Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chris Finds His Olympic Legacy

[caption id="attachment_6216" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Chris in action on the South Downs in June On the South Downs in June[/caption]

With the anniversary of last year's Olympics upon us, there's been much coverage in the media of the Games's legacy over the past week or so. We've heard already of Michael Jamieson's efforts in helping to secure a legacy for swimming. Today, it's great to hear of a member of staff's participation in another legacy event scheduled for this weekend.

[caption id="attachment_6217" align="alignleft" width="250"]MacmillanPic Ready for the challenge and fundraising![/caption]

Chris Marston, Business Development Manager - Education at The Consortium is taking part in Sunday's Ride London 100, a cycling challenge through the closed roads of London and the Surrey Hills. The course is  a modified version of the London 2012 Olympic Road Race, the scene of Sir Bradley Wiggins's triumph last year.

As you can see, Chris is using his personal challenge to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer. Chris says on his Virgin Money Giving page:

"Just before Christmas 2011 a great friend of mine lost her courageous battle with cancer, she was married with 3 children. Within a few months her father also lost his battle. This double tragedy had a massive impact on their families and the huge number of people lucky enough to have been their friends. Any positive care and support for families who face such a tragedy is of great comfort."

He also adds:

"Over the years I have been a keen participant in many sports. Following multiple operations on both knees I am unable to participate as much as I would like, therefore cycling 100 miles in a day in this incredible Ride London 100 will be a big ask. However thinking of the help needed by my friends family and many in similar situations will give me the inspiration to get through."

Chris's ride starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, then takes to the roads and hills through Surrey, before finishing back in London on The Mall. Around 20,000 cyclists will be taking part before, as Chris says on his Publicity Form:

"The professionals will race the route after us amateurs have finished (hopefully)".

Go on Chris, show those professionals just how to do it!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Last Call for Futsal Teams

Futsal posterWith just two days to go until Thursday's closing date for Futsal team registration, it's time to reveal the tremendous response we've received so far. Teams from far and wide will descend on Swindon's Futsal Arena for a packed day of friendly rivalry, goals and no offside rule!

14 teams from 8 locations are signed up and ready to go on September 29th. We need just 2 more teams so we can run a full European style Championship format: 4 groups of 4 teams, with the top 2 teams qualifying from each group to play in the knock out stages.

Right, so who's signed up for all the fun?

Ladies and Gentlemen, please show your support for...

  1. Smithy and the Swindon Smiths - Rowan House - Paul Smith, Brett Hanley, Simon Sargent, Alex Harding, Dan Giles, Justin Yates, Fred Pavone

  2. BG1 - Borehamwood - Jason Biggs, Marek Vanda, Peter Janak, Ben Boateng, David Canwell, Kofi Konadu, Carlos Burris

  3. Plymouth Pilgrims - Plymouth - Chris Hulme, George Tucker, Neil Priter, Scot Luscombe, Aaron Churnery, Jason Adamson, Paul Latham

  4. Brian Munich - Worcester  - Darren Clarke, Alex Williams, James Lamb, Steve Goode, Andy Wheeldon, Matt Cooke

  5. Goal Goal Power Rangers - Worcester - James Webster, Gavin Spares, Mark Falcon, Ross Jones, Tim Williams, Tim Concannon

  6. BG2 - Borehamwood - Marc Curtis, Ackestar Baloyi, Tony Pitcock, Lee Darkins, Barry Ings, Mark Woods

  7. The Conslaughter-Em - The Consortium - Matt James, Andy Pickernell, Tim Furniss, Andy Wilcox, Dan Perels, Chris Hubbard, Lee Davey

  8. The Shrewsbury Strollers - The Consortium,  Shrewsbury - Paul Murray, Paul Sambrook, Russell Mellings, Hugh Haimes, Ed Knott, Simon Kunne, Richard Tonks, Jim Green

  9. Bend it Like Beckham Girls! - Rowan House - Nic Black, Claire Phillips-High, Laura Morris, Lucy Manfield, Anya Perry, Sam Marlow, Joni Watkins

  10. Dogs of War - The Consortium - Ashley Warner, Pete Spong, Paul Ford, Reuben Spong, Wayne Heath, Ryan Baggs, Shane Spong

  11. The Misfits - Rowan House - Tom Wright, Jonathan Williams; full team to be announced later

  12. Spartan Blues - Reading - Mark Durrant , Martin Balon, Jason Goddard, Adam Skibinski, Robert Taupmans, Aleksander Adamiec, Marius Pardela 

  13. Borussia Instore - Instore - Ross Hall-Galley, Sean Comasky, Chris Townrow, Mike Frost, Sam Page, Stu Birch, James Bullen

  14. Strikers Notts - Nottingham - Dean Martin, Gavin Howard, Steve Bateman, Steve Fox, James Cairney, Andy Jaques, Rob Drummond

You'll find full details about the day here.

So about those 2 extra teams... Do we have an Exec team ready to take on all comers? Or perhaps Bertrams are bursting to show everyone their skills? Who will be the pride of the north? Grab your team and submit your registration form now!

Remember, all futsal teams and any updates to the team lists will be revealed exclusively via the Community Link-Up blog. Why not register for your email update via the right hand sidebar so you don't miss a thing?

Monday, 29 July 2013

See Michael's World Championships

[caption id="attachment_6230" align="alignleft" width="300"]Radio Times quiz question If you have a copy of this week's Radio Times, then you should know the answer to this question in the Olympics quiz :)[/caption]

Further to Michael Jamieson's last blog in the lead up to 2013's Swimming World Championships, we now have news of both Michael's progress so far and terrestrial TV coverage!

Yesterday morning was the start of the 100 metres breaststroke event in Barcelona. This saw Michael qualify comfortably for the semi finals in 12th place in 1.00.20, just a shade behind team-mate (and fellow Glasweigian) Ross Murdoch who qualified in 9th.

Sadly Michael didn't improve on his time in the semi finals in the evening, finishing 15th in a time of 1.00.59. Whilst he must be disappointed with the result, Michael showed us on Twitter last night, that he's already taking the positives from the swim into focusing on his next race:

We've seen Michael in this situation before and he has a good record in battling hard to turn disappointment into triumph. His next swims are on Thursday 1st August in the 200m breaststroke heats and semi final.  Then the final (fingers crossed) is on Friday 2nd August. Remember, Michael is seeded number one in this event this year :)

NB Coverage of the Championships is on BBC2 every night this week: the key programme times for Thursday and Friday are between 7 and 8pm.  Now let's all get behind Michael: show you're cheering him on by leaving a comment below!

Friday, 26 July 2013

Michelle Helps Great Ormond Street

[caption id="attachment_6205" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Michelle with Kieran Michelle with Kieran[/caption]

Bertrams' Michelle Ward continues to give something back to thank Great Ormond Street Hospital for all the care and help they've given with her son Kieran. Her latest exploits in June took her into the Norfolk countryside and a rather nice National Trust property...

I did a 2 ¼ mile sponsored walk at Blickling Hall and we raised money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. We collected £260 in sponsor money. I decided to do the sponsored walk with my son to raise the money.

My son has a heart condition and spent 3 weeks in the hospital in February 2012 while he had two open heart operations and is still under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital, It was nice to be able to raise money to give back to the hospital for all the care they gave Kieran.

Thanks for the update Michelle! One of my school friends is head pharmacist at Great Ormond Street and I know how much she and all the staff there appreciate efforts such as yours and Kieran's :)

Young Readers Try Some Mixed-up Fairy Tales

Here's a fantastic newspaper clipping from Norwich's Evening News about the Mixed-up Fairy Tales day supported by Young Readers Programme volunteers from Bertrams :)

Bertrams Mixed up Fairy TalesIt would be great to give a name-check to those involved - leave a comment below with the names and I'll update the post.

Update: And here they are :)

  • Emily Cater

  • Bernadette Nyulasz

  • Catherine Rix

  • Frances Plant (thanks for letting me know, Frances!)

  • Tracy Branford

  • Kiara Hawker

  • Amy Martin

Thursday, 25 July 2013

They Did It!

[caption id="attachment_6190" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Lynn Henshaw with Tom and Mike Lynn Henshaw with Mike and Tom[/caption]

A little while ago, Stockport's Lynn Henshaw told us about the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride (held on July 14th), where she was supporting her colleagues Mike Makinson and Tom Sheehy's bid to ride with over 4,600 cyclists to raise funds for The Christie, the well-respected cancer hospital serving the Manchester area.

Lynn has written a wonderful account of the day, with some fantastic news awaiting readers at the end. So forget the headline, which gives the game away re how they fared and read on!

What a fantastic challenge, on a beautiful sunny day! Well it was for me as I was just sat in the car with the windows open enjoying the views and the breeze. Thankfully the sun stayed away until about 11.30 and there was a cool breeze, so the heat wasn’t too bad.

[caption id="attachment_6191" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Oh look, guess where we are... ? Oh look, see where we are![/caption]

The lads started off at Manchester United’s ground at a very early 6.30am. My car was loaded with water, energy drinks, energy gel and lots of food - not forgetting the jelly babies.

I went off in front to the first stop only to find the lads had cycled on past. What did slow them down was Tom... no, sorry it was a very big hill  just after the first  stop!

I meet them at Haigh Hall for their first pit stop. The lads looked good and felt good - this was about half way. 

The boys also had a quick stop  to meet up with John Buckley Retired House Manager, Blackpool at the village he lives in that the route took us through. John took the photo at the top of this post.

[caption id="attachment_6192" align="alignleft" width="224"]Now for those all important banana butties... Now for those all important banana butties...[/caption]

The last stop was at Lea for Banana butties and lots of energy drinks.

Little did Tom know the last 15 mile had 2 steep hills. 6 miles out from the finish Tom hit the brick wall. He was exhausted, but with Mike’s guidance they both finished the race at 1.20pm. I'm so very proud; what an achievement for them both, especially Tom who had only really started to ride a bike about 3 months ago.

You had to be there on the route to see how many people had given up their day to raise money for The Christies. It was a very emotional day - people who you could see had hardly ridden bikes; disabled people in wheelchairs that had a bike attached with a young lad peddling so they could be part of the day; lads on a 3 seater bike; bike clubs out for a nice leisurely ride there and back but still raising money. Tom didn’t fancy the cool down ride back with them though!

[caption id="attachment_6193" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Nearly at the finish line and a job well done At the finish line and a job well done[/caption]

Thank you so very much to you both from the bottom of my heart. You are amazing, I am so proud,  we have raised around £3,500  - that is a HUGE  amount of money that will help Christies fight this horrendous disease and save lives.

With Thanks,

Lynn Henshaw

Here is Lynn's Just Giving Page.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Bertrams Bravehearts bring it on!

[caption id="attachment_6179" align="aligncenter" width="597"]Bertrams Bravehearts Team Photo - now let's look scary for the opposition! Bertrams Bravehearts team photo - stop looking so cheerful, we need to look scary for the opposition![/caption]

Well, after all the speculation in the last post on what the Bertrams Bravehearts would be wearing last Sunday, of course we should have guessed from the clue in their name! Frances Plant reports on a team which tried their best, and had a lot of fun in the process...

[caption id="attachment_6181" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Now let's have a group hug and discuss team tactics! Now let's have a group hug and discuss team tactics![/caption]

On the day we needed 10 paddlers plus a drummer and we ended up with a team of about 16, so we had lots of reserves and most of the team still got at least 2 races in.  The team consisted of Frances Plant, Sarah Bunting, Dale Pascoe, Bernadette Nyulasz, Daniel Fridd, Robin Denton, Mike De’Ath, George Jacobi, Donna Tallent, Chris Bone, Emma Harris, Shuzhen (Sue) Wang, Paul Whittingham, Chris Keevan, Lee Ladbrooke, David Cook & Ben Fridd (aged 13 – Drummer).  The team comes from various areas of the business including; Operations, Sales, IT, Finance, HR, C/S and Digital.

[caption id="attachment_6182" align="aligncenter" width="640"]OK, let's push off and go! OK, let's push off and go![/caption]

It was a disappointingly grey and rather cold morning, especially when the previous week has been so lovely and warm.  But spirits were high as we waited, shivering in anticipation for the first race.  Going with the Bertrams Bravehearts theme we had ridiculous tartan Scottish hats with red hair, fabulous Bertrams green team name printed t-shirts and even some blue warrior face paint on!  We certainly looked the part!  The crowds started to build, as colleagues, friends and family all arrived to cheer us on.

[caption id="attachment_6167" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Oh, the concentration! Getting to grips with everything...[/caption]

The races themselves proved rather hard going, and having lost the first two races we were determined to improve on race three.  We had stories of George and Donna nearly falling in, paddlers being shouted at to get in time to the beat and lots of camaraderie from the other local businesses taking part.  Race three arrived, the team was picked, we decided tactically that as the yellow boat had won most of the races to date, this must be the quicker boat as opposed to the red boat which we had been in for race one and two, so we ran to get the fast yellow boat! 

[caption id="attachment_6168" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Hurray, we have the yellow boat! Hurray, we have the yellow boat![/caption]

We then had some last-minute seat changes in the boat to maximise our paddling potential (advised to us by the event organisers), I think they could tell we were getting competitive, or maybe desperate!  And we were off!  I don’t really know what happened then other than we all paddled and chanted so hard, that once we got to the end we didn’t know who had won, it was that close.  The other team believed they had tipped us to the post, and to be honest the crowd and ourselves all believed them.  However as the results came in to our surprise we had just won our last race by less than a second! Phew!

[caption id="attachment_6169" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Putting everything into that last race Putting everything into that last race...[/caption]

Unfortunately our overall times were not enough and we didn’t qualify for the semi finals, but what a fun day we'd had.  Finally to our surprise at the end of day when the awards were presented we did win the best dressed competition, bringing home a lovely East Anglian Air Ambulance paperweight for our efforts!

[caption id="attachment_6183" align="aligncenter" width="640"]... and the spray flew by! ... and the spray flew by![/caption]

We have raised to date a staggering £727 with further funds still to be added, so we hope to reach the £800 mark.  The charity is one that is close to many people’s hearts in East Anglia and thanks must be given to everyone who has contributed by sponsoring us and buying raffle tickets as well to everyone who took part and supported us on the day.

Bring on next year!

Fantastic news Francis! It's good to see that Bertrams is carrying on the tradition of winning awards at dragon boat races! You've done brilliantly to raise so much for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Update: Frances's Just Giving Page shows the Bravehearts have now raised over £800 - well exceeding their original £500 target :)

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

A Grand Day Out With Bertrams

[caption id="attachment_6198" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Everyone's  ready to board the fire engine Everyone's ready to board the fire engine[/caption]

Bertrams in Norwich was the scene of "a grand day out" recently, when they played host to a group of twenty children from the Chernobyl area of Belarus. They were each given children’s books, fruit and vegetables, enjoyed a barbeque and sat in a fire engine!

The group of twelve girls and eight boys, aged between 7 and 10, are staying in the UK for four weeks, and come from schools in the villages of Zditivo, Sporovo and Minsk. The visit was arranged by the Mid Suffolk Link in aid of the Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, a charity that brings groups of children to the UK for respite holidays. All of these children are living in areas of Belarus still affected by the after-effects of the Chernobyl disaster, which happened more than 26 years ago.

[caption id="attachment_6199" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Delighted with their books! Delighted with their books![/caption]

Graeme Underhill, Bertram Group Managing Director said: “We at Bertrams are really pleased to be involved in helping to make the trip a memorable one for the children, and of course it’s great to see local businesses at Broadlands [the business park where Bertrams is located - Ed] working together to create an amazing experience for such a worthy cause.”

Jason Cherrington, Bertrams Group Sales Director said: “It was an honour and a very humbling experience to meet such lovely children who clearly have had to endure some of the harshest conditions, yet still remain enthused and excited about life.”

Elizabeth Parker is the Mid Suffolk Link chair of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline. She said: “Although all of the children who come are not ill, they all have compromised immune systems as a result of the environment they live in. It is said that their four week visit here, breathing clean air and eating uncontaminated food, boosts their immune systems to such a degree that it can take two years to get back to the levels they arrive with.”

“Despite many people trying to say that the radiation has gone, the fact is that it hasn't and the levels of radiation found in Belarus are way beyond that which would be tolerated in the Western world today. In the children's cancer hospital in Minsk, we are now seeing second generation children being born with cancer who live in so called ‘clean’ areas.”

The News Team Tee Off

Wiltshire Air Ambulance logoIt's certainly a good time of the year to be playing golf! Tye Lohrenz has details of the News Team's winning combination of a favourite pastime and support for a good cause...

On 14th June 23 teams of 4 players took part in Bromham 20's Club Annual Charity Golf Day at the North Wilts Golf Course in Devizes.

After 4 efforts to win this event, perseverance finally paid off for the boys from the South coast (Mark and Mike, along with regular player Howard and a guest appearance from Jim Sinden), with a creditable 3rd place against stiff local opposition. This year’s main charity was the Wiltshire Air Ambulance service, who received a cheque for £1,000.

Full team name check: Howard Birch, Mike Moore, Mark Simmons, Jim Sinden.

Well done everyone - here's to more winning ways next year!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Introducing the Bertrams Bravehearts!

[caption id="attachment_6126" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Dragon boat racing at Chippenham - with Smurfs Dragon Boat Racing last Saturday in Chippenham - can Bertrams Bravehearts top those outfits?[/caption]

With just a couple of days to go until the Norwich Dragon Boat Race on Sunday, there have been a number of last-minute team changes! Tensions are high as new paddlers are sought, tactics are discussed and outfits finalised.

There will be 3 races for the first part of the day with the first race starting at 10.30am, the winners from the races will then go on to compete further races. With the final race, if the team are successful, being held at approximately 3.00pm.

So... let's meet the team!

  • Daniel Fridd - Bertline

  • Sarah Bunting - HR

  • Dale Pascoe - Finance

  • Bernadette Nyulasz - Finance

  • Robin Denton - Digital

  • Thirza Bettis – Finance

  • Paul Whittingham – Sales

  • Jason Cherrington – Sales

  • Dave Hayward – Sales

  • Mike De’Ath – Library Operations

  • George Jacobi – Library Operations

  • Donna Tallent – Library Operations

  • Chris Bone – Customer Services

  • Emma Harris – Customer Services

  • Shuzhen (Sue) Wang – Library Operations

  • Chris Keevan - Warehouse Operations

  • Lee Ladbrooke - Warehouse Operations

  • Frances Plant - HR

And most important of all, Ben Fridd (aged 13) is the Drummer.

The racing takes place at the Whittlingham Country Park in Norwich, and Frances Plant has been drumming up support from her colleagues in Norwich to come and watch the Bertrams Bravehearts as they paddle across the Broads, hopefully to success. 

The team also needs to raise a minimum of £500 between them in sponsorship in aid of East Anglian Air Ambulance. If you would like to support the team and wish them luck in their challenge, then Frances has a Just Giving Page set up for your sponsorship. 

With the hot weather set to continue over the weekend, messing about in a dragon boat for a good cause sounds like a very good idea!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Michael's Blog: Finding a Way to Come Through

We have a wonderful guest blog today from the newly awarded British Universities and Colleges Sports Personality of the Year! Ahead of the World Swimming Championships which start tomorrow, Michael Jamieson reflects on his preparations leading up to the event...

Where to start – there’s a lot to catch up on! I’m in Mallorca on a two-week training camp, putting the final preparations in place before the World Championships in Barcelona in around two weeks’ time.

I have finally finished my degree course at the University of Bath; I got there with eight hours sleep over five days in my final week before dissertation deadline, not recommended! This was the first period throughout my degree where I failed to balance training commitments with University and I almost paid a hefty price. My final month of University was void of sleep and my usual intricate nutrition plan and instead replaced with all – night library sessions, the odd takeaway and a period of substandard training which led to an untimely injury.

I managed to acquire a small tear in my bicep tendon during a gym session about five weeks before the trials. It was a worrying time as I was aware that I needed a strong block of training to make up for the period of late nights finishing my degree. An injury to a tendon is very different to a muscular injury. Tendons heal much more gradually and require rest, putting me in a difficult position with World Championship trials looming.

The support staff networks in Bath are a great team of individuals that guided me through the injury on a daily basis and I have them to thank for being named on the team. Just five days before my 200m Breaststroke, and my best shot at qualification, I asked my coach to pull the plug on my season and forget about racing for medals in Barcelona. I hadn’t been able to train at a high level and I was beginning to lose strength and muscle mass due to my heavily restricted gym programme to protect my shoulder. Thinking about the consequences of not competing – an opportunity of a major medal missed and loss of my UK Sport Lottery funding being the primary concerns, were causing a lot of stress.

My coach of almost four years, David McNulty, knows me well and knew what to say to change my mind-set and begin to get me fired up and ready to fight for my place on the team.

At the trials, I was still feeling low – something I’ve never experienced. Usually competition is the most enjoyable part of being an athlete. The possibility of remaining British number one seemed very slim and qualification seemed just as far off. Dealing with pressures and self – doubt are nothing new in athletic life but after the London Olympic Games last summer, there is a sense of expectancy and pressure on my results. Until now, this has never fazed me.

I managed to put these thoughts at bay and was ready to race aggressively for the number one spot and for qualification. I couldn’t quite believe the time after my race – 1st in 2.07.77, just a finger away from the time I set in the final of the Olympic Games. It is the fastest time in the world this year so far and I’m going into the World Championships seeded number one. What a turn of events.

I have taken huge positives from this. I wasn’t fully fit and managed to swim my second fastest time. My coach said to me before the race, “the great athletes always find a way to come through” and I wanted to prove that last year was not a fluke.

I’m more determined than ever to deliver a medal in Barcelona after a turbulent season and I’m now full of belief. Sometimes as an athlete, your mind tries to play tricks on you, but I think I have now learned how to win these battles.

As always, thank you all for your continued support and I will do my very best to deliver in Barcelona!

Michael Jamieson  

Thanks for a great blog Michael :) I see from the schedule that you'll be swimming almost to the dates of your great swims at the Olympics last year. Once again, everyone at Smiths News is ready to cheer you on for that gold medal!

NB Michael's due to swim in the 100m breaststroke on July 28th and the 200m on August 2nd. Daily TV coverage of the championships is on Eurosport from 9am. I'll update you if there's any news of live streaming from the championships.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Race for Life Heats Up

[caption id="attachment_6109" align="alignleft" width="250"]Team Swindon 2013 on arrival - Nora is on the left Team Swindon 2013 on arrival - Nora is on the left[/caption]

Oh the great British weather! It's pretty well guaranteed to make a key contribution to Smiths News's fundraising activities. This was no exception for the combined forces of "Team Swindon 13" and "Team Miss Chris" in their Race for Life in Salisbury last Sunday. Rowan House's Nora Roth reports...

I’m pleased to say that everyone in our team completed the 5k course on Sunday despite a very uncomfortable 35 degrees!  Quite a few unfortunate participants succumbed to the heat along the way but we did well to finish in not too shabby a time of around 50 minutes.  A stark contrast to the freezing conditions of last year!  After the race we enjoyed a well-earned rest, some cool drinks and a picnic in the shade!

[caption id="attachment_6111" align="alignright" width="300"]We've done it and got the medals to prove it! We did it AND got the medals to prove it![/caption]

So far we have raised a fantastic amount for Cancer Research UK – the Swindon team alone raising £427 so thank you again to everyone who has sponsored us.  It’s not too late, however, to make a donation to help us reach our £500 target – just click on the link to donate or just to see some more photos of the day!

Many thanks



Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Grocery Channel Reach Their Goal

[caption id="attachment_6096" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Smiths News paints Eynesbury Rovers FC A job well done! From left to right – Lucy Evans-Watt, Anne Ferrie, Graham Mills, Mike Makinson, Jeremy Mirams, Jessica Vaughan, Ian Steventon, Alex Lewis, Peter Shields[/caption]

We're delighted to take a short break from fundraising posts to bring you news of the latest Volunteer Time activity! Can painting and football be combined in some way? No? Then Graham Mills has some news to make you think again...

On 27th June, Graham and eight of his Grocery Channel colleagues assembled at Eynesbury Rovers FC (in St Neots, Cambridgeshire) to help spruce up the club. They painted the barriers, goal posts and the spectator stand ready for the new season. 

After the work was completed, Graham - who is the club's vice chairman - said:

“The club is delighted with the work that’s been completed.  The barriers around the pitch are now clearly visible to its players and spectators.  We are due an inspection by the Football Association and this has greatly enhanced the look of the ground.  It has also been a great team building exercise as we don’t get to work with each other on a day-to-day basis as we are mostly out in the field.”

“Eynesbury Rovers is an amateur football club and it has eight teams, whose ages range from under 15 upwards. The club is run by eight volunteers who formed the committee. This job alone would have taken us months to complete.

Brian Abraham, the club's Chairman added:

“We are truly grateful for the painting that has been done and we would like to thank Smiths News for their support.  As we are a small committee, it would have taken months to complete, thank you!”

And that's not all! Eynesbury Rovers will be raising funds for MAGPAS, the emergency medical charity when the season starts next month by putting out donation buckets at the start of each game. We're delighted to kick-start their fundraising with a £20 donation for featuring this blog post!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Newport Run a Mud Bath

Newport continue with their successful fundraising ways for 2013! Andrew Herbert has been in touch with news of a very wet and muddy event he completed recently.  Mud Runner events take place at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire and would appear to be very popular, judging by the nearly 1,400 finishers who joined Andrew plus Vikki-Marie Green and Charlotte Lamont aka 'The Togglers' for the Oblivion event!

Here's what Andrew has to say...

Thank you for your sponsorship for the Mud Run on Sunday 30th  [June - Ed] to raise money for TOGs * – so  far Vikki (1214)  Charlotte (1216) and myself (1213) have raised just over £450.

If you click on the link ** you’ll be able to see some of the photos from the event.  You can search by number (number after our names) and you can see some of the obstacles that we tackled.

Thank you again.

Editor's notes:

* = The Torfaen Opportunity Group (TOGs) is a charity local to Newport who provide services to children and young people with physical, learning or sensory disabilities, plus support to parents and families. They don't appear to have a website to link to, so here's a little bit more about their work...

"Built in 2000 from Lottery funds, the TOGs Centre is owned and run by the community and parent led group. A small specialist team is supported by a large group of young volunteers.

Children and families use facilities for a wide range of activities including a specialist crèche (run by NCH Cymru) and young people's clubs which provide evening social and educational activities, adventure trips and holidays. Respite for parents and involvement by parents and young people in decision-making are central, and TOGs activities are funded by trusts, grants, and local fund-raising."

** = the images are copyright, so sadly I can't use any of them to illustrate this blog post. It's well worth having a look on the website and searching on the numbers - I'm amazed how everyone kept smiling despite all the mud! 

If this kind of event takes your fancy - either as a spectator or competitor - here's a link to the Mud Runner website! NB the Classic course used for the next event in October is where Land Rover test their all-terrain vehicles :o

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Smiths News WHC Ramblers Did It!

[caption id="attachment_6065" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Team photo outside Rowan House Team photo outside Rowan House[/caption]

Last weekend saw the annual White Horse Challenge take place in the hottest weather for years. Maria Ogbourne tells us how she and the rest of the crew from Rowan House (Nic Hewlett, Craig Duff and Jo Kelly) got on...

[caption id="attachment_6066" align="alignleft" width="224"]At the Finish Line - that shade looks very handy! At the Finish Line - that shade and a drink looks very welcome![/caption]

On Sunday 7th July, we completed day 2 of the White Horse Challenge in 11 hours 8 minutes.  In temperatures that rose to over 27°C, we walked 25 miles from Marlborough to Devizes via the white horses at Hackpen, Broad Town, Cherhill and Devizes.  Although we’d hoped to finish within 10 hours, the heat was so energy sapping that in the end it was just a relief to finish!

The most frightening part of the walk was walking through a field of cows that blocked our exit route and took an interest in Trixie (Nic’s dog)!  Not a good place to be when you have a fear of cows and that incident used more energy than necessary just to get through it!  Apparently at one point there was a cow chewing my hair but I was too scared to look behind me to see how close they were!  We were so glad Craig had joined us at checkpoint 2 to provide us with a bit more safety in numbers.

The most unwelcome part of the walk (besides the temperature) was the steep hill up to the Cherhill White Horse and the Lansdowne Monument 7 miles before the end.  That was nearly a deal breaker and sapped most of my remaining energy.

The most welcome aspects of the walk were the shaded areas of the wood copses.  The difference in temperature was amazing and very refreshing.

The highlights were good company (thanks to the guys for joining me and keeping me going), fantastic scenery with sightings of a hare and a deer, the finish line and the cold shower on reaching home.

Time splits were:

  • Section 1 - 2 hours 33 mins [Maria, Nic & Trixie]

  • Section 2 - 1 hour 54 mins [Maria, Nic & Trixie, and Craig from checkpoint 2]

  • Section 3 - 3 hours 2 mins [Maria & Craig]

  • Section 4 - 3 hours 49 mins [Maria & Jo – Jo definitely had the hardest job of keeping me going!!]

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored us.  Every penny raised help to make each step worthwhile, especially when tiredness started to set in the with unending heat!

If you haven’t sponsored us already and meant to, there’s still time.  We have to notify the event organisers of funds raised by 25th July, so the Just Giving page will remain open until the 24th July. 

Maria, Nic, Craig & Jo

aka Smiths News WHC Ramblers

A fantastic effort everyone, especially the £562 raised so far. The Wiltshire Air Ambulance is such a marvellous organisation to support :)          

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Singing For Water

[caption id="attachment_6049" align="aligncenter" width="640"]At the morning's rehearsal Sing for Water West - at the morning's rehearsal[/caption]

Blues skies and wall to wall sunshine met our choir of 1,000 voices all gathered for Sing for Water West in Bristol on Saturday. At least 39 community choirs were represented, with wonderful names like Sing Aloud, The Wiltshire Wailers (my choir - yay!) and Gasworks.

The geographical spread of choristers included Devon, Portsmouth, Abergavenny, Stroud and Birmingham, so we covered more than just the West! Everyone wore blues and greens to represent the watery theme of our fundraising and songs.

The hot sunshine meant we were soon queuing to top up our water supplies from the stand pipes provided - a neat reminder of why we had gathered to support WaterAid. Thankfully our water was clean, cool and available just a few yards away, not the dirty, tepid water often situated miles away from the billion people who have no choice but to use it.

You may be wondering from the above picture if anyone turned up to hear us. Well, I did spot Mark Charlton and his family amongst the crowd, but I was too busy singing away in the afternoon to take any pictures! However, the Bristol Evening Post were there to capture some of the atmosphere - the last picture in their gallery of 10 photos gives you a fair idea of the size of both the audience and choir :)

Two years ago, 850 of us sang and raised over £50,000 for WaterAid. Hopefully when all the monies are in and totted up, we'll have easily topped that figure after such an exhilarating day!

Update: Someone's asked who's reporting on this story - I can reveal it was yours truly, your Community Link-Up editor aka smithsnews :)

Cake and Drag News!

Swindon in Drag 2013 collage

On Saturday Rowan House's Jennifer Taylor and friends turned out in great numbers and a variety of outfits for Swindon in Drag 2013! The photos show they had a lot of fun and I'm sure the warm weather helped to make it a great evening out on the town.

And Jennifer's efforts to reach her £1,000 target for Cancer Research UK continue! She's bringing in cakes today and all donations in exchange for a cake are welcome :)

Monday, 8 July 2013

Swindon in Drag 2013

[caption id="attachment_6037" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Swindon in Drag 2012 A look back at 2012 - I wonder how things went on Saturday...[/caption]

By the time you read this, plenty of participants from Rowan House will have taken part in Saturday's Swindon in Drag event for 2013.

Just like last year, Jennifer Taylor is the organiser and sent us the above picture from last year as a trailer for this year's event. Sadly there wasn't time to bring you the news ahead of Saturday, but I'm sure Jennifer won't mind if I use her words to describe what was in store...

The time of year has come around again where me and my friends make fools of ourselves, dress up in clothing of the opposite gender, and attempt to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK :)

We’ve had some brilliant years previously but we’ve never managed to break the £1000 mark and we’re super determined to get there this year!! Any donation you can make via our Just Giving page will be hugely appreciated by myself and my friends. 

I also found out recently that someone from my past that had a huge influence on me as a teenager has recently died of cancer, so I’ll be dedicating my efforts to Stuart Holland, the man who gave me my first job at WHSmiths in Marlborough when I was 16! He even left me in charge of the store on Sundays when I was 17… brave man!

Thanks for your support!

I hope it went well Jennifer and you all had a fun evening raising pots of cash! 

Michael Joins Swim Britain

BJ56-eyCcAAR9xx (1) It's a while since we've heard what Michael Jamieson's up to, so I thought you'd like to know a little more about a major swimming initiative he's involved with :)

Swim Britain is a relay event which takes place in August and September. The idea is to get teams of four adults (all over 16 years of age) or a family (with up to three children aged 8 to 15) together to swim a 4,000 metre relay. Each team member swims 4 x 250 metre relay legs, which makes it very achievable for most swimmers.

This is a major Olympic legacy event which aims to get half a million of us swimming more regularly.

The relays take place in 10 venues around the UK (hence the differing dates), plus there's also the chance to sample an open water swimming experience in the lake at Blenheim Palace. This latter option is for adult teams only.

As well as the swim itself, there's also the opportunity to benefit from 4 x 30 minute swimming coaching sessions at a pool local to where you live. The Swim Britain website also has a set of 20 training sessions, plus nutrition advice and other top tips designed to take you from just 400 metres of easy swimming through to being more than capable of managing 1,000 metres.

Can't swim front crawl? Don't worry, there are top tips and training for swimming either front crawl or breaststroke, or a mixture of both.

Can't get to one of the 10 nominated pools? Then there's the DIY option, which means your team completes the relay on your own at a local pool. I think this option is also adaptable for solo swimmers wishing to take part in an 'unofficial' capacity. NB this option doesn't include coaching, but you can select to receive motivational emails from your favourite swimming star.

Can't get a team together? You can still sign-up to secure a place.

Think 4,000 metres is too far? Then the Little SwimBritain 2,000 metre option is perfect for those less confident in the pool.

And at least one lucky team will get Michael as their team member! NB other Olympic or Paralympic stars and David Walliams are available ;)

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Terri Gets Her Boots On

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200"]Part of the stone circle at Avebury Part of the stone circle at Avebury[/caption]

Not content with providing support for the Magnificent 7's successful completion of the National Three Peaks Challenge, now it's Terri Baylis's turn to put her trekking boots on!

This time she and her good friend Hayley Rogers are tackling a 40 mile walk along the Ridgeway on the weekend of 13th & 14th July.  They're setting off from Avebury in Wiltshire on Saturday and are set to finish in Streatley, Oxfordshire on Sunday.

Like the Magnificent 7, they're supporting the Joshua Flynn Fund. Their Just Giving page is here

Good luck Terri and Hayley!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Come, Listen to the Choir

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="320"]Sing for Water West at Bristol Harbourside Sing for Water West in 2009[/caption]

Bristol Harbourside is the place to be on Saturday afternoon (6th July 2013) when Sing for Water West comes to town!

A massed choir of 1,000 voices drawn from community choirs across the south-west will gather to perform watery themed songs to raise money for WaterAid.

Busking starts at lunchtime when the big choir splits into its individual ones to show off their own talents after the morning's rehearsal .

At 1pm, the Tropical Discovery Marquee opens for kids of all ages and then the singers assemble at 3pm for THE BIG SING! The song selection includes hits by Rihanna and Carly Simon, plus gospel, African and Georgian vibes.

At 4pm the WOMAD stage opens, with 3 world artists set to perform. To round things off Harbour cruises on The Matthew are available at 12pm, 1pm and 4.30pm.

Your blog's editor, plus Group Communications Director Mark Charlton's wife will be singing their socks off on the day! It's a wonderfully relaxed, family oriented event and it would be great to see you there!

If you're wondering what a choir of 1,000 sounds like, take a look at the video here from Sing for Water West in 2011. That was a choir of 850 - 1,000 will be awesome!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Walking the Wards

Walk the Wards

Rowan House's Claire Philips-High reports on her recent fundraising walk in the grounds of Wilton House for Salisbury hospital's Stars Appeal...

Ken 1 Cancer 0Walk for Wards was such a great experience and I’m still aching, I fear I am definitely unfit! My dad was really touched that we did the walk to raise money for the hospital that looked after him and it was fantastic to walk with the thousands of other fundraisers who also had their own personal reason for raising money for the charity. This year’s walk had the highest number of participants and enough money was raised to buy Salisbury hospital the much-needed CT scanner, which is just brilliant!

Wilton HouseI would most certainly do it again, the walk was actually really enjoyable and the grounds very beautiful, the organisers even put on a little buffet for the walkers afterwards which was so nice and definitely needed as we all worked up quite an appetite.

Thanks Claire - that buffet sounds like it was very welcome! Note that Claire sent in her report last week, so hopefully all the aches have disappeared by now :)