Swindon Equality Coalition Gets the Conversation Going

Swindon Equality Coalition Gets the Conversation Going

15 November 2020

Swindon Equality Coalition - logo

Swindon Equality Coalition Gets the Conversation Going.
How? By marking this year’s International Day of Tolerance with a new public engagement programme.

From their website:

‘The United Nations is committed to strengthening tolerance by fostering mutual understanding among cultures and peoples … ‘

Swindon Equality – Let’s Talk

Under the banner ‘Swindon Equality – Let’s Talk‘, the coalition wants to reach into the town’s diverse communities. The aim is to provoke discussion and ideas about equality, inclusion and discrimination.

Everyone is welcome to join the conversation and have their say through one of several channels:

1. Email
2. By post
3. Via Facebook
4. Instagram
5. Twitter and ..
6. … old school telephone call.

‘Swindon is a wonderful, diverse town” says coalition chair Michelle Howard. “We want to hear about the positives in the town and about progress and great examples. It’s important too that we hear about what needs to improve.’

Swindon Equality Coalition - poster about Swindon equality

A decade long initiative

The Swindon Equality Coalition, along with the Equality Act, celebrates its 10th birthday this year.
The coalition came into being to support that act.

‘The coalition brings together people and voices from across Swindon’s diverse communities’, says Pam Webb, CEO at VAS.

“During these unprecedented times, it’s extra important to celebrate diversity and address inequality. That way, we’ll ensure that everyone in Swindon has an equal voice and access to support.’

“A simple email to equality@vas-swindon.org is enough to become a member or find out more” she added.

Swindon Equality Coalition

Having your say and getting in touch

Get in touch with the coalition or have your say via one of these channels:

Email: equality@vas-swindon.org
Post: SEC C/o 1 John Street, Swindon SN1 1RT
Twitter @SNequality #SwindonEquality
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/swindonequality
Phone: 07912 487608

To see related information then visit the website of Voluntary Action Swindon.

For other community-related areas on the blog go here.

Toy Appeal Collection Point

Toy Appeal Collection Point

10 November 2020

Accountancy firm steps up to provide collection point for Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal

The team at Haines Watts Swindon have volunteered their Old Town office reception area as a Covid safe toy appeal collection point. This is for the 2020 Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal. 

Now in its 4th year, the appeal aims to provide toys for children of families in need in the town. In particular situations where parents or guardians would struggle to buy presents without resorting to loans. In that time, over 1,000 children have received presents who may not have got a gift at all. That else their parents have got themselves into debt in trying to afford Christmas.

This year, with the impact of Covid-19, there’s expected be a greater need than ever. with 20 families already referred for support by various services by the beginning of November. The highest number ever – before the official appeal launch on November 16th.

Dawn Prosser, one of the appeal’s organisers, said: “Churches across Swindon run the appeal. Its aim is to bring a little hope and happiness to families who would so struggle to find the money for presents.

“Various Swindon agencies, participating churches and schools nominate families. Last year the appeal donated around 2,000 donated toys to 134 families. That meant 353 children received presents.”

Toy Appeal Collection Point -
Anna-Marie Healy, office manager of Haines Watts Swindon who will be overseeing the Old Town collection point for the 2020 Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal. 

An exemplary track record

In previous years, the nominated families received an invitation to attend children’s Christmas parties. Then, while the children were being entertained, parents were able to slip aside, choose presents and wrap them during the party. That gave them the chance to offer a dignified experience. This year though there’ll be a direct delivery of presents to the families’ homes as it’s not likely that parties can go ahead.

Finding collection points for people to donate toys has also been challenging. 

Anna-Marie Healy, marketing and office manager for Haines Watts Swindon, said: “We’re only too pleased to support the Swindon Christmas Toy Appeal again this year and provide a safe space for donation drop-off.

It’s such a good cause. And, for us, it matters that children in need in our town get a gift this Christmas.

“Our office reception is Covid safe. We ask any person, or business, wanting to donate toys to call us on 01793 533838 to arrange a time for dropping off.

Our office is at Old Station House, Newport Street, Swindon, SN1 3DU. Our opening hours are Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.”

New toys and gifts for children aged 0 to 16 are suitable.

The collection point at Haines Watts Swindon will be open until close of business on Friday December 4. That allows time for you to get your donations to the appeal’s HQ. 

For more Swindon in Business posts go here.

Ainslie’s Pavilion Edges Closer

Ainslie’s Pavilion Edges Closer

2nd November 2020

Legacy of much-loved Wiltshire woman moves closer with silent online auction this November

Ainslie’s pavilion edges closer as Swindon business owner Fiona Scott of Scott Media gets set to host her fifth annual virtual charity auction.

The auction’s aim is to raise the last £1,000 needed to start the rebuild of Purton Cricket Pavilion in memory of her much-loved friend Ainslie Duffell.

The auction is live from Monday 9th November – Sunday 6th December. It’s raising funds for Ainslie’s Pavilion project. The completed project will enable everyone to:

a. Enjoy and take part in local cricket and …
b. … create a lasting legacy for Swindon woman Ainslie Duffell.

Fiona Scott, founder and Director of Scott Media, and Phil Phil Duffell founder of Ainslie’s Pavilion Project are the auction’s supporters.

The auction lots include many business strategy sessions with leading local business figures. There’s also handmade silver jewellery, cricket tickets and handcrafted Christmas decorations. 

The motivation for the auction to make Ainslie’s pavilion edge closer

Since Ainslie Duffell died from breast cancer in 2015, one of her best friends, Fiona Scott, has held an annual online social media auction to support ‘Ainslie’s Pavilion Project’.

Ainslie’s Pavilion Project focuses around rebuilding the cricket pavilion at Purton Cricket Club, Purton, near Swindon. It arose from Ainslie’s personal experience of being unable to watch her son play due to being a wheelchair user in her final months. The pavilion will be a living legacy. It will have disabled access, as well as facilities for female players. All to reflect the needs of the sport in the modern era. 

Fiona had intended the final fundraising event, ‘The Purple Soiree’, for April 2020 as a celebratory culmination of five years of efforts to raise £50,000 to kick-start the project. But COVID-19 and the later national lockdown resulted in cancellation. So it seemed as though we wouldn’t meet the five year target .

Fiona, a PR consultant and journalist, has decided to make her 5th annual auction bigger and better than ever. She aims to raise the final £1,000 needed to hit the £50,000 target. That will open access to grants and extra funding. 

She said: ‘I wasn’t going to let the pandemic stop us achieving our goals. It’s so poignant that we reach the £50,000 target this year, as Purton Cricket Club will be 200 years old. It’s time to bring the facilities into the 21st century. Then no other wheelchair user will struggle with access and female cricket players will have access to their own toilets and changing rooms.’

The intention of the online auction is to raise the final sum before grant funding can be sought to complete the pavilion in its entirety. 

Ainslie's Pavilion Edges Closer - Fiona  Scott with Phil Duffell
Fiona Scott with Phil Duffell

Swindon business support

Fiona added: “Local businesses, including branding expert Mike Land of Nickel Design and Paul Holmes of PCH Business Support have been most generous. They’ve donated multiple business strategy & support sessions totalling more than £2,000. 

‘We also have handcrafted Christmas decorations from Ard Alume, handmade silver earrings from Barking Hen Jewellery. And of course, cricket tickets from cricket fan Ged Montgomery. We’ll be adding a whole host of others, so there will be something for everyone.’

‘The starting bids will range from £1 so there’s a real chance to grab a bargain while supporting a fantastic cause at the same time.’

About the auction

“The starting bids will range from £1 so there’s a real chance to grab a bargain while supporting a fantastic cause at the same time.” 

The auction will begin at 8am on Monday 9th November. You can view items n Facebook at www.facebook.com/PRWiltshire

Anyone wishing to see the lots via email can do so by emailing: fiona@fionascott.co.uk

Ainslie’s Pavilion Edges Closer

Ainslie's Pavilion Edges Closer - Ainslie Duffell with her son Alex who is now 20 and a student at university in Cardiff.
Ainslie Duffell with her son Alex who is now 20 and a student at university in Cardiff. 

About Ainslie

Ainslie’s Pavilion Project became a reality on Valentine’s Day 2015. Within 24 hours of loving mum, wife, sister, daughter and friend Ainslie Duffell falling asleep. 

In her mid-30s and out of the blue, Ainslie found a lump in her breast. On diagnosis doctors told her she had an aggressive form of breast cancer that was already in her liver. They gave her a year to live. 

Through sheer determination and the support of her family, especially husband Phil and son Alex, she fought the disease.

After 12 years, having squeezed as much out of life as possible, Ainslie, aged 47, died with Phil and Alex by her side. 

Phil and Alex then read her journal, which she’d been keeping for them both. In it she talked about her pride in both her son and her husband, especially when it came to the sport of cricket. Sports journalist Phil had given up work to care for Ainslie. He then re-qualified as a cricket coach. Son Alex was already an accomplished player for the county. 

Purton cricket club

Both Phil and Alex had their sporting base at Purton Cricket Club nr Swindon. The oldest club in Wiltshire it celebrates its 200th birthday this year.

In her final months, when using a wheelchair, Ainslie was unable to attend matches as there is no wheelchair access to the club – indeed there are no dedicated facilities for anyone with a disability. The outdated pavilion also has no facilities for girls – no toilets or changing rooms. It’s simply unfit for a modern world. 

In her journal Ainslie spoke of her sorrow at not being able to go to matches to watch her son play and she missed his first century. 

Phil and Alex pledged to do something about this. They decided to raise funds to refurbish and update the pavilion. Or even rebuild it completely to create a community asset in Ainslie’s name. Their aim was to spend five years raising £50,000 to create a healthy nest egg for the project and then work with funders to apply for grants to move to the next stage. Phil and Alex wanted to reach this milestone in 2020 to coincide with the 200th birthday of the club. 

In 2020 this small team of volunteers will hit that financial target and Ainslie’s pavilion edges closer. Then the work will begin on seeking funding and getting the building work underway. 

The vision is to provide a living community legacy in Ainslie Duffell’s name. Any girl who plays cricket there will owe a silent debt to this dignified and wonderful woman and her family. And, thanks to Ainslie’s legacy, any disable person will be able to enjoy an afternoon of cricket. That most quintessential of English pastimes.

For more information visit https://ainsliepavilion.wixsite.com/home

Runner is doing it for Dan

Runner is doing it for Dan


Introducing Chelle White who is ‘Doing It For Dan’


Keen runner is Doing it for Dan.

Known by everyone as Chelle, Michelle White is in training for a gruelling 48 hour challenge to run more than 251 miles on a treadmill. The aim? To raise £4,800 for charity. 

The 48-year-old, who lives with her family in North Swindon, set herself this personal challenge after getting the running bug a mere five years ago. She started running after losing her mum Linda to lung cancer and wanting to do something in her memory. 

I did Race For Life after mum passed away and that was it. Since then I’ve run thousands of miles from 10k runs to half marathons to marathons. I did the London Marathon last year in 3 hours 43 minutes. I’m classed in the top five per cent of runners for my age group. I also did this year’s virtual London Marathon running to Bromley and back, completing it in 3 hours and 24 minutes.”

On Friday November 20, Chelle will start running on a treadmill at the premises of Any Time Fitness in Old Town – one of her sponsors. She’ll attempt to win a Guinness World Record for miles run on a treadmill in 48 hours. This currently stands at 200 miles for women and 251 for men. Chelle wants to beat both records. 

About Doing it for Dan

Doing It For Dan is a charity created in memory of Daniel Climance. He died, aged 11 after, in a road traffic collision in Purton while cycling.

His parents set up the charity. It provides grants to individuals, teams and organisations around Swindon and Wiltshire that give young people the chance to take part in sport. Dan was sports mad himself, particularly when it came to football and martial arts. 

His mum Helen said: “We’re thrilled Chelle has offered to do this and support Doing It For Dan. We’ll use any money she raises to support young people in taking part in sporting activities. Something that was so important to my son and also to his wellbeing. To be able to help others engage in sporting activities is wonderful.” 

Runner is doing it for Dan - Michelle White
Training before the challenge with Mike Land from Nickel Design and friend Helen Hancock as well as hubsand Matthew White supporting her all the way.
Chelle is rasing money for local charity, Doing It For Dan.
Photos taken by Barbara Leatham Photography on October 19th in Old Town Swindon. Thanks to Anytime Fitness in Swindon for access to where Chelle will be doing her challenge.

Dedication to running

Chelle’s dedication to running is even more inspiring because she suffers from an incurable auto immune condition, rheumatoid arthritis. Her condition which causes joints to swell and become very painful. They can become permanently distorted. After her diagnosis, Chelle was put on strong drugs. Yet she found her quality of life was poor with constant sickness and exhaustion.

“I have RA, it doesn’t define me,” Chelle said. “I decided I don’t want to take drugs which make me feel terrible, I want to live my best life. Now I take painkillers only when necessary, I exercise and I have recently adopted a vegan diet. That hasn’t been easy but it’s made a world of difference.

Since training for the event I’ve lost two stones, when I didn’t have two stones to lose and this shows the real toil of training. I couldn’t be more serious about this endeavour.

To support Chelle’s efforts – runner doing it for Dan

Visit https://doingitfordan.enthuse.com/pf/michelle-white

See also

For other community-related posts see: https://swindonian.me/category/swindon-community-groups/

New Performing Arts Class for North Swindon

New Performing Arts Class for North Swindon

Latest news from Revolution Performing Arts

Great news for children in North Swindon who love singing, dancing and acting with a new performing arts class for North Swindon. The class will start at the Great Western Academy on Thursday November 5th.

One of the town’s leading performing arts company, Revolution Performing Arts, is offering a socially distanced class.

The classes will be in the sports hall at Great Western Academy in William Morris Way (SN25 2PP) weekly from Thursday November 5 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. 

Founder Fi Da Silva Adams said: “We’re starting the Great Western AllStars for children aged between four and 11 years old. 

“We have an ethos of empowering children who can sing their favourite music, create their own dramatic scene, share their own dance moves and feel safe and secure in doing so. If they don’t want to perform they don’t have to. We want to create a fantastic, relaxing and fun experience for them.”

The Before Times

Until now, RPA were holding classes in local primary schools. But those schools are not allowing third parties to use their facilities to until 2021. Fi Da Silva Adams and her team of leaders believe youngsters need to get back to activities as soon as possible for their mental and physical wellbeing.

“Our classes are a safe and Covid-secure environment where we ‘re serious about social distancing. It’s our belief that children need to look forward to taking part in activities which bring them joy. And that’s why we’ve now found an alternative venue for our class.”

RPA leader Jade Carroll will run the new performing arts class for North Swindon with her thirteen years of dance experience.

New Performing Arts Class for North Swindon - Jade Carroll
Jade Carroll, the leader of the new Great Western AllStars group run by Revolution Performing Arts.  Photographs taken by Laura Barnes. 

RPA leader Jade Carroll will run the new group with her thirteen years of dance experience.

She said: “I’m excited to be starting this new class and look forward to meeting the children and their parents. We do ask that everyone books in advance so that we can ensure safe social distancing measures.

Note though that everyone’s first session is free of charge!” 

About RPA

Fi Da Silva Adams founded RPA in 2007. The team have run online sessions throughout lockdown. They’re now getting back to Covid-safe classes across Swindon and surrounding areas.

The organisation received a grant from Arts Council England through the Covid19 Emergency Fund to enable them to continue supporting local children. 

All their teachers are DBS checked, trained in first aid and receive full training in safeguarding protocols.  It specialises in empowering young people to celebrate their individuality through the power of performing arts.

To enrol for the new Great Western AllStars visit:  www.revolutionpa.co.uk/enrol

Marlborough Lane Wildlife Corridor

Marlborough Lane Wildlife Corridor

September 2020

Before I talk about Marlborough Lane wildlife corridor in particular let’s first define what a wildlife corridor is – and what it does.

Well, the Woodlands UK website tells us that the term refers to any linear feature in a landscape that wildlife can use to migrate or disperse.

Put another way, a wildlife corridor is a strip of natural habitat connecting populations of wildlife otherwise separated by cultivated land, roads, etc.

Download a PDF all about The Great Copse from the Wildlife Sites Project for Wiltshire and Swindon

Marlborough Lane Wildlife Corridor - Great Copse Wildlife Site

The purpose of a wildlife corridor

Such a thing is a link of wildlife habitat – as a rule native vegetation. It joins two or more larger areas of similar wildlife habitat. These corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes – including allowing animals to move from one place to another. And to allow viable populations to continue.

Wildlife corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes, including allowing for the movement of animals and the continuation of viable populations. And Swindon has the great, good fortune to be particularly blessed in all things nature and wildlife. I’m thinking not only of wildlife corridors such as this but of the wildlife lagoons over to the west, Hagbourne Copse and many, many more green spaces besides. All of them important for biodiversity. Indeed a chap from Wiltshire Wildlife once commented to me how underestimated Swindon is – in general but in particular for its astonishing amount of green spaces and wildlife habitat.

About Marlborough Lane wildlife corridor

Though not too welll-known, Marlborough Lane comprises one of Swindon’s longest-standing natural wildlife corridors. It stretches from the Great Copse, along Marlborough Lane to willow trees on the embankment. Over 200 mature trees along its length provide an essential foraging route for bats, birds and bees.

The corridor also forms a vital barrier between the large car park belonging to the Marriott Hotel and all who either live on the lane or travel along it to the Croft sports centre, school and playgroup.

The tree line lies on the Marriott’s land. But it’s the residents of the lane that have planted the long laurel hedge along the mid-section and the shrubs and flowering plants on the end of the lane.

The Embankment

The embankment once had a life as the old railway line. A few years ago an initiative started by residents Adrian and Andrea Downing led to the planting of sixty trees with Cllrs, residents and the Croft School’s first intake of pupils.

The embankment is bedecked too with a host of daffodils sufficient to inspire Wordsworth himself. Or his sister, Dorothea. But I digress. Swindon Borough Council gave the bulbs towards an early spring clean by Old Town Residents Association (OTRA). Many got involved in planting them including the Scouts. OTRA created the flower bed on the embankment and maintain it to this day.


One of the movers and shakers behind this particular wildlife corridor is Marlborough Lane resident, Carole Bent. Her motivation for highlighting the importance of this particular tree line began around ten years ago.

Said Carole: ‘like many, I’ve had a lifelong love of nature. It inspired my first small (in physical size) book Wisdom of the Catfish in which I mention learnings from our natural world – including those close to home. Earlier this year the British Naturalist Society asked me to write an article highlighting the Great Copse and the wildlife corridor.’

NB – see the link above for a downloadable PDF about the Great Copse.

At the start of Covid-19 we saw a dramatic reduction in traffic and an increase in people’s appreciation of nature and their environment in general. And that made me think how great it would be to use this period to help people take a fresh look at the natural environment. Both close to their home and on their way to the Croft.’

A chat with Croft School

‘A conversation with Elaine Murphy, head of Croft School, and her husband reinforced my thoughts about seeing the area as a mini nature reserve and a place worth looking after. ‘

Thus Carole approached Swindon artist Marilyn Trew (someone slowly mapping Swindon) to create an artwork. Said Carole: ‘I love the way that her work engages people with nature & felt that a visual interpretation would be positive  – including for the young children who go to the school, playgroup & all ages at the sports centre. I knew this would be something uplifting for them to see when they returned to school in September.

‘A group of neighbours met in our garden & we shared our knowledge of the wildlife and plants with her.  Marilyn has kindly gifted this to our community, including access to a black and white version for children of all ages to colour in! Marilyn & I intend to visit the school at a time to suit the head teacher. 

We hope to have full sizes signs also made & will follow this up with Parish & SBC Councillors. The effect of nature on our wellbeing is well-recorded and seems more important now than ever.’

If you’d like to download the black and white version of Marilyn’s map to colour in yourself there’s a link below.

Marilyn Trew’s map of the Marlborough Lane wildlife Corridor

Marlborough Lane Wildlife Corridor - map by Marilyn Trew

About Marilyn TrewWiltshire artist and resident

Marilyn has long held an interest in all aspects of nature. She now manages 3 art groups in Swindon and exhibits her work around Swindon and its environs. Currently Marilyn is concentrating her efforts on nature and heritage charities.

On the subject of wildlife corridors see also this blog from Linda Kasmaty about South Swindon wildlife corridor.