Support vaccination with V-star badge

Liz Nicholls

charity

Lisa Hulyer and Sarah Lewis were so moved by the plight of our NHS heroes and angry about anti-vax scaremongering, that they decided to do something about it…

Over winter they launched their Vaccine Star (V-Star) badge for sale at £3 with all profits going to NHS charities, St John Ambulance and local causes, while sending a positive message to the world.

“We are two British mums who, like everyone else, have been significantly and profoundly affected by this dreadful virus,” explained Lisa and Sarah.
“Like most of you, we’ve been homeschooling our children, whilst struggling to maintain any vestige of normality as best we can.

As we are unable to work as normal, we have created this badge to promote the Covid19 vaccination programme to encourage every person in this country to take up this vital vaccine and to wear your V-Star badge to show your support.

It’s a handy way of being ‘seen’ to support the programme – and the feedback from healthcare workers has been so positive. It’s important everyone, from all communities, comes together to have the vaccine, to enable us to return to normal.”

The high quality 3cm blue enamelled star set in gold metal with a butterfly clasp is a British-made product. The project is helping to promote pop-up staff shops in hospitals for free food and essentials. As well as relaxing staff break areas for NHS workers and welfare packs of snacks, drinks, lip balm and hand creams.

To buy yours, please visit v-star.co.uk and follow
@vstar.uk on Instagram


Share your stories with us here

#BlossomWatch

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Celebrate the UK’s first ever #BlossomWatch day in Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire

The National Trust is urging people to use the longer, warmer days of spring and come together on social media to share their pictures as part of the charity’s first ever nationwide #BlossomWatch Day, Saturday, 24th April.

In Bucks, Berks and Oxfordshire, some of the best places to enjoy blossom include Hughenden, Cliveden, Stowe, Greys Court and Basildon Park.

As restrictions ease and loved ones can finally start to meet outside, the conservation charity is urging people to use the easing of restrictions to share in one of nature’s most magnificent natural spectacles.

People are being asked to share pictures of blossom on social media on April 24th using the #BlossomWatch. And by tagging their location, an interactive digital map (www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-watch) will chart the progress of blossom across the country.

The Trust’s Garden’s and Parks Consultant for London and the South East, Emma McNamara, says: “Blossom season is advancing apace, but we’ve had some frost damage recently from the low overnight temperatures. Magnolia and camellia blossom have been affected by this, burning the flowers at Greys Court and Basildon Park, which means they drop quickly. This highlights the fleeting nature and beauty of blossom. However, fruit trees such as apple, pear and cherry will be blooming in late April and early May in the orchards at Hughenden and Cliveden, buzzing with insect life pollinating for fruits later in the year.”

Blossomwatch is also a chance to indulge in the Japanese art of hanami whcih literally means “viewing blossoms”. Long ago, around the 7th century, when the Japanese talked about “hana” they were referring mainly to plum blossoms. But years later, “hana” has come to mean cherry blossoms. And now Hanami means “going out to enjoy cherry blossoms.” It is one of the most featured images in Japanese art and literature.

Junko Shimizu, Founder of the Amenity 2000 Association, says: “Cherry blossoms are the sign of spring. They tell us cold winter is gone, to take off heavy coats. People are eager to get this sign. This year cherry blossoms are slower to bloom than usual.”

For further information, inspiration and to donate towards the charity’s tree planting ambitions visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/blossom-watch

Time for wildlife

Liz Nicholls

charity

Help ensure the survival of beautiful African wild animals by supporting two amazing charities

The last 12 months have been challenging in so many different ways. But to mark World Wildlife Day we’d like to highlight ways you can help the urgent plight of animals in need of your support.

The AfriCat Foundation & Namibian Lion Trust team are working hard to protect the natural habitat has been built up over the last three decades.

But with travel restrictions hampering vital fundraising from safari bookings at Okonjima Lodge, both charities really have gone back into survival mode.The nature reserve is a self-sustaining eco system, unique in Namibia, which has provided so much valuable behavioural and scientific insight. This knowledge, about big cats, grazers, pangolins, hyaenas, rhinos and more, has contributed to considerable understanding of these threatened species.

It might be March but, as the world is only just opening up, why not take up the special offer to buy a beautiful 2021 calendar? These feature 13 amazing images from great photographers including Chris Packham, Rohan Van Wyk, Joe Hubmann, Robin Maeter, Naun Amable, Paul Martens & Wayne Hanssen, of lions, hyenas, pangolins, leopards, cheetahs and zebra.

Check out the AfriCat shop here. Every pound you spend on these gorgeous goodies will help ambitious wildlife projects, in particular building a school in one of the conservancies which borders the western boundary of Etosha National Park. Or take advantage of the Donate Now, Stay Later offer from Okonjima; email 

Please visit africat.co.uk for further info & sign up to the newsletter. Thank you!

 

For a very different charity – read about England World Cup legend Sir Geoff Hurst’s gin and whisky to support dementia charities here.

Looking on the Bright Side

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Sing along and smile with Farnham group in aid of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life couldn’t be more apt for the times we are living in with the promise of better days in the not-too-far-distant future.

We all need a bit of cheering up, and Farnham’s Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice has been starved of essential funds since scores of fundraising events were cancelled to comply with social distancing advice.

FAOS Musical Theatre Group has found a way to raise both our spirits and some money for the hospice and they invite you be their guests and take a front row seat at their virtual performance of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Business manager Nigel Morley said: “Most importantly, if you enjoy the performance, please show your appreciation not to us but at our JustGiving page for the Hospice. You can get there by clicking here

Watch FAOS Musical Theatre Group’s entertaining performance below

Don’t forget to sing along!

Save music venues campaign

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A new national campaign has been launched by Music Venue Trust to save hundreds of grassroots music venues at imminent risk of being closed down – permanently.

Without these independent venues the live music scene in the UK will die. These grassroots venues play a crucial role in the development of British music, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. These venues also play a vital role in the cultural and economic vibrancy of any village, town or city.

Currently 556 venues are at risk including The Northcourt Centre, Abingdon; The Boileroom, Guildford and the Fiery Bird, Woking.

Artists will be performing ‘at home’ gigs in support of their local venues, chosen from a list of venues currently in crisis which can be found at the campaign website www.saveourvenues.co.uk.

Each venue will have their own fundraising page with a clear target of the funds it needs to raise to stay afloat throughout this difficult period. Once a target is reached any excess revenue will go to the central #saveourvenues fund to help the wider grassroots music venue community.

HOW CAN MUSIC FANS GET INVOLVED?

1. Donate to a specific venue’s fundraising page by clicking this link www.saveourvenues.co.uk to see a list of local venues that urgently need help.

2. Watch ‘at home’ shows by artists supporting the #saveourvenues campaign. Click here www.saveourvenues.co.uk to see a list of shows coming up.

3. Donate to the national #saveourvenues fund via the website www.saveourvenues.co.uk

4. Help spread the word on social media using the hashtag #saveourvenues and the campaign link www.saveourvenues.co.uk.

One of the main drivers of this initiative is the musician Frank Turner whose recent series of ‘Independent Venue Love’ shows for local venues raised thousands of pounds and provided a major inspiration for this campaign.

Turner said: “The UK live music industry is staring into the abyss right now. I’m not able to save the whole thing on my own, but I decided to do a series of livestream shows to raise money for specific independent venues that I know and love, and that are in serious risk of disappearing right now. The success of these shows demonstrated the love that exists between music fans and their favourite grassroots music venues so the #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of building on that and hopefully giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive.”

Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd said: “Without the support of music fans and artists literally hundreds of the UK’s grassroots music venues could go out of business, never to return, in the coming months. Please help to save every single grassroots music venue in the UK so that it can reopen after this crisis and continue to be a home to our musicians and our communities.”

To find out more

2.6 Challenge

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Thousands of you should no doubt have been running in the London Marathon tomorrow, Sunday, 26th April, and aside from the personal disappointment, charities large and small will miss out on the millions the annual event raises.

The Virgin Money London Marathon is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, raising more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019.

Many of these charities have had to reduce or stop services at a time when vulnerable members of society need them most; thousands of staff have been placed on furlough and many charities will not survive the next few months.

The 2.6 Challenge has been set up to help save the UK’s charities and you don’t need to be a runner to take part.

All you need to do is dream up an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 that suits your skills and complete it on Sunday, 26th April – when the 40th London Marathon would have taken place.

The 2.6 Challenge can be any activity you like – from running 2.6 miles to holding an online workout with 26 of your friends.

Whatever your age or ability, you can take part – it’s not just for superheroes but for home heroes.

Choose your #TwoPointSixChallenge, head to the ‘donate or fundraise’ buttons on the website to save your chosen charity, then complete your challenge.

Whether you’re running around the balcony for 2.6 miles, doing 26 press-ups with the dog on your back or bench-pressing 26 kilos with your grandchildren, your help to save the UK’s charities which have all been affected by the impact of the coronavirus.

Do your bit

Help to inspire the nation by sharing pictures or videos of your challenge on social media using the official hashtag #TwoPointSixChallenge to be part of the campaign.

Town and Gown

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Muscular Dystrophy UK is inviting the 6,000 plus runners who annually sign up to Oxford Town and Gown to safely run, jog or walk at home in this year’s virtual event for the famous race now in its 39th year. 

Inspired by people running marathons in their gardens and driveways, registrations are open for this year’s race – taking place from now until 6th May.

People like Adam Smith who had signed up to do an amazing four laps of this year’s Town and Gown 10k are leading the way by registering their own version of a ‘Lockdown Run.’

Race Director at Muscular Dystrophy UK Jessie Keighley said: “The beauty of a ‘virtual’ race is that we’re no longer tied to one location. So, if you know of friends and family up and down the country who would like to join in then get them to register here

“We need your help now even more than ever. Coronavirus has left us battling to fill a £2.8m gap in our funding from lost events just at the moment when the people we help are in real need of our support.”

Anyone who has already registered to run the Oxford Town and Gown will receive a link inviting them to register free for the virtual event and this will explain the process of taking part.

Once people have completed the event, they can log back into their race nation account and upload the date and time they took part as a ‘proof’. As soon as our offices re-open they’ll be sent a well-deserved medal.

How to take part

For more information and to register to take part online

Mum’s the word

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Here are some present ideas ahead of Mothering Sunday on 22nd March.

1. Rose expression gin & other gifts, Silent Pool Distillers

2. Cashmere socks & rose quartz face roller, The White Company

3. Card with gold flake detail, Juniper Stone

4. Geometric terrarium, www.theurbanbotanist.co.uk

5. Sleekster Luxe chocolates, Hotel Chocolat

6. B******* tankard, part of a rude & funny range from www.outlandishcreations.com

Enter our competition

We also have this amazing set from It Won’t Cost The Earth to win this month!


World Book Day

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Thursday is the annual worldwide celebration of books and reading that is World Book Day. 

The registered charity is on a mission to give every child and young person a book and champions authors, illustrators and books generally. 

This is the 23rd year of World Book Day which promotes a love of books and reading and gives children the opportunity to have a book of their own. Book tokens are sent to schools along with age-ranged World Book Day resource packs full of ideas and activities for book-related fun. 

Children just take their tokens to a bookshop and can use it for one of the new and completely free books or to get £1 off any book or audio book over £2.99.  

Among the £1 books you can choose from this year are Meet Amelia Fang, the tale of a young vampire by Laura Ellen Anderson; Evie in the Jungle by Matt Haig – meet Evie who can hear what animals are thinking; Chris Smith and Greg James’s Kid Normal and the Loudest Library; a murder most unladylike mini mystery The Case of the Drowned Pearl by Robin Stevens; teen super spy Alex Rider returns in Anthony Horowitz’s Undercover: Four Secret Files and Beth Reekles’s story of young love in The Kissing Booth – Road Trip among others for all ages. 

More info

To find out more visit

Hockney’s way

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Spanning six decades of work, David Hockney: Ways of Working takes an in-depth look at the artist’s genius and shows there’s much more to him than just swimming pools.

Hockney has explored a variety of media – painting techniques, printmaking skills, photography and designs for the stage as well as embracing the iPad and Photoshop among other technologies.

The exhibition at The Lightbox in Woking which runs until 19th April will delve deeper into his work and will include photos of Hockney seen working in his studio creating paintings, drawings and prints. Visitors will also be able to see a 14-page letter never seen before which describes his processes in his own words.

Hockney is probably best known for his series of Californian swimming pools but one of the largest sections of the exhibition is devoted to his methods of printmaking. Also on display are drawings in watercolour, chalks, pencil and ink as well as digital illustrations on the iPad, merging drawing with his fascination with new technology.

Throughout the exhibition there will be hands-on learning activity in the Main Gallery, enabling children and families to engage with the artwork. As part of Hockney week, during half-term, children will be invited to contribute to a large mosaic-style artwork, reflecting the artist’s processes.

The exhibition will also feature a selection of talks, tours and creative workshops.

More info..

For more information about these and the exhibition David Hockney: Ways of Working