Could You Help Make a Difference in Essex?


It’s National Volunteer’s Week 1-7 June and Action Medical Research is asking people across Essex to help them in their bid to save little lives.

Action raises funds for desperately needed research to tackle the diseases that devastate the lives of so many of our children.

It has been funding medical breakthroughs since it began in 1952 including helping to introduce the first polio vaccines in the UK, developing the use of ultrasound in pregnancy and testing the rubella vaccine.

The charity is currently funding research into conditions including asthma, prematurity, epilepsy, meningitis, cerebral palsy, brain cancer and some rare and distressing conditions.

Launched in 1952, the charity now organises a number of local, annual events in and arounds Essex including:

• London to Paris (https://www.action.org.uk/action-london-paris)

• Essex 100 (https://www.action.org.uk/essex-100)

• Action in the Autumn (https://www.action.org.uk/action-autumn)


Action London to Paris bike ride fundraising challenge

Action has a number of committees across the UK whose members not only help with the charity’s established events, but some also organise their own.  These can range from cake sales, to casino nights to plant fairs; they’re fun, social and help provide additional fundraising for the organisation.

Jane Charlton is the Volunteer Development Manager at Action: “We have around 1,000 volunteers across the UK who currently help us throughout the year. They are amazing and we honestly couldn’t function without them.

“We organise such a diverse range of fundraising events and activities which offer a variety of opportunities to help.

“Could you give a talk at a local school? Perhaps help marshal at one of our many bike rides or even organise a fundraising event of your own?”

Think you could help make a difference?

You can find out much more information about volunteering for Action Medical Research here https://www.action.org.uk/volunteers.


Alesha Dixon fronts star studded event to launch new charity single

Last night British singer and Britain’s Got Talent judge, Alesha Dixon, joined a host of celebrities at The May Fair Hotel in London to celebrate the launch of a brand new charity single. The record entitled ‘We are the Children United’, which features Alesha Dixon and the voices of thousands of children from across the globe, has been launched by new children’s charity Children United.

Children United has been set up by founding partner organisations First News, Achievement for All and Skoolbo, and in partnership with Save the Children and Microsoft Skype. The charity is the world’s first online platform which will bring children together from across the globe to discuss the issues that matter to them, and provide them with the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Speaking about the record, the charity and her involvement, Alesha commented “Getting involved with Children United was a no-brainer! I just thought the whole idea was fantastic. I love the idea of children coming together from all around the world – having a voice and being heard. I think it’s really important. They’re the next generation and we need to hear them and they need to be considered. I just think it’s a fantastic charity – one that I want to continue to support. I think that anything that involves music as well is such a fantastic way to connect to the hearts of people.”

The Children United website, which encourages children around the world to “join-up” and be heard, opened for registration on Wednesday 15 April 2015 and will become fully live and interactive from September. The “We are the Children United” single is now available to download from iTunes: smart url.it/ChildrenUnited

Images from the evening can be downloaded from the below link. Credit: Ben Broomfield http://www.benbroomfield.com/downloads/d25bde527bc2cb7c7ad9/3114241


For more information please contact: 

Amy Scott, PR Account Director – amy.scott@firstnews.co.uk0207 593 1751

Freya Boucher, PR Account Manager – freya.boucher@firstnews.co.uk 0207 593 1730

Grace Armitage, Senior PR Account Executive –grace.armitage@firstnews.co.uk0207 593 1745

Children United has been created by:

The Founders:

First News First News is the UK’s only newspaper for young people, and the widest-read children’s publication in the country with a readership of 2,042,199* seven to 14 year olds every week. Founded by Editor Nicky Cox, Sarah Thomson and Steve Thomson in 2006, the newspaper’s current sales are approximately 80,000. *Source: First News Readership Survey, January 2014, Opinion Matters

Achievement for All Achievement for All is a not for profit education charity offering a whole-school improvement framework that raises the aspira–tions and attainment of pupils vulnerable to underachievement, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, looked-after children, and those with special educational needs. We work with schools to identify the pupils in need of support and tailor the programme to meet their needs. Our approach has a proven and powerful impact with schools reporting significant improve–ments in outcomes in reading writing and maths. Achievement for All works with primary, secondary and special schools, as well as early years settings and further education colleges.

Skoolbo Skoolbo is a fun and exciting free educational game covering core skills in both literacy and numeracy. Children are immersed in an engaging 3D virtual learning world while the Skoolbo Learning Algorithm is designed to give every child the optimal curric–ulum regardless of his or her actual age. An ideal blend of new, not yet mastered and mastered content is served to each child. Teachers can also customise the program and set specific curricula for their pupils. A key benefit of this individualised learning is that children may access the game from anywhere enabling them to practise and build on classroom learning, bridging the gap perfectly between home settings and school. Also, unlike many other educational games, Skoolbo is fully cross-platform and is available on PC, Mac, iPad, Win 8, Android and web browser increasing the likelihood that children will be able to access the game outside of school. There are over 21,000 schools so far who are using Skoolbo worldwide.


Skype Skype is part of Microsoft. Skype is for doing things together, whenever you’re apart. Skype’s text, voice and video make it simple to share experiences with the people that matter to you, wherever they are. With Skype, you can share a story, celebrate a birthday, learn a language, hold a meeting, work with colleagues – just about anything you need to do together every day. You can use Skype on whatever works best for you – on your phone or computer or a TV with Skype on it. It is free to start using Skype – to speak, see and instant message other people on Skype for example. You can even try out group video, with the latest version of Skype. If you pay a little, you can do more things, in more ways, with more people – like call phones, access WiFi or send texts. You can pay as you go or buy a subscription, whatever works for you. Try Skype out today and start adding your friends, family and colleagues. They won’t be hard to find; hundreds of millions of people are already using Skype to do all sorts of things together.

Save The Children Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. We save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. www.savethechildren.org.uk


Get creative this summer and enter our competition – The Marvellous Costume Make

To celebrate The Dahlicious Dress Up Day 2014, Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity has teamed up with Claudia Winkleman to launch a video competition.

Claudia, an ambassador of the charity, is excited to be supporting the Dahlicious Dress Up Day this year. “The Dahlicious Dress Up Day is a fantastic thing and it supports Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, which is a fantastic cause. Children can get dressed up in their favourite Roald Dahl character and all they have to do is take one pound to school. It is great fun and lots of brilliant money is raised for the children who need it most.”

The competition will create a pool of videos with dressing up ideas for parents to help them prepare for the Dahlicious Dress Up Day, a fundraising event in schools across the UK to raise money for seriously ill children.

Parents are invited to submit a short instructional video showing how to make a Roald Dahl costume.  Videos can be uploaded to YouTube, Instagram or Vine and submitted to the competition via the Charity’s Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #marvellouscostume.   Winning videos in the categories ‘Best Costume’, ‘Most Creative Video’ and, in celebration of 50 years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ‘Most Wonkalicious Creation’ will win the Whipple-Scrumptious prize of a family ticket to thebrand new musical of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane and a bundle of Roald Dahl goodies.  Winners of the Marvellous Costume Make will be announced on the Dahlicious Dress Up Day – Friday 26th September.


Learn To Play Day to giveaway 10,000 songs


Learn To Play Day embraces mobile technology with Guitar playing app – FourChords

On Saturday 12th April 2014, the UK’s National Learn To Play Day returns to invite the general public to participating music stores and venues across the country to have a free “taster” lesson on a musical instrument.


This year, Learn To Play Day has teamed up with mobile guitar app FourChords, to give away 10,000 free songs to help budding guitarists play on the day.

FourChords Guitar Karaoke, developed by Finnish music app developer Musopia and available on the iPhone and iPad, is an app which presents songs in four easy-to-play chords. Recently passing the 1,500,000 plays from its extensive songbook of the latest chart-toppers and well-loved classics, FourChords helps people enjoy playing the guitar quickly and easily.

Organised by Music for All, the charity of the UK musical instrument industry. Learn To Play Day works hand in hand with its partners, instrument manufacturers, music shops and other venues, celebrities, musicians and many more, to encourage everyone to join in this unique musical learning experience.

Jools Holland is the patron of the Music for All charity, and partners for the event include the Musicians’ Union, the Arts Council England’s Take It Away scheme and Musicradar.com

Paul McManus, CEO of Music for All and organiser of Learn To Play Day said; “Our goal is to inspire people to learn and enjoy musical instruments and having Musopia’s support with the 10,000 FourChords songs is a great opportunity to reach more aspiring musicians. Many consumers are using smart devices for leisure activities and now having the ability to help them learn an instrument through an app is a great fit for Learn To Play Day.”

Paula Lehto, CMO of Musopia said; “Over 80% of guitar beginners give up within 6 months, but with FourChords we help them to play their favourite songs almost immediately and keep them playing. Learn To Play Day is a fantastic event which we’re thrilled to be involved in and which shares our key objective – to get people playing, and enjoying, music.”

The 10,000 song downloads will be available for free within the FourChords App from Learn To Play Day on the 12th April 2014. For more information, visit http://www.learntoplayday.com  and http://www.fourchords.com


Bad Hair Day for GOSH

HairRaising -1Celebrate Bad Hair Day for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity

Salons, schools, homes and offices across the country will celebrate ‘bad hair’ on 28 February to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Bad Hair Day invites staff, customers, friends and family to sport seriously bad hair dos as part of the charity’s HAIRraising appeal.

The HAIRraising appeal brings together members of the UK hairdressing community in support of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Founded by John Frieda in 2010, the appeal has already reached its original target of raising £1 million towards new operating theatres at the hospital and now aims to raise a further £1 million towards a new Respiratory Unit.

The unit will provide more comfort and privacy for families, including space for parents to sleep by their child’s bedside overnight, and a high dependency unit will allow parents and carers to rest in comfort throughout the day and also provide space for medical equipment.
Hayley Richardson, Senior Fundraising Executive at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity said: “We’re encouraging people in salons, offices and schools up and down the country, to do something daring to their hair on 28 February. Whether you sport an ‘80s perm or a ‘70s mullet, you’ll be raising vital funds for the hospital’s new Respiratory Unit, which will make a real difference for patients and families”

Fancy dress collection 2
For more information please visit http://www.gosh.org/bad-hair-day/
For more information on the HAIRraising appeal, and fundraising ideas, go to www.gosh.org/hairraising

Posted by Tracy Thomas



Calling all swimmers in Thurrock… will you be taking the plunge at Impulse Leisure Blackshots Pool on Sunday 23rd March 2014? Why not take in the challenge and enter the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon.

The Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon is the UK’s biggest fundraising swimming event, which sees thousands of people jumping into pools around the country. From Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014, The Swimathon will be taking place in more than 600 pools across the UK including – for the very first time – the Aquatics Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

If you would like to take part in the 2014 event at Impulse Leisure Blackshots Pool, you can choose from 1.5k, 2.5k or 5k individual distances. For those who prefer a team challenge, you could also form a relay squad to tackle the 1.5k and 5k distances with your water-loving friends.

Alternatively, if you are unable to take part in one of the 600 Swimathon pools, try SimplySwim, which lets you choose your distance and complete your challenge at any pool.

To really make your swimming challenge count, don’t forget to get sponsored. The money you raise will go to Sport Relief to help people living incredibly tough lives both here in the UK and around the world.

Dave Griffiths, Impulse Leisure Blackshots Manager, says: “The Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon is a fantastic way to bring our community together, while providing local people with a reason to swim more, helping them get fit and healthy in the pool. Thurrock residents can take the plunge to complete a swimming challenge of their choice, be it 200m or 5k, all while raising funds for those in need.”

To help swimmers train for their chosen distance, Olympic gold medallist and Swimathon President Duncan Goodhew MBE is on hand to offer his expert advice and encouragement. Four time Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds OBE is also backing the event and encouraging the nation to take a dip.

Ellie Simmonds commented: “I’m really keen on making swimming accessible for everyone and there is a challenge to suit all levels of expertise at the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon. I’d encourage people to take the plunge and make every length count by being sponsored to take on the challenge and do their bit for Sport Relief!”

Duncan Goodhew commented: “Swimmers of all ages and abilities can take on a challenge in the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Swimathon. Whether it’s a length of their local swimming pool or the Team 5k – every length counts. With 600 pools taking part this year, there is even more opportunity to train early for your challenge, while raising much needed cash for Sport Relief.”

Enter the Swimathon today and benefit from limited half price entry* www.swimathon.org

Posted by Lauren Oliver

Swim for Sport Relief

Swim for Sport Relief




Celebrities call on the public to get kitted out for Sport Relief 2014.

A host of stars from the world of sport and entertainment, including Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Davina McCall and Amir Kahn have pledged their support to kick off Sport Relief 2014 and the first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games. For the first time the public can take part in one of three sporting challenges for Sport Relief – running, swimming or cycling – all over one epic weekend from 21st – 23rd March 2014.

The Games will take place in over a thousand locations across the country including landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Whether taking part on foot, bike or water – the public are sure to need some tip top sporting kit to get themselves in shape for their sporting challenge.

TRAINING FOR CHARI-TEE   (Adults £10 with at least £4 going to Sport Relief, Kids t-shirt from £6 with at least £2.40 going to Sport 02Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Show support for Sport Relief by pulling on one of the official t-shirts from Sainsbury’s stores. Available in both sporty and fashion styles, t-shirts are available in a range of sizes.

GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME (£2.50 with at least £1.25 going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s, participating Oxfam shops and sportrelief.com) The public can add a touch of retro style to their workout by donning the sporty headbands.

PIN-TASTIC (£1 with at least 50p going to Sport Relief.  Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Proudly show support for Sport Relief  at work and at play by sporting one of two simple yet stylish pin badges.

01SWEATBAND HAND (£1.50 with at least 75p going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Finish off the retro look by doubling up the headband with a Sport Relief sweatband.

WRIST-FUL THINKING (£1 with at least 50p going to Sport Relief.  Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Wriggle on this wristband to show some Sport Relief support!

SPORTY SOCKS (£2.50 with at least £1.25 going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Take a step in the right direction by grabbing a pair of Sport Relief socks.

IN THE BAG! (£3 with at least £1.50 going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Great for gathering up all Sport Relief goodies, pick up a sports bag from Sainsbury’s.


BOTTLE IT (£1.50 with at least 75p going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Keep hydrated this Sport Relief with the official water bottle.

HAVE A BALL! (£1 with at least 50p going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com An old favourite with a Sport Relief twist.

BOP TO THE TOP (£2 with at least £1 going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s and sportrelief.com) Dress up in this year’s Sport Relief deeley boppers at those all-important Sport Relief Weekend celebrations.

011TOP DOG (£3.25 with at least £1.30 going to Sport Relief. Available from Sainsbury’s, eBay and sportrelief.com) Let dogs in on the Sport Relief fun and games, with two fantastic Sport Relief dog toys to choose from.

GET IT WRITE WITH RYMAN (£1 each with 100% going to Sport Relief. Available from Ryman, ryman.co.uk and Robert Dyas stores) Ideal for noting down training plans, this year’s Sport Relief pens are a must have. Available in three different designs for run, swim and cycle, pop into Ryman and buy one!012

SHINE A LIGHT (£1 each with 100% going to Sport Relief. Available from Robert Dyas stores and robertdyas.co.uk) Head to Robert Dyas this Sport Relief to grab a limited edition football key ring – it even comes with a handy torch to shine a light on those footy skills!

ZOGGS GOGGLES (From £15 for Adults, £10 for Juniors and £7.50 for Little Hero with £1 going to Sport Relief. Available from participating leisure centres, retailers and zoggs.com) The public can kit themselves out for their swim by buying a pair of Limited Edition Zoggs Sport Relief goggles.

DO SOMETHING MAGICAL (available as eBooks for £2.99 exclusively at the Pottermore Shop <http://shop.pottermore.com/en_GB/books/Hogwarts_Library?c=GBP> , with at least £1.15 from the sale of each 015eBook going to Comic Relief.  Printed copies are available from the high street and online bookstores for £4.99 each with £1.15 from the sale of each book going to Comic Relief)

Find out all about the most popular sport in the wizarding world with Quidditch Through the Ages; and find the motivation to run faster by imagining some of the deadly creatures in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Available as eBooks exclusively at the Pottermore Shop.

By putting Sport Relief 2014 merchandise on the shopping list, there’s an opportunity to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world. For more information, please go to www.sportrelief.com 

Posted by Lauren Oliver