Coventry Foodbank proudly presents ‘The Dance of the Foodbank Fairies’

Coventry Foodbank proudly presents ‘The Dance of the Foodbank Fairies’

Coventry Foodbank, social media video

This Christmas, Coventry Foodbank is launching its fundraising campaign to help tackle the rising food crisis.

The Foodbank is appealing for support to help meet increasing demand through a new four-part social media video, filmed in collaboration with a local dance group Leamington and Warwick Academy of Dance.

Starting tomorrow (December 1ST), they hope to raise awareness as well as thousands of pounds for the foodbank, which has 14 centres throughout the city.

The project uses the medium of dance to narrate the journey of food from the supermarket shelves to the central warehouse where it is sorted and packed and then sent onto the homes of those who need it most.

Coventry Foodbank, social media video

Rich Smith, Head of Communications, said: “Last year we had huge success with our first social media campaign song The 12 Days of Christmas and the question was how were we going to top that this year?

“The rationale behind it is that we want to tell the story in short segments to keep people’s attention on social media and it builds momentum over time.”

Told across four chapters between December 1st and 7th, the short light-hearted video opens at Tesco in Clifford Bridge Road where a little girl asks her mother if she can donate food to the foodbank, prompting the magical ‘Foodbank Fairies’ to appear. The campaign culminates with the chance to watch a run through of the whole story, on December 9th. To donate or watch, from December 1st, visit: or by finding Coventry Foodbank on Facebook @coventryfoodbank and Instagram @coventry_foodbank.

Coventry Foodbank, social media video

Rich added: “There are more and more people living in Coventry who are facing a food crisis and every week Coventry Foodbank engages with people who are struggling to put food on the table and are completely relying on food and financial donations. It provides a lifeline to thousands of people across the city.”

Dee Ward, Project Manager for Coventry Foodbank, said: “The Foodbank has been serving the people of our city for over a decade, feeding thousands of individuals and families each year. This has been incredibly important, especially as the cost of living has increased dramatically this year, resulting in more first-time foodbank users.

“Last year, we recorded a song and put it on social media, which raised over £10,000 to support Coventry Foodbank. This year, we’re hopeful that our light-hearted dance video will raise much needed funds to help people facing food crisis this Christmas.”

Coventry Foodbank, social media video

  • Coventry Foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust network of foodbanks. It was established in January 2011 and is one of the largest foodbanks in the UK.
  • They partner with a wide range of care professionals who identify people in crisis and issue them with a foodbank voucher.
  • Foodbank clients bring their voucher to a foodbank centre where it can be redeemed for three days’ emergency food. Volunteers meet clients over a warm drink and can signpost people to other organisations to help resolve the longer-term problems that might cause someone to need to use a foodbank.
  • One in five of the UK population live below the poverty line.
  • There are more than 420 foodbanks in the UK.


Watch the first part of the video here

Travel Review: Hotel Indigo, Chester

Travel Review: Hotel Indigo, Chester

Hotel Indigo, Chester

Hotel Indigo is an attractive and contemporary boutique hotel located in the heart of the beautiful and historic city of Chester that offers something rather different to the norm.

Just as no two neighbourhoods are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are alike and this hotel stands out for its unique character, designed to reflect the city’s famous architecture and the oldest racecourse in the UK – a theme which runs throughout, including the rooms.

It is a just short walk from most of what the city has to offer, including its shopping district and the 2,000-year-old city walls – the most complete circuit of Roman and medieval city walls in the UK.

Hotel Indigo, Chester
The reception area

This hotel is perfect for staycationers who value convenience and easy access to most of what the city offers, but, with its beautiful romantic suites and top-notch restaurant, it’s probably most suited to couples and foodies.

And it offers the best of both worlds in terms of accommodation with its modern look and retro vibe and a reassuring ‘wow factor’ the moment you first enter from the street. Chic, smart, whilst cosy and comfortable – and with in-keeping horse racing and equestrian art on the walls and a decorative eye for detail in every corner, even down to the welcoming aroma in the lobby!

Staff are friendly and helpful and seem to genuinely care about your quality of stay, enquiring about our plans and offering some helpful suggestions.

Hotel Indigo, Chester
One of the spacious King rooms

The 75 themed guest rooms are all equipped with comfy Hypnos beds, spa-inspired bathrooms, high-speed Wi-Fi and even 40-inch flatscreen Smart TV that you could control for your own mobile phone! The ultimate in luxury – and a new on me.

This hotel goes in for quality rather than quantity and is not not fussed with leisure and gym facilities. Here the watchwords are more rest, relaxation and convenience, with a modern, cosy bar area in reception, adjacent to the restaurant. This seemed a popular resting area and good space in which to kick back and enjoy the laid back ambience this hotel offers in abundance. Also the perfect spot for a pre-dinner aperitif – and lots of people watching.

The hotel does not have a car park but parking is available at a subsidised rate for guests at an NCP five minutes’ walk away. (Note, this is not ideal if you’re laden with luggage – and/or with small children in tow – in which case plan ahead.) There is one accessible parking space available on site and is convenient for Chester Train Station, which is less than 10 minutes’ walk away.

Hotel Indigo, Chester
A Premium Deluxe room with balcony

Food and Drink

The Forge restaurant is the jewel in the hotel’s crown and consistently listed in the top five percent according to the city’s Tripadvisor restaurant reviewers.

Chef and restaurateur Mike Robinson opened his new 70-seater restaurant, cocktail bar and private dining room last year, in which time it has already established a strong reputation among the city’s foodies for excellent casual dining based on its much lauded local, ethical and sustainable ingredients and practices. The open kitchen affords us the opportunity to take a privileged peak into the chefs’ methods, cooking over wood and charcoal using wild and locally reared meat, that is all aged on the premises.

No surprise then that this smart brasserie with its emphasis on British produce features in the Michelin Guide.

Despite starving myself most of the day in anticipation of the feast ahead, I did shy away from the contents of the impressive glass-fronted beef-ageing fridge on display in the dining area. (The dry-aged steaks are served in portions ranging between 650-250g.) It was worth the sacrifice to allow room for my mouth watering Slow Cooked Pork Belly followed by Amaretto Pannacotta.

I was not in the least surprised to learn that The Forge is regularly fully booked and does seem to be a mecca for those locals in the know. How lucky then to have this as our on-site dinner destination for the evening. A fantastic experience and highlight of our stay.

Hotel Indigo, Chester
The Forge Restaurant

Room rates at Hotel Indigo Chester start from £119 per night. Check availability here

What’s Nearby?

Chester’s 11th-century cathedral is tourist staple and a great way to do a quick circuit of some of the main sights.

Further along, the walls overlook Chester Racecourse, aka The Roodee, the oldest working racecourse in Britain set in the former Roman harbour. Fun fact – this is allegedly the place where the term ‘gee-gees’ was first coined, after Sir Henry Gee, who first allowed racing to take place here in the 16th Century.


It’s a shoppers’ paradise with The Rows, the city’s unique medieval network of open galleries at first floor level that line the main streets in the centre. Or check out, as we did, McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet just outside the city, near Ellesmere Port. The UK’s first designer outlet opened in 1995 and remains its largest. You’ll need your comfy shoes for this one!

Other highlights include The Grosvenor Museum with its fascinating collection of Roman gravestones and stories of gladiators in pictures and words; Chester Zoo – one of the top most-visited paid attractions in the UK; Grosvenor Park and its open-air theatre; Chester Basin or take a stroll along The River Dee.

Action stations for entrepreneur’s community radio project

Action stations for entrepreneur’s community radio project

A Leamington man’s long-held ambition to launch a new community radio station dedicated to podcasters, has taken to the airwaves.

Gary Jones dreamed of one day running his own station ever since first entering local amateur broadcasting eight years ago.

Gary Jones, GROW Radio

Now, through his new GROW Radio enterprise, he has not only realised that dream – but pledges to make podcasting and broadcasting accessible – and affordable – to all.

He also helps fellow podcasters edit and produce their programmes as well as hosting podcasting training sessions and workshops.

Gary explained: “GROW Radio is for the people I talk to day-to-day who want to get into podcasting but don’t know where to start. It’s both for those who want to get themselves or their cause noticed on other people’s shows and for those with their own shows who want to showcase it a bit more or repurpose their existing content.

He added: “But independent podcasters struggle against the larger media companies with similar audiences and different budgets. As a result, the audio influencer space is becoming less of a level playing field. GROW Radio looks to help independent podcasters stand out in a crowded market via the GROW Radio platform.

“Its sole purpose is to let the independent podcaster tell their story. Every person can inspire and change lives through storytelling and podcasting.”

Gary Jones, GROW Radio

Gary, 39, whose background is in retail, first fell in love with broadcasting when he was given the opportunity to present a weekly show on Radio Warwickshire in 2015.  He claims the pandemic has since prompted a spike in popularity of podcasts.

“The lockdown brought about a huge increase in podcast listeners. We found out that most people who launched a podcast during lockdown have continued it on since. Now more and more people are asking how they can get involved in them,” he said.

Now, ambitious for the future of his own station – and despite it being only a few weeks old – the entrepreneur has already attracted podcast partners across the world, including USA, Canada and Finland. Listeners can listen to free live or on demand shows on a host of subjects from business advice through to Christianity and Mindfulness.

GROW Radio membership is just £50 for the year which gives access to unlimited airtime, a dedicated website and inclusion in a Podcast Directory, with free membership for charities and community projects (CIC).

Gary Jones, GROW Radio

Longer term there are ambitions for expanding from the Warwick studio, including the creation of GROW radio hubs, offering broadcasting and podcast training facilities, throughout the UK and eventually abroad, as well as focusing on making the business carbon-negative.

Gary added: “I am proud to see the project finally up and running but what I am most proud of is the fact that this affords other people the opportunity to have their own podcasts on a radio station. It’s all about building a thriving podcast community.

“GROW Radio is searching for the nation’s next audio influencers If you are passionate about a subject and are interested in starting a podcast, GROW Radio is here for you.”

Further information is available here or Gary can be contacted directly at:

Blossom Ball raises more than £50k for charity’s anniversary year

Blossom Ball raises more than £50k for charity’s anniversary year

From Ridge – Ian Ravenhall, Penny Ravenhall, Alex Hall, Lewis Hinton, Martyn Leonard, Isla Cockings, Luke Askill, Andrea Keaney, Nick Keaney,Neil Thompson, Catherine Thompson. Photos by: Hardik Pandya

More than 430 guests helped raise £50K for Warwickshire children’s charity, Molly Ollys on Saturday night (19th November) at its 10th Anniversary Blossom Ball.

The evening of glitz and glamour took place at the IXL Centre at Dallas Burston Polo Club in Southam and was extremely well supported with guests coming from Midlands companies such as Oakland International, New Horizon Logistics, Avanti Print & Packaging, West Mercia Trucks, SCC, MK Gym, Ridge and Partners and J S Wright.

The event started at 7pm with guests enjoying a welcome drink, before a curtain was drawn back to reveal a beautifully decorated room filled with  blossom trees, flowers and full of sparkle.

Molly Ollys, Blossom Ball
Tim and Rachel Ollerenshaw

Molly Ollys was founded 10 years ago by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw whose eight-year-old daughter Molly sadly died after a five-year battle with a rare kidney cancer. Rachel said; “10 years is a big landmark for us at the Charity as we have been able to help thousands of children like Molly over the years. It was Molly’s wish that we help other children facing challenging health circumstances and we are proud that we have and we will continue to help.

“None of this would have been possible without the donations and support of wonderful individuals and corporate supporters such as those who came to our 10th Anniversary Ball. To have raised more than £50K in these tough financial times is truly awe-inspiring – these are much needed funds and we will be able to do so much good with this money; thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

Molly Ollys, Blossom Ball
Cory Winstanley, Muge Shuker and Pat Shuker

One of the guests at the ball was Karen Robbins who sadly lost her daughter Leanne to cancer on March 1st 2015 at the age of 16. Leanne’s wish was to go to see Les Miserables and Molly Ollys made that happen.

Karen said: ‘Molly Ollys is special to me as the team made sure my beautiful daughter Leanne could have some joy and not only watch Les Mis, but also meet the actors. Leanne had the best time. It is nearly 8 years since she died and I hold onto that very happy memory. I have attended all of Molly Ollys balls since she passed away to show my support for this truly wonderful charity – the team really makes a difference to families like mine.”

MollyOllys, Blossom Ball

Across the evening, there was a raffle, silent auction and a live auction and guests were entertained with performances from local children’s dance troupe, Viva Theatre Arts , Motown band, The Soul Brothers, a Chinese lion and drummers and local DJ Andy Saunders. Guests enjoyed an incredible Asian fusion meal, delivered by Sanjay Foods.

Molly’s dad, Tim was the compere for the evening; “ I am in awe of the enduring support for Molly Ollys. It is truly humbling to look around the room and see so many people wanting to help make a difference.”

Molly Ollys, Blossom Ball
Maeve Ollerenshaw and Phoebe Swanwick


 Molly Ollys was set up following the experiences of Molly over the 5 years she received treatment for kidney cancer at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

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

Molly Ollys, Blossom Ball
Penny Ravenhall, Ian Ravenhall, Catherine Thompson, Neil Thompson
Jingle bells returning to Shipston’s streets

Jingle bells returning to Shipston’s streets

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.

The festive fun will officially get under way on Friday, December 2nd with the return of the town’s Victorian Evening. The evening’s entertainment takes place between 6-8pm and includes Lights and The Tree of Life switching on ceremony as well as music, stalls, food. Plus Father Christmas himself will also be making an appearance.

Shipston Rotary Club, Santa sleigh run

Following this, the local Santa sleigh routes are as follows. . .

Wednesday 7th 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.

Thursday, 8th December 5.30 -7 30pm: Berry Avenue, Queens Avenue, Pittway Avenue, Sadlers Avenue, Oldbutt Road, Shipston Gardens, Rowlett Drive, Bailey Road, Burnell Close, Herdwick Fold, Webb Road, Clifford Place.

Friday, 9th December 5.30-7 30pm: Foxgloves, Carr Close, Atcheston Close, Symons Way, Herdwick Field, Bradley Drive, Barrett Place, Coe Ave, Nichols Court, Nason Way, Felton Close.

Sunday, 11th December 4.30-7 30pm: Tilemans Lane, Brookfield Lane, Beecham Road, The Sidings, Railway Crescent, Signal Road, Mayo Road, Donnington Road, Badgers Crescent, Hornsby Close, Cauldwell Drive, Riverway, Watery Lane.

Monday, 12th December 5.30-7 30pm: Barchest0n Reach, Chapel View, Brewer Hill, Angela’s Meadow, Holly Road, Elm Road, Hawthorn Way, Ashgrove, Furzehill Road, Bosley Close.

Thursday, 15th December 5.30-7 30pm: Callaways Road, Greenfields Close, Parsons Close, Simpson Road, Hanson Avenue, Costard Ave, Marshall Avenue, Clark Close.

There’s a good chance Santa will also be spotted around the town centre on Saturday, December 17th 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.

Spokesperson for Rotary Club of Shipston, Tony Joint, said: “After an enforced break of three years, Shipston Rotary, along with other Heart of England Rotary clubs, are looking forward to again adding the magic of Christmas to our local children.”

“It has already been agreed that a large proportion of what we raise during this year’s collection will be donated to The Shipston Foodbank which has been made the recipient of all this year’s Shipston Rotary fundraising activities.”

He added: “The beautiful Tree of Life will once again shine out in the High Street over Christmas. Anyone who would like to sponsor a bulb in memory of a loved one can pick up a form from: St Edmund’s Church, the Library, Sports Club, Post Office, small Co op and Low Furlong.”

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