St Giles Hospice Safari Solstice Walk

Saturday evening saw the much loved St Giles Hospice Solstice Walk take place this years theme was “Safari Solstice” and there were no shortages of walkers dressing up as various animals and characters. There were lots of activities to keep entrants occupied ranging from face painting photo opportunities with real animals and entertainment from the Got2Sing Choir. Before the walk started there was thank you from St Giles Hospice followed by a moment of reflection and a bubble release.
The 10k route took them from Lichfield Rugby Club into Lichfield, and a quick excursion in Beacon park before circumnavigating Stowe Pool and into Market Square before heading back to the rugby club for a finishers celebration with a Live DJ Saturday Night Party.

Royal Sutton Fun Run

Thousands of runners descended on Sutton Coldfield on June 4th for the 40th anniversary of the Royal Sutton Fun Run

It looked as if it would perfect running conditions cloudy and slightly cooler, but that all changed as the run started with the sun making an appearance and also making it tough for those involved especially those who donned fancy dress and the 60 plus four legged friends, many of whom i’m sure thought it was just their normal Sunday walk, and lets not forget the posties who decided to pull a Royal Mail van around the 8.5 miles

The run was started by Katie Smith, who was due to start the 2020 event before coronavirus intervened and who would later be running with a giant pink top hat, and Brian Latham whose idea it was to have a fun run through Sutton Coldfield. Brian thanked organiser Tracey Spare and his late father, Roy, for making his idea a reality

In 40 years the event has raised £4.92 million for good causes, with 2023’s 40th edition expected to break the £5 million barrier


Group A Strep – What you need to know

Group A streptococcus (GAS), also referred to as Strep A is a common bacterium. Lots of us carry it in our throats and on our skin and it doesn’t always result in illness. However, GAS does cause a number of infections, some mild and some more serious.

The most serious infections linked to GAS come from invasive group A strep, known as iGAS.

These infections are caused by the bacteria getting into parts of the body where it is not normally found, such as the lungs or bloodstream. In rare cases an iGAS infection can be fatal.

Whilst iGAS infections are still uncommon, there has been an increase in cases this year, particularly in children under 10 and sadly, a small number of deaths.

This blog explains more about GAS and the infections it can cause, as well as how it is spread and what to look out for when your child is unwell.

How is it spread?

GAS is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be passed on through coughs and sneezes or from a wound.

Some people can have the bacteria present in their body without feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of infections and while they can pass it on, the risk of spread is much greater when a person is unwell.

Which infections does GAS cause?

GAS causes infections in the skin, soft tissue and respiratory tract. It’s responsible for infections such as tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo and cellulitis among others.

While infections like these can be unpleasant, they rarely become serious. When treated with antibiotics, an unwell person with a mild illness like tonsilitis stops being contagious around 24 hours after starting their medication.

We are currently seeing high numbers of scarlet fever cases.

The first signs of scarlet fever can be flu-like symptoms, including a high temperature, a sore throat and swollen neck glands (a large lump on the side of your neck).

A rash appears 12 to 48 hours later. It looks looks like small, raised bumps and starts on the chest and tummy, then spreads. The rash makes your skin feel rough, like sandpaper. The rash will be less visible on darker skin but will still feel like sandpaper. More information on scarlet fever can be found on the NHS website, including photos.

What is invasive group A strep?

The most serious infections linked to GAS come from invasive group A strep, known as iGAS.

This can happen when a person has sores or open wounds that allow the bacteria to get into the tissue, breaches in their respiratory tract after a viral illness, or in a person who has a health condition that decreases their immunity to infection. When the immune system is compromised, a person is more vulnerable to invasive disease.

Which infections does invasive group A strep cause?

Necrotising fasciitis, necrotising pneumonia and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome are some of the most severe but rare forms of invasive group A strep.

What is being done to investigate the rise in cases in children?

Investigations are underway following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A Strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.

Currently, there is no evidence that a new strain is circulating. The increase is most likely related to high amounts of circulating bacteria.

It isn’t possible to say for certain what is causing higher than usual rates of these infections. There is likely a combination of factors, including increased social mixing compared to the previous years as well as increases in other respiratory viruses.

What should parents look out for?

It’s always concerning when a child is unwell. GAS infections cause various symptoms such as sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches.

As a parent, if you feel that your child seems seriously unwell, you should trust your own judgement.


  • your child is getting worse
  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal
  • your child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • your baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty
  • your child is very tired or irritable


  • your child is having difficulty breathing – you may notice grunting noises or their tummy sucking under their ribs
  • there are pauses when your child breathes
  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue
  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

What are schools being asked to do?

Schools are being asked to follow the usual outbreak management processes as set out in our guidance if an outbreak of scarlet fever is identified. An ‘outbreak’ is defined as 2 or more probable or confirmed cases attending the same school, nursery or other childcare setting within 10 days of each other.

Schools and nurseries should contact their local Health Protection Team if:

  • You have one or more cases of chickenpox or flu in the class that has scarlet fever at the same time. This is because infection with scarlet fever and either chickenpox or flu at the same time can result in more serious illness.
  • You are experiencing an outbreak of scarlet fever in a setting or class that provides care or education to children who are clinically vulnerable.
  • The outbreak continues for over 2 weeks, despite taking steps to control it.
  • Any child or staff member is admitted to hospital with any Group A Strep (GAS) infection (or there is a death).

Schools where outbreaks occur are additionally advised to:

  • Make sure that all children and employees that are ill go home and don’t return until they are well.
  • Tell parents and visitors about the cases of illness.
  • Remind employees to wash their hands throughout the day. Hand washing needs to be done after changing nappies and helping children use the toilet.
  • Make sure that all cuts, scrapes and wounds are cleaned and covered. This also applies to bites.
  • Carry out regular cleaning throughout the day, especially hand contact surfaces – this is covered in Managing Outbreaks and Incidents. Advice may also be given to increase cleaning of areas with particular attention to hand touch surfaces that can be easily contaminated such as door handles, toilet flushes and taps and communal touch areas. These should ideally be cleaned using a disinfectant.
  • Consider stopping messy play, removing hard to clean soft toys, not going on visits outside of your setting and not allowing children to share drinks
  • Once cases have stopped (no new cases or illness for 10 days), do a full cleaning of buildings (including toys, carpets etc)

Who needs to take antibiotics?

Antibiotics are not routinely recommended as a preventative treatment and should only be taken in confirmed cases of scarlet fever or another GAS infection, or in certain circumstances where Health Protection Teams recommend their wider use.

If there are cases identified in a child’s class, any child showing symptoms should be assessed by a doctor/by their GP and will be prescribed antibiotics if needed. Children are not infectious after 24 hours on treatment and can return to school once they’re feeling well enough after this period.

Are children with chickenpox more vulnerable to iGas?

Children who have had chickenpox recently are more likely to develop serious forms of Group A Strep infection, although this remains very uncommon. The chickenpox rash can make it easier for Group A Strep to get into the body, which can lead to invasive infection. If a child has chickenpox – or has had it in the last 2 weeks – parents should remain vigilant for symptoms such as a persistent high fever, cellulitis (skin infection) and arthritis (joint pain and swelling). If you are concerned for any reason please seek medical assistance immediately.

How can we stop infections from spreading?

Good hand and respiratory hygiene are important for stopping the spread of many bugs. By teaching your child how to wash their hands properly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, using a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes, and keeping away from others when feeling unwell, they will be able to reduce the risk of picking up, or spreading, infections.


All information in this blog is from UK Health Security Agency and is used under the Open Government Licence v3.0

TV star from Sutton Coldfield visits town school to share secrets of success

A famous TV star who started out in Sutton Coldfield has returned to a school in her hometown to share the secrets of her success. Presenter and former model Emma Willis met starstruck pupils at Plantsbrook School in the heart of the town to tell them how she reached the top.
Emma, who was born and grew up in Sutton, is one of 100 BBC stars who are visiting schools across the UK as part of Share Your Story, a storytelling tour celebrating the Corporation’s centenary by engaging with 250,000 students.
The 46-year-old is best known for presenting shows including The Voice, Big Brother, and Delivering Babies, spoke to students about her journey to stardom, before answering their questions.
Headteacher Jason Farr said: “It was a wonderful opportunity for Plantsbrook students to hear Emma Willis share her story, on how she has achieved her success. It is so important that young people get to engage with successful people, to be inspired by their examples.
“And it was even more powerful knowing that Emma is from our area. It was an inspiring and unforgettable day, and we are tremendously grateful to Emma and the BBC for sharing their time with us.”
Share Your Story takes a ‘diverse group’ of 100 BBC Storytellers into schools across the UK, to share stories of their personal journeys, setbacks and successes. BBC Storytellers involved include ‘relatable and inspiring’ BBC staff and well-known BBC stars from TV, radio, sport and news, such as Greg James, Stacey Dooley, Alex Scott, Laura Kuenssberg, Graham Norton and Ade Adepitan.
The BBC has teamed up with the National Literacy Trust, charity Voice 21, and the British Film Institute’s Into Film programme for the scheme, in which pupils are also supported to tell their own stories in class, in the form of a poem, a rap, a film or a speech.
Story and Pictures courtesy of “My Sutton Coldfield”

Sutton’s New Farmers Market is Huge Hit




Thousands of shoppers turned out in the autumn sunshine to visit Sutton Coldfield’s new Farmers Market – and were amazed to see ‘Gordon Ramsay’ checking out the stalls too. Residents flocked to visit 40 stalls that filled the Parade, offering fresh produce, delicious food and quality craft items. And, wandering among them was the UK’s top Gordon Ramsay lookalike, who spent the day posing for photographs and giving his opinion on the items on sale. The speciality market, organised by Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District (BID), is just one of many ideas designed to raise the profile of the town ­– following the launch of a vibrant new ‘Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield’ brand. The market is the first of three which will take place on the last Sunday of the month from 10am-2pm, with the next events planned for October 30th and November 27th. Organisers have said that if these initial markets prove popular, they will become a regular monthly event, rekindling a tradition that dates back more than 700 years in the Royal Town. And the first event proved hugely successful, with large crowds flocking to the town centre, busy car parks and traders reporting positive sales. Sutton resident Sue Mitchell, who used to work in Sutton’s Marks and Spencer store, said: “I was very impressed with the market because there were so many different stalls, offering different things to different people, at different price levels too.

“We’ve just strolled down here and stopped and talked to various stall holders and the variety of the market is wonderful. I can’t remember the last time there was anything like this on the high street in Sutton.”                Her neighbour, Linda Wright, added: “I think it’s wonderful. I haven’t seen crowds like this for so many years and I think it’s what is needed for Sutton, something to bring people into the town centre.                                                 “There is a great atmosphere to the place and the stalls are all very good, with real variety.”

Stall holders also enjoyed the event, which has already got a waiting list of traders keen to get involved. Organisers are now planning a bigger market, on a Halloween theme, at the end of October.

Councillor David Barrie, a city councillor who is part of the board of Sutton Coldfield BID, said: “We have seen a lot of changes in Sutton Town Centre and we have got through the dreadful years of the pandemic, and this market has just come at a perfect time when people are ready to come out into Sutton and see something different. “There was a really wonderful buzz to the place, and I think it will kickstart regular Farmers Markets and bring a lot of trade into Sutton, which is what we need. “There was a lot of Sutton people enjoying a Sutton event organised by Sutton BID and the atmosphere was fantastic.” BID manager Michelle Baker said: “We really want to put Sutton on the map as a destination and we couldn’t have been happier with our first Farmers Market. “We want to thanks the thousands of local residents who came along on a sunny Sunday to show their support and buy some of the brilliant products and produce on sale. “And, of course, it was great fun to see them react to the sight of Gordon Ramsay wandering around the stalls and having his photo taken. “We’re already planning the next market, on October 30, as well as lots of other events which will promote Sutton Coldfield town centre.”

Thousands flocked to Sutton Coldfield’s first new Farmers market.

Shoppers were surprised to see a famous face among the stalls – the UK’s best Gordon Ramsay lookalike.


GOLD for Ladies Gymnastics Team

Last night the Ladies team matched that of their male counterparts in winning Gold in a hard fought contest with the Australian team

The team included local girl Alice Kinsella who has now added the Commonwealth Gold to her tally of medals

Congratulations to the whole team and their trainers and good luck in the all round and individual events coming up

Listen to our interview with Alice which we did after her success in the at the Tokyo Olympics when the team won Bronze.

Fantastic Turn Out for The Queens Baton Relay

Yesterday saw The Queens Baton relay start its penultimate leg in Sutton Coldfield. Huge crowds filled the Parade. After a few pictures with the Mayor Cllr Jan Cairns. The baton was then handed over to our own home grown sporting superstar Laura Unsworth who has won three olympic medals one gold and two bronze. She will be going for gold at the commonwealth games  along with the rest of the England Hockey Team.

Laura carried the baton down the parade which was full of cheering well wishers young and old she passed the baton onto Leon Edwards who is a mixed martial artist from Erdington he carried the baton along Holland Street and then handed over to Julie Mitchell who helps people with mental health issues across the West Midlands. The baton was then handed over to Judy Simpson, who then passed it over to Michelle Stammers who carried along Upper Holland Road skipping at dancing as she proudly held the baton. Michelle then passed the baton on to Raaj Shamji who took the baton into New Hall Valley Park where it started its journey to Pipe Hayes Park, a number of community champions including Olivia White (co-founder of Kids Club Kampala)  continued to take the baton through the park to Pipe Hayes Park  where the celebration event was being held

Pictures from Birmingham Live

West Midlands Trains – Hot Weather

Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July – Speed restrictions due to hot weather

The impact of hot weather

Hot weather has an impact on the railways, and with extreme temperatures forecasted next week, speed restrictions (during peak temperature days) will be implemented across the whole rail network for a number of safety reasons. This includes (but not limited to) Monday 18 and Tuesday 19 July.

As these days present the highest temperatures forecasted, there will be a temporary-amended timetable across sections of our network. Work is currently ongoing with Network Rail to establish the level of service that we will be able to run.

We aim to have our timetable information as soon as possible, but in the meantime you can view the overview online today.

More On Timetable Overviews

If you’re travelling during this time:

  • Plan ahead – please allow extra time for your journey, as journeys are likely to take longer than usual.
  • Check before you travel – changes to services will be in place. Please check our confirmed timetable information online.
  • Stay hydrated – the weather is likely to be very hot early next week. If you are travelling, please ensure you bring a bottle of water with you to keep you hydrated and cool.
  • If you are subject to delays of more than 15 minutes, you may be entitled to compensation through Delay Repay.
  • Book assistance if you require assistance with your journey, please book in advance if possible.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this will cause. Thank you for your patience.


Arthur Terry student Sarah tells council chiefs to support families hit by sepsis

An inspirational Arthur Terry student who had to look after her mum when she caught a life-threatening condition took her campaign for improved support to the corridors of power, when she appeared before the biggest local authority in Europe to demand urgent action.

Year 9 student Sarah Gibson took the floor at a full meeting of Birmingham City Council on Tuesday, July 12 to ask a question about support for families who are affected by Sepsis, which struck down her mum Ali in 2019.

Sarah, who was just 11 years old at the time, cared for her mum as they were not aware of the support that was available to families in their situation.

Sepsis is the body’s over-reaction to an infection or injury, which causes the immune system to attack its own organs and tissues. It affects 245,000 people every year in the UK and is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths worldwide (11 million people).

Sarah asked a question of the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Health and Social Care, Cllr Mariam Khan.

She told the council:

“I first came into contact with the serious effects of sepsis through my mum in 2019. This experience was very difficult and frightening for me as I did not know what Sepsis was. Even now, three years on, my mum is still struggling with the long-lasting effects that this condition has caused. Sepsis has led to anxiety for my mum’s wellbeing. This is all because she got no support.
“Nationally, 245,000 are directly affected yearly, not to mention the family of each person like me. My mum was offered no support. I had to care for her and myself when I was only 11. This is something no child should have to suddenly and irreversibly carry the responsibility for, but thousands have no choice but to. It is vital that patients are signposted towards UK Sepsis Trust services at the hospital. Awareness for sepsis is essential to save lives and lower the death rate of some 48,000 people every year.
“Will you commit to embedding signposting towards sepsis support systems like the Sepsis Trust at hospitals across Birmingham for patients and families?”

National charity the UK Sepsis Trust, which was founded in Birmingham by a doctor working at Good Hope Hospital, exists to support this hit by the condition and backed Sarah in her big moment at the council.

The Trust’s Fundraising Manager Brian Davies, who accompanied Sarah to the council meeting, said he had been ‘hugely impressed’ by the maturity and determination she had shown in demanding action.

He said: “Sarah showed great courage and determination to speak at the council and got across her point with real conviction.

“She and her family have experience of how Sepsis can impact on lives and have long-lasting effects. The UK Sepsis Trust is is proud to provide a free, confidential and compassionate helpline service, facilitated by our dedicated team of specialist sepsis nurses.

“However, effected families often don’t know about us, or aren’t pointed towards us when they need support the most.

“Sarah’s idea to embed signposting to help families affected by sepsis find us, and access our services and support, is a simple move that could improve the lives of so many people impacted by this terrible condition.”

Sarah found out about the trust during an ‘experience of the workplace’ careers event at the Arthur Terry School, which is part of the respected Arthur terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), where Brian was acting as a mentor.

Another mentor at the event, ATLP Trust member Councillor Alex Yip, arranged for Sarah to ask her question at Birmingham City Council’s full meeting, bringing the issue of sepsis to the attention of more than 100 elected councillors in the Second City.

Lauren Murphy, Sarah’s form tutor, said: “We are so proud of Sarah and the stand she has made about this issue, which has had such an impact on not only her own family but thousands of others.

“It was a privilege to see her speak to the council and we all hope the councillors will act on the suggestion she made.”

Courtesy Gary Phelps Communications Ltd

Passport to joy!

Passport to joy! Office Manager Caroline gets MP on board to bid children a “bon voyage”

A dedicated school worker teamed up with her MP to ensure two children didn’t miss the boat in joining their classmates on a dream holiday to France, after a last-minute passport mix-up.

When Year 6 Mere Green Primary pupils Taiya-Lea Brown and Daniel Wharrad faced missing the June school trip due to not having their passports back, school office manager, Caroline Dempsey made it her mission to help the children.

She enlisted the help of Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell to secure both passports in the nick of time. This included an 11th hour dash on a Sunday – just one day before the holiday – to the Liverpool passport office, which opened especially, following a heartfelt plea from Caroline and Mr Mitchell.

Caroline, who has worked at Mere Green Primary School, part of the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), for four months, said: “Our children have been looking forward to this holiday, especially after the last couple of years. When we realised (insert the two children’s names) wouldn’t have their passports back in time, I wanted to do all I could to help.

“I contacted Andrew Mitchell, who immediately responded and volunteered to help. We managed to get one passport delivered on the Friday, but the other was not dispatched as promised. We then tried to arrange delivery on the Saturday, with no joy. Daniel was devastated, but we did not give up hope. Andrew worked tirelessly to arrange for the Liverpool Passport Office, which is normally closed on a Sunday, to open and the family drove up to collect the passport.

“As a result, both children made the trip and had an amazing time alongside their classmates! Enormous thanks to Andrew and Liverpool Passport Office for saving the day. It’s been my pleasure to do this and seeing the children and their classmates return from their holiday with smiles on their faces, is the most rewarding part of it all.”

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m delighted that Daniel and Taiya-Lea could join the other children, and that they’ve had a wonderful adventure.  When Caroline contacted me, it was clear just how much this holiday meant to all the children, and I was only too happy to help.

“Caroline selflessly devoted hours of her own time, including across the weekend, to help these families. Her tenacity and dedication to the children is commendable – she went beyond the call of duty, and that level of care is reflected across our schools in the town.

“We were very fortunate to secure this support and result, but I understand that this is not the case for everybody. I want to thank all those involved, especially Liverpool Passport Office, who pulled out all the stops to ensure two children did not miss out. What a wonderful end to term and what stories they will have to tell!”

The Mere Green pupils returned from their holiday to Paris on Monday. Headteacher Kristal Brookes said they had an “amazing time” and praised Caroline’s “hard work and determination.”

Speaking about their holiday, Taiya-Lea Brown said: “Having the support given to me by Andrew Mitchell made me feel exceptional. I am grateful that he was contacted because I thankfully got my passport and went to France.

“In France, I enjoyed seeing all the monuments and learning things that I didn’t know before. Going on this trip was a memory that I could never forget.”

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