CAN YOU help the Virgin train staff with their latest community fundraising project?

Virgin staff based at Manchester Piccadilly are a charitable group, each year they choose a worthwhile Manchester cause that needs a little help in order to achieve something amazing.

This year it’s the Neonatal Unit at North Manchester Hospital.

The staff on the unit offer much needed support to people who are affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth, and work closely with SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity.


They have two inter-connected rooms set aside for ladies who have to give birth to a baby that has already died, to give Mum and her closest relatives the privacy and attention they need at such a difficult time.

While one room is used for the actual delivery and has to remain a sterile, clinical environment, the other is for the initial couple of days following the birth, when constant medical assistance and support is often needed.

There is a double bed with homely bedding, an old TV and DVD player, hot drink making facilities and a limited selection of books and DVDs.

Staff have named it the Rainbow Room.


The room has become very tired over the years; the magnolia walls, complete with holes, could really do with some attention while some new bedding, cushions, throws and other items  would make a massive difference.

The Virgin Piccadilly team are eager to make this happen, as well as adding a new TV/DVD player, a new colour scheme with some matching pictures, a new table and shelving unit as well as a comfy chair for Dad or other close relative to relax while Mum rests.

The list is quite long and everything needs to be wipe clean to prevent any infection – there will be some considerable cost involved.

The Virgin team are volunteering their time to go to the unit and decorate it, installing any new items they can get their hands on and are in the process of typing up a ‘Wish List’ to take round local businesses to see what people can donate. As the items are collected they will be knocked off the list, the team are hoping to add a couple of additional, low cost items to the existing remembrance garden too.


The Virgin team have already kicked off the collection by donating their own ‘Love to Shop‘ vouchers, awarded for ‘going above and beyond’ while at work, and are using these to buy items for the room.

They are hoping for support with an advertising kick back – When the project is complete there will be a selection of advertisement options in the newsletter which is sent out locally, with details of every business that has donated time, money or goods:) They are also hoping to get the local media involved….

While I have still got your attention I would please ask you to bear with me and take a look at this request for £200 for much needed text books, from one of the staff at the neonatal unit, Michelle:

“At our unit  we run a full day study day which is on twice a month. Its a full day of study and role play of obstetric emergencies that we come into in our working day which enables us to deal with saving a woman’s and babies life by acting correctly and everyone knowing there role in the certain emergency. We need to purchase 30 books that will be used for the staff to read up on before their study session, then they will return for the next lot of staff to use at the next session. You would be invited to come in and watch a prompt session and see what we actually do in an emergency and how the books would benefit us greatly and what an investment they will be for future teaching.’

The books would be reused and help many people, not just the parents going through the trauma of complications, but also staff – helping them to be confident in dealing with this difficult situation.

The Virgin staff have scattered collection tins around Piccadilly Station and they are hoping to raise enough money to make a real difference.

Apologies for the length of this post – there is so much information to share about this great cause and I hope I haven’t overloaded your brain….

Some statistics:

Every day, 11 babies are stillborn and six newborn babies die – that’s 6,500 baby deaths a year.

One in every 200 babies delivered in the UK is stillborn (that is, the baby has died during pregnancy or birth any time from 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards)

One-third of stillborn babies – that’s around 1,200 babies every year – die after a full-term pregnancy (37 or more weeks).


All offers of fundraising advice, donations or suggestions would be much appreciated, contact details are below:)


*This blog is on behalf of a train driver I came across on Twitter – his name is John Young – @PendolinoDriver and he spends much of his time fundraising for community projects.

John has previously which raised over £40k
and  raising over £32k
and, more recently John organised the pendocycle200 where he got a team of riders to leave Piccadilly with Virgins first train then they cycled 200 miles to make it to Euston in tome for Virgins last train back to manchester. This raised over £16k

He had been approached for help by a friend who is part of the Virgin team and, not having a blog, he put a Tweet out for a hand. The rest, as they say, is history….

Contact: John Young – Train Driver     @PendolinoDriver


Caring youngsters walk 35km for charity


WHILST most of us were relaxing this Sunday, a team of four Sale children completed an incredible challenge to raise money for The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.

They joined together at the beginning of the summer holidays to begin fundraising and have already surpassed their own target of £200 with plans to raise even more in a variety of innovative fundraising events.

The four youngsters, three of which live on Exmouth Road, completed 250 laps of the cul-de-sac – an amazing 21.1 miles or 35km.

The walk took 8 hours, 47 minutes and 42 seconds.


Determined to complete the whole distance they completed the challenge despite some minor injuries along the way.

Best friends, Molly Nugent and Emily Marshall, both 10-years-old, decided to raise money for the charity as Emily’s mum, Nicki was diagnosed with the painful disease twenty years ago and the girls wanted to help others in the same situation.

During a sleep-over Molly and Emily discussed ways in which they could raise money and awareness for RA and decided to support the great work offered by NRAS.

Emily said: ” We don’t like to see anyone in pain, especially my Mum. No-one should suffer with the pain caused by this disease and we want to raise money to help people with RA, and to find a cure.”

They were joined by Emily’s cousin, Dani Heywood, 12 and neighbour, Luke Weader, 10-years-old, to become a determined team of four.

Dad even helped out and manned the refreshment table, as well as marking off laps on a very large tally chart.

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As a team they organised and hosted a table top sale, selling home-made lemonade, cake and biscuits at a bargain price of 20p each.

Ingenious Emily even began to charge people to enter the house and between them they raised just over £14.

Next up was the sponsored walk, Molly had suggested they do 500 laps of Exmouth Road originally but fortunately their parents thought this sounded rather a lot and it was agreed they would do 250 laps.

This turned out to be a good decision as when Graham, Emily’s Dad, measured the distance of a lap it transpired that 250 would actually total over 20 miles and would obviously take quite some time…

Around the 18 mile point the girls began to struggle, Molly had pulled a muscle and Emily’s feet were swollen. Asked if they wanted to stop the walk Emily replied: “People with RA suffer pain everyday, they can’t just walk away from it. I am going to finish this walk for Mum and others like her.”


Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a chronic, progressive and disabling auto-immune disease, affecting 690,000 adults in the UK. It is a systemic disease, which means it can affect the whole body and internal organs. RA is more common than both multiple sclerosis and leukaemia although it often is misunderstood as they do not get much publicity.There is currently no known cure.


Nicki, 39, said: “Support from the community was overwhelming. Most of the cul-de-sac were out cheering the children on and I am so proud of all four of them.”

Diagnosed at 19, Nicki has struggled with the pain of RA for many years. Through lack of publicity there are many misconceptions about this disease.

Nicki has agreed to the following pictures to be shared for the first time, in a bid to raise awareness of the reality of living with RA and to dispel the ignorance that sadly surrounds this misunderstood disease that could affect any of us at any time…..



The team are now busy planning a fundraising tea party, to be held during the last week of the summer holidays.

The tea party will be held on Exmouth Road and there will be refreshments and delicious home-made cakes for sale.

Tickets for the event are priced at £3.00 for adults and £1.50 for children, numbers are limited and early booking is recommended to avoid disappointment.

For tickets or to offer a donation to the tea party, please contact:

Donations can be given direct to the teams chosen charity, NRAS, via

For more information on Rheumatoid Arthritis see The NRAS website.


Polycystic Kidney Disease…Fundraising and Awareness


PROUD parents James and Jo Gray are holding a fundraising raffle to raise money for research into Polycystic kidney disease after their son, Isaac was diagnosed with the illness at three-months-old.

Following concerns during pregnancy Isaac spent the first week of his life in intensive care before his condition was identified and the couple were told that it was a hereditary illness, meaning there was a fifty percent chance any future children would be affected too.

baby Isaac             Isaac Gray

Polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, is characterised by numerous fluid-filled cysts in the kidneys and often the liver and pancreas. Over time, the cysts grow and multiply, replacing normal healthy tissue and causing the kidneys to lose their function. Kidneys can enlarge to 3 to 4 times their normal size.

PKD is at present incurable. There is no treatment that will stop the cysts developing and growing. The primary focus is on managing the symptoms. However, a number of drugs are currently being trialled around the world aimed at slowing the decline of kidney function, giving future hope of an improved quality of life for those affected and their children.


Mum Jo, 27 has set up a just giving page for donations, as well as a Facebook page with details of the charity raffle taking place at Ashton on Mersey Golf Club, which is close to the family home.

Talking of her fundraising plans, Jo said, ” Raising money and awareness turns a situation that could be negative into something more hopeful. The more money raised, the more research that can be done and the bigger the chance that a cure or treatment will be found.”

Tickets for the event are selling out fast and donations for the raffle are welcome.

Local businesses to offer prizes so far include Natural Beauty, Treehouse Crafts, Daly’s Restaurant, Silverblades, Hair by Danielle, Bean and Brush, Agape Bride, Manchester Made, Nail and Beauty Clinic, RAN personal training, Ithaca Hair and Ashton On Mersey Golf club.

James and Jo would also like to thank Wedding Day Photography for the use of a photo-booth as well as The Window Company for their generous donation towards the buffet.

pkd poster

Mission not-so Impossible for Sale Trio




THRILL seeking sisters Bella Forster and Sarah Bogart are back from their European Crumball Rally adventure, winning third place over-all and raising almost seven hundred pound for charity.

The girls were joined their mum, Chris Bogart, who stepped in when friend Kelly Johnson fell ill at the last minute.

The trio – from the Sale West estate took part in Crumball Rally, a three-day annual event driving from France to Prague in a customized Peugeot 206.

Raising money for three charities, the girls took part in the race called Mission Impossible, covering 1,500 miles and passing through four countries whilst completing a series of challenges.

Bella, 34, who lives on Chepstow Avenue, Sale said: “ One of the funniest challenges was when we drove through Switzerland dressed as Smurfs.”

Whilst in fancy dress the team had to navigate across The Stelvio Pass, which boasts the highest stretch of road in the Eastern Alps, it was here that they came across a fellow driver that had broke down.

Stopping to offer sandwiches and water, as well as replacing a faulty fuse, the girl’s kindness was rewarded when they finished the race and were declared overall third, for both best car design and team spirit.

Chris Bogart, 52 and grandmother of 19 said:  “It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, and I loved every minute of it.”

The girls are planning on returning to Crumball next year, in a bid to raise more money for their chosen charities.


Europe-bound for charity car rally

SISTERS Bella Forster and Sarah Bogart have teamed up with friend Kelly Johnson for the fund-raising adventure of a lifetime across Europe.

They are taking part in The Crumball Rally, a three day annual event where they will be driving from France to Prague in a customised Peugeot 206.

The race is called Mission Impossible, covers 1500 miles and passes through Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany.

mission route map

Raising money for three different charities, the artwork on the car reflects this with the creative colours and design.

Bella, 34, who lives on Chepstow Avenue, Sale said: “I support MIND and chose the jigsaw piece to symbolise how puzzling mental health can be. Sarah’s supporting Cancer Research with the pink bodywork whilst the blue represents Kelly’s choice of charity, The Alzheimer’s Society.

rally pic

They have already raised over £700 and have had lots of support from local business owners including J.Davidsons Scrap Metal Processors in Broadheath donating the car and a full tank of petrol whilst Quayside Bakery, Eccles are supplying them with bread and doughnuts for the journey as well as making a generous £300 cash donation.

The donated Peugeot 206 has a fabulous spray job, done by Sarah, 30 and the clutch has been fitted by mechanic student Kelly, 29.


The trio, who have six children between them, are eager to raise as much cash and awareness for their chosen charities as possible and welcome all donations, as well as advertising space on their car for business owners wanting to support the cause.

For more information, or to make a donation please contact Bella on 07825 642870 or email


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