Community Champions

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

Hills helps the homeless at Christmas

Written by Peter Davison.

Doorway chief executive Lisa Lewis receives a 150 donation from The Hills Group chief executive Mike HillSwindon-based company The Hills Group has shown its Christmas spirit by supporting local charities who help the homeless.

Instead of giving Christmas cards, Hills has donated £150 each to Doorway, a Chippenham-based drop in centre offering a range of services to homeless people and Threshold Housing Link, which provides accommodation for single homeless people and a Street Outreach Team which supports those who are rough sleeping in Swindon.

Doorway chief executive Lisa Lewis commented: “We are delighted that The Hills Group is supporting Doorway again this year.

"We receive no statutory funding so we are entirely reliant on the generosity of the local community to ensure that our valuable service continues.

"We will use the money towards our frontline service provision for those who are street homeless, sofa surfing, or struggling to maintain a tenancy over this winter.”

Lyn Cuss, operations manager at Threshold added: “Threshold would like to thank Hills for their kind generosity.

"This donation will go towards setting up a drop in session whereby those who are rough sleeping along with our residents can engage in therapeutic activities including arts, crafts, music and poetry.”

In addition to the cash donations for Doorway and Threshold, Hills’ is again providing free waste management services to Christmas Care – a local charity offering food and shelter to Swindon’s homeless over Christmas.

The Hills Group chief executive Mike Hill said: “We support a variety of local and national charities with fundraising activities throughout the year – and at Christmas we particularly like to help those who find themselves homeless.

"We hope that our donations help Doorway, Threshold and Swindon Christmas Care to continue their amazing work and can help vulnerable local people enjoy a happy Christmas.”

Accountants raise funds for Parkinson’s charity

Written by Peter Davison.

Simon Cooper, Simon Alchin, June Best of MHA Monahans hand over the cheque donation to Sue White, John Johnston and Bill Perkins of Parkinson's UK's Malmesbury and District branchBusinesses across Wiltshire have raised £788 for Parkinson’s UK’s Malmesbury and District branch at the Chippenham Charity Quiz, organised by chartered accountants MHA Monahans.

The event saw 14 teams come together in a battle of the brains, with the ‘Beasts of Bodman’ taking first place.

Parkinson’s UK’s Malmesbury and District branch offers information, friendship and support, including sitting dance and sitting exercise sessions to help mobility, to local people with Parkinson's, as well as their families and carers, across north Wiltshire.

Approximately 50 percent of their members live in or around Chippenham and all donations to the local branch are used for local initiatives.

Simon Cooper, Partner at MHA Monahans in Glastonbury, said: “The Chippenham Charity Quiz has now been going for four years and has become a fundraising event that many local businesses look forward to.

“We raised a record amount this year and we’re proud to have chosen Parkinson’s UK’s Malmesbury and District branch as our charity as the support they provide to those with Parkinson’s and their families makes an incredible difference.”

Bill Perkins, chairman of the Malmesbury and District branch of Parkinson’s UK, added: “MHA Monahans raised an amazing amount of money for us and we are very pleased to receive it.

"We are a totally self-funding branch so donations such as this make a huge difference to the activities and achievements that the branch is able to carry out.”

Swindon solicitors take on Ben Nevis challenge

Written by Peter Davison.

Francis George on Mount BlancA team from a Swindon law firm is climbing Britain’s highest mountain peak to help support North Wiltshire Resolution.

Francis George, senior partner at francis george solicitor-advocate, is also chairman of the North Wiltshire branch of Resolution, a growing group of family lawyers which works to resolve disputes and family-related cases constructively and amicably.

He will scale 1,345m Ben Nevis with business partner Asif Robbani and Ross Peters, a trainee lawyer at francis george solicitor-advocate.

The expedition is set for December 9, and, given the time of year, the three will be undertaking a winter climbing skills course first. On the trip, mountaineer Iain Murray will act as their guide.

Francis said: “Divorce and separation can be a mountain to climb unless handled effectively”.

“There’s likely to be snow, ice and tears on the climb. I know how challenging these climbs can be – I scaled Mont Blanc back in July and the conditions were bad then, even at the height of summer.

“But it was genuinely the experience of a lifetime. The team and I are now embracing this thrilling new challenge, getting into some training and looking forward to raising some much-needed funds for Resolution.

“As the chair of the local region, I feel it’s important that we continue to raise money and spread the word about what Resolution does in the hope that this will encourage other family lawyers and clients to adopt the same mentality. I hope so much that people will support us and this very worthy cause.”

Donations can be made via the firm’s JustGiving page at


Solicitors run, swim, and cycle to raise money for charity

Written by Peter Davison.

Sam Morris, Josh Taylor, Chris Ware, Becky Speed, Oliver Price and Max HobbsSolicitors from Devizes law firm Wansbroughs ran, swam and cycled to raise funds for children's charity Jemima's Gift.

Two teams entered the annual JLL Property Triathlon at Eton Dorney on Friday (June 28) – renowned as one of the UK’s top five triathlons.

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

Swimmer Oliver Price, runner Josh Taylor and cyclist Max Hobbs came 122nd out of 474 in a time of one hour 21 minutes, while swimmer Sam Morris, runner Chris Ware and cyclist Becky Speed came 464th with a time of time of two hours 17 minutes.

The firm raised £160 for Jemima's Gift, a Wiltshire-based charity established in memory of Jemima Prees, who died in a ski-ing accident in 2013, aged 10.

Jemima was a keen horse rider, performer and reader, and money raised by the charity goes towards providing opportunities for other children to reach their full potential in sports, the arts, and in learning activities.

Sponsorship hits the right note with young musician

Written by Peter Davison.

Matthew Powell receives his bursary grant from Tim PreesWiltshire's Young Musician of the Year won a £250 bursary from law firm Wansbroughs last week.

Trumpeter Matthew Powell was crowned at the Devizes Eisteddfod, which took place at the Town Hall.

Seventeen-year-old Matthew wowed judges with his recital of Hummel's Trumpet Concerto, first movement.

Matthew's bursary will be put towards further music tuition.

IT kit helps e-learners in Africa

Written by Peter Davison.

IT equipment donated by accountancy firm RSM in Swindon has been given a new lease of life for use in schools in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The IT equipment, which was decommissioned by RSM ahead of the firm's move to new premises in Firefly Avenue in Swindon last year was donated to UK-registered charity IT Schools Africa.

First set-up in 2004, IT Schools Africa operates in Africa and the UK with a mission to ​transform lives through access to e-Learning.

Before being donated, all data stored on the computers was erased. The machines were then refurbished by the charity before being sent off for use in three schools, the Lusaka High School in Lusaka, Zambia, the Walela Basic School in Chipata, Zambia and the St Annes Goto High School in Wedza, Zimbabwe.

IT Schools Africa aims to give another 5-6 years of life to every machine that is sent to African schools. When they eventually reach the end of their life span, the computers are sent to a recycling facility in South Africa where they can be disposed of safely and responsibly.

Sharon Omer-Kaye, office managing partner at RSM in Swindon said: "When we moved into new premises last year, we were very keen to donate all of our old equipment to charity, so I'm absolutely delighted to know that our computers are now helping students in Zambia and Zimbabwe."

Air ambulance flying high with fun day donation

Written by Peter Davison.

Dave Hyde and Tracey Mason of Akcess Medical with Wiltshire Air Ambulance paramedics Louise Cox and Ben Abbott and pilot Nicky SmithWiltshire Air Ambulance is better off to the tune of £1,000 thanks to the fundraising efforts of two Swindon companies.

Akcess Medical, which runs a non-emergency patient transport service, and its sister company Akcess CIC, which provides community transport, netted the funds from a fun day they ran in the summer.

The event was organised by Akcess Medical’s crew manager, Tracey Mason, who said: “We were going to run a fun day for the staff then decided to get the public involved and try to raise some money for charity at the same time.

“Wiltshire Air Ambulance was an obvious charity to support, because they do such a great job and rely almost entirely on public donations to keep flying. It takes £8,904 a day – or £3.25m a year – to keep the air ambulance flying, so while our donation is a drop in the ocean, it all helps.”

Kenresa Stratford, of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “Thanks so much to the team at Akcess Medical and Akcess CIC for their incredible fundraising from their family fun day held in the summer. We really appreciate their support. Their support means that we can continue to keep flying and saving lives.”

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