Rum producer helps local gym pack a punch in community

Rum producer helps local gym pack a punch in community

Warwickshire Gin Company, Cleary's Boxing Gym, The Pugilist

An award-winning distiller in Leamington is throwing its weight behind the expansion of a local community boxing gym which prides itself on producing champion fighters.

Good sports at Warwickshire Gin Company, have become long term sponsors for Cleary’s Boxing Gym following the recent opening of its new £100,000 premises in Whitnash.

The money will fund new kit as well as amateur boxers’ expenses for competitions and events abroad.

The partnership is a nod to the distiller’s rums, The Pugilist and new release, Sting Like A Bee honey rum, both inspired by Randolph Turpin who went down in British boxing history for his sensational World Title win against the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson and earning himself the nickname ‘The Leamington Licker.’

His statue can be found in Warwick’s Market Square.

The rums use Guyanan rum spirit as a base in honour of Leamington-born Turpin’s Guyanan family heritage.

Dave Blick, who established Warwickshire Gin Company in 2018, said: “With the inspiration behind our Pugilist brand, we are perfectly aligned with Cleary’s.

Warwickshire Gin Company, Cleary's Boxing Gym, The Pugilist
David Blick with Lewis Williams at Cleary’s Boxing Gym

“With our local legend being Randolph Turpin, boxing is still a very strong sport in Leamington and Warwick and when we were approached about supporting their new gym, we jumped at the chance.

“This is an opportunity to be part of a great project and give opportunities to more youngsters to learn the sport and learn key life skills.

“I have no doubt Cleary’s will be a huge success, being inclusive and also developing youngsters. Edwin Cleary is kind and supportive in addition to being a great coach, who has helped develop current great up and coming boxers such as Lewis Williams and Danny Quartermaine.”

The Pugilist rums are among Warwickshire Gin Company’s range of artisan copper pot-distilled premium gins, rums and vodka. The flavours are developed to represent the county’s own unique story. These include Leamington on Parade, inspired by the true story of three elephants brought over from Sri Lanka to Leamington by circus elephant trainer Sam Lockhart in the 1880s; The Kingmaker – named after Richard Neville 16th Earl of Warwick and Peeping Tom – inspired by the legend of Coventry’s Lady Godiva.

The non-profit boxing gym is owned by Edwin Cleary, who trained with the Turpins before himself turning professional, and has produced some of Leamington’s and Great Britain’s finest fighters over the last 15 years, including Lewis Williams who won gold at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Refurbishment of the former Whitnash Community Hall was mainly funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign and match-funding by Warwickshire County Council.

Facilities at the new site include three boxing rings (one championship size), a media suite – to record podcasts and do TV and radio interviews – a small conference room for career talks, homework space, lounge area, and showers and changing rooms.

Members now also have access to a sports therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor and strength and conditioning team five days a week.

Edwin, himself from Whitnash, can now welcome up to 300 members into his gym, from as young as six, and is keen to stress it’s not just about conditioning world champions.

David Blick with Lewis Williams at Cleary's Boxing Gym
Edwin Cleary

Business partner Kurt Canavan said: “There are lots of benefits of boxing. Everybody is equal here. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, what you do, where you’ve been, as soon as you step into the gym you’re all on a level playing field and that’s very important for mental health as well.

“There are obviously the physical health benefits too and it teaches self-discipline. That’s something we particularly work on with the younger boxers. You have to show the ability to learn, the ability to self-discipline, the ability to work hard and dedicate before you start moving through the ranks. Whether you can box or not at the start it’s not important. It’s about those mental attributes which stand you in good stead for life.”

“We are so grateful for the contribution from our sponsors which allow our fighters to turn up to events looking sharp, fully concentrating on the task in hand, without worrying about organising any of the accommodation or travel. We take care of all of that. We couldn’t do that without this support.”

Visit The Warwickshire Gin Company here

Visit Cleary’s Boxing Gym here

To support the crowdfunding campaign visit here

More about Warwickshire Gin Company

The inspiration behind the Warwickshire Gin Company collection comes from a desire to capture a moment in history, developing flavours to fully represent the county’s own unique story and bringing the range of hand-crafted flavours to life.

The core drinks range is: Kingmaker, The Philosopher’s Daughter, Leamington On Parade, Peeping Tom, Pelota Dry Gin, The Pugilist Spice Blended Rum, Pugilist Sting Like A Bee Honey Rum, Pugilist Ghost Edition White Rum and Kingmaker Vodka.

They also offer visitor experiences including Gin Tasting, Cocktails at The Distillery and their new Afternoon Gin & Tea.

Murder Mystery kicks off new calendar of live events at Wroxall Abbey Hotel

Murder Mystery kicks off new calendar of live events at Wroxall Abbey Hotel

Wroxall Abbey, Warwick, murder mystery

Diners with an appetite for intrigue are being invited to play sleuth as Wroxall Abbey announces the return of live and immersive entertainment to the hotel.

The Victorian Mansion House in Warwick is the perfect setting for the first Murder Mystery Night, on October 28th, heralding a line-up of events for the festive season.

Staged in collaboration with Murder International, guests will be invited to gather to celebrate the birth of a new Coven of Fire and Light. But is The Coven dark and sinister or one of healing and herb lore? Why did its members split up from another Coven, what is the dark secret and who is the wolf in sheep’s clothing?

Tickets are £119 per couple, inclusive of three-course dinner and Murder Mystery event or £199, to include three-course dinner and accommodation based on two people sharing.

Other events lined up at the hotel include a Bonfire Night Party on November 3rd, including fireworks display, food and entertainment, bouncy castle and a live DJ. Dates for festive party nights and Breakfast With Santa have also been added to the calendar.

Wroxall Abbey, Warwick, murder mystery

The gates open at 6.30pm, the bonfire is lit at 7.30pm and fireworks display starts at 8.15pm. Tickets cost £17.50 for adults and £7.50 for children. Under fives are free. Or a family ticket, comprising two adults and two children, is £40.

All tickets are available to purchase via: or on 01926 242330.

The events return ahead of a big year of investment for the hotel, including a new state-of-the-art spa and health club and renovation of the Courtyard Building to create an additional 24 bedrooms.

Since its takeover last September, the business has obtained a wedding licence and launched afternoon tea and Sunday lunch menus. Most popular among the local community though is the reopening, after five years, of the 14th century church.

The hotel currently offers 72 bedrooms, plus six conference rooms, a patio garden overlooking the 27-acre grounds, Henry’s Lounge & Bar and Henry’s Restaurant which serves seasonal British and Mediterranean cuisine as well as Sunday Lunch and Afternoon Tea.

Wroxall Abbey, Warwick, murder mystery

Managing Director Paresh Thakkar said: “We’ve received a warm welcome from the local community since reopening our doors last year and are delighted to now further extend our offering with these new live themed events.

“We hope to welcome in plenty of new as well as familiar faces so we can showcase Wroxall Abbey hospitality at its best once again.”

‘Rotary has been my lifeline – and now we need a lifeline for Rotary’

‘Rotary has been my lifeline – and now we need a lifeline for Rotary’

“Rotary has been my lifeline and now we need a lifeline for Rotary” – These are the words of the first female President of Henley Rotary ahead of its 50th anniversary next year.

For Anna Devey, from Shrewley, the message couldn’t be more heartfelt as she appeals for more members to help secure the future of the Club that she holds so dear – the Club she credits with turning her life around following the sudden death of her husband.

Anna, 74, hopes that her story will help build numbers as well as, ultimately, enrich the lives of other people like her.

Henley Rotary Club, Anna Devey
Claverdon Tennis Club’s wedding day gesture for their newlywed members Anna and Bob

Anna and Bob met through Claverdon Tennis Club where they were members. After both going through divorces, the couple fell in love and started a new life together in Hatton, where they lived for 12 years.

But events were to take a tragic turn when, in 2011, Bob suddenly died, aged 64, just two years into his retirement.

“I had been to visit my mother in Portugal and I noticed when he picked me up at the airport he had a very bloodshot eye and complained of a headache,” Anna recalls.

“That afternoon, while playing golf, he had trouble with his eyesight. He went to our GP and was immediately sent to Warwick Hospital for a check-up.

Henley Rotary Club, Anna Devey
At home in Hatton on the day after their wedding.

“A CT scan the next day showed an aneurysm but after a lumbar puncture to check he wasn’t bleeding, was sent home later that day. Fifteen minutes after walking in the door he turned very grey and collapsed. We went to Coventry Hospital in an ambulance and two days later they turned off his life support machine. The lumbar puncture had been misread, the aneurysm had been bleeding. He should not have been sent home.”

She added: “I really don’t think I would have joined Rotary had Bob not died. My whole life changed. We lived in Hatton in a large bungalow, with a huge garden and hens and two dogs.

“After he died I kept the house on for two years but it was too much for me on my own so I moved to Henley – but I didn’t like it. I was basically bored I think. No Bob, no social life, no garden, no house in France, which was inherited by his children from a previous marriage. I needed something.”

“Then Covid hit and I started to help my lovely friend Mike Redman whose wife had died a few years before and had recently been given a bowel cancer diagnosis. Rotary was a huge part of his life. He said ‘just come along and see what you think.’ That was the start of it.”

On the journey to rebuild her own life, Anna has also had to overcome a heart attack, two years ago. She also continues to support her daughter who, at the age of 23, was struck down with Susac Syndrome, a rare autoimmune condition which has left her with sight and hearing loss and child-like behaviour. She had to undergo two years of physiotherapy to learn to walk again.

After a spell living in Claverdon, Anna is now settled with her two beloved dogs in her home in Shrewley.

Despite struggling with membership, she is proud that Henley Rotary Club has managed to raise £16,000 last year alone for local causes, including Myton, Shakespeare and Acorns hospices as well as Prostate Cancer Research.

And recent donations include £500 to Warwick Hospital Special Care Baby Unit towards a new heated cot for premature babies and £250 to Henley Memory Café for a theatre trip.

In her seventh year as a Rotarian, she is also making history as the first female President of the Club after rules were changed in 1989 to permit women to join.

Henley Rotary Club, Anna Devey
Anna presents Maryjana Bainbridge with her Community Award last month

She said: “I am honoured to be the first female President but I hope being female will make no difference. I plan to guide and support Henley Rotary in any way I can.

“Rotary has been a lifeline for me. It is now a huge part of my life. I have enjoyed it, the friendships I have made, the ideas we have had – which work out better than we had ever thought. It’s so rewarding seeing the difference we can make to other people’s lives.

“I think with only seven of us left we are limited to what we can achieve to raise money to help various causes, but where there is a will there is a way, this is where service before self comes in!

“You don’t have to be a member to help, just become involved in local events which are run by your local Rotary Club. You will soon see what a difference the smallest thing can do. The social side, especially if they are on their own, meeting new people, the help that can be given locally and overseas, working with other clubs making a large team, can work wonders.

“Hopefully after a few weeks and realising what Rotary is all about and the help that is given to others, more people will join us.”

Henley Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 12.30pm at: The Red Lion in Claverdon. For further information visit here or contact Anna at:

Henley Rotary Club, Anna Devey
Anna at a socially distanced meeting she’d organised just after lockdown

Why join a Rotary Club?

District Governor Nominee for Heart of England Rotary Jonathan Wilding, Henley Rotary Club

Jonathan Wilding, District Governor Nominee for the Heart of England Rotary which includes Henley, said: I’m often asked ‘Why should I join Rotary, what’s in it for me?’ My first answer is usually, ‘friendship and fellowship,’ as being a Rotarian can be a lot of fun.

“In our regular meetings, when we’re raising money for charity and at the social events that we organise. Secondly there’s looking at our community’s needs and finding creative ways to meet them.  This can take the form of fundraising or providing our labour to help people out.

“There are endless opportunities for personal growth and development and there is the fact that you are part of a global organisation that has an impact across the world as can be seen with the lead we have taken on eradicating Polio and the fact that charities such as ‘ShelterBox’ are often the first responders when there is an International disaster.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to make a big difference to the lives of others – and to your own.”

Sister Act The Musical arrives in Coventry next month

Sister Act The Musical arrives in Coventry next month

Sister Act, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

The 2023 Olivier Award nominated production of Sister Act the Musical is heading to Coventry next month, playing at the Belgrade from 9th–14th October. 

Based on the iconic movie, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.

Landi Oshinowo leads the cast as Deloris Van Cartier alongside a cast that includes Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert, Alfie Parker as Eddie Souther and Ian Gareth-Jones as Curtis Jackson, alongside Isabel CanningJackie PulfordPhillip ArranLori Haley FoxWendy-Lee PurdyBradley JudgeDamian BuhagiarCallum MartinCastell ParkerEsme LaudatAmber KennedyJoseph ConnorCeris HineEloise RunnetteSheri Lineham and Michael Ward.

SISTER ACT has direction by Bill Buckhurst, choreography by Alistair David, Set and Costume Design by Morgan Large, Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell, Sound Design by Tom Marshall and Musical Supervision by Stephen Brooker. Casting is by Stuart Burt.

SISTER ACT features original music by Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted), lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane. SISTER ACT is produced by Jamie Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg.

Landi Oshinowo can currently be seen as Mrs Phelps in Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre. Additional London credits include Shrek the Musical at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, The Light Princess at the National Theatre, Big Fish at The Other Palace and Sister Act at the London Palladium. Further theatre credits include the national tours of Barnum, Fame and The Who’s Tommy.

Sister Act, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, rehearsals

Lizzie Bea’s London theatre credits include Martha Dunnstock in Heathers The Musical at The Other Palace, Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray at the London Coliseum and A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre. Her other credits include Abigail in the World Premiere of Becoming Nancy at the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta and performing in the UK Tours of Kinky Boots, Fat Friends the Musical, Chicken Little, The Shakespeare Revue and The 3 Little Pigs.

Alfie Parker’s theatre credits include School of Rock at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, which marked his West End debut, and UK tours of Kinky Boots, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Fat Friends The Musical.

Ian Gareth-Jones was most recently seen in Only Fools and Horses The Musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. His other West End credits include Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre, Mrs Henderson Presents at the Noel Coward Theatre and Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Additional theatre credits include Mamma Mia, Oklahoma, Scrooge, Chicago and Thoroughly Modern Millie, all on UK tours. 

Tickets are available here

Cast announced for Wicked coming soon to Birmingham

Cast announced for Wicked coming soon to Birmingham

Wicked, Birmingham Hippodrome

Wicked, “one of the most successful musicals of all time” (BBC News), will fly back into Birmingham Hippodrome from Tuesday 5 March to Sunday 7 April 2024.

The cast is confirmed as Laura Pick (Elphaba), Sarah O’Connor (Glinda), Carl Man (Fiyero), Donna Berlin (Madame Morrible), Simeon Truby (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Jed Berry (Boq), Megan Gardiner (Nessarose), Casey Al-Shaqsy (Standby for Elphaba), Thomas Charles, Julie ClokeCharlotte Coggin, Freddie Conway, Áine Curran, Jade Davies, Kamau Davis, Russell Dickson, Maddison Firth, Lydia Gerrard, James Gower-Smith, Shoko Ito, Holly Lawrence, Nick Len, Stephanie Lindo, Will Lucas, Will LuckettRozz Mbwembwe, Georgia McElwee, Conor O’Hara, Shereen Osman, Stuart Rouse, Christina ShandAdam Stickler, and Frazer Woolcott.

Laura Pick (Elphaba), Carl Man (Fiyero), Simeon Truby (The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond), Nick Len, and Will Lucas have all previously appeared in the West End production of Wicked.

The spectacular, multi-record-breaking, and critically acclaimed touring production of the must-see musical phenomenon returns to Birmingham Hippodrome for a third engagement, following sold-out visits in 2014 and 2018.

The West End and Broadway musical, that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, continues an open-ended run at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre where it is now flying into its landmark 18th year.

Wicked Executive Producer Michael McCabe said: “As we prepare for a much anticipated third visit to Birmingham Hippodrome, we’re delighted to announce a truly stellar cast of 33, led by Laura Pick and Sarah O’Connor as Elphaba and Glinda, who form part of the 100+ company that will be delivering all the spectacle and magic of this gigantic production on stage and behind the scenes.”

Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s musical, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, imagines a beguiling backstory and future possibilities to the lives of L. Frank Baum’s beloved characters from ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, revealing the decisions and events that shape the destinies of two unlikely university friends on their journey to becoming ‘Glinda The Good’ and the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’.

Sarah O’Connor and Laura Pick. Photo by Matt Crockett.

Wicked has now been seen by 65 million people worldwide, and 2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of its Broadway premiere. Productions continue on Broadway, in the West End, and on tour across North America. This year, Wicked also returns to Sydney, Australia and Tokyo, Japan. The two-part Universal Pictures film version of Wicked, directed by Jon M. Chu and starring Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, is in production.

Wicked has won over 100 awards including three Tony Awards; six Drama Desk Awards; two Olivier Awards; eleven WhatsOnStage Awards; six Australian Helpmann Awards, and a Grammy.

Wicked features songs by multi-Oscar and Grammy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (GodspellPippinThe Prince of Egypt, Disney’s PocahontasThe Hunchback of Notre Dame and Enchanted). It is based on the multimillion-copy best-selling novel ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’ by Gregory Maguire and written by Emmy and Tony Award nominee Winnie Holzman (creator of the landmark American television series My So-Called Life). Musical staging is by Tony Award-winner Wayne Cilento with direction by two-time Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello.

Wicked is produced by Marc PlattUniversal Stage ProductionsThe Araca GroupJon B. Platt, and David Stone. Executive Producer (UK & Ireland) Michael McCabe.

Wicked will run at Birmingham Hippodrome from Tuesday 5 March – Sunday 7 April 2024. Tickets can be booked here or by calling 0844 338 5000.