Thursday, 10 October 2013

Kimpton mother prepares for Fire Walk to raise money for life-changing trike

A mother from Kimpton, near Andover, is taking part in a fire walk to raise money to buy a specialist trike for her young son.

Sharon Kennedy is raising funds in order to purchase a Tomcat Trike which would be life-changing for her four-year-old son Cameron who suffers from sensory processing difficulties, social communication difficulties and Dyspraxia.

Cameron can only walk short distances before pain and fatigue set in, meaning the Tomcat trike would enable him to become more mobile and independent.

Sharon is hoping to raise £600 towards the cost of the £1,873 trike with the additional funding coming from a grant from Cerebra, a specialist charity that helps children with neurological problems.

Sharon said: “Cameron and I went to try out the trike and it brought a tear to my eye to see him pedalling for short distances without help with the biggest smile on his face. The trike would mean that he could do things that other children can do, such as coming with me when I walk the dog. “

The fire walk takes place on 31st October in Newbury and is being run by specialists Bigger Brighter Bolder who are holding the event on Halloween to empower local business owners.

Sharon found the fire walk event online and contacted organisers Tracey Miller and George Swift.

She joked: “I wanted to do something a little bit different to raise money and this is shorter than a traditional sponsored walk.”

Tracey Miller, BBB director added: “As specialists in developing the mindset for success, our fire walk workshop is designed to help people overcome the fear and doubt that gets in the way of their success by actually showing the mind what’s possible. We’re delighted Sharon’s chosen our event and as well as raising money to help buy the trike, which will be life-changing for Cameron, we hope Sharon gets something really special for herself too.”

For more information on the fire walk, click onto or to sponsor Sharon, click onto


Monday, 30 September 2013

West Berkshire Alzheimer's Society Memory Walk

I know I'm one of those people who sometimes cries at adverts, but I was incredibly touched by Saturday's event...there was turnout of about 80 walkers of all ages from babies up to a lovely lady of 92.

There were people who happened to be passing who signed up, there was a lady who did the walk and sponsored herself a whopping £60 that she put into the donation box, there were families and couples donating lots of cash; all determined to do whatever they could to help people with this horrible disease.

There was a wonderful camaraderie and a touching address from the man who cut the ribbon to open the walk. I have to admit I didn't even do the walk myself; I forgot to bring my trainers, but instead helped people to sign in, register and to work out what size t-shirt they needed! I even helped put up a gazebo which was the first time I've ever done that successfully!

Thank you everyone who came....I'll stop crying soon!

Pic thanks to NWN!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

World's Biggest Coffee Morning -Macmillan Cancer Care

As many workplaces, my office is holding a coffee morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care this week.

We've been asked to make a cake...would it be so bad to buy one? It really would be better for everyone concerned...

Are you holding a coffee morning? If not, there's a list of your nearest ones here:

Thatcham Memory Walk for the Alzheimer's Society

Just a reminder that the Thatcham Memory Walk is this Saturday at 1pm! See you there!

We currently have 55 walkers registered and as always we’re expecting lots more to turn up on the day so hopefully it’ll be a busy event.

Walk Information
You can do a short stroll round the lake or a longer 2-mile march across the reedbeds. It's a really lovely local venue, ideal for the whole family for an afternoon out. This route is fully accessible for baby buggies and wheelchairs. There's a super café selling delicious snacks & home-made yummy cakes, lots of information exhibits and hands-on activities for the kids. There are play areas for toddlers to young teens, a field to kick a ball around, plenty of parking and picnic tables overlooking the lakes. You can even feed the ducks and swans.

Important Information
•Wear comfortable clothing and practical footwear.
•Be prepared for the weather – waterproofs or sun cream may be necessary.
•Bring a snack or two - there is a café on site but you may want something extra.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Jessica from the Toronto Rehab Foundation

Anyone who is a friend of the lovely P&L is a friend of mine so I have just voted in the Scotia bank gamechangers competition to find the local heroes in Canadian communities.

I don't know if my vote isn't working too well because I'm not in Canada (however hard I try!) or if it is registering and not telling me, but please log in and vote for this inspirational young lady if you can.

Courage, determination and compassion are words that describe and define Jessica Coriat. At the age of 23, she is dedicated to educating the public about people living with disability; she is committed to advocating on their behalf

Friday, 26 April 2013

Wear it Loud for Mary Hare, school for deaf children

Mary Hare Newbury, the specialist school for deaf children, is holding a Deaf Awareness event at its Hearing Centre in Weaver's Walk, Newbury on Thursday, 9th May.

The event is part of Deaf Awareness Week from 6th to 10th May and has been put on to offer advice from an audiologist, specialist products, a prize draw and refreshments.

Mary Hare is also asking people to go to work in their "loudest and brightest" clothes to raise money (by paying £1) to support the work of the school.

For more info, click here You can find out more and even donate the money you raise online.

Monday, 22 April 2013

West Berks Food Bank

Popped into Waitrose to get a magazine that is featuring an article I wrote and was presented with a leaflet at the door by a volunteer from the West Berkshire Food Bank.

Instead of collecting money, they were asking for practical help and hoping that shoppers would buy and donate one of the items on their list which included: instant mash potato, pasta sauce, sugar, tinned meat/fish/rice pudding or sponges. I of course, chose tea bags, as that would be my first choice if I couldn't afford food.

They are leaving a donation point in Waitrose, so please pop an extra item into your trolley if you can!


Sunday, 21 April 2013


When a charity does this......

you know they're serious about their fundraising....

The McBaby couldn't believe his eyes when he saw people paying to throw wet sponges at the poor man in the stocks. I found it a bit hard to watch, except that one lovely lady paid her pound and then wrung out each sponge before throwing it.

It was all part of a fundraiser in aid of West Berkshire Mencap held in Thatcham on Saturday, complete with bric-a-brac, plant stall, hand massages and even non-alcoholic cocktails!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Pilgrim's Hospice

A very sad day for MrM's family who lost their Grandma recently. She was a lovely lady and at her funeral, it was requested that donations should go to the Pilgrim's Hospice in Margate.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Could you run 10K in London for West Berkshire Mencap?

If anybody is interested or you know anybody who would be interested, West Berkshire Mencap needs someone to run the London 10K...

(I can't do it, I can't even get up the stairs at the moment!)

We are looking for individuals who would be willing to run the London 10K for us to help raise funds to maintain and expand our high quality services.

Benefits for You?

Improve your fitness, see the wonderful London sights and raise funds for a fantastic


How we will help:

We will cover your entrance fee and arrange return transport from Newbury to London.

All we ask is that you raise a minimum of £175 for us.

Date: Sunday 14th July 2013

Time: 6.15am

If you would be interested in being involved please contact Gill Leech


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Soroptimists in aid of the Duchess of Kent Hospice

I found something I hadn't seen for a while - our floor! We're doing pretty well at the decluttering - even MrM has noticed that the house is looking almost zen. But how could I resist this fab handmade card for one of MrM's nieces and also this Spanish CD set when I was at Thursday's jumble sale?


Monday, 11 March 2013

West Berkshire Foster Parents Association/Scope

I went to a very useful blogging conference on Friday where there was a discussion about helping charities and how bloggers chose which ones to help.

"After all, people don't want to read about charity every day - they'll switch off", said one prolific blogger.

So, safe in the knowledge that I'm wittering to myself, I'm going to share my bank account details. I mean share what we did on Saturday.

MrM, the Mcbaby and I sold a good load of our stuff at a boot sale in aid of the West Berkshire Foster Parents Association on Saturday.

MrM is usually terrified of boot sales, but it was fortunate he was there as the McBaby was the ultimate shopper deterrent and had to be kept outside on a swing.

I think the expression on the face of the woman on the left of this pic says it all:

I'm always stunned by what people buy. No one wanted a Cath Kidston-esque shopping bag, but there was plenty of interest in some old candles and old jeans. Our friend MrT, a veteran of local boot sales bought a vase which I then saw him wrestle into his motorbike panier. I wasn't too surprised that Gordon Honeycombe's book on the wedding of Prince Andrew to Sarah Ferguson remained unsold.

We made enough money for a couple of drinks and a contribution towards lunch for friends, and gave the remainder of the stuff to the Scope shop in town.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Newbury's Food Bank

Newbury is a relatively wealthy town - have a look at the house prices which aren't far short of what you'd pay in London.

MrM and I were hoping to buy a modest 3-bedroom house in a decent (not posh) part of town - somewhere where we'd feel safe but something with two double bedrooms and a small third room would cost about £350,000. The more you look at houses, the less this figure actually means, but to us it sounds like a huge sum. After looking at a few houses, we have decided that we cannot keep up the charade and expense of home-ownership - it's unsustainable.

The point is that other people WILL pay these prices for a normal-sized home, so Newbury is clearly not a poor town. Yet, the charity for Thursday's coffee morning was the new Food Bank. It was meant to be, but they didn't show - probably quite busy getting ready for their launch.

It seems quite frightening to me that in this day and age, and in a developed country that we need a food bank.

In fact, to afford our ridiculous mortgage on our tiny house (I'm talking not too far short of a grand a month), I used to work two jobs. I'd do my writing job from 8 until 5.30 and then go to a second job at Waitrose from 6pm to 11pm where the latter hour of my job would be to throw away all of the food that had exceeded its best before date and not been sold. Most of it was pristine and in fact I then spent most of my second job earnings on buying this food because I could not stomach throwing it away. We started to live on the food that was destined for the bin, not needing to do any more shopping.

It used to make me cry. Why was I throwing away perfectly fine veg (who decides the date on veg and how does it know to go 'off' at midnight on the date chosen?) when people were starving?

So I have mixed feelings about the Food Bank, but it's launching this month and is funded by

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Fifty Shades of Grey...

Last week's coffee morning at St Nicolas was a fundraiser for their near namesake St Nicholas Church in Beedon.

I bought a book for my lovely friend (a bit of Rose Tremain), an old-fashioned alarm clock and won a primrose on the tombola.

We also bought a couple of cakes (which the McBaby later sat on) and had a chuckle about our friend MrT who bought this book. I can't wait for him to let me know what he thought!!

Monday, 25 February 2013

Cornwall Air Ambulance

I have started working for myself, so it was with great pleasure that I wrote this release for a member of my family following their support of this charity, the Cornwall Air Ambulance

Thursday, 14 February 2013

#KindnessChallenge Day 13: Give Someone a Treat

I completely forgot about the Kindness Challenge and thought I'd finished it until I was looking for an email and came across it again!

And day 13 (which most people did months ago) is to give someone a treat which I happened to do yesterday.

I listed a car seat on Freecycle ages ago and had nothing but troublesome responses. People wanting to inspect it then asking if it came with a sunshade, or a remote control, or a digital voice enhancer.

Not one of them said please or thank you.

But then I saw a post on freecycle and offered it to a nice lady who said she'd collect. But then I thought - why don't I deliver it to you? You must be quite pregnant and not wanting to travel.

So I said I'd deliver it to her work as that was most convenient for her.

Except the place that I thought was her work, wasn't.

I walked up and down and up and down the street for an hour looking for it.

And emailed her to say my son was getting cold and she gave me directions, so I dropped it off to find she was lovely and very grateful, so hopefully everyone's a winner here!

Isn’t it nice when you get a treat from someone? Be it when a friend foots for your bill, when your tab gets mysteriously paid for, or when someone buys you a meal out of the blue?

For one reason or another, I often get treated by others. When I was traveling in Europe and United States last year, the friends I made there and the people who hosted me would graciously treat me time and again. Even in Singapore, I often get treats from others out of the blue.

I never expect any of those people to treat me, but they do anyway. (While we’re on the topic of treats, I actually don’t expect guys to treat me on dates either, because I think it’s not fair to expect the other party to pay just because he is a guy.) Whenever someone offers to foot the bill for me, I’m always pleasantly surprised. I just feel I’m so blessed and lucky to be surrounded by such gracious and generous individuals.

Because I often get treats, I know how good it feels to receive a treat. While I’ve been brought up with the notion of going dutch, I realized that giving others treats is quite a wonderful feeling. Not just for the recipient, but for yourself as the person giving you the treat. I’ve adopted the practice of giving others treats since my world trip and I say it has made me a more generous person. It has made me less definitive on boundaries between me and others and instead embrace the oneness ideology (not just emotionally or mentally, but now fiscally as well).

So, your task today is to give someone a treat!

Save the Children


Save the Children is moving a couple of doors down the road in Newbury and are clearing out their current stock which means that they are selling everything. You can FILL a carrier bag for £5 which I duly did...

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

West Berkshire Foster Parenting Association -table top sale Saturday, 9th March

I got a call out of the blue from someone from the West Berkshire Foster Parenting Association this week, inviting me to sell at their forthcoming table top sale at the Acland Hall, Cold Ash on Saturday, 9th March from 10am to 3pm.

Apparently a whole year has passed since we sold at the last one, so I was quite touched that they kept the numbers of the previous sellers and invited them to book first!

I am opening an antiques stall this Friday but there's still plenty of things that will be be for sale on the 9th. Sod that, we're trying to move - I'll be virtually giving it away!

See you then!

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Just a quickie - the McBaby vomited all over the car when we were en route to the East Garston swap shop, so the two bags of goodies went to the RSPCA shop instead.

Lots of brand new drinking glasses, some books and some other bits and bobs. We have stepped up our decluttering, so they'll be lots more posts like this!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Children 1st West Berkshire

MrM asked me to post the below onto his charity FB page but I forgot the photo, so thought it was worth posting again here:

Volunteers are the heartbeat of any charity and at the moment Children 1st West Berkshire is looking for a Trustee Treasurer, Trustee Secretary and people to help wih the maintenance of Cornerstone - the supported accommodation for foster care leavers and other vulnerable young adults in the district. The charity, which was supported by Greenham Common Trust who purchased the house for them to convert into living accommdation for care leavers, also needs volunteers to help with their young people. So if you are interested in providing more specialist support or can help with fundraising and advertising activities please contact info at

Friday, 25 January 2013

Alzheimer's Society

I moan and moan about living in Newbury but today the McBaby and I saw the best of the town's people and were pleasantly surprised by how generous people were.

We were collecting today outside the supermarket in aid of the Alzheimer's Society and were lucky enough to be alongside some lovely ladies; Sheila, Caroline and Sophia.

Our slot passed by very quickly. My only question is: Why does the McBaby look drunk in this pic....

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Alzheimer's Society - collection at Tesco on London Road

The McBaby and I are collecting tomorrow lunchtime (Friday). Come and say hello as we're sure the time will drag!

#KindnessChallenge Day 12: Forgive Someone‏

I am way behind with this challenge, but I am notorious for never forgiving people! In fact, MrM laughed at me just yesterday because I frequently say that I will never forgive people unless they say sorry or seven years pass.

He reminded me that there is a couple that he has known for a long time and when MrM and I got together, he wanted me to meet them. They were horrendously rude that day - barely acknowledging my presence and then speaking to me V-E-R-Y slowly lest I didn'[t speak English. (I do since I was born in the UK and in fact, my English is better than theirs). I had desperately wanted to make a good impression and felt extremely let down by the experience. They've been the same ever since, and I am hardly minded to be friendly to them.

Seven years elapsed last year and then Mrs Self-Absorbed managed to annoy me again, prompting MrM to roll his eyes and say "so you're now going to hold your grudge for ANOTHER seven years?"

I am quite aware that I am being ludicrous but at the same time, I find it hard to forgive as it seems sometimes to be an admission that the other person has "won". But if I spend time and energy getting annoyed, then they have won, haven't they? It's far easier to be the bigger man and simply forgive and treat people well, whatever they say and do.

So, Celestine from the challenge says:

"Forgive one person
1.Identify a person whom you resent or bear grievances towards. The grievance can be over one small action he/she did or something serious (such as breaking a promise or cheating on you).
2.Why do you bear grievances towards him/her? Write down the reasons on a piece of paper, for your personal reflection.
3.Work on letting go of these grievances today."

This has worked an absolute treat. Writing down the grievances such as "they were rude to me on my wedding day" makes me sound ridiculous. Just let it go already!

And just why does being self-absorbed annoy me so much? What it is about that behaviour that irritates me so much? Does it point to something about my own behaviour and personality that needs to be changed?"

Also, just let go! It's so time-consuming and stupid to be angry all the time. I highly recommend letting things go and in fact, I'm going to ask MrM if he wants to invite them over for lunch.

Wish me luck!!

The Willows Primary School

Three cakes; one uncooked, one with a hair in it and the other given away to an elderly gent (£1). Some soap won on the tombola (£1). Two books bought - 30 walks in Berkshire and IQ84(£1). One child accidentally signed up to the forthcoming Willows pre-school. One almighty sigh from me when a child brought me the "visitor's book" (sic) and asked me to read what "ovver people had wrote in it". Some lovely singing from the children from the school which distracted the McBaby from the naughty endeavour he was about to launch into.

Such was our experience at the St Nics coffee morning in aid of the Willows.

Friday, 18 January 2013

The Kindness Challenge - day 11. Be kind to someone you dislike

Weeks behind, but here's my post on the Kindness Challenge day 11 Be kind to someone you dislike. which was a toughie!

Generally, I'm fairly easy-going (fairly, not very!) but if I've lacked sleep than I can dislike just about everyone! These are some of the things that annoyed me the other day:

People driving past my house while speeding, people driving past my house while playing their bass loud, people ignoring me when I've stopped to let them past, people blowing smoke in my face, people talking loudly on their phones, people texting while they're driving. You get the picture. But there's one person who just drives me bonkers. Not once have our paths crossed when he hasn't said something so annoying that it's made me want to weep or uttered something so calculated to press my buttons that I swear he's doing it on purpose.

Why was he annoying me so much? I asked a couple of other people who confirmed that this person is quite irritating. But I've been pondering - does the fact I get so annoyed reflect something in my own personality? Also, does the fact that I tell myself he is GOING to annoy me put me in a certain frame of mind which makes him want to hurt my feelings?

Anyway, I decided to be nicer and more laidback. We met last weekend and I did very well until he sat down at the table and decided that bath hoists and child benefit would be good topics of conversation, before slagging someone off for being nosey after she had asked him why he wrote to the council to tell them to refuse her planning application. On previous occasions, he has asked me how much I earn, told me not to have more children because "the world is already overpopulated" and asked how "that job malarkey of yours is going".

I needed back-up!

I referred to Paul McKenna's book Change your life in seven days which refers to "putting relationships into perspective".

He suggests:

1. Remember how you feel when you're in conflict with this person. Hear you internal dialogue. Then float up out of yourself and let your feelings go.

2. Now float into the shoes of the person you dislike. What does it feel like to be in their shoes?

3. Now think of someone whose intelligence you admire. Imagine being in their shoes and watching the interaction. What would they think as a neutral observer?

4. Take what you've learned and step back into your own shoes. Look at the person you have a problem with and choose one thing to bring about a resolution.

This is incredibly helpful as I know that the person I mentioned brings out the worst in me and reminds me not to "wrestle with a pig in mud".

There's a lot of work to be done, but this has proved to be one of the most useful days of the Kindness Challenge. Hopefully this explains why I've spent quite so long on it!


Friends of the Charles Clore unit

Meet this little chap from Toy Story!

A lovely lady called Norma won him at Thursday morning's tombola in aid of the Charles Clore unit and decided it would be more use to the McBaby than her. I queued up for ages (despite being the only person in the queue) and handed over my £2 for 3 goes but had no luck. I also bought a slice of Victoria Sponge - most of which got stolen by the McBaby who also pilfered someone else's lemon drizzle.

The Friends of the Charles Clore unit raises money for local cancer sufferers and helps with social events and outings for the patients, including days out on canal boats and to the seaside.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Save the Children

Dear Save the Children

I brought in a bag of donations today including banners for 21st/30th birthday parties, a book on how to lose weight (perfect for this time of year) and a brand new calculator. The reason I left the bag by the door was that I was so embarrassed by my last donation of a box of Buckaroo.

I bought it so that we could play it over CHristmas instead of watching bad TV. However, the pieces were a bit small for the McBaby so I donated the box to your Newbury branch. Except the next time I did a load of washing I found that the McBaby had stowed one of the pieces in there. I then tried to bring the piece in to match with the box, but it was nowhere to be found.

Sorry for wasting the time of your volunteer. I can't help but feel I was a hindrance rather than a help.

Kind regards


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Njojone project

Are we allowed back into the church hall after last week's screaming?

Today's coffee morning was a tombola rather than a jumble sale, so we dipped in and won two boxes of chocolates. That's tonight's dinner sorted and we helped raise money for five local lads to travel to Swaziland to help build a school.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Bits and bobs

I dragged four members of my family with me when I hit the charity shops of Sherborne last week, including Oxfam which I have never left empty-handed.

This visit was no exception as I came out laden with birthday cards and pre-printed thank you letters, in addition to a couple of vintage books!

I feel I should mention the Oxfam shop's near neighbour Joseph Weld which was brimming with stock and customers. There were two fabulous dresses in the window which one of my relatives decided were perfect for me, so she went in to find out the size and price. One of the volunteers dutifully clambered into the display and mimed through the window the size and price, before hitching up the leg suggestively and provocatively suggesting that MrM should buy them for me. She did make us laugh!

Back to Newbury and I went to my first jumble sale of 2013 which was in aid of Wicked Genes I bought a piece of cake and was served a piece that was half the size of the rest, but guess they looked at my expanding waistline and decided it was healthiest. I also bought a picnic hamper -

hopefully there will be an opportunity to use it in 2013 - the weather can't be worse than last year, can it?

We had to leave the event in a mad rush as the Mcbaby suddenly started screaming. And I mean screaming. I've never heard anything like it and judging by the number of looks shot our way, neither had anyone else. He was fine once we left!

Kindness Challenge Day 10: Send Flowers to Someone

I hit a snag in the 14 day kindness challenge when I could not for the life of me think of anyone to send flowers to! I did have a couple of contenders but for one reason and another, thought that sending flowers might add to their woes.

So well into January, I finally got round to it and sent some flowers MrM's mum as she needed cheering up. I happened to be there when they were delivered and was bemused to hear her say that she thought they must be from her other son or her nephew before exclaiming that she was impressed that the McBaby had the motor skills to order things online!

Flowers. Aren’t they a beautiful creation of nature?

I think flowers are such a wonderful gift to mankind. And I think that it’s such a joy to receive flowers and to give others flowers.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Cancer Research UK

Sadly, MrM's great aunt died just before Christmas and it was her funeral a couple of days ago. The family asked for donations to Cancer Research UK. Before you think, how terrible that she died of cancer, I'll just interject to say that she didn't! She died very peacefully in her sleep at the grand old age of 102!

Born in 1910, she had a lovely life as a farm hand and had a big family with lots of happy times.

The McBaby and I were hoping to join MrM at the funeral, but the little one has not been at all well over Christmas and I decided that it probably wouldn't be terribly respectful if he vomited at the funeral, so we stayed at home, going out only for a short spell of fresh air and to donate some books and clothes to the Cancer Research shop in town.