Disadvantaged children treated to all the fun of the fair

Disadvantaged children treated to all the fun of the fair

Schoolchildren in Coventry were among more than 700 disadvantaged youngsters who enjoyed a day at Drayton Manor Theme Park thanks to local Rotarians who once again teamed up with the KidsOut charity.

Young thrill-seekers were able to spend a fun-packed day at the Tamworth attraction as part of the National Rotary Kids Day Out scheme, which returned for the first time in three years following the pandemic.

Heart of England Rotary funded the subsidised tickets for the trip, last month, following negotiations with the Park’s new owners.

Coventry Jubilee Rotary Club was among the eight who supported the effort, including Erdington, Kinver, Lichfield, West Bromwich, Wylde Green, Lickey Hills and Stourport & Bewdley.

Rotary, KidsOut Day, Drayton Manor
Bill Elliott

One of the organisers of National Rotary Kids Out Day, Bill Elliott, said: “There were times when we believed that this event would never take place again. So it was good to see everyone enjoying the day after so long. It has been missed. The park was not particularly busy and the weather was kind to us.

“There were a number of Rotarians who came along to support their sponsored groups. There were some glitches but they were easily rectified and it felt as if we had never been away.”

More than 200 children were also involved in the Alternative Kids’ Out Day which included visits to such venues as Warwick Castle, Black Country Museum, Twycross Zoo, West Midlands Safari Park and Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

Victoria Lynn, managing director of Drayton Manor Resort, said: “We were thrilled to welcome an amazing group of children to the resort for the annual Big Day Out.”

“We believe children from all walks of life should be given the opportunity to make memories to cherish forever, which is why we were so proud to partner with KidsOut and Rotary once again for this initiative.”

“Giving young people the chance to enjoy fun-filled experiences is incredibly important to us, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more children to the resort next year.”

Rotary, KidsOutDay, Drayton Manor

Since the first National Rotary KidsOut Day in 1990, the event has turned into the biggest single outing for disadvantaged children in the UK. With more than 28,000 children participating in the last National Day Out in 2019, this year the National Day Out was attended by 16,500 disadvantaged children.

A spokesperson for the Kids Out charity said: “This is a fantastic result considering many have only just got back on their feet with the residual effects of the pandemic still lingering. The day is only truly possible as it is run nationally in conjunction with the unwavering pioneers, Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland (RGBI).

“To make the National Rotary KidsOut Day the success that it is, more than 10,000 Rotarians volunteer on the day at over 100 venues. Whether they live with critical health issues, in refuge or with a disability, disadvantaged children across the country are taken on a fun day out – whatever the weather! They certainly had the most wonderful valuable and positive experiences, many children having not been on a day out since 2019.”

Further information about KidsOut is available at: https://www.kidsout.org.uk/

Further information about Heart of England Rotary is available at: https://www.rotary-ribi.org/districts/homepage.php?DistrictNo=1060

Award-winning South Warwickshire drinks brands collaborate for launch of new cider

Award-winning South Warwickshire drinks brands collaborate for launch of new cider

Napton Cidery, Purity,cider
Andy Maddock and Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier

Napton Cidery is celebrating a pivotal partnership thanks to the launch of Purity Brewing Co.’s new cider.

The two award-winning businesses have announced an exciting collaboration to create the brewers’ medium dry Pure Cider recipe, now available in pubs, bars and restaurants throughout the UK.

The partnership, to produce both 330ml cans and 50-litre kegs of the Pure Cider, marks a further milestone in the success of the family-owned cidery which continues to grow in Napton-on-the-Hill as part of the latest quarter-of-a-million pound expansion plans announced at the end of last year.

Napton Cidery, Purity,cider
Jolyon Olivier is recreated on the can

It’s also a particularly proud moment for its owners Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier, whose, now multi-award-winning, business was inspired by a holiday Cornwall ten years ago.

And Jolyon has even become the face of local cider – quite literally – thanks to a quirky cartoon recreation of him forming part of the cans’ distinctive branding!

Jolyon said: “It’s great to have the opportunity to work with Purity in this way which is a well-known brand but they obviously believe in what we do as well. We’re both Warwickshire based and share the same values about the environment, which is at the forefront of everything we do.

“I think it also shows, from what we’ve achieved already, that we’re here to stay and the provenance and story is a strong one.”

He added: “I feel honoured as well to have my face on the Pure cider cans, it’s a great feeling. We are very much looking forward to a long lasting partnership.”

Today, the team, in Napton on the Hill, ferments, presses, bottles and apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region. They also produce limited-edition ciders and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.

The business has enjoyed 103% year on year growth, expanding the ciders into more than 50 pubs and restaurants as well as securing new contracts with Spar and Co-op Midlands stores.

Pure Cider will now sit alongside Purity’s award-winning product range, including Mad Goose, Pure Gold, Pure UBU, Longhorn IPA, Lawless Lager, Bunny Hop, Session IPA, Kveik NEIPA, Organic Pure Helles, Fixie Hybrid Coffee Stout and Low ABV Purity Point Five.

Based in Great Alne, Purity was established in 2005 by Paul Hasley and James Minkin who were on a mission to ‘brew great beer without prejudice, with a conscience and a consistency and attention to detail.’

Central to their ethos is a strong commitment to supporting the environment. Purity only uses natural ingredients; supports recycling programs and respects the local community and environment. Waste products are recycled through its unique wetland system. This sustainable ecosystem helps minimise carbon dioxide emissions, reduces energy consumption, and encourages wildlife diversity.

Napton Cidery, Purity, cider

Andy Maddock our Purity Brewing Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with our friends at Napton Cidery. With sustainability at the heart of our business we are always keen to partner with likeminded brands and businesses who share the same passion.

“As a sustainable family run business with focus on great quality cider only 30 miles from our brewery in Warwickshire, we knew we had found the right Pure Partner. We’re looking forward to building long standing business partnership with Jolyon and Charlotte and watching our Pure Cider brand grow!”

Visit Napton Cidery at: https://www.naptoncidery.co.uk/

Visit Purity Brewing Co. at: https://puritybrewing.com/

A welcome return to White Lion which joins Peach Pubs stable

A welcome return to White Lion which joins Peach Pubs stable

White Lion, Peach Pubs

There’s a buzz around Radford Semele – and its fast spreading around the area- thanks to the much-anticipated reopening of The White Lion.

This beautiful thatched country pub began welcoming visitors again last month following a transformative, but sympathetic, refurbishment by its new owners.

It becomes the fifth business to join the award-winning Peach Pubs stable- joining the likes of the popular Rose and Crown in Warwick, Star and Garter in Leamington, The Almanack in Kenilworth and The One Elm in Stratford.

And, based on my recent visit, what a fabulous addition that is.

First thing to strike me was the new design, which offers a fresh and contemporary backdrop to the dining experience while also staying sensitive to the building’s historic features, most notably the stunning exposed beams and brickwork which have been carefully restored and highlighted.

White Lion, Peach Pubs

And, if you enjoy cosy nooks for private meetings or romantic meals, there are plenty of options.

There are also plenty of spots in which to linger and, on the evening of our visit, the restaurant was bathed in light with the bi-fold doors to the spacious terrace flung wide open. Summer temperatures and lighter evenings help really bring this pub into its own. Our comfortable corner in the garden room offered us the best of both indoor and al fresco worlds.

A spacious new covered curved pergola and sheltered dining space at the end of the garden that can also be booked for private parties. I think this will be a particularly popular feature.

White Lion, Peach Pubs

A friendly reception and service offer a relaxing vibe while all the time sensing a reassuringly efficiently run front of house and kitchen, despite only reopening to customers last month.

The menu is bursting with fresh, seasonal recipes with classic and Mediterranean influences overseen by head chef Stefan Elliot, whose career has taken him from the small town of Llangollen in North Wales to Michelin-starred Northcote Manor.

White Lion, Peach Pubs

From the Small Plates Menu, we opted for. . .

Hand-picked Devon Crab & Poached Salmon Salad

Black Pudding Scoth Egg, Apple & Brandy Puree (From the Specials Menu)

Apple & Parsnip Soup, Parsnip Crips (From the Specials Menu) Pictured above.

Main Course. . .

Free-range Chicken Schnitzel, Garlic & Parsley Butter, Rocket Parmesan and Fries

14-Hour Braised Beef & Ale Pie, Buttered Mash, Greens and Gravy

Stonebass, New Potatoes & Rocket. Pictured above.

Desserts. . .

Apple Tart Tatin, Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Brownie (in Mini Pud with coffee form)

Chocolate and Salted Caramel Torte, Crème Fraiche. Pictured below.

Satisfied diners all round.

Peach Pubs, The White Lion

Other highlights of the tempting menu also include (Starters): Merrifield Duck Scrumpet, Hoi Sin, Cucumber and Spring Onion Salad (£8.95); Hot & Sour Salad, Watermelon, Chilli, Red Pepper, Peanuts & Sesame (£7.25); (Mains): Pork Belly, Champ Mash, Crackling, Peas, Courgettes & Beans (£19.50); Miso-glazed Cod, Black Rice, Choi Sum, Lime, Chilli and Coriander (£22.50); (Desserts): Banoffee Cheesecake, Rum-Soaked Raisins, Bananas & Pecans (£8.25); Lemon Posset, White Chocolate(£7.50)

There’s also a comprehensive cheese board selection with a choice of five cheeses available for £13, three for £8.50 or a ‘smidgen’ (not sure what constitutes a smidgen!) for £4.50.

Whether you’re looking for fine dining or good hearty pub classics, The White Lion has something to suit all appetites – but, it must be said, not necessarily all pockets!

While our meals could genuinely not be faulted in taste or presentation, it is only fair to point out that some of the prices are a little eyewatering –  the cheapest main course is £15.25 (before adding sides) although I sense it’s probably as much an indication as to the rising costs in the hospitality sector these days being passed down to the consumer and they’re not unique in this.

Peach Pubs, The White Lion

The message here though is, if you do want to treat yourself to a top-notch dining experience with an innovative and exciting menu, you will get the quality you’re paying for at The White Lion and won’t go home feeling disappointed. It is in the upper echelons of gastro pub dining that, if your purse can stretch, will definitely have you returning again.

Visit The White Lion here

From topless waiters to online innovation – serial entrepreneur is ambitious for success

From topless waiters to online innovation – serial entrepreneur is ambitious for success

Sara Thompson, Comparethegardeners.com, Miss Warwickshire

A serial entrepreneur from Coventry whose past businesses have included hosting topless waiter events, has launched her latest online venture within weeks of her 60th birthday.

Sara Thompson has poured all her savings into the new enterprise which, she hopes will also be her last – and most successful – claiming to have created a transformative bookings platform for the gardening industry.

She said: “I put out an advert and the jobs just flew in! I thought, I can’t cope with this, and the whole experience became quite frustrating and stressful. And during the pandemic there was more work than ever because the kids were off school and people were using their gardens earlier than normal.

“I knew I was going to have to take on some labourers as it was growing so quickly.

“I soon had labourers contacting me from all over the country and that’s what got me thinking about the new business idea. I quickly realised there are so many gardeners looking for work and there are customers who can’t find the gardeners.”

And so, a few weeks ago, Comparethegardeners.com was born. The site has been designed to match customers to gardeners across the country without the need for home visits – a time-saving solution that is already proving popular with users.

Customers upload their own photos with a brief description of the work and, once signed up, are matched with gardeners in their area who receive a notification and provide a quote.

Sara Thompson, Comparethegardeners.com, Miss Warwickshire

Sara said: “Gardeners are hard to get hold of. Customers are clambering for gardeners – and they can’t find them.

“There are loads of sites out there which are offering a similar service but where the gardener has to sign up to site and the customers have to tick endless boxes and the gardeners don’t get to put a quote in. They are just expected to buy the lead, which very often doesn’t lead to the paid work.

“I want it to become one the big go-to sites that people know about and use at the start of the gardening season every year.”

Sara as Miss Warwickshire in 1993.

Prior to finding her green fingers, Sara spent 16 years as a successful singer songwriter, as well as running a care home entertainment agency.

But it’s her Ladies Lounge business, launched in 2005, that made the local headlines.

“I don’t know why the business idea of topless waiters came to mind – but there was nothing else like it in the area and I knew women would be interested for hen nights and birthdays. The first event, at The Britannia Hotel in the city centre, proved to be so popular I decided to open a bar in Hay Street. Unfortunately though I couldn’t find an investor and the eventually the plans fell through.

She added: “I was really disappointed because everyone I spoke to said what a fantastic idea it was, particularly among the gay community. I know if I could have got that bar up and running it would have been flooded.”

A ten-year stint in a desk job that followed soon had the budding entrepreneur revisiting her aspirations to build a successful company – as well as rediscover her fitness.

Indeed, fitness had played a huge role in Sara’s life, who spent three years competing in local bodybuilding championships, even taking the coveted Miss Warwickshire crown in Leamington in 1993.

She said: “I hit 30 and suddenly thought I was getting old and wanted to start a fitness regime so started going to the gym. On my way out there was this huge poster about a bodybuilding competition and I looked at the poster and thought to myself, wow – that’s something I can’t imagine I’ll ever be doing! A man stood behind me and said ‘I can get you ready for that next year’ and, goodness knows how, but he managed to talk me round and one year later, I was competing.

“I was at gym three or four times a week and worked incredibly hard but the hardest thing I’ve ever done was the diet. It was horrendous. A palm full of rice and portion of turkey six times a day every day!”

Today, Sara, who is far from ready for retirement, is looking forward to building on the early success of her latest venture and is also inviting investors to get in touch at: sara.thompson999@gmail.com.

She also hopes her story will help empower women – of all ages – to follow their dreams.

She said: “I had the money to either put down a deposit on a house or launch a new business. I might regret it for the rest of my life but knew I had to give it a go. So I piled every last penny of my savings into it. It might take years for it to be where I want it to be but I would hate the idea of not having tried because I truly believe in this business idea.

“My advice for women of a certain age is to just go for it. Whatever your passion, just do it because what have you got to lose. There is nothing worse than regret. Age is just a mindset after all.”

Ben Foster shows his support for epic three-day charity cycle challenge

Ben Foster shows his support for epic three-day charity cycle challenge

Leamington-born former England footballer Ben Foster has shared a message of support to help propel fundraisers ahead of a gruelling 180-mile bike ride in aid of Warwick charity Molly Ollys.

Foster, himself an avid cyclist, produces a YouTube channel called The Cycling GK – and has put his weight behind the epic challenge, involving 52 riders from across the UK, via a special video message.

Months of training will culminate in the cyclists saddling up in York on Friday (July 9th) where they’ll be officially seen on their way by the city’s Sheriff, and follow a route through The Pennines and Derbyshire before arriving at The Durham Ox in Shrewley three days later.

Among the local riders taking part are Gurmukh Hayre and Adrian Baker from Knowle and Gerard O’Gorman from Solihull.

Gurmukh, who has been a trustee for the Molly Ollys for five years, said: “The charity does such fantastic work and being able to have some pleasure doing what you do as a hobby while also doing something good is a wonderful opportunity. To have an organised ride, which is not a road race but an event, offers a lot of camaraderie and friendship.

“We all stick together so when someone has a problem or gets a puncture we all rally round to help. The spirit is fantastic.

Gurmukh Hayre, Adrian Baker and Gerard O’Gorman

He added: “Unless you are an incredibly fit cyclist you relish the challenge of something like this, for most people the challenge is tackling the hills after you’ve already clocked up a lot of miles. It becomes a more of a mental challenge but you remember why you’re doing it and use that as your mental purpose which keeps you going.

“We always hope for dry weather but once you’re out, you’re out and you just deal with whatever comes your way. You just stick your waterproof in your back pocket!

Foster played football at Racing Club Warwick as a youngster before going on to professional goalkeeping, with spells at, among others, Manchester United, West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Watford FC and made his England debut in 2007.

A previous supporter of the charity, he said: “I have been to one of the Molly Ollys Annual Balls in the past which was a great evening and I am aware of the wonderful work that the Charity does to emotionally support children across the UK with life-threatening illnesses.

“Having two children myself, I cannot begin to imagine to horror of being told your little one is seriously ill and not knowing if they will regain their health. I wish all of the cyclists taking part the very best of luck; 185 miles is tough but I know they will remember what Molly and all the other children have been through so they will complete the challenge and I hope they raise lots of money for Molly Ollys.”

Molly Ollys, Ben Foster, cycle ride
The team from Oakland International

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, which this year marks its 10th anniversary, works to support children with terminal or life-threatening 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.

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 £3m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Tim and Rachel chose York as the starting point as it was one of the last holidays they all spent together as a family with Molly.

Rachel said: “We decided to do this cycle event in 2022 to celebrate 10 years of Molly’s legacy. It is a special route for us as York is one of the last places we – as a family – visited before Molly died so it holds poignant memories.

“I am so delighted that so many people wanted to get involved and cycle more than 160 miles to raise funds for the Charity. It is outpourings of support like this that allow us to keep on making a difference to the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses.”

For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.mollyolly.co.uk