Monday, 28 January 2013

Another Fundraiser for Rowan House

We have another fundraiser here at Rowan House. Graham Willis will be running the Bath Half Marathon on 3rd March.

nas-logoWhilst Graham's already raised £135 via his JustGiving page,  I'm sure some further donations will help him train through the darkness and everything the weather throws at him at this time of the year. He's fundraising for the National Autistic Society to thank them for all their support since his daughter Amara was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

We'll catching up in Dispatches with everyone in training in a few weeks or so to see how it's going.

Monday, 21 January 2013

From a Waste of Space to a Place for Play

Emma Young of West Mercia Supplies (now part of The Consortium) has been in touch to tell us about her recent use of Volunteer Time. Her village (Wheaton Aston in Staffordshire) decided to unlock an unused public space and convert it into a play area.  A grant from Community Spaces (part of the Big Lottery Fund) helped them to realise the project.

Emma takes up the story...

"I originally got involved in this project in the Autumn of 2011.  The favoured idea that came out of the [village] consultation was to open the space as a play area, but one that did not have traditional play equipment.  In the past the space was used in this way and suffered vandalism, hence the reason it had fallen into disuse for the best part of a decade .

[caption id="attachment_4710" align="alignleft" width="640"]Before... The village's open space before the transformation...[/caption]

The space is part owned and managed by the Parish Council and part leased from South Staffs Council on condition that it remains an open public space, with provision for a play area.

Wheaton Aston Play Strategy Group, working with the local community, wanted to reopen the site as a nature space with a play area, which would be attractive to families with young children. It would comprise:

  • seasonal shallow pond/marshland with very gently sloping edges

  • wet grassland - sand beach and paddling pool

  • boulders

  • climbing logs

  • live willow igloo

  • bee, bird and bat boxes

  • woodland edge habitat (mostly already present)

  • boardwalk over the wetland

  • bound gravel path around one side of the wetland

  • security fence around the site

  • toddler proof latch on the gate and appropriate safety signs."

[caption id="attachment_4717" align="alignright" width="640"]After collage After all the hard work - what a difference![/caption]

Emma's main involvement was pulling together the grant application, which was in 2 stages.  The first stage was an outline proposal for Community Spaces to initially assess the potential project and made sure it met their funding requirements.  Stage 2 was a more in-depth submission which required plans, cost estimates, setting of outcomes, assessment of the site and issues affecting it, timelines and milestones.  With assistance from other project team members, she pulled the documents together and the team were delighted to be awarded the full grant in January 2012.

Emma continued as the project administrator, as Community Spaces require progress reports and grant claims to be submitted.  The final report has just been drafted.

Emma adds, "It is interesting for someone who works in procurement to have to sit on the other side of the fence and actually pull together a bid for something!  2 other smaller grants were awarded to us from local organisations raising a further £1,500 and the council has contributed approximately £10,000.

I also got my hands dirty, helping to plant trees and wetland plants (on a cold, but thankfully dry day) in December and barrowing bark chips to the site from the entrance.

[caption id="attachment_4713" align="alignright" width="173"]The new entrance sign The new entrance sign[/caption]

The project is now pretty much complete, with the opening date set for 27th April.  This should allow the new turf, trees, shrubs and wetland plants to start getting established before the site is fully opened.

I am very proud of what the group has been able to deliver as the site has been utterly transformed and look forward to seeing it mature over the next few years.  I very much hope that Broadholes Lane Nature Garden [the site's new name] will become a much-loved and used asset for our village.

Just the cake baking for the launch day to go!"

Thanks very much Emma - it looks a wonderfully transformed new space! It's also interesting to get your insight into the Lottery funding process and to see what's involved. Whilst grant applications to Community Spaces have now closed, there are other community funding options available under the Big Lottery Fund umbrella which other Smiths News employees may wish to explore. I know that matched funding from other organisations and/or a significant number of volunteer hours are important factors in ensuring success with an application.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

...And We're Off!

We have our first fundraising news of 2013! And our two fundraisers have completely different ways of going about it.

CLICTerri Baylis (Rowan House) is trekking 25 miles over two days on first weekend in July ( 6th & 7th ) in support of her friend's son. Joshua is 4 years old and is currently battling Rhabdoid Tumour, a rare and aggressive form of children's cancer. Terri will be trekking along the scenic  Jurassic Coast from west to east starting at Durlston Head and ending at Durdle Door in aid of the children's cancer charity CLIC. More details are on her JustGiving page.

dryathlonTim Stone (Bertrams) lost his mum to Cancer last October and has decided to run a "dryathlon" (i.e. give up alcohol) in January to raise some money in her memory for Cancer Research UK. He set himself a target of £100 - and he’s passed that already! However, looking at his diary on his JustGiving page, he needs your support to  get him through the rest of January...

Between them Terri and Tim have raised nearly £375 so far - a great start to year!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A New Year Message From Michael Jamieson

Happy New Year from Michael JamiesonI hope you all had an enjoyable break over Christmas and New Year and very best of luck in 2013!

I haven’t written a blog in a few months so this is a bit of a summary of 2012 – what a year it was! It’s undoubtedly been the most rewarding and enjoyable year of my sporting career thus far.

Back in 2002 I remember sitting down with my coach with a list of career goals and an accurate timeline to match. Each season for the next ten years showed target times and selection to the international stage along the way. I was behind on this schedule from 2002 until 2010.

Like any person, athlete or not, I can vividly recount some experiences along the way that I knew were important, character building chapters.

One of the biggest challenges of my career was the move to Paris after falling a mile short of Olympic qualification in 2008. The move was a gamble, the last throw of the dice. I was 19 going on 20, not fast enough to qualify for Lottery funding, with one international cap, contemplating early retirement and in desperate need of a sizeable personal best.

Due to the fact my parents were my main financial sponsors and on a budget, I moved into an attic room in the city which wasn’t much wider than my wingspan. It was very basic. The small shower cubicle doubled up as a wardrobe, there was one hob to cook on, a communal toilet and no elevator – 123 stairs to the top. I had no TV and was without a washing machine, having to carry a suitcase full of washing every fortnight to the local launderette and wait four hours with a book of Sudoku until it finished – I couldn’t bear to climb the stairs on a Sunday, my day off!

I immersed myself in a new culture and attempted to learn a new language. Surprisingly, the Glaswegian accent was very helpful, rolling R’s and pronouncing accents wasn’t much of a problem however it became a very lonely place at times and maintaining motivation was difficult. I knew this was a key season in my career.

In the end the move proved to be the right decision, I made some huge improvements and although my parents were close to financial meltdown, I was back on track!

I’ve had some incredible opportunities and experiences since the Games which I’m hugely thankful for - meeting Pele, a true sporting legend and a half time parade at Celtic Park being the highlights.

These events have only increased my hunger and motivation for the coming seasons. My journey to this stage has been a long one but it has more than paid off in the experiences I’ve had. The Olympic Games and an Olympic medal have changed my life but it has not changed my personality. I finished second, which was a great result but we have now started a new four year cycle with World Championships, Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games on the horizon.  It’s taken ten years to reach the standard I want to be at and I want to stay there for as long as possible, enjoying the journey along the way! :)

Thanks Michael - it's always great to hear from you! You always provide such a great insight into life as a top sportsman. I wonder how many of us would be prepared to go another country and live in less than ideal circumstances in the pursuit of a dream. It helps having parents like Jackie and Michael too.

Like the rest of 'Team Jamieson', we're all looking forward to seeing how you get on in 2013 and cheering you on along the way!