Claire’s marathon effort for causes close to her heart

Claire’s marathon effort for causes close to her heart

Molly Olly's Wishes, Claire Hammond, Northleigh House School, London Marathon
L-R: Claire Hammond, Rachel Ollerenshaw (with Olly The Brave) and Viv Morgan at Northleigh House School.

A Warwick mum is hoping to run up big totals for two local causes close to her heart in a marathon fundraising effort this weekend.

Claire Hammond is gearing up for her first London Marathon on Sunday (October 3rd) – in aid of charities Molly Olly’s Wishes and Northleigh House School.

It marks the culmination of five months of training for the 43-year-old who admits to having modest ambitions for the race.

“I just want to finish it safely and injury free. I don’t have a finishing time in mind – it would be good to finish before they re-open the roads!” she quipped.

“It is as much a mental challenge as it is physical one, so I want to be strong mentally and to not panic on the day and fear that I can’t do it. When you run, especially long distances, you have to learn to silence the voices in your head telling you that you can’t do it. I don’t listen to music or anything when I run, so I have been practising this as much as clocking up the miles on my training runs.”

She added: “I have built up gradually over the last five months, from running 5k, to 10k, then taking part in the Leamington Spa and Solihull Half Marathons, to running 16 miles and finally 20 miles. I have tried to run three times a week, a lot of it running up steep hills where I live!”

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

The Warwick-based charity 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.

It also works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community, including funding the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric palliative medicine and furnishing Magnolia House, both at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Their mascot 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 six-part series.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the charity which, last October, moved into its first dedicated town centre premises, in Warwick – the month in which Molly would have turned 18!

Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We are so grateful to Claire for deciding to run the London Marathon for Molly Olly’s Wishes. Every penny raised allows us to emotionally support those children and their families. To date, we have helped more than 15,000 young people and we have granted more than 2,100 wishes. Huge thanks again to Claire.”

Molly Olly's Wishes, Claire Hammond, Northleigh House School, London Marathon
On your marks. . . Claire Hammond in training with some of the Northleigh House students.

Northleigh House School was established in Shrewley in 2012 by Viv and late husband Fred Morgan who were moved by stories of bullying in secondary schools.

After discovering a lack of facilities to support these young people, they decided to address the growing need for a safe and nurturing environment for students to continue their education whilst receiving any counselling and support they need to rebuild their shattered self-confidence and self-belief.

More than 120 students have passed through its doors, and there is an ever-growing waiting list.

Viv said: “Our students have experienced traumas of some kind that have left them emotionally vulnerable within mainstream schools so they are often ‘switched off’ from learning.

“We are always incredibly grateful to friends and supporters like Claire, who literally go the extra mile to support us. We have been so impressed by her hard work and will be cheering her all the way!”

For further information about Northleigh House School call 01926 958227 or visit:

For further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes contact Rachel on 07747 854914 or visit:

Claire Hammond, Molly Olly's Wishes, Northleigh House School, London Marathon
Claire finishing the Solihull Half Marathon last year.

Claire Hammond added: “Both charities bring light to children and families facing darkness. I know Molly’s family well, and I wanted to play a small part in helping them grant wishes to children and their families who are facing such difficult circumstances.

“I asked Rachel to share with me some of the wishes they have granted, to remind me of the joy they bring amongst the pain and suffering, and this has spurred me on in my training when things have felt tough.

“My child attends Northleigh House School, and we are truly thankful for this place. Northleigh has offered my family a lifeline and hope for the future.

“My child was unable to attend secondary school due to severe anxiety, spending two years at home but Northleigh has been central to rebuilding their mental health, enabling our child to live a full life which has, in turn, benefited us all as a family. Without it, our lives would be unthinkable. We are so grateful. It is thanks to Northleigh House that our family can breathe, smile and enjoy our lives.”

“Mainstream schools are paralysed by Ofsted rules, and performance tables, preventing them from adapting to the emotional and well-being needs of their pupils. Northleigh gets to the heart of what is important and removes those barriers.”

To sponsor Claire visit:

Rotary donation kickstarts vital windmill repairs

Rotary donation kickstarts vital windmill repairs

LOCAL Rotarians have put wind behind the sails of a fundraising campaign to restore an historic mill back to full working order.

Members of The Rotary Club of Bromsgrove have presented Avoncroft Museum with a donation of £5,000 to finally start work on essential repairs to the windmill which will enable it to sail again safely.

The Bromsgrove museum’s 19-acre site, owned by members and run by volunteer trustees, is home to more than 30 buildings and structures which cover 700 years of history.

Avoncroft Museum, windmill, Rotary Club of Bromsgrove
Court Leet and Rotary on Lammas Day. Photo by Geoff Hawkesworth.

The latest donation comes on the back of another fundraising initiative at the museum to repair thousands of pounds worth of damage caused by vandals shortly after its post-pandemic reopening to the public, in May. Intruders smashed windows and damaged the interiors of Toll House and Nailers Cottage as well as smashing plates and ornaments.

Following an appeal more than £50,000 in donations poured in from around the world which paid for repairs as well as improved security on the site.

John Teece, President of the Rotary Club of Bromsgrove, who presented the latest cheque, said: “The 1820 Danzey Green Windmill is an iconic symbol for the Museum, and for Bromsgrove, and the Rotary Club is delighted to be supporting the efforts to maintain it.

“We were really pleased to be able to join the Court Leet and celebrate Lammas Day* at the same time as presenting the donation to the team at Avoncroft.”

Zoe Willems, Director of Avoncroft Museum, said “Rescuing historic buildings isn’t a one-off event, we have to keep them in good repair. There is a backlog of work needed on many of our buildings which were originally rescued in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s – but the Windmill is at the top of the list because it is so iconic.”

Avoncroft Museum, windmill, Rotary Club of Bromsgrove

“We want Avoncroft to be a working museum, so it’s a priority to get the Windmill sailing again. We’re so grateful to the Rotary Club of Bromsgrove for their extremely generous donation, which will bring us more than half-way to the total of £25,000 we need to employ a mill-wright to repair the wind-shaft and running rail.”

“We look forward to welcoming back the Bromsgrove Rotary Club and other donors, as well as our members and visitors, to see a very rare working post-mill in action, once the repairs are complete.”

The Bromsgrove Rotary Club are always running or contributing to local projects that add benefit to the community and schools. More information about their local projects or how to get involved in the work they do can be found here

Donations can still be made to Avoncroft Museum via here

* Lammas Day, celebrated every August 1, is a wheat harvest festival that is also known as Loaf Mass Day. The holiday encourages celebrations and mass gatherings where individuals thank God for the first harvest of the season.

According to tradition, a loaf of bread has to be taken to mass on Lammas Day, hence, it is not a surprise that it is famously recognised as ‘Loaf Mass Day.’

Though Lammas Day originated as a Christian holiday, it is also celebrated by others who want to offer thanks to spiritual entities for blessing the world with a fruitful wheat harvest for a particular year. Description of Lammas Day taken from ‘National Today’ publication.

‘God Is A Woman’ – and other startling truths!

‘God Is A Woman’ – and other startling truths!

“How different would the world be if women’s stories had been included more in the Bible?

Did you know that Adam had a first wife before Eve? Her name was Lilith and she left Adam because she wanted to do reverse cow girl and he would only do missionary – they didn’t mention THAT in the creation myth.”

Luisa Omielan, comedian, Warwick Arts Centre, God Is A Woman
Luisa and Bernie

At a time of pandemics and global warming, we all turn to spirituality for hope and purpose, so let’s hear about the true meaning of Christmas and Jesus courtesy of BAFTA winning comedian Luisa Omielan – now that’s a Sunday school we all would have stayed awake in!

Following a successful Off-Broadway run in 2019, comedian Luisa Omielan is excited to finally announce rescheduled dates for her highly anticipated God Is A Woman tour, which kicked off in Belfast this month.

Luisa already has three groundbreaking hit shows under her belt. First, she asked “What Would Beyonce Do?! ” (sell out across the UK and Australia, is what she would do!), then she asked “Am I Right Ladies?!” and her thigh gap joke went viral with over 45 million views. Then she turned to politics and got a show on the BBC entitled “Politics for Bitches”. So the next logical step was for Luisa to bring her unique genre of comedy to religion – expect Mary Magdalene and men’s private part jokes!

Luisa has been featured in The Guardian, The Radio Times, Forbes, Vogue, The Metro, Stylist Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Telegraph and countless other publications. She’s been nominated two years in a row for Best Comedy Show at the Melbourne International Festival and loves taking her universal shows around the world. She is also the first comedian to be acknowledged with a BAFTA Breakthrough award.

She has created a unique genre of comedy that’s a heart-wrenching journey; part-rave and part-rally. Her shows are uplifting, thought-provoking, ahead-of-the-times and damn funny. Cry your eyes out funny. She counts Dawn French, Lenny Henry, Richard Curtis and Ruby Wax as super fans.

Everything she’s achieved so far has been with a fiercely loyal audience.

Encouraged by her fans, they crowdfunded her to debut God Is A Woman Off Broadway in NYC – now it’s time to bring it home.

Luisa will be accompanied on stage by her partner in crime, Bernie – the funniest Bernese mountain dog on the block.

And the best part? She’s bringing her brand of comedy to Warwick Arts Centre in November! You can book here


21,22, 24 & 25 Soho Theatre, London.
30th – Black Box, Belfast

2nd – Lowry, Salford
3rd – Southport Comedy Festival
8th – Stand, Newcastle
10th – Tivoli Theatre (Aberdeen Comedy Festival)
11th – Stand, Edinburgh
12th – Stand, Glasgow
14th – Playhouse, Norwich
18th – Redgrave, Bristol
21st – White Rock Theatre, Hastings
24th – City Varieties, Leeds
31st – Storyhouse, Chester

4th – Camberley Theatre, Camberley
5th – Corn Exchange, Stamford
7th – Glee, Cardiff
8th – Glee, Nottingham
9th – Glee, Birmingham
10th – Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
14th – Glee, Oxford
19th – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
22nd – Komedia, Brighton

20th – The Grand, Clapham, London.
Christmas Variety Show – Woolwich Works Dec 10th & 11th


‘One of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.’ – BBC Comedy

‘The biggest stand up hit of the decade’ – The Guardian

‘She should be put on the national curriculum’ – The Scotsman

‘One of the most powerful and provocative hours on The Fringe’ – The Telegraph

Breathing new life into South Warwickshire pub

Breathing new life into South Warwickshire pub

A new chapter is being marked at a South Warwickshire pub despite many pubs being forced to close due to the pandemic.

The Cottage Tavern in Ashorne, near Warwick has undergone an exciting transformation with new managers at the helm. Tim Sidwell and Mark Williams took over the village pub in May 2021 spending several weeks decorating, adding new furnishings, transforming the cellar, and re-designing the garden before opening to the public on 19 June.

The menu has also undergone a radical change and offers a daily changing blackboard menu using locally sourced produce, a three-course Sunday lunch and a regular Thursday steak night.

Cottage Tavern, Ashorne

Mark and Tim, pictured above, who are both Directors of Ghost Inns Ltd, have been friends for over 17 years when they worked together at The Howard Arms in Ilmington. They decided to combine their knowledge and experiences of the pub trade and open their own pub in Ashorne and are currently in the process of buying the lease which will enable them to have greater control and flexibility over their stock.

Both Mark and Tim have different areas of responsibility, Tim concentrates on the front of house whereas Mark looks after the bar. The Chef, Ryan Davies, was trained at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Academy and was awarded ‘Apprentice of the Year’. He has also worked under a Michelin starred chef at Bistro Bruno Loubet. Ryan describes his food as ‘hearty, fresh, homemade seasonal produce made with a lot of passion’.

The Cottage Tavern, Ashorne

Mark and Tim have also introduced a regular live music night and quiz night which have both proved popular. Although open for less than three months, the team have achieved a 5-star food hygiene rating and received 5 stars on Trip Advisor and Google, with customers saying, “This is the best food we have eaten in many years” and “the host was amazing, very attentive, warm and welcoming, he took time to explain all the various dishes in great detail” and “This is a little gem of a pub! The Cottage Tavern is back”.

Mark said “We are delighted to have brought our experience and passion to The Cottage Tavern and revitalised a tired village pub. It’s been our aim to make the local community and the wider area proud and to give everyone a pub they can love whether its popping in for a half pint of ale or enjoying a three-course meal. We look forward to welcoming visitors and putting The Cottage Tavern firmly on the culinary map as a destination pub in Warwickshire.”

New theme sparks fresh excitement for Warwick Town Bonfire

New theme sparks fresh excitement for Warwick Town Bonfire

James Bond is the theme at Warwick Town Bonfire this year with the fireworks show revving us all up for the long-awaited launch of No Time to Die!

Award-winning FWarwick Bonfire, James Bondantastic Fireworks will provide the 30-minute spectacle set to the music of James Bond films. Organisers Warwick Lions, Warwick Rotary Club and Warwick Racecourse are excited to be able to invite people back after Coronavirus forced cancellation of events last year. They encourage everyone to buy their tickets in advance in case numbers are limited.

Warwick Rotary Club, fireworks, BONDfire Night

A range of hot foods and refreshments will be available across the site as usual with all bars open. You can reserve a table for a hot supper in the Kingmaker restaurant with a great view of the bonfire and fireworks show. Music will be provided by the popular Ukulele Band and there’s a range of light sabres and bright swords to buy for an exciting evening.

The racecourse grandstands offer a great view of the Bonfire and Firework show across the track on the common. There will be a short five-minute display at 6pm to keep the children entertained, with the main firework show after the fire is lit at 6.30.

Tickets are available now on-line here

Advance tickets – Adults and children over 15 – £8; children under 15 £2.

Infants under 3yrs old free.

Gates open at 5pm. Entry is at the main entrance off Bread & Meat Close, with free parking, access also off Hampton Road. No funfair this year for Covid safety.

Tickets are only available online and people are warned that as Kenilworth bonfire has cancelled they should purchase in advance. Further information at

Local companies Geberit, Feldon Dunsmore, Bovis Homes, Tuckery, Warwick Kia, Godfrey Payton and Uniparts Logistics are supporting the event. Organisers are hoping for a good turnout to raise much-needed funds for local charities and good causes.