Takeaway owner prepares for 363km challenge in memory of late son

Takeaway owner prepares for 363km challenge in memory of late son

A Warwick business owner is set to embark on the latest in a series of fundraising challenges to give back to those who helped care for his late son.

Baabzi Miah, who runs Baabzi Takeaway in Coten End, has pledged to walk and cycle a distance of 363 kilometres in aid of Mencap after already raising more than £10,000 for the NHS throughout the pandemic.

Baabzi Miah, Mencap, Down syndrome, NHS

Starting on March 21st, World Down Syndrome Day, Baabzi aims to walk the equivalent distance in kilometres as the number of days in his young son Adam’s life.

Adam, who was born with Down syndrome and pulmonary hypertension, died in 2017 at just 11 months old after suffering complications due to flu.

The takeaway owner from Birmingham, who also has six other children, said that he and his family would never forget the care they received during the ‘worst time in their lives’.

Baabzi Mia, down syndrome, Mencap
Adam is Baabzi’s inspiration for the fundraising

“Although his time was short it is in Adam’s memory that I am driven to help raise money for fantastic organisations that helped my son in every way possible during those 363 days,” he said.

“Mencap does some truly inspiring work and I wholeheartedly back their ethos that everybody is an individual and they treat everyone they work with as individuals.

“It’s work like this and their expertise that means Mencap is close to my heart. I want to help raise funds to help them to continue to provide excellent programs, services and support within this area.”

He added: “I’m going to start this challenge with 5km a day and then increase the daily target by 1 km daily so hopefully I’ll be completing it within six weeks.”

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21.

Laura Bruce, the area fundraiser for Mencap, said: “I am truly honoured to be supporting Baabzi and his family with their fundraising. It’s been such a difficult journey and helping them has been lovely. I have been supporting Baabzi for a number of years and he has already raised money for Mencap through activities in his takeaway. I am looking forward to supporting him throughout this year to raise an incredible £10,000.

She added: “Mencap is the leading learning disability charity, passionate about changing the world for the 1.5 million people with a learning disability. We’re here to improve the lives of people with a learning disability and their families right now and fight alongside them for a better future.”

This challenge marks the latest fundraiser since the launch of Baabzi’s Covid-19 NHS Appeal during the first lockdown last year and is in aid of the hospitals that cared for Adam – Heartlands and Birmingham Children’s Hospitals and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He has now raised more than £10,000 through events including a charity night, a sponsored cycling challenge and even a skydive last August.

Throughout the first lockdown he and his team also donated food parcels to Warwick and Birmingham Children’s Hospitals frontline workers as well as the Helping Hands homelessness charity in Leamington.

They also donated 2,000 surgical masks to staff at Warwick Hospital.

He said: “Our incredibly personal and life-changing experience heavily impacted our lives. Losing a child left a massive vacuum and the only way that I have been able to find much-needed comfort and peace has been this need to serve, to give back in some way.

“This has been a very personal journey for me and my family and it’s helped us heal. My family and I were cared for and lovingly supported by these wonderful people at the NHS during a harrowing time in their own lives. Nothing short of angelic teams of nurses and doctors tirelessly worked to save our baby boy, who sadly passed away after a brave battle to overcome his health challenges.

“I can never forget that and that’s why last year I raised money for the NHS and did whatever I could for them to show that support and respect that I have for them.”

He added: “You never know when you, a loved one or a friend will need the care, the medical attention and importantly the sacrifice of a front-line worker. There’s a time to give and a time to take, and this is where those of us who can, should give back.”

To support Baabzi’s fundraising visit: www.mencap.org.uk/donate

If you’d like more information on the charity, ways to get involved or even do your own fundraising, contact community.fundraising@mencap.org.uk 

Down’s syndrome

A person with Down’s syndrome will have some degree of learning disability, but the level of ability will be different for each individual.

They might take longer than other children their age to reach certain milestones and to develop certain skills and may also need ongoing support for different aspects of their life when they become an adult.

As with other conditions associated with learning disability, every person with Down’s syndrome is an individual and, with the right support and opportunities, can lead a happy and fulfilling life.

People with Down’s syndrome will typically have some level of learning disability and characteristic physical features.

There are some health problems associated with Down’s syndrome, such as heart problems and difficulties with sight and hearing, but these will not affect everyone with the condition.

People will live with the condition for their whole life, but there are ways to help children develop into healthy adults who are able to live the lives they choose. This includes:

  • access to good healthcare
  • early intervention programmes to provide support for children and parents
  • good relationships and family life
  • education and support groups.

Further information and advice about Down’s syndrome is available via the Mencap helpline between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday on 0808 808 1111. Or email: helpline@mencap.org.uk

Book and awards celebrate inspirational women in business

Book and awards celebrate inspirational women in business

SUCCESSFUL entrepreneurs from south Warwickshire are among the women whose inspirational stories form a new book set to raise funds for a national charity close to their hearts.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, which launched today (Monday March 1st), celebrates female achievers from across the country, many with tales of overcoming adversity and even tragedy.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Compiled over nine months by Tracey McAtamney, from Balsall Common, the book features the 58 finalists in the 2020 Ladies First Network Awards which takes place this month in aid of The Katie Piper Foundation.

Among those who contributed are Nicola Smyth from Southam; Kate Findlay from Barford and Julie McGarrigle and Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant, both from Leamington and Rachel Willmott, Sarah McCormack and Karen Heap, from Rugby.

At just 36, and with a hairdressing career already spanning 20 years, Nicola Smyth owns salons in Warwick, Kenilworth, Southam and Knowle and is a multi-award-winning international colourist. She also runs a Midlands training academy and mentors with her brand across the world.

Kate Findlay, Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Kate Findlay, above, from Barford, has seen her online boutique gift shop Peach Perfect go on to great success after launching the business in her early sixties and whilst also nursing her late husband through the latter years of dementia.

Julie McGarrigle is a director at Alsters Kelley Solicitors, which has offices in Southam, Leamington, Stratford, Coventry and Nuneaton. She is proud to be one of only a handful of female non-lawyer director/owners of a law firm.

The practice has supported a number of local charities, including: Zoe’s Place Hospice in Coventry, Coventry Cyrenians, Safeline, STARS and Save the Children, and it also takes part in a number of the Free Wills initiatives for charities, such as Myton Hospices, Mary Ann Evans Hospice and Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Although a microbiology graduate, Minnie Von Mallinckrodt-Grant today offers marketing and communications expertise and is a TEDx curator and coach.

Rachel Willmott, left, grew a successful and award-winning Virtual Assistant business she started from home whilst on maternity leave in 2013.

The parent of a child with Down syndrome, she is also an active member of The Ups of Downs charity based in Leamington, supporting it with administration, training, events and mentoring new parents.

Despite starting out as a financial analyst, Sarah McCormack decided to follow her new dream of becoming a qualified florist leading to the launch of Stemsations in Frankton. Year-on-year sales increased and the business expanded to offer a full floristry service for weddings, celebration bouquets, funeral tributes and seasonal workshops.

Her achievements have been recognised in industry awards as well as featured in glossy magazines.

Karen Heap, Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives, Ladies First Network, Tracey McAtamney, Katie Piper Foundation, book, awards, entrepreneurs

Karen Heap, right, runs Orchard Business Development and established Socially Shared when she was unable to find the type of support network she needed as a micro-business owner. The network, which is now active in Rugby, Stratford, Coventry, Alcester and Solihull, also hosts an annual Women in Business conference, which includes inspirational and motivational speakers.

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives follows on from the success of Tracey’s first book Hidden Strength in 2019, which tells her own story of resilience, after being widowed at a young age.

Proceeds from this book go back into her charity Surviving Bereavement, which offers practical, financial, legal and emotional support in the form of seminars and new Memory Boxes, launched last year.

The finalists to the third LFN Business Awards were chosen from more than 200 nominations, and the winners will this year, for the first time, receive their engraved glass awards virtually, due to COVID restrictions.

An esteemed panel of 12 judges from across the UK, includes the awards keynote speaker, global successs coach and author Sharron Lowe, from Tanworth-in-Arden.

Organiser Tracey said: “The judging event at The Mallory Court Hotel in Leamington last February was such an uplifting day. People had travelled from all over the country. But we didn’t know what was about to hit us.

“Having moved the event three times I didn’t want to move it again. For a while I couldn’t see it happening. But we decided to put it online. I realised that this year things were going to have to change.

“I didn’t want these ladies to miss out on their year and their recognition after such an awful year. That was why I decided to start the book. I wanted to keep the excitement alive as well as find an alternative way of raising the funds for our nominated charity.”

Inspirational Women, Inspirational Lives costs £12.99 and is available from Amazon (also on Kindle) or through Tracey at: tracey@ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk with all the proceeds benefitting The Katie Piper Foundation.

Tracey added: “Compiling this book has been both very humbling and uplifting. I thought it was important to get it out there. At the moment there are more women than ever who need support and inspiration.

“It’s also based on a year on hold. It’s about what happened to these people over the past year and what impact the pandemic has had on their lives – positive and negative. It looks at how so many women have had to reinvent themselves on the kitchen table. It’s all about celebrating being positive.

“I hope that what people take away from this book is a belief in themselves, that they will see that, no matter how bad things become in your life, you can come out of it the other side.”

Hosted by BBC radio presenter Sandra Godley, the awards ceremony, on March 18th, will also feature a message from Katie Piper. The author and TV presenter founded her charity in 2008 while in the early stages of her recovery from an acid attack which left her with permanent scars on her face and body and blindness in one eye.

Katie said: “I’m so honoured that my charity has been chosen to benefit from the awards, auction and book inspired by these incredible women. Their stories of determination through the pandemic and resilience are to be celebrated.

“The switch from ‘in real life’ awards to a digital ceremony mirrors how we adapted from delivering in-person care to video-call- based rehabilitation with outstanding results for survivors. As women, we are no one thing, we evolve, change and grow and the positive impact is felt far and wide.”

Tracey McAtamney added: “When I was deciding on which charity should benefit from our event this year, I thought, who is one of the most inspirational and courageous women I know? Katie Piper represents someone who has been through awful challenges and within a month of her recovery set up her own charity to try and help others. It sat well with what we are trying to achieve with the book and the awards.”

Proceeds from an online silent auction will also be donated to the Foundation. More than 20 lots, available to bid on from today, (Monday) include an Amplify Events VIP package to see Strictly Come Dancing Live worth £400; a private dining meal for two courtesy of Bramble Dining; a diamond ring, speech coaching workshop, Napton Cidery Discovery Bundle; pet portrait and beauty vouchers. Bids can be made via: www.jumblebee.co.uk/Charityauction2021

Tickets to the awards night are £15 and available at www.ladiesfirstnetwork.co.uk via Eventbrite.

Visit Surviving Bereavement at: https://survivingbereavement.com/

For further information or to enquire about donating, contact Tracey McAtamney at: tracey@survivingbereavement.com

Centenary Art Trail plans celebrate area’s rail heritage

Centenary Art Trail plans celebrate area’s rail heritage

RUGBY Rotarians have unveiled plans for a new Railway Art Heritage Trail as part of an ongoing centenary project to upgrade a section of the Great Central Way.

The club has applied for £15,000 Arts Council funding for the trail, which will see commissioned local artists collaborating with schools in a competition to produce unique artwork, interpretation boards and murals along the 1.2km route.

Rugby Rotary Club, Great Central Way, Art Heritage Trail, Laurence Ilbraham

First to be installed in a few weeks will be three new bespoke benches, funded by The Rugby Group Benevolent Fund and designed by Cawston artist and former Rotarian, Eric Gaskell, who is also confirmed as one of the competition judges. The back of the bench design incorporates trains, pedestrians and a cyclist as well as wildlife.

Eric Gaskell said: “I was delighted to devise and draw up the design for the new benches as well as putting forward ideas to involve local schoolchildren and artists to complete the project.

“The Art Trail is a project that will bring together a variety of age groups, allowing everyone to be part of something that will hopefully be around for many years.”

Rugby Rotary Club, Great Central Way, Art Heritage Trail, Laurence Ilbraham, Eric Gaskell
From left: Bob Holloway, Andy Wright, Keith Ward and Laurence Wilbraham lay track as part of the Great Central Way upgrade project.

Rugby Rotary Club is working in conjunction with Rugby Borough Council and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust to upgrade the section of the former railway line between Hillmorton Road and Abbey Street.

It ceased use as a railway in 1965 when Rugby Central Station was also demolished. Without the resources to manage it along its full length, the council handed over the lease to Warwickshire Wildlife Trust which now maintains the section south of Hillmorton Road. But they don’t have the resources to manage the northern section.

Chris Worman, Rugby Borough Council Parks and Grounds Manager, said: “One of the council’s key objectives is ensuring our green spaces are places where people want to be. By working in partnership with the Rotary Club we can help improve the visitor experience to areas such as Great Central Way whilst also proving more volunteering opportunities for local residents.

“And the benches not only provide a place to sit and relax but the unique design gives users of the Great Central Way the opportunity to reflect on the past industrial use of the area whilst also recognising the natural environment it is today.”

Plans also include interpretation boards, to be designed by local blacksmiths, in a style echoing the traditional British Rail signs and explaining the history of the Great Central Way.

From left to right Bob Holloway, Andy Wright, Keith Ward and Laurence Ilbraham, Eric Gaskell

Rugby Rotarian and GCW project leader Laurence Wilbraham, said: “We will soon be seeking a number of local artists in areas such as metalwork, woodwork, sculptors, graffiti etc. who would be appointed to work with one a particular local primary or senior school to create their piece of artwork for the trail. We want people to use their own ideas and imagination and we’re open to a wide diversity of artworks.

“It could be using recycled materials or incorporating engineering – in line with Rugby’s engineering history – and some murals on the walls of the bridges. We want to provide proper murals that will echo something about Rugby itself.”

Rugby Rotary Club is now more than halfway through its four-year project to enhance the southern section of the Great Central Way, including the removal of undergrowth and trees, improving the Sun Street Play Area, creating a wild play area, providing signage and, subject to community involvement, the provision of a community garden/orchard.

The first phase of the Art Trail, laying nearly 200ft of track, is under way thanks to the donation of rails and sleepers by Network Rail – and the hard work of Rotary and WWT volunteers, as well as members of the public.

From left to right Bob Holloway, Andy Wright, Keith Ward and Laurence Ilbraham, Eric Gaskell
An area of the Great Central Way north of Hillmorton Road that has been cleared by the volunteers.

Some volunteers have even been specially trained in strimming and hedge-laying for the project, which has managed to continue despite lockdowns – a period, claims Laurence, that has only brought the value of these trails into sharper focus.

“The Great Central Way is one of Rugby’s best kept secrets which was only really rediscovered by people during the first lockdown, particularly when Severn Trent closed Draycote Water,” he said.

“In our section the number of people has increased enormously because we’ve made it more attractive. We’ve opened up a lot of the vista between Lower Hillmorton Road Bridge and Hillmorton Road Bridge.

“It’s also had the net result of reducing incidents of anti-social behaviour. By making it more open and visible from the roads it’s meant areas are much more observed than they used to be, coupled with the increasing usage.”

He added: “To mark our centenary, Rugby Rotary Club members wanted to do something that would raise both the profile of the club and of Rotary, would provide long term benefits for the people of Rugby and involve volunteering and young people as well as doing something environmental.

“This is the largest and longest project we’ve ever been involved in and so far the feedback we’ve been getting from everyone who uses the Way is extremely positive.”

For further information about the Great Central Way project, Rugby Rotary Club or to volunteer, click here

Great Central Way, Rugby, Rugby Rotary Club, centenary, Laurence Ilbraham, Eric Gaskell

Background Information:

The Great Central Railway was opened in 1899 and ran from Marylebone Station, London to Sheffield via Rugby, Leicester and Nottingham. It was primarily a goods line and was built to the continental loading gauge. The section of the line between Rugby and Aylesbury was closed in 1966 and the section from Rugby to Nottingham was closed in 1969.

In 1970 RBC purchased 4.5 miles of the railway line comprising two sections, one extending from Onley Lane to Abbey Street and the other between the Oxford Canal and Newton.

In 1991 Central Railway Ltd proposed to re-open the railway following completion of the Channel Tunnel rail link although these proposals were rejected twice by Parliament.

Chiltern Railways had a long-term plan to re-open the railway between Aylesbury and Rugby (and later to Leicester) but in 2013 the company abandoned that proposal.

Fine dining delivered to your door!

Fine dining delivered to your door!

By the time we reached lockdown part III we had become more accustomed to takeaways as the go-to alternative for those special occasions.

But for those of us who still occasionally hanker after something that cut above – and whose mastery in the kitchen falls seriously short – it’s refreshing to see a rise in the trend of fine dining deliveries.

Bramble Dining, fine dining, Richard Bramble, chef
Richard Bramble. Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

One such business on hand to step in and salvage my birthday and Valentine’s Day plans (same weekend!) was Bramble Dining, based in Radford Semele.

Chef Richard Bramble, who has over 19 years’ experience of working in professional kitchens and the catering industry, launched the business with his wife Claudia just one year ago.

They offer a bespoke menu, catering for all tastes as well as a personal chef service where you can be waited on in your own home.

Bramble Dining, fine dining, Richard Bramble, chef
Photo by Dave Fawbert Photography.

But while the business never really had the chance to get going – and we find ourselves still waiting for the COVID restrictions to ease up, Bramble has been innovative in its approach, by offering banquet boxes for home delivery.

My husband and I pre-selected from a Valentine’s menu which arrived at the advised time with every ingredient clearly labelled.

Accompanied by simple-to-follow instructions for final food prep and plating up, it proved even simpler than I had imagined to complete the culinary process to the required standards. Brushing the Beef Wellington with egg and warming it in the oven and heating some jus on the hob. Even I couldn’t come unstuck with that!

The biggest challenge I found – and I’ll never underestimate the artistic skills of a top chef ever again – is the final presentation of the dishes.

With a desire to do the food justice, I thought I’d done a decent job – only to later see the photos Richard sent me of how he plates up the food! My slight failings in the finesse department, happily did not, detract from the overall dining experience.

The stunning flavours and textures in Richard’s menu made this, far from a forgettable lockdown Valentine’s celebration. In fact it is one of the most delicious meals we’ve enjoyed a in a very long time.

Our banquet box (you have to choose the same meals for ease) contained four courses consisting of. . .

Appetiser: Roasted figs wrapped in prosciutto and finished with Warwick honey, crumbled feta cheese and red amaranth micro herb. (Warmed up for just a few minutes in the oven)

 No alternative.

Starter: Smoked duck breast with celeriac puree, cubed beetroot, pickled radish and popped broad beans, finished with pea shoots. (Slice and serve cold)

Alternatives were: Roasted scallops with roe velouté and Provencal breadcrumbs finished with dill oil and pea shoots or Roasted beetroot with goat’s curd, apple jelly and roasted walnuts, finished with red wine vinaigrette and red aramanth micro herb.

Classic Beef Wellington

Main: Classic Beef Wellington with parsnip puree, purple sprouting broccoli and crispy parsnips, finished with red wine jus. (Heat the beef in the oven for 15 minutes, warm the broccoli and parsnip puree in the microwave and heat the jus on the stove.)

Alternatives were: Classic half lobster with garlic herb butter, mussels Provencal, watercress salad and buttered new potatoes finished with a side of light truffle mayonnaise or Tomato consume and popped broad bean risotto with tomato salsa infused with garlic and basil finished with rocket salad.

Dessert: Chilli and chocolate tray bake with fresh raspberries and cardamon Chantilly cream. (Just serve!)

Alternatives were: Lemon drizzle sponge with crème Anglaise finished with pistachio crumb and rose petals or Vanilla-infused baked yoghurt with rhubarb, confit orange, caramelised crushed pecan nuts and rose petals.

Then chocolate truffles to share.

These are just some mouthwatering examples and three more menu options – at varying price points – can be found on their website at: https://brambledining.com/

We are all looking forward to a return to the restaurants, hopefully soon – but in the meantime, Richard’s fine dining brought to our doorstep is doing a great job in filling that void, especially on birthdays and anniversaries.

Even afterwards, Bramble’s services also extend to events and weddings.

And for the summer there are plans to provide BBQ packs too.

So, if you have a special occasion coming up – or you’re a foodie just looking to lift your spirits in lockdown, you won’t go wrong here.

Fine food, Bramble Dining, Richard Bramble

A fine dining experience in almost every sense. – I say ‘almost’ because unfortunately I still had to do the washing up!

But make a booking post-pandemic and the team will even do that for you too! – For a small extra fee, the waiter service is also provided – the promise is they will leave the dining area and kitchen exactly as they had found it – maybe even better!

So if, like me, your love of good food does not match up to your own culinary ambition – or you’re just yearning for a bit of luxury at home – give Bramble a call.

You’ll quickly remember what it is you’ve been missing! A genuinely ‘fine’ dining experience.

  • Bramble Dining also last year teamed up with Winchcombe Farm in Upper Tysoe to offer the additional service of a private chef for guests staying in any of their lodges.
Steve makes huge strides to boost funds – and fitness

Steve makes huge strides to boost funds – and fitness

A kind-hearted granddad from Stratford is losing pounds – whilst also raising pounds – for local causes in lockdown.

Fifty-six-year-old Steve May has vowed to walk 500,000 steps a month in aid of 12 different charities throughout 2021 – the equivalent to 6 million steps – or 3,000 miles –  the width between the east and west coast of America.

The fundraising fitness regime comes on the back of a new-found love for walking which started in lockdown last March and has seen him shed three-and-a-half stone in weight.

Steve May, Molly Olly's Wishes, fundraising

Steve, who has lived in Stratford all his life, said: “I had to shield and work from home so I took advantage of the one hour’s exercise every day and it built up from there. I walked every day since 14th March last year and really enjoyed appreciating the great outdoors.

“It’s also been good for me on a personal level because it’s improved my physical and mental fitness. It means I’ve been able to reduce my medication for high blood pressure and don’t have to wear a mask at night for sleep apnoea anymore, all due to the weight loss.

“Also, if I can do it and enjoy it and raise money for different charities then that makes it even more rewarding.”

Until the end of March Steve, an operational support analyst at Sitel in Stratford, is walking in aid of Warwick children’s charity Molly Olly’s Wishes.

The charity was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

It works to support children with terminal or life-limiting 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 £2.5m raised to date, has also been used to fund the first Molly Olly consultant in paediatric medicine at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Other charities lined up to benefit include MIND, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance and two charities particularly close to Steve’s heart following his father’s death four years ago, Myton Hospice and Blood Cancer UK.

Charity founder Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “All The team at Molly Olly’s were very grateful when Steve got in touch to say that we were one of his chosen charities for his 12 months of fundraising. It is great challenge that will help raise much-needed funds for many different organisations including Molly Olly’s which is very much appreciated.

“So many charities have struggled as we are not able to fundraise as usual at a time when we have seen an increase in demand for our services. Every pound counts so please support Steve with his February challenge.”

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at: www.mollyolly.co.uk

To donate to Steve’s fundraising, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Stephen-May7