Saturday, 30 April 2011

Friday, 29th April - Ryeish Green Bungalow Children's Centre

There was a wedding on today. Prince William married a local girl from Bucklebury (where MrM and I lived for a year when we first got together!). Not brave enough to tackle the crowds in London, we headed to the Cottage Inn in Bucklebury for a "Party in the Paddock" which had a big screen for watching the wedding, a barbecue, Morris Dancing and champagne. While we were there, we were invited to buy a raffle ticket in aid of the Ryeish Green Bungalow Children's Centre.

I'm having trouble finding information on the Ryeish Green Bungalow but it looks like a respite centre for disabled children.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thursday, 28th April - West Berkshire Hospital League of Friends

Coffee morning in aid of West Berkshire Hospital's League of Friends where I contributed by buying a book on how not to spend money!

I was going to get a coffee and cake but thought I should take myself home to weep into a pillow after seeing my husband's friend's wife who opened the conversation with; "how's your sister?" It's understandable as my sister had a baby 6 months ago, but as this has happened more than 20x this week, I'm starting to feel invisible!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wednesday, 27th April - RSPCA

I have praised the local RSPCA shop in the past but today might well be my last visit! Today's charity thing was to carry in a bag of donations (quite high quality, I thought - books, CDs, Readers Digest magazines which are quite popular at charity shops as they're so readable). Rather than saying thank you, the woman took my bag and started inspecting each item. Irritated, I asked her if it was acceptable and without looking up and with her back to me, she said: "It's fine."

We’ve improved the lives of farm animals by asking and encouraging you to buy higher welfare labelled products such as Freedom Food. More and more of you are now making an ethical choice at the supermarket.

We’re still rehoming thousands of cats, dogs, rabbits and pet rodents, finding loving homes for pets who need a second chance in life. And, when we needed to rehome the Amersham horses so many of you supported us that we were able to find permanent homes for 28 other horses and ponies too!

During 2010 our wildlife centres took in over 16,000 sick, injured and orphaned wild animals. Our ongoing research helps us understand how we can best prepare these animals for release, for example we have learnt that playing bird song to baby birds helps them breed more successfully after they leave our care.

We had major input into a new law that regulates the use of animals in research and testing in Europe, which was finalised in 2010. This should lead to improvements for lab animals in many countries across the EU. We also helped establish new global guidelines which, if widely implemented, will raise welfare standards for millions of laboratory animals.

Tuesday, 26th April - the Scouts

Having donated some vouchers to the Brownies earlier this week, quite by chance it was the turn of the boys today!

I wrote a press release for a Scouts fundraiser today and also made a giant dice with an old box, some old white gloss paint and some black cardboard (don't laugh, this is actually my job!).

I'll return with some pictures when this is all finished and hopefully will locate a photo that my dad has at home. My parents used to have a rest home, and one of the residents was the one-time Mayor of Paddington who came to us at the age of 98! He had hosted a reception for Baden-Powell and when he died, left us the much-admired black and white picture of the two of them singing away in a church service.

Lord Baden-Powell – the triumphant misfit

If Scouting is about fulfilling your potential then Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (or B-P) certainly fulfilled his. B-P, or ‘Stephe’ as he was known as a child, was born in Paddington, London on February 22, 1857. He was the eighth of ten children of the Reverend Baden-Powell, a professor at Oxford University.

Stephe received his first lessons from his mother before attending Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells, where he gained entry to Charterhouse School.

Like many brilliant people, he failed plenty of examinations. He preferred the outdoors to the classroom and spent much of his time sketching wildlife in the woods around his school. His irrepressible personality infuriated and impressed his teachers in equal measure.

During the holidays, he and his brothers were always in search of adventure. One vacation was spent on a yachting expedition around the south coast of England, while on another they traced the Thames to its source by canoe.

After school, Baden-Powell went into the army, where he led a distinguished career through postings in countries including India, Afghanistan, Malta and various parts of Africa. The most famous point was the defence of Mafeking against the Boers In 1899, after which he became a Major-General at the age of only 43.

Baden-Powell retired from the Army in 1910 at the age of 53, on the advice of King Edward VII, who suggested B-P could do more valuable service for his country working on developing Scouting and its sister movement, Guiding.

In 1912, he married Olave Soames, by whom he had three children (Peter, Heather and Betty). At the 3rd World Scout Jamboree, The Prince of Wales announced B-P had been created a Peer. He took the title of Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell.

Easter Monday - The Woodland Trust

I seem to be getting through quite a few ink cartridges! I found that you can send them off to a freepost address to help the Woodland Trust....

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. We own and care for over 1,000 woods, covering 50,000 acres (20,000 hectares), virtually all of which are open for all to visit.

We have the support of 200,000 members who are crucial to our work. Their support helps us acquire and restore ancient woodland sites, fight to save woods under threat, campaign on important issues such as climate change, and create new woodland for wildlife and people to enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sunday, 24th April - Brownies

Yesterday Sainsbugs, today Tusco vouchers! This time they're destined to help out one of the local Brownie groups to lay their hands on some sporting equipment..

As a youngster, I was a Brownie and I think one of my first holidays from home was with the local pack (we went to Lyme Regis which was about 20 minutes from where we lived!). I loved Brownies and think that as a shy youngster it was a good thing for me and helped me learn to think about being a better person. I remember my dad's delight at the tea-making challenge that I had to do (I had to make 30 cups of tea for a venture badge and had easily made these within a couple of days!) and I recall my mum laughing at me when I asked her to sew my sewing badge onto my uniform...good times!

Girlguiding UK is the United Kingdom's largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, with around half a million members including about 100,000 trained volunteer adult Leaders and supporters. 'Girlguiding UK' is an operating name of The Guide Association.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saturday, 23rd April - Castle School

As if to underline how much I've spent on diesel and supplies for MrM's parents' surprise party last month, I have a pile of Active Kids vouchers that you get from big spends at Sainsbugs. If you're a school or organisation, you can exchange towards sports equipment for schools, so I offered my stash on freegle and got a HUGE response!

I chose a lady who wanted them for the Castle School which is a school in West Berkshire for children with special needs.

Our school is a West Berkshire Education Authority Special School with many years experience in educating SEN students.

A mixed day school, we take pupils between the ages of 2 and 19 who are fully statemented and have a wide range of educational needs. Our Nursery class is co-located at Victoria Park Nursery in the centre of Newbury although they spend time at the main School two afternoons per week using our specialist facilities.

In 2008 we secured Specialist College status for Communication & Interaction and are intensively developing and improving ways in which we can help all our students progress until they are “ready for life”.

Easter 2011 we should be opening a brand-new Post 16 facility next door to Newbury College to enhance the learning experiences of both our students and those of the College who seek a career in education or SEN.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thursday, 21st April - West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society

A much-loved WBAS person is retiring and we're having a very small do to see her off, so spent my lunch hour helping to organise that...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wednesday, 20th April - Helen and Douglas House

I met the formidable Barbara Taylor-Bradford last year and she signed her latest book Playing the Game for my mum. Unfortunately, my mum couldn't lift the hefty tome onto the plane, so left it here with me. This, along with some NEW lipsticks that were just a bit too pink for me, some 90s CDs that I probably won't listen to again and a brand new photo album went to the Helen and Douglas House shop in Newbury.

Helen & Douglas House has the time and expertise to care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions and support their families. The two hospice houses offer specialist symptom and pain management, medically-supported short breaks and end-of-life care, as well as counselling and practical support for the whole family.

Our aim is to help every young person - aged from birth to 35 – who visits us from Oxfordshire and surrounding counties, live life to the full....even when that life is short

Monday, 18 April 2011

Monday, 18th April - Marie Curie Cancer Care

We were interviewing again today, and I spent 10 more minutes in bed rather than getting up to make sandwiches. This meant I sampled all of the shops Seer Green had to offer (4 in total I think!) and bought a pastry from the newsagent. MrM had also won some money on a scratchcard so I put his winnings into the Marie Curie Cancer Care pot next to the till.

Marie Curie Cancer Care provides cancer nurses and end of life care and is a cancer charity named after the incredible scientist Marie Curie who discovered radium and polonium

Born Maria Sklodowska on November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, she was the youngest of five children of poor school teachers.

After her mother died and her father could no longer support her she become a governess; reading and studying in her own time to quench her thirst for knowledge. A passion she never lost.

To become a teacher - the only alternative which would allow her to be independent - was never a possibility because money, or rather lack of it, prevented her from a formal higher education. However, when her sister offered her lodgings in Paris with a view to going to university, she grasped the opportunity and moved to France in 1891.

She immediately entered Sorbonne University in Paris where she read physics and mathematics - her insatiable appetite for learning meant she had naturally discovered her love of the subjects.The Curies became research workers at the School of Chemistry and Physics in Paris and there they began their pioneering work into invisible rays given off by uranium - a new phenomenon which had recently been discovered by Professor Becquerel.

He had shown that the rays were able to pass through solid matter, fog and photographic film and caused air to conduct electricity.

Marie also noticed that samples of a mineral called pitchblende, which contains uranium ore, were a great deal more radioactive than the pure element uranium. Further work convinced her the very large readings she was getting could not be caused by uranium alone - there was something else in the pitchblende. Since nobody had ever found it before, it could only be present in tiny quantities, and it seemed to be very radioactive. Marie was convinced she had found a new chemical element - other scientists doubted her results.

Pierre and Marie Curie set about working to search for the unknown element. They ground up samples of pitchblende, dissolved them in acid, and began to separate the different elements present, using the standard analytical chemistry techniques of the time. Eventually, they extracted a black powder 330 times more radioactive than uranium, which they called polonium. Polonium was a new chemical element, atomic number 84.

When the Curies investigated further, they found that the liquid left behind after they had extracted polonium was still extremely radioactive. They realised that pitchblende contained another new element, far more radioactive than polonium, but present in even smaller quantities.

In 1898, the Curies published strong evidence supporting the existence of the new element - which they called radium - but they still had no sample of it. Pitchblende is an expensive mineral, because it contains valuable uranium, and Marie needed a lot of it.

She got in touch with a factory in Austria that removed the uranium from pitchblende for industrial use and bought several tonnes of the worthless waste product, which was even more radioactive than the original pitchblende, and was much cheaper. Marie set about processing the pitchblende to extract the tiny quantities of radium. This involved working on a much larger scale than before, with 20 kg batches of the mineral - grinding, dissolving, filtering, precipitating, collecting, redissolving, crystallising and recrystallising.

The work was heavy and physically demanding - and involved dangers the Curies did not appreciate. During this time they began to feel sick and physically exhausted; today we can attribute their ill-health to the early symptoms of radiation sickness. At the time they persevered in ignorance of the risks, often with raw and inflamed hands because they were continually handling highly radioactive material.

In 1902 Marie eventually isolated radium (as radium chloride), determining its atomic weight as 225.93. The journey to the discovery had been long and arduous.

In 1903 Marie and Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics jointly with Professor Becquerel for their combined though separate work on radioactivity.

In the same year, Marie passed her doctorate thesis in Physics.

In 1906 Marie's life was struck by tragedy when Pierre was killed in a street accident after being knocked down by a horse and cart. Her indomitable spirit, however, kept her working and she went on to succeed him in his Chair as Professor at Sorbonne as well carrying on lecturing where he had left off.

Her determination and remarkable endeavours led to a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in Chemistry for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. Not long after, Sorbonne built the first radium institute with two laboratories; one for study of radioactivity under Marie Curie's direction, and the other for biological research into the treatment of cancer.

During the first world war, Marie Curie worked to develop small, mobile X-ray units that could be used to diagnose injuries near the battlefront. As Director of the Red Cross Radiological Service, she toured Paris, asking for money, supplies and vehicles which could be converted.

In October 1914, the first machines were ready, and Marie set off to the front. She worked with her daughter Irene, then aged 17, at casualty clearing stations close to the front line, X-raying wounded men to locate fractures, bullets and shrapnel.

After the war, Marie continued her work as a researcher, teacher and head of a laboratory and received many awards and prizes. Among them were the Ellan Richards Research Prize (1921), the Grand Prix du Marquis d'Argenteuil (1923) and the Cameron Prize from Edinburgh University (1931). She was also the recipient of many honorary degrees from universities around the world.

On July 4, 1934, at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, France at the age of 66, Marie Curie died of pernicious anaemia, a condition she developed after years of exposure to radiation through her work.

She left two daughters, Irene (born 1898) and Eve (born 1904).

Irene, like her mother, entered the field of scientific research and, with her husband Frederic Joliot, worked on the nucleus of the atom and together were awarded a Nobel Prize and credited with the discovery of artificial radiation. Irene too died of a radiation-related illness - leukaemia - in 1956.

Eve became a journalist and writer. Irene's daughter Dr Hélène Langevin-Joliet (born 1927) also pursued a career in nuclear physics and became research emeritus of the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris.

In 1995, Marie and Pierre Curie were reburied in the Pantheon - the Paris mausoleum reserved for France's most revered dead - on the orders of French President M. Mitterand.

Marie Curie was the first woman to be awarded a place in the Pantheon for her own achievements.

Marie Curie's life as a scientist was one which flourished because of her ability to observe, deduce and predict. She is also arguably the first woman to make such a significant contribution to science. Marie Curie Cancer Care is proud to be named in honour of her.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Sunday - Red Cross appeal for Japan

After a late night, getting up at 6am required a caffeine boost at 8am which I got at services in preparation for working at an event today. I bought coffee at that chain of coffee shops that I always insist I won't go into and put some coins into their collection tin for CHildren in Need.

Then after my fix, and enjoying the atmosphere created by the Stoke and Bolton fans on their way to the FA Cup semi final at Wembley, who'd also stopped at the same services, I went onto the event which was the second annual national Renaultsport meeting where owners of Clios, Meganes, Twingos and even Alpines and Spiders got together at the National Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Renault had supported the event and staff raffled some great prizes including a track day at the venue of your choice, in aid of the Japan earthquake appeal. I didn't feel that I should be entering the competition, but stuck a few quid in the box. In total, everyone there raised £850.

Saturday, 16th April - Christian Aid

Mad busy today, so only to stick some coins in a collection tin held by a nice man in Sainsbugs.

I love people who have the time, patience and dedication to stand on a street or in a supermarket collecting for their chosen cause.

Today's was Christian Aid.

Christian Aid is a Christian organisation that insists the world can and must be swiftly changed to one where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance where need is great, tackling the effects of poverty as well as its root causes.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Friday, 15th April - AGE UK

I cleared out boxes and boxes yesterday. Much as I love the "Doctor" books; "Doctor
in the House", "Doctor at Sea" etc, I don't think I'll be reading them again! I took my bag of goodies, mostly books, to Age UK in Beaconsfield.

Age UK has a vision of a world in which older people flourish. We aim to improve later life for everyone through our information and advice, campaigns, products, training and research.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Wednesday, 13th April - The Shaw Trust

Yesterday, MrM and I bought a lovely painting and when we got home, we were discussing where to put it. He suggested taking down a set of paintings that we have up and putting the picture there. Apparently, he has not been enamoured with the rose prints for some time, but never thought to tell me. So the matching flower paintings went to the Shaw Trust in Beaconsfield while I was en route to a meeting.

Shaw Trust is a national charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged people to prepare for work, find jobs and live more independently.

We believe everyone has the right to work and we have campaigned for over 25 years to turn our vision into a reality.

Every year we work with over 75,000 clients who face barriers due to disability, ill health or social circumstance. Thousands of employers and public sector organisations also benefit from our range of services for business.

We are the UK’s largest third sector provider and one of the Government’s lead partners in the delivery of employment programmes for disabled and disadvantaged people.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Monday, 11th April- RSPCA

I'm a sucker for robins, so put some money in this RSPCA box;

Which was located in Portmeirion and probably dates back to 1967-1968 when the cult series The Prisoner was filmed here!

From endangered whales to fairground goldfish, from pet cats to circus lions, we are on a mission to promote compassion for all creatures.

Kindness to animals can make life better, not just for the animals, but also for people. Whatever animals mean to you – a treasured companion, a wild marvel, a working animal, or food produce – treating all living creatures with compassion has benefits for you too.

Sunday, 10th April - Hope Hospice

Sunday was a bit of a write-off, with no time whatsoever, so I actually did this on Monday! I took MrM to Portmeirion in North Wales and the hotel we stayed in had a collection tin for a children's hospice called Hope House. I didn't have any Welsh currency (hahahaha!) so put in some English money...

Making the most of short and precious lives
When a parent is told their child will not live to be an adult it is the start of an agonising journey. A childhood terminal illness challenges every belief, emotion and dream a parent may have for their special son or daughter.

Hope House Children’s Hospices – Hope House in Oswestry and Ty Gobaith in Conwy – provide practical and emotional support to families facing the pain of losing their precious child.

It costs £3.5 million a year to run both hospices which rely almost entirely upon donations as well as many generous individuals who fundraise on our behalf by organising fantastic fundraising events across the regions.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Thursday, 7th April - Carbon Trust

Always doing 100 things at the same time, I changed my will today to include the Alzheimer's Society which I've supported for a long time as growing up in a rest home, I came into contact with many wonderful people whose fantastic life and spirit was taken away by this horrible affliction.

I am also passionate about the environment and the planet; I nearly had a hissy fit in Sainsbugs last week when I saw a family of 6 buying trolleyloads of shopping. Between the six of them, it had not occurred to them to bring any carrierbags or even to use the boxes that are behind the checkouts. As S's bags are bright orange, the effect seemed to be multiplied. I took this very wonky picture of one of their trollies in front of a sign about the environment....

Anyway, in a bit too much haste (and still pondering the plural of "trolley"...) I have left some money in my will for the Carbon Trust which I thought was a charity dedicated to reducing carbon emissions. Close! It's a non-profit organisation, but its aims are broadly the same, although it targets businesses rather than families.

The 2008 Climate Change Act made Britain the first country in the world to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’, aiming to cut UK emissions by at least 80% by 2050. To achieve these ambitious targets, widespread action is needed right now.
The Carbon Trust provides specialist support to help business and the public sector boost business returns by cutting carbon emissions, saving energy and commercialising low carbon technologies. By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

Ironically, I was rushing a bit because I needed to do this and all of my work before going to a conference about "living in the now" and not overworking and doing 100 things at once!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Wednesday, 6th April -Whizz-Kidz

Ivan's shirt finally arrived this week, so we set up a photo of him in training for the London marathon!

I sponsored him and sent this release out!

Good luck Ivan!

E J Darlington Renault sales executive Ivan Bonney is currently in training for his first London marathon in April which he is running in aid of Whizz-Kidz, a disabled children’s charity.

Ivan, aged 35, from Bishops Stortford, manages to fit in 50 miles a week, six nights a week as part of his training in between his work at E J Darlington and his volunteer role as a Community First Responder for the East of Ambulance service.

Although this is his first marathon, Ivan is a keen runner and has raised funds for St Clare’s Hospice and has recently competed in several 10-mile competitions.

“It’s a big task but I’m really looking forward to the London Marathon,” he said. “I particularly wanted to help a children’s charity as I feel that the money raised is hugely beneficial to disabled children and their families.”

Ivan’s wife Holly along with two coach loads of friends will be driving to London to support him, and his aim is to raise £1,600 or more for the charity which provides disabled children with the essential wheelchairs and other mobility equipment they need to lead fun and active childhoods.

To sponsor Ivan, click onto or visit E J Darlington, visit the dealership on River Way, call 01279 439631 or click onto . For more information on Whizz-Kidz, click onto


Thank you very much for your donation. It really means a lot to me and to Whizz-Kidz. Ivan Bonney ************************

**Whizz-Kidz says thank-you.Many thanks for your kind donation. Whizz-Kidz is a national charity, which by providing disabled children with customised mobility equipment, training and advice not available on the NHS, gives something much more important. We give them the independence to be themselves. Your donation will help us to change disabled children's lives - literally overnight.

Tuesday, 5th April - Oxfam

I went to a different branch of Oxfam today (in Marlow) on my way home from a day at my boss' house and bought this card for MrM's birthday!

I may have played around with it a bit - who needs photoshop when you have a pair of scissors and some sellotape!!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sunday and Monday: MS Society and Community Furniture Project


I couldn't think of anything exciting to do charity-wise yesterday, so pledged to myself that I would do two different things today.

1. The first thing was that I mentioned previously that I thought I had been appointed editor of the local MS Society branch newsletter. Very fortunately, it turns out that I am the ASSISTANT editor and shall be helping the new editor! We met today (actually he and I had met a few years ago, both of us wearing very different hats), and Newbury being Newbury, know all of the same people! We had a very short but productive meeting on how to take the newsletter forward and how to build on the great work of the previous editor who recently stepped down.

If you have any experience of doing a monthly local newsletter, then please let me know and please feel free to offer any comments or advice! I will pay you in drinks, hugs or good vibes!!

The MS Society is the UK's largest charity for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We are a membership organisation but provide services to all.

The Society funds MS research, runs respite care centres, provides grants (financial assistance), education and training on MS. It produces numerous publications on MS and runs a freephone specialist Helpline.

We are committed to bringing high standards of quality health and social care within reach of everyone affected by MS and to encourage and support medical and applied research into its cause and control. We have a vision and mission for action across the UK.

2. The second thing was the brilliant Newbury Community Furniture Project which is a local charity that saves items that are destined for landfill and sells them at a reasonable price to people who need furniture. Today, I bought a tin of paint that would have been thrown away. It is now (hopefully, if not too dried and clumpy) be destined for the walls of our spare room that I've been preparing this week!

We are a charity selling good quality re-used furniture and household goods at affordable prices to everyone – with special discount prices to those in need. As well as helping the environment by saving unnecessary landfill, we also provide a range of volunteering and accredited training opportunities.

We also work with community groups and local businesses, helping provide greener waste and re-use services.


Friday, 1 April 2011

Friday, 1st April - the Salvation Army

It's no joke, today I took a bag of clothes and motoring books to the Salvation Army shop which is right on the canal!

Did you know that a dog officially opened the town's Salvation Army shop?

12 October 2006: Patch the Dog helps open new shop
Popular children's character Patch the Dog will be on hand to help open The Salvation Army's newest Charity Shop on Saturday 14 October.

Patch is regularly featured in the national weekly children's comic Kids Alive! published by The Salvation Army. Assisted by his minders from Newbury Salvation Army Church, Patch will be available to meet young people of all ages at the new shop in Northcroft Lane, Newbury, from 10am onwards.

The new venture will raise funds for the ongoing work of The Salvation Army in the local community.

Announcing the special event the local Salvation Army Officer, Captain Jim Cussen, said:
'The new shop is located almost opposite the doctors' surgery and will be an Aladdin's Cave of nearly new clothes, books and bric a brac. People who love to pick up a bargain should pop in and see us. Hot drinks and biscuits will be served in the Salvation Army Hall across the road throughout the day so we look forward to welcoming lots of potential customers.'

March - in summary

In work speak, we've just "covered off quarter one"! I can't believe where the time is going. My lil challenge is going well and I've enjoyed finding out a bit more about the different charities out there, although more variety would be great!

This month, I wish I could have done more to help the earthquake victims in Japan. As I mentioned before, I lived in Tokyo for two years and owe a huge debt of gratitude to the people there for a golden period in my life. Someone is organising a series of cake sales to raise money for people there:

which I would love to get involved with but baking is not my forte!

Please let me know if there is a charity close to your heart or an event that I could help with. Happy April!!