Youth theatre pitches in to help food bank project

28 July 2020

Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre (SCMYT) has launched an appeal to help Sutton Coldfield Town Hall’s food bank donation point which has been running at the venue since the start of lockdown. The town hall in King Edward’s Square switched from hosting entertainment to helping those who have been struggling to put food on the table once shows were closed in March.

The entrance hall of the heritage building is being used to collect donations from locals on a Monday and Friday. New features of the project include free coffee or tea for donors, a ‘support local businesses’ idea and charity stalls on a Friday.

While unable to rehearse, SCMYT decided to help the town hall in its efforts with a campaign to raise as much money as possible for the food bank. Food bank leaders have indicated that local centres could be under more pressure in the coming weeks and months, as more families are hit by the economic impact of the virus. The town hall has been a major support to the award-winning youth theatre since it started almost two years ago, and it is the venue for both SCMYT’s performances and rehearsals. Now SCMYT wants to do something to support those that support it. They have launched a JustGiving page to raise money for food and toiletries for local foodbanks.

Sarah Clarke, SCMYT chairman, said:

“What the town hall has done to help people in Sutton Coldfield through the current pandemic is fantastic and demonstrates how much it truly cares about the local community. The town hall and its patrons have always been so supportive of our youth theatre and we cannot thank them all enough. Knowing what the town hall was doing during lockdown, and following a suggestion from one of our youth theatre parents, we decided to launch a fundraising campaign to give something back to the community by giving the food banks a boost.”

The youth theatre appeal has already raised over £100 and the group thanks people for their generosity so far. It plans to shop for the food banks once it has raised £300 and hopes that the money will enable them to buy essentials for Sutton families who really need assistance.

Sarah added “We know that the last few months have been very hard for so many people and some will struggle for months to come, but we hope that by raising as much money as possible for the food banks , the town hall will be able to buy more supplies and help even more people.”

Town Hall Managing Director Julie Rennison added “This gesture is typical of this group, who create such magnificent work on stage. To put their energy into helping others at a time they are not performing is a really positive thing to do. We’d ask anyone who can help to donate to the page.”

Anyone who would like to donate to SCMYT’s appeal to help Sutton Coldfield Town Hall’s food bank can do so through JustGiving at  For those wanting to donate long-life food or toiletries in person, the entrance hall is open on a Monday and Friday, 10am to 2pm. Donations are collected by two centres in Erdington and two in Sutton Coldfield. Fresh produce including allotment produce is used by a further Foodbank canteen in Four Oaks. For further information, a short film about the project can be found on the Town Hall’s Facebook page


For more information on Sutton Coldfield Musical Youth Theatre and its foodbank fundraiser contact Louise Grifferty on 07971 470 578. Picture: SCMYT’s Ben Hayfield (L) and Anneka Horne (R) helping the community that helps it with new fundraising for Sutton Coldfield Town Hall foodbank.

NSPCC “Breakfast At Tiffanys”

The NSPCC Sutton Coldfield and Walsall Branch held another of their wonderful fundraisers at Moor Hall Hotel on Monday. This one themed around “Breakfast at Tiffanys” with all the ladies being asked to dress up in their finest Little Black Dresses, as there would be a prize for the best.

After introductions from Carole   and Nikki Brook the breakfast was underway.

The staff from Moor Hall looked after everyone with their customary professionalism and there was a wonderful full English breakfast served buffet style.

After Breakfast we were introduced to Molly Murray who proceeded to regale us with her tales from little black dress which led to much laughter and hilarity.

The morning was rounded off with another of The NSPCC’s incredible raffle.



Rotary Club Walking For Man’s Best Friend


Release date: 12.02.2020

Media contact: Carolyn McLaughlin 

The Rotary Club of Wylde Green has just donated £2300 to Birmingham Dogs’ Home.

The funds were raised on a sponsored dog walk, 2 miles long through Sutton Park.

Walkers had been sponsored by friends, family members and colleagues. John Bradin had done particularly well raising in excess of £400, thanks to him having been sponsored by his colleagues at Glover Priest  solicitors. John’s dog ‘Dougie’ went on to win the competition for ‘the best dressed pooch’. 

The Birmingham Dogs’ Home is based at Catherine de Barnes in Solihull. It takes in and cares for stray and unwanted dogs from the West Midlands area and finds new homes where possible. The charity provides education to schools and other community groups in responsible dog ownership, whilst fundraising to ensure the on-going provision of service. It aims to rescue, reunite and rehome dogs and last year helped 2500 dogs.

Commenting on behalf of Birmingham Dogs’ Home, Rachel Frost, Digital Marketing Officer said:

‘The members of Wylde Green Rotary Club have helped us tremendously with supporting the dogs in our care by raising such a fantastic amount, for which we are really grateful. The sort of work these funds will support will be cruciate veterinary care for the dogs in our care, such a cruciate ligaments, eye surgery and skin treatments.’

The Rotary Club’s President, Dick Elston added:

‘We have found it a rewarding experience with our Club to support The Birmingham Dogs’ Home. Sadly within society today there are many incidents of what are considered to be “man’s best friend” suffering mistreatment, deprivation and cruelty; we are pleased to have helped this valuable organisation that seeks to address these ills with care and sensitivity. We wish them well in their future work.’

More information about the canine charity can be found on their website at:

Many members say they join Rotary because it gives them a chance to give something back to their community. Members also volunteer their time – supervising and organising community events, running projects to promote the achievements of young people and coordinating educational programmes. 

Dick Whittington ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Dick Whittington – CLOC Musical Theatre Company

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

Wednesday 5th February

By Nigel Gambles

CLOC MTC return to the town hall with their annual pantomime, this year see’s them performing Dick Whittington, now I remember the story streets of gold and all that but don’t remember ever seeing the pantomime  so I took my seat with much anticipation and a little curiosity.

This is a great production and all the parts are played enthusiastically and professionally. The jokes and humour being current and the audience participation sections led wonderfully by our dame, Sarah the Cook played by Krystian Wharton who is excellent and his costumes are amazing he is aided by Idle Jack  wonderfully played by Lee Walker his outfit after the ship wreck scene has to be seen!

The show opens to a rapturous round of boos and hissing from the audience as King Rat and his little Prince enter the stage. King Rat played by Anthony Henn who normally lands some of the nicer roles but on this occasion digs deep to deliver a really villainous performance. As he lays out his dastardly plane he is confronted by Fairy Bowbells played beautifully by Juliette Fisher with a cute cockney accent.

We are introduced to Dick and Tommy the cat played played by Sam Rogers and Erin Mooney, this is Erins first principle role and she totally embraces even if she only has a few lines and a lot of meowing.

The show is produced by Stacey Muxlow, this is her first venture into producing but you would never guess, the show is full of life and gusto, filled with wonderful songs and dance routines all performed by the extremely talented cast.

This is a really wonderful show and should not be missed you will leave will leave filled with a fabulous feel good factor

Tickets are still available but hurry you only have until Saturday to catch Dick Whittington and his friends.



Jeremy Vine’s UK Tour comes to Sutton Coldfield next month

WHAT the hell is going on? That’s what Jeremy Vine will be asking when his show comes to Sutton Coldfield for the first time next month.

Having been shot at in Croatia and having chewing gum placed on his chair in Zimbabwe (by one of Robert Mugabe’s supporters), Jeremy says he increasingly finds himself asking: “What the hell is going on?”

He explains that in a world where it is easy for information and misinformation to become muddled due to the sheer volume, people are becoming more reliant on anecdotes to tell a story.

The show will therefore see the popular broadcaster explore some of the 25,000 questions his daily BBC Radio 2 show the Jeremy Vine Show has received from listeners.

“It will also celebrate the joys of radio,” Jeremy added.

“I have been lucky to have been on the radio since 2003.”

While Jeremy is a familiar face among millions on our television screens presenting the likes of Eggheads, Newsnight and Panorama – he is nervous about performing in front of an audience.

He said: “On the radio there might be millions but in a theatre it is much more personal. I like meeting the audience. They can ask questions and ask questions about anything.

“This is my first time out and about. I wanted to do some live performances in theatres. I am excited and nervous.”

A tour spokesman said: “Get ready to laugh and cry as Jeremy tries to make sense of a world that increasingly makes no sense at all — where, as he puts it, “my listeners have better stories than I do.”

Jeremy Vine – What The Hell Is Going On?! is at Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on Friday, March 20th at 7.00pm. There will also be a pre-talk book signing in the Sir Doug Ellis Lounge Bar from 6PM. Tickets £17.00. Call 0121 296 9543 (Mon-Fri,10AM-4PM) or visit


For more details contact Alexander Goetschel [email protected]

07919 420 784  or 0121 296 9543

Successful Launch for St Giles Hospice Garden Project

A great evening was had by all at St Giles Hospice in Whittington last Thursday, when Karen Tatlow, of Karen Tatlow Garden Design, officially launched the St Giles Hospice garden project, to an audience of local business owners, Whittington and Lichfield residents and of course many from the St Giles Hospice community. Jeremy Cotton, Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire also very kindly lent his support by attending on the evening.

Attendees were treated to a presentation giving an ‘insiders view’ of the building of an RHS Show Garden – before the story behind the design of the St Giles show garden garden was revealed and how it will come back to the hospice at Whittington after the show.

” People were fascinated to learn of the attention to detail that is required to build a show garden, the lengths designers will go to in their quest for perfection and the sheer hard work and determination that is involved.

” Come rain or shine, hail or even hurricanes – you must have that garden finished in time for judging day and no amount of excuses – however genuine – will be accepted. Even when things go wrong – which they always do – you just have to plough on regardless!

The story behind the design of the St Giles garden was then explained – how the space is not only accessible to wheelchairs, but that a patient bed can also be wheeled into the garden. How a specially commissioned cantilevered pergola and height adjustable movable table, completely free up the space to accommodate any activity. And how ‘one offs’ like a beautifully intricate laser cut screen, with stained glass inserts and bespoke porcelain pavers are being designed and manufactured for the garden.

Guests were treated to a sneak preview of the Sunflowers for the art installation …

Guests were also treated to a sneak preview of the Metal Sunflowers that are going to make up an art installation at the heart of the garden. Anyone can support the project by buying a Sunflower for £20, with 50% of the proceeds being donated to St Giles Hospice and 50% being used to fund the show garden at RHS Malvern. Sunflowers can be bought at the following link …

First the Sunflowers will go to create part of the art installation at the heart of the show garden at RHS Malvern in May, after which, if they wish, people can collect their Sunflowers in person back at St Giles.

” The support we have had so far from local businesses is amazing!

” Urban Street Designs, AT Services, Logi Engineering, Tippers, Just Granite, Lichfield Garden Centre, Gleeson Recruitment, Grangewood Garden Centre, Masonry Solutions, Downes and Daughters, South Staffordshire Paper Products, Brookside Nursery and ReadyHedge.

” These are all on board already and of course we must mention MJL Garden Design who will be building the garden, not only at the show, but for a second time back at St Giles.

” Many more have expressed their wish to pledge their support, but of course we are still hoping to find more businesses that would like to help us make this garden happen!

The evening also gave those attending the chance to find out all about the various volunteer roles there are available to help support the project. Volunteers can help to build the garden behind the scenes at RHS Malvern, or back at St Giles in Whittington after the show. There are other opportunities to get involved, perhaps with the administration side of things, or even cooking and freezing homemade meals to keep the troops going!

You can learn more about the project at

or contact Karen at
[email protected]
07432 646275

The Boat Inn – Highest New Entry in 2020

BREAKING NEWS…..We’ve ranked #20 in the Top 50 Gastropubsmaking us the Highest New Entry for 2020!! #proud #staffordshire#lichfield


There we go… the 2020 Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs list has been revealed & the website is now live!!
Congratulations again to all of the pubs who made the list!🎉 🍻

You can check out the pubs in further detail by clicking the link below.


Swing Comes To Sutton

Down For The Count – Swing That Music

Sutton Coldfield Town Hall

Friday 24th January

By Nigel Gambles

Photography – Nigel Gambles (WOISC)


After wowing audiences at Concerts In The Park in 2018, Down For The Count made a triumphant return to Sutton Coldfield performing to a sold out house at the Town Hall on Friday night promoting their latest album “Swing That Music”.

The show promised to evoke the atmosphere of the ballrooms and jazz clubs  of the swing era, and that they certainly did!

The evening commenced with a taster swing dance lesson provided by “The Swing Era”, Birminghams hottest swing dance school, we were told we need no partner or experience just enthusiasm. I thought a few people might get up and join in how mistaken was I, the dance floor was full of potential “lindy-hoppers” yours truly excused for having two left feet and no rhythm according to Mrs G. After  about half an hour of some very good dancing  it was time for the band to take centre stage.

Opening with the title track to their new album “Swing That Music” the show continued with classics from the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller and many more. The band were joined for various numbers by vocalists, Hannah Castleman, Katie Birtill and Max Fagandini. Halfway through we were asked to clear the dance floor and make room for The Suzy Q’s Swing Eras all female dance troupe who performed a fabulous routine. After a short interval for everyone to catch their breath we were off again. I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had in a while. It was fantastic to see so many people embracing the period including their dress and simply joining in and dancing the night away.

The band grabbed the audience from the first note and kept them dancing right up to the encore.”




Buddy Bags ready to go!

Press Release

Release date: 20.01.2020

Media contact: Carolyn McLaughlin 

Wylde Green Rotarians have been in action again and working with members of Wylde Green Inner Wheel, staff from Hart Office Supplies and friends, packed 150 Buddy Bags.

Buddy Bags make a tangible difference to children entering emergency accommodation, restoring a sense of safety and security to their lives. Each bag is a backpack that contains all the essential items a child needs. They include toiletries, pyjamas, socks and underwear. They also include comfort items such as a book, a photo frame and a teddy bear. A Buddy Bag is something a child can call their own, no matter where they go.

The Buddy Bag will also include a postcard addressed to the Foundation so children can write to let us know how their Buddy Bag has helped them and to say thank you.

The Buddy Bags are tailored to suit babies and children according to age groups and gender and cater specifically for children aged 0-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 and 13-16 years old.

St Giles Garden Launch Event

St Giles Hospice “The Moments That Matter” garden project is being officially launched …

Come along to the Launch Event of the St Giles Hospice garden project … everyone is welcome!

See details of the event & tickets here

Join award winning RHS garden designer Karen Tatlow to hear the ‘STORY OF A RHS SHOW GARDEN’ – sharing her experience of building and exhibiting an RHS show garden last year, which picked up no less than three awards, including “People’s Choice Show Garden” and well as attracting national media coverage.

“Building a garden from scratch out of nothing, to an absolute deadline in a matter of days and making it look like it has been there for years is no easy task. In fact it could be described as a form of insanity!

“We ended up doing all sorts of crazy things to make it happen and those are the kind of things people are most interested in hearing about.

Karen will also be sharing the story behind the St Giles garden, which will be at RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May, before being moved, piece by piece, back to the hospice in Whittington, Lichfield.

There’ll be the opportunity to find out how to pledge your support for the project, whether that’s getting involved in building the garden, spreading the word, helping financially, or signing up to help bring the garden back to Whittington.

The garden is becoming a real community project, with people, local organisations and businesses across Whittington Village and Lichfield all coming together to donate time, products, services and expertise, as well as financial donations.

“It’s an absolute joy to see so many people and businesses wanting to lend their support to build this garden for the hospice.

“We have already raised support worth an estimated £58K, which is so wonderful, but we still have about £13K to go, so every little bit that people and businesses can give is so important … and of course we cannot do it all alone, so we are also looking for volunteers that can help us!

The garden has a dedicated website telling you all about the project and how everyone can get involved at

All are welcome to come along to the Launch Event, whether you are a local business owner or representative that would like to find out more, or someone who is simply fascinated about the world of RHS Show Gardens!

The Launch Event is at St Giles Hospice, Whittington, on the 23rd January, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm

TICKETS ARE FREE (with a request for a donation on the night towards the garden if possible)

Tickets are avialable via EventBrite at

Or contact Karen directly at

[email protected]
07432 646275