Community Champions

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

Motor dealer helps charity walkers hit fundraising target

Written by Peter Davison.

Ann Giles and Dominic ThrelfallA charity that supports around 4,000 unpaid carers in Swindon has raised more than £2,100 from a sponsored walk, after receiving the backing of Pebley Beach. MD Dominic Threlfall pledged to match every pound raised by Swindon Carers Centre’s Walk A Mile In My Shoes sponsored walk up to £1,000.

Spurred on by the company’s support, participants in the Walk A Mile In My Shoes raised £1,100 in sponsorship and donations.

With Pebley’s £1,000, the total stands at £2,100. Schools development officer Ann Giles, visited the Pebley Beach dealership in Paddington Drive, Swindon to pick up a giant cheque.

“The support of Pebley Beach means so much to us,” she said. The money will be used to fund breaks and activities for some of the 4,000 unpaid carers supported by the charity, whose ages range from between five and 96.

Family firm calls on fellow businesses to support school library appeal

Written by Peter Davison.

A Wiltshire plumbing company is hoping to tap into the generosity of fellow businesses, and help raise £11,000 for a school to build a new library.

John and Debbie Williams of John Williams Heating Services are calling on local businesses to support three proactive school children who want a better library at their primary school.

Lily, Freja and Jacob are all students at St Peter’s C of E Academy in Lords Mead. They decided to ask local businesses to help fund creating a better library for their school – and their letters formed part of a ‘persuasive’ writing task.

At the moment the library is more of a corridor and is badly in need of updating. The proposed project will cost about £11,000 and money is also be raised by the Friends of St Peter’s Academy.

Mark Everett, the headteacher of St Peter's said: “Our children really enjoy reading and have loved some of books to bits! We would love to update our library facilities for the children and are really grateful to John Williams Heating for kindly supporting us in this venture.”

The school’s budget cannot stretch to refurbishing and updating the library space so students came up with the idea of asking ten businesses to donate £100 each towards the total cost. So two businesses have come forward – John Williams Heating Services is one and the second is Chippenham Motor Company.

“We admire the proactive stand taken by these children,” Debbie Williams said. “They are not only showing their writing skills, but they are also doing it for the benefit of their school and the pupils of the future.

“I’m asking other local businesses to dig deep and reward the efforts being made by these young students who are all about ten years old. Perhaps a business could sponsor a bookcase? We’re thrilled to be able to do our bit to support these young people.”

Anyone interested in donating to the library project can contact the school on 01249 653537.

Workplace tech specialists support homeless with laptops and licences

Written by Peter Davison .

Workplace technology specialists Visually Connected are helping homeless people to get back on their feet and find work with the donation of computers and software licences.

The Royal Wootton Bassett-based company has donated laptops, desktops and Microsoft Office licences to Bristol-based charity Emmaus.

Emmaus offers homeless people across the UK a stable home and helps them find meaningful work to get their lives back on track.

James Zalewski, operations director of Visually Connected, said: "The support offered to companions during their time at Emmaus includes learning and development with training opportunities as well as application writing and accessing funding.

"To make this possible in today’s digital world, companions need access to technology. We were delighted to be able to help."

Charity bike ride raises £7,000 for Alzheimer’s Society

Written by Peter Davison.

The Waste on Wheels ridersA cycling team from fleet management firm CMS SupaTrak took part in a mammoth charity bike ride and raised over £7,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, despite being faced with dreadful riding conditions.

Waste on Wheels is a group of 20 riders from 15 different waste-related businesses. Last month they cycled from Reading to Weston-super-Mare and from the outset had to contend with a typically British summer – gusting winds and torrential and relentless rain.

Mike Allen, from Swindon-based CMS SupaTrak, was one of the team’s support crew and was kept extremely busy during the three-day event. “The weather really wasn’t good," he said.

"There were punctures galore, torn Lycra, broken wheels, shredded tyres and several riders ended up out of the saddle. Cuts and bruises, stitches and even broken ribs all made for a very challenging few days.”

Jason Airey, MD of CMS SupaTrak, was one of the riders. Jason said: “We are delighted that Waste on Wheels has raised so much - it makes what we all went through really worthwhile.

"Several of the cyclists have family affected by Alzheimer’s so they know first-hand how important fundraising events such as this are.

"This is also a wonderful example of people in our industry, who are competitors in business, coming together for a common good cause. I don’t know of another industry that does this.”

This is the fourth time that the waste-industry cycling team have worked together to raise money for good causes, bringing the total raised to around £120,000 so far.

On the final day the bedraggled, but not beaten, Waste on Wheels cyclists arrived in Weston-super-Mare to open the National Refuse Championships, which was won by reigning champions Grist Environmental.

Entrepreneurs raise £1,500 to help dyslexic children succeed

Written by Peter Davison.

Darren Clark and Kelly HolbrookEntrepreneurs Darren Clark and Kelly Holbrook have raised at least £1,500 for their new association to help children with dyslexia locally, nationally and overseas.

The pair, who run the Chippenham-based Spotless Group, held a charity gala ball earlier this month at Bowood Hotel & Spa to raise funds for this deserving cause.

Darren, now 42, was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 36 and this revealed why he’d been labelled one of the ‘slow’ children at school and was made to feel he was worthless when it came to education.

He said: “Being diagnosed made things fall into place for me. I realised I wasn’t stupid – after all I’ve created a successful business with the support of my business partner Kelly.

"That was following a career in retail from a trolley boy to a senior manager. Now I want to give back in order to help other children who learn in a different way.”

The event also marked the launch of the Spotless Dyslexia Association which will continue to raise money to support various projects.

The event will pay for equipment for those with dyslexia and learning difficulties at Sheldon School, Chippenham; support a national after-school project run by the national British Dyslexia Association; and further plans at the Rare Gem School in Kenya to buy their own plot of land for a new school – currently it’s believed to be the only school in Kenya dedicated to helping children with dyslexia.

Supporting the gala ball was tv presenter Paul Martin, known for presenting popular shows like Make Me A Dealer, Flog It!, and Countryfile Diaries, who has now pledged to become a patron.

Other speakers included LeDerick Horne, a poet and motivational speaker from New York who is also dyslexic, Jordan Harry, CEO of StudyFast and Andy Workman, a specialist in mental health training. Main sponsors for the event were insurance brand Jelf.

Spotless co-founder Kelly said: “We’d like to thank everyone who supported us at our first fundraising event. We were truly humbled and it’s fantastic to raise £1,500 and money is still coming in.”

Business partners, Darren and Kelly, 34, have been working together since 2011, and have rapidly grown the company’s original two businesses Spotless Spaces and Spotless Domestic Cleaning.

Today they both sit under the Spotless Group umbrella alongside a thriving training arm Spotless Training and Spotless Networking.

Darren is also an ambassador for the British Dyslexia Association and the International Dyslexia Association.

Housing association and charity come together to support vulnerable people

Written by Peter Davison.

A new home starter kitHousing association Aster Group recently joined forces with Cancer Research UK, its charity of the year, to support society’s most vulnerable people.

In line with its commitments under the Housing First initiative – a project designed to improve the lives of those who are stuck in a cycle of homelessness – Aster is working with the charity to provide new home starter kits for the homeless as well as those fleeing domestic abuse.

For a donation from Aster, CRUK provides soft furnishings, utensils and other goods which Aster then donates to customers who have fled domestic violence or are recently out of the cycle of homelessness.

Sarah Durrans, regional director at Aster Group said: “We are delighted to work in partnership with Cancer Research UK to provide some much-needed support for families and individuals moving into an Aster home and leaving behind what was most likely an unsettling time for them. And it’s an added bonus that we’re able to raise money for cancer research at the same time.

“We look forward to continuing this partnership and to providing more and more people with a positive start to the next chapter in their lives.”

So far, three new home starter kits have been donated to help those who need it most.

Cassey Fenton, area support manager for Cancer Research UK, said: “This collaboration has been a great opportunity to help some of the UK's most vulnerable people have access to every day basic essentials, such as clothing and cooking equipment.

“It’s great knowing that our supporters' donations are making real-life differences to those who need it most. This joined-up working approach has helped those most in need whilst raising essential funds for life-saving research to help us beat cancer sooner.”

Solicitors have fundraising off to a tee

Written by Peter Davison.

Matt Life Renee Gardi Josh Taylor and Chris WareStaff from Devizes law firm Wansbroughs enjoyed a successful day of golf and fundraising at the recent Wiltshire Golf Day for Julia's House Children's Hospice.

Associate solicitor Josh Taylor won the overall prize, with marketing manager Renée Gardi winning the 'closest to the line' drive.

The Wansbroughs team – which included Renée, Josh, associate solicitor Chris Ware, and partner Matt Life – came third over all.

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