Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sam's Off to MoonWalk

[caption id="attachment_7374" align="alignright" width="230"]Photo of Sam pre-moonwalk Sam - pre-MoonWalk[/caption]

We have our first MoonWalker!

Sam Lucas, a graduate trainee at Rowan House is putting her best feet forward next May to take part in this colourful and demanding event. Now it's over to Sam to tell you about the walk and why she has decided to take part...

On Saturday May 10th 2014 I will be taking part in the London Moonwalk to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer related charities. This is a 26.2mile power walk through the streets of London, with all participants wearing brightly decorated bras to show their support for the cause.

The MoonWalk is in its 13th year and has so far raised over £72million which has funded large scale research projects to help fight cancer, supported integrated care provision for cancer patients, helped contribute to new hospital operating facilities and so much more.

WalkTheWalk [who organise the MoonWalk - Ed] is a grant making charity and the funds raised are donated to charities, hospitals and research projects all over the UK including: The Christie in Manchester, FACT Cancer Support in the North East, Helen Rollason Cancer Charity in the South East, Maggie's Centres in Scotland and many more.

I chose to take part in the MoonWalk for a number of reasons: 

  1. To join thousands of others in raising money for such an important cause.

  2. As a personal challenge - I don't think my little legs will know what's hit them after 8 hours of power walking (I'm sure I must be taking twice as many steps as everyone else!!)

  3. Walking around London in a nicely decorated bra seemed like a pretty good way to spend a Saturday evening!

I am not the most ‘athletically minded’ and have never done an event of this nature so if anyone has any words of wisdom to share in preparation for some long walks ahead – please send them my way!

I have set myself a target of raising £500, so every donation will be greatly appreciated.

If you would like to make a donation, please click on the link to my donation site.

Thank you very much for your support. Photo to follow upon completion!

Good luck Sam and I'm sure the distance walkers we've featured here on Community Link-Up will have plenty hints and tips to help you on your way. I hope this post garners plenty of donations for you to take you through your paces during training!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Bring Out Your Festive Jumpers!

Christmas snowman jumperSave the date! December 13th is Christmas Jumper Day!

Ron Weasley's mum was famous for her knitted Christmas jumpers in the Harry Potter books; maybe someone in your family has the same claim to fame? If so, it's time to search those cupboards and bring out your festive jumper stash!

Or perhaps you preferred Sarah Lund's stylish jumpers in The Killing and have one of your own like this one. No problem, that counts too!

It's all a bit of fun to raise some festive cash for Save the Children.

Who can take part?

NB This is a general blog post available to everyone in Smiths News,  so do check whether your location is taking part first. If it is, and you don't have any customer-facing meetings planned, then we're asking for a donation of £1 to take part.

OK, I'm in, but I don't have a Christmas jumper :(

That's no problem, you could buy, borrow or decorate one!

Mini jumpers by Debbie BlissSweater style knows no limits, so why not get creative and decorate your own glitzy knitwear with tinsel, stars, baubles and snowflakes?

Deramores are Save the Children's partner wool supplier* - they also have plenty of freebie knitted and crochet decoration ideas to make your jumper festive. So far there are patterns for puddings, a holly garland, robins, stockings, bears and snowflakes with more to come.

The Save the Children website also has a downloadable mini jumper pattern created by Debbie Bliss, which you could add to your clothing as your cheeky contribution to the day!

This is a fun idea suitable for lots of locations to join in. Don't forget to send us your photos!

Or make your own

A festive jumper isn't just for Christmas Jumper Day! If you're looking for a longer term project and like the look of the snowman sweater featured at the top of this post, then you'll also find a link to the downloadable pattern on the Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day website.

The Deramores website has a selection of other festive designs for an alternative to the snowman jumper e.g. snowflakes.

* = Throughout November Deramores are also donating 50p to Save the Children where any order includes one ball of sirdar wool.

Friday, 22 November 2013

A Week For Children in Need

[caption id="attachment_7346" align="alignleft" width="300"]Children In Need Feel the object NAC and BLS staff had their own version of a "bush tucker trial" with the Feel the Object competition[/caption]

For Children In Need, the NAC held a number of activities which raised almost £180.00 for the charity. As usual, BLS also took part in the fun!

Tina Cronin, Jackie Atkinson, Andrea Briggs, Vicky Rhodes put their thinking caps on to devise a whole week of activities from 11th to 15th November. Jackie reports:

"Tina organised a name the bear competition which raised £60, a great start.

As well as a fun quiz on Friday afternoon, Jackie organised a guess the toddler photo competition which raised some laughs. It’s amazing how you can see features in photographs that you can recognise in people 50 years later.

Andrea had great fun in putting together a feel the objects competition for staff to take part in on Friday afternoon. All the objects were either food or from the kitchen, including things like coconut, tomatoes, radishes and Weetabix. It was very amusing to watch the horror on people’s faces as they put their hands into the unknown boxes and the relief when they realised the contents weren’t alive.

As always we had a few food activities as well, Mo Uddin brought us some of his home-made curries and starters to buy for lunch whilst Mumtaz Sultan kindly brought in some of her home baking for us to sample as well. Both were very much appreciated by the always hungry NAC staff and of course helped towards our overall fundraising total as well."

Fantastic news, thanks Jackie. That makes a combined total (along with Monday's report) of £549.37.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

All the Fun of Children in Need

OK, so we've had the build-up to last week's Children in Need, so how did everyone get on?

First up is Rowan House...

[caption id="attachment_7333" align="alignleft" width="300"]Children in Need Rowan House trolley photo l-r: Sam Marlow, Kayla Watts (donning Pudsey ears!), Laura Morris, Jennifer Taylor, Jade Cholod[/caption]

Laura Morris said:

"We had a great selection of homemade sweets, cakes, cookies and truffles on offer - we did a trolley dash around both floors of the office so people didn't even need to get out of their seats :)"

Just like their trolley, the total raised is a bit of a moveable feast. The latest update we have is £168.62!

Next, we have the first of two reports hailing from Borehamwood: NNSC to be precise for the first...


...they had a pyjama day which was one of this year's fun activities suggested for all Children in Need participants.

I see we have an "elephant in the room" to rival the Tigger onesie Richard Osman was wearing on Friday's edition of Pointless!

The total raised was a nifty £80.

... and last but not least Kelly Carey from Smiths News Borehamwood completes our round-up...

Children in Need Borehamwood collage

... "our staff made Poppadums, Samosas, Onion Bhajis, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Brownies and lots of other delightful things. We charged £2 a plate and raised £80.

We also took part in playing “Guess what song Pudsey and Gary sang live in concert” we charged £2 a guess and £30 went to Children in Need and £30 went to the winner.

Altogether Borehamwood Group raised a total of £121."

That makes a grand total of £369.62 - great stuff!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Nic Tries a Double Link-Up

IW Combined Charities Fair 2013 002Last Monday, Nic Hewlett of Rowan House swapped her desk in Swindon for a day at the Inner Wheel combined charity event in Cirencester.

She managed to combine two Community Link-Up elements by linking together fundraising and volunteering when she applied for her day's Volunteer Time. As you can see (to the left of the picture), her role for the day was helping out on one of the many stalls.

IW Combined Charities Fair 2013 001 - CopyThe money raised on the day - £234 - will go towards the many charities - both local and further afield - supported by Cirencester's Inner Wheel, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2013.

Nic's fundraising - and Smiths News - were celebrated in the Inner Wheel's national magazine this summer when her fellow member Liz Tovey reported on her receiving Smiths News's Community Champion of the Year award last year. Said Liz:

"Nic our youngest member - and the first with no ties to Rotary - joined us two and a half years ago and is already on the committee, showing a great enthusiasm and totally 'being a friend'.

Well done Nic, we are all very proud of your achievement."

And so are we!

Update: This is post number 500 on the blog! Many thanks to all of you who've contributed news for us to publish over the past three years :D

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ahoy Children in Need!

[caption id="attachment_7308" align="alignright" width="300"]Children in Need Gingerbread Men Pudsey says 'Hurrah!' :)[/caption]

We have news of another virtual Link-Up!

Following last week's Children in Need preview, Newport, Rowan House and The Consortium have all been in touch with news on how they're taking part this year.

Newport's Judy Read says:

"It will be cakes / bacon rolls on Thursday and we are going to be wearing hats for the day – the sillier the better.  We will be charging 50p to wear a hat but fining people £2.00 if they don’t join in!"

...and this from The Consortium's Joanne Kent:

"We are having a Children in Need day with people invited to come in wearing spotty clothes and bringing teddies in."

... and I hear there's a sweetie stall at Rowan House with home-made honeycomb. Save some for me!

We're standing by to take on board all the pictorial evidence and news on the amount raised. If your location is also taking part, grab that camera phone now and add your news and pics! Pudsey gets an extra £20 if you do so :)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Children in Need Ahead!

pudsey stickersNext Friday (15th November 2013), the UK will explode in a frenzy of Pudsey bears as this year's Children in Need is upon us!

Last year Newport decided to support this event and we'd love to hear from any location taking part in 2013.

Stuck for ideas?

[caption id="attachment_4399" align="alignleft" width="300"]Pudsey Cupcake anyone? Mmm - Pudsey Cupcake anyone?[/caption]

The Children in Need website has a downloadable workplace fundraising pack, plus plenty of other downloadable ideas and resources for you to use.

Remember, there's an additional £20 donation up for grabs for any fundraising stories/pictures featured - about Children in Need or otherwise - here on Community Link-Up.

Simply complete the Publicity Form and send us your pics!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Michael's Blog - Busy, Busy Busy...

Apologies for the delay in the blog – I’ve had a busy few months and plenty of news to fill you in on!

I have a wee house! I’ve managed to get myself on the property ladder in Bath with some lovely scenery and of course just a few miles from my other home - the pool. Moving house is an enjoyable but hugely stressful experience. I’ve found myself losing entire days to completing fairly trivial tasks like navigating the DVLA website to change my mailing address and deciding on which colour my cereal bowls should be.

[caption id="attachment_6882" align="alignright" width="300"]Michael With Team Pastel Michael with InStore's Team Pastel[/caption]

Last month I took part in the Swim Britain Bristol event; a relay challenge in teams of four in the hope of boosting participation numbers in the sport around the UK. I haven’t swum with my mum since I was a kid and I was impressed with her breaststroke skills. Watching my sister, Lauren, however was a different story and I thought at one stage I would have to jump in! I did advise her to do some training before the event ;)

The InStore team were strong too and congratulations to Laura, Lisa, Sam and Sophie for completing the event in some impressive times.

In between settling into the new house, I’ve been competing at the World Cup circuit; a series of 8 competitions in 8 different countries around the world from August – November. Most recently I competed in Moscow, Dubai & Doha with some encouraging results. It’s not often I get to stand atop the podium but I managed to do so in Dubai and Doha after collecting a few more Silvers (shock) at the earlier stage. My results there have given me a nice boost of confidence after a difficult finish to last season and things are back on track.

Singapore, Tokyo and Beijing are the last 3 destinations on the circuit which will start next week. I’m looking to build on the results from last month and continue to build confidence in the lead up to the European Championships in Denmark early December, followed by the Duel in the Pool meet – Europe vs USA just before Christmas in Glasgow.

An exciting few months of racing is lined up. Travelling is one of the great perks of the job. Visiting places like Moscow, Tokyo and Beijing is a great experience and one which I may not have had, if it wasn’t for swimming.

The World Cup circuit is acting as a tough travel and racing schedule for me in preparation for the Europeans and Duel meet. The European Champs is another opportunity for me to challenge the best in the world and another race with some great rivals including Daniel Gyurta – the Hungarian swimmer that has dominated the 200m Breaststroke in recent years.

These competitions are all key markers in the race to Glasgow 2014 – the biggest race of my career. I’m training harder than ever and doing everything I can to stay fit and healthy for the trials event next April and the Games themselves in July 2014.

Thanks for your continued support.

…if anyone is in the area, feel free to stop by for a cuppa!

Thanks for your update Michael - we were so pleased to see you strike gold in the World Cup races! Team Pastel were also thrilled to meet you at Swim Britain in Bristol :)

Good luck for the next set of World Cup competitions, the Europeans and the Duel in the Pool, your busy schedule looks set to continue!

NB Michael's too modest to mention he's a Games Ambassador for next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, alongside Jessica Ennis-Hill and Nicola Adams :D

Monday, 4 November 2013

Counting Steps to Aid Small Publishers

counting steps front coverHere at Smiths News we’re used to ensuring the printed word gets out on time on a daily basis. You may not know that Group Communications Director Mark Charlton has taken this one step further by becoming a published author.

His book Counting Steps was published last year and was nominated for Welsh Book of the Year. Not bad for a debut!

This week Cinnamon Press - the book’s publisher  - are offering Kindle readers the opportunity to read Mark’s book for free!

There are no gimmicks, no catches - just a free download instead of the usual £4.49. There's even an extract to read online.

Click here for free kindle download of Counting Steps, or forward this link to yourself, where you can do this later!

Next  week it will be at the bargain price of £1.59 and then it goes back up to £4.49.

Giving away free copies might seem counter intuitive, but it's an established, if costly, technique that publishers use to rise up the rankings - and the impact on later sales is evidently positive. It costs publishers a lot to do this...

Note: Mark has also donated all his royalties and tutoring fees to good causes such as the National Autistic Society.  For the past two years he’s also volunteered to tutor at the National Writers' Centre of Wales.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Paris to Swindon News


We have the latest fundraising news from the Paris to Swindon bike ride!

Between them the team have raised a total of...

... drumroll...

£23, 243.49!!!!!!!

Sponsorship is still coming in, so we may yet see the magic total of £25,000 raised from this flagship event. If you haven't done so already, then the team page has all the necessary links for you to support the cyclist or charity of your choice. Let's make all those sore muscles and tired legs really worthwhile!

Update 5th December 2013: the magic £25,000 has been reached! We have a record for the total raised via our bike rides of...

£25, 626.74!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NB Cyclists: If you have received any offline donations, you can update your donation page to reflect the full picture of your fundraising efforts.

We're preparing a fundraising special, which will have lots of good news about everyone's efforts this year. Keep your eyes peeled!