Community Champions

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

Sports clinic supports Paralympic medal-winner

Written by Peter Davison.

Samantha Bramley with Stephanie MillwardA Chippenham sports clinic is working with local multiple-medal winning Paralympic swimmer Stephanie Millward as she attempts to gain selection for her fourth Paralympic Games in Japan next year.

With a history of helping local elite athletes, including members of the record breaking British Skeleton team and England Women’s rugby player Sydney Gregson, Active Potential Therapy began giving regular sports massage treatments to Stephanie last year.

Stephanie is receiving weekly treatments ahead of her qualifying dates at the British Trials in Glasgow next week.

Swimming in the 400m Freestyle S9 category, this selection race will determine participation in July’s World Championships which in turn will lead towards representing Team GB at Tokyo 2020.

Samantha Bramley, owner of Active Potential Therapy said: “We’re so excited to be supporting Stephanie in her efforts to represent Great Britain again at Tokyo 2020.

"Watching sport at a high level is so fundamental in joining communities together. We can all recall memories of shouting encouragement from our sofas during previous Olympics and Paralympics and I am so proud that Active Potential Therapy is supporting another of our local athletes competing on the World Stage.”

Aged 16, Stephanie was British National 100m Backstroke Champion and just 18 months away from the Sydney 2000 Olympics, when she started to suffer with symptoms including temporary paralysis, blindness, difficulty balancing and even walking.

It took six months for the specialists to diagnose Multiple Sclerosis. Thereafter, Stephanie continued to endure these symptoms, battling chronic pain and depression, even to the point of avoiding swimming pools for 10 years. Her love of swimming returned when she taught a friend to swim.

Within months, Stephanie credibly competed in Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, and four years later went on to win five medals at London 2012 and a further five, including two coveted golds, at Rio 2016.

Now in the unfamiliar position of being an un-funded athlete, she relies on local support and is grateful for the weekly Active Potential Therapy massages saying: “With the level of training I am doing, whilst still battling with my MS, the soft tissue treatments I receive have allowed me to make unbelievable progress both in the pool and in the gym.

"I couldn’t be happier approaching the British Trials and I can’t thank Sam and her amazing team enough for aiding my fitness, recovery and ability to train every day”.

Away from training and doing her part-time book-keeping job, Stephanie is patron for two charities (Just4Children and MS Society), ambassador for a further six charities, she speaks at school assemblies, has presented to the House of Lords at Westminster, gives motivational speeches to local clubs and companies, and volunteers weekly at a Riding for the Disabled centre.

Anyone wishing to donate do Stephanie's fundraising campaign can do so at


Law firm gives a lift to contemporary dance performance

Written by Peter Davison.

Image courtesy of Steve TannerA contemporary dance performance that explores issues surrounding mental health has the backing of Devizes-based law firm Wansbroughs.

The solicitors are sponsoring a performance promoted by Operaluna at Dauntsey's School Memorial Hall on April 24.

James Wilton Dance’s The Storm is described as an entertaining, energetic and thought-provoking production, and has already received glowing reviews.

It features seven dancers, a specially composed score by Amarok / Michal Wojtas and scientific input from Dr David Belin, lecturer in behavioural neuroscience at Cambridge University.

Tickets are available from


Law firm raises £30,000 for Air Ambulance

Written by Peter Davison.

Staff at Wiltshire law firm Goughs have raised £14,000 for Wiltshire Air Ambulance in two years – bringing their rolling total of fundraising for the charity to £30,000.

A cheque was recently presented to the charity by employees Emma Taylor and Daisy Froggatt from the proceeds of fundraising events including Goughs Golf Day, participation in the Corsham 10k, running charity curry events, office tuck shops, dress down days and donating fees for document signing.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance provides a vital helicopter emergency medical service throughout the county, saving the lives of people living, working and travelling in Wiltshire. It currently costs £3.75 million per year to keep the air ambulance operational and the charity relies on donations.

A significant proportion of the money raised by Goughs has gone towards the creation of the charities new air base in Semington, allowing their helicopter, aircrew and charity team all to be on the same site at the same time.

Kevin Basnett, managing partner at Goughs Solicitors, said: “We are very pleased to have raised this money for such a worthwhile cause. Wiltshire Air Ambulance undertakes essential lifesaving work, day and night, for the benefit of everyone in Wiltshire - we are extremely lucky to have such a valuable service in our county”.

Valerie Whistler, partnerships coordinator for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We are very grateful to Goughs Solicitors, who are long-standing and very dedicated supporters of our charity.

“Goughs were one of the original members of our 100 Club for local businesses, they helped us significantly during the Airbase Appeal and, to date, have raised in excess of £30,000 to support their local air ambulance.

“Wiltshire Air Ambulance receives no direct Government funding or National Lottery grants, so relies on generous donations from its supporters and local businesses like Goughs to continue its lifesaving service.”

Law firm aims high with charity fundraising drive

Written by Peter Davison.

Jacobs LadderStaff at law firm Forrester Sylvester Mackett have chosen Jacob’s Ladder, a Warminster-based charity that supports children and young adults with special needs, as their charity of the year.

Throughout the year staff will be organising individual and group activities to raise funds – some of which will involve the wider business community.

Other activities include a 14-mile sponsored walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal in May.

Forrester Sylvester Mackett’s senior partner, Nigel Godsiffe, said “We are delighted to be supporting such a worthwhile local cause.

"Our staff tend to vote for organisations close to their heart, and we really look forward to raising as much as possible for Jacob’s Ladder over the coming year.

"I will even be donning my walking boots in the spring!”

Jacob’s Ladder was started by Kirsty Holdsworth in memory of her younger brother Jacob, who had Fragile-X syndrome and died aged five.

Jacob’s Ladder now offers fun and stimulating after school clubs, school-holiday play schemes, stay and play sessions and family days for children with special needs aged 2-19, and their families.

Wiltshire companies send old computers to Africa

Written by Peter Davison.

Swindon and Wiltshire companies have donated unwanted IT equipment to schools in Africa, as part of a campaign spearheaded by communications firm Excalibur.

Excalibur customers including Ecosulis, 3GHR, Wiltshire Air Ambulance and Retrac Composites have donated a wide selection of working equipment to the charity IT Schools Africa.  

To date, one server, 20 PCs, 13 laptops and 11 flat screens are heading to schools in Africa, with more to follow.

The charity is always in need of working IT equipment including PCs, laptops with chargers, flat screen monitors, mice and keyboards, iPads, tablets and smartphones, un-used toner cartridges, hard drives and RAM.
Peter Boucher, Excalibur CEO, said: “I would like to thank our customers who have donated working IT equipment to such a great cause.

“Excalibur and Techs4Education are passionate about using technology to make the student class room experience second to none.  

“IT Schools Africa is making real inroads into making this happen in countries like Malawi, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe  

“It’s a privilege for us to work with an organisation that’s unlocking the benefits IT can bring to children in accessing a quality education.  We will continue to encourage our customers to donate equipment.”
Jenny Evans marketing and donations coordinator at IT Schools Africa added: “Equipment like this makes our work possible and ensures we can continue to enable quality education through IT and improve employment and life opportunities for our students in Africa.  

“Closer to home, we support local charities and community projects through our Community IT Outreach Programme where we bridge the inequality of access to technology and training in digital skills and services. We are proud to make a difference both globally and locally.”

Companies with unwanted IT equipment to donate can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Charity gift-wrapping service raises £5,000

Written by Peter Davison.

Hollie Ricketts from Prospect Hospice and Jane Stewart from The Brunel CentreThe Prospect Hospice gift wrap stall in Swindon Town Centre’s Brunel Shopping Centre raised more than £5,000 this Christmas, bringing the total raised to more than £20,000 in five years.

Every year, throughout December, an army of Prospect Hospice volunteers descend on the shopping centre to wrap shoppers’ presents in return for a donation to the charity.

The initiative was started in 2014 and has grown each year since with this year’s total up by more than £400 on last year. A second stall was added in The Brunel Arcade for Christmas 2018.

Hollie Ricketts, community fundraiser for Prospect Hospice, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the amount raised this year and thrilled that in just five years the stall has raised £21,759.88.

"We are very grateful to the team at The Brunel who welcome our volunteers and look after us all so well each year and, of course, to all of volunteers who worked so hard wrapping the presents this year. We love putting on this event for the local community.

“I’d also like to sincerely thank everyone who used the gift-wrap service and made a donation. This is an important annual fundraising event for the hospice and every penny raised goes straight into helping to care for our patients and their families.”

Jane Stewart, centre manager of The Brunel said: “We are delighted that the gift wrap stall idea has grown into something that is raising a significant amount of money for Prospect Hospice.

"The Prospect charity is close to the hearts of many of Swindon’s residents and we are very proud to continue to support this event and to give our shoppers an opportunity to show their support for their local charity. Breaking through the £20,000 mark is just fabulous.”

Prospect Hospice and The Brunel have confirmed that the gift wrap stall will return again in December 2019. Anyone who would like to volunteer to wrap presents should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Charity mascot kept busy on first birthday

Written by Peter Davison.

Marsha at the Swindon Santa Fun Run One of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s most loved team mem-bears marked her first birthday on Sunday (2 December) by attending three fundraising events.

Marsha, the charity’s pilot bear mascot, cheered on those taking part in the Swindon Santa Fun Run at Lydiard Park, Swindon, and even took part in the Zumba warm up!

She then joined other Wiltshire Air Ambulance volunteers at a stall by Santa’s Grotto at Leekes department store in Melksham before attending the Winter Wonderland event at Whitehall Garden Centre, near Chippenham, where she ended the day by cutting her birthday cake.

Marsha has been in huge demand since joining Wiltshire Air Ambulance, attending a variety of fundraising events all over Wiltshire on her own or with her paramedic bear crew-mate, Wilber.

Marsha and Wilber are sponsored by Soft Options Water Softeners Limited, a family run business based in Burbage, near Marlborough.

Soft Options supply and install water softeners and filtered drinking water systems and also offer water softener servicing and salt supplies for both domestic and commercial use.

Beth Gardner, fundraising manager at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Marsha has proven to be as popular with the public as our paramedic mascot, Wilber, and has attended all sorts of events including bake sales, a netball match and a charity football match at Swindon Town FC.

“We’re so grateful to Soft Options Water Softeners Limited for sponsoring Marsha and Wilber, as it shows their commitment to our lifesaving work. We’d also like to thank our volunteers who help bring our mascots to life.”

Wiltshire Air Ambulance is always keen to hear from businesses who would be interested in helping the charity. Call the charity team on 01225 300536 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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