Coventry musician’s heartfelt remix for Grief Awareness Week

Coventry musician’s heartfelt remix for Grief Awareness Week

A MOBO Award-nominated musician from Coventry is releasing a poignant remixed version of her charity record to mark National Grief Awareness Week from Thursday.

My Darling, Sandra Godley, National Grief Awareness Week 2021

A new orchestral mix of My Darling, will be available to download on Friday, a song which its writer Sandra Godley, hopes will provide some support for those grieving at Christmas.

The original version of My Darling, which was first released in August, has already raised more than £1,000 for three local charities in the wake of the pandemic – Surviving Bereavement, Molly Olly’s Wishes and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

It is a particularly heartfelt piece of work for the Bristol-born musician and local radio presenter, Sandra, who is still grieving the loss of her own aunt to the virus in April last year.

On announcing the remix, she said: “Grief affects us every day of the year. As we approach Christmas, many people like me will be challenged by memories of loved ones. There will certainly be an empty chair around the dining table at my house.

“I’m hoping this song will be a help to everyone experiencing grief during Christmas time. We can walk this journey together. ‘Grieving is changing me. I’ll make it through’ are lines in the song where dreams become alive for the future and hope leads us all towards a better day.”

My Darling: Orchestra Remix is the result of a collaboration between Sandra, Wings Media Group and producer Matt Cossey and guitarist John Connearn from The Nexus Institute of Creative Arts in Coventry.

With four successful albums and a clutch of awards to her name, Sandra’s proudest musical career highlights include singing in The House of Commons as well as creating and performing The Big Love Song as a wedding gift for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, joined by a choir of mental health ambassadors on BBC’s The One Show, in 2018.

And this is another project that’s particularly close to her heart.

She added: “With this version, I wanted to bring something different to the table, combining many of the genres I love into one sonic twist of emotions. There’s a little pop, gospel, RnB and orchestral, all in the mix.

“I’m incredibly excited about this release. The first time I heard it, I cried. Matt Cossey has done a fantastic job! The song has grown and this time it takes you on a more extensive and sensitive journey of lament and hope. There’s intensity in this orchestral remix which releases something in your soul to smile, mourn, cry, whilst still retaining the overall sound pallet of the song. I love it!”

My Darling marks a departure from Sandra’s usual soul and gospel style, instead following more contemporary musical influences to appeal to a wider audience impacted by Covid or otherwise-related loss.

My Darling, Sandra Godley, National Grief Awareness Week 2021
Sandra Godley and Matt Cossey in the recording studio.

The single’s producer Matt Cossey said: “Coming off the back of a global pandemic, this track has been really meaningful to work on, but also a real privilege. Trying to simultaneously capture the sound of grief and hope was a particularly interesting and poignant challenge, but I think we have managed it!”

My Darling is available to download for 79p all digital platforms from December 3rd.

Pre save and be the first to hear it here

My Darling, Sandra Godley, National Grief Awareness Week 2021
John Connearn

Further Information:

Sandra’s recent track ‘Grateful,’ recorded in Nashville USA, reached no 21 in the iTunes RnB charts. Grateful is taken from her album Reflections.

Sandra and the Bluecoat School Gospel choir performed at Coventry‘s 2021 Christmas Light Switch On to a crowd of 6,000+ people.

She has performed at The House of Commons, Manchester Arena, CBS Arena, Belgrade Theatre, Albany Theatre, Coventry Cathedral, USA, Malta, Venice, Jamaica, Italy to name a few and is a broadcaster for BBC’s Sunday Breakfast show and Upbeat.

National Grief Awareness Week runs from December 2nd-7th to raise awareness of all aspects of grief and loss on a national scale. To offer access to a choice of tailored bereavement support to all those grieving in the UK and to those working with the bereaved. To ensure immediate access to support for all types of bereavement in local communities across the country. To raise awareness of smaller frontline organisations in the UK, and to give them a national platform to reach those in need in their local area. To help the public to better understand how to support those grieving the loss of someone they love. To open conversations and normalise grief.

Further information on the many ways to offer support is available here

Santa Claus and festive fun in Shipston

Santa Claus and festive fun in Shipston

The familiar jingle of festive bells will be returning to Shipston’s streets next month thanks to friendly local Rotarians.

Members of The Rotary Club of Shipston will be joined by volunteers when they take their sleigh out and about as children gear up for some pre-Christmas excitement – all in the name of festive cheer, goodwill and fundraising.

It will mark a return to the area for the traditional charity sleigh, after the pandemic put the brakes on Santa’s visit last year.

Santa sleigh, Shipston Rotary Club, ice rink

The festive fun will officially get under way on Friday, December 3rd with the arrival of the town’s Victorian Evening, Christmas lights switch-on the Rotary’s first ever synthetic ice skating rink.

Skating sessions are available at Shipston Enterprise Centre between 2-6pm on December 3rd; 11am-7pm on December 4th and 10am-6pm on December 5th. They can be booked in advance at:

The local Santa sleigh routes are as follows. . .

Wednesday, 8th December 5 30-7 30pm: Berry Avenue, Queens Avenue, Pittway Avenue, Sadlers Avenue, Oldbutt Road, Shipston Gardens, Bailey Close, Burnell Close, Herdwick Fold, Webb Road, Clifford Place.

Thursday, 9th December 5 30 -7 30pm: Foxgloves, Norgren Crescent,.Carr Close, Atcheston Close, Symons Way, Herdwick Field, Bradley Drive, Barrett Place, Coe Ave, Nichols Court, Nason Way.

Friday, 10th December 5 30-7 30pm: Station Road, The Driftway, Manor Lane, Greenway Road, Darlingscote Road, Brickhill Close, Haymeadow, Worcester Place, Warwick Place, Oxway Close, Glenn Close, Green Lane, Gerrards Road, West Street.

Sunday, 12th December 4 30-7 30pm: Tilemans Lane, Brickway Close, Beecham Road, The Sidings, Railway Crescent, Signal Road, Mayo Road, Donnington Road, Badgers Crescent, Hornsby Close, Cauldiwell Drive, Riverway, Watery Lane.

Monday, 13th December 5 30-7 30pm: Chapel View, Brewer Hill, Angela’s Meadow, Holly Road, Elm Road, Hawthorne Way, Ashgrove, Furzehill Road, Bosley Close.

Wednesday, 15th December 5 30-7 30pm: Callaways Road, Greenfields Close, Parsons Close, Simpson Road, Hanson Avenue, Costard Ave, Marshall Avenue, Clark Close.

Santa sleigh, Shipston Rotary Club, ice rink

There’s a good chance Santa will also be spotted around the town centre on Saturday, December 18th between 9am and 1pm!

The Rotary Club of Shipston hopes to help a host of local causes by contributing towards the projected £100,000 raised across the Heart of England Rotary region by the traditional sleigh run initiative.

And this year – in line with continuing Covid precautions – more ways to donate have been introduced, including contactless payments, mobile phone texts and VR codes, as a form of donation.

Heart of England Rotary spokesperson, Colin Winstone, said: “Our Rotary Clubs have been helping Father Christmas raise funds to support those less fortunate by means of his sleigh runs for over 25 years all across the West Midlands. Now a firm favourite with local residents, the sound of the sleigh arriving excites children and adults alike.

“The proceeds benefit the Rotary Club’s chosen local community charities and good causes, including foodbanks, toy boxes, children’s parties, supporting the elderly, winter warmth projects and many more. There are nine Rotary-organised Santa sleighs throughout the Heart of England and everyone’s support is much appreciated.”

Anyone who is not able to see Father Christmas on the day but who would like to donate, can also do so by visiting:

History at the heart of new Castle Gin School collaboration

History at the heart of new Castle Gin School collaboration

The Castle Edgehill, Pinnock Distillery, gin school

AN award-winning gin distiller whose business started from his Kineton kitchen three years ago, is joining forces with the hotelier who became his first customer – for the launch of a new Warwickshire gin school.

A transformed formerly derelict 17th-century castle tower is the unique setting for The Castle Gin School, which opens on February 4th.

It marks an expansion for Pinnock Distillery’s Dan Beckett whose collaboration with The Castle at Edgehill, also celebrates the brands’ shared historical connections.

Dan, who now runs his distillery from the Grade II-listed tower on the border of four counties overlooking the battlefield, said: “This was our local and we’ve been coming here for about eight years. It is the first pub I got the gin into and a very special place to me.

“It couldn’t be a better fit. We’re going to be making the gin at a location where Charles 1st raised the standard at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642. He was the first ruler to tax alcohol in the 1630s when many people were distilling in their kitchens and regulated it all. The fact that the gin school will be overlooking the very spot where he stood at the top of the hill in the battle is unique.

“When I started out I was quite keen to keep things as traditional as possible and use a recipe from around that period. I found a recipe book that had been republished from 1636 – so based all my botanicals from that period.”

Local provenance runs through the heart of Pinnock Gin. The 11 botanicals used in its original Warwickshire Dry gin include Cotswold Lavender from Snowshill, near Broadway, quince from Warwick and honey from Red Road Nursery pick your own farm in Little Kineton.

The distillery also sources local ingredients for its Rhubarb and Strawberry and Sloe, Damson and Honey blends and is soon to introduce a new rum recipe which gin schoolers will be among the first to try.

Visitors to The Castle can choose from a one-hour Pinnock Gin Taster Session or three-hour Gin School (for parties of up to 14 people) in which they’ll learn about the history and provenance of the product and location, before being guided by Dan through the gin-making process using a range of botanicals. As well as enjoying plenty of Gin samples along the way, they will get to take home a 70cl bottle of their own unique recipe, which can also be reordered at the distillery on a later date.

Dan said: “It offers the whole experience with the gin school, restaurant and rooms you can stay in so you don’t have to drive into the countryside somewhere and then worry about how you’re going to get back or that someone has to be the designated driver and can’t participate properly.”

The Castle Gin School, which was supported by a grant from Warwickshire County Council, is the latest offering from The Castle at Edgehill, which also boasts an award-winning restaurant, four-star accommodation and wedding licence.

Mark Higgs and Dan Beckett have launched their new gin school on the site of the historic Battle of Edgehill

The venue is one of four under the ownership of The Free Spirit Pub Company founded by Mark Higgs.

Mark said: “I’m over the moon we have managed to team up with Dan, a genuine Gin boff! I’m super excited about growing both the Castle and Pinnock brands and offering something truly unique and special to our wonderful guests.

“Pinnock Gin is a great product and we’re both on a journey where we can each bring different elements to the project. It’s great to be able to offer something more and add another aspect to the business and this certainly offers something a little bit different. I don’t know of any other pub that offers a nano distillery. This new project will allow us to continue to evolve and grow.”

It also marks a return to teaching for former Warwickshire College lecturer Daniel, who, two years ago, walked away from his career to pursue his dream of running a distillery.

“It’s a great opportunity to tap into my wider skillset share my passion for gin and gin-making with other people. But the main aim is for everyone to have fun and for people to walk away at the end with a bottle of gin that they’ll enjoy.

“Together, we knew we had the potential to create one of the most iconic and breath-taking micro gin distilleries and so, the Castle Gin School was born.”

The Gin School is initially available for Friday and Saturday afternoon sessions but group or corporate bookings outside these times can be requested.

For more information and vouchers, which are available to purchase now, visit The Castle at Edgehill or Pinnock Distillery.

Further information:

  • The Castle Experience costs £325 for two and includes Prosecco on arrival , a night’s stay, the Gin School Experience , three-course dinner, cooked breakfast.
  • The Castle tower, also known as the ‘Radway’ or ‘Round tower’, was intended to replicate Guy’s tower at nearby Warwick Castle. The Castle first became a pub in 1822, when it was sold by Sanderson Miller and acquired by the Hook Norton Brewery in 1922, with Mark Higgs, the current tenant, taking over the lease in 2013.
  • Other venues under the Free Spirit Pub ownership are: The Sun Inn, Hook Norton; The Seven Stars. Marsh Baldon and The Red Lion at Hellidon.
  • The battle of Edge Hill was fought on Sunday, 23rd October 1642 and was the first major battle in the English Civil War between the Royalist forces of King Charles I and the Parliamentarian Army commanded by the Earl of Essex.
  • The King’s army had to descend from the edge of the escarpment if they wished to engage the Parliamentarians in battle, because the escarpment was far too steep for Essex to consider an attack against the Royalist army while it was on the edge. At the time of the battle, there were far fewer trees. The battle was inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory. It would take several more years and many more battles before the Parliamentarians won the war.
‘Fun-draising’ boosts children’s charity coffers

‘Fun-draising’ boosts children’s charity coffers

PEDALO power, pumpkins and bananas were among the wide range of fundraising themes resulting in donations of more than £2,600 to a Warwick children’s charity.

Leamington Morrisons community champion Alex Pearson and her friend Emma Brayne from Warwick were joined by Alex’s two canine companions as they travelled almost 12km – and negotiated 27 locks – in a pedalo, raising £1,922 for Molly Olly’s Wishes.

The pair completed weeks of training to prepare for the eight-hour challenge, from Radford Semele to at Hatton Locks, in July.

Their efforts, which had the support of Leamington Boats and The Canal River Trust, were boosted with fundraising outside Morrisons in Leamington and match-funded by the store.

Molly Olly's Wishes, fundraising, Morrisons
From left: Pedalo fundraisers Emma Brayne and Alex Pearson with Olly The Brave and Rachel Ollerenshaw.

Alex said: “Last Christmas I was looking for a new charity to work with. I knew what Molly Olly’s do is just amazing. The idea of a pedalo was just me thinking outside the box.

“Loads of people do runs and walks so I wanted to be different and seeing a pedalo on the Grand Union Canal is just that. Having Archie and Chester with me is just another great thing to have as both of them help with fundraising for charities where they can.

“As Molly Olly’s is celebrating 10 years it would be amazing do something for this milestone. I have my thinking cap on as we speak.”


Molly Olly's Wishes, fundraising, Morrisons
Emma and Alex completing their pedalo challenge in the summer

Other local businesses have also been busy, including The Edwards Company in Wombourne which has presented £400 through a series of fun fundraising initiatives including Halloween competitions, guess the bananas in the jar competition, donating £1 every time they write a blog, and supporting the ‘O For Olly’ social media campaign.

Elsewhere, The Deli in Warwick has raised £100 by running a pumpkin carving competition and The Marketing Pod in Solihull – which is an integrated marketing agency – has donated £200, after learning of the valuable work the charity does.

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 supports children with terminal or life-threatening illnesses and their families. It gives gifts, helps with emotional support and it donates therapeutic toys and books to children directly and through hospitals across the UK.

Founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “It is just amazing for us to have such proactive supporters. From a pedalo challenge to Halloween competitions and guessing how many bananas are in a jar! What a plethora of creative ideas and ways to raise funds.

“That money will allow us at Molly Olly’s to make lots of very poorly children smile with a wonderful gift that they or their family have chosen. We are very grateful to Morrisons Leamington, the Edwards Company, the deli Warwick and The Marketing Pod.”

To find out all the ways you can donate to Molly Olly’s Wishes, please visit

Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw
Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw with the familiar Molly Olly’s pink van.


 Molly Olly’s Wishes was set up following the experiences of Molly over the 5 years she received treatment for kidney cancer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Throughout the 10 years that the charity has been running, it has:-

  • granted more than 2,100 wishes
  • supported more than 16,000 children
  • distributed more than 12,000 Olly The Brave books to more than 70 hospitals
  • raised more than £3 million

Between 2017 and 2020, the charity funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant as there was no such consultant for the region. That position has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.

The charity works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community. One key project was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. This is a safe and non-clinical space where medical teams and families can have important discussions.

The charity is well-known for its therapeutic toy lion, Olly The Brave, which has its own Hickman line and a detachable mane. The soft toy helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These form part of an Olly The Brave pack which includes a six-part book series. For more info, please visit

Love story at the ‘heart’ of aristocratic couple’s expanding liqueur business

Love story at the ‘heart’ of aristocratic couple’s expanding liqueur business

AN enterprising aristocratic couple’s own love story is the inspiration behind their ‘blossoming’ Alcester business launched in lockdown – but now set for expansion.

Described as ‘a little drop of England’s heart,’ St Maur Elderflower Liqueur has already earned its proud producers three prestigious industry awards. Those producers are William and Kelsey Seymour, Earl and Countess of Yarmouth who count among their ancestors Henry VIII’s wife Jane Seymour.

William, 28, is the eldest son of the Marquess of Hertford, and grew up at Ragley Hall, his family’s seat since the 18th century. But St Maur signals an exciting new direction for the Earl who is driven by his vision to build not just a livelihood, but a ‘new legacy’ to be proud of.

Now, expansion plans and new premises at Alcester Park Farm mark the latest chapter for the couple whose own personal journey and entrepreneurial ethos underpins their product.

St Maur Elderflower Liqueur, Earl of Yarmouth, Alcester, Ragley Hall

William said: “St Maur originates in a drink we produced for our guests on our wedding day three years ago, to celebrate with us with a glass of something uniquely special. We wanted a drink that would capture the spirit of that lovely day, something quintessentially English.

“The brand is all about authenticity. It is an artisanal English product from the Heart of England. St Maur is delightful on its own, and it’s also very versatile. Our aim has been to inspire accessible easy-to-make drinks and sublime pre-dinner and brunch cocktails. This is where St Maur really excels.

“We first brought St Maur to market in May last year, and we had intended it to be a wedding drink, but with the pandemic and couples no longer having weddings, we changed tack to start building our business position in central England through farm shops, delis and independent merchants, which were thriving, as our route to market.”

Kelsey, 36, added: “We decided a drink was the way forward because you can use it for celebrations like anniversaries and christenings, events that are all about sharing and enjoying with those you love to be with. The smell and taste of wild elderflower are also very evocative, so it takes us back to a time that is very special to us. The whole concept of St Maur is it has a story to tell.

“As a final flourish, we gave St Maur the Provençal rosé colour – the colour of love. There is, of course, more than one meaning of the word love and the spirit of St Maur celebrates them all.”

St Maur Elderflower Liqueur, Earl of Yarmouth, Alcester, Ragley Hall
William Seymour picks elderflower from the grounds at Ragley Woodlands.

From the recipe, to the ideas on the label, and the name itself, St Maur brings together 1,000 years of heritage and family.

Indeed, provenance is core to the brand’s success. The map co-ordinates on the logo lead to Ladies Wood and an elder grove in the ancient Ragley Woodlands, now cared for by Earl of Yarmouth Estates. Here and in the hedgerows at Alcester Park Farm, in early summer, you’ll now find the elderflowers being feverishly harvested by friends and family members.

There’s also a red-legged partridge on the bottle, a bird successfully introduced to England in the 19th century by an ancestor Francis Seymour, the 5th Marquess, and now the brand’s mascot.

Kelsey said: “It was very important that everything associated with the product had to be authentic. You have to do justice to this fabulous heritage.”

But William added: “My family has an interesting history, in years gone by, and more recently, with characters some good and others less so. I want my sons though also to inherit a contemporary story that’s not based on the mores of the past, but which is much more forward looking. I want to pass on the values of tenacity, honesty, and hard work, and reinvigorate the spirit of our family motto ‘by faith and love’.”

St Maur Elderflower Liqueur, Earl of Yarmouth, Alcester, Ragley Hall
St Maur is available in 70cl and 20cl bottles.

St Maur already lays claim to a Great Taste Award 2 Star rating, International Spirits Challenge Silver Award, and Best English Floral in the World Liqueur Awards.

William said: “We’re very proud of these awards, especially as we spent the two years after our wedding refining and perfecting the drink.”

The business expansion comes at a time of increasing demand for the product which can now be found in an ever-growing number of retail outlets across the Heart of England region as well as restaurants and bars, including now, in London.

Kelsey added: “Moving to the farm is hugely exciting and completely transformative for us as a family and business. We now have space to dedicate to drink production after previously taking over my parents’ house!”

Continuing in the St Maur’s spirit of love, the couple have also been working with local charities which are both close to their hearts and aligned to the company’s ‘can do’ ethos, such as Warwickshire-based Riding For The Disabled.

They’re keen to give back to the environment too, including a commitment to pick no more than 30% of the wild elderflower blossom.

William said: “We aim to run a responsible sustainable business and to perform to the ‘triple bottom line’ of people, planet, profits, in that order. Our ethos is to make the most of what you have, when you have it, where you are. That must include the environment too.”

St Maur Elderflower Liqueur, Earl of Yarmouth, Alcester, Ragley Hall
Andrew Wells and Kelsey and William Seymour at the new farm premises.

Another St Maur Director – and Kelsey’s father – Andrew Wells said: “The pandemic slowed the business down at first but there was some benefit in that we were able to take time to gain a better understanding of our consumers and our product’s appeal.

“So far we have proof of concept that we have a cracking product and now moving to the farm means the business has space to expand. It is hugely exciting because we’re able to leave behind the limitations and uncertainty we had before and focus on growth whilst still maintaining the essential and authentic craft nature of St Maur.

“St Maur offers a little drop of England’s heart – but the world is our oyster.”

St Maur advocates responsible drinking, and the choice of better quality.

Visit St Maur here

Some St Maur cocktail recipes to try these
The map co-ordinates on the bottle lead to Ladies Wood and an elder grove in the ancient Ragley Woodlands.


Tasting Notes:

St Maur is for sipping or mixing, in long drinks and cocktails. Unmistakable from the pour, floral with citrus, and notes of red fruit, balanced on the palette, with a long, pleasing finish.

St Maur is a contemporary liqueur made to be versatile, built around the same four components you need to make a cocktail – a base spirit, a sweet and sour element, and flavour. It can be enjoyed with all kinds of cocktails, and long drinks, in a simple fizz with soda, tonic or ginger ale, ‘royale’ with champagne, on the rocks, or on its own.

Stir St Maur elderflower with freshly squeezed lime juice, Prosecco, mint leaves, and ice, and it makes probably the best Hugo cocktail in the world, the Hugo St Maur.  Truly one of the world’s great brunch cocktails.  Enjoy!