Local heroes: Rocking Charity Champions

I recently met the founders of Help for Heroes, Emma and Bryn Parry, the loveliest people who, when asked how it all started, resisted rolling their eyes at answering this for undoubtedly the gazillionth time.  It transpires that it all began as a one off bike ride for a handful of friends and a few years later here we are with hundreds of employees and hundreds of millions of pounds raised.

The Parry family is inspirational (since Help for Heroes began, their grown-up kids have pretty much been hiking up a mountain or sprinting through a ‘fun’ run every weekend raising money), and it made me think about some of our own incredible Rockers who are making a massive difference to others’ lives:

Emma Willis’ Style for Soldiers


Emma Willis is not only one of the best bespoke shirt-makers in the universe (Daniel Craig is a massive fan amongst others), but she also has also set up a charity Style for Soldiers. Emma started the charity to say thank you to the courageous servicemen and women who have been injured and regularly visits centres such as Headley Rehabilitation to make complimentary bespoke shirts for the soldiers. They are measured then they carefully choose fabrics, colours and shirt style. Here you can see the moving letters that show much it has meant to them.

Daring fundraisers Ben Hooper and Jamie McDonald


I guess it goes without saying that people that give to charity are nice but these boys up the ante. We were thrilled to host ‘An Evening with Adventurers’ with them both earlier this year, compered by TV presenter Alexander Armstrong.  The event was a celebration of their bravery and also allowed us to raise money to help their causes. Jamie is bounding with energy, with eye watering tales about where he put manuka honey to ease the pain of his static world bike record and Ben – we take our hat off to anyone who has the mental and physical stamina to tackle the swell of a shark-infested sea to raise money for charity.  You can be part of their quests here’s Jamie’s Superhero Foundation and here’s Ben’s link to buy one of his 2,000 miles.  Ben will be setting off in the New Year – do not miss it!

Ruck off Cancer’s Tour de Ruck


We undoubtedly all know someone that’s been struck by the evil C so it’s inspiring to see new ways cropping up all the time to kick its backside. The Cirencester rugby club took on a challenge earlier this year ‘Tour de Ruck’ to cycle 700 miles in ten days starting in Scotland and ending in a fantastic finale in Twickenham. It was set up just over a year ago and they took on this mega challenge to raise money in memory of their friend Ashley Scrivens – to date they have raised an incredible £43,000 for Cancer Research.

Eat Wild’s Pay it Forward


Not only do they make one of the best burgers you’ll ever taste but these young brothers at Eat Wild in Cirencester have come up with the fantastic ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative.  Customers will be asked if they would like to pay for a meal in advance, to be given to the homeless and disadvantaged of Cirencester. Diners will get 10% off their food bill as a thank you. The ‘Pay it Forward’ meals can be chosen from their seasonal menu with dishes such as Eat Wild’s signature ‘Wild Venison Burger in a Hobbs House Brioche Bun’, ‘New England Style Crayfish Roll’, and ‘Roe Buck Pie’.  Just brilliant.

Longfield’s Colour Fun Run


Could there be anything better than running to raise money and come out with your mates looking like grinning rainbows? Every September you can paint the town red (pink, yellow, green, blue…) when the Longfield Hospice hosts its annual Flying Colours Run event. It takes place at Kemble airport and is to raise money for those with life-limiting illnesses. There’s a 5k run where you can run or walk and a smaller 1k dash for kids. Longfield has also runs other events such as the Big Heart auction, Santa Fun Run and Skydiving .

Little Green Wiggly Machine


Set up by our local hero (now in Oz cooking up a storm) talented chef Rob Rees MBE, The Wiggly Machine offers delicious street food by day and a ‘food poverty pop up’ by night from a converted 1967 citroen van.  The money raised during the day then funds the food provided for vulnerable people.  It’s not just food the machine offers, there are also opportunities to get people back on their feet and a step towards paid work.

Tomcat Trikes


This fantastic company was set up almost twenty years ago and designs and manufactures bespoke special needs equipment including award-winning trikes and chairs as well as shoes and beds. Tomcat Trikes helps both children and adults with special needs and learning disabilities with some slick and practical designs.  As it’s bespoke not only are those using the equipment consulted but also parents, carers, occupational therapists and physios are all consulted to make sure that everything works to the best of its ability. Understandably Tomcat was recently awarded the UK’s highest accolade for business success: the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation.

Special Effect


We just take it all for granted, driving, moving our hands, steering.   Then you see what Special Effect are doing and how they are making gaming something that brings life into the lives of people, particularly children, who often feel excluded.  As everyone’s abilities are different Special Effect will visit those using their gaming equipment, match, modify and above all test it to make sure it’s perfect.  They don’t charge and don’t sell the equipment, their ethos is that they’ll do whatever it takes to raise the quality of life for all their end users and everyone they work with.

Blood Bikes 


There is a group of unpaid heroes at the Severn Freewheelers group. These are dedicated advanced bikers who provide a free out-of-hours courier service for local hospitals. They carry blood, samples, scans, X-rays and human milk….anything essesential that needs to travel to different hospitals.  The service is free and run by tireless volunteers wanting to assist the NHS make things work even better.

National Star College


Star of the BBC’s ‘The Unbreakables’, this is an incredible college working with people with disabiilites that runs a number of fantastic events throughout the year to raise funds. National Star welcomes all getting involved to raise money and change lives…you’ll find the Star Cycling Challenge, zombie laden Thriller Run, the highly entertaining ‘Gloucestershire’s Star Talent’, (see the show here) dancing with Strictly Star and the annual Star Ball. This year alone the college has raised around £75,000 and has lots raising in store…

This is just a handful of very special people and of course there are hundreds and hundreds more working tirelessly to raise money for charity. 

So if you know of someone raising money in the Cotswolds please tweet us at @rockthecotswold so we can let the world know…

Posted by melissa@rockthecotswolds.com