Happy Easter!

A look back to previous Easters on Community Link-Up

A look back to previous Easters on Community Link-Up

Around 90 million Easter eggs are sold in this country every year, so this post is to wish you a good break and here’s hoping that you get your fair share of the goodies!


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Anne’s Surprise Marathon

Anne parnell London marathon running gearAnne Parnell from The Consortium is a keen fun runner, who 4 months ago never dreamed she would find herself running in Sunday’s London Marathon. She tells us how it came about… 

I have been a ‘fun’ runner for quite some years doing just enough so I can have the odd guilt free doughnut or glass or wine. I have always been in awe of people who run marathons but didn’t think I was capable.

Elizabeth Fitzroy offered a place at this years London Marathon to my running club. I entered the ballot because I wanted to support the charity, not expecting for one minute to get the place. Getting selected was a mixture of excitement and terror having not even run a 10k for over 4 years.  I will be 50 this year. What a great way to mark my half century!

Elizabeth Fitzroy transform the lives of adults with learning disabilities, helping them live more independently at home and in the community.

When I was about 12/13 I volunteered at Whitegates, one of the homes run by Elizabeth Fitzroy charity, as part of a Girl Guide badge. Since then I have done some much in my life, married, had children, moved away, travelled the world. I am now living back near Whitegates and I see that some of the people I met all those years ago are still at the home. They are so dependent on charitable donations and I am proud to be running for them.

Not only is Anne proud to run for Elizabeth Fitzroy, they’re very proud of her too! Here’s what they tweeted yesterday:

Anne has raised £695 so far. Her JustGiving page is still open for more…

Posted in Charity Fundraising, London Marathon, Running, Sport | Leave a comment

A New Page and Updated FAQs

Lots of you are keen to volunteer this year, but have asked for some further ideas for what you could actually do. So if DASH, NewstrAid, Stickability or the Young Readers Programme aren’t for you…

…Tah dah! We’re proud to reveal our new Volunteer Resources Page today! This page is designed to help you find an organisation you’d like to support and/or match your skills and favourite activities to where they can make a real difference.

We’ve also expanded the FAQs Page to embrace all aspects of Community Link-Up with the questions you’ve been asking us over the past year or so.

If you have any ideas or information to help expand the Volunteer Resources Page, or have a question you feel should be answered on the FAQs page, please contact Laura Morris.

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Colleague Link-Up, Community Volunteering, News | Leave a comment

Make a DASH to Swindon Wildflower Nursery

Cowslips - aka Primula veris - looking fabulous in a housing estate setting

Cowslips – aka Primula veris – looking great in a housing estate setting

Whilst researching Tuesday’s story about DASH, we noticed it’s Swindon Wildflower Nursery’s first open Sunday for this year on April 13th. Anyone who watched Countryfile last weekend knows there’s a major push to increase the amount of wildflowers in the UK. Visiting the nursery on Sunday looks a great way to take part in this initiative and support a local charity :)

The Nursery was set up by DASH in 2008 to help raise funds to support its work in providing services for adults with high-functioning autism and Aspergers syndrome. For adults with Aspergers it also offers a peaceful environment in which to work, which helps reduce anxiety and build their confidence. As well as selling wildflower plants, seeds from the stock of wildflowers are collected to create wedding favours.

Opening times are from 11am to 4pm and there is a small admission charge. If you can’t make it on Sunday, further open days are held in May, June and July, plus the nursery also opens on Wednesday mornings after Easter. See the website for full details.

Swindon Wildflower Nursery is based within TWIGS Community Gardens. This is on the site of Manor Garden Centre -  located through the car park of the Garden Centre to the right.


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Let’s Give Josh a Hand

Whizz-Kidz logoIn February Josh Nichols told us about his plans to run the London Marathon. Training hasn’t gone well, but he’s still planning to run as he explains below. Can we all give Josh a huge helping hand, by showing our support for his efforts?

On Sunday 13th April I am hoping that I will have just about finished the London Marathon 2014. I was wondering whether I might be able to count on your support to help me cover the distance.

I consider myself very fortunate to have secured a space through Smiths News at the end of December 2013 to run for one of our corporate charities Whizz-Kidz.

Whizz-Kidz is a truly fantastic organisation that aims to give disabled children the chance to lead active and fun childhoods. The charity provide mobility equipment, wheelchair skills training; drama, sports and music clubs, and work placements.

Training was going extremely well until I damaged my ankle ligaments in a nasty challenge playing Sunday Football. I have been told to rest it for four weeks but as I am running for a mobility charity, I see the irony and am committed to completing the distance no matter how long it takes me.

What I am concerned about is that I do not want to let one of our corporate charities down by failing to meet my £1,600 financial target. I know that this day and age people are always asking for money but I was wondering as a fellow employee whether you would be able to help me out with a small donation as it is a really worthy cause?

Posted in Charity Fundraising, London Marathon, Running, Sport | 1 Comment

Celebrating “It’s OK to be Different”

at the Its OK to be different photo exhibition in Swindon

Laura Morris (back) with Chloe Grubb and her beautiful photographs

Laura Morris was delighted to represent Rowan House and Smiths News Group when she officially opened a photography exhibition at West Swindon Library.

This was in support of local charity DASH who were keen to deliver the message ‘It’s OK to be different’ for last week’s World Autism Awareness Day. The exhibition showcased the creative talents and photography skills of young adults with Aspergers.

Staff at Rowan House have been working alongside DASH for the last couple of years, by getting involved in projects at DASH’s Wildflower Nursery and helping out at their local allotments.

This year several members of staff – including Laura and also Mark Silver – will be helping DASH with projects for 2014, including business planning, marketing and securing fundraising events.

Anne Billingham, secretary of DASH, said:

“Smiths News stepped in just when we needed help in many different ways – by supporting DASH services, they are helping people with Aspergers in Swindon enjoy safer, healthier, more sociable, more productive and happier lives.”

April is autism awareness month. How about joining Laura and Mark to help DASH achieve their goals? It could be a great way of using your Volunteer Time :)

Posted in Charity Focus, Community Volunteering, DASH, Volunteer Time | 1 Comment

Slough Join the Race for Life

Slough Race for Life Team Photo

Last year’s team photo

The Slough girls are at it again!!

Just like last year, they are putting together a team to run their local Race for Life’s 5 kilometre event on May 10th in support of Cancer Research. Their JustGiving Page has the imaginative name “Slough-Blister-Sisters”. ;)

This year’s team comprises: Alicia Alexander, Shefali Patel, Kamlesh Dass, Amy Pollard, Agneiska Jermak, Justyna Sztuk and Sylwia Milarska.

Good luck everyone!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Race for Life, Running, Sport | 1 Comment

Michelle Walks in a Stately Fashion

Walk at Blickling Hall to raise money for GOSH Bertrams‘ Michelle Ward has been in touch to tell us about her activities last weekend. Just like last year, she and her son Kieran plus a number of other families – who’ve all benefited from the specialist care Great Ormond Street Hospital has to offer – took part in a sponsored walk at a local stately home…

“On Saturday 29th March I did a 2¼ mile walk at Blickling Hall with my little boy who is 3 and about 20 other families to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The reason we did the walk again this year for the charity is to give as much money back to the Great Ormond Street Hospital as we can for the care they gave my little boy in 2012 when we spent 3 weeks in hospital having 2 open heart operations.

He is still under the care of the hospital and has 6 monthly checkups as he has got a leaky aortic valve that will need replacing sometime in his life.  So far I have been able to raise £321.

We invited the EDP along to the walk and we had an article printed in the newspaper.”

Thanks Michelle – Kieran looks very fetching and it’s great to see you’ve already raised more than the amount you reported last year :)

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Cuttings, Sport, Walking | 1 Comment

Rolf Gets Snorkelling

Our latest muddy challenge involves snorkelling and a world championship!

On 24th August Llanwrtyd Wells hosts its 29th World Bog Snorkelling Championships. This event welcomes competitors from as far afield as Canada and Australia as well as from all over the UK. It promises to be a gruelling event to match all the extreme obstacle races and endurance events we’ve reported on so far this year.

Competitors need to complete 2 lengths of a water filled trench cut through a peat bog whilst wearing snorkels and flippers. An added twist is conventional swimming strokes are banned, so entrants rely on flipper power alone.

New Comms team member Rolf Palio has set his sights on bringing glory to Rowan House by winning the championship at his first attempt. Training is going well so far. Says Rolf:

“Putting in the training miles isn’t a problem as I’m a member of my local pool in Swindon, but getting used to the conditions I’ll be meeting in Wales is proving a challenge. My best attempt so far was when I added a couple of large bags of multipurpose compost to my weekly bath. At last I’m getting the measure of the reduced visibility I’ll experience In August!”

Looking forward to your next update Rolf  - and some pictures ;)

Posted in Sport, Unusual Ideas | 2 Comments

Fun Activities at the NAC

The AP team dressed in their finest sports gear

The AP team dressed in their finest sports gear

We complete our coverage from this year’s Sport Relief with Jackie Atkinson’s report from the NAC. They decided to arrange a number of fun activities - from 20th to 25th March - roping in around 60 colleagues in the process…

Staff at the NAC in Bradford raised over £575 for Sport relief through a number of fun activities.

We held a Question of Sport Quiz as well as  Guess the Sport fan Colleague quiz, both of which were great fun and raised around £40 between them.

Natasha Thrams wins the football headers competition

Natasha Thrams wins the football headers competition

We also held a wii Olympic competition over a 4 day period with 24 staff taking part in canoeing, slalom, headers and table tennis to battle it out for the title of NAC wii Olympic Champion.  This raised a further £60.

Chloe Webb paddled her way to the top of the leader board in the canoeing, Natasha Thrams headed to the top of the football headers league, Tina Cronin skied her way to success in the slalom and Jackie Atkinson batted away the competition in the table tennis. At the end of the competition we had a medal ceremony (edible medals of course).

By far the biggest money raiser was the sponsored enemy shirt day when Tina Cronin, Andrea Briggs, Ryan Metcalfe, Natasha Thrams and Kate Otto all dressed up for money and raised around £250 in sponsorship.

Cheerleading 1. Sarah Hutton and Abigail Tong sort out Andrew’s makeup 2. Tammy Dunne, Andrew Stone and Vicki Guy after their cheerleading routine

The cheerleading routine 1. Sarah Hutton and Abigail Tong sort out Andrew’s makeup 2. Tammy Dunne, Andrew Stone and Vicki Guy after their cheerleading routine

Other staff came dressed in their favourite sporting outfit.  The most entertaining event of all was provided by Vicki Guy and Tammy Dunne who were sponsored to do a cheerleading routine for us all in their bright red and white cheer leading outfits, bought especially for the day.   They were joined by Andrew Stone in his home made outfit, made out of paper table cloths in just one hour by Anita Shaw and Jackie Atkinson with Sarah Hutton and Abigail Tong completing the look by doing his makeup and nails.  BLS joined in the sponsorship and they raised almost £100 with their very special routine.

Chloe collects her silver medal for the canoeing

Chloe collects her silver medal for the canoeing

A further £100 was raised with a baking sale and raffle organised by Mumtaz Sultan.  So we had a fun few days and are over the moon with the amount of money raised by such simple events.

Thanks for your report Jackie! It looks like everyone had a lot of fun :)

I love that party ring medal – I wonder how long it lasted before it got eaten?

Posted in Appearance, Charity Fundraising, Dress Up/Down Days, Flagship Fundraiser, Food and Drink, Sport Relief, Tournaments