Bromham Girls Help the Homeless This Christmas

A commendable effort by two Bromham girls to give fifty goodie bags to the homeless this Christmas is quickly growing worthy attention. A massive congratulations goes to these kind year 6 girls, Greg and Al, for such a wonderful thought and their determination to organise this.

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Still, they need donations of many items on their homemade list, including cosmetic products like toothbrushes, deodorant and soap, to warm clothes, torches and treats such as chocolate! In fact, I think they’ve thought of a number of valid items most us probably wouldn’t have!

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They’ve set up a Facebook page for their campaign, with details on how to donate. Collections are possible, but the girls have set up donation stations at St Nicholas in Bromham and at Beezes in the Ginnel, Devizes. They also sought other possible places for these stations in various local villages.

So, can we give this wonderful idea a boost? I know we can! Start by giving their Facebook page a “like,” and see what you are able to donate, please. Thank you! We wish all the best with this brilliant idea, girls and hope that you will tell us how it went after Christmas; you are both on the good list, that’s for sure! Remember though, have a great Christmas yourself too!


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Your Friendly Neighbourhood Milkman!

After the results of our dare, I’m going to do it, but not without your help raising some awareness of Carmela’s Stand up to Muscular Dystrophy…..


UPDATE!

Thank you for the kind donations, we’ve made £100 so far, but Spiderman isn’t coming out to play unless we can get some more!! Please donate to my dare, whatever you can will be a great help to Carmela and her family. A big thank you to The Gazette & Herald for covering the story, and Claire Perry MP who retweeted our campaign on her Twitter page.

I was delighted today, as for the first time I met Carmela and her mum, Lucy, when they came for a visit and, if a little hot and bothered, we posed for some photos! If anything though, it’s made it feel so much more real about doing this silly thing!

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Donate Here!


Writing my rant column about Devizes on Index, some years ago now, would rattle some cages on Facebook. The satire soared over the heads of some conservative-minded individuals. One commented “don’t give up the day job.” I replied, “for the record, I love my day job,” and, weather permitting, I do.

When children say what they want to be when they’re grownup, they tend to suggest jobs they see around them, a teacher, a policeman, something like that. With a love of drinking milk, I wanted to be a milkman, among other things. I’d take the bottles out of my fridge and place them on the neighbour’s doorsteps. They’d knock our door, bottles in hand, saying, “I think he’s been at it again!”

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Forward wind some decades, I figured of all the things, becoming a milkman was as unlikely as my idea to be an astronaut, being supermarkets had seen off the trade. When the job came up at Planks, I gave it a go, and after five years, never tire of it. There’s a tranquillity, a gratifying element to it beyond your average delivery driver. We are the fourth emergency service, supplying milk to those in far-flung villages who otherwise would have to travel some distance. This is warmly appreciated, particularly from the older generation, and with ecological awareness on plastic, the occupation is back in fashion.

Just so you know, Devizine is a hobby, you’ll be sadly mistaken if you think it prints money. Still, love doing this too. It became apparent when I made it a regular joke, readers thought it strange or didn’t believe I was really the milkman, so a month ago I posted video proof. Being I get quite a few strange looks, this day and age, trundling around in a milk float, it wouldn’t make the slightest difference if I did it dressed in my Spiderman onesie; would it? I asked you all if you’d dare me to do my milk round in my Spiderman onesie!

With great milk deliveries must also come great responsibilities, never ran over a hedgehog yet; they’re too fast for me! The poll exposed a slim majority (98%!) dared me to do it. So, I half-heartedly accept the challenge, but ask you to put your money where your mouth is; think we can raise some funds for Carmela, a five-year-old girl from Lavington with a very rare form of muscular dystrophy called LMNA Congenital Muscular Dystrophy? Then, I promise, to dooooo ittttt.

LMNA-CMD is a progressive muscle wasting disease that weakens the skeletal muscles, to the point where Carmela relies on a powerchair fulltime and needs someone to do everything for her. The heart and lungs are affected too. LMNA-CMD is incredibly rare with around only 50 known cases in the UK. Many years ago, affected children would typically die before the age of ten from respiratory and heart complications, but modern intervention has seen an increase in life expectancy. Carmela now has a 60-70% chance of living to sixteen. If lucky, she could make it to her twenties.

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All parents live to wonder, myself included, to their children’s future and inspire and encourage their success, as I watch my daughter run rings around me, football glued to her feet, I cannot imagine what life must be like for Carmela and her family at times. Though Carmela rarely doesn’t wear a smile. I’m no superhero by wearing a Spiderman onesie, more of a loon, but Carmela is.

Mind you, I received word she prefers Wonder Woman, but to see me in blue starry hot-pants is a step too far!

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There is no cure or treatment to slow down the disease but to help with the discomfort, pain and stiffness that comes with a progressive muscle wasting disease, Carmela requires daily mobility and stretching exercises, massages, hydrotherapy, swimming, and cycling using an adapted trike for low tone children. As her disease weakens her, adaptations in the garden and specialist equipment will change, costing in the thousands. For more information on Carmela’s story, see here: http://www.carmelasstanduptomusculardystrophy.co.uk/

My spider-senses are tingling, telling me I’ve got to do this, on Friday 9th August, weather permitting. I will take some photos and make a video diary of my morning, travelling through: Potterne, Worton, Great Cheverall, The Lavingtons, Easterton, Urchfont, Chirton, Patney, Beechingstoke, Woodborough, Marden and back into Devizes, before returning to Plank’s Dairy in Poulshot. I’ll also try a live stream to our Facebook page for the last part of the journey, and Carmela may join me at some point too! If this isn’t enough proof for you, I plan to stop outside the Bear Hotel in Devizes, Friday mid-morning where you can meet and laugh, I mean cheer me on!

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If there is to be a gathering, and any of my musical friends are free, I’d welcome you entertaining the any gathering few with an acoustic song or two, please let me know guys!

On the day, you should be able to track my progress on the Devizine Facebook page, and I’ll announce an ETA back into town; do, if you can support me, there will also be a bucket for donations, or you can use this donation page here. Please, I know times are tough, but one thousand four hundred bods like the Facebook page, near 40,000 of you read the website annually, if everyone just gave a pound coin, it’d make a massive difference to Carmela’s life. She’s such a happy-go-lucky five-year-old, despite this condition, and refuses to let it prevent her from smiling.

Here’s the link, let’s get this to as much as we can, help me by sharing and caring! If Steve Ditko could see me now… probably cry with laughter!

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Click to Donate!

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Our Cheque to OpenDoors

Hey there, just a quick one from me today, mind, I say that then I start waffling, you know how it is!

 
Delighted to announce that I handed a cheque for the total sum of £225 to Devizes Opendoors today, from our fundraising events at the Bear Hotel’s Cellar Bar in Devizes last month.

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It was good to see the homeless charity still thriving, offering takeaway food after their cooked breakfast. Books and clothes are also available to takers; people in sheltered accommodation or sleeping rough in our neighbourhood. It has been over a year since I paid them a visit to highlight the good work they do, see the article here. It was great to know the followers of Devizine has contributed, even just this small amount to this often-overlooked charity.

 
With Devizes Opendoors saddened by the recent passing of one of their regular guests, Richard Manning early in May, the organisation could do some better news. They’ve raised funds from their recent Quiz Night, and The Sing Alive Choir’s event on the 11th May. You can find out from their exhibit at Devizes Health and Wellbeing event, and from the website, here.

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It was even better to acknowledge that we had fun doing it! Reminders of our two events can be read here, and here. Again, a massive thanks for all who attended, to Luke and the Cellar Bar staff for putting up with us. To Harvey and Finely Trusler of the lively Truzzy Boys, Jordan Whatley aka The Hound on the Mountain for that fantastic and expressive set, Gail Foster for brill photographs which just seem to get better with every snap, and her witty and poignant poetry interludes, and the gents of those brilliant Roughcut Rebels; Jamie Elly, Doug Wilcox, Mark Slade, and John Burns.

 
Of course, that was just the first night, an assortment of live music. For our second, all-reggae night the following Saturday we have Nick Newman, aka Razah, and Knati P, aka Clifton Powell to massively thank. Alongside their dedicated team who carried the equipment down those wonky steps to build the loudest sound system the Cellar Bar has ever witnessed, and stayed to party with us! Particularly Sam Chaloner for assisting the door and encouraging punters to come party.

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What comes next? Thanks for asking, but I’ve no idea. I’d like to get summer over and done with, so full of great events already. Then I’d like to do some more Devizine Presents gigs, using our many venues in town and highlighting the best of our local talent. There are many other charities I’d like to include and so, watch this space until the leaves fall from the trees (let’s not think about that yet though, eh?!)

 

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Introducing Devizine Presents; me getting out there and actually doing something!

Hi all, just a quick one from me today. I say that and then I waffle on; ah, you know me too well.

 
Learning lessons about event coordination this week I find it’s not as simple as it sounds. In all actual fact, it can be a bit of a headache. All those I chat with, wanting me to plug this, and that, well done you guys, I’ve experienced it from your side now! There was a point when I was like, yay; reggae in the Cellar Bar, then in one phone call it comes crashing down, and you’re left feeling now I got nought.

 
But spirits rising again, as from the failure comes two events, of which I’d like to run as a series; I dunno, bi-monthly or something. But I do want to blag what I can from our many venues and event coordinators, work with them to host some charity fundraising events, if they’ll have me and my shambolic procedures. But first, I need to thank everyone who’s overwhelmed me with positive responses to playing one of these, completely unplanned, disorganised chaos of events!

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Sam Bishop at our last outing in November. Photo by the wonderful Nick Padmore

So firstly, we kick off with an indie/acoustic type thing, down the Cellar Bar on 11th May. There, for a fiver, or, look, whatever you can chip in pal, you’ll find an abnormal assortment. Not that the acts are abnormal, but the line-up, for though you’ll know Sam Bishop and Finely Trusler as those indie lads from Devizes, Larkin, we’re hosting both of them, without any fights, hopefully, as Fin heads the Truzzy Boys with his cousin Harvey Trusler, and Sam, he’ll be with a promised new band.

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Truzzy Boys will be there, will you?

If that isn’t enough surprises, Melksham’s incredible, raw and energetic performer, the kind I’ve compared to a dreadlocked Jim Morrison in the past, will be there too. Jordan Whatley, aka The Hound on the Mountain, once member of the Compact Pussycat, returns as a solo artist with some new songs for us.

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The Hound of the Mountain promises to fuzz us all up!

And we’re doing this for Devizes Opendoor, a registered homeless charity who’ve I’ve been to see first-hand the great work they do, providing a breakfast to kick off the day, lunch takeaways, clothes and books, but also advice, support and sociability for anyone sleeping rough or in sheltered accommodation. It’s a situation which never goes away, in fact increases, yet, with stereotyping and crass negative opinions, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to. Let’s not get all political, you know how I feel. Just know that this, and our second event will both donate all proceeds to Opendoor.

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Click to read more about Devizes Opendoor

Wha? Second? Yeah, listen up, the reggae night, boomshaka-la, I did say, was merely postponed, and we should bash this one out too, the following week, same place, same time, on Saturday 18th May. Few bits to iron out at present, (and as you could imagine, I’ve an allergic reaction to ironing) but the man Knati P, and Raz-ah will be shaking the foundations of Devizes’ most prominent landmark, The Bear Hotel.

Look, don’t let me get carried away here, but we’ve a lot more on this to come, and I’ll let you know when it does. I’ve lots of acts wishing to contribute, from the incredible local acoustic Vince Bell, wonderful Sally Dobson, to some off the planet ska-punk, and much more. We’ve also a range of worthy charities to donate to, The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre are on my hitlist, along with the wonderful Arts Together.

 
Watch this space….no, bollocks to that, get yourself down the Cellar Bar on the 11th May, for what will be, I’m certain of it, a historic moment when Devizine ceases to become that crap you read online, and becomes actual, actually a darn good series of nights. Boom, that enough? Can I go now?!

 
Opps, nearly forgot; she’ll kill me, odds on bet. We will not, hopefully, leave you dangling in boring conversation about the weather during the band changeovers, no sir-y Bob. Our town’s wonderful, amazing, brilliant, Gail Foster will be drafted in to provide us with some mind-blowing, possibly a bit rude, poetry interludes. That is, if I’ve not annoyed her too much, see what I mean, it’s not easy being an event promoter; mine’s a Stowford Press by the way.

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Here’s the Facebook event page, let me know you’re coming, because you need to come, tell me you will, but no fibs, do come! See, told you waffling, it’s not pretty.

 

 

 

 

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A Get Together with Arts Together

“What we have learned is that simply offering support or information is sometimes not enough,” states Age UK, “older people who are in the worst place often feel there is no hope, leading to a vicious circle of low self-esteem, lack of motivation and reluctance sometimes to ask for, or accept help.”

 
What sounds bad on paper, is often not as the eye perceives. While undoubtedly this is fact, I’m visiting Kestrel Court in Bowerhill, sheltered accommodation for elderly. I bear witness to a lively group, not just engaged in an art class, but merrily lapping up every minute of it. There’re cakes in abundance, tea, and some Mozart as background music. At one-point Gerald gets up to strum a guitar, and once the class is all but ended, the artist Clifton Powell slipped on some reggae; despite hard-of-hearing and cataract, Gladys, from Paraguay, is up dancing.

 
This is the doing of a charity group called Arts Together.

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“I’ve never been a person who joins groups,” Sue tells me as we sit together admiring her still life watercolour, “always been on the edge looking in. I really feel part of this group; that’s so unusual.” Arts Together is perhaps a slightly misleading name for this local charity, as while indeed it provides members with tutorials and equipment to engage in a wide variety of art projects, it also acts as wellbeing, and an invaluable social group.

 
I asked Sue about the community side to it, did she balance it’s worth with the actual art as half-and-half. She agreed it was equally vital, describing her battle with depression. “But this kind of thing really addresses it. There’s so many of the things they say you should do, going to your doctor, behaviour training and what have you, which has never helped me. And then you get something like this, which has been a real help. If this was on prescription, I’d be asking my doctor for it!”

 

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Sue reveals a creative nature, she’s written poems and performed them. Other members of the group, such as Carol, who proudly holds up her painting to show me, has no previous artistic calling. There’s a varied degree of skill, but Clifton commends and encourages all, a reason they all sing his praises. He was joined last minute by Rachel Heard, a Wiltshire artist, known for her “explorations of natural forms,” painting.

 
Arts Together have thirteen accomplished artists, and many group volunteers. In the last year they’ve delivered 180 art sessions, over their six locations across the county. Arts Together meet, in Bradford, Trowbridge, Devizes, Pewsey, Marlborough and here, in Melksham. Projects are as wide as wire and clay sculptures, mosaics and textiles. Sue particularly warmed to the puppet making workshop. I’ve invaded the final meet of this still life project, frames are scattered over the table, once completed a windowsill becomes a makeshift gallery, presenting their work.

 


Arts Together works to support older people who have become physically and socially isolated. I did ponder if they catered for dementia patients and such like, but was informed care homes and hospices organise their own activities, while the elderly in sheltered accommodation are often left out. “There’s nothing like this around here,” I’m told. So, while I didn’t class this as “art therapy” in similar light, it’s indubitably therapeutic, it stimulates and actively encourages the participants to try new things, to be creative and social. In a word, it’s wonderful.

 

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But I’m moved by Arts Together manager, Karolyne’s announcement, “We are on the brink of closure and desperately help.” While this is not the first time the charity has been under financial pressure, they assure me it’s the worst. “Any statutory funding from public money disappeared years ago and it has been our supporters and some enlightened Trusts that have helped us survive.” I find myself shrugging; sad sign of the times.

 
This isn’t some large charity with a whole department dedicated to fundraising, managers balancing campiagns with sessions. It’s lunchtime as I get my coat, I’m invited to stay but cannot. Agreeably I attended for some media exposure, but so welcomed I left with sensation of making real friends. I imagine life for these newfound friends without Arts Together, and shudder.

 
Without Arts Together members return to a solitary, empty week, consequently effecting their health and wellbeing. Wellbeing was a word passed around a lot today, the charity take pride in their achievement, help them maintain it.

 

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There’s a coffee morning at Rick Stein’s on the High Street in Marlborough, on 1st March. Admission by £5 minimum donation, includes coffee tea and cake.

 

I’d like to thank the members I met today, it truly was fun and an inspiration to meet you, and the team behind it. I was enlightened, and think Devizine should stage a fundraising event too, as soon as possible. Anyone interested in helping with me on that please get in touch.

 
Until then, you can donate on the website; please, please, if you can, do. If you’re an artist consider volunteering some time. Any donation from you will help around 80 very frail older people to rediscover their zest for life. Arts Together enables them to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem and resilience and remain living independently in the community for as long as possible.

 

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