Broader smiles than ever on Broad Street at the annual Pancake Day race
Launchpad’s annual Pancake Race which saw 34 teams brave the weather and batter it out on Broad Street celebrating Shrove Tuesday has so far raised £8,500.
The team from RSM UK, dressed in their animal-themed costumes, lifted the coveted frying pan trophy – becoming the 27th champion team. The money raised by all the amazing teams will help fund Launchpad’s vital services across Reading supporting people who are homeless, or at risk of losing their home.
Teams of four representing businesses and other groups from across Reading flipped pancakes as they competed in knock-out stages and a fantastic final. All the races were compered by Tarek Ahmed, from B Radio, much to the delight of hundreds of cheering onlookers, including the Mayor of Reading, Tony Page who presented the prizes.
Winners RSM UK received a Cocktail Masterclass at The Roseate, and runners up, Nexus Planning were given vouchers for Wine and nibbles for four at Veeno. Third-place team Air IT won Afternoon tea for four from Afternoon Tea Box (Crumbs Food Co).
The team from Take Note Choir were best fundraisers, raising over £865 and won bottomless brunch for two and afternoon tea for two at Revolucion de Cuba. Collard Environmental – who raced as characters from the Wizard of Oz – won best fancy dress and received a £50 voucher for Honest Burger. Field Seymour Parkes were highly commended for their fancy dress and won £40 of vouchers for Shed. Our team spirit award went to Phantom Brewery who won Cocktails for four at Novotel. Winners of the Great Pancake Flip off were The Oracle, winning four tickets to The Biscuit Factory after flipping a pancake 57 times in a minute!
The entire Launchpad team is incredibly grateful for the support from these amazing local businesses and community groups.
Kirsti Wilson, Head of Fundraising and Marketing, said: “It’s brilliant that our Pancake Race has been as wonderful as ever. Every year the race is full of amazing costumes and laughter – and this year was no exception, even with the unfortunate weather. Few will forget the ‘2024 Where’s Wally Wiggle?’!
“We’re also grateful to the hundreds of people who cheered on the runners and made donations at the event – AND to our amazing team of volunteers – the race just wouldn’t be the same without them. Our fun-filled event has a very serious purpose – to raise funds and awareness that we are here for anyone in Reading who has become homeless, or is at risk of losing their home, regardless of circumstances.”
Liz Nicholls chats to the pioneering DJ & record producer Roni Size, 53, ahead of his star turn at Readipop Festival in Reading on 14th July
Q. Hello Roni. What’s your first memory of music?
“I’m fortunate: I was brought up in a family of music because I come from Jamaican descent. Every weekend, whether it was my parents’ house or a cousin’s house they would have a gathering with lots of reggae music, soca, Red Stripes for the adults. We’d be sent to bed early; you could still hear the beats of the bass and the chattering of voices from downstairs. The sounds helped me fall asleep, and they’re embedded into me. I’d wake up in the morning and the house would be back to normal so it would be like some kind of musical dream.”
Q. Can you tell us a bit about Sefton Park Youth Centre & what a difference it made to your life?
“Yes. This was a building I stumbled on by accident with my cousins – we used to wander around St Andrews, where I lived in Bristol. There wasn’t much to do there. I wasn’t a fan of school so I didn’t really go; they didn’t mind, they didn’t care. The youth centre had a bunch of guys and strong-willed women who would ask you what you wanted to do, not tell you what to do, like a curriculum. They got some nets for us to play basketball, but I wasn’t that good because I’m only 5ft8. They asked what else we might like to try and we said photography so some people gravitated towards that. I said I liked music so they got turntables, a sound flow, mixer, some second-hand records and I loved that. It escalated into them building a studio, which became the Basement Project.
I used to spend all my time here, and became one of the tutors. The kids would say ‘what are you doing’ and I’d say ‘well, I’m learning how to scratch, how to mix, how to work the sound flow, work this drum machine…’ and they’d say ‘oh can you show me?’ OK! That’s how I became a youth worker. That was it for me – from there on in I was in the dark basement, making music and showing the kids how to make music. We started to use it as an outreach project and that was my calling, working five days a week, showing people how to make music. So many people who are successful in music in Bristol have gone through Sefton Park.”
Q. The Readipop charity team offer a lot of support with mental health. How do you take good care of your mental health?
“That’s a great question. I’ve gone through stages. You start off making music surrounded by people who are your best friends, who’ve got your back, then you drift apart… and that’s a story in itself. It can affect you mentally. The internet and social media seemed a great way to reconnect with old friends when it came in at the beginning, but it’s not real. I think being on social media is a challenge mentally: people are clicking the camera and smiling, then as soon as the camera’s off they’re dead inside, and that is a real issue. I don’t have the answers but it helps my own mental health to leave my phone off for two days – if I can – and just do my thing, go to the studio, enjoy making music. I keep myself active, have a routine. I’ll get up and do my 20 push-ups or 20 pull-ups and then I’ll make breakfast. I make sure I’ve got something positive to counteract whatever negative is coming; the news doesn’t help. There’s a lot of stuff out there that works against us so find what works for you.”
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Blue Collar Corner have prepared a huge variety of events and extra opening dates for the festive season
For their first New Year’s Eve since opening the venue, Blue Collar are hosting DISCORAMA, a special night to welcome in 2023 with the greatest disco music of all time. The venue will be decorated especially, have extra dancefloor space, NYE cocktails, special NYE menus from the street food traders and all ticketholders will get a glass of bubbly to celebrate at midnight.
On Sunday 12th December, local music festival Are You Listening? Celebrate their first line-up announcement with a Festive Matinée. With acoustic performances from Lilac, Matt Greener, Kito Riley & Buildings on Fire (solo) alongside DJs, this will be Blue Collar Corner’s first live music event and runs between midday and 5pm. Again, as with all December events except New Year’s Eve, entry is free. All England games in the World Cup 2022 will be screened across three screens at the venue as well as the World Cup final on Sunday 18th December. From 10am-3pm on 18th December, Reading’s Indie Christmas Market will take place, with a plethora of local crafts stalls providing last minute Christmas gifts and decorations.
“We’ve had an amazing couple of months since we winterfield Blue Collar Corner with extra covering and heaters and now mulled wine and a fantastic stage for live music, World Cup screenings and guest DJs.” explains Blue Collar’s Glen Dinning. “We love Christmas and have great party DJs lined for every Thursday, Friday and Saturday in December. We’re opening every day in the week before Christmas then from 27th December until New Year’s Eve when our DISCORAMA party will be a massive celebratory night before we close for the first two weeks in January!
Schedule for the rest of December at Blue Collar Corner:
Sat 10th Dec – Rum n’Donuts DJs + DJ Rachael Chrisp
Sun 11th Dec – Are You Listening? Festive Matinée w/ live acts & DJs + Sonning Flowers Wreath Making Workshops (sold out)
Thursday 15th Dec – Party Thursdays w/Twin Sun
Friday 16th Dec – DJ Alfresco
Sat 18th Dec – Reading’s Indie Christmas Market + World Cup Final
Mon 19th Dec – Bonus Christmas sessions 17:00-00:30
Tue 20th Dec – Bonus Christmas sessions 17:00-00:30
Wed 21st Dec – Bonus Christmas session 17:00-00:30
Thu 22nd Dec – Party Thursdays w/DJ Rich Sloman
Fri 23rd Dec – DJ Ryan MacGregor
Sat 24th Dec – Christmas Eve session 11:00-20:00
Tue 27th Dec – Bonus Christmas session 15:00-00:30
Wed 28th Dec – Bonus Christmas session 17:00-00:30
Thu 29th Dec – Party Thursdays w/DJ Rachael Chrisp
Matt Allwright, one of the stars whose recipes are featured in Food & Wellness: The Sobell House Vegetarian Cook Book, shares his thoughts about local life, good causes and consumer rights…
Q. Hi Matt. It’s great that you’ve been involved in the new Sobell House cookbook. What’s your recipe? “It’s the chilli jam I make every year. I grow my own chillis and I never know quite how hot it’s going to be until its done. Last year it was so hot that you just had to show the jar to a piece of cheese, and that was enough, even with the lid on…”
Q. Is there anything you eat or don’t eat? “I eat everything. Not a massive fan of avocado, but I’ll cope. I’m a grateful diner, and I eat with gusto. I had a real problem with beetroot for years, and now it’s one of my favourite things, so it just goes to show nothing’s really off-limits. Christmas is traditional. There is too much at stake to mess with the formula.”
Q. Why is Sobell House a great charity, deserving of support, including yours? “My good friend Tom is the music therapist at Sobell House. They don’t see our last days and weeks as a waiting game. They see it as an opportunity to help find meaning, to tell a story to heal the spirit and calm the mind. I would love to think that when the time comes, we could all have someone to help us write songs, to tend gardens, to do whatever we think is significant, and to give us the chance to share important ideas and feelings with our loved ones. That’s proper work.”
Q. You’re familiar to millions as a defender of consumer rights… Do rogue traders really make your blood boil? “We always start the process by meeting someone who has been affected by the actions of the trader. You can’t ignore that face-to-face experience. From that point the whole team knows it’s their job to confront the rogue to get answers. I don’t’ feel anger, more a sense of duty to hold to account and bring change. I don’t like letting people down, especially when they’ve taken a risk to talk to us. Also: if you are born with the annoying ability to ask questions when running backwards or being jet washed, you’d better use that power for good.”
Q. Do you feel that as a nation we’re bad at fighting for our rights or complaining? “Not everyone feels they can speak out enough when things aren’t right. When someone tries to impose a way of life on us, or harms with their actions, we can be submissive, or worry about the consequences of standing up for ourselves or others. That’s how bullies get their way, and I’ve always grown up hating bullying. Sometimes you need someone to point out what’s wrong, even if they risk being unpopular by doing so. I try to make my point firmly but politely, bearing in mind that my view is not the only one. You’re much better off if you can find middle ground, but with some people that’s just not possible.”
Q. How was your experience of growing up in Berkshire? “Berkshire was always good to me. I was lucky to have a comfortable home in a fun town full of music and friends supported by parents who loved me. I met my wife on the streets of Reading when we were both at school. That’s the most important thing that’s ever happened to me, so thank you, Berkshire.”
Q. What are your favourite aspects of life in Berkshire, and where are your favourite haunts? “I’m lucky that I meet a lot of volunteers through the Pride of Reading Awards and the other organisations I work with. There are so many people who help others because it’s right – not seeking recognition or advancement. These people see the instinctively try to fill the gaps left by society, and they far outweigh the rogues and bullies. Haunts? I love the river. The slipway at Aston near Henley on a spring morning is hard to beat.”
Q. Your dog Ozzy looks cute! Is he? What’s been the most rewarding, and most frustrating, aspect of being a dog owner? “Ozzy is my first dog, and I could never have imagined how wonderful he’d be. He’s transformed family life. Dogs are the greatest gift, like someone decided to parcel up the best bits of humans: loyalty, playfulness and enthusiasm, and then cover them in fur. He barks far too much, eats anything and smells dreadful.”
Q. We’re also supporting Launchpad Reading this month. Why do local heroes working to prevent homelessness also deserve our support, especially at this time of year? “I’ve been a patron of Launchpad for years. The work they do, to help people find homes, and then support them in those homes, is incredible. All charities, particularly local ones, are struggling right now, due to the cost of living crisis. Anything we can do to help Launchpad and others continue and extend their work, will have a huge effect on someone, somewhere, who doesn’t live that far away, and has had some bad luck. So please, donate, volunteer and spread the word.”
Q. Who is your favourite author? “George Orwell. Most people think of the darkness and dystopia of 1984. They don’t always see the humour or the love of nature in his writing which stems from his childhood in Henley and Shiplake. Everywhere tries to lay claim to Orwell, but from clues in his writing it seems to me that Berkshire was where he was happiest, fishing in the river, walking alone through the woods and fields, identifying birds and plants.”
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your love for Bracknell Bees? “The day the ice rink closed was terrible for the community. We loved watching the team play, and being part of the wonderful world of hockey. The players were rough and tough on the ice, but patient and thoughtful with the kids who were learning the game. I imagine they’ll build flats on the site at some point, but the families that live in them won’t have anything as great as the rink to keep them happy.”
Q. Finally, if you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “Just tolerance, really. Understanding that just because someone doesn’t think, sound or look like you, or come from where you do, it doesn’t make them some sort of threat. We might have lost a bit of that.”
The Sobell House Vegetarian Cook Book is out on 8th November. To buy a copy of this 128-page paperback for £17.50 visitSobell House or buy from Waterstones and Amazon.
Housebuilder donates We can Build books to school children to help learn about the built environment
David Wilson Homes is encouraging the next generation of builders to learn all about construction.
The housebuilder, who is behind its Kilners Grange development on Grange Road, Tongham has recently donated 33 copies of it’s We Can Build children’s books to St Michael’s CE Junior School, which were presented during a construction assembly for the children.
The books encourage young people to learn about the built environment. The book includes information about sustainability in housebuilding and the professions available in the industry, delivered through a range of diverse character profiles including Sofia the Site Manager and Ade the Architect.
The book includes information about sustainability in housebuilding and the professions available in the industry
The donation was accompanied by a 30-minute assembly delivered by Tom Purcell, Site Manager for David Wilson Southern Counties. The assembly focused on topics such as the importance of building sustainably, the different materials and tools used to build a home, the different jobs required on site, and the importance of staying safe near a construction site.
Kimberley Benson, Sales and Marketing Director for David Wilson Southern Counties, said: “We want to encourage STEM learning by teaching the children about the roles within the construction industry, in particular the value of housebuilding. The book is a wonderful way to bring our messages to life, as storytelling helps to engage us in different ways and encourage our imagination. The book and assembly offer an easy introduction to housebuilding, which we hope will inspire our next generation of builders!”
The book is a wonderful way to bring our messages to life, as storytelling helps to engage us in different ways and encourage our imagination.
Mrs Jones, Headteacher at St Michael’s CE Junior School, added: “It is encouraging to see David Wilson Southern Counties invest in the future generations through this assembly and book donation. So many of our children love to build and make things, so this is such a fun way for the children to think about the development on their doorsteps, and what different people do in the construction industry. Meeting someone who works in the industry may inspire some of our future architects and builders.”
We Can Build was designed by recent graduates from David Wilson Southern Counties ASPIRE graduate programme. A number of books were purchased by the housebuilder, and donated to schools and organisations across the South, with all funds raised to be donated to the Prince’s Trust.
Reading Biscuit Factory independent cinema is one of several across the country previewing Olga in aid of the DEC
Reading Biscuit Factory is joining the show of support for Ukraine with a series of preview charity screenings of Olga.
Fifteen-year-old Ukrainian gymnast Olga, exiled in Switzerland, is trying to fit in with her new team in her new home. But as she prepares for the European Championship, the Ukrainian people stage a revolution.
Olga is left a powerless, distant bystander as her mother, an investigative journalist, faces danger as she challenges a brutal regime.
Can Olga reconcile her personal goals with the history unfolding in her homeland?
National healthcare charity Sue Ryder, which runs Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, has this month launched an appeal asking people to help them fill families’ final days together with love.
The charity is asking people of Berkshire to support their ‘Room Full of Love’ campaign, so Sue Ryder Nurses and expert care teams can continue to go above and beyond, helping to give families a better goodbye.
Families like David’s.
They made it possible for our family to be together
David’s family were supported by the Sue Ryder Hospice at Home team, who ensured he was able to spend his final days in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by photos and memories, with his wife and daughter by his side.
David’s daughter, Joanna, said: “When we found out we had been allocated care from the Sue Ryder Hospice at Home team, I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Where I live, the words “Sue Ryder” are synonymous with care, love, support and sanctuary. Knowing we would be supported by the team meant that Mum and I felt able to take the decision to care for Dad at home in the last weeks of his life.
Some of the care team brought humour – much needed at such a difficult time. Others connected with us on shared interests and experiences. In their first couple of visits, our carers took time to find out about Dad – where he used to work, what his interests were, and to look at old family photos. He wasn’t just a patient to them: he was a person.
It takes a very special person to carry out the work that the Hospice at Home team does, every day, for families like ours across the country. They made it possible for us to be together as a family in one of the most difficult times of our lives, and I will always, always be grateful and thankful for their love and care for us.”
Going above and beyond
“We often talk about the photos that people have around them and I really think patients like there to be a bit of normality”, shares Sue Ryder Nurse Melissa, who was one of the Sue Ryder care team who helped care for David and his family.
“I remember when we suggested it was time for David to have a hospital bed, the family all got together and rearranged the front room and it became a beautiful bedroom for him.
On the day David died we called their vicar for them and he came and I hope that gave them some comfort. David kept his Bible beside his bed, so we knew his faith was important to him.
When the family stepped out so we could perform the last offices we picked a rose from a bush in the garden and laid it on his pillow and placed his Bible under his hand. It’s a way for us to say that we have been privileged to look after your family.”
A room full of love
The past year has been difficult for everyone, with many families experiencing loss. Sue Ryder wants to take away some of the tough things that come with losing a loved one, helping to fill rooms with music, much-loved pets, or the people who mean the most, to help families have a better goodbye.
By supporting the appeal you can help Sue Ryder take the pain, stress, and uncertainty away through their medical expertise, emotional intelligence and practical support, leaving families like David’s free to focus on what’s really important – love.
To help Sue Ryder Nurses fill a room with love, click here
Abby Lacey set up Mental Health Mates – Reading after needing help herself, the support group helps anyone suffering as well as their family and friends
Founded in 2016 by author and journalist, Bryony Gordon, Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups, run by people who experience their own mental health issues, meeting regularly to walk, connect and share without fear or judgement.
In early 2019, being a fan of her writing and podcast, as well as suffering from anxiety for most of my life, I decided to check out Mental Health Mates. The nearest to me were about 20 miles in either direction, so after about five minutes of procrastination, I contacted them and offered to start my own group.
I know from experience that mental illness magnifies through isolation. I also know that being outside in nature is great for your mental health, so to incorporate walking and talking to someone, sharing with them or simply walking beside them – just connecting – is the first step to recovery.
In May 2019 I set up Mental Health Mates – Reading, organising bi-monthly weekend walks for people suffering from mental illnesses, along with their family and friends, in and around Reading.
We were lucky enough to have almost a year of walking together before the pandemic hit, but we’ve carried on walking when we can, and when we can’t, we meet bi-weekly through Zoom. The Zoom calls are a great way to check in, in a really informal environment. There is no structure to our calls – we chat about everything from TV to politics, from fashion to medication – we cover it all! There is never an expectation to talk and if you don’t want the camera on, that’s fine too.
We have built a great community of like-minded people, and we have visitors on the calls from all over the country as I, along with other walk leaders, actively advertise that all are welcome.
When we are able to get together, our accessible walks are as gentle or as brisk as the group would like, so we cater for everyone, covering about two miles over an hour.
We are truly spoilt for choice for locations in the area from beautiful lakes such as Dinton Pastures and Whiteknights Lake at the University of Reading, to the River Thames at Caversham. We’re hoping to expand our offering to west Reading too in the early summer too, so we can reach even more people.
Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominees Max & Ivan, as seen in BBC One’s W1A and heard on BBC Radio 4’s The Casebook of Max & Ivan bring their show Commitment to Reading tomorrow (6th February).
Peter Anderson caught up with the hilarious duo…
Q. How did you both discover your talents for comedy & improv?
Ivan: “ Max grew up listening to, watching and reading comedy from an early age – he always dreamed of becoming a performer and through dedication and devotion he got to where he is now.”
Max: “ As for Ivan, we’re both hoping he’ll discover his talents soon…”
Ivan: “ Fingers crossed! That’s one of my talents, incidentally.”
Q. You met while studying at Royal Holloway. Does that mean acting and comedy is to some extent at Plan B?
Max: “ We both studied theatre, so this is Plan A! The fact that we don’t have a Plan B is what worries our parents the most (and us to be honest….).”
Ivan: “ Getting a real job is Plan B! And I’ve no idea what the next letter of the alphabet is, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Q. How well did you know each other before you came together at the radio station?
Ivan: “ When we met at an audition for a play (in the first week of university) we got talking about comedy and within a couple of weeks we started working together.”
Max: “ Our friendship and working partnership are one and the same and we look forward to it continuing (until the eventual day it falls apart in bitter, furious litigation).”
Q. Who are your inspirations?
Max: “ The League of Gentlemen, Brass Eye, Little Britain, Key & Peele, French & Saunders, Julia Davis.
Ivan: “ Max.”
Q. What can the audience at South Street expect from the show?
Max: “ If you come to see us at South Street you’ll witness the TRUE story of how I attempted to reform Ivan’s teenage band for one final gig on the night of his stag. It’s an incredible story that has to be seen to be believed, filled with an array of embarrassing photos and videos from our childhood.”
Ivan: “ It also made a number of publications’ Top 10 lists for best comedy shows of 2019 – so we can guarantee that it’s FUNNY! We won’t name those publications out of respect to the Round & About magazine, but feel free to Google – sorry, use a prominent search engine of your choice – if you don’t believe us.”
Q. I know Kieran has performed there before have either of you?
Ivan: “ We haven’t! However when we asked Kieran Hodgson (our director) what to expect, he said: ‘Reading South Street is one of my favourite venues, with a discerning clientele and access to a really good canalside Pizza Express for post-show nosh. You’re also under directorial orders to see the weird muscly lion statue during the afternoon. Break a leg! Kieran. X’
Max: “ His directorial brilliance knows no bounds!”
Q. How do you go about writing/creating the framework for the show?
Max: “ With our previous shows, it’s always been a torturous process involving far too many hours spent in a small room drinking lots of coffee and scribbling on hundreds of Post-it notes.”
Ivan: “ We thought that seeing as Commitment is based on a real story it’d be different this time round… but unfortunately not.”
Q. If you had free rein to pick another actor to join you, who would you pick?
Max: “ We have a running joke with James Acaster that he’ll one day appear halfway through our show as a neighbour, saying his catchphrase of ‘hello boys’ – it’d have to be fulfilling that weird dream I guess!”
Ivan: “ You never know – he might turn up in Reading!*”
Q. How do you relax away from acting?
Ivan: “ We write an eight-part geo-political comedy thriller podcast of course!”
Max: “ Why not give it a listen: it’s called Max & Ivan: Fugitives and it’s nothing like our live show…”
Q. I guess there is a lot of driving between gigs, what do you listen to; music, audio-books?
Max: “ John, our tour manager and driver extraordinaire** is actually a trained musical director, so we’ve actually spent most of our travelling time together learning three-part harmonies to songs…”
Ivan: “ We’re quite tempted to spend our final tour date performing some rousing folk songs instead of Commitment (although we’re not sure what the good people of Norwich would think of that).”
* he won’t.
**John’s driving is actually quite dangerous and when we’re not learning harmonies we’re reminding him how roundabouts work, or warning him that he’s about to crash into a parked car.
There are so many events going on in Reading for the whole family this month it’s like having an extra present every day!
It’s all set to be a magical Christmas in Reading – the lights have already been switched on, the big blue whale has paraded down Broad Street and ArtLine Street Market has showcased the town’s local artists.
December begins with Reading’s Living Advent Calendar until 24th when a host of magical events will take place every day ranging from sing-alongs to craft workshops, as well as a wide variety of shows to suit all ages – there’s so much to do some days have more than one ‘window’ to open! Full details at http://www.magicalreading.co.uk/project/readings-living-advent-calendar/ and funds raised will help local charities Homestart, Readifood and Reading Samaritans.
A show with a difference can be enjoyed at Yates in Harris Shopping Arcade on 16th December when Cinderella: A Wicked Mother of a Show takes over, described as “an outrageous site-specific show inspired by panto” you are encouraged to think “Tarantino meets Shameless, meets ELF” and all in a pub, sounds intriguing…
The Pentahotel in Oxford Road is holding a show to entertain the kids on 22nd with My Shadow and Me before it looks at Cinema in Silhouette where stand-up comedy meets shadow puppetry. And after you’ve enjoyed all that there’s more to see in The Snow Show with a variety of fun family performances in Broad Street from 4.30pm.
Children’s favourite Mr Tumble stars in Cinderella at The Hexagon (more in our panto feature) and A Christmas Carol with a twist is at South Street Arts Centre from 10th to 30th December.
All that and The Oracle will be transformed into a magical frozen wonderland where you can watch a series of wintry ice-capades on the rink on Saturdays at 4.30pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.
Make sure you leave some time too to take a break from all the fun and shopping for a festive feet up at the many restaurants and bars in Reading.