Monday, 30 April 2012

Cracking Toast Gromit!

[caption id="attachment_2755" align="alignleft" width="224"] Now, where's that nice bit of Wensleydale...[/caption]

2012 saw the launch of Wallace & Gromit’s Big Breakfast. Taking place nationally between 20th-27th April, the event aims to raise funds for sick children in hospitals and hospices across the UK.

On Monday 23rd April between 8am and 10am the Wakefield House Community Committee opened up their very own ‘Wallace’s Toast Bar’ in the Wakefield House kitchen. There was toast (of course), along with a number of toppings such as butter, jam, peanut butter and chocolate spread - mmm. But they didn’t stop there – there was also a selection of other breakfast favourites on offer, such as muffins, croissants and crumpets, as well some amazing home-made goodies.

[caption id="attachment_2756" align="alignright" width="224"] The trolley loaded for action[/caption]

A donation of £1 per visit to the breakfast bar was required, and we also did our best to fill our ‘Big Breakfast Tea-Pot’ with as much loose change as possible (every little helps!)

Rachel Cook said:

‘’We were amazed at the response to our BIG Breakfast Toast Bar. We were busy all morning and learnt a lot about people’s preferred breakfasts! It seems we have a lot of marmite lovers in the office, with that being the favourite topping – closely followed by good old strawberry jam, and unusually our ‘popping candy’ chocolate spread! Mmmmmm’’

Later on, a trolley was loaded with goodies to do the rounds to make sure no-one was left out. A cracking total of £104.97 was raised as a result :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

NSP Try Out 'Granny Chic'

[caption id="attachment_2750" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="The NSP team show off their finery"][/caption]

Friday 20th April saw the Wakefield House NSP team ‘Ageing for Athelstan’, as they donned attire stereotypically associated with the ‘older generation’ in a bid to raise funds for Athelstan House Care Home for the elderly.

As well as their own interpretation of Granny Chic, there was also a whole host of activities that took place throughout the day, including…

  • Bric- a-Brac Sale

  • Ration Token lunch: People were told to leave their lunchboxes as home and purchase a ration tokens for £1.50. This entitled them to a lovely plateful of food offered by the NSP Team.

  • There was also a chance to guess the combined age of the NSP team at £1 a go (The money raised was split between the winner and charity), as well as ‘Guessing the famous old people’ (not sure how they’ll define ‘old’), and ‘Name the Granny and Grandad’.

A grand[ad] total of £164.87 was raised - chictastic!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Meet “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Mark”

[caption id="attachment_2729" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Left to Right: Cheryl Fowler, Mark Lapworth, Daniel Porter and Nisha Thaker"][/caption]

Borehamwood are the latest Ridgeway Walk team to introduce themselves :)

Nisha Thaker says they're embarking on the walk because of the fantastic work Sense does in supporting and campaigning for deafblind adults, children and their families...

...Our team are braving the 26 Mile Ridgewalk from Midnight on Saturday 30th June 2012 in aid of the Charity Sense (who support and campaign for deafblind people and their families). It is a tough challenge but we know that we can do it with the support of our colleagues, friends and families. Please take a look at our Just Giving page and donate anything you can!  Thank you!

Wrestlemania Time at Newport

[caption id="attachment_2737" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Wrestlemania winners!"][/caption]

Newport got their fundraising underway recently by holding a raffle to win tickets to Wrestlemania in Cardiff. Kevin Bridges, Newport Support Manager presented the tickets to Nathan Braine and Michelle Yalland who were the lucky winners. 

2 pairs of tickets were up for grabs with the proceeds going to CLIC Sargent for Children with Cancer.

Community Champion Judith Read explains their choice:

One of our colleagues has a friend with a child who has leukaemia and has asked us to support this charity.

[caption id="attachment_2736" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Yay!"][/caption]

£20 was raised for this worthwhile cause.

Connor Yalland on the right shows how excited he was to be going to see his favourite wrestling star Randy Orten.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Exchanging Cans for Bulbs

[caption id="attachment_2709" align="alignleft" width="232" caption="Some of the generous donations from colleagues"][/caption]

Infrastructure's Stuart Gascoigne at Wakefield House has a neat scheme which is turning used cans into something much nicer. The results are being appreciated by many people in Bristol.

His colleagues have been donating most generously to the recycling scheme which turns the cans Stuart collects into cash. In turn he's using the money raised (approx £5 per month) to buy bulbs for the Malago Valley Conservation Group.

The Malago Valley Conservation Group works to improve the open spaces and streams of the Bishopsworth area of Bristol.

Stuart reports:

[caption id="attachment_2710" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Bulb planting in October last year"][/caption]

The scrap cans are sold for recycling. The money raised is used for environmental projects. For the past few years the amount raised from the sale of scrap metal has matched the amount spent on planting flower bulbs, so in a sense the cans are turned into bulbs.

All contributions of cans are welcome!

What a fantastic idea! It'd be great to see the flowers if you have a picture Stuart :)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Reading Are Multitasking

Reading House have news of two fundraising activities so far this year, held in January and also earlier this month.

Graham Adlington (Facilities Manager), Sam Canido (Day Pack Manager) and Amy Davidson (Deputy Customer service Manager) have got together to organise Dress Down/Car Wash/Cake Sale days in aid of Cancer Research and Stroke Care.

They've chosen these charities because of staff  and relations who have/had cancer and also Stroke Care has given continuous support to an ex-employee (Dini Letterio).

A total of of £322.50 has been raised so far to be split £180.00 for Cancer Research and £142.50  for Stroke Care.

S to N Training in the Dales

Forget MajorcaBLS' Neil Barker reports on his recent training efforts in the Dales...

[caption id="attachment_2703" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="It'll be much warmer in June, Neil - promise!"][/caption]

I got my S-N training moving with a few days in the dales last week 2 weeks ago. As you can see from the picture the landscape was beautiful but the snow at the side and often middle of the roads was a little bit scary. 11 weeks to go and feeling fitter already. Mark's trip to Majorca did look a lot more exiting.

Neil, it looks wonderful, albeit a little on the chilly side! Hope the training continues to go well.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Towpath Tribe Are Raising Money!

Worcester's Andy Walls has been in touch about a poignant fundraising initiative for Community Week.

Hello Everybody.

As most of you are probably aware, Community Week is approaching and fund raising across the company is well underway.

So…we thought it was time we got involved!

On the 1st of July, a team of at least 11 will be walking the 31 miles of canal between Birmingham and Worcester.

Starting from Gas Street Basin, Birmingham at 6am we will meander through rolling city and countryside for approximately 12-14 hours until we arrive at Diglis Basin, Worcester for a well-earned pint!

We are all walking in memory of Nigel Dean, and will be trying to raise as much money as we possibly can to donate to Acorns Children’s Hospice and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Critical Care Unit in Birmingham in his name.

Fundraising events will be underway soon, but in the meantime we’ve set up a Just Giving page for any donations. Anything you can give to help these great causes would be much appreciated by everyone.

If anyone would like to join us for the walk, you’d be very welcome! It should be a fun but challenging day for a good cause and the more people that we can get involved, hopefully the more we can raise together.

Thanks so much for all of your support.

The TowPath Tribe (which includes me !!)

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Ridgeway Walkers Are Briefed

[caption id="attachment_2678" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Who's been up hill and down dale?"][/caption]

Hard on the heels of meeting Chicks and the Beanstalk, we have news of the Ridgeway Walk briefing day held in Oxfordshire earlier this month. The aim was for the teams to meet the organisers, to learn lost more about the event, ask lots of questions and come away well motivated to get on with their training.

We've had updates from three of the teams on how the day went...

Vicky Porter reports:

The Borehamwood Group Team (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and Mark) attended the information day. It was very informative and was a great help with regards to what kind of kit needs to be taken, the challenges we face, safety procedures & first aid.

As a Support Driver, for me it also explained more about what my actual role would be in the Walk.

There was also a representative from Sense who explained more about the Charity itself and how the money will be used.

The Team came away really excited and even more determined to Raise the money for what they see as a really worthy cause.

Debbie Nicholas from Wakefield House said:

[caption id="attachment_2679" align="alignright" width="225" caption="Who's been out in the wilds?"][/caption]

Jan [Cannings] and I attended from Chicks & the Beanstalk. We found it an informative day. The guy running the meeting was a mountain leader from the adventure company organising the walk. He is very passionate about all things walking and put a lot of enthusiasm into the day. We were given an overview and we now know that the 26 mile walk starts at Burydown near West Isley.

We will be coming off the Ridgeway for part of the walk and know where the check-in points and safety points are located. I was surprised to learn that apart from toilet facilities at our start point, there will be no other facilities en route therefore walkers being encouraged to go ‘eau naturale’!! He talked a lot about kit, hypothermia and health and safety…..anyone would have thought we were climbing the rock face in the middle of winter….not the (flat) Ridgeway in the middle of summer…..but he meant well!

There was also a representative from Sense who gave a short presentation on fundraising and showed a video of various people they support, which was very moving.

All in all, it was an enjoyable and informative event.. Jan and I followed up with a 7 mile walk in the countryside and along the Thames, which was lovely.

Carol Patterson from Nottingham Sixth Sense added the information given at the briefing was extremely useful and gave an update on how training's going:

[caption id="attachment_2677" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Did you use your Sixth Sense to guess Nottingham's the answer?"][/caption]

As well as training alone Nottingham’s team have had the opportunity to train together with a couple of long walks the last one being a trip to Kinder Scout which was about 9.5 miles. Our next training walk is scheduled for 13th May where we will be around the Kinder Scout area again but have a route planned for 20 miles.

I have attached a couple of photographs from our previous walk [see left and throughout this post - Ed], we need really to get one of our chaps at Nottingham to take on of us all together.

Thanks for the update on how things are going everyone. Those views of the area around Kinder Scout are beautiful Carol!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Breakfast Butties Go Down Well

[caption id="attachment_2650" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Kelly gets stuck in!"][/caption]

Hurrah, the first sighting this year of the ever popular Breakfast Buttie event has been spotted by Kelly Leech at Brislington. She reports:

Maria Newport – Brislington Group SAP HR Admin cooked up a storm recently in Brislington, providing sausage and bacon rolls for the workers, all monies raised are going towards ‘Cots for Tots’ appeal at the local St Michael’s hospital.

 £181 was raised over two days and more bacon butty days are scheduled for the future.

Looks yummy and I'm feeling hungry now!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Disco Divas

[caption id="attachment_2641" align="alignleft" width="300"] Marie Kirvan and family[/caption]

Newcastle House have again been busy raising pots of cash. This time it was from their Disco, Games and Raffle night held at the British Legion Social Club in Gateshead on April 5th.  Marie Kirvan and the team from Customer Service ensured the evening was a complete success, raising £790 in the process for their chosen charity, the Newcastle branch of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

[caption id="attachment_2642" align="alignright" width="300"] Bob Beat presents Susan Bowes with her prize[/caption]

There were around 45 attendees on the night, including family members. Susan Bowes looks very pleased to have won the first prize of a 42 inch TV in the raffle!

Newcastle House have certainly been very busy with their fundraising. Let us know how you're getting along by completing a Publicity Form.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Meet Chicks and the Beanstalk

[caption id="attachment_2635" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Richard, Debbie, Jan & Anita"][/caption]

We are Richard Webb, Debbie Nicholas, Anita Kellett and Jan Cannings aka Chicks & the Beanstalk from Wakefield House, and for this year’s Community Week we are donning our boots to walk the 26 mile RidgeWalk on 1st July in aid of Sense.  Please donate today to help us reach our fundraising target of £2,000 to help Sense provide valuable support and services to those with impaired sight and sound.

It is easy to make a donation by visiting the team's Just Giving page. On there they say:

Chicks & the Beanstalk will be grateful to receive your donation, however large or small, to help our cause :-)

They also say they're training very hard - let us know how you're getting on!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Cash for Clothes

[caption id="attachment_2616" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="The NAC staff had bags of fun clearing out their wardrobes. Some of them had only these stylish bin bags left to wear, designed by Yorkshire’s very own Tina Cronin."][/caption]

NAC's Tina Cronin and Chloe Webb encouraged everyone at NAC and BLS recently to clear out their wardrobes to make way for spring with their Cash4Clothes Collection.

Pictured are 4 of NAC's Community Group: at the back is Chloe Webb to the left and Vicky Rhodes.  In the front are Sharon Farkas with Jackie Atkinson on the right.

Tina and Chloe report:

In just one week we have collected a total of 430kg of clothes.  The collected items are used by the charity Aid2Africa who help to improve the lives of the children of Africa.  The cash we receive is being paid to our nominated charities, The Cancer Support Centre and  SACAR.  So many people benefit from this event, including those people with much clearer cupboards at home. 

Everyone from the NAC and BLS were invited to take part.  Our cleaners also brought in donations so it really was a team effort. 

Our target was to raise £200 and we actually received £230.50.

Sounds like it was a win-win all round!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Game On!

[caption id="attachment_2581" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Spot the Ball! [/caption]

Chris Hulme and the day pack issued the challenge..., returns guys readily accepted..., Mel Howes booked the pitch at Brickfields Community/Activity Centre.

Thus the scene was set for the Day pack v Returns scanners 7 a side football game, ably managed by Pete Hockley and Mandy Wickham-Lawrence. One team had seven players; one team had only six, due to last minute illness, but they played on in the name of charity. Oh and they won!!

The game may have been on April 1st, but Plymouth House showed they were no fools, by raising £99.74 * for Macmillan. There's a local Macmillan unit within Derriford Hospital in Plymouth which deals with a number of projects within the local community.

[caption id="attachment_2582" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Presentation time & proud banner display: Vitalius, Ryan, Malcolm, Jason, Chris, Aaron, Tony, Jason, Nathan, Scott, Tom, Referee Glen, winning Manager Mandy and 2 nephews (Simon Hobbs gone to hospital)[/caption]

Our reporter says:

Stunning sunny day - a bit cold for the spectators but ideal for the players. 5 minutes into the game Si Hobbs was injured and had to go to hospital. 

Mandy provided enough food to feed everyone and all the half time drinks for the teams. Final score was 12 – 5, it was a good clean game, staff and managers brought their families to watch giving it a real family atmosphere. 

There has been talk that the Nights Boys want to challenge so there may be more footy on the way!   Roll on the next event!

* = this came from each team member paying £5 to play and spectators donating a minimum of £1 to watch. Pitch was donated free of charge and there were around 25 spectators and children :)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Jumping For Ava

We have an update from Newcastle House about Martin Cooke's fundraiser day held at the end of March for his niece Ava Bainbridge.You may have seen her story on The One Show recently.

Ava contracted meningococcal  septicaemia (a form of meningitis) at the age of 13 months and the family were advised it would be 50:50 she would survive. She did,  however, she lost 75% of one foot and 50% of another.

So Martin arranged for a fun family day at The Springwell Inn at Wrekenton, near Gateshead complete with a bouncy castle, raffles and bungee jumping! Despite the horribly dark and cold day, around 50 people attended, including 15 bungee jumpers. So far Martin has raised £2,000 to help buy some special prosthetic feet for Ava.

The short slideshow below shows Ava and also gives a flavour of what happened on the day...


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Michael's Blog: At National Squad Camp

In his latest update for Smiths News, Michael Jamieson reflects on his performance at the Olympic Trials and gives a further insight into the final preparations leading up to the Games in July...

Michael JamiesonI’m back in London this week with the rest of the Olympic qualifiers for the National Squad Camp, allowing us to train for a full week inside the Aquatic Centre and gain some more information about the coming months and the Games themselves. We only have the opportunity to train as a British team once each year and it’s great fun to train with other squad members. There’s an air of excitement and desire in the team as the realisation that we are on our way to becoming Olympians in the summer has set in!

I’ve had time to reflect on the Olympic Trials and firstly I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at Smiths News for their support during the meet. I’ve never experienced anything like the support I had during the Trials and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it helped me, particularly to rebound from the disappointment of the 100m and gain qualification in the 200m Breaststroke, so thank you all!

The trials was a hugely emotional week, particularly after I missed out qualification for the 100m by 0.03seconds – it set up an extremely nerve wracking few days. In the lead-up to the event, I was confident that I was dealing with the nerves and pressures well but on reflection, realised I hadn’t! It’s difficult to understate the occasion; it really was a life changing event. Eight or nine years of training and preparation for my selection to the Games, funding situation and all the choices and sacrifices made over the years, to hang in the balance of just one race. This played on my mind and as the meet got closer, I began to get more negative stress about it. I still believe coping with nerves, pressures and stresses of competition is strength of mine but the Olympic Trials was something completely different and due to the implications, isn’t something I think you can prepare for.

I didn’t have a great taper in the three weeks preceding the competition, I felt that the travel back from Australia just three weeks before the meet was a little too close and I could have rested a little more for my events, all in hindsight of course. Despite being an experienced athlete, this is all still a learning process in search of the perfect swim. The positives to take from this are that I have made the team despite not feeling my best. I know I am capable of swimming much faster in the summer. The goal is to make the final and hopefully the 17,500 thousand strong partisan crowd will play a part in helping me home on the last 50m to challenge for a medal!

Due to my performances at the Trials, I have no added pressure or expectancy to deliver medals at the Games. This clearly has its advantages and I like the idea of going in under the radar. This could be my only opportunity to swim in an Olympic Games and I intend to leave no stone unturned in the coming months in my search for a life changing Olympic medal!

Great post, thank you Michael! Note the above photo shows him posing in his Team GB kit - how cool is that? You'll find the same photo and a little bit more about Michael on his page on the Team GB website :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Name That Duck

[caption id="attachment_2557" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Domino with the Easter goodies"][/caption]

BLS' Sarah Toes came up with an Easter themed competition with a twist when she asked colleagues to Guess the Name of the Easter Duck recently.

In their quest to get their hands on all the goodies, her colleagues helped Sarah to  raise £35 for Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

Mark Silver correctly guessed Domino was the duck's name and thus walked off with the prize.

In other news from BLS, Julie Barnett's weekly raffle goes from strength to strength. The total raised so far is over £500, which makes her target of £650 by August 31st look very achievable. The funds raised will go to Yorkshire Cancer Research, the charity nominated by her colleagues.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Jaimie's and BLS' Legacy is...

Many of you will have seen Jaimie Dorward's moving piece in March's paper version of Dispatches and the recent post on here about her son Aaron's fun penalty shoot-out held in Bradford.

In her ambassador role, Jaimie is running in a 5k Legacy event for the National Autistic Society (NAS) in Blackpool on 29th April. You can add your donation on Jaimie's Just Giving page  or with a free text message TEXT RUNJ49 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 [Link and text no longer available - Ed]

Mark Charlton is joining Jaimie in raising money for NAS via his participation in this year's From S to N flagship fundraiser and has been adopted as an honorary team member of BLS' Community Week campaign as a result.

BLS have a number of fundraising initiatives already underway and are using this neat thermometer to chart how they're progressing towards their  fundraising target of £7,000. [Click on the picture to enlarge it if you want a closer look - Ed]

They've also set up the BLS Community Week Challenge Team Page on Just Giving to make donating just that bit easier for everyone. On there you'll find links to all their fundraising activities - including Mark's and Neil Barker's rides in From S to N (Neil is riding for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal), as well as Jaimie's penalty shoot-out, Gemma McGowan's Sport Relief Mile and Mark Silver's 'stroll' around Kirklees previously featured on Dispatches. There's also Julie Barnett's weekly raffle in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Research,  Adrian Warner's 10 mile Walk for Life in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust, plus Siobhan Hay's promotional sale for NAS :)

As Jaimie says:

Lots of wonderful charities in need of support, we ask for your donations and your support by circulating this to your teams.

Jaimie was also keen to tell me how BLS and the NAC are working together on their fundraising initiatives for Community Week:

...we share the same building as the NAC and although we are classed as 2 separate sites for community week – they have a community week committee too and we have two representatives who are on the committee, so both sites can share ideas and support each other’s activities. I think it would be nice to mention that as a site we are also coming together to help each other’s teams raise funds where we can.

It's great to hear how Community Week is fostering such good team work :)

Are you working with another site, department or other part of the Group on your Community Week fundraising? Maybe BLS' thermometer or their Just Giving team page is just the thing for you to adapt for your Community Week contributions? Or perhaps you have another great idea to share, which others could use. It would be good to hear all about it and let everyone know via Dispatches

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Eggstra Smiles

[caption id="attachment_2490" align="alignleft" width="225"] Nicola Hewlett with pupils from Paternoster School[/caption]

Nicola Hewlett and Rachel Cook ensured there were smiles all round when they delivered Easter Eggs to Paternoster School in Cirencester last week.

Every year, staff at Wakefield House generously donate Easter Eggs, which are distributed within the community. This year, they chose Special Needs school Paternoster to donate to, giving each of their pupils a chocolate egg to enjoy.

Rachel takes up the story:

Nicola is local to Cirencester and is aware of the great work Paternoster School do and so she suggested them as a worthy recipient for this year's donations. They were delighted when we contacted them to offer free chocolate!

On Friday 30th March (the last day of term) we headed to the school to deliver the eggs. We were greeted by Head Teacher Julie Mantell and just a few of the 44 pupils at the school. The huge smile on their faces as they saw all the eggs was wonderful, and they had even designed and made a thank you card for us!

Julie Mantell said: We were delighted to have been chosen by Smiths News for this year’s Easter donation. The children are so excited to receive their eggs. A big thank you, and a Happy Easter from everyone at Paternoster School.

A total of 81 eggs were donated. Around half of these were taken to Paternoster School on Friday, ensuring every pupil received an egg. The remainder will be taken to The Deaf Centre in Swindon on Saturday 7th April (another charity supported by Nicola).

For every egg donated by staff, the company will be donating £1 towards our Community Week total!

Monday, 2 April 2012

More Miles for Sport Relief

[caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Gemma with her son Reece[/caption]

One of the great stories to have come out of the Group's participation in this year's Sport Relief Mile is the family occasion it's been in the name of a good cause. After Dave Moore last week, we have news of BLS' Gemma McGowan, who walked her mile at Nostell Priory near Wakefield, whilst her son Reece (aged 9) ran the best part of three miles. They raised a total of £66.

[caption id="attachment_2420" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Kate Gill with daughter Carrie and son Henry - "The family are getting involved too"[/caption]

Meanwhile in Newcastle, it was Kate Gill's children who kick-started their participation in this year's Community Week. They were keen to do something for children less fortunate than themselves and roped mum in for the Sport Relief mile as well! Their run at Chester-le-Street in County Durham raised £67.07.