Kiya Survivors. SAMS volunteer peruses Peru. Part 1

19th September 2015

Kiya (Quilla) is the Quechua word for moon – the symbol of a new beginning.

Kiya survivors is a charity that: ‘aims to provide a new beginning for children and young people in the global community who have special needs or have been abused or abandoned. We help them gain independence through education and therapy, love and laughter.’

By now you’ll possibly be wondering what the relevance of  this undoubtedly noble cause is to Swindon. Well – Swindon man Barry Mitchell, is involved with the charity and has recently been out to Peru on its behalf. Not being a blogger himself he asked me if I would put together a blog post for him about what he got up to on his most recent visit. So, because I’m sometimes a nice person, I agreed.

Barry is a volunteer at SAMS (Swindon Advocacy movement) where he runs a walking group and a maths and English group alongside his volunteering in Peru with Kiya Survivors. I’m exhausted thinking about it!

Some background from Barry:

‘I’ve been involved with charity work, almost continuously for the last thirty years, both fundraising and managing.

Early last year I decided to get involved with Kiya Survivors. A charity based in Brighton, with 2 projects in Peru.

Last year I spent three months at Arco Iris in Urubamba near Cusco. Volunteering included working closely with the physiotherapist and psychiatrist. The client base was mainly teenagers and young adults with physical and/or psychological problems.

Some of the stories behind the clients are really tragic, and it makes me feel emotional just to write about it. On the lighter side I also get to practice my engineering skills. This includes electrical and plumbing installation, plus building toilets and showers.

Needless to say, I fell in love with Peru and the Peruvians, plus a few expats.

I’m back out again this year for two months. First two weeks in Mancora, a seaside resort for mainly people from Ecuador, and then I head back down to Urubamba for four weeks. Urubamba is situated in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Andes (plus glacier) as a backdrop. Enough scenery and history for a documentary.

If anybody gets half a chance to head for Peru, now is the time to go before the tourists get a bigger hold on it.’

A Swindon man abroad in Peru

Instalment 1

It has been an interesting few days getting to know Mancura and the surrounding área.

But first the flight over. As you can see from the photo of display on the back of the plane seats, while flying over the Atlantic at 11,000 metres, or 40,000 feet (Just as a comparison Everest is 29,000 feet) , the temperature outside is on the cool side. I would not like to experience -49 degrees centigrade at first hand.

screen information on airplane

One of the acts I was performing was to take a mobile therapeutic table to the Kiya charity in Peru. If you want to pay for it to go freight it will cost £250.  My baggage allowance for the flight was 2 x 23kgs, so the second 23Kgs was made up of the table. Cost 0 pounds!

As Peru is in the southern hemisphere of the world, the seasons are reversed, so although you in the UK are at the back end of summer, here in Peru it is the back end of winter and entering into spring. The winters over here are not quite like our winters as, for the four days I have been here, it has been sunny cloudless skies and temperatures upwards of 25 degrees centigrade. This sort of weather gives you lots of chance to go beach combing.

One of my big weaknesses is being nosey, so I like to roam around the back streets of places to hopefully see the things the tourists don’t see.

You come across interesting combinations of things on offer. How about the sandwich board, advertising both a laundry service and money exchange? Hmmmm, do I call the police? Maybe not.

9th Sept

‘Reporting from a very sticky Mancora. When I go off to work it’s about 8am. This is when the temperature is just about right, probably 22 or 23 degrees C. By 9am it is not so cool, so you have to try and work somewhere that the sun can`t reach. Luckily there is what appears to be a regular breeze, which kicks in about late morning.

The first photo is from my first day at reception at Moma Cocha. Great buch of people, both big and small. I`m flanked by the physiotherapist and the pyschologist, with Senora Hedu, the big boss on the far left.

Straight outside my hotel room window is the Mancora fishing fleet. This means there are many Pelicans in attendance, waiting for scraps from the boats. Second photo is similar to the skip load of this, or a shed load of that. This is a boat load of pelicans.’

11th September

‘Mancora, about the size of Devizes, has a great taxi service. The picture shows me enjoying the benefits of a 2 Sol. ride. There are about 4 Sols to the pound sterling. So for the price of 50p you can get a ride to wherever you want to go within Mancora, which is usually about 2 miles.

peruvian taxi

Barry in Peruvian taxi

There are literally hundreds of them around the town all shouting out as they pass you, to ride with them.’

15th Sept

‘Last day in Mancora before I make my way down to Urubamba.

Checking up on what we have achieved. With the help of Frederico and Tito, we installed several new taps  and a new sink for the kitchen. The water is delivered to Moma Cocha once a week by road tanker. It is pumped into a tank which is then connected by pipe to a sunken concrete tank.

From there the site water pump pushes it up into a very large header tank. One of my first jobs on arrival was to fix the automatic pump control on the sunken tank. If the sunken tank runs dry and the pump also, then bang goes the pump. All is working now.

It’s been a really great time here, working with a staff of professional and dedicated people.

Big surprise was the good-bye  ceremony and the even bigger cake.  Hope the picture does justice to it’s size. Luckily I had some help to eat it!

Talking about eating they haver some interesting fish around here. Anybody fancy their chips with the picture of fish attached. Don´t now what it´s real name is but to me it´s “hedgehog fish”.’

16th Sept

‘Had couple of hours to kill while waiting for coach, so went for a walk along the beach. I ended up whale watching. About 400 yards off shore,  and on a parallel course, this wildly excited whale was having a happy hour.  Slapping the water with his enormous fins then jumping clean out of the water and landing with an enormous splash on his back. I walked with him, he swam alongside me, for about 20 minutes. Special and spectacular. What a way to leave town.’

24th Sept

‘Now established at Los Perales (The Pears), the same place I stayed last year. Big plus about this room is the en-suite with shower. No big thing? Out here having two taps to turn can be a luxury, especialy when one of them is hot. The owner is a man of the earth. He grows so many different things in his garden, plus hives and breeding guineapigs. Out here guineapigs are a delicacy. I´ve been as far as eating LLama, but won´t be eating any household pets.

Urubamba is an authentic Peruvian town, with markets on a Wednesday and Saturday. The range of fruit and vegetables is phenominal, selling everything you know and many you don´t, and all coming from the fertile, Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was the abundance of the food they grew which paved the way for the rise of the Inca empire. They literally took over areas of South America by offering to supply food. But if you didn´t accept the offer of food, they had other more physical options.

It really is a different culture out here. One evening I passed an openning, looked in and guess what? It was a cock-fighting event.

If you look closely at the picture of the Urubamba´s “other set of traffic lights”, you will see a banner advertising a bull fight, which took place last weekend.

The three pictures show-
1. the road into Urubamba from Ullantytambo.
2. the “other set of traffic lights” in Urubamba at the main junction.
3. Side street on market day.
4. Wedding invitation, and something creeping in the picture for SAMS.

The Physiotherapist, Lucho, is getting married this weekend. He has invited me to the wedding, in Cusco, which takes place this weekend.’

Outside broadcasting comes to Swindon!

29 August 2015

Take a grandstand


‘All right Mr De Mille, I’m ready for my close up.’ 

Any listener of a certain age will remember this – and those of you that aren’t of a certain age … this is how it was back in the day:

So how cool and fabulous it is to discover that Swindon has an outside broadcasting unit in the form of OB Cameras. I’m a wee bit star struck.

Based in Swindon OB Cameras specialises in providing multi-camera coverage of live events including concerts, theatre and sport.

I found out about OB Cameras from Swindon resident Les Colyer of Razor Television Ltd.  Here’s a link to Les’ Vimeo showreel. Suits you sir!

Les had this to say about OB Cameras:

‘When you think of outside broadcast trucks I bet you are imagining huge articulated trucks with masses of wheels lined up in a compound outside a football ground or near a music venue.

OBCameras offer a truck but with a difference, it’s small…. but it still packs a punch! Ollie Brays’s compact OB unit can provide up to six high definition cameras, graphics, VT & instant replay.

Tie this up with a satellite uplink, it can provide programme output to anywhere in the world. Not bad for Swindon eh.

On top of that both Ollie Bray, the managing director of OB cameras & Les Colyer Freelance Technical Manager both live in the town too!

In recent months, the truck has been used to film the following:

  • Live pre-season football for Aston Villa broadcast on their own internet TV channel (including at the County Ground where Swindon Town succumbed to the Villa and let in two goals)
  • A programme for ITV showcasing the broadcaster’s upcoming dramas including a Q&A session with the actors & production crew. This show was beamed to several locations around the UK.
  • An Amazon Prime event in London which was fed via satellite to Scotland

The truck is the brainchild of Ollie Bray, an established broadcast cameraman in his own right . He has worked locally, nationally & internationally for many major broadcast organisations.

Ollie has recently engaged the engineering & technical management services of Les Colyer, a freelance broadcast engineer

Les’ CV reads like a copy of TV listings magazine. If you have watched television in the last 20 years you will have no doubt seen something that Les has been involved in making.’

Here’s some rather fabulous pictures of OB Cameras at work. Football fans will enjoy them I daresay. I’m quite excited by Amanda Redman. And that Everyman Cinema in Hampstead – I need to go there. Someone take me there!

Now – where do I audition?

Here’s just a very small selection of their credits for your edification:

Sunday Politics show – Lives – BBC, Olly Murs in Concert at the 02 – MTV US, Britians Brightest – BBC, BAMMA 10/11/12 – (Cam Supervisor) – Channel 5, Question of Sport – BBC, 2012 Olympics – Tennis – Host broadcaster, Royal Ascot 2012, Saudi Premiership football – Steadicam, JLS Concert – Screens, Cage Warriors (Series) – Fight Network/World Feed, 2011/12 British Superbike Championship, Formula 2 Car Racing – Motors TV, GT Cars – World Feed/Motors TV

And here’s some well-known TV output that Razor Television is proud to have been associated with:

I.T. Crowd – Ch 4, Would I Lie ToYou – BBC 1, Wimbledon 2014 – Bein TV, Must Be The Music – Sky 1, UK Papal Visit – Feltech/FCO, The Magicians – Shine/BBC 1, Got To Dance – Princess/Sky 1, Kerri Anne Show – 9 Network, Don’t Stop Me Now – Magnum Media/Sky TV, Love Machine – Princess Productions/Sky TV, 8 Out Of 10 Cats – Zeppotron/CH4 , The Guess List – 12 Yard/BBC1 ,Brotherhood – Comedy Central, I Live With Models – Comedy Central, and Count Arthur Strong – BBC

Razor Television’s Wiltshire Charity of 2015 is Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

07860 446656

Follow Les on

It’s a wrap! 



Swindon Women’s Aid is 40!

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 22.35.45

Swindon Women’s Aid is celebrating its 40th birthday and is holding a number of events to mark this momentous ocassion.

Swindon Women’s Aid was set up on the 25th August 1975 by Jenni Manners in response to her own experience of domestic violence. This in turn inspired her to help others by providing a safe house to which women and their families could flee.

The first refuge was opened in 1975 at what is now the car park next to HSBC in Old Town before it moved to Cranmore Avenue in 1980.

Extract from Swindon Women's aid newsletter

Extract from Swindon Women’s aid newsletter


Sadly Jenni Manners died on the 25th August 2012 and, to pay tribute to her work and the continuing work of Swindon Women’s Aid a week of events are being held to celebrate and commemorate.

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The events being held for members of the public to attend are:

“Domestic Violence – An Artists Perspective”  – this is an exhibition of art and poetry to celebrate the road to recovery experienced by those victims of domestic violence who manage to escape. It shows the pain and fear but also the strength of character and determination to escape abuse in all its forms. There is a formal opening of the exhibition on Monday 24th August at 12.00. The exhibition runs from the 24th – 29th August during opening hours at the North Swindon Library.”

Extract from poster

 “Survivors Day” on the anniversary of setting up Swindon Women’s Aid is on the 25th August and  is a chance for ex residents & current residents to be introduced, catch up with the changes that have taken place over the last 40 years and hear about future plans for the charity. There will be a BBQ and a bouncy castle along with an unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the 40th anniversary donated by Highworth Lions. If you are an ex resident please contact Jo to be included on the guest list.”

 Saturday 29th August is a Family Fun Day at Lydiard Park from 12-4pm. Bring your kids, family & friends for a picnic, entertainment, stalls, climbing wall, bouncy castles and lots more – including a Dog show!

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For more details contact Jo Heaven on 01793 864984 or

Swindon Women’s Aid

P.O.Box 3816




Registered Charity: 268048

Facebook: Swindon Womens Aid

Twitter: @swindonwa

Swindon Women’s Aid supports victims of domestic violence and abuse 24 hours a day.

Please help us to continue this vital service through JustTextGiving.

Text SREF11 followed by £the amount of your gift to 70070 to donate. E.g. SREF11£2 to 70070.

Please don’t forget to Gift Aid your donation if you can!

Alternatively, if you prefer, you may send a donation direct to P.O. Box3816, Swindon, SN5 1BQ.

Thank you for your support.

Bites and Bottles

May 2015

Food and drink are two things very close to my heart. Indeed I’ve written about my favourite coffee shops, restaurants etc on this blog. See more of that here:

Thus I’m more than happy to give a shout-out to a new blog that is concerned with both those things: Bites & Bottles.  The owner of the blog is @ThomasLittleUK on Twitter and he is looking for appropriate contributions to it. TWITTER HANDLE FOR THE BLOG: @BitesnBottles

The content of the blog is not necessarily Swindon-focused but of course it can be – and when I send some contributions to it – then it will be! 🙂

But as the blog is ‘owned’ in Swindon and can be about Swindon eateries and drinkeries I reckon it merits a slot on Born again Swindonian. So below is some information from Thomas about his new blog. He’s absolutely right that great food and drink doesn’t necessarily have to be fine dining. That very sentiment is the ethos behind Eggelicious and E2. Indeed, painted on the wall in E2 is a quote that sums up this very notion: “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” (Paul Prudhomme) And, in the case of E2 and Eggelicious, never was a truer word spoken.

Bites and Bottles blog - picture from website

Bites and Bottles blog @BitesnBottles

Bites & Bottles is a brand new blog dedicated to everything food and drink. Great food and drink might come from fine dining or out the side of a van, it doesn’t need to have a label or price tag, what it does need to do is to pass the lips and deliver amazing flavours that you won’t forget in a hurry.


 Whether it’s world food, craft beer, fine wine or just a combination of food and drink that you would never have thought of, Bites & Bottles aims to cover it all. Glossy magazine and TV chefs are great at making people feel like they can’t cook or that certain ingredients only belong in pricey restaurants or are reserved for high days and holidays, Bites & Bottles is here to help dispel those assumptions. We’re actively looking for people to contribute to the blog on anything from restaurant reviews, recipes, articles on producers, photos and more! Just drop a line to:

 If you have something to submit please get in touch, if you love food and drink and want to know more or share what you’ve learned then Bites & Bottles is the place for you.’

Tune up for Swindon Community Choir

As my regular listeners know, the guest blog posts on Born again Swindonian often occur as a result of interactions on social media. This post though is the exception that proves the rule as I met Mandy, it’s author, via Outset Swindon both of us having been through their programme. Me of course for the setting up of my business, AA Editorial Services. 

In the course of conversation with Mandy and her husband I discovered their involvement with a community choir and felt it was something that should be shared on here. And I absolutely can’t sing – I only wish I could. My daughter once offered to buy me singing lessons suggesting I look at it as a service to the community. Harrumph!

Anyway, here now is Mandy’s post about the community choir and teaching Swindon, if not the world, to sing:

” ‘I can’t sing’ – the most common reaction received when I suggest singing to people who want fun, more social life and to raise their happiness quotient!

My name’s Mandy.  I have always loved singing with other people – I am a willing and enthusiastic enjoyer of the shared results.   In an interesting twist of fate, my first awareness that a community choir existed in Swindon occurred in 2002.  Lots of wonderful, new things started that year….  At the time, my husband Pete and I were keeping an African Drumming Group ticking along in Wroughton.  On the particular week in discussion, I happened to be away.

 After the session, Pete (who had always laughed at me because I can hardly hear a song without adding a harmony) said that I would have loved the events of that Wednesday evening.  A young Polish man, doing some “WWOOFing” (Working Weekends on Organic Farms) at Lower Shaw Farm, had joined in for the evening, asking at the end of it if the group would like to learn a harmony song.  Being the agreeable types, they did exactly that.  I was very glad that the following week, Pawol turned up again, drummed a smile onto his face and went on to share a song with us.  ‘You like harmony sing?’ he asked. Oh boy, did I.  “You know there is a choir at Lower Shaw Farm?”   How on earth did I not know that?  It’s on my doorstep.  I love the farm.  Yet, this young man came all the way from Poland to an African drumming group to tell us that a local lady called Linda and her husband, Martin, not finding the desired choir, started one up themselves.  Funny how it works, sometimes, isn’t it?  The group has grown and grown, moving from place to larger place and branching out to a Tuesday afternoon group at Lower Shaw Farm as well, singing eclectic songs old and new and from the world over.

Well, we are still there with the group – and extending the reach of the joy of A’cappella (voices-only) singing.  Linda and Martin have shown us the ropes of leading groups and we love it.  Repeatedly, we see people come in, looking for an outlet for their voice – and often wondering if they will be ‘good enough’ (everyone is; this is for fun, fun, fun!) and going away smiling. They are invigorated and usually more energetic than when they arrived.  There is a crazy idea around that a ‘singer’ is already publicly renowned or has to be good enough to be so.  One idea suitably scuppered, then!

Swindon Community Choir has over forty smiley singers turning up on a term-time Monday night.  (  We meet at the Central Community hall, in Emlyn Square, in the famous Railway Village.  The free car park is very well-used and the art of triple-parking has become the group’s knack!  The bus stops just at the corner. We have had singers as young as 9 and well into their 90s.  Let’s have some centenarians!

Singtastic website

Singtastic website

I love meeting people and discovering their loves, their ambitions and drives – and the amazing richness of past experiences.  The Monday morning drop-in, facilitated by our Community Engagement Worker, Kati Wood, is a great place to indulge that love.  In discussing my own, people asked us about what we do (‘we’ being Pete and I).  “Can you run a choir here, for us?”   Well, all things are possible if you really want them to be….

Singtastic on YouTube:

Kati stepped in quickly and told us about the ‘New Shoots” grant that’s available for local group activities.  Our local Swindon Councillors waved the magic wand.  Today, I am glad to announce that in April, on Thursdays 23rd and 30th, there are opportunities to experience this for oneself, free of charge, between 10am and 12pm.

As we are holding this in the Haydon Wick Parish Council offices, adjacent to the Haydon Centre, there will also be disabled facilities and outside, free parking.  (Just in case you might consider that I meant inside…)   If a song stirs you to join in at times, why not come along and experience the fun of group singing, too?  If you need more information about it, you can contact me on 07736 314912 or by email;” 

Mandy (Parsons)