Volunteer Time in Windsor Great Park

Flyer for WINGS 2014We have news of another great Volunteer Time activity! Kevin Birchmore, Head of Technology at Dawsons will be swapping his desk for life under canvas next week.

He’s helping out at WINGS (Windsor & Eton International Guide and Scout camp) who are camping out in Windsor Great Park from this Saturday until the 9th of August. Kevin says in his Volunteer Time application form:

“The camp is supported jointly by the Scout Association and the Guide Association. The young people at the camp are from 20+ countries across the world, and will be enjoying a range of activities and experiences.

I will be part of the Security and Welfare team, supporting the running of the camp”.

Sounds like a great event – Kevin is one of 800 staff who will be making WINGS happen this year :)

Posted in Community Volunteering, Volunteer Case Studies, Volunteer Time | Leave a comment

From Source to Sauce: The Slideshow

Source of the River Severn Following last week’s Mission Complete post, we thought you’d like to add some more sauce to your day! So here are some more pictures from Luke Simons’s From Source to Sauce adventures.

Last time we looked, Luke’s Virgin Money Giving page showed a magnificent £2,578 raised. Well done!

As this was a very special event which took several days to complete and involved lots of people to make it happen, we thought it deserved its very own slideshow.

NB – Canoeing on the river looks the perfect activity for this hot weather we’re having!

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Here’s a final name check for everyone who helped to make this event happen:

The team:

  • Steven Grantham
  • Chris Hayward
  • Luke Simons

The support team:

  • Lee Meredith – Driving, tents, support
  • Lisa Marshall – Driving, tents, support
  • Joanne Simons – Tents, support, evening party support
  • Mitchell Winwood – Driving, tents, support
  • Ria Simons – Evening party support
  • Sophie Morris – Dragon boat racing and party support
  • Laura Morris – Dragon boat racing and party support
  • Matt Mandrell – Canoe instructor extraordinaire
  • Worcester Dragons – amazing support provided for our final leg
  • Lee West and Ridgeway Tourers for kindly supporting with the use of a van for the weekend
  • The Old Rectifying House – Matt and Ali – support for the party night
Posted in Canoeing, Charity Fundraising, Cycling, Dragon Boat Racing, Sport, Team Events, Unusual Ideas, Walking | Leave a comment

Fiona’s Guatemala Bound

Fiona DixonFiona Dixon, Credit Control Supervisor at the NAC has an exciting trip ahead of her!

She sponsors a little girl called Maria (age 10) in Guatemala and now has the opportunity to visit her and her family in September.

The trip is organised by Adopt A Child and Living Water International. Together these 2 charities have created 8 projects in Guatemala (and 7 in Albania) to help poor/vulnerable children to receive schooling, healthcare, a hot meal and bible study on approximately 3 days a week.

Adopt A Child supports 11,000 children and their families in this way and Fiona also has the  opportunity to visit all 8 projects during her  stay in Guatemala.

On her JustGiving page Fiona says:

Jocotenango Programme

Jocotenango Programme

“I will meet my adopted “God-daughter” for the first time and will be taking lots of presents for her and her family. This is an experience in itself that I am thoroughly excited about! I will also spend time with other children and staff in all of the programmes learning about their culture and needs so that I continue to raise awareness and funds for them when I return home.”

As well as fund raising for Adopt A Child, Fiona is also using her Volunteer Time allowance for her visit :)

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Community Volunteering, Volunteer Case Studies, Volunteer Time | Leave a comment

Who Will Be “The Biggest Loser”?

Dawson Books‘ Monika Fenicz has come up with a great way to Link-Up with some of her colleagues by creating a competition – ‘The Biggest Loser’. She takes up the story…

We started on Friday 4th July. I have brought scales to work and we all weigh ourselves. I keep a log of everyone’s results. To make it more interesting we have put money in, it’s only 50p each person each week. We have decided the finish day is the end of August, so we are going to do this for 8 weeks.

There are 11 people involved now, so the winning pot will be £44. To make it fair we are checking a weekly % of whole body loss, so everyone has a chance to win, even people who would like to lose only half a stone, because they weigh as much as Tesco Value chicken :)

I have also put together some rules, which everyone have to accepted before they joined in:

  •  Every week each person brings 50p for the winning pot
  • Whoever steps down from the competition is not allowed take money back
  • Feeding colleagues is prohibited
  • Bringing cakes, crisps and other treats is allowed as long as you don’t offer to your colleagues
  • Only water, teas and coffees (we all need some caffeine); no fizzy drinks and juices allowed
  • Minimum walk in office / home a day is 10 minutes
  • Full support to your colleagues appreciated

So we are ‘being good’ and we all have had some ups and downs. We keep telling each other what we had for tea after work, because that’s where we need to be the strongest. Some of us have started jogging, others use gym equipment others are just walking more.

It is great fun and we are doing well, though the numbers will show how well we’re really doing.

This was my idea because my health exams showed I have genetically small organs and to keep healthy I need to lose a lot of weight. It is awesome that the whole Dawson customer service team is involved because now it easier to say ‘No’ to morning tea with biscuits :)

Great to see you’re all giving each other such great support Monica, and here’s hoping seeing this article helps everyone to continue being good!

Posted in Appearance, Colleague Link-Up | Leave a comment

Jon’s Ride100

Staff at Connect Group have certainly got the cycling bug, as we have news of another employee – this time from Rowan House – saddling up for a sponsored bike ride.

Jon Harris, a Senior Engineer for Group IT, will be taking part in the RideLondon-Surrey 100 on 10 August, a 100-mile route through closed roads from the capital’s Queen Elizabeth Park and into Surrey’s stunning countryside.


Jon’s been in training for the ride in August

Jon is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and, although he has not directly been affected by cancer, he gave us the following message:

“I’m fortunate enough not to have lost someone to cancer, but this event to me is a way of fundraising money for the less fortunate who need care and support when dealing with the battle of cancer.

I have the pleasure of being part of the Macmillan cycle team and would appreciate any donations towards their great cause.”

To sponsor Jon, visit his Just Giving page or TXT JONH81 £1, £2 or £5 TO 70070

Good luck Jon!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Cycling, Sport | Leave a comment

Time to Volunteer?

Volunteer Time Heading logo

Fund-raising isn’t the only activity on Community Link-Up – we have some great examples of how our Volunteer Time policy allows our staff to help out in local projects.

Newcastle‘s Robert Giles applied for half a day’s Volunteer Time so he could help out at the 5th Jarrow Cub Scouts weekend camp at the end of June. His activities included helping to put up tents, fire lighting and backwoods cooking.

In his application Robert said the Scouts is the “biggest youth organisation in Britain, helping children and young adults reach their full potential”.

Lee Newbury from Rowan House is also taking time away from the office to help out at a local school. The children are having a ‘Bike It’ picnic and Lee is accompanying the children on their day out. And from September John Cullis, who also works at Head Office, will be helping students with their reading at a local Christian school.

Don’t forget you can apply for up to 5 days Volunteer Time per year as long as your line manager agrees. As you can see from what Robert said in his application, it’s not just fund-raising which helps to make a real difference, the gift of time is precious too.

Posted in Community Volunteering, Volunteer Case Studies, Volunteer Time | Leave a comment

From Source to Sauce – Mission Complete

Instore’s Luke Simons completed his Source to Sauce challenge on Sunday – he arrived at Worcester Severn Bridge amidst cheering and clapping, as friends and family (and a few spectators!) watched him dragonboating to the finish line.

Source to Sauce dragonboat

It was a close race, but we think Luke’s team won…!

Friends and family then gathered at a riverside pub to enjoy an evening of live music, food and a raffle – which raised an extra £400 for Luke’s charities St Richard’s Hospice and Acorn’s Children’s Hospce.

Luke was pretty tired and sore, but said:

“Source to Sauce challenge is now complete! It was a long 4 days walking, cycling and canoeing finishing yesterday with a dragon boat race and party for our family and friends. Thank you to everyone who took part, supported the trip, donated and provided raffle prizes. It really was a great effort by everyone involved. Once the dust has settled will let you know how much we raised and in the meantime you can still sponsor us (now we have actually achieved it). I feel very lucky to know so many great people, and that they helped make this happen. Thank you.”

At the Source

The lads at the Source of the River Severn

Day 2, Cycling

In the saddle for day two of the challenge – a 65 mile ride


Well done Luke, watch this space to find out how much Luke has raised and to see more photos of his epic journey!

Posted in Canoeing, Charity Fundraising, Cycling, Dragon Boat Racing, Sport, Team Events, Unusual Ideas, Walking | Leave a comment

From Dereham to Paris!

Last Monday we featured Dan Crockford’s From France to Boom and now Jamie Kent, also from Bertrams, has been in touch about his own cycling challenge!

Dereham to Paris

Jamie (third from left) and friends are gearing up for the ride

Jamie, a Financial Controller, takes up the story:

The ride that myself and five friends have planned is now upon us! We will set out from my hometown of Dereham on the 15th July, cycling just over 500 miles through southern England and Northern France with a final night stop over at Caudebec-les-Elbeuf (the town twinned with Dereham) before finishing in central Paris on the 19th July.

We are all new to road cycling, none of us owning road bikes until earlier this year, with us agreeing to this challenge over a few beers when wanting to raise money for the local MS society which has been a great support to one of the team when their wife was diagnosed with MS last year.

We’re aiming for £10,000 which is progressing reasonably well, although sponsorship will be raised through side events and manual sponsorship forms as well.

If you would like to support our ride and sponsor us to give much needed funds to the Dereham & District branch of the MS Society, you can donate via 3 options;

1) Just Giving Page – please visit www.justgiving.co.uk/Dereham2Paris2014

2) Just Giving Text Donation – Text AQUA55 followed by a fixed amount of either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070.

3) Manual written sponsorship form which I have on my desk.

Visit our Facebook page to track our progress.

Good luck Jamie and co!

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Cycling, Sport, Uncategorized

News from Bhutan and Bertrams

Megan Davies has been in touch with news of her adventures in Bhutan, plus those of herself and her Bertrams skydiving colleagues. As well as the thrills of skydiving, you may remember Megan was off to take part in the Global Limits Ultra Marathon last month. This was a small matter of a 200 kilometre run split into 6 stages.

So first up is a mini slideshow to give you a taste of Bhutan before Megan files her complete report…

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I still can’t quite believe I did it! It was truly the most amazing experience, I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I enjoyed every minute. Bhutan is beautiful, and the people I met were brilliant, I’ll definitely be seeing a lot of them again.

As for the skydive, unfortunately no record was broken, but I had so much fun. I would recommend anyone takes the opportunity to go skydiving, it’s a great feeling! I haven’t yet heard the total amount raised for the charity but I think it was over £10,000, which is fantastic.

Thanks Megan, Bhutan looks absolutely amazing! And well done to you and the rest of the team on raising so much from your skydiving exploits :)

Posted in Charity Fundraising, Endurance & Obstacle Races, Running, Sport, Unusual Ideas

Lynn’s Midnight Stroll

Last Saturday Lynn Henshaw from Smiths News Stockport was out on the town – but not like we might think…

Lynn, Jane and Saffi

When’s breakfast?! Lynn, Jane and Saffi the dog at the finish line.

While most of us were winding down for the evening, Lynn and her friend Jane were setting off on a 10 mile walk – at midnight!

The moonlit stroll took place around the streets of Oldham to raise money for Dr Kershaw’s Hospice, the charity that looked after Lynn’s husband whilst he was battling terminal cancer.

Lynn and Jane wore bright t-shirts and sparkly headbands, and were accompanied by Lynn’s trusty dog Saffi. You may recognise Saffi from an earlier post this year, as she completed the 32.5 mile TrekFest walk with Lynn and Tom Sheehy back in June.

Lynn told us: “We had a lovely night – the weather was fab and we did the 10 miles in 3 hours.”

And that’s not all!

Lynn is already planning her next challenge which will take place in August – a 50 mile bike ride around Loch Ness with fellow colleague Tom Sheehy.   

Phew – good luck with the training Lynn, we can’t wait to hear about your next adventure!

Posted in Appearance, Charity Fundraising, TrekFest 2014, Walking