2015: The 2015 Balsall Common Festival was a huge success. Held over a weekend for the first time, it was bigger and better than ever. More people attended, there was more live music, more local organisations represented, and more runners took part in Sunday’s Fun Run, raising thousands of pounds for the Lily Mae Foundation. This year’s Balsall’s Got the Voice competition was incredibly hard to judge because of the fantastic entrants. The Festival surplus was donated to local good causes including : Air Training Cadets (496 Kenilworth and Balsall Common Squadron), Balsall Common Scouts, FastAid, Imba House Charity, Heart of England Retirement Organisation (HERO), Liam Sawyer’s Balsall Common Radio (online community radio station), and The Blessed Robert Griswold Church, with some held over to help plan for the 2016 Festival.
2016: The Festival will take place in 2016, and once again it will be a full weekend of fun. Full details will be announced as soon as they are available.How you can help: Organisers are always keen to hear from people who can help plan and promote the Festival. Get in touch via their website.
2015: It has been another very busy year for The Lily Mae Foundation. The demands for our support and services from bereaved parents and families increased yet again. We provided nearly 500 Memory Boxes to local hospitals. We organised four counselling days with Cruse Bereavement Care and continued to hold our informal monthly support meetings at The White Horse. We also organised a Wave of Light Service and our annual Little Shining Lights Service to remember babies born to early, too poorly or sleeping and continued to offer support via face to face meetings, phone calls and social media contact.
We raised a tremendous £98000 in the year through our Golf Day and Dinner Dance, the Balsall Common Festival Fun Run and through the very many kind donations and fundraising events of our fantastic supporters and volunteers.
2016: Due to the ever increasing workload, the Trustees, who are all volunteers, have recently determined that The Foundation should employ someone on a part-time basis in 2016 to help the Charity to continue grow, develop and respond to the varying needs of bereaved parents and families. This person will be based at our office in Fernhill Court and will enable us to develop and organise our counselling support and advocacy services. Plans are currently in place for our annual Golf Day and Dinner Dance at The Belfry on Friday 8th April and for the third Balsall Common Festival Fun Run in September. We look forward to working with and to helping all those groups and individuals who are planning to organise a fundraising event for us during the year.
How you can help: The Lily Mae Foundation needs volunteers to deliver letter and leaflets locally, to marshal at the Fun Run and to help us put together our Memory Boxes. We are in need of a volunteer with Marketing and PR skills who can help us achieve effective sponsorship deals for our Golf Day and Fun Run fundraising events. We are also always hopeful that residents in Balsall Common will attend the events that we organise each year and share details of our events and posts on Twitter and Facebook.
2015: During the past 12 months the quarterly community magazine for Balsall Common and Berkswell has continued to expand, so much so that it has hit its maximum paging – 64 – throughout the year and due to the generosity of its advertisers been able to help an increasing number of local projects and events. The not-for-profit initiative is run by a team of volunteers who are dedicated to ensuring The Bugle is of a high standard not only in its production but all-importantly in its content. The team relies on the residents of Balsall Common and Berkswell to provide the articles, news of local achievements, reports on local happenings, details of forthcoming events etc to fill its pages. It is essential that those sources are kept alive and built upon.
2016: One of the ideals the Bugle team has tried to fulfil is to engage the interest of the younger generation of the community. Through the Heart of England School the team has been able to encourage young writers to voice their views on issues facing them and also get involved with projects in which they are interested. We have also carried news from HofE and BC Primary School in all the editions as well as reports on the junior sections of the cricket, rugby and tennis clubs. And the activities of the scouts and girl guides regularly feature in the magazine.
Our reports on the Birmingham Airport flightpaths controversy and the HS2 conundrum have kept the villages informed at every turn and will continue to do so. There are issues cropping up all the time which affect the community and The Bugle will continue to give them in-depth coverage with the help of those affected most – you, the residents.
How you can help: In 2016 the team is keen to expand youth coverage and would welcome input from young people throughout Balsall Common and Berkswell.
2015: This year, St Peter’s decided to make a special effort to reach out to our friends and neighbours in Balsall Common. We continued to visit a different road every month and knock on every door, to tell people that we would be praying for them and ask if they had any special requests. Our ‘Say One for Me’ programme has had some amazing responses! We were also present at and enjoyed taking part in the Village Festival – where lots of people tied messages to our ‘prayer wall’ while the children took part in ‘Messy Church’ activity, and others tried to soak the Vicar (see pictures). At Easter, we celebrated Palm Sunday by a procession with Shetland Ponies! And, most exciting of all – we appointed our ‘Children and Families Missioner’ – Claire Reid, who has promised lots of new things for 2016.
2016: Well, more of the same; (festival services like Easter and Christmas, “Switch” – a lively family-friendly service on the Third Sunday of every month, Café Church, Bumps and Babies, Play & Stay, Bible study groups) – plus lots more! There are also quite a few social events, like the Burns Night supper and the summer Barbeque. On Sunday 31st January at 3pm we’re having our very first Pet Service and we’re planning more family fun activities on Sunday afternoons, so watch this space! We’re starting a new monthly Saturday night youth club for years 5 and 6, where kids can enjoy a range of activities including baking, drama, crafts, singing, or playing instruments, to name just a few. And we shall be holding a series of parenting courses, starting with the tricky age of teenagers.
How you can help: Well, please come along and see what we’re up to, spread the word and get involved! We’d love to hear from you if you would like to volunteer in any way. But most of all, St Peter’s is ‘Here to serve’ so we want to help you! You can find what is going on if you Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or you can contact us through our website. And do keep an eye on our A frame noticeboard right outside church, where we try to put large, bright and easy to see notices about coming events!
2015: Not a good year at the Jubilee Centre! We lost a large chunk of our funding from Balsall Parish Council, and had to stop the youth-work at the end of the Summer Term in July. Thanks to those organisations who carried on renting the hall and running their activities, especially Churches Together’s ‘Coffee Together’ on the First Saturday of each month; Friends in Retirement, who do a Coffee Morning on the Third Friday, and Peppercorns, who are open all the other Friday mornings to sell wholefoods, spices, and pre-loved books! Also welcome to Slimming World, who meet on Monday evenings.
2016: We’re back, from January 5th, with a full programme of Youth Evenings at ‘The Rock’ – see the website, flyers and Twitter for details. This is possible thanks to Berkswell Parish Council, Solihull Borough Council Neighbourhood Services, and The Big Lottery! Also, thanks to Comic Relief and the Heart of England Community Foundation, we shall be running a series of ‘Sport and Exercise’ classes on Thursday evenings – we look forward to seeing lots of young people attend and enjoying all these.
How you can help: Please bring your young people to our events, and support those activities for older people which take place here. We especially would value some new Volunteers to help out on Youthclub nights, and if anyone would like to serve the Community by joining our management group, we would welcome your new ideas and enthusiasm!
We are also looking for any organisation in the village who would like to put on more activities and use some of the times when the Jubilee Centre is not already booked for regular events – we have fitted it up with a new Kitchenette, Projector and other useful equipment, just waiting for someone to use it! Most mornings and afternoons, and all weekends are available for you to run a group or event here!
Singer-songwriter and former Berkswell cricketer Sam Ostler is enjoying life right now, having released debut EP “She’s Leaving” on Friday 4th December. The 5-track debut containing entirely original works, will come as little surprise to anyone that heard any of his repertoire at September’s Balsall Common Festival.
The 22 year-old has had a busy year musically – which included a Saturday night headline gig at the O2 Academy in Birmingham – whilst holding down a full-time job:
“My boss has helped me out tremendously with time and financial support. I couldn’t have got my EP done without his help and couldn’t ask for a better boss.”
Judging by the quality of Sam’s songwriting, he will not the only grateful recipient of boss Dean Attwell’s generosity, for helping his charge get his music published. Sam’s creativity and songwriting ability suggest there is a lot more to come. For now though, Sam still relies on his shifts working for Dean at Oakland International in Beoley near Redditch.
Sam Ostler – She’s Leaving – Out Now!
Sam’s EP is available for download on iTunes and can also be found on Spotify and Amazon Music. For fans of physical products you can also contact Sam directly via Facebook to request She’s Leaving on CD.
Sam Ostler at The Lant – Saturday 19th December
Sam Ostler returns to his old stomping ground at Berkswell Cricket Club as part of a music line-up that includes Matty Coles and Indica Campbell. Indica – daughter of legendary UB40 frontman Ali Campbell – also released a debut EP.
Oakes Farm Shop is gearing up for Christmas. This Saturday they are hosting a turkey tasting session with Adlington Ltd.
Everyone is welcome to come along to ‘try before you buy’ between 10.30am and 2pm on Saturday 28 November. The producers themselves will also be on hand to offer cooking tips and answer any questions that you may have.
Adlington Ltd are just one of three local businesses supplying meat to Oakes Farm customers this Christmas. So if you’d like to support them find out more on Oakes Farm Christmas webpage.
Christmas orders are now being taken for collection on 22, 23 or 24 December.
Oakes Farm Shop are also producing a range of Christmas hampers for the first time this year.