Garden tributes for Sutton families

Chance to celebrate lives of loved ones at St Giles Hospice special memorial this spring

Gavin and Angela Farley with Gavin’s mum Sheila and top, the Celebrate Lives Lived Gerberas

Families in Sutton Coldfield can remember their loved ones and celebrate the lives they lived at a special St Giles Hospice memorial garden this spring.

Relatives and friends are being invited to dedicate a unique Celebrate Lives Lived orange Gerbera peg, which is personalised with the name of their loved one, in return for a donation which will help to fund the work of St Giles supporting patients living with a terminal illness.

The Gerbera pegs will then be placed in one of the beautiful memorial gardens created at the hospice sites in Sutton Coldfield and Whittington.

Gerbera is also commonly known as the African daisy in yellow, orange, white, pink or red colours.

For 2021, St Giles has also set up a special virtual garden display for people who are self-isolating or who do not wish to visit in person, with the name of your loved one displayed next to an orange Gerbera in an online memorial display which can be viewed at any time.

The Whittington and Sutton Coldfield gardens will create a colourful display of Gerbera pegs dedicated to the memory of loved ones, whether they have been cared for at St Giles Hospice or not, which will then be open to visitors throughout May, following the current Government COVID-19 guidelines.

Chloe Herbert, Head of Fundraising at St Giles Hospice, said: “Celebrate Lives Lived offers a special way to remember your loved ones each spring and everyone is welcome to join us as we commemorate those we have lost.

“The orange Gerbera represents ‘sunshine of life’, which makes it a beautiful, fitting tribute to the memory of your loved one.  

“Your Gerbera peg will be placed in the Celebrate Lives Lived garden of your choice throughout May, creating a wonderful display of celebration and remembrance in the beautiful display of Gerberas. You can come along to visit the garden in a safe and socially-distanced visit and at the end of the month you can take the Gerbera home as a special keepsake or to plant in your own garden.

“By taking part in Celebrate Lives Lived you are also helping to fund the vital support St Giles Hospice offers to local families. We need to raise £850,000 each month to pay for our services and because we’ve had to close our shops and cancel fundraising events during the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve never needed your help more than we need it today.”

Lichfield police officer Gavin Farley (52) is supporting Celebrate Lives Lived this year in memory of his mother Sheila Watson, who died at St Giles Hospice last June (2020) at the age of 74.

Sheila with nurses at St Giles Hospice

Sheila, from Sutton Coldfield, who had leukaemia, was admitted to the hospice in January 2020 just weeks after her husband Jim, who had dementia, passed away on Christmas Day.

Gavin said: “When she first arrived it was a difficult time because Mom was grieving for my stepdad and wanted to go to his funeral, but she wasn’t well enough to go.

“But the staff did everything they could to help. I went to the funeral and filmed it all and they set up a screen in the chapel and people came back to St Giles rather than going to a wake and we replayed it there for Mom and did another service for her.

“Obviously it was a very sad occasion, but Mom was absolutely beaming – she was so glad that she was able to see the funeral after all and that her friends could be with her. It was so special because she knew that she probably wouldn’t see many of them again.

Gavin added that although most people see going into a hospice as marking the end of life, for his mother St Giles was the beginning of a new phase of her life. “Despite her illness she enjoyed being there and made so many new friends,” he said. “It wasn’t just a place of sadness, it was a place of joy as well.

“Everyone is so caring and nothing is too much trouble. To mark VE Day, the hospice held its own celebrations and the staff did my mum’s hair and makeup, which she really appreciated. Plus, when they found out that Monsters Inc. was her favourite film, they set it up on a laptop so that she could watch it in her room. It’s these little things that made such a massive difference.

“The staff at St Giles really went above and beyond what they had to do for their jobs – they were carers but became friends to us all, because they were as thoughtful and supportive to the families just as much as their patients.

“We’ll definitely be supporting Celebrate Lives Lived this year, not only to thank St Giles for the way they looked after my mum, but as a way of celebrating her life and memory too. Despite the sadness of her passing, St Giles has so many good memories for us.”

To dedicate your Celebrate Lives Lived Gerbera, visit or call 01543 432538.

The closing date for Celebrate Lives Lived dedications is midday on Friday 16th April.

For more information about St Giles Hospice and the expert care it provides, please visit

Brewing up a Nile cruise special

 Ancient Abydos site a must see for tourists

A 5,000-year-old brewery is maybe not what you would expect to find on a luxurious Nile cruise, but it is ancient and exciting stop off for holidaymakers heading to Egypt with tour operator Discover Egypt.

The country is a nation that excels in outdoor museums and has long been a firm favourite for British holidaymakers looking to combine what the ancients left behind and winter sunshine. 

To plan a trip for September this year or next, Discover Egypt is offering cruises which stop off at Abydos, where an ancient brewery has just been discovered.  

The five-star luxury Steigenberger Senator provides a high standard of comfort and service, featuring 17 suites, all with large panoramic sliding windows that open onto an outdoor terrace. Specialist Discover Egypt offer a selection of 11-night and 14-night Nile cruises to choose from starting in Cairo and ending in Luxor or vice versa. All cruises include return flights from Heathrow, transfers in resort and the full board cruises with guided excursions as per the programme.

An Egyptian-American team of archaeologists have unearthed what could be the world’s oldest known beer factory, dating back about 5,000 years. The brewery in Abydos, an ancient burial ground in the desert, is likely to date back to the era of King Narmer who founded the First Dynasty and is considered to have unified Egypt, over 5,000 years ago. 

The brewery consisted of eight large areas, each 20m (65ft) long and each containing about 40 earthenware pots arranged in two rows where a mixture of grains and water were heated to produce about 22,400 litres (5,000 gallons) of beer at a time.

The brewery may have been built to supply the royal rituals that were taking place inside the funeral facilities of the kings of Egypt.

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and houses vast cemeteries and temples.

The area is in the southern province of Sohag, in Upper Egypt, also home to the city of Luxor, one of the country’s most popular tourist sites.

Highlights when cruising from Cairo on the 14-night long Nile cruises include the the Pyramids and Sphinx as well as Beni Suef, Minya, Beni Hassan, Tel El, Amarna, Assuit, Sohag, Abydos, Luxor, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan and Abu Simbel. This cruise provides the best way to visit Lower, Middle and Upper Egypt’s outstanding pyramids, temples, tombs, museums and monuments.

Abydos’ proximity to Luxor means that visitors choosing the classic 7-night Nile cruises or Luxor hotel stays can also opt for an additional excursion to Abydos from £95 per person. Seven nights staying at the Sonesta St George hotel in Luxor in September costs from £899 per person in a twin room with breakfast, return scheduled flights and transfers.

Prices for the 11-night Ultimate Long Cruise start from £3, 185 per person and £3,845 for the longer 14-nights itinerary, based on two adults sharing a cabin on full board, plus the excursions escorted by an Egyptologist. A drinks package can also be booked in advance for £33 per person per night to include locally produced mineral water, soft drinks, tea and coffee as well as wines, beer and spirits. All drinks are served between 11 am to 11 pm. 

To plan a trip, call Discover Egypt on 0207 407 2111, visit have published an itinerarydates and prices for their Ultimate Long Cruise , which stop off at Abydos.

Yaris a groundbreaker again

Toyota Yaris Hybrid 

By Bill McCarthy

It should come as no surprise to see Toyota breaking new ground again with hybrid technology. Its expertise is built on more than 20 years’ experience since the introduction of the first Prius back in 1997.

The firm has now sold more than 14 million hybrid vehicles worldwide – including 2.5 million in Europe. The Yaris has more than played its part, first going hybrid in 2012, and selling half a million in Europe, but the latest model is a quantum leap forward.

Yaris has gone all-in hybrid, together with it being built on the firm’s small car  Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which, says Toyota, has improved dynamic performance together with class leading safety measures.

The new petrol engine/electric motor setup  has a 15 per cent increase in combined power and a more than 20 per cent increase in fuel efficiency and can be switched a the touch of a button to electric for a fair amount of time in urban areas, delivering zero emissions. The system also uses a new lithium-ion hybrid battery which while being more powerful, is 27 per cent lighter than the nickel-metal hydride battery it replaces.

It also looks good, one of the best looking superminis, that is both practical and perfect for tackling the challenges of city or congested driving areas. As ever its even more compact size means it is highly manoeuvrable and a breeze to park in tight streets, aided by standard parking camera.

Starting at a hefty price tag of a smidge under £20k you get plenty for your cash with even the entry Icon, featuring electric windows and door mirrors, 16-inch alloys, a seven-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, a reversing camera, auto headlights and wipers and air-con.

The goodies increase though Design, Dynamic to the  Excel, with the likes of 17-inch wheels, eight-inch screen, button starter, dual zone climate control, parking sensors and for added safety, auto-braking. This limited edition model had a few more cherries on the top head-up display and premium sound system.

For a small car it has striking looks, being shorter, wider and lower than the outgoing model. It features a sporty wedge shape, with sculpted door panels, deep grille and air scoop flanked by cats-eye-like headlamp clusters, with LEDs which double as indicators.

To the rear, classy touches include privacy glass and discrete black spoiler.

This limited edition range topper also included striking two-tone red with black roof paintwork, body-coloured door handles and front bumper, piano Black upper front grille, privacy glass, red insert on boot door and piano black door belt moulding.

Inside there are plenty of soft touch materials with piano black finish and a more compact steering wheel, while the instrumentation is clearly and logically laid out. The centrepiece is the multi-media screen which is the brains of the car, together with a TFT multi-information display in the instrument binnacle which can help monitor EV activity.

 The 10-inch touchscreen on this model controls infotainment and smartphone connectivity, but, oddly, there was no navigation. However hooking up your smartphone can add navigation through the screen.

Despite its more compact shape, interior space is barely compromised, with headroom remaining the same, although tight in the rear, while the firm’s GA-B platform offers a low centre of gravity which helps deliver an enjoyable and stable drive. 

It offers sharp, agile  handling and direct steering for bombing around town, while the growl from the three-pot engine is not unpleasant. It is equally at home on the motorway, with plenty of grunt available, while road and wind noise, although noticeably present, are reasonably well suppressed.

The 1.5 litre petrol engine is supplemented by two motor/generators – MG1 and MG2. MG2 is linked to the front wheels and can be used as the power source to drive the vehicle. MG1 is deployed to start the engine and to generate power to charge both batteries (hybrid and 12V).

 Mated to the CVT transmission, the combo delivers excellent economy, with the claimed 68-odd mpg proving to be pretty close to the mark. A bonus is the brisk acceleration which propels the car to 60mph in under 10 seconds, while at the same time delivering low carbon emissions. 

While the car’s handling delivers an engaging drive, the ride however, feels slightly compromised with 17-inch alloys on this top end model and stiffer suspension allowing for some discomfort over rougher surfaces. It could be the case that the 16-inch alloys could offer a more settled ride.

Stowage capacity is a reasonable 286 litres, so long as you are not planning a camping trip, but if you are, rear seats fold in hatchback fashion to open up extra capacity.

One of the safest small cars around, engineered to be the world’s safest small car says Toyota, it is packed with safety kit and including a full complement of airbags, including  a centre airbag for the first time, stability control, intelligent adaptive cruise control and lane assist, pre-collision warning, pedestrian detection, steering control and a host of other features to keep families safe.


Toyota Yaris Hybrid Launch Edition

Price: £ 24,005

Mechanical: 1490cc, 114bhp, three-cylinder petrol engine and 85kW electric motor driving front wheels via electric CVT auto transmission

Maximum speed: 109mph

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds

Economy: 65.6 mpg

Insurance group: 14E

CO2 emissions: 92-98g/km

Warranty: Five years/ 100,000 miles

Supermarket takes shape

Sutton Lidl construction gathers pace

A spider’s web of steel and concrete reaches into the sky in Mere Green as work gathers pace on a new Lidl supermarket. In the pictures here you can see the steel erections, which are the skeleton of the new building, in place. Other pictures show a newly-surfaced car park for the site is near completion. The store looks to be on schedule for completion by the end of the spring, but the German owned store are tight-lipped about the opening date and how many jobs will be created.

Diggers are parked up waiting for the next phase to begin at the former industrial site in Mere Green Road, which has lain derelict for more than 10 years.

The new store will provide competition for Sainsbury’s across the road the M&S food store on Mulberry Walk. The new store has provoked anger among local residents, many of whom have safety fears over increased traffic and delays around the Mere Green island. There is also concern over the closure of the Waitrose supermarket in Belwell Lane which shut down last year, with resident Dave Brown saying Lidl could have taken over the Waitrose store, with new site being used for much needed housing.

He said: “This store should have been forced to take over the former Waitrose store. If Lidl business model is so successful, it would work anywhere. Why build a new supermarket and have any empty one two hundred yards away. There will be no more jobs created than there were lost at Waitrose.”

He was also worried about traffic problems and added: “Unless a roundabout is installed it will be horrendous. Anyone that lives in Mere Green or travels along Mere Green Road will know that when schools are open, there is a queue from Mere Green roundabout back to St James every day except Sunday.

“This site should have been use to proved housing, maybe some flats like those in Farnborough Close near Broads travel. It just goes to show how big business always seems to get it’s way with the promise of jobs.”

Before the steel erection were put in place at the new supermarket

Education excellence recognised

The successful team, from left, Practice Educator and Development Nurse Practitioner Kelly Boden, Head of Education and Training, Theresa Barker, Head of Clinical Education and Quality Toni Flanagan and Practice Educator Kari Burton

St Giles Hospice claims prestigious award

St Giles Hospice has received prestigious national recognition for the excellence of its education services. The hospice Education and Training department has been awarded a Certificate of Endorsement from Skills for Care, an independent charity supporting workforce development in the adult social care sector and helping organisations across the country to find the best training for their staff.

St Giles, which has a care centre and two shops in Sutton Coldfield, provides training on a wide range of topics, helping people to develop skills and confidence in supporting patients, families and carers who are living with a terminal illness.

It offers clinical and non-clinical education to hospice staff, volunteers and external staff working in all sectors of health and social care. This includes study days, accredited courses, work placements and training towards higher education qualifications.

The hospice also works with schools, colleges and universities to encourage and inspire future generations to consider the needs of people with terminal illnesses, running popular summer schools and enrichment days to encourage young students to learn more about hospice care, build their confidence and consider palliative care as a future career option.

Theresa Barker, Head of Education and Training at St Giles Hospice, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Skills for Care has recognised the strength of our training services. Our education department has been established for over 25 years now and is well known both locally and nationally for its expertise.

“Education and training have always been a key part of St Giles, and we have a deep commitment to providing excellent support while continuing to learn and build upon our experience as we train our own teams as well as other professionals who want to learn from us.”

Skills for Care endorsement is the bespoke quality mark given to the best learning and development providers in the adult social care sector, awarded by a charity with more than 18 years of experience in workforce development. 

To become endorsed by Skills for Care, which works in partnership with the Department of Health, providers have to show that the training they deliver makes a significant difference to the person accessing care and support as well as the learner.

The endorsement was developed following a Government review which revealed that employers wanted a website directory where they could easily find high quality training providers – taking away the uncertainty and the need to trawl through a wide number of existing providers.

For more information about education and training at St Giles Hospice, visit

Town hall vaccinations progress

The seven-day vaccination programme at Sutton town hall which has been a huge success, was temporarily scaled back to allow for vaccines to be diverted to assist other areas.

The vaccination rollout was suspended last Monday, as the vaccine was sent to other centres further behind with vaccinations.

Since opening as a vaccination centre for Sutton Coldfield Group Practice, the site has been open seven-days-a-week and last week started vaccinating over-65s, well ahead of schedule

Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for organising the Covid vaccine roll out in the area, said people in Sutton Coldfield was ahead other areas.

At the end of last week, Sutton Coldfield Group Practice, said it had vaccinated to 17,842 patients across the town. The include:

  • 80 years of age and over
  • 75 – 79 year olds
  • 70 – 74 year olds OR clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  • Care Homes

If you, or someone you know, fall into one of the above groups and still haven’t heard from from your practice, please make sure your contact details are up to date so they can get in touch. You can easily update your details via your practice website under Reception & Enquiries.

The practice reported that with some support from the Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust (BCHC) staff, it has now vaccinated the majority of our housebound patients. This means they have now protected those most vulnerable within the top four eligible groups across Sutton Coldfield.

There were a few housebound patients that we were unable to get in contact with. If you are housebound and were not vaccinated at home last weekend (6th-7th February) or know someone who wasn’t, please do get in touch with the usual surgery in order for us to record your up to date contact details. We can then arrange for someone to call you to organise a suitable time for us to come and visit you administer your vaccine.

The Government confirmed that everyone in the top four priority groups in the JCVI’s phase one list, more than 15 million people, have been offered the Covid vaccine by February 14 – a day ahead of its target.

Anyone in those top four priority groups can now book an appointment, as can anyone aged over 65, by visiting: But anyone who is not eligible will be turned away.

Those in the eligible categories can book their Covid vaccination at two mass vaccination centres in Birmingham, at Millennium Point and at Villa Park.

Gearing up for Sutton pedal power

New bike hire scheme ready for trial run

Sutton Coldfield residents are getting on their bikes this month as a cycling initiative gets under way in the town. New bike stands have appeared at Sutton Park as part of a new cycle hire scheme in the town. The docking stations will include normal three-gear pedal bikes, with 10 per cent electric bikes available.

The Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, has welcomed the initiative saying ‘the bikes, made here in the West Midlands, will be supporting local jobs and businesses.’

The stands have appeared at the park’s Banners Gate and Boldmere Gate entrances as well as Sutton town centre and customers will hire the bikes via an app at a cost £1 to unlock a bike and 5p per minute after that. This means a 20 minute cycle will cost £2 and an hour £4.

Following a link up with the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) there will be a limited trial in the town this month followed by a full public launch across the West Midlands from March.  Up to eight docking stations have been installed in key locations around the town centre including those at the park.

From March 8 the distinctive grey and green West Midlands Cycle Hire bikes will be available to the public and the scheme will be rolled out in Coventry, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, West Bromwich, Solihull and Walsall by the end of July.

They will be available to hire 24 hours a day, every day of the year. With docking stations at major bus, metro and train stations, visitor attractions and city or town centres.

The operator of London’s Santander Cycles has been appointed by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) to offer bikes in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Walsall from next Spring.

The pedal cycles will all have three gears to cope with the hilly parts of the region and fitted with high quality laser safety lights that project an image of a bicycle five metres in front of the bike. 

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has agreed a five-year contract to offer more people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and provide a convenient alternative to the car for shorter journeys.

Work is under way with partner councils to find sites for 170 fixed docking stations across the region. There will also be some virtual geo-fenced docking areas which can be moved to meet demand or for large scale events such as the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Mr Street, who is standing for re-election in May’s mayoral election, said: “Lockdown has shown there is a huge appetite for cycling among the people of the West Midlands as many take the opportunity to get out and about on two wheels.

“It is therefore great to see the docks and bikes finally on the streets of Sutton Coldfield with the closed trial of our Cycle Hire scheme now well underway. I know the people of Sutton will be itching to get involved now they can see the docks and bikes, and I look forward to seeing the first residents of the royal town trying the bikes out when the scheme launches to members of the public on March 8.

“As well as providing a great opportunity for more people to take up cycling – these bikes also made here in the West Midlands, supporting local jobs and businesses.”

The bikes are manufactured in Stratford-upon-Avon by Pashley Cycles who also work with Serco to provide the bikes for London and Edinburgh. Supporting technology will be provided by British micromobility operator Beryl who also work with Serco in London.

TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has agreed a five-year contract to offer more people the opportunity to enjoy cycling and provide a convenient alternative to the car for shorter journeys.

Cllr Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment with Birmingham City Council, said: “The West Midlands Cycle Hire will offer a more affordable alternative to buying a bike and give more people the opportunity to try cycling and contribute to improving our air quality and easing traffic congestion.”

The scheme is expected to create up to 25 new local jobs supporting the operation and maintenance of the bikes.

A full technology platform for the service, including the rider app and GPS connectivity on the bike which will integrate with the Swift travel card system, will enable customers to use their Swift accounts to hire bikes in the West Midlands, a first for a major UK bike share scheme.

Cllr Simon Ward, leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of this scheme in partnership with TfWM, the city council and Serco to bring cycle hire to Sutton Coldfield. 

“It is great news for our Royal Town to be one of the first places in the region to launch this cycle hire scheme and it enables the Town Council to deliver on its priorities of improving cycling infrastructure, promoting active travel and healthy lifestyles.”

For more information and to register for updates on West Midlands Cycle Hire visit:

Coun Waseem Zaffar, Coun Simon Ward, Andy Street, and Doreen Smith of Wyndley Leisure Centre at the launch of the initiative at Sutton Park

Larnaka culture centre to open doors

Mattei House, once a club for the British military, will open as a hub for culture and creativity

New lease of life for historic buildings

One of the most significant buildings in the history of the Cypriot town of Laranka and once known as The English Club, will soon open to visitors as a centre for culture and creativity, showcasing the areas arts, crafts and heritage.

The town of Larnaka, a popular destination for tourists, continues to focus on sustainable tourism and culture with the restoration of Mattei House, a former British club, which will soon operate under the Municipality of Larnaka as a ‘Multispace of Creativity and Culture’.

The project will enrich Larnaka’s existing tourist product for both tourists and locals. Visitors will be able to watch traditional works of folk art included in UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage such as embroidery and basketry, and other arts that are part of Cypriot cultural heritage.

Larnaka Tourism Board recently undertook, with the support of the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, to cover part of the costs of refurbishing the new site.

The building is one of the most significant historic buildings of Larnaka and is interwoven with the history of the city from the 18th century when it began life as Mattei House, the home of Giacomo Mattei a merchant and landowner whose family ties stretched to Rome and Florence.

A mini documentary, in the Greek language, presents its history with interviews of those that experienced it as the ‘English Club’, renamed Larnaka Club in 1955, on You Tube:

The film begins with Dr. Iosif Hatzikyriakos, Director of the Phivos Stavrides Foundation-Larnaka Archives, explaining the ownership of the house in the second half of the 18th century.  With the arrival of the English in Cyprus in 1878, it was turned into a club for civil servants and military personnel, the renowned “English Club”.

This building also served as the meeting place of the local elite community and the first tennis court on the island, constructed in white cement, in the courtyard. Dimitrios Z. Pieridis, President of the Pierides Foundation and Mrs Leda Sandama, former Member of the Club take a trip down memory lane. 

Both Mr Pieridis and Mrs Sandama played tennis here when they were 11 and 14 years old, they had to finish promptly at 4:30 pm for the staff to set up for 5pm afternoon tea, this would follow with card games.

There was a reading room for those who did not play tennis or cards.  Leda recalls the beautifully dressed ladies and the large hall used for special occasions such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities with huge buffets and dancing.

Mr Pierides recalls that the library received important publications such as the Sphere and London Illustrated news. It was an officers’ meeting point, especially for naval officers, not just British but Italian too as Larnaka was a cosmopolitan centre. He mentions that he is pleased that Larnaka is expanding its soulful historic centre, which stretches from the Pierides Museum to the new cultural centre.

It takes in the old Ottoman bank which houses the Stavrides Foundation; the old kiosk that houses the Tourist Information Office and other outstanding historic buildings from the British administration such as the police station, the district administration office and the old customs office in Europe Square.

Last but by no means least, the writer and school principal, Mrs. Angela Kaimaklioti, describes on the video, the period after the Turkish invasion post 14 August 1974 when the club temporarily housed refugees.

She is delighted that this space, which she called home during a difficult time in her childhood, has been restored. What was a haven, a shelter in 1974 for a 14-year-old and her family alongside so many more, has been given a new and cultural lease of life that befits the building and Larnaka’s historic centre.

The mini documentary, which is in Greek with English subtitles, was created by the Larnaka Tourism Board and the Municipality of Larnaka with the support of the Ministry of Tourism.  

For more information, contact

Vaccination programme ‘run with military precision’

Sutton residents praise rollout

Residents in Sutton Coldfield have praised the Covid 19 vaccination programme currently being rolled out in the town ahead of schedule.

People over the age of 65 are now having their jab in what one resident described as an operation being run with military precision by Sutton Coldfield Group Practice.

The town hall set up is impressive, with a small army of vaccinators, aided by another small army of volunteers operating an efficient one-way system that sees people in, vaccinated and out in as little as five minutes.

It comes after another busy week last week at at  the town hall, where the practice, which includes Tudor Practice, Ley Hill Surgery, Four Oaks Medical Centre, The Vesey Practice, Sutton Park Surgery and Falcon Medical Centre, managed to administer another 3,142 first vaccines for patients across Sutton Coldfield.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is unknown-4.jpeg

Resident Patrick James is one of the first cohort of over 65s to get his jab, along with wife Joan.

The 66-year-old from Four Oaks said: “It’s a hugely impressive operation. You pull up at the free car park, where stewards guide you on how long you have to wait. That was no time all in our case, as they were ahead of schedule.

“The other volunteers guide you through registration and then into cubicles where the shot, either the Pfizer or Astrazenca, is administered. You are given a your instruction leaflet and after a quick check, sent merrily on your way. Very slick indeed.”

A member of the medical team said the transfer of vaccinations from Falcon Lodge Medical Centre to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall had allowed the medical teams to triple current rollout.

“We are well ahead of schedule and it’s been extremely busy,” she said.

Mr James added: “We were surprised to get the call from the GP earlier this week to come in and get the jab, considering the target for the over-70s was due to be completed next Monday. It just shows what a slick operation it is.”

Sutton vaccinations start for over 65s

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is img_0732.jpeg
Sutton Coldfield Town Hall vaccinations are now available for the over-65s

Immunisation gathers pace in town

The success of vaccinations for Covid-19 in Sutton Coldfield has meant the programme is ahead of schedule, with the over-65s now getting the life-saving jab after the town hall was added to the vaccination sites.

The target for all over-70s is Monday next week, but patients over the age of 65 are being contacted to come forward by Sutton Coldfield Group Practice for their vaccinations, starting this week.

No-one from the practice nor Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group was available for comment on the move, but the programme appears to have been enhanced after the group announced a change of vaccination arrangements from February 1. The it was granted permission by NHS England to change the designated Falcon Lodge Medical Centre to Sutton Coldfield Town Hall to enable it to triple current rollout, which stood at 2,300 per week at Falcon Lodge.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is unknown-4.jpeg

That site has revered to a surgery and open to patients again, while Ley Hill Surgery will continue to provide vaccinations.

There is free parking in the pay and display car park on Anchorage Road opposite the town hall and The Townhouse (Royal) pub has also granted free parking there for people attending for vaccination.

Both the Pfizer or Astra Zeneca ‘Oxford’ vaccines, both of which are very effective, are being administered depending on the deliveries received.

A spokesman for the practice said that permission for the change had been granted after a lot of work behind the scenes aided by University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Trust, Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (BSOL CCG), Sutton Coldfield Town Council and local MP Andrew Mitchell.

A spokesperson added: “We have a wide pool of vaccinators including retired doctors and nurses, paramedics, nurses seconded from different organisations, physios, podiatrists etc to enable us to continue to deliver medical services from our individual sites. The site is active for 9 hours per day seven days a week vaccine supply permitting.

“We are pleased to report that Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust (BCHC) staff have also begun doing home visits to vaccinate our housebound patients who are not able to travel to any vaccination centres.”

The practice said it has received positive feedback from patients who have had their vaccinations at Millennium Point in Birmingham city centre. There is free parking right next to the centre and it is well signposted and marshalled with short waits.