Community Champions

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

Lawyer to help students make leap from classroom to workplace

Written by Peter Davison .

Fiona Kellow of Thrings and Fiona Havill of St Johns AcademyStudents at a school in Marlborough will have the opportunity to quiz a leading Wiltshire lawyer about negotiating their transition from education to the world of work and enhancing their future prospects.

Fiona Kellow, partner and head of private client at Thrings, has been appointed Enterprise Adviser by St John’s International Academy and the Careers & Enterprise Company, where she will develop employer-led career strategies for students with senior leaders.

In her voluntary role as Enterprise Adviser, Fiona will work closely with St John’s senior leadership team and its Careers & Work-Related Learning (WRL) Manager for the equivalent of one day each month to help identify any gaps in students’ careers and enterprise activities and enhance their future employment prospects.

Using her extensive knowledge and understanding of the local labour market, Fiona will also advise students on the best way to engage with employers, and signpost useful activities and programmes that St John’s may wish to build into its careers and enterprise strategy.

This will include fostering strong relationships with pupils’ parents and guardians – many of whom have interesting and diverse links with Marlborough and the wider Wiltshire business community – to facilitate opportunities for students.

The arrangement between Thrings and St John’s has been facilitated by the Swindon & Wiltshire Enterprise Adviser Network, which connects local employers with schools and colleges in the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Fiona said: “It is a huge honour to become an Enterprise Adviser, and to have the opportunity to support and advise pupils from St John’s as they begin the countdown to leaving full-time education and prepare to enter the world of work.

“One of the main aims of this initiative is to create positive outcomes for young people and ensure they leave school with the skills required by employers in the local, national and international labour market.”

Fiona’s appointment marks a continuation of the long-running partnership between Thrings and St John’s, a relationship which has included Thrings giving careers talks, attending careers fairs and conducting mock interviews to help St John’s students prepare for the world of employment. Several year 10 pupils have also completed successful periods of work experience at Thrings’ offices in Marlborough, Swindon, Bath and Bristol.

Fiona Havill, careers & WRL manager at St John's, said: “Fiona has always been a fantastic supporter of St John’s and for many years has generously given up her time to be involved in a variety of career-related activities. We are very excited about working more closely with Fiona as our Enterprise Adviser and hope to use this opportunity to support new initiatives and further develop local employer links.

“We want students to develop a greater understanding of the world of work - the diversity of opportunities within the workplace, an increase in the choice of progression routes and the recognition of valuable employability skills – and Fiona will be a huge asset in developing these areas.”

Nicola Randy, employment and skills officer and enterprise coordinator who works for Wiltshire Council and the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), said: “Wiltshire Council’s Employment and Skills team and the CEC are delighted that Fiona has agreed to become an Enterprise Adviser, joining a national network of advisers established by the CEC.

“This network connects schools and colleges with employers and careers programme providers, to work together to create meaningful encounters with the world of work for young people. I am looking forward to working with Fiona, supporting the students at St John’s in making informed decisions about their future and helping them achieve against those choices.”

Fiona Kellow added: “The labour market remains extremely competitive, and employers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the skills they require of prospective employees. As an Enterprise Adviser, I will be looking to strengthen St John’s’ employer engagement strategy, support the development of the future workforce and help students get a head start in their careers.”

Super-fit solicitors smash previous best at triathlon

Written by Peter Davison .

Wansbroughs' triathletesSuper-fit solicitors from Wansbroughs have smashed their personal best at one of the UK’s top five triathlons.

The Devizes based law firm entered three teams into the JLL Property Triathlon at Dorney Lake, Eton, with their A Team coming sixth out out 272 in the mixed relay class, and 34th out of the total of 1,423 teams entered overall.

The relay triathlon sees one team member swimming 750m, a second compete in a 21.2k bike ride, and a third run 5k.

Team A’s Vanessa Kibble, solicitor, completed her swim in 13mins 16secs, before solicitor Michael Davies completed the cycle stage in 36m 15s – a personal best. With solicitor Josh Taylor completing the running element in 16m 45s – just 20 seconds outside his personal best – the team’s overall time, including transitions, came to 1hr 08mins 22secs.

Team B’s Charley Pattison, barrister, completed the swim in 14m 15s, Charlie Allen, marketing manager, completed the cycle stage in 40m 07s, and solicitor Chris Ware finished the run in 22m 52s, giving the team a placing of 56th in their group, and 337 of 1,423 overall.

And Team C’s Oliver Price, partner, swam in 17m 27s, solicitor Max Hobbs finished the bike ride in 42m 58s, and trainee Tim Kirkconel crossed the running finishing line in 27m 35s, placing the team 940th overall.

The event – held on June 30 – raised a total of £191,000 for housing charity Crisis.


Swindon charity CALM receives £4,000 from tech firm employees

Written by Peter Davison .

Swindon based CALM, a parent run support charity for children diagnosed with cancer, have received a welcome funding boost of £4000 from Excalibur Communications employees.

CALM charity Swindon accepted the cheque on Tuesday 20 June at the Excalibur headquarters in Peatmoor, with CALM Chairman Richard Crowley and many of the parents who volunteer their time to the vital charity in attendance. They also had a special visitor, Alexa Lewis (pictured).

Alexa was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (T-ALL) with an mediastinal mass on March 1st 2016, aged 4.

For the first four phases of Alexa’s treatment she went through nine months of intense chemotherapy during which time she received 8 different types of chemotherapy, had 11 lumbar punctures, lost her hair twice, received numerous blood transfusions and was admitted to hospital for various infections.

Alexa started the fifth and final phase of treatment, known as Maintenance in December 2016 and she will finish this in July 2018. This involves taking two chemotherapy medicines at home, one daily and the other once a week, taking steroids 5 days a month, receiving a third chemotherapy medicine at the hospital once a month and having a lumbar puncture every 3 months.

Alexa lives in Swindon with her Mum and older sister. Her treatment is shared between the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford and The Great Western Hospital, Swindon.

CALM Charity Swindon were introduced to Alexa and her family very soon after her initial diagnosis and have offered invaluable support and advice to Alexa’s mum. Alexa and her family have enjoyed some great days out organised and funded by CALM with other CALM families. They also hold regular coffee mornings which is a great opportunity for the children and parents to meet up with people in a similar situation. Alexa and her family are also going on holiday to Weymouth in August which has been organised by CALM which Alexa is very excited about as this will be her first holiday since diagnosis.

Richard said: “CALM is a Swindon based charity for Swindon families, and is run solely by parent volunteers. If families are looking for someone to help and support them after their child has been diagnosed, we are here to support them with our own experiences and more.”

Richard added: “We understand that families want to be able to go on holiday as a unit, and sometimes it’s about simply making memories if the illness is too aggressive. This money from Excalibur will really boost CALM towards it’s £75,000 target that we need to reach every year to continue to provide the level of support we currently do.”

Excalibur employees donate £5 each from their monthly salaries, which is then match funded by the company and donated to chosen charity every three months. CALM was chosen for this quarter by Tarlia Clements and voted in by Excalibur employees. Tarlia has a personal connection to the charity through a local family.

Tarlia said: “A family that that I’m close to had to go through the traumatic experience of losing their child to cancer, and they received some incredible support from CALM so I feel as though any contribution we can make back to them is repaying that in a way.”

“We try to donate to as many local charities as we can, but I felt this personal connection and had to nominate CALM for that reason.”

For more information on CALM Charity Swindon, visit

MD goes back to school as former head girl helps with interview training

Written by Peter Davison.

Mark Stenton headteacher and Denise O'LearyA Wiltshire business manager has returned to her old school, to help students prepare for the world of work.

Denise O’Leary, managing director of Purpol Marketing, found herself back at Clarendon Academy Trowbridge, where she was head girl 27 years ago.

Along with representatives from Capita, Texas Instruments, Qinetiq, Splitz Support Service, Atkins Global, Army Outreach, Specsavers, Audience Systems, Little Light Bulb, the NHS, Dorothy House Hospice Care, the Ministry of Defence and Wiltshire YFC, Denise helped students with interview techniques.

The mock interviews provided the students an opportunity to discuss their strengths, and learn how to best highlight their skills. They were asked to detail what they particularly enjoyed and how they could add value to a future employer.

Denise – who was Denise Smith when she was head girl in 1990 – said: “It was a delight to be back at Clarendon after so much time, being part of the business community that was giving back by sharing experience and insight for the benefit of the students.

“When I left after being head girl, little did I know the different careers that would await, but even then, I had the dream of starting my own business. In fact the first marketing role I held was with the Young Enterprise Scheme at Clarendon.

“The students were enthusiastic and soon overcame their nerves, I am sure the experience is hugely valuable to their confidence and will help as soon as they are ready to apply for future roles.”

Business gives backing to charity cycle ride

Written by Peter Davison .

Alan West with Emma Samways from InEventsA fledgling Wiltshire firm has thrown its support behind a charity event that will help fund vital access to healthcare in developing countries.

Trowbridge-based InEvents is backing Transaid’s London to Paris cycling challenge, which takes place in September, by sponsoring one of the cyclists taking part.

Transaid, an international development organisation, works to transform lives through safe, available, and sustainable transport in economically developing countries.
InEvents is sponsoring cyclist Alan West, who is an ambassador for Transaid based here in the South West.

Director Emma Samways, who launched the corporate event management and consultancy business in early 2016, said she wanted to support the challenge after hearing about the work Transaid does.

People living in rural areas of Africa often struggle to access vital services. Transaid’s Emergency Transport Scheme helps get pregnant mothers who live in rural areas of Africa to vital childbirth-related care, as well as helping community health workers reach families.

Around 75 percent of maternal deaths can be avoided through timely access to vital childbirth-related care, according to figures from The World Bank.

In sub-Saharan Africa, road deaths are the third biggest killer following HIV/AIDS and Malaria and the problem will only rise with the growing population.

Transaid works with partners and governments to train driver trainers. Its driver training programmes make drivers more competent, vehicles safer, and reduce death and injury on the road.

Ms Samways said: “Access to healthcare and safe transport are two things we take for granted here in the UK. When I first heard about Transaid I was struck by how fundamental and necessary their work was.

“Here at InEvents we are proud to be sponsoring Alan for this 240-mile cycle challenge. Having heard Alan speak about Transaid I know the cycle is much more than a physical challenge but is about highlighting the fantastic work of an organisation he believes passionately in. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to hearing about Transaid’s work.”

Mr West, who works for DHL Supply Chain, battled a foot stress fracture to complete the Paris Marathon in April, also for Transaid. Fully healed, he is now busy training hard for the cycle challenge.

He said: “I’d like to thank Emma and InEvents for their support. I hope their support and the cycle challenge will help raise Transaid’s profile, as well as raise vital funds for their work. I’m just hoping that this is less painful than the marathon.”

Mr West set himself a fundraising target of £1,600 for the two events with all money raised going straight to Transaid.

Brennan winner at Hills Wiltshire Professionals’ Golf Championship

Written by Peter Davison.

Nick Brennan teeing offNick Brennan of Tony Valentine Golf Centre was the winner of the 37th Hills Wiltshire Professionals’ Golf Championship held at Marlborough Golf Club on Thursday, July 6.

Brennan scored an overall three under par.

Despite a forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms, perfect conditions prevailed throughout the day and 19 of Wiltshire’s professional golfers took part in the 36 hole event.

The morning round saw Dan Carter of Upavon GC storm ahead of the field carding seven birdies to post an amazing five under par 67, with Henry Pallas of Upavon GC one under par and Nick Brennan at level par.

As temperatures soared in the afternoon, the competition on the course got tougher and the second round proved challenging for Carter who, despite an eagle on the 9th, had bogeys on six other holes. Pallas was also plagued by bogeys including a double and triple giving him an afternoon round of 76 and third place overall.

Brennan however had found his form and with four birdies and only one bogey, it was all to play for coming down the 18th as he was level with Carter. A fantastic chip onto the green gave Brennan the edge and a birdie putt secured him the title.

Pedal power brings boost for Swindon charity

Written by Peter Davison .

James Nethercott, Roger Emms and Nathan CornishTwo colleagues from Swindon regulatory and compliance consultancy RFS got on their bikes to support the town’s Prospect Hospice.

Donations for the 86 mile ride from Cardiff to Swindon, accomplished by Nathan Cornish and James Nethercott, have so far amounted to £1,400 for the hospice, which has been chosen as the firm’s charity of the year.

The pair set off at 7.30am and cycled for just under six hours to their destination – RFS’s head office in the railway quarter – arriving to cheers from their colleagues.

The idea for the ride came from Nathan, who lives in Cardiff and who joked that one day he would cycle to work.

“I wanted to do something to support the charity and to engage people,” said Nathan, an RFS Client Partner, who takes part in triathlons. “I had some information through about the cycle to work schemes, and decided to take it one step further and cycle all the way from Cardiff!”

James, head of marketing and a keen cyclist, offered to join Nathan. He said: “It was a great ride. A large part of the route was on narrow country lanes and it’s amazing how little traffic you come across.

“A bike is such a great way to explore the countryside. Added to that people were so generous with their donations, and we’d like to thank them. Prospect Hospice is a great charity to be supporting.”

The cycle ride is among a number of fundraising events being staged by the team at RFS, including coffee mornings and a tuck shop.

In September, the fundraising will hit new heights when RFS business delivery director Roger Emms joins an expedition to climb more than 19,000 feet to the top of Kilimanjaro.

To make a donation for the cycle visit
And to make a donation for Roger’s climb, visit

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