A tour of the iconic Lloyds of London building and meal for four in the city is just one of the prizes being offered at a charity auction for businesspeople in Marlborough this month.
The money-can't-buy opportunity will be offered at the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce Olympic Jubilee Ball on Saturday, May 19.
Other prizes include:
- Golf for four followed by lunch
- Tickets to the Marlborough College gala performances and £160 towards a course at the summer school
- Two tickets to Wembley to watch the England autumn international
- John Lewis vouchers worth £250
- Marlborough Jazz Festival Stroller Tickets
- A year's free advertising on Marlborough News Online, worth £100
- A portrait by the artist Yvonne Cannane
- A photography voucher for £149 from Peter Davies Photography
The black tie event is being held to mark passing of the Olympic torch through Marlborough on May 23 and the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations in June.
Ticket holders will enjoy a champagne reception, three course dinner, live music and a charity auction in aid of Marlborough-based Swift Medics.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Swift Medics, a charity of volunteer doctors from hospital and general practice who provide what is known as ‘pre-hospital emergency care’.
The Medics provide emergency care at the scene of serious road traffic accidents and other life threatening medical emergencies including falls from a height, serious burns and incidents where casualties are unconscious or trapped.
The event will be held on Saturday, May 19 from 7pm to 1am. Tickets are £40, available from Chamber president Paul Shimell at Specsavers or from committee member Effie Robins of Joules. Both shops are on High Street, near the town hall.
A Marlborough man who lost his job with computer giant IBM has set up his own business, recycling unwanted PCs.
Simon Crisp (34), the founder of Green Machine Computers, collects old PCs and electronic equipment for free and refurbishes them be used by families on low incomes, students, or anyone in need of a computer for around £100.
And for each machine put back on the market, the company donates a percentage to charity – Marlborough-based Afrikaya and Helen & Douglas House are among the recent beneficiaries.
Simon said: “Being made redundant was a complete shock and almost broke me. To make it worse I was a long term temp, so got less than a month’s pay redundancy.
“It was tough at first as we had no income at all, two young children and an older one at senior school. After a week of stress and worry about looking for a new job I decided I never wanted to work for one of the big IT companies again and decided to start my own.”
Simon decided to start Green Machine Computers after spotting a gap in the market, and because he was annoyed that “the machines that often got destroyed at work at the end of their lives were often better than the ones I had at home, yet company policy seemed to be remove these from circulation to be dismantled."
“If you're on benefits and your washing machine blows up you’re pointed to a company like Refurbiz in Devizes, which offers second hand nearly new white goods for a low cost, but there is not a company, that offers this for computers,” said Simon.
“That’s when Green Machine Computers was born.”
The firm, which is now six months old, has collected and refurbished computers from around 30 companies, schools and charities across the area.
Recently, Green Machine Computers – which operates from a workshop at Membury Business Park, near Lambourn - was able to offer a laptop and mobile phones to a community in the Gambia.
The laptop was donated to Abdoulie Joku, a member of the Parent Teacher Association at a nursery school in the Gambia with which Afrkiaya is working.
Geoff Miles from Afrikaya explained: "Abdoulie is trainer in the Gambian Army and has recently started an IT course to improve his career prospects when he leaves the army.
"He asked us if Afrikaya could provide him with an old laptop to enable him to take best advantage of the course, otherwise they had to share 1 between 6 of them, and Simo kindly donated one."
To donate or buy a computer, log on to www.green-machine.org
or call Green Machine Computers on 01488 670350.
The first major event in the ballooning calendar celebrated its big 4-0 in the skies above the Savernake Forest this morning.
The 40th annual Icicle Meet saw around 30 hot air balloons take off from Warren Farm, near St Katharine's, over the space of a couple of hours – a vast improvement on 2011 when only six were able to take flight in windy conditions.
The ascents were a welcome sight to spectators and organisers after the pilots decided not to attempt lift-off on Saturday.
Organiser Pete Bish explained: “The perfect conditions for the Icicle Meet are clear blue skies and hard ground.”
“The weather on Saturday was deemed unfavourable, but as the forecast for the following day was better the pilots opted for a Sunday launch.”
The annual event – held on the first weekend of the year after New Year's Day– is well-known within the ballooning community, but unlike many balloon festivals it is not advertised as a public event.
As a result, members of the public who do pop along find themselves in the midst of the action as balloons are unpacked from trailers, burners are noisily fired and the colourful canopies are inflated.
Among the star attractions at this year's event was the BT Olympics balloon, branded to promote the communication giant's sponsorship of the 2012 games.
The first Icicle Meet was held near Newbury in 1973, when John Noakes of BBC's Blue Peter filmed in a balloon.
In 1978 it became the largest hot air balloon meet ever outside the United States with 85 balloons making 179 flights, and in 1989 a record 143 balloons flew.
In 1993 the event moved to Warren Farm, when 97 balloons took flight. A year later the event hit the headlines when an airship crashed into a tree in the flying field. The crew were rescued by the fire brigade.
It's not a race... but for the record this was the first balloon up
Inflating a balloon is a team effort
There was snow in the air... if only from the Snow Business balloon
The Union Flag on the tether of another balloon made for this interesting Olympic-themed picture
The BT Olympics balloon in flight
A cluster of balloons over the Savernake Forest
Clothes shops Viyella and CC will be showing off their spring and summer collections in a fashion show at Marlborough Town Hall on Thursday, May 10 from 7pm.
The event, which will be held in aid of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, will also feature makeup tips from Clarins.
Tickets, priced at £5, are available from Viyalla and CC at 8/9 High Street, Marlborough or on 01672 514855.
Andy Davies, ebullient manager of Marlborough’s Waitrose, will be missing today (Tuesday) from the supermarket he has made the magnet for shoppers over almost five years and one of the chain’s most successful.
Instead he will be on a train heading for London and the Victoria headquarters of the John Lewis Partnership on a mission to enhance the careers of the 80,000 partners, who are all part of Britain’s biggest department store group.
His talents have been recognised with a boost in his career with a six months secondment to roll out across the business a pioneering system he has developed in Marlborough to give them the flexibility to change and expand their careers.
“It’s Marlborough in the forefront again – absolutely,” he told Marlborough News Online. “We piloted the project with 25 members of my team here, from senior partners right through to non-management members.”
“What is exciting about it for me is that it keeps alive, on a day to day basis, that spirit of partnership that our founder Spedan Lewis created for the group, which is only set to grow as we get bigger and bigger -- and better -- at what we do.”
It is exciting moment too for Richard Clare as he takes over from Andy (pictured right), who presented Richard with his first manager’s badge in the Marlborough Waitrose store before departing on the eve of the Easter weekend.
Richard only left the Army – he was an infantry staff officer in The Rifles looking after finances – in March last year and became a partner at the Marlborough Waitrose last July.
It was for family reasons that he decided to leave and discovered that Waitrose was looking for store managers at an officers’ association symposium.
“It seemed to me a fabulous opportunity,” said 35-year-old Richard, who lives at Kintbury. “Yes, it’s obviously very different from bullets and bombs. It’s baked beans now but it’s still about the managing process.”
“In the Army life is about drills. And we save lives too. Here in Marlborough it’s about drills too that us efficient and leading the partners through that process. That’s where there really is a synergy between the two.”
It will be an extremely busy six months standing in Andy Davies’ shoes – he is due back in October – since this summer will see major events in the town to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee and the launch of the Olympic Games.
“So there is a great opportunity for me to get behind the activities that will be going on and help the town celebrate those occasions in style,” said Richard.
Looking back, Andy recalls that it was only a year ago that he organised the revamp of the Waitrose store with the introduction of new energy-saving refrigeration and new products too, as well the store’s new cafe.
He has also seen changes in shopping patterns as a result of the recession, customers now shopping more frequently for fewer goods – there have been fewer of those overflowing trolleys at the checkout – but no reduction in overall takings.
“We now have a much more dynamic store which has done extremely well,” said Andy. “It has been a more positive year and this week the 220 partners will celebrate with their own AGM here in Marlborough, look back on the year and toast the success of the branch.”