Community Champions

Celebrating charity work and good deeds in the Wiltshire and Swindon business community.

Beauty therapy company gives free manicures to encourage smear tests

Written by Peter Davison.

Jessica WallbridgeBeauty therapy company Honestly Ombré is promoting a campaign encouraging women to have smear tests by offering free manicures to those going for check-ups.

Smear test screening has fallen to an all time low with only 62 percent of women attending a screening in 2017, yet in the UK, cervical cancer affects 3,000 women every year and is the biggest killer of women under the age of 35.

Jessica Wallbridge, founder of the Swindon Old Town-based business, had precancerous cells removed that were identified during a smear test.

“I’ve had personal experience of precancerous cells being identified and removed at a young age that were picked up during a routine test, if I had waited much longer to get a test it isn’t worth thinking about what could have happened,” said Jessica.

“By offering a simple incentive such as free manicures, I want to encourage others to get checked. There is no limit to the campaign, and if I end up doing 100 free manicures, then it would be worth every single hour for me, knowing that I could have potentially saved somebody’s life.

“Almost 1,000 women in the UK die from cervical cancer every year. This is tragic given that the disease is treatable and the prospect of a complete cure is good when cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage. If I can contribute in some way to making the smear test experience a positive one, I’ll count the campaign a success.”

Honestly Ombré is encouraging other businesses to become involved in the campaign by using the #NailYourSmear hashtag to raise awareness and by creating their own campaigns to help increase smear test screening attendance.

The campaign runs until March 31.

“The feedback on social media so far has been amazing, and I’ve had lots of women contact me, sharing their experiences," said Jessica.

“I want to break down the perceived social stigma regarding smear tests that can often make women feel embarrassed or avoid going for these critical check ups. 

“We need it to be normal for women to talk about their smear tests, and if I can encourage just a handful of women get past the hurdle of booking or going for their test, then it will be a success.”

Pre-school gets a helping hand from packaging firm

Written by Peter Davison.

Gina Dawkins presents the cheque to Tina Azzopardi with Jules, Imogen, and ThomasA Swindon pre-school whose garden was vandalised has been awarded £4,553.83 by Wasdell Packaging, enabling them to continue the much-needed refurbishment of their play area.

Last Christmas, Eldene Pre-School’s garden was vandalised, causing damage to their ‘Secret Garden’. Plant pots were smashed, their water feature was broken, and their pagoda and much-loved mosaic were damaged.

The garden had been transformed that summer by volunteers and parents and the pre-school was heartbroken to find the damage. Parents of the Pre-School’s children rallied around to make the area safe and enjoyable again for the children, but the entire garden area was left in need of refurbishment.

Tina Azzopardi, manager of Eldene Pre-School Parents Committee, approached Wasdell Packaging to see if they could help them with their plans in the next stage of refurbishment to replace the safety floor in the outside play area as well as for refurbishing their climbing frame.

As a non-profit making charity, projects like this need extra funds to be raised.

Martin Tedham, managing director of Wasdell, said: “When we heard about Eldene Pre-School’s need we knew we had to help. With over 600 of our staff based in Swindon, providing children in the town with the opportunity to learn outside and play is very important to us.

“We were very disappointed to hear about the vandalism and need for refurbishment, however hopefully the current and future children in the pre-school will have hours of fun in their new playground.”

Gina Dawkins, group head of quality, presented the cheque on behalf of Wasdell Packaging to Tina Azzopardi together with pre-schoolers Jules, Imogen and Thomas.

Tina Azzopardi added: “When we found out that Wasdell would cover all the cost of our plans, we were over the moon; it was like Christmas had come early. It’s very rare that businesses are as generous as that and the children will be very happy with their new play equipment.

“We hope to have the work started as soon as the weather allows. As a charity-run pre-school, our fees cover our staff costs and the resources needed for the children, so we need to fundraise all through the year to pay for these exciting extras. W

"We run the pre-school for the benefit of all of the community and we have children here from very diverse backgrounds, so lots of local families will benefit from our improved play area.”

Eldene Pre-School and Toddlers is an 'outstanding' pre-school, as graded by Ofsted in June 2017. Their highly qualified staff make the setting a friendly, relaxed, caring place for children to learn through play.

Staff have experience of children with additional needs and can offer flexibility to meet the needs of the family.

Carers charity to hold gala event

Written by Peter Davison.

Working for CarersA charity that works with employers to promote carer awareness within their organisation is holding a gala fundraising evening to celebrate the support it receives from local businesses.

One in five carers gives up employment because of their caring responsibilities. Working for Carers works with employers to improve line manager training, and to create a compassionate and supportive culture for their employees.

The gala event will focus on supporting staff with caring roles, promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace and why the issue of unpaid care is a growing focus among forward-thinking companies.

Keynote speaker Daran Bailey, a mental wellbeing in the workplace consultant, will be talking about how reducing stress in the workplace can have significant effects on an organisation.

Open to business owners, directors or HR professional who are interested in improving staff retention and wellbeing, the evening will be an opportunity to network, make valuable new contacts and forge new business.

The event will be held on Thursday, March 1 from 6pm to 8.45pm at Devizes Town Hall, St Johns Street, Devizes, SN10 1BN. Tickets cost £36.

For more information, or to book a place, visit


Business coach becomes ambassador for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Written by Peter Davison.

Matt PerryFormer England rugby full back turned business coach Matt Perry has become an ambassador for Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Matt, who lives in Bath and whose mother and sister live in Wiltshire, said: “Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a fantastic charity. Not many people know Wiltshire Air Ambulance is self-funded and I’m honoured to come on board as an Ambassador to help support it.

“Its helicopter can reach anyone in Wiltshire within 11 minutes from its base in Devizes to help people in life-threatening situations and take them quickly to the most appropriate hospital for further treatment.

“The professionalism of the team is outstanding. The pilots and paramedics attend so many different accidents and traumas, from road traffic collisions to sporting injuries and catastrophic medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrests, and give the best possible care.”

During his 12 year rugby career Matt played for Bath, England and the British Lions. At 23 he became the most capped full back for the national team with 36 caps.

He played in the 1999 World Cup as well as the Lions tour to Australia in 2001. He also won the Heineken European Cup while playing for Bath.

After injury forced him to retire from the sport in 2007, he began working in business coaching and now runs his own company, Transition 15, based in Bath, helping individuals, teams and organisations.

Matt will be showing his support for Wiltshire Air Ambulance by running the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday, March 4.

He said: “This is my first half marathon and running it is a small thing I can do to raise awareness about Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

"I’d like to complete it under three hours. The Bath Half is a key fundraising event for the charity and it will be great to be part of the team that is taking part on the day.”

Matt is also impressed by the charity’s new airbase at Semington, near Melksham, which is nearing the end of construction and is close to achieving its fundraising target.

The new facility will bring together the helicopter, aircrew and charity team and secure the charity’s future.

He said: “The new airbase is a fantastic facility that will further enhance the operation and delivery of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s lifesaving service.

"The new site is centrally located so the helicopter will still be able to reach all parts of Wiltshire within 11 minutes.”

David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We’re delighted that Matt Perry has become a Charity Ambassador for us.

"Matt played rugby at the highest level and is an inspiration to many people. His support for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, including running the Bath Half Marathon, will help boost awareness about our charity and the funds we need to raise to continue to save lives.”

Accountants donate old branded goods to young people in Africa

Written by Peter Davison.

MHA Monahans items will go into the gift boxes for the childrenChartered accountancy firm MHA Monahans has donated surplus branded merchandise to the Jacob’s Well Appeal to support their charity work in West Africa.

After their recent rebrand to recognise their ongoing membership of MHA, the national association of independent chartered accountants, MHA Monahans had goods that were unable to be used. Determined not to just throw away these items, the Jacob’s Well Appeal was chosen to receive.

The Jacob’s Well Appeal was set up in to provide medical aid, agricultural and educational equipment, tools and building supplies and emergency disaster relief in over 30 countries, including Burkina Faso, Ghana, Moldova, Syria, Albania, Somaliland and Cape Verde.

The MHA Monahans goods will be sent to the schools that the charity works with in Burkina Faso. Pens will go into shoe box gift boxes that are given to poor children, bags will be given to be used as school bags and t-shirts will be used by teenagers at the school and staff.

Zoe Meaden, marketing manager at MHA Monahans, said: “It’s fantastic that our old branded goods can be reused by communities in Burkina Faso to help young people in their education and support much-needed charity work in the region by the Jacob’s Well Appeal.

“We also donated craft goods to a local school club and so wanted to ensure that we could have the widest reach possible to help charitable and good causes.”

Bridget Conroy from Jacob's Well Appeal, a Humanitarian Aid Charity based in East Yorkshire said: "On behalf of Jacob's Well Appeal I would like to thank the Team at MHA Monahans for donating hessian bags, pens & apparel.

“For 36 years now we have been regularly sending out 40 foot containers to organisations/charities we partner in very poor countries or disaster areas with medical, agricultural & educational supplies. We strongly believe in helping people to help themselves."

Business show announces its charity of the year

Written by Peter Davison.

Corsham Business Show has announced that it will be supporting Dorothy House Hospice in 2018.

A percentage of the money generated from the sale of exhibition spaces will be going straight to the charity, which gives care and support to patients and their families in Bath and north east Somerset and parts of Wiltshire.

The Dorothy House team will also be in attendance at the show helping to facilitate key activities and running some fundraising activities.

The business show will take place on Wednesday, March 21 at The Springfield Community Centre, Corsham, offering networking opportunities and the chance to develop knowledge and skills at four workshops.

Stuart Pearce, president of Corsham Chamber of Commerce, said: "Throughout the planning process for the Corsham Business Show we wanted to find a local charity that we could help raise awareness of, along with supporting their fundraising needs.

"We were delighted when Dorothy House Hospice accepted our invitation to join us on the big day. They are a wonderful charity, seamlessly integrated into the local community and tirelessly supporting families in need day in and day out.”

For more information, or to book an exhibition space, visit

Air Ambulance to benefit from brewery's fundraising

Written by Peter Davison.

Lauren Dyson, Neil Bizzell, Lucinda Gray, Debra Reed, Ollie Zorab and Dan TuckerWiltshire Air Ambulance is one of eight regional air ambulance trusts to benefit from a host of fundraising activities from independent brewer Hall and Woodhouse.

The Dorset-based company, formed in 1777 and famous for its Badger Beer, has chosen the eight organisations as its charity partners for the next two years.

Fifty-one Hall & Woodhouse public houses are taking part in supporting the life-saving services, with an aim of raising in the region of £250,000 through quiz nights, sponsored events, fun days and sports tournaments.

All monies raised will be equally split between Devon Air Ambulance Trust, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance, Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance, London’s Air Ambulance, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Lucinda Gray, sixth-generation of the Woodhouse family and Hall & Woodhouse charity champion, said: “As a company that places community at the heart of our business, supporting worthy causes is very important to Hall & Woodhouse.

"These local air ambulance charities cover the counties where our public houses are located and each of them work tirelessly to care for critically ill or injured patients within our community.

"We are extremely proud to have so many of our public houses backing the campaign and being able to support this wonderful cause.

“Having raised a phenomenal £248,000 for Macmillan in 2013/14, and then in excess of £210,000 for Together with Short Lives in 2016/18, I know our team and guests will do everything they can to exceed these totals over the next two years.”

Rhys Parker, senior fundraising manager at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are so grateful that Hall & Woodhouse have chosen us as their new Charity Partner.

"The fact that Hall & Woodhouse team members voted to support us means so much and we believe that this relationship will be very special.

"Not only is the partnership set to raise a significant amount of funds, it will also enable us to engage with so many people in the local community by raising awareness of our lifesaving service.”

Fundraising for the air ambulances will begin in February 2018 and in March some of the public houses will be taking part in ‘The World’s Biggest Pub Quiz’, an event being led by PubAid.

Locally, Hall & Woodhouse operates the Barford Inn at Barford St Martin near Salisbury, The George at Mere, and The New Inn, The Queen's Head, The Silver Plough, and The Wheatsheaf in Salisbury.

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