Birds Hill Golf charity holes

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Community & Charity

Putting themselves firmly on course to raise a few eyebrows tomorrow afternoon (Friday 24th) will be Bird Hills Golf Centre general manager Michael Connelly and food and beverages manager Kemal Sen.

The plucky pair will be swapping the plus fours for something much smaller as they take to the greens wearing only mankinis.

Michael and Kemal will play the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th holes at the Maidenhead course in just the skimpy outerwear to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

As golf is largely played by men of a certain age it is unfortunately a common cancer that can affect many of these golfers, the aim of this is to draw attention that men need to be brave enough to get checked and deal with this head-on!

Everyone is welcome to come down and watch these two tee off at 3pm and then cheer them on as they come back off the 9th hole after about 45 minutess of being out there in the not so warm weather – temperatures are set to be around the 7-8 degree mark.

There will be a raffle in the bar afterwards. Everyone is welcome to swing by and chip in for the cause!

Donations

Follow the link to donate on Facebook

Snowdrop walk

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

Child Bereavement UK invites families to plant a snowdrop in memory of someone important at a special event at West Wycombe Park, West Wycombe.  

This annual event, which started in 2001, is a special day to remember babies and children who have died, and children who are bereaved each year.

Individual snowdrops will be on sale and a book of remembrance, donated by a bereaved family, will be available to sign.

There will be a children’s treasure hunt where children can explore the grounds before receiving a fun-filled goody bag at the end. Refreshments will be available at the finish, as well as cake and a tombola to enjoy.

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals both when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying and when a child is facing bereavement.

Join the walk at West Wycombe Park on Sunday, 2nd February, 10.30am to 4pm, last entry 3.30pm. Adults £3, under 16s & concessions £2, under 3s free.

Only guide dogs and hearing dogs are permitted within the grounds.

The Child Bereavement UK helpline team is available to take calls and respond to emails 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday on 0800 0288840 or email [email protected] 

More info

For more information about the Snowdrop Walk

Surrey Wildlife Trust hedgerows

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Community & Charity

Photo: Hedgehog – Jon Hawkins

Traditional hedge laying skills a lifeline for bees, bugs and butterflies

An ambitious new project by Surrey Wildlife Trust to inspire young people to connect with nature in the North Downs and Surrey Hills has received a £390,000 boost from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

By reconnecting people with the local landscape, the Trust hopes to prevent traditional hedge laying skills and wildlife from going extinct in the county by creating vital habitat for hedgehogs, bees, bugs and butterflies.

The project aims to inspire young budding ecologists, practical conservationists and the wider local community by working with schools, colleges and youth groups.

Events such as a hedgerow festival, hedgerow tales storytelling workshops and hedge laying competitions will help the Trust reach its goal of engaging and inspiring thousands of younger people in the project over four years.

Working in partnership with other landowners and organisations across the North Downs, the Preserving Surrey’s Hedgerows Heritage project provides a lifeline from our agricultural history for wildlife and future generations. It will also leave a legacy of creating, restoring and protecting more than 70 kilometres of hedgerows in the North Downs and Surrey Hills to create a more resilient and wildlife rich natural environment for the future.

For hundreds of years, generations of hedge layers have maintained the iconic patchwork quilt landscape of hedgerows to mark boundaries, contain livestock and shelter crops from extreme weather, they have provided a source of food, shelter and safe passage for plants and animals across the landscape.

Today a third of all wildlife in the county is already extinct or heading towards extinction with more than 130 key species that depend on hedgerows at risk. These species include dormice, hedgehogs, bats, butterflies such as the brown hair streak and rare pearl bordered fritillary, bees, bugs and birds such as the white throat and yellow hammer.

Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: “Hedge laying skills need to become mainstream if we are to help nature’s recovery and future-proof our environment. To protect our valuable wildlife and create jobs for our future, younger people need to upskill in nature conservation skills.

“Through our project we hope to give people the opportunity to develop skills and careers in the environment and also improve the health and well-being of young people by reconnecting them with nature.”

The project aims to engage and inspire 2,400 local people, with a focus of more than half being young people from school and youth groups, as well as community volunteers, landowners, farm managers, corporate volunteer teams, public and private sector contractors in the restoration of hedgerows.

Stuart McLeod, Director London & South at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Urgent action needs to be taken to secure the future of Surrey’s hedgerows and the wealth of wildlife they support and cultural heritage they represent. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players new generations will be equipped with the traditional skills and passion needed to help the county’s hedgerows thrive once more.”

For further information

Paws for thought!

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Community & Charity

Shops, restaurants and businesses taking part are encouraged to display a Dog Paw sticker in their window, so dog parents, and their furry friends know they are welcome.

So far more than 50 businesses have taken part, including independent and national companies such as Barclays Bank and Clarks.  Wallingford, well known for its excellent Independent shops, has seen the benefits and taken on the campaign with great enthusiasm.  With over 26% of us being dog parents, businesses can see the benefit from a higher footfall when dogs are welcomed, as people walking into town with their dogs can visit shops, and dine at their favourite restaurants.

Le Clos wine bar & French restaurant was one of the first to welcome the idea.  Other restaurants such as Shellfish Cow also see the value, and display the Dog Paw sticker with pride. Most pubs have signed up and many even have dog-friendly rooms.

The vast array of shops taking part include the lady’s clothes shop First Edition; lifestyle shops such as Raspberry Tart and also The Lamb Arcade – an Aladdin’s Cave of antiques. The shops you would also expect in a market town are also behind the campaign including shoe repair shops, newsagents, florists and hardware stores.

Joe Quilter, one of the founders of the scheme and a dog parent to Bramble, a Cockapoo said: “After a visit to North Norfolk and seeing written signs in shops inviting dogs into their premises, I thought it not be a great idea to have a standard Dog Paw Sticker for my town so local people and visitors know they are welcome with their dogs.

People don’t like to ask, as they don’t like to be refused entry, so this takes the issue away.

I’m also a big supporter of local business, and thought this is a win-win for both dog parents and our fantastic shops, restaurants and businesses.”

Joe also mentioned the security aspect and went on to say “One in 20 dogs taken are outside shops, and I just don’t want anyone living or visiting our town to ever suffer this experience.”

Since starting the campaign, other towns and villages have signed up to the campaign including Goring, Streatley, Didcot and Pangbourne, and the Dog Paw Sticker is in print again to the reach further afield than the founding town.

Where's dog friendly?

To find out the shops, restaurants and businesses taking part

Christmas every day

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Community & Charity

Secret Santa founder Courtney Hughes has been helping to spread festive cheer for seven years and now does so all year round

Didcot’s very own Secret Santa has come a long way since it was founded in 2012 going from an idea to help those alone at Christmas to becoming the year round fundraiser it is now.

And behind it all is Courtney Hughes. She was inspired by her grandmother Elsie who was taken ill over the festive period to buy gifts and decorations to take to the ward she was in.

But the caring, then just 13-year-old, wasn’t just touched by her gran but the others in hospital with her who were isolated and alone. Courtney lost her beloved gran in March 2013 but went on to set up Charity Secret Santa in her memory.

With a little help, she soon collected 250 gifts to give to elderly people on the wards at the John Radcliffe. That amazing effort has now grown and over the years more than 50,000 gifts have been given to the elderly, sick, lonely and vulnerable in our community.

And last month her hard work was recognised when she was officially awarded the British Empire Medal as given in The Queen’s birthday honours earlier in the year. The 21-year-old was honoured for services to older and vulnerable people in Oxfordshire.

But not content with just helping those in need at Christmas, the Secret Santa appeal is now Secret Santa 365 with tea parties and community outreach projects throughout the year to aid the elderly and needy.

Courtney’s activities now also support women’s refuges by supplying furniture and food and care packages throughout the year.

This year’s appeal was launched on 1st September and already she has been overwhelmed with the amount of toys and gifts being donated. She is now fully engulfed in sorting the donations, packing and arranging drop offs – all while working full-time as a senior nursing assistant at the John Radcliffe.

Launching this year’s appeal, she said: “It is lovely – the appeal has become like a child to me.”

Secret Santa 365 helps a wide variety of charities including among others SSNAP supporting sick newborn babies and their parents, Headway Oxfordshire which works to raise awareness of brain injuries, Helen & Douglas House providing hospice care for children, Homeless Oxfordshire, Style Acre providing support for people with learning disabilities and Be Free YC improving the lives and well being of young carers.

To help with Secret Santa 2019, you can drop gifts off at Cornerstone, SOHA, The Marlborough Club, Boundary Park GWP, The Beacon in Wantage at Sainsbury’s in Didcot on 7th December and at The Giving Tree at Berro Lounge in the Orchard Centre among other venues.

Secret Santa 365

For a full list and for more information about how you can help Secret Santa 365

Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project

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The Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project has recently marked its 20th anniversary, youth worker James Quartermain explains ADYP and how it helps

The Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project (a voluntary and registered charity) enables young people to make a positive difference in their personal lives and in the communities in which they live.

The project has been embedded in the rural villages of Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon for almost 20 years though, by request, recently widened their constitution and can now work throughout South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse districts. Current work is focussed in the five villages and South Abingdon.

To mark its 20-year anniversary and celebrate the achievements of the project and all the young people involved, the trustees of the Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth project (ADYP) hosted an award ceremony as part of their AGM, attended by more than 70 people where certificates were presented to 18 young people by the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Lady Jay of Ewelme.

Also, in attendance at the event were county, district and parish councillors of the five villages; police officers including Chief Inspector Matthew Bullivant and PCSO Alison Blood; Matthew Barber, the Deputy Police Commissioner; three head teachers including Chris Harris from Larkmead; and Vale council officers, as well as lots of young people and their relatives who came to see the awards handed out.

The ADYP offers a variety of different approaches to ensure the highest impact in the different communities in which we work.
We are out till late, in the parks or outside the shops under the gazebo. We are on the ground and available to directly respond to the issues young people raise in the sessions and work alongside them and their community to find a sustainable solution. These sessions are invaluable for those that lack the confidence or social skills to access services that require them to enter a professional setting.

We find that low confidence and self-esteem are among some of the biggest hurdles to young people’s positive social development and being able to value their ability to contribute. Many of those we support we do so one-to-one, working with an individual closely to identify and build their skills and strengths. We have helped many young people (and the occasional parent…) to take the next positive steps in their life, whether that be in the form of a career, education or further training.

Working so closely in the heart of the community and building strong ties with residents we are in an advantageous position to identify and respond to issues affecting the neighbourhoods we work in. Most recently we designed and delivered a workshop exploring the realities of county lines drug gangs and the exploitation of young people to which we invited both young people and parents to do their part in reducing the risks of child exploitation in their area.

Throughout the villages we work in we open weekly drop-in sessions for the local young people to come and socialise. These sessions provide a consistent and safe environment for young people and provides the opportunity to develop their sense of community.

Working at the preventative level we work closely with the local schools to offer support for those at risk of exclusion. We provide educational workshops in an informal style that aims to present a style of learning that is accessible and engaging for all participants.

To find out more about the work of the project and how it could help, visit

Charity champions 

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Community & Charity

Photo: Winners, judges and sponsors of the LBCA Berks 2019

Berkshire businesses have been rewarded for their work to support local charities at the Local Business Charity Awards (Berkshire).

The winners were revealed at a ceremony held at SportsAble in Maidenhead with three awards handed out – the Jelf Award, the A-Plan Insurance Award and the Individual Award.

To enter,  Berkshire charities had to nominate a Berkshire business or individual who had done an outstanding job supporting them.

The finalists in the Jelf Award were Convatec nominated by Berkshire Youth; Gardner Leader nominated by Swings & Smiles; Nationwide Building Society nominated by The Dash Charity and Penguins Events nominated by Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Services which won the Jelf Award.

Mike Owen, CEO South, Jelf, said: “Penguins Events have been the most incredible supporter of the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. Their expertise in events management, providing audio visual and lighting at the charity’s annual balls and other special occasions, has allowed the charity to put on first-class events and raise significant amounts of money.”

The finalists in the A-Plan Insurance award were A Twist of Lime nominated by Baby Bank; Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School nominated by Rivertime Boat Trust; The Swift Group nominated by Newbury Soup Kitchen and TSB (Reading Branch) nominated by Babies in Buscot Support (BIBS). The Reading branch of TSB picked up the A-Plan Insurance Award

Richard Easterbrook, Group Head of Commercial Insurance from sponsor A-Plan Insurance said: “For a business to take on a charity with which they have no personal relationship is quite rare and makes the efforts made by the small team of staff from the TSB in Reading even more impressive.
“From bike and bake weeks to promoting awareness of the charity’s work by having an incubator on display in the branch, the team have really put their heart and souls into supporting this vital Berkshire charity.”

The finalists in the Individual award were Adrian Smith from The Swift Group nominated by Newbury Soup Kitchen; Carol Irwin from Sainsburys nominated by PALS (West Berkshire); Ken Navin from Innovate Services nominated by Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Services and Lisa Chaffey from Action Coach Reading nominated by Berkshire Vision.

The Individual Award was won by Adrian Smith.

Jeffrey Branch, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, who presented the award said:
“Two years ago Meryll Praill set up Newbury Soup Kitchen without any knowledge or experience of homelessness or the myriad of problems that leads to a person losing their home. The day she met Adrian Swift, Managing Director of the Swift Group was highly fortuitous; from the outset he has offered her guidance, support, introductions to relevant businesses and even the donation of a van to deliver the food to the homeless.  Berkshire is a better place because of men like Adrian.”

For more information about this year’s awards visit

December’s recipes: Movers & shakers

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Community & Charity

We’ve teamed up with multisensory creators Sam Bompas and Harry Parr to serve up some cocktail fresh recipes from The Bompas & Parr Cocktail Book

Formula E

Ingredients:

• 60 ml/2½ fl oz ‘electrified’ Absolut Citron vodka
• 15 ml/½ fl oz triple sec
• 30 ml/1 fl oz lemon juice
• 1 medium egg white (20 ml/2/3 fl oz egg white)
• 2–3 drops blue food colouring

This was created for the organisers of Formula E to mark the race’s return to London in 2016. We served it along the top corridor of Tower Bridge to the epic backdrop of our home city.
This is an excellent example of how vodka acts as a flavour vehicle. For the original drink we included a touch of the eco-friendly saline algae Formula E uses to power its electricity generators to lend the drink its blue-green hue. You can simply add a little blue food colouring to convey the colour of electricity.
The ‘electrified’ vodka is simply Absolut Citron lemon-flavoured vodka infused with Japanese Sancho pepper. Pour 25 or so of these peppercorns into a bottle of the stuff and leave for a couple of days to add some zingy spice. If you can get some Szechuan buttons, even better – these taste like you’re licking an 8V battery, a comparison which you’ll either ‘get’ or will not.

Method:
Dry shake all the ingredients to emulsify the egg white, then add ice cubes and shake again. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. For Formula E we garnished the drink with some blue-coloured Sancho pepper-flavoured popping candy.

Mojito

Ingredients:

• Large sprig of mint
• 60 ml/21/2 fl oz white rum
• 30 ml/1 fl oz lime juice
• 2 tsp white caster sugar
• Top with soda water
• Wedge of lime and fresh mint leaves to garnish

This is one cocktail where it’s better to use sugar rather than sugar syrup – the sugar crystals lacerate the mint as you muddle and it releases a lot of flavour. It’s a refreshing drink – a light sour that has been lengthened with lots of soda. It’s traditional to make it in the glass that you are ser ving it in. It originates from Cuba and was a favourite drink of the writer Ernest Hemingway when he lived there in the 1940s.

Method:
Put 5–6 mint leaves in the bottom of a highball glass, and use the non-spoon end of a bar spoon to gently bruise (but not crush) the leaves. Pour over the rum, lime juice and sugar. Next, fill the glass with crushed ice and churn the mix with your spoon. Top with soda, add extra crushed ice to ensure a good pile is showing above the rim of the glass, then finally garnish with a wedge of lime and tuck the remainder of your mint leaves in among the ice.

See our other recipes

Santa cruise

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Community & Charity

Hop aboard for a Father Christmas cruise on the Rose of Hungerford 

There are a whole host of Santa’s grottos popping up at this time of year but there won’t be many chances to meet the man in the red suit on a boat. 

Hop aboard the Rose of Hungerford and meet Father Christmas and his elves on the Kennet & Avon Canal on selected dates in December.  

The Rose of Hungerford is a purpose-built 55ft long wide-beamed passenger trip boat owned by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust.  

Public trips have been running all year round and now it’s time to celebrate the festive season – there’s a gift for every child and refreshments for all and all for just £9. 

In 2017, The Rose of Hungerford undertook more than 200 trips, carrying around 6,000 passengers. She travelled about 660 miles and through 772 locks as she toured the canal.  

Father Christmas cruises are on 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December from 11am-noon and from 1-2pm from Hungerford Wharf. 

Tickets

Tickets must be pre-booked from Fare Wise Travel, High Street, Hungerford or by calling 01380 721279. 

For more information about the Rose of Hungerford