Above & beyond

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Please join us in supporting the Children’s Air Ambulance whose life-saving helicopters are going green. Anna Phillips tells us more.

Oxford-based Children’s Air Ambulance is the only life-saving service of its kind in the UK. The charity has chosen to locate one of its two brand new, specially equipped, bright green Agusta Westland 169 helicopters here in the heart of Oxfordshire, at Kidlington airport, with the other in Doncaster.

This charity is solely dedicated to providing a specialist emergency medical transfer service which is currently changing the face of paediatric care across the country through the high-speed transfers of critically ill neonates, babies and children. The bespoke helicopters are specially adapted with intensive care equipment and on board BabyPod incubators transferring critically ill babies and children from local general hospitals to specialist paediatric hospitals across the country when they need extra specialist life-saving treatment further from home. When a child is too sick to fly, the Children’s Air Ambulance fly a specialist team of clinicians to them and with flight times commonly over four times faster than transfer by road, time saved is a life saved.

The Children’s Air Ambulance receives no NHS or government funding with its life-saving work being totally reliant upon donations and fundraising activities and events from its diverse range of supporters and private individuals. These currently include support from small companies to large corporates, Charity of the Year nominations, community organisations, sports clubs, nurseries, schools, universities, pubs, hotels, breweries as well as a broad and diverse range of interest groups, clubs and associations.  There are also 21 Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops located across the country including three in Oxfordshire – in Abingdon, Headington and Banbury.

The charity has also launched its very own Green Agenda, working to ensure all of its operations are as sustainable as possible with minimal impact to the environment. Achievements to date include its Re Use programme, successfully diverting over 600 tonnes from landfill, the launch of closed-loop plastic recycling and recently receiving recognition for its Data Wiping and Asset Recovery service at the 2019 Charity Retail Awards winning Best Use of Innovation and Technology.

Some of the ways you can help

  1. Donate :  Either online or by donating unwanted clothes and goods to its shops
  2. Charity of The Year: Nominate The Children’s Air Ambulance as your Charity of the Year
  3. Volunteer: Help to raise both funds and awareness of the charity in your community
  4. Events: Organising and taking part in fundraising events, challenges and activities
  5. Shop: Shop and donate through The Children’s Air Ambulance charity shops

The Children’s Air Ambulance would love to hear from you, your company, organisation or local community group if you would like to know more about its work and some of the patient stories of lives it has saved.

Children's Air Ambulance

For more information or to arrange a talk or visit from a member of the Oxfordshire team please call   0300 3045 999, email [email protected] airambulanceservice.org.uk or visit

Christmas every day

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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

Devine Dash 

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It’s the time of year when you expect to see a man in a red suit with a white beard but get set to see hundreds of them.

Now in its seventh year, the Santa Dash in Windsor in aid of Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice is the annual festive fun run on Saturday, 24th November.

The dash will guide you through Windsor, along the Long Walk, the Castle, Queen Victoria’s statue and the town’s streets and it’s up to you how you decide to take on the 5km – dash, run, jog, skip or dance.

The entry fee includes a free Santa suit or reindeer antlers for children and a medal and every penny goes to the children’s hospice service in Maidenhead.

The hospice opened in 2018 after years of hard work and tireless campaigning to raise the funds by Fiona and John Devine. Their son Alexander was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four and their lives became consumed by hospital appointments and treatments.

They sadly lost Alexander after four and a half years and through their experiences found there was a need for a children’s hospice in Berkshire.

Fiona and John wanted to provide a safe, loving environment for all that gives children and families a choice of care and support. The hospice complements the existing community service with state-of-the-art facilities. It has six children’s bedrooms, two-self-contained flats for families, a dining area, open plan sitting room and suite dedicated to end of life and bereavement care.

There is also a sensory room, creative learning zone, music room and hydrotherapy pool.

A woodland-themed sensory garden, mud kitchen, musical play pieces, scented plants and raised flower beds allow children to enjoy the outdoors.

There are LEGO models scattered around the garden and an adventure playground is currently being built designed with special equipment.

Nurses and nursery nurses, play and music specialists and counsellors and doctors use their knowledge, compassion and expertise to provide the support and care each family and child needs.

Santas are encouraged to raise at least £57 in sponsorship – this alone could pay for a specialist play session.

The dash starts at 9am, but dashers are encouraged to arrive at 8am for a briefing, to join the warm up and collect their Santa suit, these can also be collected in advance from this month with previous arrangement.

Registration is at Bachelors Acre at 8.40am before the run starts at the top of the Long Walk by the Castle.

Entry costs £20 adults, £7.50 children, under 5s free, family of four (2&2) £36.

Take part

For more details and to enter

Sue Ryder Awards

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Nominate inspirational women for 2020 Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards

Do you know a woman who deserves recognition for their achievements in the community, business, public service or sport?

If so nominate them for the Sue Ryder Southern Women of Achievement Awards – nominations open on Thursday, 7th November.

The charity for palliative, neurological and bereavement support is calling on people across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to put forward the names of those who deserve to be celebrated.

The awards, which have been running since 2006, remain one of Sue Ryder’s biggest fundraisers of the year. They are a fantastic way to celebrate the incredible achievements of local women, while also reflecting on the amazing achievements of Lady Ryder – legendary philanthropist and the charity’s founder.


There are seven categories:

Community – sponsored by Invesco

Business – sponsored by Invesco

Sport – sponsored by Russell Partnership Collection


Mentor/coach of the year

Public Service

Robyn Jones Courage Award – sponsored by CH&Co


Nominations will be open for a month, closing on 7th December. Successful nominees for each award category will then be contacted by a member of the Sue Ryder Fundraising team by 20th December.

Winners will be decided by a judging panel, including representatives from each sponsor, and announced at the Southern Women of Achievement awards ceremony on the 13th March 2020 at Phyllis Court in Henley. The awards will be accompanied by a black-tie drinks’ reception and three course dinner. Attendees on the night will also be treated to live musical entertainment, a raffle and silent auction.

Fern Hayes,  Head of Fundraising at Sue Ryder, said: “Celebrating the incredible achievements of so many amazing women across the region is a cause very close to our hearts and something we look forward to year on year. However, we need help to find our wonderful nominees.

“We were overwhelmed by support for the 2019 awards – especially from our brilliant volunteers and sponsors – and hope to drive just as much of a buzz around the 2020 event too.

“The awards are always such a fun and heart-warming event. We encourage everyone across the three counties of Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire to think about all the fantastic women they have in their networks and consider putting them forward for nomination. We want to make the 2020 awards our biggest and most successful yet.”

To make a nomination


Round & About


If you start to see an excess of facial hair over the next month don’t be surprised, it’s the time when men everywhere will put down their razors in support of Movember.

The Movember Foundation is the only global charity which focuses solely on men’s health to raise funds for research and support to enable men to live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Since 2003 the foundation has helped fund more than 1,200 innovative men’s health projects in over 20 countries focusing on prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

By 2030, the foundation has committed to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 per cent, halving the number of deaths from prostate and testicular cancer and reduce by 25 per cent the number of men taking their own lives.

So what can you do? One very obvious way and for which the campaign is named is to grow a mo – use your moustache to inspire conversations and donations; get active for men’s health – walk or run a total of 60km anywhere and anytime during Movember or why not host a Mo-ment by getting together and raising funds and a laugh during the month.

The Movember Foundation website uk.movember.com has lots of great ideas to help inspire your fundraising and most importantly talks about why your help is needed to prevent fathers, partners, brothers and friends facing a health crisis, that is rarely talked about.

For information

Sunday races

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Today is clearly a good day to run with events taking place in both Oxford and Guildford, the half marathon and 10k, respectively.

The fast and flat 13.1mile course through the streets of the university city of Oxford takes in the colleges, museums and parks that mark out the route.

Runners will cross over the River Cherwell, out into the village of Old Marston and then back past the spectacular colleges. Live music, bands and DJs will be helping to keep their spirits up and if you’re not taking part go along and line the route and cheer them on.

Across in Surrey, Guildford’s first closed-road town centre run, the Guildford 10k, takes place.

Starting from the cobbled high street, run 5km or 10km towards Clandon and back before receiving a huge finisher’s medal.

Some 2,000 runners are expected to take part in the Guildford 10k, which raises money for local charity Harrison’s Fund raising money for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The event starts with a warm-up led by Field of Fitness training studio. The Mayor and Town Crier will then officially start the historic town’s first closed-road running race.

Porsche Centre Guildford will lead runners along the gently undulating “out-and-back” routes – which will be lined with local bands, a live DJ and spectators.

An experienced team of race pacers will encourage runners across the finish line where they can then enjoy a post-race massage.

Whether you’re in Oxford or Guildford get out on the streets and support the runners and help some great causes.

Sahara marathons

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Brothers’ two marathons in two days in the Sahara challenge to raise funds for Dementia UK

If you’re just back from your morning run and thought that five miles was tough, spare a thought for Morgan and Theo Rushton.

The brothers from Farnham are taking part in The Saharan Challenge from tomorrow (10th October) to Monday 14th in support of Dementia UK and in memory of their late gran who sadly passed away last year.

The challenge will be to walk, jog and run two marathons across the Sahara desert, in two consecutive days. The UNESCO World Heritage Draa Valley provides a stunning backdrop for the epic challenge across rocky trails, through Moroccan villages and palmeries, down to the dunes of the desert. After a tough day under the sun, in temperatures in the mid-20s, they’ll get to relax in the private Bedouin campsite and enjoy a refreshing shower and a bar.

On their Just Giving page, Theo said: “My brother and I will be taking on a challenge to raise money towards Dementia UK this October 2019.

“Last year, I was fortunate enough to raise over £1,000 towards the health care of my gran, Joan Eardley-Wilmot by completing a 10k swim. I could not have asked for more support and thank you all for raising money towards this challenge, which she was also lucky enough to celebrate until she passed away a few months after.

“This October we will be raising money for Dementia UK by completing 2 marathons in 2 days in the Sahara Desert. The 4-day round trip which starts on Thursday 10th October (flying out to Morocco), Friday 11th October & Saturday 12th October consists of Marathon 1 & 2 before flying home on Monday 14th October.

“Both Morgan and I are completing a challenge neither of us thought possible a year or so ago, however with recent events and our determination we would love it if you can help us raise money towards Dementia UK Charity.”

The boys have paid for the trip themselves and any money donated will go directly towards Dementia UK

Show your support

If you would like to show your support to these two brave men, please visit their Just Giving page

DOGLE 2019

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Photo: Sophie and her puppy, Alan Smith, overlooking the Col De L’Iseran in France in the summer – Alan will be walking the final stage of the challenge with Sophie

Oxfordshire adventurer Sophie Rooney is three days into an incredible 1,000-mile challenge.

On Thursday 26th she began an endurance event, DOGLE, which covers the length of Britain in 30 days, finishing on 26th October, broken down into 10 stages – each stage being completed in a different sporting discipline.

Sophie from Bodicote will be joined by fellow adventurers on each of the stages, many of them incredible athletes in their own right.
And she’s doing it all to raise funds for IAPWA (The International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals) which was founded in 2009 to protect and improve the welfare of animals in need.

Sophie’s incredible challenge involves:


John O’Groats to Inverness
Gravel biking
150 miles in 3 days


Inverness to Fort William
60 miles in 2 days


Fort William to Milngavie
96 miles in 4 days


Milngavie to Ambleside
126 miles in 2 days


Lake Windermere
11 miles in 1 day


River Levern
White water raft
4 miles in 1 day


Haverthwaite to Prestatyn
129 miles in 1 day


Prestatyn to Chepstow (Offa’s Dyke)
177 miles in 7 days


Chepstow to St Just
239 miles in 8 days


St Just to Land’s End
Dog walking
8 miles in 1 day

Marianne Beggs, fundraising and communications at IAPWA, said: “We are very grateful that Sophie is attempting this incredible endurance event. Money raised from the event will ensure many animals in need have access to vital treatment and support through our projects.”

Support Sophie

Help Sophie to reach her target by donating to the cause on Just Giving

Second chances

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For 159 years, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has rescued and rehomed lost, abandoned, neglected and unwanted pets that, through no fault of their own, have found themselves in desperate need of a second chance.

Since it was founded in 1860, Battersea has helped over three million dogs and cats to find new loving homes or be reunited with their original owners after going astray. But Battersea is not just a rescue charity. Our work stretches beyond our centres through our position as a driver for change and a champion for vulnerable animals. In the last decade alone, we have worked to bring about key changes in the law, such as increased sentences for animal cruelty, and we are recognised for our positive approach to partnership working and sector-wide collaborations.

Across our three sites – Battersea London, Brands Hatch, and Old Windsor – we help over 7,000 dogs and cats every year. Some have been given up when their owners can no longer care for them. Some have been abandoned and found wandering the streets.

Battersea’s promise to these frightened, often neglected animals is to never turn them away.

We aim to never turn away a dog or cat in need of help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.

In 2018, Battersea rehomed on average 6 dogs and 6 cats every day. For our staff and volunteers, there’s nothing better than seeing our animals setting off for their new life.

Our Values

Everything we do as individuals and teams, as vets and volunteers, nurses, kennel and rehoming staff, fundraisers and foster carers is underpinned by Battersea’s Values.

Care: We are passionate about the welfare of dogs and cats, and all our work is inspired by the needs of, and our love for, animals.

Excellence: We have been working tirelessly to provide shelter for animals for over 150 years. We are one of the oldest animal charities in the world and the knowledge and experience we have gained has made us credible leaders in our field.

Determination: We deal with some of the most challenging situations that impact the lives of dogs and cats. We seek to tackle problems at source by working actively with communities and wider society, challenging misconceptions and encouraging owners to take responsibility for their pets and treat animals humanely. We will not shy away from difficult issues.

Respect: We treat all animals and people with respect and dignity.

Integrity: We are trustworthy, we are indebted to our supporters and greatly value all the donations given to us, ensuring that they are carefully spent on providing the best possible future for animals.

Commitment: We strive to find every dog and cat a loving home. We put no limit on the time an animal stays with us, and we will never put an animal to sleep unless significant medical, safety, or legal reasons compel us to do so. Our staff and volunteers are hugely committed.

Our Reach

Battersea’s respected, authoritative and influential voice has a proven record in bringing about policy and legislative change to benefit animal welfare, and 2018 was no exception.

We had a wide range of successes, all aimed at improving the health and welfare of animals that cannot speak for themselves. These successes included; influencing Government to support a ban on third party sales and having various asks from our Backstreet Breeding campaign included in the regulations for breeding and sale provisions, resulting in closure of the loophole that previously allowed sales of puppies under eight weeks.

How You Can Help

Without the support of our incredible staff, volunteers and supporters, Battersea would not be able to continue all the hard work we do to help dogs and cats.

In 2018, over 1,000 volunteers and foster carers donated almost 150,000 hours to Battersea, across all three centres, assisting our staff in a huge variety of ways. As well as our ever-popular animal welfare roles, volunteers help staff with office duties, represent us at events, show visitors around our centres and help us raise vital funds. We are also supported by a team of community engagement volunteers who go into local schools to educate children about our cause and responsible pet ownership.

Our volunteers can feel good about giving back to the community and helping dogs and cats that may not have had the best start in life. They gain new and transferable skills as well as developing current ones and many will use their experiences with us to enhance their CVs or even make a full career change.

It’s also a great way to make lots of new two-legged and four-legged friends!

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

For more information, please visit

Think pink!

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – support the cause by buying these items & wearing pink on Friday, 18th October

1. Tickled Pink Ben & Jerry’s Love Is Topped, £2.50.

2. Dove Pomegranate, £2.85.

3. PG Tips, £2.

4. ghd gold ink on pink styler, £139.

5. Simple wipes, £3.

6. Pot noodle.

7. Vaseline Rosy Lip Tin, £1.50.

8. Lulu Guinness Breast Cancer Now Natasha in chalk blush, £145 .

9. ELEMIS Breast Cancer Care limited-edition Pro-collagen Marine Cream, 100ml.

Find out more

Please visit website to join the campaign!