Rotarians answer the call for emergency India aid

Rotarians answer the call for emergency India aid

Warwickshire Rotarians have supported a Heart of England campaign to fund emergency Oxygen Concentrators to help ease the Covid-19 crisis in India.

Rotarians (l-r) Jaz Dhaliwal; Assistant District Governor Amal Rampal; District Governor David Clayfield; District Governor Elect Tim Bushell deliver concentrators.

Club members on both sides of the county, in Nuneaton, Bedworth and Warwick, raised thousands of pounds towards the cost of the vital equipment which saves lives by filtering noxious gases from the oxygen used in the treatment of patients.

Nine generators have already been despatched after £15,670 was raised by 40 Rotary Clubs across the Heart of England district in just two weeks – and members are now working hard to secure the remaining 32.

District Governor Elect David Clayfield, member of the Rotary Club of Arbury urged the Rotary Clubs in the Heart of England to donate to this appeal.

He said: “We cannot help but remember the time when the NHS was struggling to deal with Covid-19 cases and now are alarmed that the situation is so much worse in India where people are dying because of lack of Oxygen.

“We see the horrific news broadcast daily from India regarding the rise of Covid 19 cases. Up to 25th May 27 million cases and 307,000 deaths have been reported and that number continues to grow at an alarming rate. As is the case in every country, the poorest, most vulnerable members of society suffer most.

“We in the UK know the devastating effects Covid has had on our society but now, thanks to the vaccination programme, we are beginning to defeat this terrible virus. We are now in a position to be outward looking and to offer support to our international neighbours”.

He added: “The Rotary Clubs, in the Heart of England have sprung into action to support the food banks in the local communities and now, being an International organisation, we recognise the need to support the poor and the needy in India who are in desperate need. Rotarians have donated, generously, to support the India Oxygen Appeal.

Last month India marked a grim record of highest number of new registered Covid infections anywhere in the world since the pandemic began, leading to severe shortages of beds and oxygen in hospitals.

The unprecedented spread, blamed on a more contagious strain as well as lax safety measures, has pushed the hospitals to the brink as patients are repeatedly turned away from wards.

Oxygen Concentrators, Heart of England Rotary Club

Latest World Health Organisation figures though, show all regions reporting a decline in cases amid suggestions this second wave may have now passed its peak. But there is growing concern over the pandemic’s spread into rural India where smaller towns and villages do not have an adequate healthcare infrastructure to handle sharp rises in case numbers.

The Heart of England Clubs have worked with two UK charities to procure and despatch the first nine concentrators – Hinckley-based We Care UK and the Coventry branch of Khalsa Aid, based in Maidenhead. And the work continues to source the rest.

Heart of England Rotary District Treasurer Robert Rainbow said: “We have been totally overwhelmed with the amount of support this appeal has received from both Rotary Clubs, as well as individuals, across the district. This really is a phenomenal effort in what have been very difficult times. It is truly inspiring and highlights the Rotary motto ‘Service Above Self”

Heartbreak Productions set to open national tours

Heartbreak Productions set to open national tours

Come rain or shine, Heartbreak Productions have been touring unique, award-winning outdoor experiences from their base in Leamington Spa for 30 years.

Before embarking on a national tour that will perform at more venues than ever before, they will be opening all four shows in Leamington over the next few weeks.

With the 2020 tour cancelled due to pandemic, Heartbreak is finally able to return to open air venues with the shows they planned for last year: The Great Gatsby, Wonder With Grimm, Mr Stink, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As audiences return to the joys of attending live theatre, Heartbreak is thrilled to be back on the road…

Heartbreak Productions, Leamington Spa

Heartbreak Productions, The Great Gatsby, Leamington Spa
A scene from The Great Gatsby previously.

Marking the 100th anniversary of The Roaring 20s, The Great Gatsby will be served up with a twist of iconic Heartbreak style. Set at a garden party, this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic will take its audiences on a wild ride through Gatsby and Daisy’s romance – with a generous splash of jazz.

WHEN & WHERE: Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa | Wednesday 2nd & Thursday 3rd June at 7.30pm.

David Walliams’ family-friendly best-seller, Mr Stink, returns to Heartbreak’s summer catalogue for the first time since 2015. 10-year-old Chloe and the housing-challenged Mr Stink forge an extraordinary and rewarding friendship that takes them to the heady heights of live television and Downing Street via a garden shed.

The programme will include the winning poem written on the theme of homelessness for Heartbreak’s 2020 Poetry Competition. Many venues will also be collecting for Shelter at the performances.

WHEN & WHERE: Leamington Rugby Club, Leamington Spa | Friday 4th June @ 6.30pm and Saturday 5th June 2pm & 6.30pm.

Open-air staple, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, weaves its way through tangled lovers, warring fairies, and hapless human beings… but it’s a Heartbreak Productions adaptation! So, transporting the action to an environmental protest camp, Heartbreak uses Shakespeare’s timeless imagery to emphasise the importance of the environment with costumes and sets created from recycled materials.

WHEN & WHERE: Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa | Tuesday 8th & Wednesday 9th June at 7.30pm.

Based on Brothers Grimm fairy tales, Wonder With Grimm promises audiences an enchanting evening full of magic, puppetry, music, and dance – with altered endings and a modern twist. To round off the evening, Heartbreak performs an original fairy tale penned by their Find Your Voice competition winner, Kasper, a Y4 student from Leamington Spa.

WHEN & WHERE: Jephson Gardens June 11th 6.30pm and June 12th 2pm & 6.30pm.

Maddy Kerr, Heartbreak’s Executive Director, said: “We are so delighted to be able to tour again this summer and hope we can continue to provide safe and exciting entertainment for audiences as the restrictions gradually ease. We can’t wait to see people relaxing with a picnic and soaking up some much-needed sunshine – and enjoying some cracking theatre!”

Visit: Open Air Theatre touring the UK 2021 – Heartbreak Productions for more information.

Gearing up for exhibitions and shows at Gaydon’s British Motor Museum

Gearing up for exhibitions and shows at Gaydon’s British Motor Museum

IT’S so good to see our local museums reopen their doors to visitors again.

To kickstart our tour, we called into the British Motor Museum in Gaydon ahead of our Young Driver Classic Car Experience, on Saturday.

British Motor Museum, Gaydon
The British Motor Museum and Collections Centre

A favourite with our family, there’s always plenty to explore at both the Museum and Collection Centre on site, with more than 300 British cars from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and Jaguar Heritage Trust collections.

And there’s a great café for refuelling too!

New for 2021, the E-type Evolution Exhibition from the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (JDHT) commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Jaguar E-type. The Exhibition tells the story of the car from the racing C and D-types of the 1950s, the E2A Prototype, its launch at Geneva on 15 March 1961 and finishes with two very successful Racing V12 E-types from the 1970s. The exhibition runs to the end of June and is included in the standard Museum admission.

British Motor Museum, Gaydon

For the May half-term week, from 29th May–6th June, the Museum is hosting a full programme of family-friendly activities to celebrate the Jaguar E-type’s 60th Birthday. Visitors will have the chance to meet Dotty or Dougie, the car designers from the swinging 60s and explore this amazing car and its design. Younger visitors will also have the chance to take home their very own cardboard cut-out Jaguar E-type! There are also online celebratory activities for those not able to visit the Museum.

The Museum is also gearing up to run a full schedule of motoring shows and events this summer, all in line with Government advice. Over 14 shows and rallies are being planned to include the return of several popular events such as the Land Rover Show, Retro Truck Show as well as some brand-new events including ‘Autolicious.’

First event of the 2021 show season is the ‘National Metro & Mini Show. The popular family show, which returns in line with government guidelines on Sunday 6th June, is the main event of the year for Metros, classic Minis and modern Minis to celebrate a great day out.

British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Hundreds of models will be on display including ‘621 AOK’, the first Mini produced in 1959 and ‘X411 JOP,’ the last ever classic Mini to be produced at Longbridge in 2000, along with ’33 EJB’, ‘AJB 44B’ and ‘LBL 6D’ the Monte Carlo Rally winning Mini’s of 1964, 1965 and 1967.

Tickets for the show also include entry to the Museum and Collections Centre, giving visitors the chance to see over 350 cars including some of the historically important milestone vehicles such as the last Rover 100 produced, signed by almost 1,200 people involved in Metro production.

The Gaydon Land Rover Show is back on 31 July–1st August bringing the finest vehicles, owners and historians together for a weekend dedicated to this iconic marque. The EV Electric Vehicle Festival takes place on the 7th August and the Classic and Vintage Commercial Show, which this year includes the Transit Van Club Rally and Classic Van and Pick Up Show, returns on 14-15th August.

British Motor Museum, Gaydon

Continuing through the summer, new to Gaydon is ‘Autolicious’ on 29th August. This event presented by Audi-licious is a rare opportunity to see an array of stunning cars on display including Audi, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes, Lamborghini and VW.

The Gaydon Jaguar Show, which began in 2020, returns on 4th September and is billed as a friendly, informal gathering for all Jaguar fans, owners and enthusiasts. The Retro Truck Show returns on 11th-12th September and to round the show season off the last two events are indoor; the Large Model Aircraft Show on 24th October and the Great British Model Railway Show on 30th-31st October.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10am – 5pm with limited numbers per day and pre-booking is essential for all visitors including those returning with an annual pass. There are 10am, 11am, 12noon and 1pm arrival slots available and visitors can stay as long as they wish until closing.

2021 admission prices remain the same as in 2020 and are: Adults £14.50, Concessions £12.50, Children £9 (5-16 years), under 5’s free, and a Family ticket £40 (2 adults & up to 3 children). If you Gift Aid or donate your entrance fee you receive an annual pass at no extra cost. All visitors must pre-book tickets so the Museum can fulfil its NHS Test and Trace commitment.

For more information on keeping visitors safe visit

For more information about this and to book tickets visit

BMM hosts new Young Driver Classic Car Experiences. Read about our visit here.


Young Drivers given green light to enjoy the ‘classics!’

Young Drivers given green light to enjoy the ‘classics!’

AS a driver of 35 years – and a mother of two – I appreciate the value of the much-lauded Young Driver scheme, first established in 2009 to help reduce the high accident rate for newly qualified drivers.

It’s a great opportunity for 10-17-year-olds to get behind the wheel in preparation for driving lessons, learning to brake, steer, reverse, park and negotiate the gears – all for the first time.

Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
The Chalmers ‘boys’ flank motoring journalist Quentin Willson at the launch of the Young Driver Classic Car Experience at The British Motor Museum.
Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James in the 1937 Austin 7 replica

Now the team behind the UK’s largest pre-17 driving school – whose cars are finally back on the road post-pandemic – are expanding their offering by giving lucky young motor enthusiasts access to classic cars too!

In the Classic Car Experience, youngsters can take a spin in three of Britain’s most iconic cars – a Vauxhall VX490, Morris Minor or Austin 7 – with a fully qualified driving instructor. And the envious parents don’t have to miss out either.

Having spent the last few months fine-tuning the engines, the classic cars are now available to drive (for anyone from 10 upwards) at the British Motor Museum on selected dates. The experiences last 15 minutes and those booking a lesson also get discounted entry into the museum. (See BMM review from the same day here)

To mark the occasion on Saturday was motoring journalist and former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson, who has also been patron to Young Drivers.

The car’s touch points are sanitised between drivers who are joined for the trip by an instructor. But be warned – the Austin 7 is not designed for teenagers over 6ft tall and unfortunately only one of my sons was able to successfully peel himself in and out of the vehicle. Something to consider before you go.

He was able to enjoy his session in the Morris Minor however and it was a delight to witness the beaming smiles (amid the looks of concentration) from a wide range of ages as they got to grips with, what was for many, their first ever experience behind the wheel.

As Quentin himself put it to me – “Classic cars can be a refreshingly authentic way to start your driving ‘journey,’ with the absence of electronic intervention allowing the driver to feel more connected to their vehicle.”

Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James with the Vauxhall vx490
Young Drivers, classic car experience, Quentin Willson, British Motor Museum, Gaydon
James before driving the Morris Minor

This is a big part of what also makes it such a unique experience for the more mature modern-day driver – although you’ll also be made to appreciate the comforts and driveability of today’s cars!

Young Driver was established in 2009 with the aim of revolutionising the learning to drive journey, helping to reduce the high accident rate for newly qualified drivers by extending the learning period. For more information and to book a lesson please visit

Future Classic Young Driver events at The British Motor Museum are on 19th June, 25th September and 20th November. Visit to book.

The cars. . .

Austin 7: This was introduced to the British public in 1922 – just four years after the start of World War One – and by the start of World War Two, in 1939, some 290,000 of them were in use around the world.

Morris Minor: This car made its debut in 1948, designed by motoring legend Alec Issigonis, who went on to design the Mini, and was the first to sell over a million units.

Vauxhall VX490: This was produced between 1963-67 during which time 31,000 saloons were made of the HB spec, of which only 10 are on the UK roads today.

For more about The British Motor Museum visit my latest article here.

Warwick solicitors supports Warwick charity with Will proceeds

Warwick solicitors supports Warwick charity with Will proceeds

A solicitors firm which opened its Warwick offices during the pandemic, has donated £500 to a local charity which supports children with terminal and life-limiting illnesses.

Wadsworths, which also has offices in Solihull, Henley and Tamworth, presented Molly Olly’s Wishes with the donation representing a percentage of every Will they administered throughout the month of November last year.

Richard Dundee, Head of Wills and Probate at Wadsworths Solicitors, said: “We decided to support Molly’s Olly’s Wishes as they are a much valued and loved charity in the local Warwick area. We pride ourselves on taking an active part in our local community and are proud to be supporting such a fantastic local charity after what has been a difficult year for everyone.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Wadsworths, Rachel Ollerenshaw
Richard Dundee presents the cheque to Rachel Ollerenshaw.

The Warwick-based charity, which has its offices in Swan Street, 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 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.

Part of more than £2.5m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “Thank you to all the team at Wadsworths for their support from their Make a Will Week. The funds are very gratefully received and will be used to help children facing very challenging circumstances.

“We have a lot of wishes at the moment for all sorts from a walker to aid mobility, to shopping vouchers, outdoor climbing frame and iPads. For children stuck in hospital or restricted to their homes these wishes can help keep them occupied or provide support at a time when maybe mum or dad has had to stop work to be at home to care.”

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