73-year-old great grandad raises thousands after exceeding target for year-round charity walking challenge

73-year-old great grandad raises thousands after exceeding target for year-round charity walking challenge

A 73-year-old great-grandad from Coventry who underwent a quadruple heart bypass has smashed his personal target to walk ten miles a day throughout 2022 for a children’s charity after completing his last circuit of the city’s Memorial Park on Saturday (New Year’s Eve.)

Coventry Lord Mayor Cllr Kevin Maton joins Tony on his walk along with the Lady Mayoress, Cllr Anthony Tucker, Cllr Becky Gittins and charity founder Rachel Ollerenshaw, earlier in the year

Tony Cunningham has now raised more than £9,000 for Warwick-based Molly Ollys by clocking up over 5,050 miles (around 10 million steps) on his early morning laps around the park!

This means the intrepid fundraiser has now travelled almost the equivalent distance of Coventry to Phoenix in Arizona – even overcoming health issues and the most extremes of weather conditions along the way.

Despite this Tony missed only seven 6am starts on the advice of doctors, insisting the charity cause as well as the support he received, made him determined to see the challenge through.

Tony Cunningham, Molly Ollys
Tony turned out for his walk in all conditions
Molly Ollys, Tony Cunningham
Even out on Christmas Day

He said: “Several things keep me motivated. Most of all I don’t want to let down the children and their families who are helped by Molly Ollys.

He said: “Getting up at 5am and walking between 10 -and 18 miles a day every day is a challenge in itself, but the weather can make it even more so. Walking in arctic temperatures certainly takes its toll, but you can always add extra layers of clothing to keep you warm. By far the worst weather conditions I’ve encountered were the four named storms we had this year when I was soaked to the skin because once you’re drenched that’s the way you stay until you can get a hot bath and some dry clothes on.

“On the two days of extreme hot temperatures in the summer I was advised not to walk due to be classed as extremely vulnerable.

He added: “I missed seven days in the park, although I still walked some distance, on one occasion I was in hospital with suspected blood clots, and on another occasion I had a chest infection which I’m prone to. I said at the outset that I didn’t know if I could complete this challenge, I must confess to a sense of achievement.”

Tony Cunningham, Molly Ollys

It’s the daily support that Tony will most reflect on when he completes his final lap on New Year’s Eve.

He has also been spurred on every day by the precious memory of his late wife Jackie of 47 years, who died of cancer last year.

“I feel like she has been with me in spirit throughout. I think it has surprised a lot of people that I’ve kept it up.”

As well as a sense of pride, Tony has forged new friendships and will look back on his year as one of the best adventures of his life. His most poignant memories include meeting three mums in the park whose children have had cause to be helped by the charity and bumping into two nurses at UHCW (University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire) who helped him through his own operation five years ago. Angie Cummings, who worked in ICU and Heidi Seidl, who was in the operating theatre, both plan to be part of the welcoming group on Tony’s final day in the park on Saturday.

Receiving a drawing from artist Jenny Suffield.

Also hoping to be there is Coventry artist Jenny Suffield MA who was so inspired by Tony, a few weeks ago she created a special drawing in his honour.

The great grandad of six admits to enjoying his new-found local celebrity status, elevated by year-long regional and national media coverage.

Warwick-based Molly Ollys was established following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer and marked its tenth anniversary this year.

Tony Cunningham, Molly Ollys
Tony won lots of supporters and friends along the way

The charity supports children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. It helps with emotional support and donates wishes, therapeutic toys and books to children directly and through hospitals across the UK.

Rachel said: “What an truly amazing man Tony is! To think that he has racked up more than 5,000 miles across 2022 is really hard to get my head around. Tony is a man of his word and once he committed to doing this huge challenge, there was no way he was going to miss a day – unless he was ill!

“There have been times when we have been concerned about Tony– for example, during the storms when he was totally drenched; when it has been bitterly cold and icy; when he was having to get out walking at 5am to try to avoid the heat wave. For most people, the very notion of getting up every single day and walking mostly the same route of 14/15 miles would be overwhelming and overbearing, but Tony is an extraordinary person who is determined to make a difference.

Tony Cunningham, Molly Ollys
Meeting some scooter enthusiasts in the park

“He has also created quite a buzz in the Memorial Park and seems to have awakened the community as people chat to him and each other as it has created quite a talking point.

“Tony has raised more than £8k for Molly Ollys which will make such a difference to the families that we support.”

 There is still time to sponsor Tony at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/anthony-cunningham5

To find out all the ways you can donate to Molly Olly’s Wishes, visit https://www.mollyolly.co.uk/learn-about-donating/

Tony Cunningham, Molly Ollys
Getting to know other fundraisers on his walk


 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 www.mollyolly.co.uk

Celebrities descend on Winchcombe Farm for Channel Four dating show

Celebrities descend on Winchcombe Farm for Channel Four dating show


A South Warwickshire holiday retreat played host to two celebrities for the filming of a prime-time TV dating show currently airing.

A Channel Four production crew took over Winchcombe Farm in September as part of the hotly anticipated new series of Celebs Go Dating, featuring a host of stars including Gary Lucy and Pete Wicks.

It marks a third appearance for The Only Way Is Essex favourite Wicks, 33, who says he is ‘determined to find love on the show.’

He appears alongside Lucy, 40, who played Kyle Pascoe on Hollyoaks until earlier this year. The pair spent two days filming while staying in George’s Getaway lodge. Their potential love interests stayed in The Chicken Shed and most of the filming took place in Winchcombe’s largest property, Ben’s Burrow.

Jo Carroll, who co-owns the business in Upper Tysoe with husband Steve Taylor, said: “It’s not often to get the talk about the celebs that comes and stay with us! We’ve become a popular retreat for quite a few famous faces and politicians, who want a private and secluded rural getaway.

“It created quite a buzz of excitement on the site and was fascinating for us to see what goes on behind the scenes filming these shows.

“It took two days to film just a half hour slot for the show and we had to close the bookings down for the whole site as we had celebrities and 23 crew members running around.”


Jo added: “Gary Lucy and Pete Wicks were really down to earth delightful people and both utterly charming. Gary Lucy in particular absolutely loved the place and wanted to know all about it..”

The popular reality dating series, narrated by comedian Rob Beckett, sees matchmakers Paul Carrick Brunson, Anna Williamson and Tom Read Wilson set the celebrities up with total strangers.

As well as Lucy and Wicks, the latest series of Celebs Go Dating, produced by Liverpool’s Lime Pictures, brings together other famous faces such as Love Islanders Laura Anderson, 33, and Liam Reardon, 23, Geordie Shore‘s Bethan Kershaw, 27, singer Sinitta, 58, The Apprentice star Navid Sole, 27 and Cecilie Fjellhøy, a Tindler Swindler cast member.

Celebs Go Dating airs weeknights at 10pm on E4. Winchcombe Farm appears in last night’s episode (December 16th) and Monday night’s episodes (December 19th) and can also be fiund on Catch Up via https://www.channel4.com/programmes/celebs-go-dating (Episodes 15 and 16)

REVIEW: Cotswold House Hotel & Spa

REVIEW: Cotswold House Hotel & Spa

In the ‘chocolate box’ town of Chipping Campden, The Cotswold House Hotel and Spa is certainly no strawberry cream!

Grand, yet beautiful, it cannot fail to be to everyone’s taste, whether you’re after a romantic weekend away with your partner, gastronomic adventure or girly spa experience.

It’s easy to appreciate why this Grade II listed regency townhouse hotel is so popular – and boasts awards to its name. While it enjoys an envious High Street presence in one the most beautiful areas of the country, Cotswold House is not content with just letting the location do the talking.

Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden

My friends and I stayed in two of the luxury suites on site, both spacious and sumptuous in equal measure and even with their own private lobby areas. We couldn’t help but feel like ladies of the manor on arrival at our ‘mini homes’ for the night.

There’s even a hot tub suite for those who want to treat themselves to some real decadence.

Wall-mounted widescreen TV, waffle robes, slippers, turn-down service and complimentary refreshments including cafetiere and hand-cooked biscuits are standard. It’s a refreshing change too, to have some water to hand in the mini fridge that a) doesn’t cost extra and b) is actually cold! In fact, it was not so much a mini fridge in my room as a mini pantry. The perfect hideaway for your own sundries and supplies.

Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden
The Bistro

The upstairs suite occupied by my travelling companions for the weekend, felt more akin to the entire top floor of a small house! Huge room with table and chairs, walkthrough mezzanine overlooking the entrance lobby and spacious bathroom, all offering more than enough space for two people in which to spread out and fully relax. The beautiful beams added further grandeur and were a reminder of the building’s history.

One of the hotel’s greatest selling points is the individuality of all of its 28 rooms and suites, some of which are located in the grounds and some in the hotel itself.

While, due to the time of year we didn’t make the most of the hotel’s attractive gardens, the same can absolutely not be said of the spa!

A very short walk through the gardens led us to a ‘small but perfectly formed’ annexe, created from the old stables of Cotswold House. It contains hydrotherapy pool, steam room, nail bar, hair salon, changing area with showers and treatment rooms.

Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden
The Spa
Cotswold House Hotel & Spa, Chipping Campden
The Fig Restaurant

It’s important to note before your stay that there is a booking system for timed slots in the spa, so don’t get caught out. It would be a shame to miss out on this tranquil experience! And if you want to make the most of your two hours, don’t arrive late. Time flies when you’re ‘in the zone!’

A real jewel in the hotel’s crown becomes apparent at dinner time. There is the option of formal dining in the Fig restaurant, or more informal in The Bistro on The Square bar area, which has a more laid-back vibe – and is also dog-friendly.

This sophisticated Regency room which houses Fig is the perfect setting for the stunning culinary adventure in store, but the same menu is available in both restaurants so no one misses out.

We made two welcome returns to The Fig the following day – for a delicious breakfast – and an unashamedly indulgent Afternoon Tea, Cotswolds House style. The delightful strains of a harpist helped further elevate this memorable experience – in case copious servings of delicious cake isn’t enough in itself!

And there’s an excellent range of loose-leaf teas on offer to help wash down all the sweet and savoury treats. There’s an extensive drinks menu too if your preference is for something alcoholic.

Afternoon Tea is available from 2-5pm every day in the Fig lounge but booking is advised. It certainly seemed popular on our visit.

Rooms at Cotswold House Hotel & Spa start from £140-£190 bed and breakfast. To book or for further information, visit here

While you’ll not necessarily feel the need to wander far from the comfort of this hotel, I strongly recommend you find time to explore this beautiful honey-coloured corner of England.

Among the charming countryside you will find a wealth of interesting places to visit, including magnificent castles, ancient churches, glorious gardens, stately homes with historic houses. Spend the day exploring the picturesque Cotswold countryside, browse in one of the many art galleries or antique shops, or simply soak up the history of the area. Shop at some of the oldest chartered weekly markets in the country. Head to the picturesque market towns to shop or take time out for a leisurely ramble and stop for a meal in a traditional pub.

Lights Of Love carols strike right chord despite freezing temperatures

Lights Of Love carols strike right chord despite freezing temperatures

Due to seasonal weather, last Sunday’s Carols in Warwick’s Market Square had to be moved at the last minute to the ballroom at the Town Council’s offices!

People were met at the Christmas Tree in the Square and taken by Rotarians to the warm festive room where the Community Band was waiting.

Warwick Mayor Cllr Parminder Singh Birdi and Warwick Rotary Club President Keith Talbot accompanied by Warwick Town Clerk Mrs Jayne Topham, greeted over a hundred people to the service to dedicate the Lights of Love which have been hung on the tree in the Market Square, commemorating those we have loved and lost.

A short carol service was led by Revd. Jonathon Hearn, Vicar of St Paul’s. Readings relating to loss of loved ones were made by Rotary President, the Mayor, Town Clerk and Revd. Hearn, which were interspersed by our favourite carols. Warwick Community Band provided the music and the young children from Emscote and All Saints Junior school choir sang beautifully.

Warwick Rotary, Tree of Love Carol Service

The tree donated by Barn Close Nurseries, is now covered with cards donated by loved ones and will be left up until the New Year.

There is still time to place a card on the tree, by completing a form and return to the Tourist Office, Claridges, Torreys, or the Post Office in Warwick. They will stay on the tree until January 3rd.

Proceeds will be shared between Myton Hospice and the Mayor’s charities. Names of those remembered on the tree are shown next to the tree, and on the Rotary website www.warwickrotary.org.uk.

St Maur Partridge and Pear Sour Cocktail recipe

St Maur Partridge and Pear Sour Cocktail recipe

This Christmas no one will remember the gin and tonic.  But they will remember the Partridge and Pear Sour cocktail you made with St Maur elderflower liqueur and your favourite gin.

A sweet and sour, beautifully balanced, silky Christmas classic. Easy to make, this delightful cocktail pairs nicely with savoury canapés and those hot, herby sausage rolls.

The partridge is provided by Percy, St Maur’s partridge brand mascot. For the pear puree used in this recipe either make your own, purchase an expensive specialised cocktail ingredient, or as we have done here, nip down to the supermarket and buy a pouch of 100% pureed pear baby food!

Ingredients: 1½ measures of St Maur, 1½ measures of dry gin, the freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon, 1 egg white, 7.5ml of pear puree.

Recipe: Put all the ingredients in a shaker and dry shake.

Add ice and shake again, then strain into a chilled martini glass. That should be enough for two.

Garnish to decorate and serve.  (We have used a small sprig of purple sage as a garnish.)

More cocktail recipes using St Maur can be found here

More about St Maur

St Maur is a hand-crafted premium elderflower liqueur, made from responsibly sourced ingredients and flavours gathered in ancient family-owned woodlands in Warwickshire.

A versatile, internationally award-winning drink, it is perfect for sipping or mixing. A beautiful aperitif on its own and sublime in Christmas brunch and pre-dinner cocktails or for enjoying with some festive snacks later on.

St Maur is the creation of William and Kelsey Seymour, Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, and created uniquely by its producers to offer “a little drop of England’s heart” to share and enjoy wherever you are in the world.

On the bottle you’ll see Percy, the brand’s partridge mascot, a bird successfully introduced to England in the 19th century by an ancestor Francis Seymour, the 5th Marquess, and now the brand’s mascot. He is the ideal house guest for Christmas, even if you don’t have a pear tree to hand.

The co-ordinates on the bottles will take you to Ladies Wood in the bucolic Warwickshire countryside, and to an elder grove where the elderflowers are hand-picked early summer by Lady and Lord Yarmouth themselves.