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London Marathon brings Paul Popham Fund £4k closer to children’s kidney centre dream

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On Sunday (4 October), a team of runners from Paul Popham Fund, Renal Support Wales, took part in the 40th London Marathon, raising a grand total of £3987.70.

This brings the charity a step closer to its target of £132,000 to help refurbish the Children’s Kidney Centre at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales.

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The marathon was completed by four Paul Popham team members, who had to endure 16 weeks of marathon training in preparation for the race. Among those who participated were Anna Powell, Amber Brundle, Sarah Davies, David Bivens and Geraint John.

Geraint John, peer mentor and ambassador of Paul Popham Fund who participated in the virtual version of the race, said:

“I would like to thank Colin Beynon, Helen Jones, Keith John and Nigel Butler, for walking stages of the Marathon with me, it certainly made the journey easier.

“Starting at 7am, with a change of walking boots three quarters of the way through, what a great experience! Just knowing you were one of tens of thousands taking part in such a special event, all whilst raising funds for a charity close to your heart.”

The runners enjoyed the run that much that they have also submitted to next year’s ballot.

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Paul Popham Fund team runner, Sarah Davies, said: “What an amazing day. I’ve never experienced crowds and support like Sunday, with everybody shouting your name and willing you on, it really was wonderful. I’m so proud to have run for such a wonderful charity and thinking of my brave nephew Harry when I was running made me push on.  Harry was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease when he was 3 years old, and in March 2019, Harry and his dad were part of a living kidney-sharing transplant scheme that thankfully all went well.

“My family and I hugely appreciate how the Paul Popham Fund help patients like Harry achieve a better quality of life. People have been so generous and supportive to donate to this wonderful charity, and I was proud to be able to raise funds for them.”

The race was also run by members of the Paul Popham Running Club, who all raised funds towards the goal of £132,000 for the Children’s Kidney Centre.

The project aims to provide a welcoming, calming environment, with updated private consultation rooms and a children’s play/games area. Currently, there is very little natural light in the department, making it a dark environment. Through refurbishment, natural light will be maximised to create a more welcoming, warm and comfortable place for children to undergo treatment.

Paul Popham Fund is still fundraising and accepting donations for the event. Donations can be made by following the below links:

Anna https://localgiving.org/annas-london-marathon-page
Dave https://localgiving.org/fundraising/dave-runs-london-marathon/
Geraint https://localgiving.org/fundraising/triple-challenge/
Sarah https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SarahDavies169

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Llanelli Rotary Christmas appeal to be match-funded by Swansea Building Society

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The Llanelli Rotary Club Christmas appeal, which sees the club raise funds for local charities each year, will see its total donations double thanks to match-funding from Swansea Building Society.

The building society helps its staff raise charitable funds each year as part of its commitment to its members and the local communities it serves. It regards this as a direct part of its mutual status – a status that means it is owned by its members.

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The ongoing pandemic and emerging new variant meant that the club arranged for Santa Claus to make Covid-friendly house visits to children prior to Christmas. This was the second year that Santa has made such house visits as an alternative to the Santa’s Grotto previously organised by the Rotary Club.

This year’s appeal visited 295 households in the Llanelli area and met 622 children to confirm the letters they had written to Santa. The funds raised from these visits, coupled with Rotary members collecting at Parc Trostre, Llanelli Carnival and the Llanelli Reindeer Parade, amounted to £5,774.

This amount will be generously match-funded by Swansea Building Society, bringing the total donation to £11,548 and this will be split between the four charities chosen by Llanelli Rotary this year: Ty Hafan, Wales Air Ambulance, Latch and Ysgol Heol Goffa.

Alison Evans, Llanelli Rotary Club Secretary, said: “Despite the ongoing difficulties, the Llanelli Rotary Club Christmas appeal has been a great success again this year. Thanks to Santa, the Rotarians, and the volunteers that helped us, we were able to put a smile on hundreds of children’s faces, whilst raising a considerable sum for four very worthwhile charities. We give great thanks to all those who donated to the appeal in the run-up to Christmas, and special thanks to Swansea Building Society for its generous match funding.”

Ieuan Griffiths, Swansea Building Society Chair and Llanelli Rotary Club member, added: “Our annual Christmas appeal is always a joyful and rewarding experience for all concerned – worth the significant effort involved just to see the childrens’ faces and reactions. We are very pleased that Santa has been able to help whilst checking out chimneys and magic keys. This year the Rotary Club has again raised considerable funds, and, with the help of Swansea Building Society’s match funding, this year’s charities will receive sizeable donations. I extend my thanks to everyone who helped and all who donated.”

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Lead image: Llanelli Rotary Club’s Christmas Appeal saw Santa Claus visit children throughout Llanelli. Children received gifts and the club raised money for local charities, including Ty Hafan, Wales Air Ambulance, Latch and Ysgol Heol Goffa.

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Tesco brings £300k New Year cheer for South Wales community groups

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Tesco is bringing a positive start to the year for communities in South Wales by launching a campaign to give good causes part of a £300,000 boost.

From 17 January to 6 February, listeners to Heart and Smooth radio stations in South Wales who work with charities or not-for-profit organisations will be encouraged to apply for a £5,000 cash grant.

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Presenters including Jamie Theakston and Jenni Falconer will be telling listeners how to nominate their favourite groups on air, and priority will be given to projects that provide food and support to young people, such as school breakfast clubs, food banks, or charities supporting young people to manage mental health.

The campaign is running in addition to Tesco Community Grants, the in-store scheme where customers vote with blue tokens for community projects and groups, which has been helping local people since 2016.

Among the groups in South Wales to receive funding for recent projects was Twyn Community Hub in Twynyrodyn, Merthyr Tydfil, which was given £1,000 towards its Yum Yum This Is Scrum campaign which sought to aid food exploration and educate on making healthy choices.

Another was Theatr Iolo in Cardiff, which received £1,000 towards the creation of free creative play packs for families in need in order to spread a little kindness and joy.

Claire de Silva, Head of Community at Tesco, said: “We know the start of the year can be tough for many families financially, so we wanted to find a way to give something extra to the communities our stores support across the nation.

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“We hope that Heart and Smooth listeners will help us celebrate all the community groups who make such a difference to young people and families, not just in January but year round too. We’re really proud to be launching this new campaign, which is an extra boost to our Tesco Community Grants scheme that already helps thousands of people every year.”

Graham Duxbury, Chief Executive at Groundwork, the charity that works with Tesco on community initiatives, said: “For many people the combination of money worries and the ongoing impact of the pandemic is making the start of 2022 a challenging time.  

“That’s why it’s so important that we continue to support the local charities and community groups who work tirelessly to provide essential services and bring people together in neighbourhoods across the nation. Money is tight for many of these groups too, so we’re delighted to be working with Tesco to make extra funds available so that they can expand their activities and help more people.”

To nominate your chosen charity or community group and to find out more about Tesco Community Grants go to www.tescocommunitygrants.org.uk 

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Look out for a loved one this Blue Monday say Samaritans Cymru

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Today marks Blue Monday, supposedly the most difficult day of the year, but the leading suicide prevention charity says feeling low can happen on any day of the year and that we need to be aware of how the pandemic is increasing those feelings amongst many of us.

As pandemic uncertainties continue, Samaritans Cymru is encouraging people to get their mugs out and share a drink with a friend, neighbour or colleague who may be struggling to cope. 

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Although winter is thought to be one of the harder seasons with dark days and frosty nights, Samaritans volunteers hear similar concerns all year round from those that contact the charity. The main concerns include mental health and illness (46%), family (34%) and loneliness (28%)*. 

National treasure Dame Julie Walters joins faces from TV and comedy, including James Acaster and Keith Lemon, and talented artists across the UK to encourage people to have a cuppa and a chat with someone they care about for Samaritans Brew Monday. 

Samaritans Ambassador Dame Julie Walters thinks people can really make a difference to someone’s day just by asking if they are OK. She said: “People go through a range of emotions throughout the year so the idea of feeling blue on one day is a load of rubbish. I’ve had my fair share of blue days and have found solace in speaking to loved ones over a glass of something or two. 

“It is a simple action that can go a long way, particularly now when so many people continue to feel isolated and lonely. It doesn’t have to be Monday, or a cuppa, connecting with someone at any time during the year shows them you are there and ready to listen.” 

Talented artists who have experience of mental health struggles, including Cardiff-based Nathan Wyburn of Britain’s Got Talent fame,  have also lent their paintbrushes and pencils by creating uplifting illustrations that share a message of connection with others over a cup of something and a catch up. 

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Nathan Wyburn has had his own mental health struggles and anxiety which at times stalled his creativity, but he credits the power of talking in his recovery. Nathan is known for creating art with food, including portraits of Mariah Carey and Tim Peake, so for Brew Monday Nathan created an uplifting portrait showing two people connecting, made with coffee and biscuits. Nathan said: 

“Having suffered with anxiety, panic attacks and bouts of depression for many years, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to do anything in those moments, let alone talk – but take it from me, once you open up about how you’re feeling, it can be life-changing. I’m so proud to be supporting Brew Monday and really hope my coffee art catches someone’s eye and makes them think to pick up the phone to a friend. You never know just how much a simple conversation could help someone.”  

Samaritans Cymru continues to highlight how the pandemic has widened inequalities in Wales in order to tackle the prevalence of suicide. Living in poverty, job insecurity and loneliness and isolation are all social issues which have risen during the pandemic but it is important to recognize these are all risk factors for suicide. Reaching out to those around us and asking how they are over a cup of tea or coffee, could actually be a lifesaver, 

With support from Network Rail, Transport for Wales and the wider rail industry, Samaritans will have a presence at train stations across Wales throughout January, supporting key workers and those who are travelling, providing tea bags and tips on how to be a better listener, along with their helpline details.

Bethan Jelfs, People & Change Director at Transport for Wales said: “We’re proud to once again be supporting Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign at stations across Wales to help spread the message that it is important everyone reaches out to check on family and friends and also takes time to look after their own mental health.  With almost two years of Covid-related restrictions, which has impacted on some people more than others, this vital awareness campaign is needed more than ever.”

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Krista Sexton, Head of Operational Risk at Network Rail added: “We’re proud to support Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign as it provides a simple but effective way for us to reach out to our railway colleagues and loved ones who might be needing a little extra support. The past two years, during the pandemic, have been difficult on many people’s mental health but, we know, not everybody always wants to share their concerns. 

This poignant campaign reminds us to stop and listen and encourage those struggling to open up and have a chat over a cup of tea.” 

Lead image: Samaritans volunteer has a virtual catch up for Brew Monday. (Image: Abbie Trayler-Smith)

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