Thursday, 31 May 2012
[caption id="attachment_3051" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Newcastle House's Chris Christie (HR Admin), Fred Napier (Day Packline Manager) and Kevin Graham (Day Packline Supervisor) trying to decide what to have from the tempting selection[/caption]
Distribution Manager Carol Inglis, arranged a cake/bake sales day as part of Newcastle House's regular activities designed to help their local Marie Curie Hospice. Around 50 people took part and a magnificent total of £74.50 was raised.
Over at Newport tasty breakfast rolls were on the menu, personally made by Kevin Clarke (Newport Group Manager) for Phil Adams, (Southern Regional Director) plus all the Southern Region House Managers, and served up at their regional meeting.
Kevin had taken orders beforehand and the fillings ranged from just bacon to bacon, sausage, egg and mushrooms. They must have been a big hit to raise such a large amount of money - £100. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a photo of him in his pinny.
Kevin's efforts were in support of Newport's two From S to N cyclists, Chris Benger and Caleb Needham. I wonder if he'll give them a good start by providing a substantial breakfast when they set off on their ride? ;)
Last Wednesday (23rd May) Wednesbury's managers became living targets for a fun 'Sponge the Boss' day.
There were 5 managers for staff to choose from - these were:
[caption id="attachment_3045" align="alignright" width="300"] Get ready for another one![/caption]
- Paul Tucknutt, House manager
- Phil Hancher, Customer serves manager
- Danny Wright, Deputy day-pack manager
- Chris Jones, Returns manager
- Scott Graham, Distribution manager
Stan Wilkinson, from Shrewsbury House was visiting Wednesbury at the time. He gamely joined in too and was targeted with his share of wet sponges. There's nothing like a spot of inter-house fun!
A funtastic £83.00 was raised for Wednesbury's nominated charities. Another date is planned for the near future ;)
Judging by how wet the road looks in the photos, this was a popular activity!
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Hot on the heels of the Payday Quiz and Cake Sale reported on Monday, Wakefield House's Brett Hanley and Anya Perry arranged a Pub Golf fundraiser on Saturday 19th May.
Brett is taking part in this year's From S to N bike ride and held the event to go towards the £2,000 he's pledged to raise for Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group. He says they're a charity who do some great work in the local area, who don’t typically receive much in terms of support.
Brett and Anya report:
We made t-shirts with our score-cards and route maps on which included the charity logos to raise awareness for the charity in the local area.
Mackenzies in Old Town even donated the full cost of our 1st round of drinks to the charity, so thanks to them for the support.
They raised a grand total of £278 - a great effort towards meeting that £2,000 goal :)
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
An impressive line up of treats and goodies was seen in the staff canteen at Bertrams in Norwich a couple of weeks ago when Carole Fletcher (Sales) and Tom Chapman (Customer Services) arranged a fun Bake & Cake Sale.
Why Bertrams are fundraising
Great Ormond Street Hospital is close to Bertrams colleagues' hearts as it has provided Michelle Ward from Customer Services and her son, Kieran a great deal of support and help since Kieran was born. Kieran was born in Jan 2011 he was struggling with his feeding and was sleeping a lot, at 10 weeks old found out that Kieran had a VSD (Hole in his heart)
[caption id="attachment_3029" align="alignright" width="300"] Michelle with Kieran[/caption]
In October 2011 they decided that Kieran needed to have an open heart operation to close the hole. The hospital has provided the facilities and support to carry out 2 open heart operations for Kieran and hospital accommodation for Michelle and partner for various overnight stays at the hospital.
It is now 3 months after his 2 open heart ops and Kieran has done amazingly well, he has started to eat more solids, drink his bottle and put on weight, he has turned into a cheeky 16 month old little boy.
Donations allow the hospital to buy equipment, fund research and provide better facilities that would otherwise be unaffordable under the NHS. This is a fantastic charity and any support that we can give goes a long way to helping them continue to provide the dedication and support that they do for babies like Kieran.
What Bertrams did
[caption id="attachment_3030" align="alignleft" width="224"] Cupcakes are proving popular this year[/caption]
The Sales and Customer Services team as well as many other employees from across the business put their baking to the test and provided some wonderful treats to help raise money for such a wonderful cause. The cakes went down very well, with even some questions being asked as to who made the delicious carrot cake muffins?!!
Jason Cherrington & Graeme Underhill have also promised that if we bake them a further 12 sausage rolls each, they will pay towards our fundraising total. Further baking will definitely be happening over the next few days in that case I believe!
Alexa Wylie (Executive PA) donated a generous amount after seeing the benefits of the Great Ormond Street Hospital documentary on T.V.
Michelle and Kieran also made an appearance on the day, even though it was Michelle’s day off. To see Kieran full of life and such a happy little boy, was lovely and this is all thanks to the Great Ormond Street Charity and staff. Michelle was delighted that we had decided to raise money for the charity and thanked us considerably for doing so!
A fantastic £270 was raised. A huge thank you to all involved!!!!
Monday, 28 May 2012
More great fundraising efforts from everyone at Wakefield House!
On May 18th they held a ‘Pay Day Quiz’ and a Cake Sale. This was in aid of The Swindon Downs Syndrome Group, Brett Hanley’s chosen charity for the From S to N Bike Ride.
The Pay Day Quiz involved teams from within Wakefield House paying £5 per team to enter and winning 50% back (the other 50% went to charity). However, the winning team kindly donated their winnings to charity, bringing the total fundraising to £87. Great work!
[caption id="attachment_3016" align="alignleft" width="300"] This is just the photo - imagine what the real thing must have been like![/caption]
In addition the ‘Ladies who lunch’ (in Wakefield House kitchen that is!) donated cakes for an extra feel good dimension to the day. I hear banana muffins were also on offer, but instead I’ve had to make do with this picture of an AMAZING strawberry and clotted cream cheesecake instead.
This sold out in a matter of minutes!
Friday, 25 May 2012
On Wednesday 16th May, the communal area of Wakefield House became a swap shop! It wasn't just for Smiths News staff either. As it was held downstairs, all the other businesses in the building were invited and many did take part!
All proceeds were in support of Mark Charlton, who has chosen The National Autistic Society for his From S to N bike ride. All remaining stock will be donated to a local Cancer Research charity shop.
Rachel Cook (joint organiser with Rebecca Hedges) reports:
The idea was simple. For every item brought in, people could swap it for another item. We charged a £2 fee per person (not item). So for just £2 people could swap something they didn’t want, for something they did! There was also the opportunity to just make a donation if people didn’t want to take part in the swap.
We swapped new, or nearly new clothes, shoes and bags, as well as DVDs, books, CDs and games.
Although uptake on ‘swapping’ was relatively low, the generous donations from staff within Wakefield House gave us plenty of stock for the shop. The sale of those items went fantastically well, at £1-3 per item, raising a fantastic £133.09 on the day. And I’m sure the charity shop will raise even more with the donations we still have left.
A great idea - well done ladies!
Thursday, 24 May 2012
The Consortium may be the new kids on the Smiths News block, but already they're showing they're no strangers to fundraising for local charities.
They held a quiz night in Trowbridge on May 17th with 80 participants across 20 teams and raised a staggering £580. As well as the usual general knowledge and food and drink questions there were a few topical rounds based around the Olympics and the Royal family and an entirely 'David' focused picture round!
The event was organised to raise money for The Consortium's selected charity for 2012, Wiltshire Air Ambulance. It combined the traditional quiz with a raffle and a 'guess where the helicopter landed' game. Wiltshire Air Ambulance was selected as charity of the year following staff nominations who are delighted to be able to support such an important service for Wiltshire.
Three teams from Smiths News also took part in the event - have a look at the picture at the top of this post to see if you can spot any of them! The winning team was The Consortium's Ex-BMS made up of 2 Directors, Matt Palmer & John Kershaw and 2 of the Business Support Team – Julia Russell & Steph Newman.
It's great to welcome The Consortium to Dispatches!
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Bertrams' Alexa Wylie has sent in our first Race for Life tale for this year:
[caption id="attachment_3002" align="alignleft" width="300"] Alexa (middle) with step-daughters Georgia to her left and Beth to her right[/caption]
Thank you all for sponsoring The Midgets - today [20th May - Ed] we ran 5K and are still here to tell the tale. Georgia & Beth finished in 33 minutes and I dawdled in 5 minutes later (shame).
Although it was freezing cold day we had a great time - finished off by an elderly gentleman over-hearing our tales of the day in our local pub, coming over to us and putting £2 on the table saying "I have cancer too". There wasn't a dry eye between us. Thank you too to Adrian who donated on hearing our tales.
Overall we have raised £240 between us. Thank you to my two beautiful girls for (almost) keeping me company today and for all your generosity.
They completed their run at the Norfolk Showground. Well done to all of you :)
Meanwhile, Wakefield House's Zoe Marlow (HR), Emma Allan (Ops) and Emma Parry (HR) are all taking on the challenge of the Lethbridge 10k run in support of Macmillan Cancer Support on June 13th. Their fundraising target is £200 and they've already reached an impressive £160.
Any extra boost you can give them to reach their target - no matter how small - will make all that effort worthwhile. Please support them in their efforts for Community Week by donating to their JustGiving page.
The run starts at Lethbridge Primary School at 7.30pm. Any support you can give them by simply turning up and cheering them on will be much appreciated too!
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
This is is set to be quite a personal challenge as Angela describes herself as 'allergic to exercise'. In contrast her partner Brendan - who is also taking on the challenge - is a complete cycling and gym junkie.
Their reasons for taking this on? Angela explains:
Both Brendan and I have lost people close to us in the last few years to cancer and we want to raise money for Cancer Research UK to help fund their research into preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.
So far they have raised £660.
My Wakefield House informant says Angela's made quite some head-way into her training, slogging it out on the Ridgeway and heading to the gym for plenty of squats and lunges. She can often be found hobbling round the office in pain after one too many lunges!
So let's make all that effort worthwhile by visiting Angela and Brendan's Just Giving page and showing our support. Angela says:
We would be really grateful if you could spare any money to help our cause. Please dig deep and donate now.
We'll keep you posted on Angela's progress between now and her climb at the end of July.
Friday, 18 May 2012
Croydon House got fully into the spirit of this year's major events as well as Community Week with their themed bake-off last Tuesday.
All manner of cakes and savouries sporting Olympic styling or crowned with a hint of Diamond Jubilee were brought in by staff to raise a total of £60.78 for their chosen charity, Newstraid.
The above picture shows it was a fantastic effort by all with plenty of eye catching ideas and attention to detail. A special mention goes to Ruba from NRS for her Olympic Cake. It looks far too good to cut into Ruba!
Mmmm is there just one cupcake left over for me? *hopeful face*
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
[caption id="attachment_2950" align="alignleft" width="225"] Jim Sinden and Simon Lockett aka "The Men in Black"[/caption]
The managers at Slough House found a fun way to raise funds recently by raiding their dressing up boxes to find all kinds of fancy dress to make coming to work just that little bit different.
The results included assorted medics, a cowboy plus a cowgirl, an arab, a pirate, a soldier, even a nun! The Men in Black were also on hand to investigate should the odd alien appear in the office to wreak havoc and mayhem.
An impressive £879 was raised for Cancer Research along the way.
Monday, 14 May 2012
Crawley House have tales of past sporting prowess with more still to come...
As mentioned previously in Dispatches, Donna Brown took part in the Swimathon at her local pool at the end of April. This is an annual event held nationwide which aims to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Donna elected to swim 2.5 kilometres, i.e. 100 lengths of the pool. This is the equivalent of running 12.5 kilometres, so her achievement is impressive :)
Staying on the running front we have late news just in that Customer Service Assistant Sajida Sidat's daughter ran 4 miles for Sport Relief for Schools at the end of March. Crawley House donated £50 towards her sponsorship total.
Last but not least, Mark Simmons and Mike Moore report on an intriguing joint sporting challenge still to come:
On Friday 22nd June Crawley and Croydon are taking up the challenge of the Longest Day of Golf at Chichester golf club. The Victims (sorry I mean Golfers) will endure 72 holes over 300 shots and will cover 20 miles with 53% of the holes played having the additional challenge of water on them.
Think we’re going to need a bigger boat and a lot more golf balls.
The money raised will be divided between Newstraid and Help for Heroes.
Mark and Mike: it sounds like you'll be well on your way to completing a 2012 Challenge in one go with that little lot!
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Here's the latest guest post from our Olympic hopeful, Michael Jamieson...
It’s almost time to start competing again! We have had quite a testing last six weeks in Bath since the Olympic trials, re-laying the fitness foundations before the summer kicks off. Unfortunately, due to the monsoon weather recently, I haven’t been able to continue developing my golf game. It looks like that may have to wait until the season is finished.
I’ll be heading to the European Championships at the end of May in Debrecen, Hungary. Only five British athletes have taken their place to compete, due to scheduling and logistical issues. The Europeans will be an opportunity to compete against some of the medal and final contenders for the Olympics, so I’ll be taking it very seriously. In the wake of my performances in London in March, it’s important for me to post a fast time in Debrecen, put down a marker and create some momentum for the coming months.
From Debrecen, I’ll be travelling to Barcelona, Canet and Mallorca for further racing and training. I’m thoroughly looking forward to seeing the sun; I am beginning to develop a greyish complexion thanks to the mix of seasons we’ve witnessed recently and the chlorine.
I’ve been working with the sport psychologist again this month and it’s really helping me. Last week’s was the difference between self-belief and confidence. We came to the conclusion that self-belief is something developed from a young age, in any field, career or sport and stems from a hunger to be successful. Confidence, in my opinion, is superficial. Not many athletes possess both of these attributes. For me, confidence is difficult to develop. I take confidence from training fast and racing fast…and I think that could be it, so clearly it’s an area that requires some work!
The squad in Bath has a new recruit, a sports physiologist. One week into his post and Ben has me sleeping in an altitude chamber, which is basically a fancy tent. I am a huge fan of it and have responded well to the mountain air in previous years. The tent provides an alternative method of altitude training through living/sleeping high and training low (sea level). The tent is air tight around my bed and a generator, which sits outside the bedroom and runs a pipe through a hole in the tent, changes the composition of the air to reduce levels of oxygen, training your lungs as you sleep. I’ll be sleeping in the tent until the Games, hoping it gives me the slightest edge over my opponents and hoping I’m not evicted by my housemates before then due to the whirring sound of the generator!
Alex Dale Oen, Norwegian Breaststroker and World Champion over 100m in Shanghai in 2011, sadly passed away last week. Alex was a friend of mine and I was in conversation with him just days before this tragic event. He lifted the World title just days after a bombing in his hometown in Norway, which killed 80 people, displaying his strength of character. Alex was a favourite for Olympic Gold this summer and at just 26 years of age, died after suffering cardiac arrest during a training camp. A stark reminder of how fragile life is. The global swimming community demonstrated its strength after his passing last week and I would urge you to watch the footage of his 100m Breaststroke victory to see the passion and patriotism he displayed. He will be sadly missed.
Michael, I was shocked to hear of Alex's death last week. My sympathy at the loss of your friend and condolences to his family. Thanks for writing such an honest post, which gives us such an insight into all aspects of competing at the highest level in sport.
Good luck in the Europeans at the end of this month - we'll be rooting for you! Here's hoping your strange new sleeping habits are worth it...
Friday, 4 May 2012
On May 1st, the Instore central, account and field teams duly assembled for the “Great Instore Bake Off” for Community Week. There were two categories for entries:
- Do it yourself – all decorations, ingredients need to be put together from scratch – No bought packets of mix
- The Special Ones – for the not so adventurous baker, anything goes except pre-baked & packaged cakes.
All cakes, cookies and yummy treats were presented in front of a judging panel and marked out of 10 under the following categories:
- Taste & Texture
Once judging was complete, all entries were put up for sale. Wendy Cane reports:
[caption id="attachment_2793" align="alignright" width="300"] Mmmmm - there's more![/caption]
The Instore Bake Off was a huge success. We had 23 cakes, 1 entry of pancake rolls and 1 entry of chicken samosas.
The total so far raised stand at £92.59 with a few donations still to come in, we expect to have broken the £100 barrier by the end of the day*.
Our top judging panel crowned the Cream Horns the winner with a chocolate orange sponge a very close second.
* = the £100 barrier has indeed been broken - the amount raised now stands at £117.20.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Thanks goes to Ian Tallamy, IS; Mark Charlton, Communications Director; Chris Atherton, Commercial Team (all from Wakefield House); and Ian Evans (Aberystwyth) for kindly answering my questions...
Q Why did you decide to take part in last year's From A to B challenge?
- IanE: Looking for a new challenge - I think it was an age thing.
- Chris: I just thought it was a great idea. I saw it as another step in the development in the Smiths News PLC as an organisation and wanted to support that.
- IanT: I enjoy cycling. Years ago I spent quite a bit more time on the bike and wanted to get back into cycling. I had thought about setting my own challenges but when the A to B challenge came along, it fitted quite nicely with my own personal challenge of cycling more seriously and mastering greater distances
- Mark: Because my team were organising it! But also because I'd long wanted to complete a challenge ride - and Whizz-kidz are an inspirational cause
Q How much cycling experience had you had before the challenge?
- Mark: Well, historically lots - I used to race and I've ridden all over the Uk and Europe. That said, I'd not really been on my bike for five years.
- IanT: I wasn’t new to cycling but I was a bit rusty and certainly hadn’t done anything like those distances. The furthest I had cycled was about 50 miles – compared with nearly 350 miles in total (if you include the ride to the coast at the end)
- Chris: I had done one 4 day cycling trip with friends the previous year and had arranged something similar in May 2011 (6 weeks before the A-B ride)
- IanE: None
Q Did you follow Andy Cook's training plan? (if you did) How did it help? (if you didn't) How did you go about training for the event?
- IanT: Yes I did try to follow Andy Cook’s training plan. It’s actually quite a tough training plan and I didn’t manage to get all the cycling done that he suggested. For instance Andy suggested going out 4 times a week, but most weeks I only made 3 and sometimes only 2 sessions.
- IanE: No, as I’m a keen swimmer and swim a mile every day. I would cycle each afternoon for an hour to an hour and a half.
- Mark: I trained by riding to and / or from work about three times a week - simple as that! It's 25 miles each way, so it got me fit enough and was much nicer than commuting.
- Chris: No! I tried to get one decent ride in every week and used my other cycling trip as well so I got up to a few 60 miles rides pretty easily.
Q When you had a 'bad training day', what kept you motivated?
- Chris: The thought that I don’t “do bad days”!! Punctures are difficult to take though, they make for bad days…..
- IanT: Fortunately there weren’t too many of those, the weather was very kind to us training last year. I had a fixed training programme, so if I had to call off a day I would try and make it up next time.
- IanE: If I set myself a goal I tend not to give up on it.
- Mark: Beer.
Q What was your highlight(s) of the ride?
- Mark: The camaraderie, the people who came to support us - oh, and Chris falling off
- IanT: Day 1 – having done the mountain climb and enjoy the fantastic scenery. The rest of the week , the great satisfaction of getting to the travel in at the end of day and knowing that we made it. For the whole week, it was great to see that every single person made it. There was a great team spirit, motivating each other to carry on with the ride.
- IanE: The whole experience: meeting new people and working as a team. And the elation at finishing.
- Chris: The sprints over the 5 miles of each day were always good fun if you like that kind of thing, it’s a cliché but meeting and getting to know the rest of the team was great, it was a really varied group.
Q What's your top tip for those taking part in From S to N this year?
- IanT: I’m doing it again this year – my advice would be to get practising, go for stamina not speed and practice a few hill climbs to help build up stamina and strength. Don’t get stressed about the distances, as long as you’ve put in the practice you will make it!
- IanE: Get some good training in and enjoy the experience.
- Chris: Register for it, prepare for it and look forward to it!
- Mark: You don't need to be super fit or super fast - take your time and enjoy it.
Q And one for fundraising?
- Chris: Use the JustGiving text donation service.
- IanT: Raise money for a cause you’re passionate about.
- IanE: Try and get some friends involved and help you.
- Mark: Beg, steal or borrow. More seriously, it's surprising how many people will support you and it's possible to keep fundraising after the ride too.
Q Anything you'd like to add?
- Mark: I'm doing it again this year - so it can't be that bad.
- IanE: This is a great opportunity to do something for yourself and for good causes.
- IanT: The cycle routes are well planned, avoiding most of the A road and let you take in some fantastic parts of the British countryside. The whole thing is well run and well managed, with an excellent support crew to help you along the way.
- Chris: I’ve committed to something else during the same week as S to N otherwise I’d be on it again. Disappointed that I cannot be involved and hoping it goes well. Good luck to those who take part.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
In the summer of 2010 a team from Wakefield House' Commercial department donated their time, effort and lots of equipment towards building a working garden for children at the Chalet School in Liden, Swindon. The school caters for up to 36 children with learning difficulties, between the ages of 3 and 11.
The team's challenge was to construct a 10ft x 30ft polytunnel to provide a space for the children to learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables. All 36 children at the school were also given a gardening pack, containing gloves, a trowel, a fork and vegetable seeds.
As well as the tunnel and gardening packs Smiths News also donated a bench for the children to sit on and a musical wind-chime to add to the ambience.
Rachel Cook visited the school earlier this year to see how they're making use of their new resource...
The school has really benefitted from the addition of the poly tunnel, which now means they can grow a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. They grow anything from strawberries, onions, potatoes to tomatoes. The tomatoes have really thrived in the tunnel, and without this they may not have survived.
[caption id="attachment_2769" align="alignright" width="225"] Day 2 - Job Done :)[/caption]
Recently the children helped Ruth [the Forest School Leader - Ed] move the strawberry plants from the school’s allotment into the tunnel to be potted singly. The school plan to hold a table-top sale on (date TBC) outside the school to sell the plants to raise money for this year’s seeds.
Strawberries have been a real success in the garden – with the school over-run with them last summer! To help the children enjoy them at their best, Ruth took some home to make jam, and they also made strawberry jellies in school.
The school's head teacher Kathie Bryan said:
The addition of the poly tunnel has had a huge positive impact on the children’s learning. They are able to keep dry in all weathers, and love to spend time nurturing the plants and seeds. The tunnel has also meant we are able grow lots of different fruit and vegetables all year round - so we are never short of fresh produce!
The team at Smiths News were fabulous. We had a great day, and were thrilled when the project was completed. I’m happy to say that it’s still standing!
Getting the children involved in the garden is really important to us. It’s a pleasure to help them develop their skills and learn new things outside of the classroom.
Kathie also spoke to me about the emphasis the school places on good food, which has prompted them to get involved with the Food For Life Partnership. The school has already achieved a bronze award so is now going for gold!
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Andy Walls asked me to let you know on Sunday 22nd April, MSC Worcester raised £311 for Acorns Children Hospice.
We held a tribute day to Nigel Dean who passed away recently. We spent the day running pool and darts competitions as well as a sweepstake on the time of the first goal scored in the Man City V Wolves game.