Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Wednesday, 31st August - Cancer Research UK

Met a friend for a quick coffee (decaffeinated for me, extra caffeine for my friend!) at the Tutti Pole cafe in Hungerford (just missed its 30th anniversary by one day!) and put my change into the Cancer Research collection tin.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Tuesday, 30th August - British Heart Foundation

I very nearly bought a lovely item in Cancer Research UK, but there was something in the volunteer's tone (perhaps she'd been transferred from the notorious Oxfam store in my town!), that made me think I shouldn't proceed with the purchase!

After putting that down, I then nearly bought something else but thought it was too expensive, so headed into the British Heart Foundation shop just steps away where I bought this very useful item that I would like to donate to the old lady that I often see. It's a pill dispenser which is brilliant for people who need to take tablets and then can't remember whether they've taken or not - it's quite easy to forget whether you did or not!

New research has shown that poor quality sleep puts older men at an increased risk of high blood pressure.

The study looks at reduced slow wave sleep (SWS), which is characterised by non-rapid eye movement (REM) from which it’s difficult to wake up from. The findings showed men who spent less than four percent of their sleep time in SWS were significantly more likely to develop high blood pressure.

Natasha Stewart, our Senior Cardiac Nurse, said: “Whilst this study does suggest a link between lack of sleep and the development of high blood pressure, it only looked at men aged over 65. We would need to see more research in other age groups and involving women to confirm this particular association.

“However, we do know more generally that sleep is essential for staying healthy. It’s important we all try to make sleep a priority and get our six to eight hours of shut-eye a night.”

The research was published Hypertension, a journal of American Heart Association

Monday, 29 August 2011

Monday, 29th August - Children's Appeal

Despite a local driving at us quite forcefully in the Homebase carpark, MrM survived somehow and after buying ourselves some DIY stuff put some change in the collection tin outside the store. There were two ladies collecting for the CHildren's Appeal.

We believe that the best way forward for young people is through education. In the modern world, computers and access to the Internet is almost an essential for children to progress with their course and homework. ICT plays not only a key role in teaching and learning across the whole curriculum but is a key subject in its own right. Clearly, for children to gain their full entitlement to their statutory curriculum, they must experience the ICT curriculum as defined in the official Orders. Again, there is good evidence to suggest that this is considerably helped by students having home access.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Sunday, 28th August - Cornwall Air Ambulance

A while ago, my beautiful nephew, pictured here:

had a little emergency and was attended to by the Cornwall Air Ambulance. Fortunately, he was ok, but today his grandparents organised a cricket match to raise funds, which was wonderful of them. For our part, all we had to do today, was turn up, pay £5 a head, watch a relaxing game of cricket, drink tea and eat scones. This is the best kind of fundraising for a great cause....

In 2011 the cost of keeping the Cornwall Air Ambulance flying and serving the community is expected to be around £30,000 per week, completely depending on the number of emergencies flown.

In it's 21st year, the helicopter attended its 20,000th 999 emergency call, and statistics for recent years show that we are still attending around 1000 incidents each year with current missions numbers well in excess of 22,000 flights. Our distinctive red and yellow helicopter remains one of the busiest in the UK, and is tasked several times every day, giving Cornwall a hardworking value for money service.

The Charity is now known as the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, and is overseen by a group of professional business trustees, currently seven in number, bringing a range of skills and expertise from both the public and private sector in the county.

The County of Cornwall lends itself to a service of this kind. We have a widely scattered population, remote and isolated communities, and in the summer months, our road networks become congested very easily, making the use of conventional ambulances more difficult. Our beaches, cliff tops, moorland and the sea attract many people, some of whom participate in water sports and extreme sports, a vital part of our tourism and leisure economy, but which also increases the incidence and severity of accidents.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Saturday, 27th August - Action Medical Research

Another cheat! Well it is a bank holiday!


Keys to a brand new Renault Mégane will be on their way to anyone who can hit a hole-in-one at a forthcoming golf tournament!

The car, if won, will be provided by Dinnages Renault and paid for by Tozer Insurance. It’s the star attraction of “The Peter James Golf Classic” and could be won by hitting a hole-in-one on the 17th hole.

The event is in aid of the charity Action Medical Research and takes place at Haywards Heath Golf Club on Thursday, 8th September.

Last year saw the inaugural event raise more than £8,800 for the charity which funds research to improve the health of babies and children. The charity is 60 years old and has been at the forefront of medical breakthroughs such as the development of the UK polio vaccine (the sugar cube vaccine) and pioneering hip replacement surgery.

The event has been made possible by the sponsorship from a number of local businesses and there are competitions for golfers who get “nearest the pin”, “longest drive”, and “nearest the hole in two”.

As part of the fundraising, international author Peter James, who lives locally, is offering the opportunity for a local business in Haywards Heath to feature in his next Detective Inspector Grace novel.

Haywards Heath Renault dealer Dinnages dealer principal Tom Simpson, said: “We’re delighted to be involved and we’re looking forward to the tournament. We’d be thrilled to be able to handover the Renault Mégane to anyone who hits a hole-in-one on the 17th and would urge all participants to practise their golf swings before the event! The day should be a lot of fun and we’re hoping they will raise as much as possible for this charity which has achieved so much.”

Friday, 26th August - Make a Wish Foundation

There are many things that fascinate me that baffle other people. One of these is my collection of ugly postcards that I've been collecting since the early 1990s. The days of horrible postcards, and indeed postcards themselves, seem to be dying out - nowadays you don't often see postcards in Spain of Flamenco dancers with the skirt bit actually made of real material, but when I do come across one, it makes me howl with laughter. I know I'm weird, but you just wait and see - these will be worth a fortune in the future!

The last one to adorn my collection came from a museum in France (see picture). I bought it as the mannequin leaning over the table is the stuff of nightmares. I also found a good home for it as for every postcard received from a different postal region in the world £5 will be donated to an accumulating fund for 'The Make A Wish Foundation UK'.

if you are going on holiday or a trip or know someone who is send a postcard to: 'Wish You Were Here' KCR, Keith, Scotland, UK, AB55 5AN.

Include you name and some form of contact detail as.prizes will be given for various categories such as best picture, furtherest travelled, best message and a random draw at the end on more besides. Make a Wish are an amazing charity and for a small moment of your time you're contribution can help a child with life threatening illness experience an amazing trip or present. Your card/s will also become part of a fantastic exhibition once the challenge closes on 30 Sep 2012. Even if you are going on holiday to a popular destination do not be put off from sending a card as you could still win a prize and I hope to get companies to sponsor individual countries so the excess cards raise funds too. I will keep you informed as the fund and collection grows. Many Thanks.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Thursday, 25th August - Helen House

As part of my ongoing declutter I got rid of a massive box of postcards that have been sent to me over the years, tearing the stamps off each one. Apparently charities can make use of them (still not sure how), so I took today's stamps to Helen House where the volunteer I gave them to was as baffled as I am about this...

Young people with life-shortening conditions often need care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, over many years. It is usually their families they rely on for it. While families willingly invest love and energy, life is often a relentless timetable of nursing and medical needs. Relationships can suffer, careers may have to be abandoned, healthy brothers and sisters can feel left out and regular family activities and holidays are rare. Families often feel alone and afraid in their grief.

Helen & Douglas House offers medically supported short breaks, specialist pain and symptom management and end-of-life care, as well as counselling and practical support for the whole family. Children can stay at Helen House Hospice and young adults can stay at Douglas House Hospice, along with their families if they choose. They can also take part in activities and experience our range of holistic therapies, while their familes relax and rediscover time for themselves. The Helen & Douglas House team offers professional support at every stage of a families journey.

How much do we need? Over 80% of the money we need comes from voluntary donations.

It costs over £4.5 million per year to run both hospice houses. We receive only 15-18% of this from sources other than voluntary donations.

That means we are almost entirely dependent on people like you in the community; individuals, businesses, schools, colleges, groups, organisations, for us to be able to provide the support and medical care for young people with life shortening conditions and their families.

We need your help, today so that we continue our work in the future.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Wednesday, 24th August - SeeAbility

For someone who prides themselves on printing only when necessary, I really do get through a lot of ink cartridges!

I sent today's finished one to charity as they help raise funds.

SeeAbility supports adults who are visually impaired with multiple disabilities including; learning, physical and mental health disabilities, acquired brain injuries and degenerative conditions, to explore their potential. We currently provide services in Devon, East Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset and Surrey.

Tuesday, 23rd August - Oxfam

Another purchase from Oxfam!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday, 22nd August -- Oxfam

Last week was the birthday of MrM's friend's lovely girlfriend Sarah. I was horrified that I missed her birthday, because I knew it was approaching but still managed not to send her a card in time. She is also such a lovely, lovely person - talented, creative and very sweet.

So I decided that she would be the ideal recipient of an Oxfam card with donation. I chose the gift of giving safe clean drinking water for 10 people in Ethopia but little did I know that it would have been simpler and less stressful to deliver the water myself!

Happy birthday Sarah!!

Oxfam Unwrapped’s safe water gift provides a crystal clear solution that’ll protect people like Niema in Ethiopia. Niema used to walk miles to the river every day. The water was dirty and often caused sickness. But not anymore.

Sunday, 21st August - Pants to Poverty

Not quite a charity, I'm afraid, but an ethical co-operative, and if it means I can insert a gratuitious photo of my husband holding a pair of pants, then even better!

He wouldn't put them on for the photo though. Shame.

So, via a Jedi mind trick, we've travelled back in time and instead of moaning about the lack of customer service in Oxfam, we're much more relaxed and happy at a festival where I purchased some lovely green pants for hubby.

We have come a very long way since Nelson Mandela stood in Trafalgar Square in 2005 and called for a generation to rise up and Make Poverty History. It was his words, and the enormous need for change that inspired us establish our brand as part of the global campaign that echoed around the world that year through the Live8 concerts and the massive rallies. With climate chaos, the global financial meltdown and growing poverty around the world, the consequences of doing nothing are terrifying… but we prove that doing something amazing can be easy, fun and even sexy!

Today, nearly 5 years after we were born, our pants sell in over 20 countries around the world, support over 5000 farmers in India and within a week of launching our first campaign, we made one of the world’s most powerful companies pull a killer pesticide off the market! The power really does lie in our pants!

We’ve got a very English name. In England, in case you didn’t know, Pants are not trousers, but they are underwear. However, more than that, if something is pants, then that means it’s terrible! So, “Pants to Poverty” means Poverty is terrible, as well as saying that they are fairtrade and organic underpants! We all need pants and so we aim to provide pants for all people, in a way that supports, rather than destroys, all of the wonderful people that make them!

Saturday, 20th August - Oxfam

I actually did this on Monday, but I was still in the middle of a field this weekend!

Why, why, why after all the times I've been treated so badly in Newbury's Oxfam shop, do I still keep going back? And it's only this store - I've never had a problem with any other!

Is it my fault for not being Caucasian? Or am I expecting too much? When I handed over my wedding dress, I expected a thank you, which I didn't get. This time when I went in, I waited for 10 minutes by the till for the lady to put some dresses out, then she didn't say sorry or thanks for waiting, she merely stared at me.

I despair.

Friday, 19th August - Beetley Scouts

I was away at my favourite festival at the weekend, so am going to count this press release that I sent out before I went as my charity thing of the day. I know it's a cheat!!




Beetley Scouts are holding a charity car wash to raise funds at East Bilney Garage on Saturday, 10th September from 9am to 3pm.

Marc Huggins, East Bilney Garage’s sales manager, said: “If your car could do with a clean thanks to the number of bugs around in the summer sun, then please pop by and get your car cleaned for a good cause!

“The minimum donation is £3 and you can pop into the dealership while you’re waiting. Anyone who takes a test drive while their car is being cleaned will get a free scratchcard which will give you the opportunity to win merchandise from pop superstar Rihanna who currently appears in Renault’s Va Va Voom adverts.”

For more information or to book a test drive visit East Bilney Garage or call 01362 860511. Alternatively click onto or

Words: 140


Now on Twitter!!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Thursday, 18th August - NCT (again!)

I can't believe that after my fear at attending a bumps and babes meeting, I managed to do it again today, fleeing Brasserie Gerard with such fear on my face that a lady smoking a fag outside thought I was applying for a job.

"You don't have to speak French," she assured me. While she asked what the NCT was, one of the ladies came out to coax me back inside and reassure me that it didn't matter that I was the only "bump"!

I am very grateful to her for doing so - I had a great time, learned a lot and even picked up some tips that I'd not even thought about!

I made a donation to the NCT, clambering over some breastfeeding women to get to the collection tin.

NCT is here to support parents. We give them accurate, impartial information so that they can decide what’s best for their family, and we introduce them to a network of local parents to gain practical and emotional support.

We are the UK’s largest parenting charity, and campaign as the voice for parents on the issues they care about.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Wednesday, 17th August - National Childbirth Trust

Today's charity thing was accidentally joining the budget-busting National Childbirth Trust! The midwife who is meant to be looking after us tried and failed to pass us onto another midwife, so is not remotely interested in our questions and has certainly not given us any useful information, so I've had to look elsewhere for answers to my silly questions!

The pricey NCT has proved to be quite useful though, with local information sessions, meet ups for bumps and even a sale later in the year for all that baby equipment. Well, some of it, anyway, I imagine that competition will be fierce and I have never experienced elbows as sharp as those of mothers!

So, today I signed MrM and I up for pre-natal classes. These cost £200 and then they added on membership at £39. I had to close my eyes and think of life on a white sandy beach as the payment went through, a visualisation technique that they will probably end up teaching us in these classes!

I intend to make the very most of my year's membership and will be attending every NCT event in our town, starting tomorrow with a coffee morning.

Our society does not always recognise the importance of parents. That’s why, as well as helping individual mums and dads, we campaign to improve services and facilities for all new parents.

Local branch support
Our nationwide network of local branches has evolved to reach and support all parents and parents-to-be during a time of major change in their lives. This is made possible thanks to the dedication of our volunteers, who organise a wide range of social activities and events to enable local parents to meet and access support.

Every new parent faces a steep learning curve. We provide evidence based information in easy-to-understand formats, via our website, our e-newsletter, helplines, courses, magazines and other publications. Our information sheets, such as ‘Understanding your baby’s sleep’ offer more in-depth information and are used by health professionals as well as NCT practitioners.

Courses for parents
NCT knows how important it is for parents to find the information they need to prepare for their new life. That’s why we offer a range of courses to support them through their transition. NCT antenatal courses helps them work out how to approach labour, practice birthing positions and breathing, as well as parenting skills. Our postnatal classes aim to help them feel more confident and supported in their new life as a parent. Both our courses provide lots of emotional support, from both the teacher and from the other parents-to-be in the class.

Our helplines offer access to specialist information and support on pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, from highly-trained breastfeeding counsellors and antenatal teachers. Our helpline also offers postnatal support with issues such as crying, sleep and depression in the weeks after birth.

We also have a Shared Experiences Helpline for those who have had a challenging experience during their pregnancy, birth or early parenthood which enables callers to talk to a volunteer who has had a similar experience.

Nearly New Sales
The cost of kitting out a child for the first five years can run into thousands of pounds. NCT Nearly New Sales are the perfect solution. You’ll find high-quality baby and children’s clothes, toys and equipment at bargain prices, straight from their loving owners. Find your nearest sale in your area.

Bumps and Babies groups
These small, friendly, local groups give new parents and parents-to-be the chance to meet regularly, socialise and make new friends.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Tuesday, 16th August - British Red Cross

The Red Cross shop in Hungerford where I bought a dress....before I gave a friend a tenner as by chance she was also collecting for the East Africa famine, the same cause....

Famine, drought and conflict have left millions of people needing food, water and healthcare.

The UN says that in the last few months, tens of thousands of Somalis have died of causes related to malnutrition. Most of them were children.

Very poor rainfall in the region (which includes Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda) has led to the driest period in 60 years for some areas, leading to crop failures and deaths of livestock.

High and increasing staple food prices, as well as regional conflict, are combining with the weather to make a bad situation even worse.

The rate of refugees from Somalia arriving in southern Ethiopia has increased from 5,000 a month to more than 30,000 in the second week in June. Almost half the children arriving in Ethiopia from Somalia are malnourished.

The Red Cross has already acted early to mitigate the impact of drought in the region, but it is now in an extreme situation where we urgently need more funds to address emergency needs.

Money raised will go to support the work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in the region, both providing emergency relief and helping people recover their livelihoods.

The East Africa Food Crisis Appeal will cover numerous countries including those currently affected and those potentially affected in the future. In the unlikely event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Monday, 15th August - Great Ormond Street

I'm working on something fairly repetitive at work today (having been away for a few days), so have been breaking it up (and therefore keeping my brain alert) by listing some of my unnecessary stuff on eBay. My much-loved bike that MrM doesn't think I should ride anymore as I've put on so much weight in the last few months that I have a different centre of gravity, some lipstick, a coffee table and a Superman t-shirt (which I don't wear as it doesn't come with a cape....pointless).

There's a fabulously simple box you can tick when you list items that allows you to give a proportion of your takings to charity.

From the options available, I decided to go for Great Ormond Street Hospital for three reasons; 1. Their acronym is GOSH, 2. I've heard the name thousands of times but am not really certain of what they do. 3. As a teenager, I was a Spurs fan as is Lord Sirallun who does their adverts. (I know you can't say "I used to be a fan" as being a fan implies life-long fidelity, but I have completely gone off football and would say, you can get divorced but you can't get remarried.

We raise money to enable Great Ormond Street Hospital to provide world-class care for its young patients and their families and to pioneer new treatments and cures for childhood illness by:

Contributing to the rebuilding and refurbishment of the hospital;

Funding the most up-to-date equipment;

Supporting research into, and development of, breakthrough treatments; and

Providing accommodation and other support services for children and their families

Sunday, 14th August -Dementia UK

After a weekend of drinking, folk music and doing absolutely nothing (a first for us!), we realised that the only food in the house was a box of egg rolls, so a much-needed stop at the supermarket was called for.

MrM and I are not fans of big multinational companies, so try to avoid shopping at the supermarket as much as possible. And this morning, we were reminded why! We took all of our bags to the shop (which rhymes with Pesco), and I even used a washing up bowl (the one we took to the festival) to put fruit in. I told the assistant that I had brought six bags (because bags mean points and we all know what points mean!).

She ignored me. So I said it again. She ignored me. So I said it again. She then snapped at me, telling me that she'd heard me the first time. I said that she didn't react, so I assumed she hadn't heard me, to which she said she couldn't do two things at once and putting my card transaction through the till was foremost in her mind. Firmly put in my place, I decided that this would be my last trip to this shop and so I put all of my change into the collection tin for the last time thinking of something positive that could bring me back. The only redeeming feature of this soulless place is that they are collecting for Dementia UK.

The mission of Dementia UK is to improve quality of life for all people affected by dementia.

■Promote and develop Admiral Nursing - a specialist nursing intervention focused on meeting the needs of carers and families of people with dementia
■Provide high quality training for professionals working with older people, carers and people with dementia
■Promote good practice in dementia care
■Work in partnership with the NHS, social services, other voluntary groups, carers and people with dementia
■Contribute to national policy on dementia, older people and carers' issues
■Influence practice and policy development

Saturday, 13th August - Katharine House Hospice

Still at the lovely Cropredy festival and bought more raffle tickets today - this time for the Katharine House Hospice nearby (Adderbury, near Banbury).

I have a client who is an avid supporter of this charity and tells me it's a very worthwhile charity.

Katharine House is located 4 miles south of Banbury and lies on the borders of Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire amidst beautiful gardens where peace and tranquillity prevail. Sheep and cattle graze in the surrounding fields and there are magnificent rural views across the Oxfordshire countryside.

The Hospice building was completed in 1991 and today the specialist palliative care services offered include in patient, day hospice, community care at home, home night nursing, support for patients at the Horton General hospital, out-patients, lymphoedema treatment and bereavement support.

The hospice palliative care service supports those people with life-threatening illnesses whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. The aim is to maintain quality of life and for patients to remain in their own homes where this is possible or requested. Patients can be referred immediately after diagnosis or at a later stage in the illness. The hospice services run alongside other services and staff work closely with general practitioners and other health professionals.

The hospice team comprises a medical team led by a Consultant in Palliative Medicine, a nursing team with specialist palliative care qualifications, other health professionals including physiotherapists, counsellors and chaplains. There is also non-clinical support staff and a very active fund raising team. In addition to the paid staff there is an an active volunteer team helping in all areas of the hospice.

All staff and volunteers share a strong commitment to the philosophy of Katharine House which is to care for people and their families by addressing physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs through an individualised approach.

The hospice stands as a living memorial to the life of Katharine Gadsby who in 1984, tragically died of cancer at the age of twenty. Since the time of her death her parents Neil and Heather Gadsby, together with friends and many other people have worked tirelessly to raise funds to develop the hospice services. It is an independent sector hospice and relies largely on charitable donations for funding, receiving only about 35% of its costs from the local Primary Care Trusts. No charge is made to patients or their families for any of the care provided.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Friday, 12th August - BEKIND

Beautiful sunshine and a folky band on stage at Cropredy. I am lying back on our blanket when suddenly, it goes dark as someone stands over me. A surly woman wearing no discernable branding asks us if we want to buy a raffle ticket.

"For what?" I ask. "Bekind," she says, as if it's obvious. We do and she pockets the money into her jeans.

I can't find a website for this charity, but it does appear to be listed on the Charity Commission website as "Bekind (Benefitting European Kids in Need and Distress).


Thursday, 11th August - British Diabetic Association

Popped into the weekly coffee morning at St Nicolas Church Hall (missing Nick Clegg by a day, but that's another story).

Today's coffee morning was the British Diabetic Association so it seemed a bit naughty to buy a cake, and instead I bought some toiletries and took them with me to the festival that I went to later.

Diabetes UK is the largest organisation in the UK working for people with diabetes, funding research, campaigning and helping people live with the condition.

We have over 150,000 members. We work for people with diabetes, their carers, family and friends. We represent the interests of all people with diabetes by lobbying the government for better standards of care and the best quality of life.

Diabetes UK aims to invest over £5.8 million in research in 2011 to improve the treatment of diabetes and search for a cure.

Our mission is to improve the lives of people with diabetes and to work towards a future without diabetes

Monday, 8 August 2011

Update from UNICEF's East Africa Children's Crisis.

Just got an email from UNICEF, thanking me for my donation of "£0", quickly followed by an apology and an email with the correct figure!!

"Thank you for your generous donation to UNICEF's East Africa Children's Crisis.

With your kind gift we will be able to bring direct help to millions of children and their families in some of the poorest countries throughout the world.Our work ensures that the basic needs of every child are met - that they have clean water, food, health care, education and a safe environment in which to grow up.

UNICEF is the leading children's organisation reaching children in more than 150 countries around the world.

We are not funded by the United Nations and rely entirely on voluntary donations from valued supporters like you to fund our work for children worldwide.
On behalf of everyone at UNICEF and all those who will benefit from your gift, thank you.

Your support is very much appreciated.

Yours sincerely
David Bull

Executive Director


A children's famine in Somalia is affecting nearly 2 million children of which half a million are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The situation is critical: Please visit our main website to find out more.
You can also help by asking your friends and relatives to support UNICEF or text FAMINE to 70007 to donate £10 and help save children's lives in East Africa. Thank you.

Wednesday, 10th August - St. Michael & All Angels’ Church, Highclere.

An absolute humdinger of a boot sale - perhaps the best one I've ever been to! This was in the grounds of Highclere Castle (or Downton Abbey as it now seems to be called since the filming of this popular series took place here) where a fabulous car boot sale with the castle as a backdrop raised funds for St. Michael & All Angels’ Church, Highclere.

I was very pleased that I managed to limit my purchases to a lovely picture for what will be the baby's room, a basket and a little 1960s Fred from the Homepride adverts. I forwent the massive 1920s chest of drawers as it wouldn't fit in the car and I also turned down two Lloyds Loom chairs for the same reason. Note to self: take the van to any other boot sales at this beautiful location!

Tuesday, 9th August - Newbury Rugby CLub

I'm a few days ahead of myself, so this actually happened on Sunday. I thought I would get the ingredients for a proper Sunday lunch for MrM after he spent more than 8 hours in a traffic jam on the M25 on Friday night.

While I was packing my groceries (into a bag I had brought myself, I hasten to add!), a lady came over and asked if her son could carry my shopping to the car for a donation to Newbury Rugby Club.

I agreed, but then he seemed so reluctant that I said I'd take it the rest of the way!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Monday, 8th August - St Margaret's Hospice

It's still Saturday and I'm still in my hometown. Last week, I got as far as I could with the blanket I've been making. I went back to Camp Hopson to get some wool in the same colour but was totally ignored when I tried to ensure the two skeins matched! However, just by total fluke, I came across a ball of wool in the charity shop that's the right colour - I can finish my blanket!!!

St Margaret's Hospice is your local charity committed to providing specialist palliative care, advice, support and respite to patients and their families living in Somerset and parts of neighbouring counties. Our care is available for those who have a terminal or life-limiting illness, for example cancer, motor neurone disease and chronic lung disease. In 2010 St. Margaret's celebrated 30 Years of Caring for the people of Somerset.

Through our medical expertise, nursing skills and specialist support services, we offer physical, emotional, social and spiritual care to our patients and their families. Bereavement support is also available.

Our services are also available to patients where our specialist knowledge, skills and expertise will provide relief for their specific illness, such as symptom control, breathlessness management, lymphoedema treatment, physiotherapy and occupational and complementary therapies.

Sunday, 7th August - Weldmar Hospice

Back in my hometown today (er, or yesterday!), I popped into the Weldmar Hospice Shop and bought this fabulous vintage coffee pot!

Saturday, 6th August - Costa Foundation

I am not usually a fan of coffee shops but was back in my home town where I see there is a new branch of Costa, so thought I'd go in and get a coffee and a flapjack. There was a "guess the number of coffee beans" in the jar competition, so I paid my money and made my guess with the proceeds going to the Costa Foundation. This was set up to improve the welfare of coffee-growing communities in countries such as Colombia, Guatemala, Uganda, Ethiopia and Costa Rica.

Between 2006 and 2009, we set ourselves some tough targets. We're pleased to say that every one of these we've not only met, but in many cases bettered.
We built and furnished 55 classrooms
Provided jobs for 120 teachers
Given 4,500 children access to education
Introduced remote "tele-medicine" technology
Enlisted government supportBecause of this success, we've set our targets for 2010 even higher. By the end of the year, we aim to:
Provide access to education for 7,600 children
Build five more schools
Provide 21 more classrooms
Support 16 coffee-growing communities
Ensure sustainable income and managementFor more details on these new projects, click on the links below:By 2012/13 our aim is to give 15,000 children access to education. However, education isn't all about children. It also provides jobs and trades for adults and brings entire communities together.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Friday, 5th August - Scope

Took a bag of good stuff (including a brand new handbag, a brand new pair of sandals and some books) to the Scope shop in town today, and true to form, picked up a book in there too. Do I never learn?

What we doCampaigns - we work with disabled people on the issues that are most important to them and aim to raise awareness, change attitudes and influence government policy.Help and information - we support disabled people and their families through practical information and support, particularly at the time of diagnosis and in a child’s early years.Services - we offer a range of services for disabled children and adults, which are primarily focused on those whose complex support needs are not met elsewhere.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Thursday, 4th August - Teddy Bear Children's Support

I was looking for a key cutting place near where I work in Beaconsfield and found a dry cleaners that would do it (I didn't think so, either....).

While they examined my key and looked thoughtful, I tipped lots of coins into the Reddy Bear Children's Support collection tin. Teddy Bear Children Support helps raise funds for the small children's charities that find it difficult to raise funds for themselves, including The Rose Walton Centre which looks after children with cerebral pals.

The centre is situated within Mill Grove, a residential community caring for children which is fully supportive of our work. We are affiliated to SCOPE, the national organisation for those with cerebral palsy, their family and carers.
We provide pre-school education for children 0-5 years old with motor learning needs using the Peto method of conductive education.
The aim of the school is to develop the child's abilities and confidence in pre-school years and to prepare them for the next stage of their education, giving them equal opportunities.

Wednesday, 3rd August - Berkshire Air Ambulance

MrM paid for the drinks (a white wine soda and a pint of bitter - I'll leave you to guess who had what) in a pub we'd never been into before, so I put the equivalent amount into a collection tin for the Air Ambulance.

I hope this is the same charity!

The red and yellow liveried EC135 helicopter is based at RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, which is the central point for the three counties TVACAA serves.The Air Ambulance carries a full range of life saving medical equipment and two fully qualified paramedics, who are supported on a regular basis by a small team of dedicated doctors.The helicopter is operated in daylight hours, seven days per week, 365 days per year.The Air Ambulance has the benefit of having an additional seat to carry a carer or parent, which can be very important if the patient is a sick or injured child.It can transport one patient with the ability to treat and care in the air and has the provision for two stretchers in the case of an extreme medical emergency situation.Our Patch
TVACAA operates across the three counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (BOB). However, Air Ambulances have no clinical boundaries and can often be called out to attend emergencies in neighbouring counties when further assistance is required by the resident Air Ambulance. The Golden Hour
The 'Golden Hour' is a term often used in emergency medicine to denote the vital period immediately after an accident or the onset of an acute illness.Patient survival rates are improved if treatment is provided within this 'Golden Hour' and the Air Ambulance has the ability to provide the speed and treatment that can make all the difference.Speed – we can fly at speeds of up to 150 mph. Access – we can reach and land in remote areas with dificult access - such as farmland and golf courses. Distance – we can reach our outer most borders within 15 minutes, faster than any conventional land ambulance, often flying over traffic jams and traffic congestion. A&E – we can take patients to the most appropriate Accident & Emergency, trauma unit or specialist treatment department.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Tuesday, 2nd August - Everyman Cancer Charity

Some change in the collection tin at Asda who were collecting for Everyman.

Prostate and testicular cancer affect almost 39,000 men each year in the UK. Everyman's mission is to save men's lives by raising funds to support research into prostate and testicular cancer and promoting greater awareness of these diseases. Join the fight against male cancer today!

ASDA has raised a HUGE £600k for our research this year, with funds still coming in!

Money has been raised through the sale of very special ‘Everyman’ products in-store including DVDs, Cadbury Boost Bars, Totes umbrellas, power tools, Gillette Proglide razors, to name a few.

We have been blown away by the imaginative ways ASDA colleagues have been raising funds – balloon releases, bike rides, Turning Blue, Father’s day events and even GIANT pairs of pants – you have all been fantastic!

For more information please visit

Monday, 1 August 2011

Lovely blog follower!

Dannie - you are lovely! Thanks for this lovely comment! I feel a bit bad about moaning about last week's Big Issue seller and wonder if she was at a language disadvantage (although I would have understood a smile - it's international after all!) Most Big Issue sellers are really lovely and great salespeople. Hope I didn't put you off!

Have to say, the guy i bought my big issue from was also very charmless. At first i didnt think he was going to give me my magazine after giving him the money, but eventually he did and the whole transaction was completed without him sayig a word or giving any eye contact. It was rather dissapointing as i was trying to encourage my sister to buy the big issue in future and explained how it really worked. Hopefully she won't let this experience put her off. Its down to you though Magatha, the fact that i now buy the big issue and i have managed to convince her, thanks to your explanations on how the big issue really works, so thanks for being an inspiration!xx

Monday, 1st August - Oxfam

(It's still Sunday really, but this counts for Monday!). MrM and I took the French exchance student that's staying with us to Avebury and onto Marlborough. Typically French and a teenager, he didn't seem that impressed, but it did give me the chance to check out the Oxfam shop where I bought two books on the history of Newbury, one written by a lady whose obituary I remember writing in the first week that I worked at the local paper.

Proving that it's just our local store which has problems, the Marlborough store is a dedicated book store. It's a delight to browse and the woman behind the counter was lovely.

Sunday, 31st July - Tuesday Club

Apart from a lie-in, a boot sale is one of my favourite ways to start a Sunday - especially on a lovely sunny morning like today.

I went to Hungerford Football Club which was hosting a very well-attended boot sale in aid of the Tuesday Club. After paying a woman who didn't seem to be suited to early starts, I bought lots of little goodies and didn't spend more than a pound!

The folding of The Burchett Club (now The Burchett Trust) during 1995 led to the formation of The Tuesday Club in the Autumn of 1996, as a communal meeting place for the 'less mobile’ people living in Hungerford and its surrounding areas. A warm and friendly Club with a membership of around 120, the club gives relief and support to those for whom growing older has coincided with varying degrees of disability. In return, the members actively respond with enthusiasm to events arranged on their behalf for entertainment or fundraising purposes. During February 2003 an appendage to the title was necessary in order to distinguish the Club from other Tuesday Clubs to achieve Registered Charity status, and since then the name has been The Tuesday Club Hungerford.

The club is run by a committee of 14, six of whom were elected as Trustees. With absolutely no capital to set up the inaugural meeting, the responsibility fell on the founding committee members to cover the costs of transport, food and entertainment out of their own pockets. Soon after, some limited grants and donations were received which, coupled with Coffee Mornings, stall sales, and raffles, ensured that consolidation was achieved, making future progress possible.

In September 1997 the first Summer Outing took place with every member being taken for an afternoon tour plus a stop for a Cream Tea, all completely free of charge, a very popular feature still practiced to the present day. Gradually other day and half day trips were introduced during the Summer months. These have now increased to taking place throughout the year. Similarly a bargain 5 day break at Torquay in 1999 has developed into Spring and Autumn Holidays being taken every year since. In addition a series of well-supported Mystery Weekends have recently been added to the itinerary.

Amid the Millennium celebrations a concerted effort was taken to include the less able bodied in participating with aspects previously available only to those able to board a Coach. Afternoon trips were arranged thanks to our friends in CHAIN plus a 7-day holiday for a small group each year funded by grants and donations given specifically for this purpose.

To maximise this potential, a previously agreed strategy for securing sufficient funding to realise the purchase of a tail lift Mini-Bus was started towards the end of the 1990's, albeit very slowly at first when initial approaches to local Businesses and other organisations had little success, perhaps not surprising with some £30,000 required and only £4,000 to begin the project. Going into 2002 barely £10,000 had been raised, however, a vast injection over the next two years saw the necessary figure reached, thanks to the magnificent grants and donations from the Town Council, from Trusts,

Businesses and individuals, part thereof along with other valuable contributions from events held on the behalf of the Club by individuals or groups. A much-treasured asset, though it is essential that fundraising be maintained to make certain that the need to start from scratch will not arise when future replacement is necessary.

Saturday, 20th July - National Trust

MrM and I went to our local National Trust property Sandham Memorial Chapel to see the World War One art of Stanley Spencer.

The National Trust is a charity and is completely independent of Government. We rely for income on membership fees, donations and legacies, and revenue raised from our commercial operations.

We have over 3.6 million members and 55,000 volunteers. More than 14 million people visit our pay for entry properties, while an estimated 50 million visit our open air properties.

We protect and open to the public over 350 historic houses, gardens and ancient monuments.

But it doesn’t stop there. We also look after forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, downs, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, castles, nature reserves, villages - for ever, for everyone.