Join Founder along 34km foodbank fundraiser in Coventry

Join Founder along 34km foodbank fundraiser in Coventry

Feed The Hungry, Coventry Foodbank
Canon Gavin Kibble MBE in the Coventry Foodbank warehouse

The Founder of Coventry foodbank is taking steps to raise awareness and funds as demand on the facility continues to intensify.

Canon Gavin Kibble MBE is inviting members of the public to join him on all or part of The Great Coventry Foodbankathon – a 34km route stopping at all of the city’s 15 foodbank centres, on Bank Holiday Monday, May 6th.

It is expected the Foodbankathon, starting from the most westerly foodbank centre in Canley and ending at St Catherine’s Church in Stoke Aldermoor, will take around nine hours to complete.

Individuals and businesses are also being invited to sponsor the initiative and are hoping to beat last year’s total of over £5,000.

It marks the latest challenge for Gavin, who turned 60 this year, and who has worked hard to return to rude health since suffering a heart attack two years ago.

He said: “This year we want to go even bigger with a larger team walking, running or even skipping the route, with an aim to raise even more money to support the foodbank.

“I’d love it if as many people as possible could join me on this pilgrimage from West to East of Coventry to celebrate 13 years of the life of Coventry Foodbank. Please come and join me for one or two segments of the route or, if you’re feeling really up for it, the full 34 kilometres! Or just join us en route and take some photos to help raise awareness.”

Gavin Kibble, Coventry Foodbankathon
Last year – Gavin Kibble with his wife Viv, Debbie Rumbsy and Tracey Hayes and Revd Gareth Irvine, Vicar of St Laurence’s Church

Over 250k people have received food from the Foodbank in the 13 years since Gavin founded it. The cost of living squeeze is meaning that hundreds of people are needing to use a Coventry foodbank every week.

Gavin says the walk will also support his training towards a planned 200-mile Coast to Coast charity trek starting on May 18th in aid of Feed The Hungry UK, of which he is Projects Director.

He added: “If you don’t fancy taking part and aren’t able to give money, you can help by raising awareness of the Foodbankathon and, on the day, you are welcome to come and support those doing the walk.”

More information about taking part or donating is available here

Businesses interested in sponsoring The Great Coventry Foodbankathon are invited to contact:

Gavin Kibble, Coventry Foodbankathon

The route will take in the 15 Coventry foodbanks and the central distribution warehouse as follows:

  • Canley, St Stephen’s Church
  • Our Lady of The Assumption RC Church, Aldermans Green
  • Allesley Park Evangelical Church
  • Queens Road Baptist Church Centre
  • Christian Life Ministries
  • Mosaic Hope Centre
  • RCCG Holy Ghost Zone
  • Foleshill Baptist Church
  • St Francis of Assisi Church
  • Holbrooks Evangelical Church
  • St Laurences Church
  • Coventry City Mission
  • Walsgrave Baptist Church
  • The Halo Centre, Binley
  • Willenhall Foodbank (Haggard Centre)
  • St Catherine’s Church, Stoke Aldermoor

Please be aware that the suggested route for the Foodbankathon uses public roads. It is the participants’ responsibility for their own safety when taking part in the event. Coventry Foodbank cannot bear any responsibility for the safety of participants taking part.

Review: Scratch Cook Social

Review: Scratch Cook Social

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef

Breaking bread with friends in the familiar surroundings of your own home is a popular past time.

But it’s also one which, at least in my household, has diminished in recent years due to busier lives.

I wonder too, whether a post-pandemic society is still leaving its mark on dinner parties. Have we been left with a new-found appreciation of the convivial atmosphere of a busy restaurant, united with fellow diners by our love of a social occasion.

But, since being invited to partake in one of Scratch Cook Social’s private dining experiences, I’m genuinely keen to repeat it.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Poppadoms and Mint Sauce

Having grown up as a second generation Indian immigrant in London, Rajesh ‘Raj’ Darji was exposed to a wonderful concoction of cultures, aromas and flavours. Later in life and mainly through his long corporate career, Raj was able to travel to, and live in different parts of the world. All of these experiences have informed the types of ingredients he likes to cook with and the styles in which they are prepared.

Today, Scratch Cook Social exists in south Warwickshire as a celebration of Raj’s passion for creating traditional Indian dishes in a contemporary style, working with his diners to curate a bespoke menu to suit every palate or occasion.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Desi Scotch Eggs

As a guest of Raj, you have the choice of tasting menus ranging from four to seven courses, along with optional wine pairings – making for a deliciously adventurous – journey through food.

With dietary requirements nailed down a couple of weeks in advance, Raj was given free rein to work his magic and what he presented on the day left us with a memorable first impression of his culinary prowess.

Poppadoms and Mint Sauce (Toasted padad, mint-infused yoghurt sauce and kachumber salad) were the perfect delicate palate cleanser and pre-show to the starter of Desi Scotch Eggs (Quali egg, lightly spiced duxelles, panko and Malabar sauce).

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Lamb Tenderoast

This was followed by the main event – in every sense – with Lamb Tenderoast, again with Raj’s unique Asian twist by adding Tandoori Masala, coconut-infused crushed sweetcorn, pomegranate, pickled onions and chutney. I could have personally lived off this for the week. A melt-in-the-mouth plate of food absolutely popping with the most exquisite combination of flavours and aromas.

The Scratch Cook Social dining experience was concluded with Raj’s take on a classic -the French Financier, an almond cake, complemented with apple strips and cardamom foam. The perfect finale to a show-stopping foodie extravaganza and one that leaves you craving an encore.

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef
Financier, apple and cardomom foam

And every course was introduced by our friendly host and paired with a specially selected wine from Scratch Cook’s hand-picked ‘wine cellar.’ (The wine pairing is optional but certainly recommended) – and another advantage of private dining from home right there!)

After dinner it’s a great feeling to know you can just retire with your companions to bask in the shared five-star dining experience and enjoy what remains of the wine and conversation. Meanwhile our host is busy donning his washing up gloves and eventually leaves our kitchen as clean and tidy as when he first arrived. What’s not to love?

Scratch Cook Social, Leamington, private chef

After 22 years in the corporate world, the nouveaux entrepreneur is clearly enjoying his reinvention as a fine dining chef and, if my experience is anything to go by, will continue to build on his early success, elevating more and more recipes that excite our senses.

Keen to share his passion and culinary tips and techniques with as many others as possible, Raj also offers cooking classes and team building events, including Spice Blending Nights and Kitchen Takeovers and collaborations.

Visit here for more information.

Free and discounted tickets for volunteers who help build three-day festival in Warwickshire

Free and discounted tickets for volunteers who help build three-day festival in Warwickshire

ALSO24 Festival, Compton Verney
Rob Doolan at ALSO

As preparations continue to secure leading lights in the worlds of music, comedy, wellness, food and nature for ALSO24 Festival this summer, the heat is on to find Midlands volunteers willing to help bring the festival to life.

Now in its eleventh year, ALSO24 – on July 12-14th, brings together performers and musicians, best-selling authors, celebrated scientists and experts in a variety of fields to create a one-off ‘magical and immersive experience,’ in Compton Verney, Warwickshire.

ALSO24 Festival, Compton Verney

Festival organisers are now looking for volunteers from across the Midlands who would like to take advantage of discounted or free tickets, in exchange for their time and graft in the weeks running up to the event.

Diccon Towns, the CEO of ALSO, said: “There is no doubt that ALSO wouldn’t be standing if it wasn’t for the phenomenal input from our volunteers. What sets us apart from other festivals is the myriad of ways they can engage with the event.

“If people want to get two-thirds off the ticket price and work a single shift across the weekend, they can do that. If others fancy joining a group of creative spirits on one of our spring build weekends, designing, building, sewing and painting, then come along. Some of our volunteers have been doing exactly this for years.

“The beauty of volunteering in an economic crisis is that it solves two problems: it gives access to the event for those with limited disposable income while limiting production costs to the organisers.”

Volunteer tasks include building and dismantling stages, signage, decoration, painting and building temporary structures.

There are many opportunities to help with the build. Build weekends are on the 27th & 28th April, 18th & 19th May, 1st & 2nd June, 22nd & 23rd June and the 6th & 7th July. The Build Week is the 8th – 11th July and volunteers are needed in the days after the festival to help with the take down.

Volunteers are, of course, needed over the course of the three-day festival as well. The volunteering options range from the opportunity to secure a free festival ticket in exchange for two days of a helper’s time, to a heavily reduced ticket price of £60 in return for one 6-hour shift during the festival.

Or for those who want to get more deeply involved in the delivery of ALSO, volunteers will get a completely free ticket if they are happy to do 3 shifts of four hours each over the weekend. This will most likely be one per day and people could be volunteering on a wide variety of roles from box office and stewarding to stage management, food programming, artist liaison and tech support.

ALSO24 Festival, Compton Verney

Thirty-five-year-old Rob Doolan and several members of his family, including his brother Tim, 37, have volunteered since 2017 and this year’s festival is the ninth one Rob has helped with.

He said: “We just love volunteering at ALSO. It is set in 50 acres of Capability Brown-landscaped and lakeside gardens which are just beautiful. It is unlike any other festival – I find that I reconnect with myself and the world around me.

“I come up the weekend before ALSO with my 9-year-old dog, Milo and we do the building of various things. He loves running about the field and swimming in the lake and keeping the ALSO team relaxed during the run-up.

“The weekend before is awesome as you get to enjoy the site, build lots and spend quality time with friends and family. It’s great to see it progress from a verdant field to a festival and your hard work can make that happen.

ALSO24 Festival, Compton Verney

“I like how it’s a volunteer-led organisation where amazing speakers like Jessica Winter, Adam Kay and Marcel Le Cont are enjoying the festival alongside you. The speakers are invested in the idea of ALSO so it feels like a community experience. That and getting down the Rum Shack or disco bunker and dancing the night away.”

The current line-up for this inspirational summer festival is extremely impressive with big names such as comedian Sara Pascoe, Indie folk band Stornoway, Brazilian-influenced soul and funk collective, The Fontanas, broadcaster and satirist Nels Abbey, TikTok sensation Marcel Lucont, best-selling writer and comedian Adam Kay; experimental musician Jessica Winter and best-selling children’s author Andy Stanton.

 These are just a handful of the acts performing across the weekend…more information on the line up can be found at

Aside from performances, festival-goers can be at one with nature or join in with a huge programme of wellness activities such as laughter therapy, fitness workshops, a Zen Ten Spa, fire yoga, moon yoga or floating SUP yoga, wild swimming, paddleboarding, painting meditation, den building, rocket workshop and raft building.

Anyone interested in volunteering can register on the website or email for more information.


ALSO24 Festival, Compton Verney

About ALSO Festival

ALSO is the annual festival where ideas run wild. An immersive escape set in divine surroundings, ALSO-land features eccentric, playful, thought-provoking programming. It’s a place to get involved, reflect, be inspired and experience ideas through creating, experiencing and experimenting.

Perfect for friends and family alike, ALSO is the place for a transformative weekend filled with quality time, wining and dining in nature with the promise of experiencing something new.

ALSO appears like a magical mirage for one July weekend only in a site borrowed from nature, fauna, beasts, birds, mini-beasts and trees who call it home year-round before disappearing. Everything is built to be designed for the longtime – sustainability is our middle name.

Plus ALSO is an escape from retail, you don’t need to buy things but to experience things we offer only things to do and experiences to book, we love to work and support any businesses or founders or companies that have similar ethics.

Sunday Lunch Club’s latest fundraiser is close to founder’s heart

Sunday Lunch Club’s latest fundraiser is close to founder’s heart

Jo Wheelwright-Horne, Stratford
Jo receives her BEM from Lord Lieutenant for Warwickshire Tim Cox alongside Alex and her daughter Grace

Jo Wheelwright-Horne was inspired to establish Stratford’s now hugely successful Sunday Lunch Club after experiencing the loss of her mum to a brain tumour.

After eight years and more than £100k raised for local charities, Jo now finds herself rallying the Club’s members to support another cause close to her heart – her husband’s cancer battle.

Alex, 59, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma last year after his dentist spotted a worrying patch in his mouth and immediately referred him for a biopsy.

More tests detected tumours and the news that his condition is incurable has left the couple devastated, but determined to work as hard as ever to raise much-needed funds for the Rigby Unit at Stratford Hospital, where Alex is being treated.

Jo receives her BEM from Lord Lieutenant for Warwickshire Tim Cox alongside Alex and her daughter Grace

The initial target is to raise £5,000 for a new blood analysis machine, which can reduce the wait for results from two days to just two hours.

Jo said: “After speaking to the Rigby Unit head nurse she suggested that they could really do with a blood analysis machine – so my goal this year is for the Lunch Club to raise enough money – £5,000 – to buy one for the unit. But I intend to continue to fundraise for the Rigby Unit throughout the year.

“The impact of Alex’s diagnosis and treatment has been huge on both of us. And it’s been so hard to tell the family. His liver is in poor health so they only want to do chemotherapy once, at the moment he is on watch and wait. We live our lives for three-month periods between his blood tests. At the moment, thankfully, they are stable.

She added: “It was hard to tell Alex’s parents who live in Scotland, especially as his mom has seen two of her family members pass away from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, but we are hopeful that modern medicine has moved on since then.”

Jo’s journey with fundraising began – and continues – with Brain Tumour Support, following her own mum’s death to the disease. The charity is now the biggest beneficiary of Sunday Lunch Club proceeds with more than £37k raised.

Since its inception, Jo has enjoyed seeing The Sunday Lunch Club grow to 900 members, aged between 18 and 80, and has supported a wealth of other local charities, including Warwickshire Air Ambulance; Myton Hospice; Shakespeare Hospice; Amicci Dog Rescue in Worcester; Avon Cat Rescue, in Welford, MIND and Molly Ollys in Warwick. Fundraising has also paid for six defibrillators for Stratford.

Last year Jo was proud to be presented with a British Empire Medal by the King as well as a clutch of local awards recognising her voluntary contribution. And she was recently named among the finalists for Ladies First Professional Development Awards.

All this is even more remarkable against a background of battling her own long term health challenges, including Chronic Pulmonary Disease, Ankylosis Spondylitis and Ménière’s disease, which have all been further aggravated by the recent stress.

But for now, her focus is on helping her husband of eight years navigate the toughest of all journeys ahead, however long it may be.

Jo Wheelwright-Horne, Stratford
Jo with Alex at the palace last year

She said: “We are both finding it so hard to function and have sought the support of counselling. We do our best to live for today as we just don’t know what’s around the corner. He could live for five years or 20 years, it all depends if it spreads as it is a blood cancer.”

“I didn’t cope well with my mum’s death at all and I became very depressed. It all happened so fast I decided though my grief I wanted to help other people which is why I set up the lunch club and decided to raise money for Brain Tumour Support.

“Alex has always been very supportive of the club and enjoys the meetings and seeing friends. It seems fitting that their support will have been, again, inspired by someone very close to home, but which will also help countless others in the years ahead.”

To donate visit here

Parents hope to run up total for Warwick charity close to their hearts

Parents hope to run up total for Warwick charity close to their hearts

Rosie with Paddington Bear on the tour.

Parents Chris and Jenny Byrne will be powered on to cross the finish line at the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday, to support the Warwick charity which helped them through their daughter’s cancer battle nine years ago.

The couple, from Wolverhampton, are running through the capital in aid of Molly Ollys, the children’s charity that supported them following Rosie’s leukemia diagnosis, in 2015.

Molly Ollys, London Landmarks Half Marathon
Jenny and Chris Byrne in training

The charity was established in Warwick in 2011 by Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw, of Hatton Park, following the death of their eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer.

During Rosie’s treatment – and following two periods in intensive care at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – Molly Ollys granted the three-year-old a special wish to follow in the footsteps of her favourite character on a guided Paddington Bear tour of London.

The family’s life changed forever just a few weeks after Rosie’s third birthday when she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Jenny explained: “She was fit and well but the day after her third birthday party we noticed she had got a limp which got progressively worse and after a number of tests and scans they couldn’t really work out what the problem was.

“Eventually she couldn’t bear any weight and an MRI scan showed she had lesions through the major bones in her body. They knew then that she’d got a form of cancer but couldn’t determine immediately what type.

“She had no other signs of illness like infections or bruising – none of the classic symptoms you associate with leukaemia. But we were told to pray that it was leukaemia because it’s the easiest cancer to treat.”

Chris added: “It’s like the rug had been pulled from underneath us. Everything came to an end and normal life just stopped there and then. We felt like we were in a black hole. You don’t ever think something like this will happen to you, it always happens to somebody else – but it did happen to us and it was an incredibly hard time.”

A three-year treatment plan got under way immediately, including regular chemotherapy, scans and blood tests. And it was during the darkest of those times that the family found Molly Ollys as Rosie fought for her life during two periods in intensive care – in close succession.

London Landmarks Half Marathon, Molly Ollys
Rosie Byrne at Wolverhampton 10k last month.

Jenny, who is headteacher at SS Peter & Paul Primary in Wolverhampton, said: “We started reading a Paddington Bear book she had chosen while she was in intensive care in the hospital ward, thinking she may be able to hear us. When she came round she remembered it and even knew where we were up to in the story and wanted to carry it on – and that started a great love of Paddington Bear for her.

“We thought we were very lucky that she is still with us and, for her and her brothers, we ought to make some special and lasting memories because she was so vulnerable.”

London Landmarks Half Marathon, Molly Ollys
Rosie Byrne ringing the bell to mark the end of treatment in 2016

In 2016 Molly Ollys organised an overnight stay and Paddington Bear tour of London for Rosie and her family, including Portobello Market, Paddington Station, the station café and London Zoo, which also featured in one of the books. They even gifted Rosie a kiddy camera to help document her trip.

“She was in her element. You could tell how special she felt. It made such a difference to her. This incredible, selfless, family-oriented charity made a significant impact on the whole family at a time when we all needed it most,” added Jenny.

Rosie also became the proud owner of one of the charity’s mascot toy lions – a therapeutic cuddly toy called Olly The Brave. Olly has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy. These also 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.

Rachel Ollerenshaw of Molly Ollys, recalls: “Rosie’s wish to follow in the steps of Paddington Bear is one that I will always remember, such a lovely thing to ask for. I had the pleasure of meeting Rosie and her family in 2015. They have been very supportive over the years and we are so grateful. Wishing Jenny and Chris all the best for the run at the weekend.”

Today, 12-year-old Rosie has not looked back since ringing the bell at BCH to signal an end to her treatment in May 2018. A student at St Edmunds Academy, today she enjoys an active lifestyle, including Park Runs and playing for her local cricket team. She also took part in last month’s Wolverhampton 10k.

But Jenny and Chris have vowed to never stop ‘giving back’ to the charities which helped them during the most challenging chapter of their lives together and they’re looking forward to hopefully improving on their time at their second London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday.

Molly Ollys, London Landmarks

The event, organised by baby charity Tommy’s, sees runners follow a route from Pall Mall to Downing Street, passing Westminstger Bridge and a series of landmarks on the way. It has raised more than £37.5m since it began in 2018.

“We’ve trained together more this time so we’re looking to enjoy it more. It’s a great event with a spectacular route and lots of different entertainment and last time it was big physical challenge to get around it and didn’t appreciate the atmosphere and how amazing it is to do it in London. This time we’re hoping that we can take it in a bit more and it will be really special,” Jenny said.

To sponsor Jenny and Chris visit here