Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bertrams Keep Walking

[caption id="attachment_4056" align="alignleft" width="200"] All ready to start...[/caption]

The HR team at Bertrams may have had to withdraw from the Ridgeway Walk owing to ill-health, but it hasn't stopped their determination to raise money for the Walk's charity, Sense.

On 19th August, Frances Plant and Sarah Bunting walked along the scenic Bure Valley Railway, with Fran walking both there and back to complete a total of 18 miles. Even more impressive as the day topped 28 degrees centigrade!

Helen Ives - the remaining team member - is due to complete her walk on September 1st/2nd with her family. She'll be taking her two-year old son Samuel along for the ride in a backpack! Looking forward to seeing how you get on, plus your photos Helen :)

At the time of writing the team have raised £303.70. You can help them reach their £500 target by visiting their Just Giving page


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Stan Prepares for the Great North Run

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300"] Stan hard at work in training[/caption]

Exactly one month from today Stan Wilkinson will be putting on his running shoes to take part in The Great North Run to raise money for Shrewsbury House's chosen charity, Care For Casualties.

Stan will be joining the likes of double Olympic champion Mo Farrah, in running the UK's most well-known half marathon event, which begins with a mass start of the participants running over the iconic Tyne Bridge in Newcastle.

Stan says he decided to run the half marathon way back at the start of January, and explains:

This was easier said than done as I was overweight (17 stone) and I had to be accepted in the ballot for the Great North Run so I had to come up with a strategy.

First of all I had to put in place a self-imposed diet with the intention of losing a minimum of 3 stone and I am glad to say I have now lost 3 and a half stone.

Secondly I had to start and get myself fit so I can run and complete the Great North Run. It has not been easy. From starting my training In January by power walking 4 miles a day and then gradually upping it to running the 13 miles, I am glad to say I now run 13 miles twice a week, so I should be fine.

He started his diet and training not knowing if he'd be successful in the ballot which is held each year for the run. At first his hopes were dashed, but happily he was accepted in February's second ballot. Stan added:

Now it is August and I have had my 60th birthday, it is full speed ahead.

Care for Casualties is a charity in aid of servicemen and women of The Rifles Regiment who have been and still are being wounded and badly injured in combat zones around the world. The Rifles Regiment is the UK's largest Regiment and has borne a significant number of the 5,500 casualties the armed services have seen in recent years.

In 2007 The Rifles became the county regiment of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Durham, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Wiltshire.  Therefore it's likely that many Smiths News employees have friends, relatives or know someone who has friends and relatives who've been wounded and badly injured.

In conclusion Stan says:

These servicemen and women and not forgetting their families need as much help as we can give them, so please be generous and sponsor me what you can afford for Care for Casualties.

You can make your donation on Stan's Just Giving page.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Sue Takes a Midnight Walk

Not content with helping clear the garden and play areas at the Beckley Centre, described in Dispatches last week, Plymouth's Sue Lamming also took part in the Ladies Midnight Walk in Plymouth at the end of July.

She walked in aid of Saint Lukes Hospice, raising £146 in sponsorship in the process. Sue said:

They were amazing when my brother-in-law needed them and I want to help keep them going for any other person that also may need their help.

In describing the walk, Sue added:

There was a 7 mile, 13 mile, 26 mile and to commemorate 30 years in Plymouth they also had a 30 mile walk!  I have previously done the 13 mile midnight walk but this year my poor feet just couldn’t take it so I opted for the 7 mile and as in previous years Barney one of my schnauzers came with me and we both got medals.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people who come out to line the route in support all the way round people cheer, it is a very humbling experience.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Time Well Spent at Plymouth

[caption id="attachment_3961" align="alignright" width="640"] Tony Easton, Malcolm MacCormack, Sue Lamming, Trish Taylor, Ross Smith and the mascot Bert the Schnauzer.[/caption]

Sue Lamming has been in touch with a tale of the hard work she and some of her Plymouth colleagues undertook on July 11th...

[caption id="attachment_3962" align="alignleft" width="200"] Before...[/caption]

The Beckley Centre is an activity centre for children with learning difficulties and physical difficulties. The garden and play area was badly over grown. Tony’s son attends the Beckley Centre and asked for any volunteers as it needed a bit of TLC.

We were happy to oblige, our managers allowed us the time off work to go. Ross and Trish set about the the wall approaching the Centre and cleared it cleared of ivy and weeds, also the borders were weeded and tidied up and I cleared the main entrance border.

[caption id="attachment_3964" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Making progress...[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_3963" align="alignleft" width="225"] Rain didn't stop play![/caption]

Malcolm cleared the path leading into the woods giving easier access for the wheelchairs.  Tony and Malcolm cleared several massive bushes from the boarder in the play area; the children are digging a massive hole which will be a tunnel into China!

The boys then cut down massive tree branches over hanging the play area. I had finished my border so set about putting the branches through the wood shredder that had been lent to us.

The weather was not kind, but we worked through light showers and sheltered from the heavy ones, it made the day very heavy going but incredibly satisfying and I was proud to be a part of the gang.

[caption id="attachment_3968" align="aligncenter" width="448"] ... and after :)[/caption]

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Jaimie Completes Her Legacy Run

A little while ago we reported on BLS's Jaimie Dorward's intention to run to raise funds for the National Autistic Society. Here's Jaimie to report on a job well done...

I have finally completed my 5k run and £835 so far for National Autistic Society.

The 5k was a Legacy Event that was in Warrington on 22nd July. They run Legacy events throughout the country so people can run for their own reason.

[caption id="attachment_3955" align="alignright" width="224"] Aaron proudly waving his flag to celebrate his mum's achievement :)[/caption]

To keep me motivated and on track I ran with my friend who is super fit and competes regularly in Iron Woman competitions in UK & Europe, I managed to finish in 47 minutes! – I was very impressed given that 6 months ago I wouldn’t have even walked a mile. Next time I’ll target under 45 minutes.

People can still sponsor me on my Just Giving page.

A fantastic achievement Jaimie, and great to see you're thinking about the next time!

Monday, 6 August 2012

Simon's Alpine Challenge: Non-stop

Simon is King of the Mountains!

My final blog entry is, rather appropriately, reserved for possibly one of the best known mountain climbs on the Tour de France - Alpe d'Huez. My mate Mike suggested that we should try to cycle the climb non-stop. That's 13km uphill with an average gradient in excess of 8% and an altitude gain of over 1000 meters! At the outset I was not confident that we could achieve this.

A dramatic view

We set off from the town of Bourg d'Oisans in sweltering heat so I made sure that I had taken plenty of liquids beforehand. The first 3km were extremely difficult with the gradient exceeding 10%. Even though I was going slowly I was right on my limit and thought I would have to take a break to let my heart rate return to a sensible level. Fortunately, I managed to ride through this rough patch as the gradient eased off a bit i.e. around 8%.

As we slowly ticked of the kilometers other riders would pass us offering words of encouragement. What pleased me was that many of these riders weren't going that much faster than us.

Eventually we reached "Dutch Corner", about two-thirds of the way up the climb. During the Tour de France this area is just a sea of orange: orange shirts, orange hats, as the whole area is taken over by Dutch cycling enthusiasts. At "Dutch Corner" I was feeling more confident about my prospects of doing the climb non-stop.

Phew! Made it :)

The kilometres ticked away slowly until we finally reached the last hairpin - Turn One. From here it was a long, drawn out final ascent to the town of Alpe d'Huez. The last 400 meters seemed to go on forever but we finally passed under the "Arrivee" banner about 2 hours after we had started the climb. We had done the ride non-stop - I never thought in a million years that I would be able to do it!

Now my Alpine Cycle Challenge has completed I would like to thank again everyone that sponsored me. I only need a few more pounds to take me over the £1000 mark so if anyone out there would still like to donate some money this can be done via my Just Giving web page.

Many thanks.


Michael's Olympics: So Close

I thought you might like to see Michael's analysis of Saturday night's race...

GOAT = Greatest Of All Time i.e. Michael Phelps.

And then there's this rather nice touch...

Michael appeared on Breakfast News this morning. As Team GB's most successful swimmer in the pool I suspect a lot of media work will follow! He's already looking forward to next year's world championships...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Message From Jackie Jamieson: Wow!

Jackie Jamieson has been in touch asking that the following message of thanks be circulated to everyone who supported Michael...

[caption id="attachment_3904" align="alignright" width="180"] A very precious thing[/caption]

I cannot put into words how we all feel. We knew going into that Final Michael would have to pull out a spectacular performance.

He did exactly that. I honestly thought I was going to combust. The noise inside the stadium was overwhelming and when he touched the wall euphoria kicked in. He has had an absolutely amazing time at his first Olympics and I know that he's done us all proud.

The messages from everyone including staff that have since moved on in the business has been totally overwhelming. I was still reading them at 5am this [Thursday] morning...

So happy so many people were able to be a part of Michael's journey.

Thank you all so much.

Jackie, Mike and Lauren

As well as Jackie sending us a picture of Michael's medal he tweeted another photo of it yesterday, saying:

..almost! :P can't believe this is mine... Thank you for all the notes & to everyone at Parkhead*!! :) ... amazing...

Another tweeter asked him how many times he'd looked at his medal. He replied:

...I slept wearing it last night ... :)

* = Michael's race was broadcast live on the big screen at Celtic Football Club ahead of their Champions League qualifier. As Michael chose swimming over football and is a huge Celtic fan, he must be pretty chuffed!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Simon's Alpine Challenge: The Big One

[caption id="attachment_3884" align="alignleft" width="640"] It's a long way down![/caption]

Today was the big one! - the Col du Galibier. We started out at 08:00 to get as many miles under our belts before the sun was high in the sky. On route to the Galibier we had to pass over the Col du Telegraphe, which was quite tough as it is 12 km long with gradients in the region of 8%. After the Col du Telegraphe we descended into the town of Valloire - a tacky ski resort. We couldn't wait to get out of it.

After Valloire that is where the real climbing began - 18km uphill to the top of the Col du Galibier.The first 10km were hard but the last 8km were the real killer with gradients in excess of 9%! For the last 2km I had no "fuel in the tank" and the air was getting thin so I really struggled over the final kilometer. Despite all pain we had to go through we finally made it to the summit about 7 hours after we had started out.

The views from the top were stunning and we could see Mont Blanc clearly in the distance. After a very rapid descent of the Col du Galibier we stopped of at bar on the Col du Telegraphe for a very well deserved beer, or two! We had a fantastic descent of the Col du Telegraphe, even passing cars and motorcyclists on the way down.

Arrived back at our hotel about 19:00 - a very long but very memorable day!


As promised I have uploaded a video to YouTube showing our descent of the Col du Glandon. [If the embedded video above doesn't work, then try this link instead. It's just over 8 minutes long - Ed]

Tomorrow [i.e. today, Thursday - Ed] is a rest day then on Friday we will be doing Alpe d'Huez.

Wow Simon, you've given a prime example  of where there's no pain, there's no gain! It must be worth all the effort to be in the clear mountain air and sunshine, looking at that stunning scenery.

As Simon's account of his final day will reach Smiths News over the weekend, we'll be publishing his final Guest Post next week. Sounds like we're in for another treat :)

Michael's Olympics: Awesome Silver!

What an amazing race! It took a world champion and a world record to beat Michael last night. He DID swim the race of his life, storming back in the final length to almost snatch the title from Daniel Gyurta's grasp. Gyurta is renowned for his speed over the final length, so for Michael to take half a second off him over that distance, shows what class he has.

He broke the British record again by a massive margin and was also inside the Olympic record set in Beijing. Phenomenal racing!

In the post race interview Michael said:

I was desperate to get on the podium to repay the faith and support I've had... I can't believe it, I'm so delighted.

I'm sure everyone at Smiths News is delighted too!

NB If you missed last night's race or wish to savour it again, here's the last 125 metres or so - there's a brief glimpse of Jackie Jamieson plus lots of supporters in #TeamJamieson T-shirts at the end!

And here's his post race interview :)

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Michael's Olympics: Brilliant!

[caption id="attachment_3860" align="alignright" width="300"] View from the gods at the Aquatic Centre yesterday morning. Picture courtesy of Sui Kee Searle[/caption]

Yesterday was amazing. Not only did Michael Jamieson manage to break the GB record in the morning's heats, he smashed it in last night's semi finals, to qualify as fastest swimmer for tonight's final.

He needed a fast swim to ensure qualification as his semi was the slower one on paper. Well, it looks like Michael found that "other gear" he spoke about after the morning's heats and turned in a masterful performance.

Andrew Willis, his team-mate, friend and training partner qualified in the second semi as third fastest swimmer, so we have the prospect of two GB medalists from tonight's final. Don't discount the world champion Daniel Gyurta from Hungary though, he looked dangerous last night.

[caption id="attachment_3861" align="alignleft" width="375"] The line-up for tonight's final - loving the way it looks this morning!!![/caption]

After the race Sharron Davies asked Michael if he'd be going to bed dreaming of that gold medal. "We all dream", he said with a smile. I'm sure he's been dreaming of what could be all night - assuming he managed to get some sleep - but there must be huge belief there as well now.

There's just 1.11 seconds between all of tonight's finalists, with four of them under the magic 2 minutes 9 seconds, so it's now down to who has the belief and wants that gold medal the most.

It's going to be a wonderful final to watch at 7.30 tonight.

COME ON Michael, swim the race of your life!!!!!!!