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, 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 and for more information on Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, please visit

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 ( & The Lordos Beach Hotel ( 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 ( Prices start at around £20 per day. 
  • For more information, visit 

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.

The market’s back in town

The monthly farmers’ market is to return to Sutton Coldfield. From left are Liam Hall of the Military Chef, Milly Humphris of Cake-A-Daisy, Sutton Coldfield BID manager Michelle Baker and Nick Sutherland of Nick the Fish

Farmers’ Market returns in boost for Sutton Coldfield town centre

A popular farmers market is to return to Sutton Coldfield in a bid to help revive the town centre. The Farmers & Craft Market returns in September and sponsored by Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID).

The speciality market is just one of the BID’s ideas to raise the profile of the town ­– following the launch of a vibrant new ‘Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield’ brand – with special events, competitions and improvements designed to make it a destination to spend time, eat, drink, shop and relax.

The markets will take place along the Parade on the last Sunday of the month from 10am-2pm, with dates confirmed as September 25, October 30 and November 27.

Traders already confirmed for the first market include stalls selling local organic meat, a fishmonger, a cheesemaker and fresh pies as well as colourful cakes by baker Cakes-A-Daisy.

Sutton Coldfield BID manager Michelle Baker has delivered successful markets elsewhere, with one being shortlisted to the top six in the UK this year.

She said: “As a Business Improvement District we are exploring ways to boost footfall in the town centre, and introducing quality speciality markets selling local produce and artisan gifts will be a reason to visit Sutton Coldfield.

“This is a three-month trial and, if supported by the local community, it will become a year-round event, 12 months of the year.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to Birmingham City Council for supporting our vision and approving our application, and now we need local residents to support their local town and shop locally. By boosting footfall in Sutton Coldfield, we will be supporting existing businesses, and the town will also appeal to new businesses to fill the vacant shops.”

Nick Sutherland, whose company Nick the Fish trades across the region, said: “I think it’s fantastic that Sutton town centre is going to get a proper market and we feel privileged and honoured to be asked to get involved.

“We’re excited to get started and start bringing good food to the streets of Sutton Coldfield.”

Former serviceman Liam Hall’s handmade chocolate company, The Military Chef, will also be selling their delicious, sweet treats.

He said: “We are 100 per cent behind this idea – it will be a really good addition to the area and will provide a reason for people to visit the town centre on a Sunday.”

The earliest record of a market in Sutton Coldfield dates back more than 700 years. In 1300 King Edward I granted a licence to Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, to hold a market in Sutton Coldfield.

For more information on the new Farmers & Craft Market, contact Michelle Baker at

Superheroes on the march in Sutton Park

St Giles Hospice calls for Marvel-lous fundraisers to take part in Hero Walk 2022

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s St Giles Hospice’s superhero-themed charity fundraising event in Sutton Coldfield. 

Superheroes from near and far are being called to pull on a cape and show they care at the St Giles Hospice Hero Walk on Saturday 24th September at Sutton Park.

Zoe Wright, Events Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “We can’t wait to host our first-ever event in Sutton Coldfield. Our Hero Walk has activities and entertainment for everyone. You can enjoy games, refreshments and pose for some super family snaps before setting off on your activity adventure.”

The 5km family walk and fun day will kick off at 10am, with a welcome speech at 10.30am before the walk starts at 11am. Entry is £3 for under threes, £6 for under 16s and £10 for adults. Doggy sidekicks can take part for free.

Zoe continued: “The entry fee for this heroic event only covers the administration cost of Hero Walk, but by asking friends and family to sponsor you, you will raise vital funds to help us continue to provide care and support, free of charge, for patients and their families.

“All heroes are encouraged to arrive in their costumes ready to leap into action and help raise funds for their local hospice.

“If you’d like to take on the challenge in true hero style, St Giles capes can be pre-ordered or bought on the day for a £5 donation. 

“At St Giles our heroes are the people who support our events and especially our dedicated supporters and volunteers who help to ensure that we can continue to provide our care to local patients and their families. We’re incredibly grateful to our communities for their continued support and generosity.”

Teaching Assistant Natasha Saunders, 35, from Tamworth first experienced St Giles when staff cared for mother-in-law, Kim, who received end of life care when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Natasha, who is taking part in Hero Walk in memory of Kim, said: “The Hero Walk is such an amazing day – we also took part in 2019. It’s suitable for all ages big and small, we shared plenty of memories, had lots of giggles and we came together as a family to remember Kim and in support of a charity that helped us the most. 

“Taking part was our way of giving back to St Giles Hospice and thanking them for everything they have done for us as a family.

“Care is given not only to patients, but the most amazing support is also given to families. Great care and great comfort deserves rewards, I would encourage everyone to support the hospice. We want to make sure that St Giles will still be there for other families, like ours, when they need it.

“A huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we are incredibly grateful for everything you did for us all as a family. Thank you for taking all the stress and worry away and putting us all at peace on our short stay.”

To sign up to the St Giles Hospice Hero Walk, please visit