Bargain bridal gowns set to raise funds for charity

Bargain bridal gowns set to raise funds for charity

Lynette Turner of Boho Bride and Rachel Ollerenshaw with the dresses

Brides-to-be will have the opportunity to bag a bougie bargain while also supporting two Warwick charities, at a fundraising Wedding Fayre in Warwick.

More than 40 brand new wedding dresses and accessories in a variety of styles and sizes will be available to buy at knockdown prices during the one-off event, organised by The Gap Community Centre on May 18th.

The gowns, worth a total £80k, were donated to Molly Ollys by Boho Bride when it closed its doors at Stratford Garden Centre last year.

Boho Bride’s Lynette Turner said: “We had a lot of dresses that we couldn’t take with us, so after our sample sale we decided to donate the remaining dresses and accessories to Molly Ollys.

“I have always supported children’s local charities, including schools, and wanted to be able to continue my support by donating over 40 dresses to help children and their families, who are going through a very difficult time.

“The work that Molly Ollys do to help very sick children and make their families’ lives a little bit better is very important. Making children’s wishes come true is a very special gift for all the family, enabling them to share those precious moments and make forever memories. The more donations that are made, the more children and their families can benefit from the charity’s support.”

Molly Ollys was established in 2011 by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw following the death of their eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

The Warwick-based charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as providing wishes and donating therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

The 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 70 hospitals or health centres, along with a set of books from the charity’s exclusive Olly The Brave series.

Alongside the dresses – available in sizes 10-22 – there will be accessories to buy, including shoes, underwear, and head pieces, plus stalls from local businesses offering wedding-related services. Companies taking part include Simply Unique Ceremonies, Tora Wilson – Soprano, The Northants Roadshow, Brides & Blooms florist, Ultimate Fireworks, Zilfarni Soaps and Scents, The Tipsy Traveller Bar Hire, Beadie Productions Photography, Templespa, Beetle Bugs Wedding car Hire, and Lindsey Kay Bridal.

Each of the businesses is also contributing to a raffle on the day, with the chance to win prizes including a hand-tied bouquet, gift hampers, photography session, pamper class and fireworks.

Proceeds from the raffle and stalls will help The Gap continue its important work reducing loneliness and social and financial isolation in Warwick, bringing people together by running its vital community togetherness activities. The Gap’s activities and services are a lifeline for community members who would otherwise find it hard to meet people, providing essential support for their emotional health and wellbeing. The Gap also provides rooms for hire at reasonable prices for special occasions such as wedding parties.

Boho Bride, Molly Ollys, The Gap

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We are very grateful for the donation of the wedding dresses; it certainly was one of the more unusual donations we’ve received! In these challenging times with the rising cost of living, it is nice to think that we can offer brides the opportunity to have a fabulous dress at a greatly reduced price, that at the same time, gives back to charity.

“We also want to thank our friends at The Gap Community Centre, with particular thanks to Emma Joyce Smith and Amanda Burford for all their support and help to make this event happen. We look forward to meeting lots of brides!”

Organiser Emma Joyce Smith said: “It’s very exciting to be putting on our first wedding fair. Please do come along even if you’re not getting married because it’s free entry and there’ll be tea, coffee, and light refreshments.”

Amanda Burford, The Gap General Administration Manager said: “We’re very excited to be hosting a lovely opportunity to bring people together, which is what we’re all about. We can’t wait to meet all the happy couples we’ll be welcoming on the day.”

The Wedding Fayre, which is free to enter, takes place at The Gap, in Oakwood Grove, near Spinney Hill, Warwick CV34 5TD, between 2-5pm.


 Throughout the 10 years Molly Ollys has been running, it has raised more than £4 million; granted more than 2,500 wishes; supported more than 16,000 children and distributed more than 13,000 Olly The Brave books to more than 70 hospitals.

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.

Molly Ollys is also responsible for funding the first ever consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, in 2018 and, at the end of last year, it further provided funding for two more consultants, doubling the number of existing roles in the region.

 Molly Olly’s Wishes need the support of companies and individuals to enable us to help more children. We welcome the opportunity to provide more information about our work. Please help us to make those dark days brighter. For details contact Rachel on 07747 854914.



The Gap, also known as Warwick Percy Estate Community Projects Ltd, is a registered charity and not-for-profit company, promoting community togetherness in Warwick for 21 years. We improve lives by providing a friendly community centre, and helping disadvantaged children, the elderly, and the community by running low-cost, inclusive activities and services.

We believe people are better together, and when people feel they belong, are valued and can be a part of something, Warwick is a happier place to be.

Our mission is leading the way to promote community togetherness and personal fulfilment by providing a safe and welcoming environment where people can meet and participate in social and physical activities; support groups; volunteering and learning, with the aim of enhancing overall quality of life.

Our work focuses on three key areas:

Disadvantaged children and young people: Gap Youth provides engaging, universal youth clubs at five locations in Warwick. We give young people, aged 7 to 16, a safe place to go to make friends, improve their social and life skills, and develop increased resilience, self-confidence, and aspirations. We also provide detached youth work in the community.

Isolated and lonely older adults: Gap Goldies provides weekly social and wellbeing activities for vulnerable elderly people. We help older adults find companionship and social connectedness, improved emotional and physical health, continuing independence, and a better quality of life.

Building stronger communities: Gap Community provides a friendly, welcoming community centre in North Warwick, hosting a variety of community groups, exercise classes, and services, where people can meet. We also run community outreach in the most deprived area of Warwick, helping low-income families with food and cost-of-living support.

Plus, we offer rooms-for-hire at the community centre, suitable for all occasions. Please phone 01926 494200 for more info or email

New businesses announced for Bell Court

New businesses announced for Bell Court

Beleza Rodizio, Bell Court, Stratford

Two new tenants have been announced for Bell Court for the spring and summer.

For foodies, Beleza Rodizio will be bringing a Brazilian flavour to Stratford in its ‘all you can eat’ steakhouse menu that promises a ‘festival for the senses.’

Portuguese for ‘beauty,’ the name Beleza captures the essence of the rodizio-style steakhouse that is inspired by the colours and vibrancy of Brazil. Rodizio – or ‘rotation’ – refers to the way the gauchos rotate around the room with skewers of different grilled meats, stopping off at tables to carve.

Beleza Rodizio, Bell Court, Stratford

Legend has it that the rodizio style of service originates from a waiter mistakenly serving a meat skewer from the wrong side of the table but allowing the guest to take a small piece.

Beleza’s heart is its grill. The most succulent meats, tangiest cheeses and freshest vegetables are slowly cooked in the open flame. Meat eaters can feast on up to fifteen of the finest cuts while vegetarians can choose from an abundance of mouth-watering salads, vegetables, cheeses, potatoes. Diners can complete their plate with traditional Brazilian and Argentinian hot and cold dishes from the all-you-can-eat self-serve salad bar.

A spokesperson said: “We wanted to bring a taste of Brazil to Stratford’s Bell Court, and offer something unique that hasn’t been seen here before. Beleza is more than just a restaurant – it’s an experience. We chose the name because we think the experience of dining is simply beautiful.

Beleza Rodizio, Bell Court, Stratford

“From the moment you step through the door, you will be transported to a world of colour, fun and delicious food and cocktails.


Bespoke kitchen and bathroom maker Hartley & Hall is due to open its new showroom in Bell Court next month.

Using their own dedicated team of plumbers, electricians and flooring experts, Hartley & Hall offer a ‘start to finish’ service to manage the whole project, tailoring each build to the required design, time frame and budget.


Beleza Rodizio, Bell Court, Stratford

It’s also all change for the more familiar Corte Campana which relocates to a bigger space in Bell Court following its launch in summer 2022.

Rich Jones, Centre Manager of Bell Court, said: “We’re over the moon to soon be welcoming two fabulous new additions to the Bell Court offering, meaning our units will be fully let. It again proves the rich diversity of businesses and services available to both locals and visitors.”


Review: Minority Report, Birmingham Rep

Review: Minority Report, Birmingham Rep

Minority Report, Birmingham Repetory Theatre
Photos by Marc Brenner.

Having seen the film of Minority Report many years ago, I recall being both impressed and bemused by the convoluted storyline that unfolded. How then, was it going to translate to live theatre, I wondered.

But this innovative, brand-new production, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, and adapted for stage by renowned writer and actor David Haig (My Boy Jack, The Good Samaritan) had me on the edge of my seat throughout.

In 2050, neuroscientist Dame Julia Anderton is about to launch the next phase of her pioneering Pre-Crime programme, detaining people for crimes before they are committed. But when Julia is accused of pre-murder, she’s in a race against time to save herself from her own system.

Birmingham Rep Theatre, Minority Report

This thrilling adaptation of such an iconic story challenges our beliefs about justice and free will in a real-time chase through the London of the future.

Minority Report sees award-winning Director Max Webster re-united with the producers of the globally successful stage version of Life of Pi. This incredible theatrical experience creates a world at the borders of science fiction and reality.

The small cast successfully manages to pull off an impressive feat in the retelling of this iconic story so it’s fit for theatre consumption, headed up by the talented Jodie McNee who is impactful as the first female to play the lead.

Indeed, powerful performances all round deliver real time action in this 90-minute frenzy of a show (no interval to catch your breath). And for those who aren’t familiar with Dick’s novella, there’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes in that time.

Birmingham Rep Theatre, Minority Report

Much of the success is also down to its staging, with clever use of cinematic projections, choreography and inventive props. I particularly enjoyed the hologram-effect appearances of Julia’s (apparently gender-neutral!) AI assistant David, who also delivered the handful of sassy one-liners on the night. Why did she remind me of my car’s Sat Nav, I mused!

This intensely captivating show is a sci-fi spectacle that delivers on all fronts. As thought-provoking as it is entertaining, Minority Report leaves us with a sense of satisfaction, whilst also questioning our own ideas of justice and the power of choice.

The Rep’s latest hugely impressive world premiere continues to play its part in putting Birmingham on the theatrical map.

Minority Report runs at Birmingham’s The Rep Theatre until Saturday April 6. Tickets and information can be found at the Birmingham Rep website here.

Charity presents £2k CuddleCot to new £3m baby loss centre

Charity presents £2k CuddleCot to new £3m baby loss centre

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Raj & Rup Lal from sponsors DRD Capital Birmingham present the CuddleCot to Woodland House.

A charity established by a Coventry woman following her own experience of stillbirth, has donated a £2k CuddleCot to a new baby loss centre in Birmingham.

The special refrigerated cot has been presented to Woodland House at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, by The Luca Foundation.

The CuddleCots are designed to act like a refrigerator to keep the body cold which allows the parents to have up to a week with their baby and, if they wish to, even take them home with that equipment.

Sharon Luca-Chatha’s life was turned upside down in June 2012 when she lost her precious son to stillbirth at 36 weeks. Since then she has gone on to give the ‘gift of time’ to more than 3,000 grieving families and donated and repaired more than 120 CuddleCots for maternity units, neonatal intensive care units and paediatric wards through her award-winning Luca Foundation.

She said: “A CuddleCot will give the families the ‘gift of time’ with their baby that they would not otherwise have. When a baby dies, there is a lot of information to take in, forms to sign, post-mortem to discuss etc. therefore the extra time is very much needed to take in all that has happened and the trauma that comes with that.

“It is instrumental for the mental health of the parents and family, often including young siblings, for the grieving process to start with their baby in their arms.

Sharon is still battling PTSD following her trauma when her ‘sleeping’ baby was taken away immediately after the birth and not returned for nine hours!

“I am still working through this trauma with EMDR therapy, but the anger of what happened to us is the fire within me that wants to ensure all parents in these tragic times have access to a working CuddleCot, something I wish I had had,” she said.

“The long-term effects of not having a CuddleCot, such as in my case, can lead to chronic illness from the trauma of not having enough time with your baby. For me, four years later, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which led to me grieving the loss of my health, successful career and independence, along with my never-ending grief for my son.”

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Sharon Luca-Chatha

Woodland House, which was built at the side of Birmingham Women’s Hospital, cares for over 2,000 grieving parents every year who have lost a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. The £3m centre – the first of its kind in the UK – was funded over three years by donations and corporate sponsorship. It is designed to be a safe haven in which families can grieve, away from the maternity ward.

The Luca Foundation has is now hoping to raise further funds and awareness at the charity’s second Gala Dinner, on May 11th.

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Woodland House

This year’s event at Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel, is being hosted by comedian Tommy Sandhu and MC Sandra Godley OBE and includes a welcome glass of fizz, three-course meal and dancing to a DJ.

A raffle and auction on the night will help further boost funds, one of the top prizes including a private dinner for four people cooked in your own home by 2021 Masterchef winner Dan Lee, from Birmingham.

Headline sponsor for the event is DRD Capital in Birmingham. Any businesses that would like to donate a raffle or auction prize or get involved as a sponsor, can contact Sharon at:

Tickets cost £65 and are available to purchase

Through the charity Sharon also directs funds to provide resources, facilities and research to reduce infant mortality and support bereaved parents.

Sharon is driven by her vision to fund enough cuddle cots to service every maternity unit throughout the UK and then turn her attentions to cuddle blankets, for under 18s.

The Luca Foundation, Sharon Luca-Chatha, CuddleCots
Woodland House

She said: “A parent’s worst nightmare is to lose their child. We were beyond devastated, our world had fallen apart. From the moment Luca died on the Monday inside my womb, to the Thursday when I gave birth to him, everything was in a daze.

“We were not ready for the next blow – the limited time we had with him, knowing we would then never see him again. After holding onto Luca as long as we could – just a few hours – we had to hand him over to be taken to the mortuary. This caused us such trauma. We just cried uncontrollably.

“As I look back I realise that was the defining moment when I decided I wanted every parent to have access to a CuddleCot.”

Sharon has also gone on to write two books on the subject of child loss, Angel Warriors and an illustrated children’s book Why Did Grandad Die? which is available in schools across Coventry and Warwickshire. She’s also launched a range of memorial gifts. The Endless Love Collection is aimed at supporting the grief process as well as promote physical and mental wellbeing.

She added: “The growth of the Luca Foundation has completely exceeded my expectations. I’m very proud of that and proud of the fact that, despite getting more than 10 repair requests every month, we’ve been able to fulfil all of them so far.”

Review: Hotel Football, Manchester

Review: Hotel Football, Manchester

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

It’s been more than 30 years since I last cheered on my football team at their home ground. After growing up as a regular visitor to Old Trafford in Salford, life then just got in the way and I now support them from afar (as many a Manchester United fan is besmirched for doing!)

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United
Room with a view!

Unless you’re in possession of a season ticket – or a very large bank account(!) – having the opportunity to see them once again play on the hallowed turf of the Theatre of Dreams – is a rarity for most of us these days. So how lucky was I that my long-awaited return fixture of choice turned out to be the match of the season – the FA Cup Quarter Final leg against United’s age-old footballing rivals Liverpool! (I’m still recovering… but at least I got my money’s worth.)

My match tickets were a birthday treat and the 4-3 result of this edge-of-the-seat occasion was a treat indeed, advancing us to the next round of this famous sporting competition. There was only one way this unforgettable fan experience could be bettered – so I was quick to accept a kind invitation to join the Matchday Hospitality on offer by Hotel Football.

Having travelled the world with their sporting careers and sampled the best hotels along their journey, Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, alongside their Class of ’92 teammates Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville, opened Hotel Football in 2015 to bring something different to the city.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

The perfect base from which to enjoy your footballing experience, it is strategically positioned to offer you the best views of the Theatre of Dreams. Our room, called Stadium View, certainly wasn’t under-delivering on that front. Waking up in the shadow of the country’s largest capacity football ground – if you’re a fan – is pretty darn magical.

And, as it proved, watching from your window was a great way to soak up the pre-match atmosphere and feel the excitement build as fans gather for the game.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

Before that though, there was time to indulge in some special pre-match atmosphere of our own, in the Matchday Experience lounge. Here we were treated to a delectable three-course menu and frequently replenished refreshments and matchday programme – and all in the company of like-minded lovers of the beautiful game, as we shared our score predictions and built up an appetite for what’s to come.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United
Former Manchester United footballer Wes Brown took part in a Q&A
Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United
A roving magician wowed us with his card tricks

Before dessert was brought out we enjoyed a private audience with the hotel’s special guest of the day, Wes Brown.

Brown began his career with Manchester United, joining the club’s academy at the age of 12 in 1992 and made his senior debut in 1998 and becoming a semi-regular first team player during the celebrated 1998-99 Treble season.

There was also plenty of opportunity to grab a photo with Wes as well as take part in a Man Utd live quiz and be wowed by a magician moving between tables and those who wanted to could even bid on some signed merch for charity – before heading off to take our seats for the big game. (No one yet appreciated quite how ‘big’ it was to be at this point!)

And, with the hotel just yards away, it was easy to take full advantage of the hospitality on offer before making the short walk to our stadium seats just half an hour before kick-off.

The return to post-match hospitality three hours later was a wonderful way of extending the celebrations with fellow fans, whilst also enjoying some more culinary delights before the final whistle blew on our fabulous experience.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

It’s not only the close proximity to the ground that so aptly sets the scene for this five-star Man Utd indulgence. From the mini bar packed with complimentary retro goodies, to the cute football shirt-themed toiletries in the bathroom, these little touches all helped make the stay something extra special – and in-keeping with the theme of the weekend.

The room itself was comfortable and super spacious, features including a kingside Hypnos bed, rain shower, 40-inch smart TV with (of course) Sky Sports and BT Sports channels.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

And the breakfast, in hotel’s Café Football the next morning was hearty and delicious, providing a good blend of continental buffet and choice of freshly cooked hot dishes. All enjoyed, once again, in view of the Old Trafford backdrop.

The hotel’s café and its bars – are also popular among non-residents, particularly for pre- and post-match socialising.

Football is the heartbeat of this multi-award-winning hotel. The football focus is continued throughout with memorabilia, cool artwork of legendary players and, on the top floor, their very own indoor pitch, which doubles as an events suite.

Hotel Football is a quirky, vibrant and lively base from which to fully immerse yourself into the atmosphere of the beautiful game, especially if, like me, you’re not a local supporter.

The owners’ mission statement is to ‘provide a world class setting for football fans of all ages to enjoy a unique atmosphere, first-class food and drink, stand-out accommodation and, ultimately, unforgettable experiences.’ I’d say they’ve definitely achieved their ‘goal.’


Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

While you’re there. . .

What better way to immerse yourself into the Club’s history than by signing up for The Old Trafford Stadium Tour, which includes museum entrance.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

At just over an hour, we are given a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of some the key areas of the ground, including pitch side, dugout, player’s dressing room and press briefing room. Highlight though for many is the reenactment of walking down the tunnel onto the pitch – with (piped in) cheers and applause ringing in our ears. Aimed largely at the kids – but of course enjoyed by all!

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United
The players’ changing room

As you walk in the footsteps of some of your favourite footballing legends, whatever your team of choice, it’s hard not to be captivated by, maybe not the most contemporary, but certainly this most iconic of stadiums.

The museum, which forms part of the tour package, is stuffed to the rafters with a dizzying amount of silverware and memorabilia. United fans will be particularly drawn to the exhibition which celebrates their glorious Treble-winning season of ’99.

Hotel Football, Salford, Manchester United

Come on your Reds. . .

Prices start at £28 for adults and £15 for Juniors/Concessions. Visit here