Monday, 28 October 2013
Steve Milner from Birmingham recently completed the Leicester Marathon in a time of 4 hours 20 minutes 13 seconds and finished 340th out of over 3000 runners.
He's raised over £400 so far, which will be going towards the Children's Cancer Unit at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
This is one of the specialist cancer units supported by the Teenage Cancer Trust. There are 27 of these located around the country, with 3 of them serving Birmingham. A further 9 are in development or refurbishment.
Another of the existing units is at The Christie in Manchester, a name which should be familiar to Community Link-Up readers already, via the cycling efforts of Steve Benson plus Lynn Henshaw, Mike Makinson and Tom Sheehy.
Friday, 25 October 2013
Congratulations - September's Link-Up fortnight was a great success!
With two flagship events held over consecutive weekends, much of the attention here on Community Link-Up was glued to the Paris to Swindon Bike Ride and then the Futsal tournament. Both events ensured we had the best day, week and month ever in terms of readers turning to this blog for news.
The sporting theme continued with Slough devising an event not mentioned before on the blog - a Wii tennis tournament! Newport and Instore/Worcester MSC also got into the 'swim' of things by taking part in the Swim Britain events in Cardiff and Bristol respectively.
Food was also a popular theme, with Bertrams, Peterborough, Rowan House, Stockport, and The Consortium all choosing to take part in the World's Biggest Coffee Morning (see here and here). NAC and BLS tooks things a whole stage further by having their very own Great Yorkshire Bake-Off competition! Borehamwood held a Food Day, with a variety of sweet and savoury treats on offer. Finally, Rowan House rounded off their quiz evening with a fish and chip supper.
Cross business Link-Ups also came to the fore, with new colleagues from Houtschild and Erasmus meeting up for our first Community Link-Up event held in the Netherlands. Members of the Graduate Scheme also ensured a corner of Swindon is a much better place to be with their gardening activities at the Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis.
We didn't have an official Community Week this year, so it was good to see the opportunity was taken for many Link-Up Fortnight events to have an additional fundraising or volunteering element. Over £2,000 was raised, as well as the money raised through the Paris to Swindon Bike Ride. Donations for the latter are still coming in, so we're not quite ready to reveal the final total yet.
With hundreds of you taking part and having lots of fun in the process, we can declare Link-Up Fortnight a huge success!
Thanks to everyone who organised an event or took part, and to all of you who tuned into the blog along the way :)
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
Photographer Kris Talikowski was on hand last month to take a set of superb shots at our Futsal tournament, so naturally we wanted to share some of them with you!
Everyone enjoyed Dan Magness showing off his world-class freestyle football skills!
Then it was onto the tournament itself. Let's sit back and enjoy the action...
[gallery type="slideshow" ids="7212,7242,7210,7213,7214,7215,7218,7216,7224,7222,7219,7223,7238,7225,7227,7229,7220,7230,7233,7231,7232,7221,7226,7217,7235,7228,7234,7236,7237,7239,7240,7241,7243,7211"]
And you can't beat a good buffet to round things off nicely!
Monday, 21 October 2013
He also picked up a silver medal in the men's 100m breaststroke - and this comes just a week after his World Cup double silver medal winning performances in Moscow.
Leading the qualifiers, he claimed gold by almost two seconds in a time of 2.06.68 minutes. Note, this was in a short-course pool of 25 metres, so does not beat the long-course British and Commonwealth record he set at last year's Olympics.
Michael's winning form bodes well as he'll be spearheading the European Allstars challenge for the Duel in the Pool against Team USA in Glasgow on December 20-21.
Friday, 18 October 2013
Community Week bike ride stalwart Martin Beach from Bertrams put his bicycle to one side for this year's Paris to Swindon event. However, he still had a major part to play, by accompanying the team to help out with the logistics side of things instead.
[caption id="attachment_7125" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The team on their way...[/caption]
He also had the opportunity to take plenty of photos of the team in action. It's been really hard to whittle his shots to those selected for the following slideshow. The quality of them all is excellent.
[caption id="attachment_7126" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Coming back to blighty...[/caption]
So settle down and enjoy a final flavour of this year's bike ride...
[gallery type="slideshow" ids="7128,7129,7130,7131,7132,7133,7134,7135,7136,7137,7138,7139,7141,7142,7143,7144,7145,7146,7147,7148,7149,7150,7153,7154,7156,7157,7158,7159,7160,7161,7162,7163,7164,7165,7166,7167,7168,7169,7170,7171,7172,7173,7174,7175,7176,7177,7178,7179,7180,7181,7182,7184,7185,7186,7183,7187"]
Thursday, 17 October 2013
Sadly, John Paice, one of our night drivers passed away on 26th August. He had been suffering from lung cancer for some time and had been off on sick leave since September 2012. He had expressed wishes for no flowers at his funeral. A staff collection was made and a donation of £140 to Macmillan nurses has been made.
Terry has also organised an annual golf event for the past 5 years in memory of his late father, who died 8 years ago. The event grows every year and this year's was the biggest yet...
This year, 73 golfers made up of family, friends & colleagues attended Surrey Downs Golf Club on Monday 9th September. 27 holes of golf & an evening presentation hosted by family friend Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris with his many football stories and comedian Mickey Pugh ensured that a good time was had by all. A raffle & number of auction items raised £400 for the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton. A further £120 was raised for the Stacey Mowle appeal by pre-selling ‘Mulligan’ golf shots for £5.00 each, before the main afternoon round commenced.
Thanks for the update Terry, and do send our best wishes to John Paice's family.
NB If you've organised an event recently which you'd like featured on Community Link-Up, we'd love to hear from you! Don't forget, there's an extra £20 donation for your good cause if you do.
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
His son, Tom Green was on the trip and wrote the following thank you letter on behalf of his school. Of special interest are the photos he included to illustrate the huge impact the donation will make, even though to us it might seem relatively small...
Their faces really lit up
I would just like to thank you for the generous donation of books for the Flegg High School trip to Kenya in July.
The books were shared between the primary schools we visited and, as you can see from the photos the classrooms are not very well equipped at all.
The children are very poor and were really pleased with the lovely books they received. Their faces really lit up when they realised there were enough books for all of them. We think this will have a real impact on their learning.
Once again, many thanks, it was really appreciated by both the children in Kenya and myself and my classmates
Monday, 14 October 2013
Following the success of their riders in this year's Paris to Swindon bike ride, we have an update from The Consortium on how their overall fundraising is going and how this is helping their chosen charity for 2013, West Wiltshire Special Needs Activity Scheme (WWSNAS).
Staff raised an amazing total of £3,734 before the ride and the cycling efforts of Matt James and Matt Redwood have added a further £295 so far. They aim to increase their contribution to £500.
Speaking about the bike ride, Matt James said:
“It was a fantastic experience like nothing else I have ever done, it was really challenging however the sense of achievement when we finished was incredible. I would gladly do it all again tomorrow if I had the chance.”
Each year, WWSNAS needs to raise £15,000 towards its operational costs, so The Consortium's efforts this year are making a significant difference.
The WWSNAS's activities includes a play scheme which runs for a two-week period during the summer holidays, giving vital support to children with special needs and their families.
This year, the scheme was able to offer 30 children in the Primary age group and 34 children in the Secondary age group at least one day on the scheme, with activities ranging from swimming and music therapy to a visit from the ‘Little Zoo’ and ‘Ticklish Allsorts’.
Gill Morris, the charity’s chair person said:
“All in all, this year was a very busy and enjoyable two weeks but without the 100 volunteers – many of whom come back year after year – as well as the co-ordinators, deputies and team leaders, we would not be able to run. We are very fortunate to have been chosen as The Consortium’s charity of the year for 2013.”
As well as WWSNAS, Matt James, Ian Webb and Matt Redwood are raising funds for Help for Heroes, Wiltshire Air Ambulance, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and CLIC. Their combined total raised so far for all their nominated charities is £3,573.50.
Future fundraising events in the pipeline for The Consortium include a Race Night and a Christmas Raffle, with all funds raised going to WWSNAS.
Friday, 11 October 2013
We have news of our fifth coffee morning in aid of Macmillan! Both The Consortium's Trowbridge and Shrewsbury locations made sure staff had a plentiful selection of cakes to choose from.
They raised £356, which brings the overall total raised by Smiths News for 2013's World's Biggest Coffee Morning to £1,385.90!
Thursday, 10 October 2013
[caption id="attachment_6984" align="alignleft" width="300"] Dave Attwood and Ryan[/caption]
The session followed the structure of a typical Stickability session, with both indoor reading and outdoor sporting activities, plus handing out the all important stickers!
Newly appointed Managing Director Glenn Leech and staff member Tina Lawes represented The Consortium's side of the partnership, and Vicky Heslop was there on behalf of Bath Rugby Foundation.
Two of Bath Rugby's playing stars - Dave Attwood and David Sisi - were special guests for the day to complete the Stickability lineup.
[caption id="attachment_6985" align="alignright" width="300"] David Sisi hands Tia her sticker[/caption]
Vicky Heslop, Education Manager at Bath Rugby Foundation said,
“We have piloted this programme in a variety of local schools and found that it really boosts children’s confidence, particularly for those who start off with the lowest levels of confidence. 72% of the 193 children in the pilot phase showed increased confidence scores, some with an enormous increase of over 30% in just six weeks.
We are delighted to have proven so far that this programme really works, but it would not have been possible without extraordinary support from The Consortium. In addition to fully funding the programme, they have also provided their staff as weekly volunteers to help deliver the programme. Over the first year of delivery, the volunteers will have provided around 400 hours of support and will have had a positive impact on the lives of around 800 local children.
[caption id="attachment_6986" align="alignleft" width="300"] Tina Lawes with the children[/caption]
In its first year, Stickability will have worked in 30 primary schools in a wide area of the South West spanning Bath and Swindon. Volunteers have come from across The Consortium and Smiths News Group. We have been particularly impressed that incoming Managing Director of The Consortium, Glenn Leech, has led the way by making time to volunteer weekly within days of taking up the role, and he has been able to see the impact on the children for himself."
[caption id="attachment_6982" align="alignright" width="300"] Glenn Leech with Tia[/caption]
Glenn Leech, Managing Director at The Consortium said,
“I am really proud of the support The Consortium has provided to the Bath Rugby Foundation, and am delighted to have been a part of such a fantastic programme. Stickability offers such benefits to the children and I believe it would be a positive intervention in any school.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Vicky and her team. They are truly inspirational and so skilled at engaging the children. I look forward to next year.”
Whilst this was the official launch, Stickability has already proved its worth. One pupil who took part in the pilot programme in a school in Swindon has autism and had always refused to participate in his school PE lessons. His involvement in the programme really helped to build his confidence. His school reports that after taking part in the programme, he happily took part in his first ever PE session in his four years at school. Most importantly, he absolutely loved it and the following week even asked if he could take part!
In total 30 schools from the south-west will be involved in the programme this year and spaces are still available. To nominate a school to take part, contact email@example.com.
Anyone from Smiths News in the south-west who wishes to volunteer on the Stickability programme should contact Claire Philips-High.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
[caption id="attachment_6949" align="alignright" width="225"] Message in the guest book[/caption]
27th September saw all the current and ex-participants of the Smiths News Graduate Scheme Link-Up to create raised flower beds and herb gardens for the Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis.
[caption id="attachment_6947" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Before... ... and After[/caption]
This is a local charity funded wholly by donations and fundraising and has been set up to provide alternative therapies to patients with chronic neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Cerebral Palsy.
They offer oxygen therapy treatments, physiotherapy, seated exercise classes for those with restricted movement, counselling services and much more. Many of the visitors to the Swindon Therapy Centre are not able to get out of their house unaided and as such they rely on a community transport service to bring them to the Centre.
The Centre provides them with an environment where they can relax, meet like-minded people with similar disabilities and benefit from some short-term improvements to their ongoing health struggles.
The team of eight - Ken Ingham, Anya Perry, Emma Allan, Fern Sandercock, Emma Wilkinson, Matt Watson, Chloe Richards, and Sam Lucas - spent the entire day at the Centre.
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They dug out and constructed raised flower beds to form part of a relaxation area for the users of the Centre and also planted shrubs and herbs to provide an attractive space. This will also give some of the Centre users the opportunity to get involved with some light gardening activities as a means to keep active within the constraints of their disability.
The results have gone down very well with the Centre, with the team receiving messages of thanks on the Centre's Facebook page and via several emails...
- Firstly, a general thank you:
"We couldn't be happier with our new front garden done for us today by Matt Watson, Ken Ingham, Sam Lucas, Chloe Richards, Emma Allan, Emma Wilkinson, Fern Sandercock and Anya Perry from Smiths News. It's such a lovely space turned from bare patio slabs into an enclosed little garden with flowers and herbs. THANK YOU :) :)"
- From the Therapy Centre's Facebook album of the day:
"Tremendous thanks to Matt Watson, Ken Ingham, Sam Lucas, Chloe Richards, Emma Allan, Emma Wilkinson, Fern Sandercock, and Anya Perry from Smiths News who spent a day digging, planting, building and painting to give us this amazing lovely front area.
Where we previously only had a couple of benches on a patio square we now have a charming enclosed space complete with bird feeder, flower bed and herb garden. They worked really hard all day to produce this for us and we hope they pop by again soon as we definitely owe them some drinks and cakes at least!
We hope all our members and visitors enjoy the garden for a long time to come :)"
"...thank you so much for doing our front garden, it looks absolutely great. I have had lots of lovely comments from people this week so will you please pass on my thanks to your team for doing such a fantastic job."
"Thank you and the team so much for everything Friday.
It’s been really nice for everyone here to come in for their usual Monday and be greeted with such a lovely front area.
I’ve got ambitious plans to see if we can do some form of winter event out there, perhaps some winter cooking using the herbs.. as its such a nice area. We’ll see about it.
The pictures that I took are up on our facebook [see specific links above - Ed] and there’s a bit going in our newsletter about the task as well."
Thanks to Sam Lucas for the above report and for sending lots of photos, which tell the story of the day so well.
Tuesday, 8 October 2013
Last Monday marked the final day of Link-Up fortnight, and seeing we've proved eating cake is a popular Smiths News activity, we have news of a fantastic event finale guaranteed to make you want some!
Once again the nation is drooling over the cakes, bread and pastries showcased in The Great British Bake-off. It formed the inspiration for NAC and BLS to go one better and Link-Up for the Great Yorkshire Bake-off :)
Just like its TV equivalent, the participants competed over several rounds - held between 20th and 30th September - and produced a variety of different baked goods. Around 90 staff took part in one way or another and Jackie Atkinson gives a great account of what happened...
[caption id="attachment_6909" align="aligncenter" width="640"] The second cake for your delectation and delight. Billionaire Bakers (Treasury Team) with their themed money bag cake made by Rhiannon Evans[/caption]
The judges had a great time tasting everything (!)
Over a 2 week period there were 4 rounds of baking, including biscuits, cup-cakes and pastries, culminating in a grand finale on Monday 30th September, which was the Team Themed Cake round.
5 teams entered the competition and a different person from the team entered their baking in each round.
[caption id="attachment_6910" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Pat-a-Cake (Publisher Accounts team) showing off their Publisher Accounts desk cake in which everyone in the team had a hand[/caption]
The 1st round was won by Pat-a-Cake with their delicious biscuits, which were hand decorated by every member of the team. The 2nd round saw the cupcakes from the Bakers with Attitude take first place with Billionaire Bakers and Bertie’s Big Buns also impressing the judges. Bakers with Attitude were up there again in the pastry round with some very tasty samosas. The Jamaican Patties entered by Bertie’s Big Buns and the Manchester Tarts entered by Pat-a-Cake were a very close joint 2nd.
[caption id="attachment_6911" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Winning ways: Dawsons Mighty Devils, (Dawsons AP team) Vicky Holdsworth, Mo Uddin and Chloe Webb with their very creative winning multinational themed cake[/caption]
In the grand finale round, the themed cakes, which were aimed at depicting the team that had baked and entered them, were fantastic. So much creative thought and effort had gone into them it was very difficult to choose a winner. The judges finally awarded joint first place to Bakers with Attitude and Dawsons Mighty Devils but the cakes from Pat-a Cake, Billionaire Bakers and Bertie’s Big Buns were also brilliant. Each team gave a short speech to explain how the cake reflected their team which was also a great way to learn more about the people in the other departments.
[caption id="attachment_6913" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Most appropriate seeing October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - Bertie’s Big Buns,(BLS) Linda Pearson and Michelle Pringle with their themed cake supporting Breast Cancer[/caption]
The overall joint winners of the full competition were Pat-a-Cake and Bakers with Attitude and their prize is funding towards a team building event of their choice.
The judges had a great time tasting everything that was entered and are now complaining about their waistlines – there is no pleasing some judges!
The competition between the teams and the enthusiasm amongst those involved was a real eye opener. Bringing the different teams at the NAC and BLS together for this challenge was great fun and we also raised over £120 for the Bradford and Airedale Cancer Support Centre in the process as the baking was all sold after the judging had finished.
Friday, 4 October 2013
We have news of our first international Link-Up Fortnight event!
Houtschild is based in Rijswijk - a suburb of The Hague - and their colleagues at Erasmus are located in Amsterdam [around 60 kilometres aka 35 miles away - Ed].
An exchange of staff for the day seemed a good way for the two Dutch companies to get to know each other better. Houtschild's Yvonna Baalbergen has more...
[caption id="attachment_6924" align="alignright" width="197"] An informal gathering over lunch always goes down well[/caption]
An Eventful Day
The 26th of September was an eventful day for both of Bertram’s Dutch companies.
For the September Link-Up Houtschild hosted a tour of their offices and an in-house lunch for the five delegates from Erasmus.
Five of the Houtschild team were welcomed in Amsterdam for a tour of the Erasmus set-up and lunch in the city.
[caption id="attachment_6926" align="alignleft" width="248"] Meanwhile in Amsterdam...[/caption]
The teams were able to get an insight in the procedures used at each of the locations. As both of the businesses are quite similar, it was very inspirational to have a look behind the scenes and share work experience and ideas.
[caption id="attachment_6928" align="alignright" width="170"] A day well spent :)[/caption]
Thursday, 3 October 2013
We have news of our second Swim Britain team participants - from InStore/Worcester MSC, who following our gallant trailblazers from Newport, took part in Saturday's event in Bristol! In what must have been a very busy weekend for Laura Morris - she also played in Sunday's Futsal tournament - she's finally managed to pause for breath to bring us news of Team Pastel's venture into the pool...
Swim Britain 2013 – Bristol Hengrove Park Leisure Centre
Last weekend marked the final of the Swim Britain events and, as Ambassadors of Swim Britain, both Michael Jamieson and Mark Foster were there to support everyone taking part.
There were 15 teams in total, most of them either professional swimmers or strong swimmers at least. Jackie Jamieson also took part in a team with her daughter and even had a professional triathlete on board!
Everyone swam really well - Team Pastel came 12th overall, but we were really proud of our achievements – we swam over 1000m each! Highlights were meeting Mark Foster and getting our t-shirts signed, and of course having our medals presented by Michael Jamieson :) Needless to say, his team swam extremely fast and were finished in no time!
Team Pastel are raising money for The British Heart Foundation.
British Gas Swimming have some excellent photos from all the Swim Britain events on their Facebook Page which give a good flavour of all the goings on. The set from Cardiff has plenty of photos of our Newport team - poolside with their supporters, during the warm up and in the water!
If you take a peek at the Bristol set of photos you can play 'Spot InStore's Jackie Jamieson', as well as seeing more of Team Pastel ;)
It's great to see so many smiling faces at both the Cardiff and Bristol events.
Tuesday, 1 October 2013
At last we have the news you've been waiting for, how everyone fared in the Futsal tournament! Laura Morris - our very own "Match of the Day" reporter and Futsal team player - gives us the insider's view of the day's events...
Last Sunday 26 teams from across the Group took part in our first ever Community Link-Up Futsal Tournament.
The day was a huge success, with teams getting very competitive to get through their Group stages!
The semi-finals were really exciting, with Team JB drawing 3-3 against The Conslaughter ‘Em and narrowly missing out on a penalty shoot-out. Borehamwood’s BG1 were the victors of their semi, meaning it was a Smiths News vs The Consortium final. After a close match, The Consortium proved themselves the better team and took the Group Futsal Tournament 2013 title.[caption id="attachment_6896" align="alignright" width="300"] The Bend It Like Beckham Girls![/caption]
The all-girls team from Rowan House – ‘Bend It Like Beckham Girls’ – weren’t quite as fortunate, but they had lots of support from the other teams. Desperate to get off the mark, Laura Morris managed to put one in the back of the net for the girls in their last game!
Jon Bunting hosted the event and said:
‘It was a really competitive but fun day, and brilliant to see so many colleagues Linking–Up from across the Group.’
There were several trophies awarded at the end of the tournament:[caption id="attachment_6897" align="alignright" width="300"] The runners up - BG1[/caption]
Winning team: The Conslaughter 'Em (The Consortium)
Runners Up: BG1 (SN, Borehamwood)
Best Dressed Team: Bend It Like Beckham Girls (Rowan House) for their pink t-shirts
Most Competitive Team: The Misfits (Rowan House) – some very competitive play was reported by the referees!
Best Team Name: Twilightfully Good (SN, Birmingham)
Fair Play Award: The Smiths Destroyers (SN, Peterborough) – for their positive attitude and perseverance, they conceded 33 goals and scored 1 in Group stages!
Golden Boot: Team JB (Rowan House) – this was for most goals scored in Group stages.
Congratulations to The Conslaughter 'Em! Now, who's going to take them on next year? Start training now!