caption id="attachment_4456" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dawson's Mobros Robin Denton and Ian Howat[/caption]

Dawson now have 2 MoBros! Robin Denton  says his motivation is:
My father had Prostate Cancer, now thankfully recovered, so just to raise awareness of this horrible disease.

Robin joins Ian Howat  who's having lots fun over on his Mopage - love the shades Ian!

NAC Banditos...

Andrew Stone (captain), Adam Hellewell, John Jefferson and Mike Ward are all keeping their Mos undercover at the half way stage - see you at the end for the full reveal guys!

Trade Marketing

As you can see the Trade Marketing team are sporting a variety of styles for Movember.

Here we have (from top left and then top right downwards and then bottom right to left) James Bullen, Nick Scraggs, Matt Piper (captain), Andrew Dunkerley, Robert Mackenzie and Tim Edridge.

We look forward to seeing how Neil Davies, Jas Rehal and Darrell Stead are getting on!

James Bullen has a particularly natty slideshow on his individual page! NB individual pages (where applicable) can be viewed via the team page links given.


We now have the names of all 9 team members: Alex Williams (captain), Stuart Birch, Adam Buchanan, Matt Cooke,  Mark Falcon, Derek Hampton, James Lamb, Sam Page and Iain Sandison. They have an inventive game for you to play on their team page - can you match the nickname to the team member?

Between them our guys have raised £1,327 so far - follow the links above to your favourite's Movember page and let's see them go to £2,000 and beyond!

To encourage everyone in their final few days effort for this year's Movember, I leave you with the inspiration that is the World Beard and Moustache Championships ;)

NB Links to Just Giving and Movember fundraising pages are no longer available.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Maria Helps to Grant a Wish

Dawson's Maria Hieke made good use of her Volunteer Time recently by spending a day in London with the charity Wishes 4 Kids. Here's her write-up of how she got on...

The charity Wishes 4 Kids was created to grant a wish for children and youngsters who are life limited, terminally ill, have experienced life-changing physical or emotional traumas, have suffered major abuse or are diagnosed as HIV Positive.

Sadly there is not a magical cure for the suffering of these youngsters; however, the charity can bring a short period of respite. The time when a child has a wish granted is a moment that will be treasured by them for the rest of their life. It is also a time which parents will remember - that time when their child forgot the suffering.

This year for their annual Christmas treat the Charity owner Russell organised a day trip to London. We met 3 coaches at Scratchwood Services on the M1 and were escorted by the Metropolitan Police straight into London. Every child was accompanied by one of their parents plus a carer.  Each coach visited each venue alternately by their assigned Police escort. They were taken to Harrods to meet with ‘Father Christmas’ where each child was given a Harrods Christmas bear, then onto Hamleys Toy Store where they were given a £25 voucher to spend. Lunch was provided by MacDonald’s and finally onto the London Eye.  With the help of many volunteers including myself and the Metropolitan Police the day went extremely well, the excitement and smiles on the children’s faces shone the whole day, which was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ensuring there's Hope for Tomorrow

[caption id="attachment_4421" align="aligncenter" width="640"] All set up and ready to go in Cirencester[/caption]

Nicola Hewlett at Rowan House has been in touch with news of her latest fundraising venture, in Cirencester this time.

On November 13th, she helped run the cake stall for the charity Hope for Tomorrow in the Cornhall at the Combined Charities Christmas Fayre. Over 20 local and national charities set out their stalls for the day to raise money for good causes.

Nicola says:

Hope for Tomorrow is a mobile Chemotherapy unit that goes around the small hospitals in the local area to support cancer patients to save them travelling to the big towns for their treatment. We raised £188.65.

It looks like there were lots of goodies on offer!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Newport Supports Children in Need

Newport ensured this year's Children in Need was supported in style last Thursday and Friday, raising £180 in the process. Judy Read reports...

[caption id="attachment_4410" align="alignleft" width="640"] Mmm... Pudsey Cupcakes :)[/caption]

Clare Hockey made some rather scrummy Pudsey cupcakes and sales went rather well. Here's Sarah Collins selling cakes to Maria in the warehouse.

However, if you prefer savoury to sweet, bacon rolls always go down a storm. Gary Cain puts the final touches to his roll. NB I prefer brown sauce too!

As well as selling cakes and bacon rolls to their Newport colleagues, some of the staff in Customer Services went the 'extra mile' and donned their PJs for the day...

[caption id="attachment_4411" align="alignleft" width="640"] All in their PJs for the day - Michelle Yalland, Sarah Melchior, Judy Read, Claire Hockey and Andrew Herbert at the front[/caption]

Friday, 16 November 2012

Worcester Weighs in for Movember

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="640"] Worcester's 'Team Movember' last year[/caption]

We have news of a new team on the block for Movember! Last year's team from Worcester are set to repeat their success with a mix of old and new faces for 2012. Team captain Alex Williams says:

We at the Magazine Sales Centre in Worcester have been taking part in this years ‘Movember’. There are a fair few of us giving it a go although too few have the real capacity to grow a decent moustache.

As well as Alex, the team includes Stuart Birch, Adam Buchanan, Mark Falcon, James Lamb and Sam Page.

We've just passed Movember's half way point - tune in next week to see how progress is growing!

Friday, 9 November 2012

A New Location For Movember

We've heard from Ian Howat of Dawson Books who's sent in his 'Before' picture for this year's Movember. I wonder which 'tache-style we'll be seeing at the 'After' stage?

Movember is a world-wide campaign which raised £88 million for male cancer research last year, with £22 million raised in the UK alone. I wonder how 2012 will fare? Here's Ian's Movember page for you to help top 2011's figure.

The brains behind Movember say that many thousands of lives were saved last year, especially as the estimated 1.2 billion conversations helped to raise awareness. So, just by reading this you're helping to make a difference!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Community Week Awards in Pictures

[caption id="attachment_4249" align="alignleft" width="225"] Oh look! We're at the Community Week Awards![/caption]

Last Friday saw the staging of the first Smiths News Community Week Awards. The Wroughton Suite at Alexandra House was the chosen venue, which glittered with a sprinkling of gold and stars to welcome our guests.

Many of the Awards nominees from across the Group were in attendance, together with representatives from 2 charities local to Swindon - DASH and Swindon Down's Syndrome Group - who've benefitted from your fundraising in 2012. The mysterious smithsnews who writes this blog was present, as was Andy Cook, who made sure From S to N ran so smoothly.

There was another very special guest, whose identity will be revealed shortly.

The following photographs are designed to give you a flavour of the day. Look out for the Dispatches special hitting your desks shortly, which gives you more in the way of details about the award winners. It's hoped the Community Week Awards will become a firm fixture in Smiths News' calendar. See you there next year?

[caption id="attachment_4251" align="aligncenter" width="300"] The scene is set for lunch...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4250" align="aligncenter" width="300"] ... and Michael Jamieson's here :)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4252" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Oh my! Someone's a winner![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4253" align="aligncenter" width="300"] A sneak peek at some of the winners[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4254" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Michael thanks everyone for their support this year[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4255" align="aligncenter" width="300"] So everyone wants to have their picture taken with him...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4256" align="aligncenter" width="300"] ... and he gracefully complies with a smile[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_4257" align="aligncenter" width="300"] On the way home with an award after a great day[/caption]

Thanks to smithsnews and @bertramlibs for the photos.

Monday, 5 November 2012

*Newsflash* MoBros Extra!

[caption id="attachment_4293" align="alignright" width="140"] Andy Aitken anticipates the end of Movember ;)[/caption]

We have news just in of more MoBros from across the Group.

Andy Dunkerley has sent in his profile details for team Trade Marketing and Andy Aitken has added to The Consortium's Movember turnout.

James Bullen has joined Trade Marketing's team, so they now have 9 team members, not 8 as previously reported.

This means the Group has at least 15 Movember participants - tashtastic!

Aaaaaand so...

... the NAC Banditos have sent in their 'Before' picture and where they hope to be at the end of the month. Will they get there? Visiting their donation page may help...

NB Donation pages on Movember are no longer available - Ed

Friday, 2 November 2012

Movember Grows... and Grows!

[caption id="attachment_4237" align="alignright" width="268"] Adam's 'before' picture - courtesy of his Movember page[/caption]

We have another MoBro in the form of The Consortium's Adam Courthold.

Adam says his reasons for taking part are:

I know a few people who have had testicular cancer and treatment over the last few years. I'm doing Movember to raise awareness of it and to get people checking themselves. Catching the situation early is important so they can get the best treatment in place.

Adam's Movember page is now open :)

NB Trade Marketing's Rob Mackenzie has now sent in his Movember page details.

Thanks for joining in Adam! We'll be catching up with you, Rob and the rest of the MoBros soon.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ready... Get Set... Grow!

[caption id="attachment_4202" align="alignleft" width="300"] Look! Even Royal Mail are getting in on the act![/caption]

Let's Grow! Teams and individuals taking part in the Movember Challenge should arrange to have their 'Before' pictures taken today, so they have a 'clean sheet' ready for November's growing.

So far we have participants from:

  • NAC - The NAC Banditos

  • Trade Marketing - Matt Piper and Tim Edridge

  • Since writing about Matt and Tim, they've been joined by six of their Trade Marketing colleagues - Neil Davies, Andy Dunkerley, Rob Mackenzie, Jas Rehal, Nick Scraggs, and Darrell Stead

  • Add you or your team's details here by completing a Publicity Form. NB this will kick-start your fundraising with a £20 donation!

At the time of writing, fundraising is already underway (over £100 and counting), even though it's not quite November yet :)

We'll be back soon to see how everyone's growing!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Steve Finishes the Course

[caption id="attachment_4213" align="alignleft" width="225"] Steve shows off his finisher's medal[/caption]

It may be a while since Community Week, but the fundraising keeps going!

This week we have news via Birmingham House of Steve Milner's successful completion of the Coventry Half Marathon on October 14th.

Steve ran the course in an impressive time of 1 hour 47 minutes and 6 seconds and raised £360 for Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Solihull in the process.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Cayleb Meets St David's

[caption id="attachment_4175" align="alignleft" width="640"] Judy Read, Cayleb Needham, Sally (St David’s representative) and Andrew Herbert[/caption]

We have further news from one of our From S to N cycle riders! Newport House's Cayleb Needham recently presented the cheque for the monies raised to his chosen charity St David's Foundation. Andrew Herbert also gave a bottle of whisky as a raffle prize for a local event the foundation is holding on Friday. Cayleb raised over £800 for St David's who provide local hospice care.

It's great to hear news of the contact you've made with the charities you've been raising funds for. Any stories you have of cheque presentations, follow-up visits or how your chosen charity is using the monies raised are always welcome :)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Another MoBro!

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="225"] The competition?[/caption]

Hot on the heels of yesterday's Movember post, we have news of another MoBro from Trade Marketing. Tim Edridge will be joining Matt Piper to see who can grow the best moustache.

Next week we'll provide details of everyone who's taking part. Tell us about you or your team's entry into this year's fun via the Publicity Form.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Are You Gearing Up for Movember?

[caption id="attachment_4166" align="alignright" width="300"] Can you guess the use for this mystery object found last Sunday?[/caption]

We have news coming in of teams getting together for this year's Movember Challenge :)

First up are the NAC Banditos from the National Accounting Centre: Andrew Stone (OPS Liaison Senior Clerk), Mike Ward (Publisher Accounts Clerk), John Jefferson (Publisher Accounts Clerk) & Adam Hellewell (Publisher Accounts Clerk).

Says Andrew:

Here at the NAC we have a proud history of fundraising through a wide range of events. Here was a chance have a bit of fun with facial hair and raise money for a very worthwhile cause.

A photo will be arranged of the team on November 1st and then maybe some during the month charting the progress of moustaches.

Matt Piper, Trade Marketing's Territory Manager is also going to Support a cause close to my heart. He believes other colleagues are intending to take part from Trade Marketing and we look forward to hearing from them shortly.

Good luck to everyone taking part! NB There's still time to get a team together to join them for the start of Movember on November 1st.

Did you guess the mystery object? It's a moustache curler - an older version of curling tongs!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Michael's Blog: Post Olympics

[caption id="attachment_4155" align="alignright" width="300"] After a post - Olympic whirlwind of activities, Michael has got back into training at Bath University. He also visited Swindon Dolphins last week, who described him as a "great ambassador for our sport" :)[/caption]

Where has the time gone?! I can't believe it's been over 2 months since the Olympic Games. There have been so many exciting events in the aftermath so there’s a lot to fill you in on!

Firstly, thank you all for your messages and support over the last 12 months, especially during the trials event in March - it really has made a difference and I'm delighted we have a medal to show for it.  My whole career has been in preparation for the 2012 summer and I didn't give much thought to events taking place in the seasons following the Olympic Games but it’s already underway.

The Games were everything I hoped they would be. The atmosphere in the Olympic village, the enthusiasm from the games makers and volunteers, bumping into sporting superstars and having breakfast with them too all helped create the Olympic experience.  I felt there was a mutual respect between the athletes, all aware of the commitment and preparation that has gone before.

From a performance perspective, the British swim team didn't perform as well as we should have and I'm not too sure why. The advantage of a home crowd was a huge positive for me and a pressure that I felt comfortable and relaxed in. I love the big occasions, it's the main reason I'm in the sport and I couldn't help but smile when parading to my block pre races.  Swimming in the 100m breaststroke before the 200m was perfect preparation. I swam a sizeable best time and from then on, the nerves were outweighed by excitement.

After the semi-final of the 200m, I knew I had more in the tank and that a medal was a possibility, but I never allowed myself to think of Gold - something I regret now. Daniel Gyurta, unbeaten in 4 years, was the overwhelming favourite and I didn't believe I could beat him, until it was too late. I'd targeted 2.08.0 in 2006 as a time I was capable of swimming and one which 'should' be enough to make the podium. The final turned out to be the first race of my career where I've surprised myself.

I felt strong during the race - the years of 'one more rep' circuits, sleeping in altitude tents, living in a cardboard box sized studio room in Paris and the self-imposed alcohol bans all paying off.  Relief and happiness were closely matched after the race; I definitely had a fear of failure in the lead up to the Games, which I managed to get under control after the trials in March.

Since the Games, I had a busy but sizeable break from the water, the highlight being meeting my sporting idol, Pele, at a function in London. I was hugely honoured to meet him and to have a few words of advice about the importance of respect and self-belief.

In the past few weeks, I've gone back to the water and started training again. The challenge for me now is to look at the Olympic Games as another breakthrough. I'll have much more pressure on my performances now and any major international that doesn't result in a medal finish will be viewed as a disappointment.

I don't want the Olympic Games to be my career highlight and so have had no trouble in terms of motivation to get back to training. I'll be competing at the World short course Champs in Istanbul in December and then the British Champs as a qualifier for the World long course in Barcelona next summer.

Thanks again for all your support & hopefully we will be celebrating more medals in the coming seasons! :)

Thanks Michael - it's great to hear your personal experience of the Games! There were lots of hoarse voices around Smiths News for a few days from cheering you on so much ;)

We're all so proud of your achievements and glad to have lent our support along the way. We're looking forward to welcoming you to our Community Awards event on November 2nd.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Cuppa Anyone?

Rachel Cook (Communications Team) and Nic Hewlett (Finance) made sure break time was extra special at Wakefield House recently by signing up for Macmillan's World's Biggest Coffee Morning.

They take up the story:

Our Macmillan Coffee Morning was a great success! The the ladies in our Blue Apple staff canteen very kindly offered free tea and coffee to those who donated or bought some cake during the morning (although the cake sales went on right through the afternoon!)

Staff at Wakefield House baked some amazing cakes, so we offered tasters and asked people to vote on which was their favourite! The winner was Nic Hewlett and her A-MAZ-ING ‘Chocolate Brooklyn Blackout’ cake. Nic won a bottle of wine and the baking Queen crown :) Unfortunately it sold out too quickly to even get a photo!

Around 70 staff took part and helped raise a grand total of £64.08; enough to pay for a specialist Macmillan nurse for nearly three hours.

Mmmm - forget The Great British Bake Off, that cake sounds scrummy! Can we have the recipe please? ;)

**News Flash**

Bertrams also held a Macmillan Coffee Morning and HR's Frances Plant brings us further news:

Thank you for everyone’s support in the Macmillian Coffee morning on Friday. With late notice of our cake bake, we still managed to have a fabulous range of home cooked cakes on offer and they certainly sold really well.

I am delighted to confirm that we raised a total of £119.55.

In addition those in Rushden held their cake and bake on Monday this week and raised a further £52.50

Our total therefore being £172.05

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Golfers Tackle Bowood

[caption id="attachment_4111" align="alignleft" width="640"] The winning Infor team[/caption]

Organisers Holly Cresswell-Jeal (Marketing Executive) and Helen Rose-Johnson (PA to Directors) ensured The Consortium's latest fundraising event went with a swing at Bowood, near Calne recently. They organised the popular annual charity golf day on Wednesday, September 12th, with help on the day from Donna Oaten (Graphic Artworker). They take up the story:

[caption id="attachment_4112" align="alignleft" width="300"] John Kershaw in action[/caption]

This was The Consortium’s 8th annual charity golf day and it was lovely to see so may familiar faces. The day is always enjoyed by many and after last year's torrential rain all day, we had our fingers crossed for sun this year. Despite a quick down pour the day remained dry for the golfers.

We had 67 golfers who attended the event - from suppliers, staff and customers - with an additional 20 diners joining us just for the evening. We had various competitions around the course including nearest the pin, the longest drive and beat the pro – there were three happy golfers that day who did in fact beat the pro!

[caption id="attachment_4115" align="alignright" width="300"] At the dinner and presentation evening - one of the Smiths News teams takes 3rd place[/caption]

More people joined us in the evening for a three course meal, prize presentation, raffle and the customary heads or tails game.

We still have money coming in although so far it looks like we raised over £1,000.

We have raised over £5,500 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance this year, smashing our target of £4,000 and we still have three months to go!