Monday, 28 February 2011

End of month 2 - review of February

So it's March tomorrow - where has the time gone?!

February has been a success; again, I've had no trouble finding charities, in fact, I've noticed the same names popping up but February has been a more varied month than January, so from now on I'm going to work harder to find charities rather than them finding me!

I’ve donated just under £100 this month but I feel I could make better use of donating my time!

One thing that Mr M and I did in February was to house someone in our spare room who found herself homeless for a bit. She’s now found somewhere to stay and is moving out shortly, but we really enjoyed doing something practical to help and having her company.

Next month I’m going to try to ensure charities are more local and also get ideas from friends and families.

I also was advised by a friend in cyberspace that someone else is doing a similar charity challenge to mine; great minds obviously think alike! I thought I had come up with the idea when I was plodding up and down the swimming pool, but this guy actually started his way before I did and donates $10 a day to different charities!

Roll on March and please get in touch if you have a favoured charity!

Monday, 28th February - Barnardo’s.

Today was Barnardo's as I wrote a press release on the service manager of Renault London West running the London marathon in aid of Barnardo's....

Barnardo’s vision today is that the lives of all children and young people should be free from poverty, abuse and discrimination. Barnardo’s believe in the abused, the vulnerable, the forgotten and the neglected. We pledge to support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in each and every child.

This vision is the same as the one Thomas Barnardo had when he came to London in 1866 and found children sleeping in the streets and being forced to beg for food. It was in 1867 that he set up the Ragged School and started helping the abused, vulnerable, forgotten and neglected children of east london and his work still continues today.

By the time Thomas Barnardo died in 1905, the charity he founded ran 96 homes caring for more than 8,500 children. Following his death his work continued and now Barnardo’s helps more than 100,000 children, young people and their families every year. Like Thomas Barnardo, we believe that every child deserves the best start in life and the chance to fulfil their potential.


Renault London West’s service manager David Leighton is swapping cars for trainers when he runs this year’s London marathon in aid of Barnardo’s.

David, aged 43, from Potters Bar, ran his very first London marathon last year in 4hrs 17 minutes, raising £1,600 for Barnardo’s.

This year, he plans to run it even faster with support on the day from his wife Lorraine, children Emily, Jack and Harry, while raising twice as much for his chosen charity.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to complete the London marathon, and having done it last year, I was bitten by the bug! Training is going well as I’m running 20 miles a week and steadily increasing that.

“Barnardo’s is a great charity but not as recognised as it should be considering it does such a great job for children who don’t have great lives and who believe in children no matter who they are or what they have done. It means a lot to me to help them achieve everything that they do.”

David, a father-of-three, runs children’s football team Hadley Rangers Football Club youth team, so says that children’s charities are close to his heart. Members of the team will also be travelling to London to support him on Sunday, 17th April.

He added: “It’s nice to do something that puts a smile on children’s faces.”

Barnardo’s is Renault’s chosen charity and David’s employer Renault London West was part of a fundraising initiative that raised £10,000 in December 2008. Renault Retail Group of which Renault London West is part, also helped with a local project collecting Christmas presents for disadvantaged children over Christmas 2009.

Anyone who would like to sponsor David can do so at

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sunday, 27th February - UNICEF

A flyer for UNICEF fell out of my newspaper today, so why not? I made a donation to them as their work is to protect millions of children all over the world.

UNICEF is the world's leading organisation protecting the rights of children and young people. Around the world, children's rights are being denied on a daily basis, including in emergencies such as natural disasters and conflict.

UNICEF is working in over 190 countries to protect children's right to be educated, to be healthy, to a childhood, to be treated fairly and to be heard. We work with local communities, partners and governments to ensure these rights are upheld.

"Your donation supporting UNICEF's work for children has been gratefully received.

Your kind gift will help UNICEF’s work for children worldwide. Our ongoing work helps to ensure that the basic needs of every child are met - that they have clean water, food, health care, education and a safe environment in which to grow up.

With your kind gift we will be able to bring direct help to millions of children and their families in some of the poorest countries throughout the world.Our work ensures that the basic needs of every child are met - that they have clean water, food, health care, education and a safe environment in which to grow up.

UNICEF is the leading children's organisation reaching children in more than 150 countries around the world. We are not funded by the United Nations and rely entirely on voluntary donations from valued supporters like you to fund our work for children worldwide.

On behalf of everyone at UNICEF and all those who will benefit from your gift, thank you.

Your support is very much appreciated

UNICEF is the leading children's organisation reaching children in more than 150 countries around the world. We rely entirely on voluntary contributions from supporters like you to fund our work for children worldwide and receive no funding from the UN budget.

Thank you so much."

Friday, 25 February 2011

Friday, 25th February - CLIC Sargent and Comic Relief

So remind me, whose brilliant idea was it to get to Milton Keynes for 7.30am this morning? Oh that's right, it was mine....Left the house just before 6am and dropped Mr M to his university this morning so he could get a bit of kip in the car. On the way home, I stopped off at the supermarket in desperation as our house is nearly DRY of milk and TEABAGS (if you know anyone who drinks as much as tea as I do, I would really, really like to meet this person!). At the checkout, I put some coins/moola/spondulicks/filthy lucre into a CLIC Sargent collection box as I believe the supermarket in question has taken on CLIC Sargent as their charity of the year.

CLIC Sargent is a charity that helps children with cancer and their families with everything from specialist support to providing holidays for families and even financial assistance.

Also, my incessant tea drinking seems to be doing something for charity (My motto is : "If in doubt, brew up!") Ten pence of the purchase price is going to Red Nose Day...I always drink Fairtrade Tea, and you'll know that Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up soon (28th February to 13th March) but I'll blog about that then - I'll have finished this particular box of teabags way before then!

Have a good weekend!!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Update from MoneySavingExpert foundation!

One of my charities for the day was the MoneySavingExpert foundation as I wanted to do something to thank the wonderful Martin Lewis (or Sir Martin as I think he should be called....).

He left me this lovely message:

"You are lovely x

However my charity is well funded at the moment and the CAB are in trouble - I would prefer if you wanted to donate something (and don't feel you have to) that you gave it to CAB


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Wednesday, 23rd February - Red Cross appeal for New Zealand earthquake

Who could fail to be moved by the terrible pictures and stories from the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that have been on the news?

Today's charity was therefore the Red Cross to whom I donated some cash.

A devastating earthquake hit Christchurch, New Zealand on 22 February 2011, killing at least 65 people and causing widespread damage to the city.

The mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, has declared a state of emergency and aid is being co-ordinated by the National Crisis Management Centre. Buildings in the centre of the city have collapsed and roads and bridges are damaged.

The New Zealand Red Cross responded immediately, providing first aid assistance and distributing blankets, water containers and tents to the displaced families. An evacuation centre has been opened for around 2,000 people and more temporary accommodation is likely to be needed.

All funds will be used towards the New Zealand Red Cross response to the disaster, including transport and provision of goods. As weeks go by, different needs will be identified and Red Cross, there for the long haul with your help, will be meeting them.

Please note: In the event that we receive donations after the New Zealand Red Cross has closed its appeal, any surplus funds will go to our Disaster Fund and be used to respond to future humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.

Donate here if you can:

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Tuesday, 22nd February - Comic Relief

Gratuitous Blackadder clip

Today's charity is Comic Relief - I wrote a press release for a brave young man who has decided to give up talking for the day. I wish I could manage this!!


A talkative sales executive at Harwoods Renault in Wootton has pledged silence for a day to raise money for the Comic Relief Appeal on Friday, 18th March.

Richard Harris who works at the dealership, is well-known amongst his colleagues for being something of a chatterbox and was challenged by his team to remain silent all day. The only exception is talking to customers or answering the phone.

In return, his colleagues will sponsor him to raise money for the forthcoming Comic Relief appeal.

He said: “I ran the Great South Run last year in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, but I have a feeling that being silent all day is going to be much harder! Working in sales involves a lot of talking to people, so keeping schtum is going to make the day very interesting!”

His boss, Paul Hunt, sales director at Harwoods Renault, added: “Richard talks quite a lot, so we thought this would really put him to the test. Although he’s allowed to talk to customers, we’ll be providing him with a notepad to communicate! In return, we will chip in to raise as much as possible for Comic Relief which is a great charity which helps people in need all over the world.”

For more information, visit Harwoods Renault in Wootton, call 01983 885500 or click onto

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Big Society

I had to mention David Cameron's Big Society at some point seeing as I'm blogging about charities. It's had a terrible reception, but I think his idea has some merit. And fortunately someone else agrees with me....

From the "Evening Standard":

"Like most people, I suspect I can see where David Cameron is coming from with his Big Society idea. He wants us all to be more responsible, to make a contribution, to put something back.

But, unlike most people, I've been at the sharp end. I've sat on trusts and boards, and given up my time, for nothing. I don't honestly know why I do it - my wife poses the same question on a regular basis. Because I feel I should; because I like getting involved; because, in a naive way, I think I can make a positive difference. And my father held various voluntary posts: I suppose some of that rubbed off.

The truth is that while much of it is enjoyable, it is also time-consuming and thankless. At school, you can bust a gut on the Parent-Staff Association, helping put on Quiz Nights and the Summer Fair - and if the questions are too difficult or the food isn't great or the stalls are lacklustre, you are volubly told so. Usually by those parents who don't lift a finger and are quite happy to see their son or daughter use the mini-bus or computer that a small group of parents has worked hard to purchase.

It's that apathy and, in some cases, outright antipathy (those who do give up their time are often labelled "busybodies" and "power hungry" by a society weaned on comedy shows like The Vicar of Dibley and Dad's Army), that Cameron has to break.

One way is to encourage employers to allow their staff to attend meetings and to volunteer. While firms make a song and dance about how charitable they are and how much they believe in corporate social responsibility, the truth is that in boardrooms those three letters CSR are paid lip service. Nobody ever got to the top of a FTSE 100, bank or City law firm because of the amount of non-fee business they undertook."

Monday, 21st February - Whizz Kidz

I wrote a press release for Whizz Kidz today, a brilliant charity that helps disabled children. A member of staff at a dealership I work with is running the London marathon - (now that's the hard bit).


E J Darlington Renault sales executive Ivan Bonney is currently in training for his first London marathon in April which he is running in aid of Whizz Kidz, a disabled children’s charity.

Ivan, aged 35, from Bishops Stortford, manages to fit in 50 miles a week, six nights a week as part of his training in between his work at E J Darlington and his volunteer role as a Community First Responder for the East of Ambulance service.

Although this is his first marathon, Ivan is a keen runner and has raised funds for St Clare’s Hospice and has recently competed in several 10-mile competitions.

“It’s a big task but I’m really looking forward to the London Marathon,” he said. “I particularly wanted to help a children’s charity as I feel that the money raised is hugely beneficial to disabled children and their families.”

Ivan’s wife Holly along with two coach loads of friends will be driving to London to support him, and his aim is to raise £1,600 or more for the charity which provides disabled children with the essential wheelchairs and other mobility equipment they need to lead fun and active childhoods.

To sponsor Ivan, visit E J Darlington, visit the dealership on River Way, call 01279 439631 or click onto . For more information on Whizz Kidz, click onto

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Sunday, 20th February - Help for Heroes

I had such a great time in BCN that I was thrilled to note that I had some Euros left over! I combined these with some Norwegian Krone and Indian Rupees that I had from last year's holidays and put them in a Help for Heroes collection box.

Help for Heroes was formed only a few years ago and helps injured soldiers. While I admire soldiers and the brilliant this great charity does for them, but if I ruled the world, we wouldn't be sending people to war.

From the Guardian:

"Have you returned from holiday with unwanted currency, or got old foreign coins and notes mouldering away in the back of a drawer?

Visa Europe estimates that UK travellers will have amassed unused foreign currency worth more than £900m by the end of this year.

Some 64% of travellers return from abroad with foreign currency and this year the average holidaymaker is coming home with just over £28 in notes and coins.

Just 5% of people change the money back into sterling. The rest stockpile it at home, with only half planning to use it on their next holiday and at least 10% admitting that the cash will, in all likelihood, languish in a drawer or dressing table indefinitely.

Of the 36% of people who don't bring any currency home, the majority say they try to use it all on their last day, or spend it in airport shops, with a third admitting they buy items they don't really need, or want, in a last-minute bid to get rid of the cash.

Worse still, 17% admit they have thrown away the money on returning, rather than be lumbered with loose change. Only 4% donate it to charity, even though it's easy to hand it over to good causes."

Saturday, 19th February- La Sagrada Familia

My lovely friend pointed out today that our tickets that were purchased to gain entry into the world's maddest building, La Sagrada Familia contained a donation to help with construction.

Thursday, 17th February - West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society

I had a lovely cup of coffee at the coffee morning at the local church which was run by the Soroptimists group in aid of the West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society...

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Wednesday, 13th February - RSPCA

I love this charity shop on Cheap Street - it's so cosy, the staff are nice and there's a treasure trove of stock, which is reasonably priced and totally varied! As an added bonus today, they were playing Elvis on the stereo! Today, I brought in yet another bag of clothes and books as well as a couple of photo frames and candles - I reckon I could fill a carrier bag every day of the year with all the clutter in our tiny house!

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals is an animal welfare charity whose name does what it says on the tin and has done since 1824. It was founded in a coffee shop by a group of men whose first concern was to do something to help pit ponies.

Perhaps I'm a bit naive because I just want an easy life where I treat people and animals well, but I always wonder why cruelty to animals still goes on, particularly in the UK where we consider ourselves to be a nation of animal lovers?

Interestingly, Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy were both avid supporters of the RSPCA in the early days and the other thing I seem to remember from my law studies that the RSPCA is the only organisation other than the police that can prosecute in a criminal court, but I may be wrong!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sunday, 13th February - RNIB

I was feeling a bit under the weather today (feeling ill, and also it was LASHING with wind and rain!), so took the opportunity to tear the stamps off lots of letters and postcards that have been sent to me over the last few years.

I'm now going to send these to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) which is the UK's leading charity offering information, support and advice to almost two million people with sight loss. They help people with sight problems with imaginative and practical solutions to everyday challenges and also develop 'talking books' and braille.

Now don't think this is a cruel ruse to get blind people to buy used stamps, thinking they're new. What happens is, that once I've sent these stamps to the charity, they will sort through them looking for anything distinctive before selling the rest in bulk to stamp collectors to raise funds.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Saturday, 12th February - The RENEWAL Community Project (REstoration in NEWbury Along the River Lambourn)

After discovering that the River Lambourn flows not far from my house thanks to a volunteer taster day last week, I decided to return for the RENEWAL Community Project(REstoration in NEWbury Along the river Lambourn. This is a three year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aims to encourage local people to become more involved with the River Lambourn in Newbury. Today there was a fascinating talk by Lesley Dunlop from the Berkshire Geoconservation Group abou the geology of the Lambourn Valley and its impact on the way we live. As well as an interesting and surprisingly wide ranging talk, we then walked along the River Lambourn, into Shaw and back again. The only problem about nominating this as my charity for the day was the fact that I didn't actually contribute anything!

There is a river clean up on Saturday 12th March from 10 am - 3 pm, so I'll hopefully be back for that:
"Help us to clear rubbish and debris from the river. The aims of the day are to improve conditions for wildlife and increase the flow of the river to reduce the amount of silt. Meet on the Walton way bridge off Kiln Road, Shaw."

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Wednesday, 9th February -Marie Curie Cancer Care

Mr M's sister-in-law mentioned on FB that her mop bucket had been stolen from outside her house, so I thought I'd take her one of my spares (without stopping to ask why I had four mop buckets in the house). So while I was over there, I dropped off a bag of good stuff (including four sets of new playing cards, four tops - what is about the number four today?), to the Marie Curie Cancer Care shop in the high street. I actually temped at Marie Curie's head office for two weeks and thought their work with people with cancer was brilliant and very touching. My job there was to send thank you letters to lots of people who had raised money by different means and I recall one letter from a mother whose child had died of cancer. She had sent her son's life savings which totalled about £150 which made me blub and blub.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Tuesday, 8th February - Comic Relief

Ha - not much today! I bought a packet of Walkers crisps as they donate 5p to Comic Relief which is a charity that aims to fight poverty worldwide.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Monday, 7th February - Scope

Mr M seems to be taking over the world, wardrobe-by-wardrobe. His clothes have taken over my side of the (admittedly small) wardrobe, so I decided at the beginning of 2011 that I would not buy any more new clothes, except underwear. I mention this because I went into the Scope shop in town today and there were lots of lovely things that I couldn't buy! Instead, as I have got through quite a few of these in the last few months, I bought a baby card. A unisex one at that! I will be ready as soon as the stork arrives at the home of one of my friends. And the lady in the shop was lovely and said thank you for my purchase and thank you again when I said I didn't need a bag.

Scope is a charity that supports disabled people and their families and also campaigns to ensure that disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Update from Oxfam

Back in January, one of my charity things was to donate my wedding dress to my local Oxfam shop. When I did this, neither of the two women in the shop at the time said thank you which made me cry and cry and cry. I was so upset that I couldn't even look at my wedding photos.

However, today, I received not only a handsome apology but a 'thank you' as well!

"The Oxfam shop manager is aware of the customer service you received in her shop and sends her apologies that were not thanked when you donated your dress. It is important that the shop manager is aware of the service you received, however we also would not want to get anyone in trouble. The shop manager will however discuss customer service with all members of the shop team to ensure that this issue does not happen again.

On behalf of the shop manager and of Oxfam I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for donating your wedding dress to Oxfam. I am sorry this thanks was not said sooner, and I assure you that Oxfam is grateful and will use your dress to make as much money as possible to end poverty around the world.

Oxfam raises a fantastic amount of money through its Bridal shops and departments, for example, if your dress was sold for £300 that could pay for around 1000 fruit trees, planting trees helps poor communities become more self-sufficient (trees provide shelter, prevent soil erosion, and may be used as a source of income)."

Sunday, 6th February - Red Balloon

Today's charity was a lot less labour intensive than yesterday - I wrote a press release for a charity called Red Balloon as one of my PR clients is doing the London Marathon. (A lot less labour intensive for me, not Marc!) It hasn't been approved yet but as soon as it has got the thumbs up and gets into print, I will update!

Red Balloon was set up 15 years ago to help with the recovery of bullied children.

They provide an 'intensive care' full-time education for children aged between 9 and 18 who are unable to go to school because they have been severely bullied to the extent where at least half of the students have attempted or seriously considered suicide.

Red Balloon gives the pupils a safe environment with clear boundaries for behaviour, and an individual full-time academic, pastoral and therapeutic programme.

Saturday, 5th February - Pang, Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Project

After getting lost around the Turnpike area of Newbury, I eventually found the River Lambourn near Rosemoor Gardens for a Volunteer Taster Day. This was organised as a chance to try out conservation volunteering by helping with various bits of river maintenance including cropping bank side vegetation. Everyone there was really nice and it was a great way of finding out more about local wildlife while getting some fresh air and exercise!

Friday, 4th February -Unplugged at Ace Space

This is a bit of a cheat, but today's charity was Ace Space. As well as attending, I took a bag of candles (a small proportion of the 2106 that Mr M bought when he proposed to me!) to Ace Space ("arts, community, entreprise"). Ace Space is the new name for the old Rafa hall in Newbury and is run by the community for such events as martial arts, jumble sales, and my favourite, the monthly "unplugged" night where local people can showcase their musical talent! And what talent! I'm always stunned by the range of musical talent from singing, to acoustic and even poetry.

Here's some video that I took - bit far back though, sorry!

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Thursday, 3rd February - Sue Ryder

Having filled up a bag of good stuff for the Salvation Army last week that they never came round to collect, I dropped this off at Sue Ryder Care in Rickmansworth AND THE STAFF MEMBER SAID THANK YOU!!! :-)

But that's not the only reason that I am fond of this charity. I met someone a while ago who was a close friend of Sue Ryder and the pair of them carried out work in Poland that was truly inspirational. From a charity point of view, I think talking to her was the first time I realised that you can make changes without being told by someone else what needs to be done and how to do it.

Sue Ryder's charity supports people with specialist palliative, end of life and long-term neurological care needs. They care for people living with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, stroke and brain injury.

The charity was named after Margaret Susan Cheshire (better known as Sue Ryder), who was the wife of Leonard Cheshire VC, the famous RAF pilot, who of course has his own charity named after him - Leonard Cheshire Disability (formerly the Leonard Cheshire Foundation).

Sue Ryder was made a life peer in 1979, being created Baroness Ryder of Warsaw, of Warsaw in Poland (thanks to her humanitarian work there, including arranging lorries of medical and food aid, when Communist rule collapsed. In the House of Lords, Ryder was involved in debates about defence, drug abuse, housing, medical services, unemployment and race relations.

Wednesday, 2nd February - Freecycle

Bit of a cheat, but today's "charity" is Freecycle, which may be known as Freegle, not sure why.

Freecycle is a worldwide network where you join your nearest group. The idea is to keep as much as possible out of landfill by offering anything that is destined for the dump. I've given away tings as random as an old camera, a bicycle frame, a Japanese parasol and even a bagful of matches to people who've wanted to give them a good home.

On the flip side, I've been gifted large boxes for moving house, a chest of drawers and a coffee table.

So today, I listed a bunch of Mr M's old magazines from the 1990s that he'd been keeping at his parents' house. So his parents have a bit more space, we haven't sent anything to landfill, and a nice man from down the road can relive his youth by reading the Face, Empire and Sight and Sound.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Tuesday 1st February - West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society

Started the new month off with my old favourite! Went to see the lady I befriend and had a very quick chat and tried to persuade her to come to the brilliant Singing for the Brain sessions!