£22,000 raised and 89 donations made

Balsall Common Lions Club third annual celebration evening highlighted once again the amazing work they do in Balsall Common and further afield.

Over 85% of the money raised by the Lions Club is spent locally, the rest goes to national and international good causes. Members subscription fees pay for all administrative costs.

The 40 local Lions Club members are part of Lions International which has a total of 1.4 million members worldwide, operating in 206 countries. Together they work to combat hunger, sight loss and childhood cancer around the world, as well as organising disaster relief funds wherever they are needed.

Closer to home, many local clubs, societies, venues and organisations benefit from the Lions’ hard work.  The annual bonfire in partnership with the Sports Association and sponsored by local businesses is a huge success. Elves from eight local organisations helped Santa’s sleigh visit Balsall Common, Berkswell, Fen End and Burton Green this  year, raising £7000.

One of the highlights of the evening was the nomination of Lion Derrick Thompkins to the Melvin Jones Fellowship. Derrick is just the 6th member of Balsall Common Lions to receive the honour in the 44 years the club has been running. His name will go up on the wall in Lions International HQ in Chicago. One of the key things Derrick does for the Club is to set off the fireworks each year on Bonfire night. Over 3000 people attended the 2017 event and over the last 30 years it has raised more than £150,000. Derrick’s fireworks expertise has really helped to boost this figure.

Lion President Steve Meakin with Derrick Thompkins and Andy Pemberton








Cheques totalling £12,500 were given out at the presentation evening.  The beneficiaries were Balsall and Berkswell Hornets Football Club, Balsall Common Scouts, Berkswell and Balsall Common Rugby Club, Berkswell Cricket Club, Burton Green Residents’ Association, Berkswell Scouts, The Jubilee Centre, Fast Aid, ATC, Heart of England School hardship fund, Meriden School and Talking Newspapers. This year’s travel bursary was awarded to Amy Shadbolt of the 2nd Balsall Common Scouts to go towards her attendance at the 2019 World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, USA.

The Little Ray of Sunshine dementia cafe based in Kenilworth received £1200 raised through a 100 Club Draw with an additional £500 donated to the Cameron Grant Memorial Fund. This year’s 100 Club beneficiary will be the Friendship Project for Children.

Cathy Edwards Little Ray of Sunshine Cafe








A series of Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to local groups and organisations who help the Lions achieve as much as they do.  They went to: Unity Automotive, the Heart of England Coop, C P Barbers, The Bugle, The Village Hall, Balsall Parish Council, Alan Heath & Sons, Jamieson Christie, Angela Jaynes Florist, Oakes Farm Shop and the A1 Motorshop.  Carl Hemming of Ginger Property also received a certificate for his support of the annual bonfire and Santa’s sleigh. He also nominated the Cameron Grant Memorial Fund as his chosen charity to receive a donation instead of a fee for his work.

Lion Ray with Evan Grant from the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust









Lion President Steve Meakin said: “Once again our annual presentation night is a fantastic chance to reflect on the club’s hard work through the year, to thank all of those people who have supported us and made it possible for us to raise so much money for other local clubs and societies. Our 40 members, and many more friends, work very hard to achieve what we do. We’re always looking for more people to join us, either as a full member or for specific events. If you’d like to find out more about joining us please get in touch. Call Mark Whitfield on 07795 184745, email whitfieldfamily@btinternet.com or send us a message on Facebook www.facebook.com/BalsallCommonLionsClub. Here’s to a fantastic 2018.”

Pedal power helping to beat prostate cancer

Balsall Common resident Richard Murray is riding from London to Amsterdam in support of the charity Prostate Cancer UK.

He’s part of a team from business coaching company Elephants Child. Their Managing Director Martin Brown, lost his father-in-law to the disease.

In total the team has raised £7000 with four weeks to go. The 145-mile trip is backed by the English Football League and the League Managers Association with high-profile former players and managers such as Les Ferdinand, Terry Butcher and Simon Grayson taking part.

Balsall Common Lions Club are just one of many local organisations, residents and businesses to support the team. They have a long history of supporting prostate cancer awareness events. They are organising a prostate cancer screening session in Balsall Common this weekend, their 3rd such event. The screening takes place at St Peters Church Hall from 10am to 1pm.

Balsall Common Lions Club Committee Service Chairman, Lion Steve Meakin with Richard Murray

Richard Murray explained: “This is a cause dear to my heart as my grandfather and uncle both lost their own battles with cancer. Prostate Cancer UK has a simple ambition – to stop men dying from this condition. I’m looking forward to getting into the saddle and raising money in support of this tremendous charity. Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far.

“I’m also desperate to raise awareness and encourage men to get themselves checked. We’re notoriously bad at visiting doctors and looking after our health. Anyone that has concerns and can’t make Saturday’s screening should book an appointment with their GP,” he added.

The trip begins on 9 June and will see around 500 riders making the two-day journey aiming to raise a total of £500,000 for the charity.

To donate please visit Richard’s Just Giving page.

For more information on the event visit Prostate Cancer UK’s website.

Weekend Wind Down Walk – 12 May 2017

The Balsall Common and Berkswell Marie Curie Fundraising Group are holding a charity walk this Friday 12 May. The walk begins and ends at the Bear in Berskwell with a choice of start times between 6pm and 7pm. Their volunteers will guide you along the course.

The event will take you through the Berkswell countryside giving you an opportunity to relax ready for the weekend, enjoy the beautiful scenery and good company.  The approximately 2.5mile walk is suitable for all the family with no difficult inclines. Sturdy footwear is recommended with all welcome, even bring the dog along!

The aim is to provide a relaxing way to raise money and awareness for Marie Curie with any donations funding the West Midlands hospice and West Midlands nursing services.
Why not wear something yellow and turn the Berkswell countryside yellow for Marie Curie?

For more information about the walk please contact John Thomas on 07703 394521 or email the organisers.
For information about their events and activities like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/MarieCurieBCB

£25 000 raised and 5 000 hours of service

Those were just two of the amazing achievements recognised by Balsall Common Lions Club last week at their second annual celebration evening. President Dave Blakeman told the audience of the fantastic things the club has achieved recently.

Over the last five years the club has raised a total of £105 000 in our community, including £24 321.95 last year, of which 75% was spent locally.

The Lions don’t just raise money, they also donate many hours of their time – organising Bingo evenings in the Village Hall, serving meals for homeless people at the SIFA Fireside project, bulb planting, and of course ensuring Santa visits Balsall Common and surrounding areas.

Past President Andy Pemberton explained that the 41 members of Balsall Common Lions Club are part of the world’s largest service organisation. There are 1.4 million Lions in 209 countries who all work with their local communities and combine with other charities to work on global projects such as eradicating measles and preventable blindess. It is estimated that every Lion touches the lives of another 70 people annually and Balsall Common Lions Club feel they surpass that estimate, thanks to the help and support they receive locally.

Andy thanked everyone who has donated to disaster relief collections outside the Co-op, attended the Bonfire, said hello to Santa or volunteered their time.

President Dave Blakeman awarded a series of Certificates of Appreciation to local groups and organisations who help the Lions achieve as much as they do. They went to:

  • Berkswell and District Royal British Legion
  • Berkswell and Balsall Common Community Sports Association (and a donation of £1800)
  • Hugh Boulton, Rutrailertrained (and a donation of £100 which he gave to the local Rugby Club)
  • Carl Hemming
  • The Bugle
  • Balsall Common Village Hall (and a cheque for £1 145)
  • Jamieson Christie
  • Angela Jaynes Florist
  • Oakes Farm Shop
  • Tesco Express Balsall Common
  • Heart of England Coop
  • Unity Automotive

Donations totalling £8 000 were given out on the night.

Continue reading “£25 000 raised and 5 000 hours of service”

Help out your community in 2017

Here at Balsallcom.com, we asked clubs and groups in the local area to tell us about their experiences in 2016 and their goals for 2017. Here is what they told us, and how you can help them in 2017.
If you’d like to be added to this article, please email the details to Claire.

The Bugle

The Balsall Common and Berkswell Bugle has grown in paging in each of its eight years and 2016 saw it hit 88 pages. It started on 24.

The paging of the magazine is based solely on the amount of advertising – we work on a 50/50 ratio with editorial space – and there has been a steady increase in advertisers.

In the main this has been achieved without having to resort to cold calling – in fact the rise in advertising in the past couple of years has been down to advertisers coming to us.

Editorially, with the help of our many contributors throughout the villages and beyond, we have been able to cover in depth all the main issues which affect our communities as well as report on life of our residents in general.

In 2017 we will be looking to expand our contributor database and thus our coverage of all that goes on in the area. And we will also building the successful Balsallbugle website.

We do have a magazine problem, of course – 88 pages is well above the maximum target we set ourselves and is a heavy commodity for  Balsall Common Lions to deliver. So, we will be trying to improve the magazine within that 88-page max, and at the same time attempting to keep our regular advertisers happy.

It’s an obstacle with which many would be glad to wrestle, and The Bugle is no exception.

The Lily Mae Foundation


It has been another very busy year for The Lily Mae Foundation. The demands for our support and services from bereaved parents and families has increased yet again.

Amy Jackson, Co-Founder of the Charity, has been employed 2.5 days a week since January to help address these demands and grow The Foundation for the benefit of all bereaved parents and families living locally.

The Foundation has:
* Provided 250 Memory Boxes to local hospitals
* Agreed to supply Memory Boxes to a further three hospitals in the West Midlands.
* Developed and provided Memory Boxes for early baby gestation loss.

* Organised three counselling days with Cruse Bereavement Care, involving 30 bereaved parents.
* Continued to hold our informal monthly support meetings at The White Horse. Currently 15 families attend regularly.
* Organised a Wave of Light Service and our annual Little Shining Lights Service to remember babies born too early, too poorly or sleeping. A total of 178 local families attended these two services.
* Continued to offer support via face to face meetings, phone calls and social media contact.
* Raised a tremendous £145,000 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.
* Made a successful application to the UPS International Foundation for a vehicle to be used to transport bereaved parents and families to hospital and to counselling appointments, Memory Boxes to hospitals, equipment to fundraising events and Trustees and staff to meetings and training events.


Due to the ever increasing workload, the Trustees, who are all volunteers, have recently determined  that The Foundation should employ an additional person on a full-time basis in 2017 to help the Charity to continue grow, develop and respond to the varying needs of bereaved parents and families.
Plans are currently in place for:
* Launch of our new website in January.
* Our annual Golf Day and Dinner Dance, to be held at The Belfry again on Friday 21st April.
* A Wedding Party themed Summer Ball, to be held on Saturday 24th June at the National Motorcycle Museum.
* The fourth Balsall Common Fun Run, to be held on Sunday 17th 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 these events on Social Media.

* http://www.lilymaefoundation.org/
* Telephone: 01676 535716
* Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLilyMaeFoundation
* Twitter: @LilyMae_UK
* Instagram: lilymae070210

Balsall Common Festival

The 2016 Balsall Common Festival was a fantastic success with such a variety of activities and events to enable the village to come together and enjoy themselves.  There were local businesses and charities having the opportunity to ‘showcase their wares’, local musicians with a stage to perform on, and lots of other activities, food and drinks to keep all ages occupied.  Nine hours to do different things to normal! The ticket sales were up by 25% this year on last – what an amazing event.  All of the many stalls around the ground were booked up long before the big day and the Festival Committee had a substantial waiting list. Generous support by a large number of local businesses ensured that not only did the festival have adequate funds to go ahead, but also generated a surplus of £8000 for local clubs, groups, charities and other good causes.

The AGM for the Balsall Common Festival Committee will be held at the Berkswell Royal British Legion on Tuesday 17th January 2017 at 7.30pm. This is open to all in the community. If you are interested in getting involved with creating Festival 2017, please get in touch or come along to the AGM when the committee will be formed for 2017. The Festival will not happen without the volunteers to do it, and the old saying, ‘many hands make light work’ certainly will apply. Email BCFSecretary@outlook.com to find out more about helping out in 2017.

Balsall Common Lions Club

2016 was another incredible year for Balsall Common Lions Club. Thanks to everyone who supported us during the year, particularly all those of you who came out to see Santa and his sleigh recently.  2017 will be another busy year for us.

On Monday 23rd January, we will be holding our Annual Presentation Evening at the British Legion Club in Station Road where we will be thanking those organisations that have helped us over the year. Why not come along and see what we do? Tickets and places are free but you do need to reserve a place so please contact Lion Ross Collins on 07813 937921.

By popular demand, Vivo will be with us again on 25th March, and on 20th May, we will be holding another Prostate screening session here in the village. A date to remember.

Talking about 2017, I am very proud to be able to report that Lions Clubs International will be celebrating it’s centenary- 100 years of Lions humanitarian service- and we will be preparing for our second century of service.

The Jubilee Centre

Balsall Common Residents are being asked to rally around a new Management Committee to develop a roadmap for the future of this local community centre after the cessation of the Charity that was formed to fund and manage it.

Read our article about the Jubilee Centre or email balsallsbigidea@gmail.com for information.

With thanks to Louise Nash helping to edit and upload this.