Community Champions

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

Care home provider launches grants for community groups

Written by Peter Davison.

Ben CurtisCare at home provider Bluebird Care Swindon is once again offering to back a local group which supports older people in the Swindon area.

The company will fund a £250 community grant, and is currently looking for applications from groups, charities and organisations which work in Swindon to help support elderly people living in the community.

This the third community grant being offered by the company. Previous grants were given to the Eastcott Community Organisation, to help fund its popular fortnightly afternoon teas for older people, and Cricklade Open Door, to provide equipment for activities laid on for older people who use the services of the charity in Jenner Hall in Cricklade.

The group that can best demonstrate a need for additional support will be allocated the funds. Bluebird Care Swindon is especially interested in groups working in the field of dementia and mental health for older people.

“We were very pleased to support groups like Eastcott Community Organisation and Cricklade Open Door in their important work supporting older members of the community,” said Ben Curtis, managing director.

“We know there are lots of smaller charities and community groups like them, which work tirelessly for the benefit of the community. We are committed to supporting these groups and hope our third grant will enable another organisation to continue to provide its services within Swindon”.

Bluebird Care Swindon offers a realistic alternative to residential care, by allowing people to stay in their own homes with care and support. The support can involve one or more short visits a day, extending to overnight help and live-in care.

Ben added: “The Bluebird Care Community Grant will also come with support and advice. We want to work with a local project that gives older people an opportunity to try something new and that will add benefit to their lives. Examples of the types of projects we are looking for could include gardening, leisure, recreational, help with day trips or musical activities.”

Applications should be submitted by the deadline of June 1. For more details or to request an application form, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone Michael Auton on 07862 253514. Copies of the application form can also be picked up from the Bluebird Care office in Swindon at Suite E6, Gemini House, Groundwell Industrial Estate, Swindon, SN25 5AZ.

Accountants step up for White Horse Challenge

Written by Peter Davison.

Immy Hellawell, of MHA Monahans, with Graham Drake of Rygor and Holly Ayton of Wiltshire Air Ambulance. MHA Monahans' David Wright and Dan Slade are on treadmills behindStaff at chartered accountancy firm MHA Monahans have put on their trainers and stepped up to start off this year’s White Horse Challenge at full speed by covering 154.93 miles in one day – without even leaving their offices.

81 members of staff across the firm’s Swindon, Taunton and Trowbridge offices took to treadmills, provided by HomeGym UK, to officially mark the start of this year’s fundraising event. Trowbridge’s 29 runners and walkers covered 68.86 miles between them in a day, with 34 from Swindon clocking up 54.6miles. The Taunton team, which comprised 18 people, walked or run 52.07 miles.

Organised by MHA Monahans, Rygor and the Rocking Horse Nursery in Melksham, the White Horse Challenge will take place over the weekend of 7 and 8 July and poses walkers with challenges of between 7 and 52 miles.

All funds raised by the walkers go to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance and since the White Horse Challenge was started in 2006 over £147,300 has been raised.

There are four event challenges to choose from, with the Complete Challenge taking place over the two days and walkers will cover 52 miles, taking in seven of Wiltshire’s white horses and walking from Devizes to Marlborough on a 27 mile route on day one, and back on a 25 mile route on day two.

There is an option to camp overnight, with tents set up by the organisers ready for a night’s rest and a cooked breakfast in the morning.

One day challenges are available as well and walkers can choose to join either the 27 mile route on Saturday or the 25 mile route on Sunday. Relay challenges are open for teams of four or more and a mini challenge will take place on the Sunday.

"The mini challenge covers seven miles and is an ideal option for families and novice walkers who want to take part and raise much-needed funds for this vital local charity.

Simon Tombs, managing partner at MHA Monahans, said: “MHA Monahans has been co-organisers of the White Horse Challenge since it began 12 years ago, and we are proud of the impact and benefit it has had to Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

“As a charity which relies solely on donations, it is important that we support this local lifeline. Every year we hear more amazing stories about their life-saving work and we’re humbled to be able to walk beside many of the people they’ve helped during the White Horse Challenge.

“To have had a total of 81 staff walk and run almost 155 miles to signal the start of this year’s event is testament to the great support the charity has locally, as well as the commitment MHA Monahans colleagues have to going the extra mile.

"Again this year we will be putting forward a number of teams and entrants for all the challenges and I would encourage all other businesses to do the same.”

For more information on the White Horse Challenge and to register, visit


Plumbing firm helps beer lovers sink more ale

Written by Peter Davison.

Debbie and John WilliamsHeating and plumbing engineers John Williams Heating Services are providing a vital ingredient for one of Wiltshire's biggest beer and cider festivals – the glasses.

For the third year running, co-founders Debbie and John Williams are supporting the annual Chippenham CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival which takes place in the town on Friday April 27 and Saturday April 28.

The event attracts hundreds of visitors who sample real ales, many brewed locally and this is the 26th annual event.

Run by the North Wilts CAMRA team, the event is being held at the Olympiad Leisure Centre and tickets are £10.

These must be purchased for each tasting session – these run from 6pm to 11pm on Friday April 27, 11am to 4pm and 7pm to 11pm on Saturday April 28. Tickets must be purchased and are limited.

Prizes are awarded for the best beers and ciders, while everyone who tweets #beersandcheers on social media with a picture of one of John and Debbie’s glasses – and tags them – will be entered in a prize draw to win a keg of beer.

John said: “We’re proud to be able to help out. Supplying glasses for an event like this may seem like a small thing to do – however so many people come along it can be a headache to organise and sort out containers for the ales.

"We’re thrilled to be part of the festival which celebrates real ale and local producers.”

For more event information visit


Construction firm staff raise over £15k for Asperger’s and autism charity

Written by Peter Davison.

Staff at Swindon-based construction company Beard have raised £15,344.75 for local charity Discovering Autistic Spectrum Happiness (DASH), which supports adults in Swindon with Asperger’s and autism.

The donation comes as part of a company-wide, year-long fundraising appeal in celebration of the firm’s 125th business anniversary.

The significant sum was raised over 12 months by the firm’s Swindon staff through numerous fundraising events.

DASH is an independent local charity with a mission to improve the quality of life of adults of working age with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s living in Swindon.

It aims to help people with autism enjoy safer, healthier, more sociable, more productive and happier lives.

Beard’s Swindon director Marc Bayley said: “I’m extremely proud of all our Swindon staff who have worked really hard to raise this money. DASH is such an important charity which has helped so many people living with Asperger’s in our local area.

"I hope that our donation will help the DASH team continue their valuable work which is making a difference to people’s lives in our community.”

Money raised by Beard’s Swindon staff was match-funded by The Beard Charitable Foundation. Set up in 2016 by the Beard family, The Beard Charitable Foundation provides funding support to Beard employees in their charitable and community pursuits across the South of England.

It also makes grants of around £20,000 annually, as well as strategic donations to local charities for projects which promote construction industry careers.

DASH manager Adrian Embling said: “DASH is enormously grateful for the time and effort so selflessly donated by everyone at Beard.

"It was heartening to hear that everyone had such a good time at the fundraising events. It is an astonishing achievement and means we can reassure our service users that their social groups can continue for another year.

"This affects the lives of many adults on the Autistic spectrum. DASH social groups are often the only social outlet for many of the people who attend."

Electronics firm raises £12,000 for airbase appeal

Written by Peter Davison.

Presenting the £12,000 cheque to Wiltshire Air Ambulance while visiting the new airbase at Semington are paramedic Craig Wilkins, Sarah Naldi, Kevin Parks, Adam Summers, Jenny Goward, Garry Myatt from Fabrinet, pilot Matt Wilcock, paramedic James Hubbard, Su Diccox and Linda Jennings of Fabrinet, Valerie Whistler, partnerships coordinator at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, and paramedic Paul RockStaff from Calne-based electronics manufacturing business Fabrinet UK have handed over a cheque for £12,000 to support the Wiltshire Air Ambulance in the development of its new airbase in Semington.

Fabrinet joined the WAA’s 100 Club in March 2017 and pledged to raise £10,000 for the new Airbase Appeal. Fundraising activities included a charity ball, and the team exceeded their target by £2,000.

Jenny Goward, HR director at Fabrinet UK said: “Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a tremendously worthy cause, we have been supporting them for a number of years and our employees do an outstanding job in working with us to raise funds.

“We are delighted to have raised such a significant amount and surpass our pledge of £10k. We have had a lot of fun over the past year with the different fundraising events and I would like to thank everyone who supported us including some of our customers and suppliers.”

Jenny and other colleagues from Fabrinet UK visited Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new airbase at Semington last week to present the £12,000 cheque to the charity.

They saw the helipad, the Flight and Operations Centre, the charity team office, training suite and visitors’ viewpoint, which looks over the helipad.

Jenny said: “The new airbase looks fantastic and we are so impressed with the facilities it has for the charity team, aircrew and visitors. Having the charity team and the aircrew on the same site will have many benefits.

"We are proud to have helped fundraise for this wonderful new facility that will benefit all of Wiltshire.”

Valerie Whistler, partnerships coordinator at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: ”We are so delighted to have the support of Fabrinet UK, who have not only met but absolutely smashed the £10,000 fundraising target as members of the 100 Club.

“The employees and friends of Fabrinet have done an outstanding job raising £12,000 and we would like to say a massive thank you to them. We were delighted to show them round the new airbase.

“The money they have raised has been significant in completing the building and equipping of our new airbase in Semington, which will help to ensure the long term future of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and enable us to continue to save lives.”

The airbase is being fitted out before it becomes operational by this summer.

Charity seeks heroes to take a dive

Written by Peter Davison.

Business Against Poverty is looking for daredevils willing to throw themselves from an aeroplane for charity.

A skydive will take place at Netheravon Airfield on Saturday, May 12. Leading the charge will be Business Against Poverty non-executive director and trustee Dick Beath, a former British Infantry major.

Anyone who wants to take part in the skydive will be required to pay a £50 deposit and raise £400 in sponsorship. All funds will go towards the Melksham-based charity's work improving the lives of people living in desperate conditions around the world.

For more information or to book a place email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01225 541269. A second jump will be held on Saturday, September 15.

Companies challenged to take on the Great Wiltshire Walk

Written by Peter Davison.

Julias' House Devizes team prepare for the Great Wiltshire Walk L-R Heather Philpotts, Lisa McGill, Sam Roberts, Jess Lowe and Lisa BradburyCompanies are being challenged to take on a new walking marathon that shows off the best of Wiltshire to raise money for Julia’s House, the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice charity.

The Great Wiltshire Walk on Saturday, July 20 will take in 26 miles of some of the county’s most breathtaking countryside.

Beginning and ending at the Kings Arms pub in picturesque All Cannings, walkers will take in landmarks including three White Horses, a hill fort, ancient defences and a stone circle, as well as stunning view.

Organiser Hannah Miller, the charity’s challenge events manager, said it is an ideal team activity for staff.

“It’s a great day of walking, sightseeing and team bonding, plus the teams can help a really great local cause,” she said.

Organisers are promising a chance to savour historic landmarks such as the site of Oldbury Castle, an iron age hill fort near Cherhill, White Horses at Devizes, Cherhill and Alton Barnes, wildflowers, Neolithic monuments and pretty villages while to fundraise for the local children and families supported by Julia’s House.

“We have a very popular Jurassic Trek in Dorset that has had hundreds of people taking part every year for the past four years and we thought that north Wiltshire would be perfect for a similar walk. The Sarsen Trail, which followed a similar route, is no longer running so this is an ideal alternative," said Hannah.

“It will give people taking part the opportunity to see the very best of Wiltshire, finishing with the wonderful views of the Vale of Pewsey. At the end we’ll have music and a free hog roast with a celebratory glass of prosecco.

“All money raised from the trek will help us care for life-limited children locally and give respite to exhausted mums and dads.”
Everyone taking part will receive fundraising support from the Julia’s House team, as well as support on the day. Along the route, which will be fully signposted, there’ll be refuelling stops with water and snacks. There will also be medical support available.
Registration for the event costs £30 and all walkers get a free Julia’s House t-shirt and a route map. All finishers will be presented with a medal. There are discounts for teams, depending on numbers taking part.

The charity hopes walkers will each be able to raise £200 each for the charity. “We really hope it grows into a much-loved annual event that people want to come back and join year after year,” said Hannah.

“Julia’s House is a local charity working in the community, funded by the community. Without the generosity and support of the public and local businesses there would be no Julia’s House. We rely on public donations, fundraising and legacies for 95 per cent of the money needed to run our vital service for local families.”

Sign up for The Great Wiltshire Walk at


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