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Monday, 30 November 2009

Carols in November with Bristol Brunel Lions Carol Sleigh

Yes, the scary looking character about to hijack Father Christmas's Carol Sleigh is actually me.

To herald in December, The Bristol Brunel Lions Club launched the first night of their Carol Sleigh, complete with tirelessly waving Father Christmas, a new van, and lights.

We knocked on doors, collecting for Elmfield School for Deaf Children. Not only were we raising money for a very worth while local cause, but it was heart-warming, in the cold night, to see how much parents and children alike enjoyed the carols. As one mum said, " In 10 years, you've always come to visit us, you've never let us down." And more than one person said it was, for them, the beginning of Christmas. And so despite the chill, there were quite a few little people to be seen, running behind the carol bus in pyjamas.

The Bristol Brunel Lions Club has raised literally tens of thousands of pounds for local and international charities over the years. Their slogan is "Ordinary People. Amazing Things." Amazing, and often simple things, like a carol sleigh every year, make the world of difference.

If you'd like to find out more about donating, or joining the Lions, call 0845 833 5848

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Aladdin Comes to Southmead

It was filthy weather today. The perfect day for an afternoon pantomime. And dozens of other people obviously thought so too as Southmead Community Hall was absolutely packed full for the performance of Aladdin today.

Local man Cliff Howell organised the event to raise money for the Southmead Carol Bus Appeal, which raises money for local causes and sports and community groups. This year the pantomime was more successful than ever, with extra chairs having to be brought in, and lots of hushed activity at the back of the hall with teas and coffees being served, and light-sticks being sold to the kids.

What was particularly good to see was the complete age-range of people in the hall - from babies to toddlers, teenagers, young adults right up to grand-parents. Everyone was enjoying the show. In truth, I remember thoroughly hating pantomimes when I was little. I used to be dragged along by my parents as part of the Christmas ritual at the Bristol Hippodrome -I think because my Gran loved the panto. But either I've grown into them, or the production we saw of Aladdin was a cut above what I saw when I was tiny - because I enjoyed every minute of it, along with everyone else.

If you'd like to donate to the Southmead Carol Bus Appeal, click HERE!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Swinging Sixties at Shirehampton's Christmas bash

There's always one, isn't there. Most people attending SCAF's superb annual Christmas Dinner at Kings Weston House on Saturday interpreted the theme 'Swinging Sixties' with a sophisticated nod to the decade - perhaps a slightly shorter skirt than usual, with knee-high boots, or a tasteful 'flower-power' motif in the button hole.

Not our elected Council representative for a ward that shall remain nameless- No. They entered into the swing of things in full wig-wearing style. But everyone was polite enough not to notice.

The SCAF Christmas dinner has become a real annual highlight. The picture here shows the braver guests of the evening attempting a group-version of The 12 Days Of Christmas karaoke style.

It is very good to see the whole community enjoying one of the hidden gems of Bristol - Kings Weston House. An historic beauty of a building, resurrected from the near-dead by John Hardy and his team.

Just the day before, Lord Heseltine had dropped in to see Kings Weston House on his way through Bristol and had admired the suspended staircase - one of just two of its kind in existence. Thankfully there were no luminous shirts or awful wigs in evidence on that occasion - but whether it's a grand event, or a more relaxed evening with the community and friends, Kings Weston House is always a unique, and wonderful venue.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Southmead Rugby Club celebrates new changing rooms -with Darth Vader!

On Sunday, I spent the day at Southmead Rugby Club's celebration of the opening of their brand new changing rooms. I visited the changing rooms only a few weeks ago, and to be honest, when I saw them, I couldn't believe they were going to be ready in time. But thanks to the sterling work of Barry Jakes, Mickey Pierce, Gary Mills, Jason Silcox and the team, I was proved spectacularly wrong! It was particularly impressive because many of those working on building the changing rooms were either local men, or members of the club, working for a reduced fee to get it done for the community.

They laid on a fantastic day; a match with international players, then celebrations in the club house, followed by a superb dinner. Southmead man, Dave Prowse, was the guest of honour - better known as Darth Vader. He gave a speech, including some new words to the Star Wars theme, (which you can see exclusively here thanks to youtube!) and auctioned off his last Light Sabre, which raised well over £2000 for the club.

The dinner was followed by a performance from local band, Hooper - and a good time was had by all.

It was a superb day, and was a good demonstration of the real community spirit of Southmead in action! Well done and thank to all involved.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

We will remember them

At 10.30am, it started to pour down. But the stalwart crowds who were assembled to pay their respects to the fallen brave, and our forces fighting today were not to be put off by a bit of rain.
As we laid our wreaths and sang hymns, and finished with the national anthem, I doubt there were many of us there who were not thinking of the enormous sacrifices our armed forces are taking at this very moment. Our thoughts today go out to all those who have served and fallen in the past, and all those serving in our armed forces today, and their families. Today is a special day of remembrance, but every day is a day to be acutely mindful of the magnitude of the risks being taken, and the sacrifices being made by our armed forces.