The Rotary Club of Windsor St George were asked by the event organisers if they can provide volunteers to help with the marshalling at the above event, being a horse lover but a marshalling novice of course I was more than happy to take a day off work and take part.
For those that don’t know there are three races during the day:
The 120km riders have a maximum of 10 hours to complete the race, all horses are subjected to a 40 minute cool down after each leg, the vet will then check their heart rate etc. and decide whether the horse can continue. This is a true test of Endurance for both horse and rider.
Half of the 70 volunteers, made up of mostly Rotarians from the surrounding clubs, but also students from Bournemouth Uni, Local Riding Clubs and the Royal Vet College, attended the briefing on the Sunday before this event. I’m pleased that I attended the session on the Sunday as we had a very early start the following Friday.
I arrived on site at 5.40am to grab my breakfast and picnic lunch, along with radio and orange high-vis ready for the days action and I was not to be disappointed. I was partnered up with Howard Smith from Ascot Rotary and we headed off following Malcom Wallace and other Rotarians to Ascot Racecourse.
We were shown the dog leg of the roadway that we had to marshal; there were 10 plus people on that part of the course. The 120km and 80km racers arrive through the car park, come along the Ascot Racecourse roadway past the entrance to the Golf Club under the tunnel, around the racecourse, back through the tunnel and out through the car pack back to Windsor Great Park.
As well as shouting to each other when horses were coming, when it was clear and when cars could go I also needed to shout each riders number to Howard so that they could be recorded. Well... trying to read the numbers from a group of 26 cantering horses was a challenge, but how Howard managed to write them all down so quick I’ll never know. In under an hour circa 80 horses and riders had completed this part of the course.
We all headed back to the main hub to be relocated to other parts of the course. This is where I left Howard and his fellow Rotarian Raymond Cheung and joined Ella Nunn from the Suffolk Hunt. Ella and I then spent the remaining 6 hours on our picnic chairs at the bottom of the long walk chatting to passers-by, enjoying the scenery and of course recording the rider numbers as they passed us every now and then.
A fabulous way to spend the day and next year’s date, Friday 10 May 2019, is already firmly in my diary. I nearly forgot, the Rotary clubs also benefitted from £100 for each volunteer so if anyone else would like to take part next year let me know and I will collate all the details to advise Windsor St George Rotary.
On Saturday 28th April, Mike, Neil, Shushi, Vic, Archana and Don went along to a quiz hosted by the Pinkneys Green Scout Group. They are raising funds to send a couple of their Scouts along to the World Jamboree in 2019 in West Virginia USA.
We don’t usually do too badly in quizzes and this lulled me into a false sense of confidence. I hadn’t given the quiz any thought at all before I arrived. On finding our table I was greeted by the first picture round, a sheet full of diagrams of knots. My heart sank. My mind went blank. It’s over 30 years since I was in the Brownies, and the only thing I really remembered was the pain of having to hike around Buckinghamshire with a 10 pence piece in my shoe for an emergency phone call. Thankfully, the others on my team seem to have better memories and miraculously managed to come up with a dozen knot names. We got a lot of the names right, but not necessarily against the right pictures. Oh well.
We were impressed by a few of the more innovative rounds. Guess the flavour of the crisps went down well, and Mike excelled himself at not only guessing flavours but brand names too! There was also a round which involved building a tall object with dried spaghetti and marshmallows. It got a bit messy and we ended up with a sticky spikey construction which fell over under its own weight before the judges even looked at our efforts.
The final outcome for us was that we can 7th, out of 9 teams. The one thing we did do very well was eat their cakes which ultimately helped them raise a fantastic £933 towards their fundraising target.
Dancers, singers, musicians and magicians were among the hundreds of young performers at the annual Maidenhead’s Got Talent showcase on Friday 27th April.
The annual event, organised by all of Maidenhead’s Rotary clubs, saw performers aged six to 22 appearing in a matinee and evening show at Taplow Court, in Cliveden Road. The event featured pupils from five of the area’s primary schools, solo artists and a number of performance academies.
The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for performers in schools and local groups to get experience of being on stage and performing to a large audience. There’s lots of talent in Maidenhead and it’s something we should be proud of.
Theatre students from BCA performed for the first time, pulling off a rendition of the Cell Block Tango from Chicago and it was absolutely fantastic to have them join us for the first time.
Other performances included Britpop from the Magic Potty Band and a song from Big Fish the Musical by Redroofs School for the Performing Arts.
Both shows were compered by Britain’s Got Talent finalist and Theatre Royal Windsor performer Kevin Cruise who did a fantastic job keeping the crowd going and really kept it all together.
Just over £6,000 was raised from the event, which will go towards all of the town’s Rotary clubs’'
charitable activities and we couldn’t be happier!
A massive thank you to all club members who gave up their time to help at this event, without you we simply could not run it!
The view from the Dark Side!
Not many people know this in our Rotary club but I’m a qualified sound engineer. I have completed a BSc (Hons) in Audio and Music Technology (got a 2:1 n all!), and a Masters in Sound Design for Moving Image. How I became a project manager from these qualifications is a LONG story!
Anyhoo – in the last 15 years I’ve also been lucky to volunteer with some brilliantly talented amateur dramatic societies in Ickenham, Chesham and Maidenhead.
This is how I met Matt Loughman (or “Herman” to me!). Matt and I have worked together on many productions, and it’s always a pleasure to have him part of the team. In the last few years, Matt’s daughter Sophie, and Thomas have sparked a wonderful relationship as they’re of similar ages. Add to this Joseph and Madison – we now have more in common than just being techies!
When Matt agreed to be Stage Manager for Maidenhead’s Got Talent (he still maintains he was volunteered rather than volunteering!) I was very excited at the prospect of working on this project. I had taken a break while Marthe & I got used to handling two little people, but 2018’s event seemed the right point to step back onto the saddle.
So, there we were, Friday 27th April – months of preparation, several conversations around kit from Henley Theatre Services - it all came down to this…
The two of us setting up on stage – Matt on lights, me on sound. First issue for me – trying to get noise out the desk. (I’ll keep this basic!) Turns out the flashy digital desk hadn’t been pre-configured as I’d requested. These things happen, and once I’d worked that out – we were ready to ROCK!
And ROCK we did! A fair few choirs, soloists, singer songwriters, a magician, and dance crews from across the borough. Maidenhead most certainly has talent!
The best thing about this event is that it’s not a competition. Rotary runs Youth Makes Music for the competitor in us, this is a pure showcase of local talent. Two performances of Maidenhead’s Got Talent, our wonderful compere Kevin Cruise, talented magician Patrick Ashe.
It was a long day, but really good fun. I’m President next year, if we do it again you won’t see me in the VIP area – I’ll be backstage as I was this year…in the thick of it!
It seems impossible, but we're now three-quarters through the Rotary year! It's time for a quick look at our Volunteer-Hour stats. Full data is available to anyone interested, but here are a few highlights for us to celebrate….
So all that is left to say is thank you! Thank you for all that you do to support our local community, thank you for giving up your time to help those in need and thank you for doing it all with a smile on your face!
The Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge invited town residents to pick up some health tips and information alongside their shopping this weekend. Over 80 people took us up on our offer, receiving blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks, diabetes checks as well as advice on exercise, healthy eating and mental health.
We took over a unit in the Nicholson Shopping Centre from 10am to offer advice and information on getting fit, eating healthily, the effects of high cholesterol and how to manage it, diabetes, and the risks of high blood pressure – all completely free of charge with no obligations.
Neil Gow, event organiser, commented “After having their blood pressure checked 19 people were advised to visit their GP within a month and two were advised to visit their GP within a week. This proves that these events really do potentially reduce ill-health and perhaps save lives.”
Having teamed up with Hearth UK to offer free cholesterol checks and blood sugar tests; the team gave advice on how to lower cholesterol levels and avoid contracting diabetes, which is an increasing healthcare concern. Of those who were tested 10 were advised to make changes to their diet immediately and two were given advice on medication to manage high cholesterol and told to speak to their GP for further investigation.
The team were also joined by staff from The Magnet Leisure Centre who were on hand to talk to people about healthy eating and the importance of exercise to maintain a healthy weight and promote healthy hearts.
For the first time this year advice was also on offer regarding mental health. Rotarian Victoria Williams, a therapeutic coach, spoke to people about mental well-being, tips on reliving stress and anxiety and signposted visitors to organisations that can provide additional support.
Another new feature of the event was an onsite consultation on good posture from Laura Rigby from Berkshire Health Clinic. Laura not only gave advice to the public, but more than a few Rotarians who took advantage of the superb service Laura was providing.
The Health Awareness Day, Fit for February, is just one of the many local community based activities carried out by the Rotary Club of Maidenhead Bridge, alongside a free Easter family fun day in Grenfell Park and a close working relationship with FoodShare helping to feed the hungry in Maidenhead and the immediate area.
Every year our club helps fellow Rotarians from Maidenhead Rotary to plan, organise and marshal the annual Boundary Walk. This year was the 36th year the event has run and is organised with the aim of facilitating local people to raise funds for charities that are close to their hearts.
Maidenhead Boundary Walk is based on an ancient custom called Beating the bounds. Its roots go back to mediaeval times when parishes reaffirmed their boundaries by processing round them at Rogationtide,
stopping to beat each boundary mark with wands and to pray for protection and blessings for the land.
Today Maidenhead has expanded outside the old boundaries of the town, but you can still find the old boundary stones, and this is the route we follow for the annual Charity Boundary Walk.
This year saw a record turn-out of walkers with 648 taking part in total, supporting more than 64 different charities and raising over £25,000. These numbers alone are testament as to what makes this event so special and one we are very proud to support. Below is a viewpoint from Kevin who was at one of the marshalling points!
After a busy week travelling to Spain and watching my team Chelsea win in Madrid and then lose on Saturday, it’s Sunday morning and the alarm goes off – why I ask myself? Then I remember I volunteered to help marshal the Boundary Walk. So I get myself ready, pack the car boot with coats, rain hat, jumper etc. The weather doesn’t look good. I am off to the Shire Horse pub on A4 to help people cross a road without stopping the traffic.
I meet my fellow victims (sorry volunteers): Robert a potential new member who used to be a Rotaract member and Geoff, a Rotary member, and now retired former treasurer of Maidenhead and Windsor Council.
We exchange stories and get to know each other. That’s one thing about Rotary, you get to meet some interesting people. Our first visitor arrives, we wait patiently for a gap in the traffic…finally he crosses! So it begins: more people slowly arrive, grateful that we can escort them over the road waving a stop sign (the rules said we were not supposed to do that). Have you ever tried getting over the A4 without getting caught in the middle?
Being at a crossing by the pub means many of the walkers seem take the opportunity for refreshments. Can’t blame them - it’s the half way point and they were obviously thirsty. So at the end of our stint the new crew take over our duties. Robert and I retire to the pub. Getting to the bar is fun it’s packed with boundary walkers all enjoying the local ale!
So if you want to be thanked by lots of different folks and meet some fellow like-minded volunteers I recommend it. This is the third time I have volunteered at the Boundary Walk at different points along the way and each time I have enjoyed it. BTW it didn’t rain on my watch.
PS the beer was good!
Timbertown is an annual children's even, run over the August Bank Holiday in Maidenhead for approximately 350 local children, aged 6 to 11. The children form into a number of groups and set about building their huts using timber and
material provided by local companies. They get to use real hammers and nails, pliers, saws, crowbars, glues, and paints – and there's a number of games and water activities across the long-weekend.
We had spectacular weather for the whole weekend which fitted in perfectly with this year's "Timbertown at the Beach" theme. The final day sees all of the huts being pushed in to the middle of the park for the grand finale Bonfire!
Two weeks later a few of us were back in the park to clear up all of the ash, nails, and general debris before throwing down the new grass seed-mix. In total our Club members contributed 105 hours this year covering a variety of activities from set-up, assisting to build the huts, games and activities, dismantling and the clean-up day.
The Maidenhead Half marathon is one race I’ve only ever marshalled – firstly because it falls the week before the Thames Path challenge and secondly because it’s a local race and I’ve always believed as a runner it’s important to give back and marshal once in a while.
This year was a bit different though - back in April a friend of mine said she wanted to run a half marathon to raise funds for the hospice that had looked after her dad who sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer and would I get her ready to do it. Of course I agreed and paid her entrance fee that day and set out a 12 week training plan for her. Over the next 3 months we ran and built up the mileage, we chatted and there were tears – I always say that running is cheaper than therapy!
Race day finally arrived and it was a perfect day for running – fairly cool and overcast but no rain! The countdown began and we were off - I’d estimated I could get her round in about 2 hours 10 minutes so it meant everyone knew roughly where and when to expect us. It’s a 2 loop course but lovely running out through Maidenhead and then through to Cookham with plenty of support pockets along the way. A big group of family and friends were stationed at what was mile 3&8 with banners and cheering which helped and I made that her goal to focus on. The next goal was to get to mile 10 which meant it was just a parkrun left to go.
I could see at mile 11 she was starting to tire and I remember saying ‘Just get to Kidwells Park that’s where the loudest marshals will be’ and they were – Maidenhead Bridge rotary once again amazing, seeing familiar faces and having people cheer you on makes such a huge difference. Through the underpass and then up the high street (which feels much longer having run 12 miles and when you have to run past Costa without stopping for a flat white) and all the wonderful people out shopping who are shouting and cheering for you to push on that last bit.
Then suddenly there was the finish line and we ran that last 50 metres hand in hand remembering her dad and why we were doing this. He would’ve been so proud of her and she raised over £1800 in his memory.
Half marathons are hard, 13.1 miles is a tough distance and when it hurts never under estimate how much a cheer, a few words of encouragement or a clap can help push someone to dig a bit deeper. So if you haven’t marshalled it yet volunteer next year – you could be the difference between someone wanting to quit and finishing, runners might not always show it (although more do) but they are so grateful for this important job and without these amazing volunteers wonderful local events like this wouldn’t happen.
I didn’t do a bad job on the pacing in the end – I got her home 2 hours 10 minutes and 11 seconds!
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