Get on your bikes to beat cancer


PEOPLE in Sutton Coldfield are being urged to get on their bikes for Cancer Research UK and raise money for a wheelie great cause.

People of all ages and abilities – from seasoned cyclists to recent converts – are being encouraged to sign up now for the Cycle 300 challenge to help the charity continue its life-saving mission.

Taking part needn’t feel like an uphill struggle when participants can choose how, when and where to clock up 300 miles during June – whether it’s 10 miles every day, 75 miles every weekend or all in one go.

Cycling to work, exploring the countryside and taking part in spin classes can all add up, along with ditching the car for a bike to pop to the shops. And with exercise bikes growing in popularity, it’s easy for homeworkers to get involved too.

The challenge can be completed indoors, outdoors, solo or as part of a team.

Not only will taking part help to raise vital funds, but there is also the added benefit of getting on a bike to keep fit and healthy. Depending on weight and effort, cyclists could burn roughly between 450 to 750 calories per hour.

Moderate exercise such as cycling can help build stamina and keep a healthy body weight, which reduces the risk of a range of diseases including cancer.

In the West Midlands region, around 34,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year.* But, thanks to research, more people than ever across the UK are surviving for 10 years or more.

As Cancer Research UK celebrates its 20th anniversary, it is paying tribute to its supporters for the part they have played in this progress.

Paula Young, the charity’s spokesperson for the West Midlands, said: “One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime.** But all of us can play a part to help beat it.

“For the past 20 years, the incredible generosity and commitment of people across Sutton Coldfield has helped Cancer Research UK make discoveries that have saved countless lives and which benefit millions of people around the world. But we have so much more to do.

“By taking part in Cycle 300 this June, commuters, weekend enthusiasts or gym bunnies alike can help the charity’s scientists go the distance and unlock new and better ways to beat the disease. We’ve come so far. And we will go much further. Together we will beat cancer.”

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent over £10 million in the West Midlands region on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.

Paula added: “Every day we see the benefits of research we’ve previously funded being realised, helping people live longer and healthier lives. That’s why we need cyclists across the region to help us keep investing in science today to deliver the treatments of tomorrow.”

Join the Cycle 300 challenge and receive a free fundraising pack at

4,000 trees planted at Sutton beauty spot

New trees to replace woodland felled in a controversial move last year have been planted by children at a Sutton Coldfield beauty spot. Trustees from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust have started the next phase of their plan to replant English deciduous broadleaved trees at Manorial Woods.

The move comes after a decision to fell and replace previous trees sparked anger among local residents last year but the trust says the move came after it sought specialist forestry advice over the past two to three years, which revealed that the previous crop of Corsican pine had reached its potential and would have gone into decline.

Tina Swani, Chief Executive of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, Keith Dudley and Jane Mosson joined the planting of more than 4,000 trees at the site, assisted by children from Little Sutton Primary School, following the recently harvested Corsican Pine.

The entire site is due to be restocked with 4,500 trees of both UK-grown hardwoods and an intimate mix of conifers to aid the establishment of the crop. The next phase of planting will take place in May, ahead of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, where a central feature Yew Tree will be planted.

The trust will enlist the help of local schools again later in the year to help with a further phase of planting in the autumn. This aims to engage the local community in a project that will benefit Sutton Coldfield for generations to come.

Tina Swani said: “It’s hugely rewarding to see our long-held plans come to fruition at Manorial Wood, which will support a greater mix of woodland plants and wildlife. The previous Corsican Pine trees were in dire need of harvesting and replanting, due to the stock reaching its potential, lack of undergrowth and ongoing fire risk.”

“We are delighted that Little Sutton Primary School is involved, the woods are big part of the environment of Sutton and what a way to get the next generation involved in helping to improve the future of the town.”

Rachel Davis, headteacher at Little Sutton Primary School, said: “We are very excited about being part of a project to plant 4,500 trees that will create a broad-leaved, biodiverse woodland to benefit generations to come. 

“At Little Sutton we feel it is really important to prepare our pupils to be good citizens, so we work hard to instil positive values and opportunities for them to make an impact in our community. Our pupils are passionate about playing their part in making the world a better place, and this fantastic project will enable them to do this by looking after the local environment.”

An environmentally sustainable approach is being taken at Manorial Wood that includes biodegradable tree protectors being used, instead of plastic, to prevent damage from small animals as the trees become established.

To find out more information about Manorial Woods or Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit: 

Easter but not as we know it

Spring on the beaches of Larnaca

A week later, but an amazing Greek celebration

Greek Easter this year is the week after English Easter and to celebration this wonderful event in charming Cyprus (22 -24 April), hotels in and around Larnaka and local establishments serving food, are offering visitors and locals something extra. Sample the festivities as the local Cypriots celebrate the end of fasting and the Resurrection of Christ.

Attend evening mass at any one of the famous churches in Larnaka where the priest passes the candle of eternal life from person to person. The most impressive of all is Saint Lazarus, a stunning stone built Byzantine church with its domed architecture and ornate icons. Next to the church is the Byzantine Museum, which exhibits important religious icons, artefacts and relics.

The historic St Lazarus Church in Larnaca and below Cypriot Easter treats

It is considered good luck to arrive home with your candle still alight and then to trace soot in the shape of a cross above the door.  Afterwards, visitors return to a restaurant and if staying at a hotel,  the traditional Easter meal of ‘Magiritsa Soup’ (chef’s soup), accompanied by hard boiled eggs which have been dyed bright red, flaounes (a cheese with raisin pasty) and tsourekia (sweet milk bread also adorned with the brightly coloured boiled egg) is served.

It is also a Cypriot tradition to signify the breaking of fasting for family members to hold a dyed red egg in their hand and attempt to crack one against that of another member of the family.  The owner of the last unbroken egg is declared the winner!  

Cypriot chefs and cooks conjure up a memorable traditional Easter dishes served on Easter Sunday (April 24) followed by more specialities on Easter Monday! The island can also be enjoyed for its customs and wonderfully warm temperatures, on average 24 C.

A seven- night break in April to experience Greek Easter but not as we know it, has prices staring from £779 per adult for two sharing a room on bed and breakfast at the 5-star Golden Bay Beach Hotel, including return flights from Gatwick to Larnaka ( departing 21 April 2022, returning 28 April 2022), transfers and accommodation.

This luxury hotel has elegant gardens punctuated by tall palm trees bordering a long stretch of sandy beach, offering a range of stylish rooms and 4 restaurants with a great selection of Cypriot specialities! For reservations contact AITO specialist, luxury tour operator Planet Holidays on 01438 841 270 or visit For more general information on Larnaka  and district contact Larnaka Tourism at or for general information on Cyprus, visit Cyprus Tourism Organisation

Range anxiety puts damper on holiday break

 A thought-provoking journey in an electric car

They call it range anxiety, but at times it can feel like range despair. Range anxiety is the fear that there will not be enough power in the battery of our electric vehicle to get to your destination. Something that happened on a trip to the Lake District, writes Bill McCarthy.

Range anxiety has been around since modern electric cars first hit the road in the shape of the Nissan Leaf.

I drove one of those around 11 years ago, to a football match dur- ing the cold and rain and left again in the dark.

It was not fully topped up, but the range was showing 64 miles, to cover a round trip of 24, but with the lights, wipers and heater drawing the power, just one mile was showing on the range when we got home. That’s range anxiety.

More than 10 years on battery life has improved immeasurably, with some models boasting a range of around 350 miles, enough for most journeys.

And the costs benefits are obvi- ous, particularly with spiralling fuel charges.

They are still not cheap to buy, even with the Government EV grant. But if you do decide to go electric, everything is cheaper with zero road tax and the lowest Benefit in Kind ratings if you are a compa- ny car driver. There are of course costs to your electric bill but these are outweighed by savings on petrol and diesel.

But there’s still range anxiety.

This is despite the increase in the number of charging points at service stations and their fast-charging facilities which will deliver an 80 per cent charge in around 20 minutes.

Which is great if you are not in the queue to use one which, as it turned out, was quite often in a journey from hell to the Lake Dis- trict.

It was a bit of a dilemma, should we take a relatively untried model with a claimed range of 195 miles on a proposed round trip of 450 miles? What better way to test it I thought. Well it was a test all right,

Some careful planning was needed. Yes, there were several charging points at motorway services right up to Lakeland itself.

So a quick top up to 80 per cent range on one of the latest fast chargers at an M6 service station around half way should do the trick, before completing the 190-odd mile journey to our destination.

We were also aware that once inside Britain’s biggest and arguably most beautiful national park,

Finding a charging point can sometimes prove to be a headache and charging points would be far less frequent. So a few were pinpointed, just in case.

Well you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

The minute we hit the motorway the heavens opened. At this point the range was showing 140 miles, but once the wipers, lights and demister came on, and travelling at above 60mph, the power meter headed south in a big way and guess what? Range anxiety set in.

Two M6 services stop offs were needed. The 100kW fast chargers are easy to use. Just plug it in, show your credit/debit card and within 20 to 30 minutes you will have at least an 80 per cent charge.

The second stop was nearer our destination as the range was again plunging alarmingly, but there were problems with charging. One station was out of action and the other would not charge until the car next to me had finished.

All this added to journey time and a growing sense of frustration and trepidation.

By the time we got off the motorway, it was getting dark and still raining heavily with about 60 miles to our destination and the predicted range dropping relentlessly.

Ninety buttock-clenching minutes later we arrived, with a range of just under 40 miles showing. So what next?

The Lake District EV infrastructure is patchy to say the least. So we had to spend our second, and only full day, planning how to charge up. We found one place at a hotel that was free, but out of action. Again range anxiety.

Helped out by a friendly campsite owner

However, it was a beautiful day and where we were staying had spectacular views across the western lakes and fells. So we pretty much stayed put and approached a friendly campsite owner who agreed to let us use our three-pin trickle charger overnight.

That can give a full charge, but takes up to 15 hours from flat. However, ready to journey back the next morning, we had a full charge.

The return journey pretty much mirrored the first. Driving rain, multiple charging stops and problems finding unoccupied charging points and, yes, arriving with about 40 miles range left. One thing this trip has shown is that just like petrol or diesel motors, fuel figures take a battering when cold, electrical components and speed come into play.

With combustion engines, however, filling stations – even in the Lake District – are plentiful. Not so with charging points and the same applies to most rural areas. Electric cars are seeing rapidly growing sales and are widely perceived as the future of emissions-free motoring, with combustion engines are due to be phased out by 2030 and hybrids by 2035.

Hopefully, by then, range anxiety and infrastructure problems will be a distant memory.

Even with the current energy crisis, EVs remain cheaper to run than combustion engines. I have driven many electric cars and no matter what the predicted range is, you cannot stop yourself keeping an eye on the range.

It is the first time I have driven one this far, in such awful conditions, and it will be a rare occurrence for most. But for those using it for work and travelling the country, it needs careful consideration before taking the plunge.