P-P-P Penguins on parade

Flipping marvellous Christmas event

Flippered friends – helped by their Elf keeper – spread festive fun as they charmed children and posed for pictures with shoppers Sutton Coldfield Town centre

The giant penguins on parade took part in the first of six special Christmas weekends waddled down the Parade.

The visit was the first of an extended series of Christmas activities which form part of the new Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield 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.

Bid Manager Michelle Baker said: “The Penguins were very funny, and the children absolutely loved them.

“They were the perfect way to start off our Christmas plans for the town centre – and there’s lots more to come.

“Next up is our Christmas Farmers Market next Sunday, from 10am until 2pm, but watch out because the Grinch will be coming along too!”

In recent months events organised under the vibrant new Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield brand – including a visit by a giant T Rex and a popular new Farmer’s Market – have seen thousands of extra people flood into the town centre.

The BID has also announced that it will be funding four ‘Guardians’ to patrol the town centre during the festive period, to watch out for anti-social behaviour and keep revellers safe and secure.


27th Nov         Christmas Farmers Market (45 stalls), the Grinch, free facepainting, Christmas crafts

3rd Dec           Meet Santa, Roller Skating Christmas Presents and the animated elves

9th Dec            Giant snow globe, the Grinch, amazing animatronic Polar Bear

10th Dec         Giant snow globe, meet Santa and the Grinch, the Gingerbreads

11th Dec         Giant snow globe, the Grinch

11th Dec         Breakfast with Santa – Bottle of Sack (8:30am-10:30am)

17th Dec         See Santa, meet the Grinch and the Gingerbreads

Charity marks name change


Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust awards grants to local organisations and individuals to alleviate hardship and has recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its name change from ‘Sutton Coldfield Municipal Charities’ to ‘Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust’.

The name change appropriately reflected the purpose of the organisation within the town, as an independent charity.
This anniversary represents a key milestone for the Trust and has allowed the opportunity for the organisation to reflect on some significant achievements over the past decade, including awarding £11.8 million in grants, 971 grant applications from individuals and organisations and 3,100 applications for school clothing grants.

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust’s grants have supported key projects that include schools, community organisations, sports clubs and faiths. Some of the organisations that the Trust has funded over the past
decade include, ‘Home Start’, ‘Stepping Stones’, ‘Spitfire Advice and Support Services’ and ‘Speight of the Arts’.

Ray Goodwin, Chief Executive at Spitfire Advice and Support Services, commented: “The Trust has previously financially supported our ‘Money and Advice Service Centre’, and the continuation of this grant allowed us to implement this service to the local community as a long-term programme. With a total grant of £34,000, we have been able to provide free and confidential advice to over 174 disadvantaged families to help them achieve their full potential.”

Since the Trust’s Almshouses were built in the 1800s, the Trust has prioritised maintaining the current forty-six properties to the highest standard; over the past decade, the charitable trust spent over £1m on refurbishing the properties which continue to be maintained and improved to a high standard.

Tina Swani

Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust continues to support individuals and organisations in the local area to enhance the quality of life for all in the Royal Town. This is vital during the current cost-of-living crisis. Today,
the Trust’s assets include 1,000 acres of land, many commercial properties and financial investments, which
provide an income to help alleviate hardship for those in the borough of Sutton Coldfield.

Richard Beard, Chief Executive at The Jericho Foundation, added: “Being granted two special awards by the Trust has been significant to the development of our modern apprenticeship scheme. The grants have allowed us to support over 64 young individuals in kick-starting their career.”

Tina Swani, Chief Executive at Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, said: “We are delighted to announce the 10- year anniversary of the Trust’s name change and to be able to reflect on some of the many significant grants that we have awarded to organisations and individuals over the past decade.

“We hope that over the next decade, Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust’s grants will continue to create a positive impact and help to alleviate hardship for those in the local area, particularly during the current cost of living crisis.”

10 years of giving

2012 – The name of the Trust was changed to ‘Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust’

2014 – A Special Award of £670,000 was made to the Sutton Coldfield YMCA by the Trust.

2016 – Nearly £1.2m in grants plus a Special Award of £200,000 was made to the Good Hope Hospital.

2018 – A total of £1.36m was made in grants, including a Special Award of £297,252 to the Jericho Foundation.

2020 – Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust awarded over £1.2m in grants and made another award to the Jericho Foundation, totalling to a £339,636 grant over three years.

2021 – The Trust celebrated the 75-year anniversary of the Almshouse Association and helped 737 children with uniform grants throughout the year.

Curtain up on Sutton cinema again

The curtain is set to rise again at an iconic Sutton Coldfield cinema. The Empire has been closed two years will soon reopen according to town MP Andrew Mitchell.

Situated on the corner of Maney Corner the Grade II listed building brought the curtain down for the last time during the Covid lockdown in November 2020. 

Since then the cinema revealed plans to sell off its car park to retirement home developers, McCarthy & Stone, which was given the go-ahead by Birmingham City Council ’s planning committee in September. The deal included a £200,000 payment from the developers to help with upgrading the cinema. 

Mr Mitchelll is reported to have spoken to Empire Cinema chief Justin Ribbons who has confirmed the cinema will open ‘early in the new year’. Mr Mitchell said the proposed re-opening date could be as soon as January.

Mr Mitchell in his weekly newsletter said: “Great news on our Royal Town cinema. I have spoken today with the chief executive of our cinema, Justin Ribbons, who has now confirmed that a refurbished and enhanced cinema is scheduled to reopen ‘early in the new year’.

“The cinema will be undergoing significant upgrades with brand new seating, carpets and internal repainting. This is very good news and I have accepted an invitation to perform the reopening ceremony!

“There has been widespread and serious support throughout the Royal Town to have our cinema reinstated. I’d like to thank all those who have campaigned and supported the reopening and enhancing of this priceless local asset – our cinema.”

Hospice gift card scheme launched

Emily Rich, Charity Shop Influencer, @found_it_at_the_charity_shop and Matthew Chapman, the St Giles Hospice Lichfield Furniture Shop Assistant Manager

21 St Giles shops to accept card

St Giles Hospice is excited to have signed up to the first multi-retailer gift card that can be used exclusively in its shops including those in Sutton Coldfield and others across the city, county and wider country.

The Charity Shop Gift Card will be sold and accepted in all 21 St Giles Hospice shops, including its furniture and book stores, to help raise funds to make a difference to local people, and their families, living with a terminal illness. The gift card scheme has been developed in partnership with the Charity Retail Association (CRA) and supports the growing second-hand revolution, helping to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

The CRA estimates that charities divert 339,000 tonnes of textiles away from landfill every year which saves councils £31million in annual waste disposal charges.

Emma Yates, Head of Retail at St Giles Hospice, said: “We’re delighted to be joining the Charity Shop Gift Card scheme. We’ve joined just in time for Christmas, offering our shoppers a sustainable option when buying presents and the chance to donate money to good causes.

“The gift card is such an exciting way to introduce more people to our 21 charity shops across the region and show them the great range of clothes, furniture and other hidden gems that we sell.”

Lee Fellows, Managing Director of The Charity Shop Gift Card said: “We’re thrilled to have St Giles Hospice join the scheme. There are now over 100 charity shops across the Midlands that accept the gift card providing a huge choice for people looking to shop sustainably whist helping a great cause.”

The cards themselves are recyclable and compostable and are also available to purchase online at . Find your nearest St Giles Hospice shop here: www.stgileshospice.com/charity-shops/locations


Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin

Volvo XC40 Recharge

By Bill McCarthy

Volvo has gone the Full Monty with electric with their small XC40 leading the charge, if you pardon the pun. The firm has confirmed it will be an electric-only car manufacturer by 2030 and will roll out several additional electric models in the coming years.

The stylish Recharge is their first 100 per cent electric SUV, offering the usual Volvo refinement, and depending on the model, a claimed range of 261 miles.

They are not cheap, this range starts at £45,750, but Volvo is a premium brand and you do get plenty for your money.

It is a stylish SUV looking very much like non-electric versions, with smart light clusters to front and rear and a choice of striking alloy wheels. It has a sleeker look and the front lights feature the now familiar ‘Thor’s Hammer’ design. It also features a discrete rear spoiler.

Like other electric vehicles, the grille has been blanked out, rendering the car less attractive as a result.

The interior is real premium quality and dominated by the nine-inch tablet style touchscreen and a 12-inch TFT display behind the smart multi-function steering wheel.

The central screen controls major functions and now features Google Maps, navigation, infotainment and smartphone connectivity. There are also a number of apps available.

It has a real high-end feel with leather style micro tech powered seats, soft touch finish and a minimalist approach to buttons and and dials.

All models  are well equipped, and  standard kit includes two-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electric windows and door mirrors and host of other goodies.

This model  adds 20-inch alloys, Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Harman Kardon with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound, powered boot, power-adjustable and heated front seats, adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof and a 360-degree parking camera.

Like most electric cars, acceleration is instant and the 231bhp on tap from the electric motor powers the car to 60mph in seven seconds. Pretty much hot hatch territory.

A fairly lengthy road trip put the claimed 256 mile range to the test, as well as recharging availability on the UK roads.

Hook up though, and it can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent capacity in around half an hour using a 150kW fast charger, if you can find one, otherwise a full hit using the 11kW onboard charger will take eight hours

Despite being an SUV, it sits fairly low to the ground and feels stable, cornering well and good feedback from the well weighted steering.

In practical terms it has plenty to offer with the rear seats folding and tumbling to provide maximum stowage space of 1,295 litres. There is even 21 litres of extra  space at the front beneath the bonnet lid, where the combustion engine would have been. 

Safety kit is comprehensive, with City Safety which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking, including at junctions,.

There is also a host of other technologies, like autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian, animal and cyclist detection and front collision warning are included on this model.

Also standard are full set of airbags and lane mitigation, which steers you back into the correct lane if drifting.


Volvo XC40 Recharge Pro

Price: £51,750

Mechanical: 231bhp, electric motor driving with 69 kWh battery driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 7 seconds

Range : 262 miles

CO2 emissions: 0g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles