Comedy keeps fundraising close to home

Comedy keeps fundraising close to home

NEW Year spirits – and charity coffers – will be raised thanks to a comedy event coming to Hatton Park in Warwick.

Comedy at Work are bringing their latest gig to the estate’s community centre on Saturday, February 8th, in aid of a charity close to the community’s heart – Molly Olly’s Wishes.

Comedy at Work, Molly Olly's Wishes, Anne Docherty, Mark Hinds, Hatton Park
Elliot Powell and Rachel Ollerenshaw. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Anne Docherty from Stratford-upon-Avon and Mark Hinds from Warwick are the creative minds behind Comedy at Work, an innovative new business that brings stand-up to venues across the country in support of local charities.

Helping to lay on the laughs this time around will be comedians Adam Beardsmore from Stratford, Matt Trimble from Worcester and Lovell Smith from Birmingham. While keeping the comedy flowing – as well as keeping it local – will be compere and Hatton Park resident, Elliot Powell.

It’s been a journey of self-discovery for the history graduate and long-time frustrated funnyman who previously worked as a Coconut Water salesman – and musician!

Elliot, 28, said: “One day I had the sudden realisation that I didn’t want to be the King of Coconuts and, much to my parents’ dismay, gave up my sales job in London and moved back home at Hatton.

“I realised pretty quickly that record labels would not be queuing up to sign us so, as I’d done a few gigs and a comedy course in London, I decided it was time to pick that back up again.

He added: I love the creative freedom of comedy. I really enjoy the process of taking the idea and working on it until it is in a form that will make people laugh – the same way a carpenter would take a piece of wood and turn it into a chair!

“The only downside of comedy is those nights when you test new material and it doesn’t work. The drive home is awful.”

Comedy at Work, Molly Olly's Wishes, Anne Docherty, Mark Hinds, Hatton Park
Comedian Adam Beardsmore

Volunteers from Molly Olly’s Wishes will run the bar and take home a percentage of the evening’s proceeds.

The charity, which is run from the Hatton Park home of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw, was established in 2011 following the death of their eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and supports children with terminal or life-limiting illness and their families.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at:

For details of Comedy At Work’s next gigs, including Hartwell, Shilton, Bishampton, Kineton and Norton Lindsey, visit:

Giggling Squid leaves you with plenty to smile about

Giggling Squid leaves you with plenty to smile about

WHEN it comes to authentic Thai dining at a chain restaurant, it doesn’t, in my opinion, come much better than Giggling Squid.

So I didn’t need asking twice when I was invited to head down to their newest venue, in The Royal Priors in Leamington.

Giggling Squid, Leamington Spa, review

Bold flavours and exotic ingredients take their inspiration from the Thai traditions and legends and have their own personality and story to tell, celebrating the abundance of ingredients found across Thailand.

I was told: “Giggling Squid is all about how people eat their food and spend their mealtimes in Thailand. Generous food to share and celebrate together, whether you have more adventurous tastes or prefer something simple and satisfying; an all-involved, love of food, living for flavour, being together experience.”

I’d say, based on my experience, that sounds like a fair assessment.

Reason to celebrate then as locals can now enjoy in the vibrant Giggling Squid menu, which is cooked by expert Thai chefs and served with true Thai generosity.

Giggling Squid, Leamington Spa, review
The Sharing Platter

Our party kicked off this feast with Chicken Satay, Pork Dumplings and the Sharing Platter for two. (Don’t judge – there were four of us!)

While all were flavoursome, it was the platter which won the highest praise – and are definitely the dish of choice for the hungry diner!

With 18 dishes to choose from, I guarantee there’ll be something for even the fussier of diners – I know because we had one with us.

And if decision making isn’t your strong point, you’ll be challenged by the Mains menu which offers nearly 30 dishes – all equally tempting.

We opted for the Wholesome Cashew Stir Fry (with chicken); Sticky Chicken Stir Fry, Chubby Cheek Pork and Crying Beef. Be warned though this is served on the rare side despite not being asked your preference. I guess this is how they recommend it be taken. Regardless, rare may not be to everyone’s taste although, luckily, in this instance, it was still devoured.

Desserts here are all about quality over quantity which is fine by me. And those of us who left enough room were rewarded by the indulgence of Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert and Sweet Heavens Above Trio (a mini Salted Caramel Souffle, Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert and Pineapple and Coconut Finger.) Delicious.

Other options include Caramelised Mango Cake, Prosecco and Muddled Berry Cheesecake, Coconut Pudding with Berry Compote and a variety of exotic ice creams.

Giggling Squid, Leamington Spa, review

Other stand-outs on the creative evening include Samui Zingy Prawns (prawns with a fresh, citrusy sauce), Betel Leaf & Ginger Lime Salmon Morsels (salmon pieces nestled in lemongrass, lime cubes, ginger and roasted shredded coconut wrapped in betel leaf) and Pad Cha, a popular Thai seafood stir fry with a fiery flavour combination of pounded chilli, garlic, thinly sliced krachai and fresh peppercorns delivers a zingy punch of flavours.

Giggling Squid, Leamington Spa, review

A dedicated vegan menu and wine list is also available alongside a large selection of vegetarian dishes.

The popular tapas lunch menu offers an extensive selection of small plates and includes Giggling Squid favourite Salt & Pepper Squid alongside the fiery Som Tam Papaya Salad and the Big Flavour Mushroom Larb (a speciality salad from Isan Province with juicy, exotic mushrooms tossed in fresh mint, dried chilli flakes, ground toasted rice and shallots).

Wholesome Cashew Stir Fry (with chicken)
Wholesome Cashew Stir Fry (with chicken)

A welcome change from other high street offerings, families will be able to enjoy the ‘Little Tapas for Little People’ menu (£5.99 for two dishes) with the option to add a pudding for £1.99. Designed to encourage children to be more adventurous with their food choices, the menu features smaller versions of popular dishes including Chicken Satay, Pork Dumplings and Pad Thai.

Giggling Squid’s fresh and stylish interior, celebrates its ingredients from the sea and land while including a subtle hint of Thai. Hand-pressed flowers in vintage frames and hand-painted stencils combine with bold, floral wallpapers to add a subtle splash of colour. It really is one of the most stylish and comfortable High Street restaurants I’ve experienced.

Prices for main courses range from £10-£16.50 and in that sense, are perhaps not suited to all pockets. (A three-course meal for a family of four will carry a not insignificant price tag.) However, if it’s authentic tasty Thai food at its best that you’re craving, it’s worth every last penny.

Support Aussie Sausage Sizzle to aid bushfires mission

Support Aussie Sausage Sizzle to aid bushfires mission

TWO Expat Aussies are hoping to raise bucks with bangers to support the ongoing Australian bushfires disaster recovery mission.

Katherine Attreed of Warwick and Tina Smith of Kenilworth are hosting a Sausage Sizzle at Warwick Market on Saturday (Jan 25th), the day before Australia Day.

They will be selling meat and vegetarian sausages and hotdogs for £2 with all money raised going to their chosen charities: The Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery and WIRES Wildlife Rescue. The ladies are hoping to raise in excess of £1,000 as well as inspiring other local Aussies to follow their lead.

The devastating bushfires still raging across the country, have already destroyed more than 10 million hectares of land (the equivalent to 40% of the UK) and 2,600 homes, and killing 28 people and one billion animals including 30% of the entire koala population.

Sausage Sizzle, Australia, Warwick
Katherine Attreed, right, and Tina Smith. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

Katherine, who moved from Melbourne to the UK nine years ago, said: “Bushfires in summer are part of living in Australia, but the scale of these fires is just crazy. The loss of land, homes, wildlife and people has been horrific. We both had family and friends affected but thankfully they are all okay. We just wanted to do our bit to help.”

She added: “Sausage Sizzles are a very common way of raising money for good causes in Australia. In fact, a sausage sizzle is a bit of an Australian institution. You’ll usually find them on most weekends outside “Bunnings” stores (the equivalent of Homebase or B&Q) all across the country.

“We really wanted to find a way to raise money to help back home and this just seemed fitting.”

The fundraiser has also won the support of many local businesses including CJ’s events, who run Warwick Market, Ben’s Biltong – which is supplying the hotplate – and local butchers including Rowleys and Mel Broome & Son as well as donations from bakers and local supermarkets.

Katherine added: “We would love as much support as possible to raise lots of money, so pop along to our Sausage Sizzle between 9am-4pm to pick up a delicious sausage or you can just donate in one of the collection tins.”

You can also donate directly via: Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery:

WIRES Wildlife Rescue

Charity music nights set to strike the right chord

Charity music nights set to strike the right chord

A SERIES of new live music events will raise the right notes for local charities at a venue in Warwick.

Flamenco Spanish restaurant at Tudor House in West Street is hosting the Friday night music quizzes as part of its new regular weekend live music offering.

And on Sundays youngsters are being encouraged to showcase their talent in the Flamenco Factor, where prizes are also up for grabs.

Alex Clayton and The Miacats with Rachel Ollerenshaw from Molly Olly’s Wishes. Photo by David Fawbert Photography.

The music is provided by, among others, The Miacats, made up of musicians Mia Rose from Stratford and Leamington’s Stephen Boyer and Rob Cooper who play a variety of instruments including guitar, bass and cajon (drum box.)

Mia said: “We’re trying to offer something that’s unique in the sense that we want people to take part and have fun. Music is largely about building communities through song so that’s our aspiration really. It’s to encourage people to express themselves, not to be brilliant but about going away with a sense of having enjoyed it and felt like they were a part of something.

“We bring loads of percussion, such as bongos, tambourines, shakers, bells and put it all out on the table and invite people to explore it. If you do it like that you build a really nice rapport with the audience. It’s about getting the audience on board, not just about doing a quiz.”

Flamenco, Tudor Inn, Warwick

The quiz will take the format of Name That Tune with prizes and free drinks on offer, followed by a further hour of fifties, sixties and Motown music.

Rob and guests also perform A Bagful of Soul set at Flamenco on Saturday evenings and, on Sunday afternoons, Stephen and guests perform jazz and sixties tunes.

Proceeds from weekly raffles throughout the month will be donated to a number of local charities, the first to benefit being Molly Olly’s Wishes.

The Warwick-based charity was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Molly Olly's Wishes, Molly Ollerenshaw
Molly Ollerenshaw just a few weeks before she passed away, aged eight.

Mascot of the charity is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack that has now been handed out to more than 40 hospitals, along with a book from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Molly Olly’s Wishes are very grateful to the team at Flamenco for their support. Quiz nights are always good fun and great for different age groups. The local support is really important to the charity so thank you to everyone involved.”

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at:

Alex Clayton, proprietor at Flamenco, said: “Music and the arts is a great way to raise awareness for local charities that have a message to send and we’re delighted to be supporting this wonderful cause.”

In another new feature for 2020, The Flamenco Factor, the restaurant hosts a series of talent heats leading to a grand final later in the year.

Alex said: “We are keen to make Flamenco a creative space for music and food. I think music is something children don’t have enough exposure to so the whole idea is that parents can come, have their Sunday lunch and then can showcase the talent of their children. It’s something no one else is doing around here.”

Flamenco, Tudor Inn, Warwick

Flamenco is the second project for Alex Clayton who recently won Best Spanish Restaurant Award for Tasca Dali which opened in High Street seven years ago.

Following a refurbishment and with more exciting plans for the year ahead, he now hopes to replicate this success at the new Spanish restaurant, marking the latest chapter in the rich history of The Tudor House Inn in West Street.

Revving up for the new year!

Revving up for the new year!

NEED something to blow away the post-festive season cobwebs but feeling too chilly to venture outdoors?

Coventry’s newest state-of-the art go-karting track is fuelling a lot of excitement – and ticks all the boxes.

Teamsport Karting, Coventry,

Eager to get a piece of the action, we geared ourselves up to take the wheel for a spin around TeamSport’s latest venue.

Even seasoned karters will be impressed with the lengthy 500m circuit on multiple levels, featuring more bends, ramps and straights than your average track.

But it’s geared to all ages and abilities, whether you’re looking to improve your skills or take part in a team event, the karts – and the team – are revved up and waiting.

So there’s as much scope for competitive adrenalin junkies to showcase their skills in the 200CC petrol karts as there is to simply enjoy some family fun.

The track can accommodate younger drivers (under 13) in specially designed Cadet Karts and offer birthday party packages as well, in the dedicated party room. Older party-goers aren’t forgotten either and Stag and Hen celebrations are also welcomed.

The flexibility and inclusiveness is great. But the most impressive feature of Coventry’s venue is the track itself. And with multiple short sessions to familiarise oneself with the layout, there’s plenty of opportunity to build your confidence and put your pedal to the metal for a genuinely thrilling ride.

Team Sport Karting, CoventryAll that said, nervous onlookers are quickly put at their ease as it’s clear safety is also at the forefront. No drivers are permitted on track until they’ve watched a lengthy safety video where, amongst other things, the all-important flag signals are explained. Plus the karts are slowed on the track at the first sign of a driver experiencing problems. But that doesn’t mean the brakes are continually put on the fun. The marshals are sensible about when they feel the need to intervene so the ‘flow of traffic’ can be maintained wherever possible.

Balaclavas, to be worn under helmets, are compulsory. With a choice of material ones for £2.50 or disposable ones for 50p, the reusable washable variety are better value if you’re likely to return – and, let’s face it, look way cooler on your teenagers!

Teamsport Karting, Coventry,

It’s a pleasant experience for non-participants as well with a comfortable bar area with food and drinks are available for purchase and a balcony area with seating for the perfect viewing platform. (Take a jumper in the colder months though as the cavernous building isn’t particularly warm for long periods spectating.)

The minimum age for taking part here is as low as eight and there are family karting sessions available so you can all compete against each other. (How many dads dare open themselves up to a thrashing from their fearless offspring?)

Great fun and highly recommended. Check out regular offers on their website. For further details and to book visit: