Superheroes assemble in Sutton Park

Hundreds gather for fundraising walk for St Giles Hospice

Hundreds of heroes assembled on Sutton Park on to raise vital funds at the St Giles Hospice’s Hero Walk.
The fun day on Saturday 24 September attracted over 100 brightly-dressed walkers and their doggy sidekicks, and helped to raise vital funds for patients, and their families, who are living with a terminal illness.
Amongst the crowd of heroes was seven-year-old Joshua Motum-Reynolds, who took part in Hero Walk after his grandma died at St Giles Hospice just a few days before the event.
He said: “I wanted to take part so that I could raise money in memory of my grandma – I’ve raised £565.”
Josh attended the event with support from his brother, mum and dad. Josh’s dad continued to praise the care that St Giles Hospice staff provided for his mother, badging them as “awesome”.
Walkers enjoyed refreshments and family photos at the ‘Hero Hub’ before the army of fancy dress fundraisers set off on their walk at 11am, whilst being cheered on by the Mayor of Sutton Coldfield, Councillor Janet Cairns.


She said: “I was absolutely thrilled to attend St Giles Hospice’s first event in Sutton Coldfield – it was a fantastic event and the stalls and the volunteers supporting were absolutely brilliant. Everyone who took part is a hero for raising money for St Giles Hospice.”
Throughout the four kilometre walk, heroes that attended were tasked with a series of challenges to complete along the way from spotting the St Giles superhero, to posing for a super selfie.
The event featured entertainment from the Rock Choir, along with a warm up with Vanessa from Core300 in Sutton Coldfield and some motivational anthems from DJ Rob Taylor.
Six-year-old Leo Garsed was the first person to cross the finish line. He completed the walk with his mum, dad and brother, Enso, to raise money for St Giles Hospice.
Zoe Wright, Events Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “We had a fantastic day for our first ever St Giles event in Sutton Coldfield – thank you to our amazing fundraisers who crossed the finish line and picked up their medals.
“Each year the Hero Walk gives people the opportunity to pull on their capes and show they care by celebrating the hero in their own lives. They can be members of their family, someone they’ve lost, nurses, teachers – anyone who has made a difference to them who deserves a special thank you.”
If you’d like to take part in an event or raise money for St Giles Hospice, please visit www.stgileshospice.com/events for further details.

Free wills offer to support hospice

Solicitors support ‘Make Your Will’ campaign in aid of St Giles

St Giles Hospice is giving people the chance to make their will for free during ‘Make Your Will Month, with two Sutton Coldfield solicitors’ offices taking part.

Throughout October, local solicitors have generously offered their time and expertise free of charge to provide a number of appointments for anyone to make or amend their will at a reduced cost, in return for a suggested donation to St Giles Hospice.

To take advantage of the offering, simply book your appointment with one of the participating solicitors and mention ‘St Giles Hospice Make Your Will Month’.

 At your appointment you will be asked to make your suggested minimum donation – £100 for a straightforward single will or £150 for a straightforward mirror will.

Sally Redmond, In Memory and Legacy Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “Make Your Will Month is an ideal opportunity to make or update your existing will, whilst supporting the future of St Giles Hospice.

“Writing a will ensures that your family know what your wishes are, about your plans for your belongings and about funeral arrangements if you choose to include them. It can spare your loved ones from having to make important or complicated decisions at a distressing time.

“We’re hugely grateful to the local solicitors offering their time free of charge to support St Giles, and all the money raised from the donations will go towards providing vital care and support to our patients and their families.

“Appointments are limited and are on a first come, first served basis, so please get in touch soon to make sure you don’t miss out.”

There is no obligation to include St Giles Hospice in your will, but if you chose to, a gift of just one per cent would have an incredible impact on St Giles and ensure that its services are available not just now, but for generations to come.

The firms taking part include:

  • Astle Paterson, Burton on Trent
  • Enoch Evans LLP Solicitors, Sutton Coldifeld
  • Woollastons Solicitors, Sutton Coldfield,
  • Red Lake (UK) Ltd Solicitors, Tamworth
  • Rutherfords LLP Solicitors, Tamworth
  • Pickerings Solicitors, Tamworth
  • Somerfield & Co, Lichfield
  • Davisons Law, Lichfield
  • King Will’s Wills, Stourbridge

For more information on Make Your Will Month and to book your
appointment, visit http://www.stgileshospice.com/willmonth

Foster & Allen in first show at Sutton town hall

Irish duo take centre stage

Popular Irish duo Foster & Allen make their first ever appearance in Sutton Coldfield in November when they bring a wonderful night of melodic Irish music to the town hall main stage. 

The ever-popular duo – Tony Allen and Mick Foster – formed in 1975 and have enjoyed over 40 years of success in record and CD sales, TV performances and their hugely popular live concerts. 

They have released over 30 albums, many of which entered the UK Albums Chart.

The legendary partnership have performed sell-out shows all over the world. Their performance at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall will be part of their 20 date UK tour, entitled “We’ll Meet Again”. Tony Allen and Mick Foster will be supported by their regular full live Irish band. 

 Hear the masters of Irish ballads and traditional Irish music perform their many top hits, including “Old Flames”, “I Will Love You All My Life”, “After All These Years” and the classics, “Bunch of Thyme” and “Maggie” plus many more. 

They will include a rich array of well-known Irish songs in their Town Hall performance, including “The Fields of Athenry”, and other Celtic classics that will bring the green fields of Ireland a little nearer to Sutton Coldfield. 

Following on from the appearance of The Kilkennys at the Town Hall in April, which completely sold out six weeks in advance, tickets are expected to be in high demand for Foster & Allen. 

Tickets are on sale now from the Sutton Coldfield Town Hall box office in person (Monday to Friday, 10am – 2pm), online at: www.suttoncoldfieldtownhall.com or by ringing the box office on: 0121 296 9543.

New wards open at Sutton hospital

Good Hope increases capacity with 48 beds

Pressure on Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield caused by the pandemic has been eased with the opening of two new wards. Both opened within days of each other at the Rectory road site and will accommodate 48 patients, helping the NHS get back on track, following the impact of COVID-19.

The new wards will allow the extra bed capacity to be realised within the existing hospital estate, with wards 14 and 17 moving to occupy the newly- built ward spaces.

Ward 14 (Stroke) has moved into the new ground floor ward (Ward 28), with surgery moving into the new first floor ward, now Ward 29 on Friday 26 August.

The space Ward 14 and 17 vacate will then be reorganised and optimised for its new uses, providing the much-needed boost to the number of beds available to treat patients.

Construction of the new wards began in March 2022 and took just under six months to complete, with more than 70 lorries delivering the bulk of the ward in modules, during a single impressive bank holiday weekend in May.

Waiting lists across the NHS have grown to the highest levels ever seen owing to the pandemic, and this was particularly serious in Birmingham, with hospitals seeing the highest number of inpatients with COVID-19 anywhere in the country.

This led to more than 17,000 people waiting two years or more for a procedure at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) in the autumn of 2021.

But by July this year, the Trust had brought that number down to fewer than 100, with the remainder waiting for reasons of patient choice or complexity of treatment.

The Trust is now focused on bringing down the number of patients waiting more than 78 weeks for a procedure; while also working to improve other measures, such as a reduction in ambulance handover delays, and improvements to its cancer performance measures.

New wards have already opened elsewhere in the Trust, with two wards having opened at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) in February.

A further ward will open at QEHB in September, and two new wards will open this winter at Heartlands Hospital.

PREMIUM MAZDA POWERS IN

Mazda CX-60

By Bill McCarthy

Mazda’s continuing moves to compete in the premium sector has gathered pace with the new CX-60 flagship its first plug-in hybrid.

A stylish SUV with a range of just under 40 miles on electric power only, it is aimed firmly at the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes, with a classy interior and an impressive range of standard kit.

There are three models, Exclusive-Line, Homura and Takumi with a starting price of £43,950 rising to £48,050. All come with four-wheel drive and eight-speed auto transmission.

Mazda makes some of the best looking SUVs around and the CX-60 is no different with its sleek profile, prominent grille flanked by slim light clusters, roof bars and stylish alloy wheels.

The newcomer makes much of its Japanese heritage with its ‘Crafted in Japan’ theme, with the interior on the range topping Takumi featuring natural wood grain and high quality Japanese style woven fabrics.

They are clever alright, but I preferred the more normal soft-touch finish on the other two models.

All feature leather upholstery and heated front seats, while the cockpit-style dash features digital console and a central screen which controls functionality like navigation, infotainment through the high end Bose system, and smartphone connectivity, using a rotary controller next to the gear lever.

Other switches and controls are robust and logically placed and it feels as classy as anything in the premium sector.

Standard kit is impressive even with the ‘entry’ model with the usual powered and electric aids, including heated steering wheel and front seats and head-up display. Move up the grades and get you more equipment.

It packs plenty of power with Its combination of Skyactiv-G 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, 29 kW electric motor and 17.8 kWh high-capacity battery.

Mazda Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) offers a choice of five drive modes: Normal, Sport, Off-Road, Towing and EV, the latter allowing purely electric-powered driving. 

As an SUV it is also highly practical, offering plenty of space for five occupants together with a large 520-litre boot which opens up into a cavernous space with the rear seats folded.

It took a large gazebo, with all the bits and pieces and with plenty of space left to spare.

Performance is impressive with a combined 327PS available and a torque figure of 500Nm, delivering strong pulling power and making the most powerful road car ever from Mazda.

It blasts to 60mph in under six seconds but still delivers excellent economy, with a theoretical maximum fuel consumption of 188mpg and emissions of 33 g/km. This means low tax and Benefit in Kind taxation at just 12 per cent.

On a mixed circuit of roads and hills, with engine and electric motor working together, the more realistic figure showed at around the mid-50s mpg. However, for shorter journeys on electric power alone, then huge mpg figures are achievable.

When EV power is exhausted also allows for the engine to kick in and charge the battery, for instance if you are approaching a congestion or low carbon area and need to switch back to electric only.

On the move, the car is quiet enough except when you floor the throttle there is a pleasant growl from the engine. Gear shifts are generally smooth, but sometimes slightly jerky when feathering the accelertor. There is a little wind noise and the large wheels, up to 20-inch, can mean significant road noise on poorer surfaces. But it also offers excellent manoeuvrability for such a big vehicle with an excellent turning circle.


On the road, the car handles well and features Mazda’s Kinetic Posture Control technology which mitigates body roll when cornering by braking the inside rear wheel to draw the car body downwards, so it does feel stable when cornering.

This became apparent on a prolonged drive around Welsh mountain routes, where the car clung limpet-like to the road through hairpins and sweeping bends.

All Mazdas are packed with safety kit with a comprehensive array of airbags, while the newcomer adds a new 360-degree monitor with extended field of view at low speeds; Hill Descent Control (HDC); Adaptive Cruise Control (i-ACC), and Traffic Sign Recognition.

Two option packs are available across all grades at £1,000 and £1,100 respectively. The Convenience Pack adds extra interior lighting and sockets, a 360-degree camera, privacy glass and wireless phone charging and Driver Assistance Pack, which adds adding adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise control (adding up to semi-autonomous driving capability) and cross-traffic alert front and rear.

But even that extra cost keeps it below its German rivals for similar spec, which is the whole point really. Like the Volvo XC-60, it is a viable and attractive alternative.

The new generation straight-six 3.0-litre e-Skyactiv X petrol and 3.3-litre e-Skyactiv D diesel engines, which feature M Hybrid Boost – Mazda’s 48V mild hybrid system, will join the CX-60 range in the future.

Chomping at the bit

World’s biggest T-Rex wows Sutton Coldfield town centre

Sutton Coldfield town centre was transformed into Jurassic Park for a day on August Bank Holiday Monday when a special prehistoric visitor roared in.

‘Chomp’ – said to be the world’s biggest, most realistic T-Rex – was the town centre from 11am-2pm and he wowed the crowds in the packed town centre.

Children and their parents clamoured to be pictured with the dinosaur as he patrolled the town centre.

The prehistoric VIP was  part of the new Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID programme of year-round events which aims to encourage more people to choose the town centre as a destination to spend time, eat, drink, shop and relax

The free event was organised by Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID), the programme of events also includes a new monthly Farmer’s Market.

BID Manager Michelle Baker said: “We’re aiming to make Sutton Coldfield town centre a big attraction, and they don’t come much bigger than Chomp, who is the world’s biggest, most realistic and friendliest Tyrannosaurus Rex!


Aldi gets the go-ahead for new Sutton store

 An artist’s impression of how the new store and car park will look

Store to be built at former Waitrose

Mere Green in Sutton Coldfield is to get its second discount supermarket after plans for a new Aldi were approved by Birmingham City Council.

The new store will create 40 jobs and will join Lidl, Sainsbury’s and M&S Market Hall, as well as Poundland to a lesser extent a wide choice of grocery shopping.

It will. be built within three years on the Waitrose site in Belwell Lane in Mere Green, which will see the former supermarket building demolished. 

Also set to go will be the neighbouring three-storey Atlas House, which used to house Flints bar at the ground level. The council ’s planning department approved the proposal on August 12, with Aldi given three years to build the new supermarket. 

The new-build Aldi will be a ‘modest scale supermarket’ so the German chain says. It will be there to fulfil a ‘neighbourhood shopping role’.

Planners set some standard conditions for the development with Aldi asked to build the store according to its amended plans, it must submit a contamination remediation scheme and contaminated land verification report. It is also required to provide details on how drainage will be dealt with. 

The planning statement said: “[It will] remove a dated and overbearing structure which dominates the Belwell Lane frontage and replace it with a food store of an appropriate scale and enhanced design that engages with the surrounding environment.”

Trust is in the corner for boxing club

Action at Amateur Boxing Club, Rectory ABC which has benefited from grants

SUTTON COLDFIELD CHARITABLE TRUST PAVES WAY FOR DEVELOPMENTS AND COMMUNITY PROJECTS

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, the organisation that awards grants to local groups and charities to alleviate hardship and support other needs in the community, has provided several grants to Amateur Boxing Club, Rectory ABC.

The grants, which in total reach almost £100,000 since the first in 2013, have gone towards extensive improvements at the club, including extending the club to a second room, and have allowed for the facilities to be updated to provide a safe and functional environment for local boxers to train. 

The not-for-profit club was launched and is managed by Phil Brennan, who said: “We are extremely lucky to have grants like this available. These funds which go towards rent, club improvements, putting on shows and things like minibuses provide us with the reassurance that the club can remain open and allow us to concentrate on applying for other grants whilst, of course, prioritising training our members.

“As a result of Covid, we have seen a significant drop in the number of students that have returned to the club, but we’re looking to the future and want to encourage anyone of any age to join us and give boxing a go.”

Given the recent excitement in Birmingham’s sporting summer, Team England experienced success in the boxing with hometown hero Delicious Ore and Leamington Spa’s Lewis Williams winning gold medals, supporting grassroots sports clubs has never been more important. 

Club Founder and Senior Coach Phil added: “With the ongoing help and support from the Trust, the club gets the opportunity to apply for grants we would not normally be able to prioritise, and so widen the scope of what we do within the community” RABC has recently been involved in the Birmingham 2022 Festival’s Creative City Programme, where 108 community groups around Birmingham worked with artists to flood the city with new creative work as part of the Birmingham 2022 festival. 

“The club used their successful grant bid to do the artistic ‘Boxer Beats’ project. Working with local artists and club members the project developed a connection between the two groups through the common thread of rhythm, creating tunes based on individual Rectory boxer’s style and movements, with filming taking place onsite at the new and improved Rectory ABC club. 

“We have also had other successful grant bids allowing us to run  programmes to help local people suffering with stress and depression, and service people suffering from PTSD We have put grant money towards after school programmes and summer holiday schemes.

“We are able to do fundraisers for local hospitals, the Birmingham Homeless and Children’s charities, we have raised tens-of-thousands over the past 15 years.”

Phil added: “This is all possible because of the help from SCCT which frees us from the usual amateur sports club concerns of raising money for equipment, rent etc. We get the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ in our community and we are very happy to do just that.”

David Cole, Grants Manager at Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, said: “We are delighted to have been able to provide consistent support to Rectory ABC  over the last 9 years, and seeing the changes that have taken place captured on film as part of their Boxer Beats project is fantastic. 

“We are always looking for new and exciting groups and charities within Sutton Coldfield to award grants to, and the Rectory Amateur Boxing Club project is a perfect example of our funds being put to fantastic use for the benefit of the community.”

To view the full Boxer Beats video, head to https://youtu.be/73tm28IaIEA and for more information on Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit https://www.suttoncoldfieldcharitabletrust.com/.

Cypriot welcome is second to none

Larnaca has so much to offer

By Bill McCarthy


Resorts like Paphos and the playgrounds of Ayia Napa and Protaras make Cyprus lastingly popular for British tourists. But lesser known, but no less attractive is Larnaca, an ancient capital of the island.

It offers so much, with a rich culture stretching back 10,000 years, superb beaches bathed in sunshine and inland, the brooding vista of the Troodos mountains with their picturesque villages.

Cyprus attracts millions of tourists and is a real gem of a holiday destination in the Mediterranean.

The hospitality of the people is also legendary.

That Cypriot hospitality became a reality for us with a special Easter invitation.

Celebrating Orthodox Easter in Cyprus is quite something as Easter is perhaps a more important celebration than even Christmas. A celebration of religion, food and amazing hospitality.

Our arrival on the island was in between Easter in the UK and the Orthodox celebrations which took place a week later. That’s when we received that surprise invitation.

Having used a restaurant/bar on a few occasions, out of the blue the owner Yanis invited to join his family for an Easter Sunday barbecue.

A lamb roasting on a spit and a proper celebration of Greek food and drink followed. Not only did he pick us up, he dropped us back as well. How’s that for hospitality?

That was a highlight during a stay of just over a week in Cyprus.

We stayed just five miles outside the town, at two fine hotels which share a private beach.

Both are only a 20-minute drive from the airport to the five-star Golden Bay Hotel and the Lordos Beach Hotel, a slightly smaller four-star luxury hotel, offering similar facilities, but on a slightly smaller basis.

Both offer excellent facilities, luxurious surroundings and fine dining. The rooms are comfortable and well-appointed with state of the art bathrooms and tea and coffee making facilities. We stayed at Golden Bay for three nights before moving just 50 yards down the road to the Lordos Beach Hotel for a further five nights.

Facilities at both hotels include a gym, indoor pool, spa area and jacuzzis, while wi-fi is free throughout. 

Rooms vary from the cheapest, but still well-appointed Comfort, through to the spacious suites with large private balconies with a jacuzzi.

At the top end, Golden Bay offers the Presidential Suite, with two bedrooms, sea views, open-air hot tub and a separate relaxation/entertainment area.

Both hotels are fully air-conditioned with 24-hour reception and check-out service, a TV/reading room, and conference facilities, while the Golden Bay even has its own chapel.

There is also a kids’ club and playground on the Lordos site.

Both boast multiple pools and any number of free sunbeds around the pool and on the beach which is just yards from the hotel. There are also beach bars.

There are various water sports available, including jet ski, glass-bottom boat and, if you have the nerve, the inflatable flying sofa. Taking a dip is not trial in the warm waters of the Med, even in late April.

We stayed on a B&B basis with an excellent breakfast choice of food to suit all nationalities. Snacks can be bought at the hotel throughout the day with fine dining available in the evening.  Staff are polite and helpful both hotels offer a touch of elegance.

Eating there are many fine restaurants in Larnaca itself, just a 15-minute drive away, while there are shops, bars and restaurants opposite the hotel.

If you just fancy the local cuisine or just a drink, just across the road is Isabellas, where the owner Yanis offers a warm Cypriot welcome. There’s also a chance he will invite you back to his home for a barbie, as he did with us.

The town of Larnaca has a swish beachfront and plush marina. The recently redeveloped seafront promenade development features dozens of bars, restaurants and blue flag beaches. Just about a mile up the coast is the chic McKenzie Beach, with its rows of bars and nightspots and spectacular sandy beaches.

We had previously visited in March and while it was mostly sunny, there was often a chill in the air. No such thing in late April, maybe in the very early hours, but the temperature hit 30degC on one occasion.

The location means it might be wise to hire a car, although local bus services are frequent and cheap.

Cyprus is a big island and there are many car hire options. We went with the  Anemayia car and bike rental firm in Larnaca which offers friendly service and a choice of vehicles at very competitive prices. They will pick you up and drop you to the airport and offer free delivery to all locations in Larnaca City.

One excursion was to the picturesque villages of Lefkara, which specialises in lacemaking. The local women can be seen sitting in the streets demonstrating their art.

Other options are visiting the spectacular Troodos mountains, or a visit to Nicosia, now the only divided city in Europe after the island split into two parts following the Turkish takeover of the north in 1974.

Also worth visiting is the medieval fort, built by the Ottomans and used as a prison by the British and the spectacular ninth century St Lazarus Church, right in the heart of the town, which houses the tomb of the saint.

The opening message on the Larnaka tourism website says: They ALWAYS come back. You can see why.

  • Bill stayed at the popular Golden Bay Beach Hotel (https://goldenbay.com.cy) & The Lordos Beach Hotel (https://lordosbeach.com.cy) on the outskirts of charming Larnaca 
  • Prices start for the Golden BayHotel start at £133 B&B for a Comfort double or twin room in mid-July
  • Prices start for the Lordos Beach Hotel at Prices start at £129 B&B for a double or twin room with side sea view in mid-July
  • To rent a car, try Anemayia (https://anemayiacarsbikes.com). Prices start at around £20 per day. 
  • For more information, visit www.larnakaregion.com 

BBQ idiots put Sutton Park in peril

With the second heatwave of summer upon us and hosepipe bans being announced, it defies belief that a bunch of morons could risk setting one of the country’s most specular beauty spots at risk.

These pictures were taken early in the morning on Friday, 12 August and show the rubbish left behind by those who presumably threw a nightime party, risking a catastrophic blaze.

Sutton park is tinder dry and a spark could cause widespread devastation to wildlife including Exmoor ponies and cattle, rare plants and forestry.

Those who took part should be ashamed.