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Brian and Margaret Roper given freedom of the city

A couple responsible for giving more than £6 million to charity have been given the Freedom of Bath.

Retired businessman Brian Roper and his wife Margaret were given the honour earlier this week.

The founder of bathroom firm Roper Rhodes has been a knight in shining armour for countless good causes in the city over the years.

Since the Locksbrook Road firm moved to Bath in 1985, it has given three per cent of its profits to charity each year.

The ceremony was brought forward from its traditional slot at the annual mayor-making event in June because Mr Roper is suffering from incurable cancer.

In the last four years alone Mr Roper has paid for laptops at Newbridge Primary School, free sports sessions at the University of Bath, the refurbishment of the swimming pool at St Martin’s Garden Primary School, a recording studio at Hayesfield School (called the Roper Theatre), and free spaces at the Curtain’s Up theatre school.

He has also been a generous supporter of the Royal United Hospital, donating £625,000 in total to The Forever Friends Appeal.

His trust has also supported the arts sector, with one of its most recent donations helping the Zenith Theatre Company to celebrate its 50th anniversary by raising £50,000, and has provided long-term backing to events such as the Bath International Music Festival.

Money has also gone to charities such as Newton St Loe-based Send a Cow, and WaterAid.

In 2012 Business Secretary Vince Cable officially opened a new £5 million three-storey building at City of Bath College named after Mr Roper.

Last year, Mr Roper was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Chronicle’s Bath Business Awards.

At that time, he said: “We do what we do because I believe that businesses should contribute to their communities. It’s not enough for them just to pay their taxes. Businesses are individual wealth centres and they should take some of the load off the state and local authorities.”

He said his family trust, which also involves the couple’s two sons, would go on after his death.

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Solicitors Bake-Off for Ted

A fantastic afternoon was had by all on Friday at the Bath offices of lawyers, Withy King.  Twelve members of the Withy King team, from both their Midland Bridge and Northumberland Building offices, entered into their annual Withy King Bake-Off competition – which raised funds for their staff-elected annual charity, The Forever Friends Appeal.

Jo Hones, Corporate Officer for the Appeal comments:  “It’s not every day that you get asked to help judge a Bake-Off competition, so I was thrilled to be one of the official tasters!  The level of entries was superb and everyone who entered deserves a huge congratulations, in particular the Bake-Off winner, Sue Gulliford from Commercial Dispute Resolution.”

Sue said “I am absolutely delighted to have won against such stiff competition.  This is another good initiative from Withy King for helping its chosen charity”

Withy King are supporting The Forever Friends Appeal throughout 2014 with various other activities planned – watch this space to hear more about their Summer of Sport.

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Take part in the Walk of Life

Open to both men and women, walkers can take part in either the full 21 miles from Devizes to Bath, 12 miles in the morning from Devizes to Bradford-On-Avon, or 9 miles in the afternoon from Bradford-On-Avon to Bath.

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Local firm pledge £50,000 for new Cancer Centre

Swindon-based business mobile, IT and landline providers, Excalibur Communications, are so captivated with The Forever Friends Appeal’s Campaign to raise £8.5million towards a new Cancer Centre for the Royal United Hospital in Bath, the firm has committed to raising £50,000 towards the fundraising goal.  This significant pledge has been kick started with a £25,000 cheque presentation to the charity, from company Chief Executive James Phipps.  Staff from the firm are consequently busy organising various fundraising events throughout 2014 to help raise the next £25k.


On Thursday 24th April, James Phipps, Adrian Wheeler and Karen Thornley from Excalibur visited the RUH to present the £25,000 cheque to Chairman of The Forever Friends Appeal, John Cullum, along with staff from the RUH Oncology department and Children’s Ward.

Excalibur will be backed by their staff, customers and partners in a bid to reach their target and their fundraising will go towards the teenage cancer area of the new Cancer Centre building.  Excalibur’s CEO James Phipps first came into contact with The Forever Friends Appeal team at Bath Racecourse in July last year when Excalibur was sponsoring a business race day. James commented: “The Forever Friends Appeal was something we very much wanted to get involved with. The new Cancer Centre will benefit so many people all over the South West, and the teenage area was an ideal project for Excalibur as they’ll be using lots of the technology we provide. Currently some of the teenagers are cared for in the children’s ward and they really need their own area specifically tailored to them so they don’t feel isolated, especially given the treatment they’ll be going through. We’re very committed to our challenge and are looking forward to achieving our goal.”

In order to reach their £50,000 target Excalibur have several innovative fundraising activities planned throughout 2014.  This has been kicked off already with donations from Excalibur staff at their annual event in February, plus a sportsman’s dinner on 27th June being held at Alexandra House in Swindon with guest speaker Gareth Thomas.

Businesses are also being invited to purchase a table at the Excalibur and Forever Friends Appeal Race Day at Bath Racecourse on Wednesday 3rd September 2014.  Last year, tables at the Excalibur Race Day filled up quickly, so the team are expecting a great response again in 2014.  Tables of 10 cost £790 plus VAT, and sponsorship of an individual race is £1000 plus VAT.

This event will then be followed by a World Record Breaking attempt in October.  The company aims to hold the challenge at a gym in Swindon and break the record for the most people exercising on Swiss Balls in one place.

To find out more about any of these events, contact Excalibur on 01793 744286.

The £25,000 donation means that Excalibur will be recognised by the charity as a ‘Senior Corporate Partner’, and have received a Forever Friends Appeal Senior Corporate Partnership plaque to display in their Swindon office.  When they reach their £50,000 goal, the firm will be acknowledged as a ‘Principal Corporate Partner’ of The Forever Friends Appeal and will receive a significant naming opportunity in the new Cancer Centre.

Chairman of The Forever Friends Appeal, John Cullum, comments:  “We are so delighted to welcome Excalibur Communications on board as a Senior Corporate Partner for The Forever Friends Appeal and would like to thank the company for being so passionately committed to making such a significant donation to help improve the Teenage Cancer facilities here at the RUH.  We wish them the very best of luck with all their forthcoming fundraising activities and the Appeal looks forward to being part of a World Record Breaking attempt in October!”

For more information about Excalibur’s planned fundraising activities, visit their website

www.ex-c.co.uk. To find out more about The Forever Friends Appeal and their campaign to build a pioneering new Cancer Centre.

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Arbonne sell products in the RUH

Arbonne consultants Kiz and Tracey had a great day in the RUH raising funds for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign through the sales of their nutritional, health and wellness products.

Thank you Kiz and Tracey for helping support this great cause!  http://www.kizdavis.myarbonne.co.uk/

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Forever Friends Good Friday auction exceeds expectations

As part of the traditional Good Friday gathering of motocross fans in the Bath area, the annual Mike Brown memorial trophy event took place in ideal racing conditions at the Marshfield track near Chippenham Wiltshire.

With numerous attractions – including a “generations” relay race – the focus of the day was very much on raising funds for the Royal United Hospital and its Forever Friends Appeal in light of the care that the institution is providing for local rider, Mark Hucklebridge. Diagnosed with inoperable cancer, the 35 year old has only recently completed the Bath half marathon between courses of intensive treatment and was determined to ride in the generations challenge despite having chemotherapy just days before.

“So much has gone into this event and the Forever Friends Appeal fund raising that I felt I just had to be on the start line of the race on my Kawasaki KX250F”, said Mark. “With my dad at the top of the track ready to take over when I’d done my laps it was a very special feeling, something to treasure in fact”.

Well known to many for his racing achievements on Kawasaki machinery under the banner of local firm MJ Church, it was fitting that the day also played host to an auction of a motocross bike donated by Kawasaki Motors UK helped and supported by a visit by world championship Kawasaki motocross rider, Tommy Searle.

With a chance to bid via text in advance of the evening auction in the prize giving tent, the existing bid of £2000 was declared the reserve as the live auction took over.

“There was a lot of interest in the KX85 bike during the day and people were keen to see it achieve a good price”, commented Tom Church of MJ Church Ltd who was in the crowd. “Then a local enthusiast who knows Mark well bid an amazing £3000 and the bike was his”.

A regular visitor to MotoXtreme, the Marshfield motocross dealer where the machine was prepared and exhibited in advance of the event, Josh McGill was both surprised and delighted to end up as the winning bidder.

“It all happened so fast and the atmosphere was amazing” said the eighteen year old from Bristol. ”I am really happy to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause and wish Mark all the best with his treatment and further fund-raising activities.”

On behalf of Kawasaki Motors UK, General Manager, Howard Dale, concluded.

“Mark had significant racing success on Kawasaki machinery. He was a great ambassador for Kawasaki in particular and motocross in general. We were glad to donate a motorcycle and delighted that the Forever Friends Appeal will benefit from Josh’s kind act. I think everyone was particularly touched that, as a final gesture, Josh presented the KX85 to Mark’s son, Charlie; a testament to how loyal and generous the world of off-road sport can be. ”

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Former Colerne landlord releases charity rock album

Rocking former pub landlord Stuart Rolfe has released a charity album to help others affected by cancer.

The 41-year-old ran the Fox and Hounds in Colerne until he was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010, and now has been given the all-clear by doctors.

His five-track album of blues and rock covers is on sale from the pub, which is now managed by his father. It includes his version of tracks by Steve Earle, The Commitments and Mark Knopfler.

He said: “This is the first of a double album called If It’s Broken, with the next one to be called We Will Fix It.

“We’ll be raising funds for the Bath RUH’s Forever Friends Appeal, as I wanted to focus on the support side, and not just the doctor who gets the medicine into you. It’s also about the others who spend the next six months putting you back together again.”

As well as the cancer unit appeal, funds raised will be shared with Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, the nominated charity of the London studio where the album was recorded.

Mr Rolfe said: “I knew her and the family very well, and it’s one of those causes which is close to us all in the village.

“We’re selling the five-track CD for £4 each – 99p has to go to PRS to cover the music licensing, but then each of the charities will get a pound per sale.”

The former landlord, who also ran the Bug and Spider in Calne, started his music career more than 20 years ago, and is hoping to start performing live again soon.

He said: “The other guys on it are people I have known for years; most are from London and some are session musicians. I am going to start doing some more solo work now, we are looking at doing a mini-tour, and I’ve been working with another band in Colerne, so it’s a really exciting time ahead.”

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Thai students create 1000 paper cranes

The students, who are studying with Languages United, a language school based in Walcot Street, made 1,000 origami cranes with the help of the school’s Japanese teacher Meiko.

Thousand Origami Cranes is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. As a symbol of good luck, the students donated their colourful creation to the Forever Friends Appeal at the Royal United Hospital.

Watch a short video here: http://www.bathontv.co.uk/thai-students-create-1000-origami-cranes-for-sick-children-in-bath/

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Bath City FC committed to support Bath hospital

After a very successful season, on and off the pitch, Bath City FC has announced that they are delighted to continue to support The Forever Friends Appeal charity throughout the next season.

The Club presented a charitable cheque to The Forever Friends Appeal on last Bank Holiday Monday at City’s final Mayday Trust Park game of the 2013-14 season ended on a winning note; 4-2 victory over Farnborough. An excellent £500 was raised from the very successful ‘Community Day’ held at the club’s grounds on Saturday 22nd March. Fans were very generous with their ‘pay what you want’ entry fees and so 10% of the money collected raised a brilliant amount towards the RUH Cancer Care Campaign- helping to raise £8.5 million towards an exceptional new Cancer Centre.

Bath City FC’s Commercial Manager, Bob Chester comments: “We are very pleased to be associated with the charity. We have built an excellent relationship with the Appeal team and we truly share their vision for this new Cancer Centre- they do some excellent work! We are really keen to support them all throughout next season and raise much needed funds towards this fantastic project. We are joining forces with other local businesses, groups and individuals to promote their ‘Be a Brick’ scheme and encourage people to buy a £10 brick, £100 wall or £1000 wall for the new Cancer Centre.”

The ‘Be a Brick’ scheme has given individuals, companies and groups the opportunity to ‘Be a Brick!’ and ‘Buy a Brick, a Row or a Wall’ to help raise funds towards the building. In return for purchasing a virtual brick at the cost of £10 each, donors receive a ‘Be a Brick’ certificate and acknowledgement letter.  To choose to purchase a virtual ‘Row’ for £100 or ‘Wall’ for £1000, they receive a certificate together with an acknowledgement of their chosen name within the design of the new Cancer Centre.  In just over one year, the Appeal have raised over £120,000 from the ‘BAB’ scheme – incredible! Despite its success, with a target of £8.5 million, the scheme continues in earnest.

Bob Chester comments: “The Build A Brick scheme, I feel, is a simple but effective way to make people aware of the Forever Friends Appeal and hopefully donate small amounts of money as every penny / pound helps – it never hurts to give a little, as one day we may need a lot!”

Zoe Tainton, Community Fundraiser at The Forever Friends Appeal says: “We are so pleased that Bath City FC are continuing to support us, their dedication and commitment to our Campaign has been inspiring. It is amazing to see the Club doing something positive for their community, by helping to transform cancer care for our patients and their families. Thank you!”

If you like to find out more about the plans for the new Cancer Centre, The Appeal would like to welcome supporters to the ‘Information & Tour’ event on Wednesday 30th April 2014. If you would like to go along, please contact 01225 825691 or email forever.friends@nhs.net or visit www.foreverfriendsappeal.co.uk/ruhcancercentre

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50 years of wedded bliss for Midsomer Norton couple who support the Appeal

A couple who met at the former Palladium cinema in Midsomer Norton have celebrated their golden wedding by helping good causes.

Edwin and Pat James, who live at Welton Grove in the town, asked for donations instead of presents and raised £640 which will be go to the heart unit at Bath Royal United Hospital and the Forever Friends appeal for the new Cancer Centre.

Pat was just 16 when she met Edwin, who is four years older, at the cinema and the pair conducted their courtship with further visits to the movies and dances at Bob’s Palais in the town.

The couple saved hard for their first home in Rackvernal Road, in Midsomer Norton, before marrying at St John’s Church in the town on March 30, 1964.

Edwin, who is now 75, said that back then their focus had been on saving for their first home together as a couple, rather than splashing out on a fancy wedding or an exotic honeymoon.

He said: “We didn’t have a honeymoon as everything went into the house which cost us £1,700 all those years ago.”

Edwin worked on a farm in his home village of Farrington Gurney before joining Purnells, where he worked for 33 years.

Pat, now aged 71, worked at the Standard Cheque Company in Welton before leaving to have their son Martin.

The couple both enjoy playing skittles in their spare time and while Edwin occupies himself with DIY and playing cards, Pat prefers doing puzzles and flower arranging.

They celebrated their special anniversary at the Court Hotel, Emborough surrounded by their friends and family.

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