Saturday, 26 April 2014

Open Studios - Emma Moscow Millinery

There's a varied display of artists showcasing their work at this year's Open Studios event, West Berkshire and North Hampshire from 3rd to 26th May.

Among them is milliner Emma Moscow who trained with Rose Cory, the late Queen Mother's milliner. Emma is opening her studio in Boxford on Sunday 4th, Monday, 5th, Saturday 10th, Sunday 11th, Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th May - all from 11am to 5pm.

For more details see


Looking to turn heads on Ladies Day at Ascot? Searching for that extra special something to finish off a stunning wedding outfit? Choosing the right hat can really put your head in a spin.

Having learned the art of hat-making from the Queen Mother’s milliner Rose Cory, Emma Moscow has the experience to help you choose the right hat for any occasion and put you ahead of the game.

Emma’s inspiration for her hat designs come from the personalities of her clients as well as the beautiful West Berkshire countryside in which she enjoys walking her dogs.

Creating a bespoke hat is no different from crafting an artwork, and so fittingly, the Boxford-based businesswoman is opening her studio to visitors as part of this year’s West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios event.

From school, Emma studied fashion at Berkshire College of Art and Design. However, her career took a very different turn when she ran her own homeopathy business for 17 years. Realising the time was right for a change and a more creative career, she revisited her passion for fashion and decided to specialise in hats. She studied with Rose Cory and subsequently launched her own business three years ago.

Most of her custom comes from word-of-mouth referrals who turn to her for bespoke couture hats and headpieces for special occasions. She also finds the time to provide the headgear for the Boxford Masques.

Each hat is unique and handcrafted using traditional techniques from different materials such as parasisal straw, sinamay, fur and wool felt and fabric.

She said: “I invite customers to my workshop so they can have a look at the hats on display, and I get to know them so I can create something that will really suit them. I want them to commission something they’ll really love as there’s no better feeling than seeing a customer being happy and confident in their hat.”

You might think anything goes hat-wise during the race season but there are some rules to remember. Some racecourses stipulate that the headwear must cover a circumference of 4inch of the wearer’s head. Others state that “the customisation of top hats is forbidden”.

“If you are looking for ‘that’ hat on Ladies Day you need to make a statement. Choose something eye-catching, but you must keep it stylish,” says Emma. “A hat says a lot about your personality as well as a great way to finish off an outfit,” she adds.

Here are Emma’s top tips for choosing the right hat:
• Always try to take your outfit with you and leave yourself plenty of time to try the hats on.

• There are no hard and fast rules about what shapes will suit a certain person. There are many factors that affect how a shape looks such as shape and size of face, hairstyle, height and length of neck, so be open minded and try lots of shapes. They often look quite different on the head from on the stand.

• Consider the occasion. For example, if you are meeting and greeting people and going to be photographed a lot then it is probably best to avoid a large down turned brim, or if it is likely to be windy, avoid a hat that is too tall.

• Generally the taller you are, the wider the brim you can wear successfully but it is probably wise not to go much wider than your shoulder width, or it will start to look unbalanced. Smaller people are often better with small brims or hats/headdresses worn on the side of the head.

• If you want your hat to be the same colour as your outfit then make sure it is a good match. Otherwise go for a complementary or accent colour.

• A good fit is very important. If a hat is much too big or small it will look wrong and be uncomfortable. Made-to-measure is ideal for this. It is also important that it is secure, you don’t want to be having to grab your hat every time you move or there is a breeze.

• Pay attention to how you wear the hat. It is common for people to push their hats too far back. Generally they look much better tilted forward. Wearing them at an angle, usually down over the right eyebrow looks very flattering on most people.

For more information visit


Photo captions:
1. Parasisal straw with organdie flowers - £280
2. Pinok Pok with Organza flowers - £295
3. Private commission to a mother of a bride. Made of Sinamay and silk – £295.
4. This hat is made from Crin and feathers and was a private commission. Something similar would cost around £300.
5. Silk velvet and feathers - £280

TextAnywhere’s Foundation £6,000 donation to Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support recently received a donation of £6000 from business text provider TextAnywhere who raised money for the charity throughout 2013.

Linda Whitby, Fundraising Manager, NW Hampshire and West Berkshire, received the donation on behalf of Macmillan from Adrian Harris, General Manager of TextAnywhere.

As part of TextAnywhere’s ongoing commitment to being a socially responsible organisation, a percentage of the firm’s profits are donated to two chosen charities each year. As well as Macmillan, TextAnywhere staff also donated to kidney charity PKD.

Linda said: “Our volunteers community gives patients a helping hand with everyday things too, and these little gestures of kindness can make all the difference to an elderly patient or someone who may not have family close by.

“We’d like to thank the TextAnywhere team for their hard work and this kind donation to help support people living with cancer. It’s donations that keep us going and that prove to the patients that they are not alone.”


TextAnywhere provides business texts making it easy to communicate quickly with your customers.

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Tips on pricing, building your team and even how decluttering is essential for your business are all topics of discussion at the Athena Network this month.
Coach and founder of the motivational Vagina Dialogues Lis Allen will be speaking about the benefits of building an effective team to support your business growth at the Hungerford group which meets at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 9th May; while Jo Cooke of Tapioca Tidy and new CIC (Community Interest Company) Hoarding Disorders UK, will discuss how decluttering can help your business by enabling you to make more efficient use of your time and space at the Newbury North meeting at La Tasca on Wednesday, 14th May 14th.
Also at La Tasca, the Newbury south meeting takes place on Wednesday, 21st May, where Ginette Higgs from Lynchpin Accounting will discuss pricing strategies. She said: “One of the most difficult decisions you’ll make in business is what price to charge your customer. Too much and you could lose business and too little and you’ll never make enough profit. We’ll discuss what strategies you should consider when you are pricing your product or service and how to present your pricing with confidence.”
Meanwhile, Regional Director Debbie Miles will be talking about ‘Networking for Introverts’ and discussing ways to make ‘being quiet’ work to your advantage.
She said: “As well as lunch, networking and support, we also offer our members network strategy training. This month we’ll be discussing how it’s not necessary to be an extrovert to be successful in business. “Being quiet” can work to your advantage and we’ll talk about how networking can work for the introverts among us.”
All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm for West Berkshire businesswomen. For more information, please email

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hoarding Disorders UK launch support group in West Berkshire.

A unique organisation, the first of its kind in the UK, has been set up in West Berkshire. Hoarding Disorders UK – CIC (a community interest company) will combat the increasing problem of hoarding.

Hoarding Disorders UK is officially set to launch on 22nd May with its first monthly support group meeting scheduled for Thursday, 29th May. There will be free support group meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month from 7pm to 9pm at Broadway House, The Broadway, Newbury. Anyone suffering from hoarding disorders or their families is welcome to attend. The venue for the support group has been provided by Greenham Common Trust.

Andy Honey will contribute and participate at the inaugural event. Andy featured in Channel 4 documentary “Britain’s Biggest Hoarder” helping Richard Wallace whose house contained so much stuff that he had to tunnel from room to room through newspapers and other accumulated possessions. Neighbours in Westcott, Surrey, dubbed his house an “eyesore” and a “health hazard”, and stated that the best solution was to ‘burn the place down.’

The support group will also include help from psychologists and talks from the founders of Hoarding Disorders UK; professional declutterer and organiser Jo Cooke from Tapioca Tidy and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioner Amanda Peet.

An expert in decluttering and an accredited member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), Jo points out that “clutterbugs” and hoarders are very different. Having 40 handbags does not necessarily make you a hoarder.

She set up Tapioca Tidy in March last year after a varied career in charitable organisations, human resources, project management, book-keeping and the civil service, but realised that she had a flair for organisation when a friend emigrated and later when she had to sell her family home of 30 years. However, she stresses that working with hoarders takes a responsible approach as they need to be dealt with sensibly and patiently. Jo only works with hoarders when she is accompanied by a mental health practitioner.

Her co-director Amanda Peet has been a qualified EFT Health & Wellbeing Practitioner since 2011 and helps clients conquer their phobias, fears, addictions and problems. Amanda has had an eclectic freelance background which includes working in agricultural, countryside, environment, education, and exhibition organisations. She combines a 'down to earth' approach with the ability to see that what is normal life for one person is what makes them unique and extraordinary to another.

Amanda said: “I have had great results with many clients, including fears of lifts, fear of flying, stopping smoking, fear of the dark and fear of buttons. We develop fears, phobias, addictions and depression-related illnesses from all sorts of events and hoarding is no different.

“I’ve found “tapping” to be invaluable in getting your life back on track and have helped clients who have experienced severe trauma in their life which has had a knock-on effect in their life. EFT is a lovely way to clear the raw emotion related to trauma, and because I only work with the emotion, my clients’ experience remains private; they don’t have to share the ‘what happened’ part with me.”

Jo and Amanda met at a networking meeting last year and realised that they could both bring their blend of coaching, EFT and organisational skills together to set up the first collaboration of its kind in the UK to help hoarders and their families.

With 2.5% of the population estimated to suffer with the condition, which has recently been recognised as a mental illness, it’s thought that there could be more than 3,500 households in the West Berkshire area who need help.

Amanda and Jo believe the key to helping people who suffer from varying levels of hoarding disorder, ranging from people who are chronically disorganised to extreme hoarders, is patience and non-judgement.

Jo said: “Often, people find themselves in a situation that’s not of their own making. It can be that someone in their family has died, leaving them lots of stuff, or it could be a traumatic event such as grief, loss or divorce that a person can’t cope with, which manifests itself in hoarding. I am working with a gentleman whose late wife was a hoarder. His wife’s compulsive shopping impacted on the couple’s finances and the spare room was lost to the accumulation of clothes and meant friends couldn’t stay. When the boiler broke down, he was so embarrassed at the state of the house that the boiler was never fixed.

“He now realises that hoarding is a mental health disorder and it has helped him in his grief to understand that his wife did not choose to compulsively buy and hoard. I have been helping him clear his house bit by bit. Having lived with the hoard for over 20 years, it was important to work at a pace that suited him. We are gradually organising the house so that he can regain some space for himself and transform what felt like a storage unit into a home.”

Hoarders’ houses can be classified into nine distinct levels, measured by an ‘Image Clutter Rating’ used internationally, from one (tidy) to nine (belongings disorganised and reaching the ceiling). If a house is beyond “four”, the effects of one person’s hoarding can be far-reaching. Children have nowhere to play or bring their friends; basic needs are not being met; broken appliances can remain unfixed because hoarders are too embarrassed to let anyone into the house or they can’t even get into the house; bathrooms are out of bounds; and the whole house can be a fire hazard. The disorder’s negative impact can affect neighbours and the wider community.

Amanda and Jo have worked together successfully on a pilot scheme with Sovereign Housing in Basingstoke. Placing a family into temporary accommodation while their house is cleared can cost the local authority on average more than £10,000, with the added problem that without identifying the root cause of the hoarding, the sufferer can simply refill it again. The impact of being moved while their belongings are discarded without their input can have sometimes fatal effects on a hoarder.

However, Hoarding Disorders UK can get a family back on track for less than £5,000 on average thanks to their “eight-step” plan which includes Amanda’s EFT technique. On the pilot scheme, it was clear that most sufferers had lost loved ones. Some were reluctant to work with Amanda and Jo at first, but the pair’s patience and expertise paid off with positive feedback, including one former hoarder who claims the duo saved her marriage.

Amanda adds: “Everything is done with the householder’s permission and involvement. If you were to just clear the house, the people living there would struggle to regain their identity without their belongings. There are reasons behind all eight of our steps and we may go up and down the steps, it is not all one way.”

Additionally, Jo and Amanda wherever possible, do not send anything to landfill; everything is recycled or rehomed. In one case, Jo came across a valuable vintage jacket which the owner agreed could be sold with the proceeds nearly covering the cost of a few decluttering sessions. Hoarding Disorders UK are listed on ‘Help for Hoarders’, the information website set up by Jasmine Harman from Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun whose experiences with a hoarder mother led her to set up the “Help for Hoarders” website.

The plan for Hoarding Disorders UK is to expand the support group and its services to the whole of the UK.

More information can be found at and donations to continue the work are welcome at or @HoarderDisorder


Monday, 21 April 2014

Bigger Brighter Bolder’s Oxford charity fire walk raises nearly £20,000 for local good causes

Five charities are set to share an incredible £19,300 after taking part in a fundraising firewalk run by Benham Hill-based Bigger Brighter Bolder recently.

More than 80 participants took part in the event held at Oxford City Football Club raising money for SeeSaw, Grief support for the Young in Oxfordshire; Sobell House Hospice Charity; Helen and Douglas House Hospice; Aspire Oxford and Special Effect

Supporters raised the sum by being sponsored to walk barefoot over hot coals of up to 1200 degrees Celsius after taking part in an interactive empowerment workshop by Bigger Brighter Bolder Director George Swift.

Jane Elliott, fundraiser at SeeSaw, said: “The firewalk event was absolutely brilliant. The money keeps coming in, but it looks like we’ll have raised more than £20,000 for the five charities. We’d like to thank Tracey Miller and George Swift from Bigger Brighter Bolder for their tremendous enthusiasm and support with the event, as well as everyone who took part.”

George Swift, director of Bigger Brighter Bolder, and the organiser of the firewalk, said: “We were so proud to have been able to help the charity raise a phenomenal sum. Firewalks are always special events for us, but this one had an incredible atmosphere as everyone was so ‘up for it’!”


SeeSaw is Oxfordshire's specialist child bereavement charity, helping grieving children to move forward and to face the future with hope.

SeeSaw is a Registered Charity no.1076321. Also a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No. 3790965. Registered office: Bush House

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Italian Run!

Mitchells Renault has added £500 to the coffers of a 7,000km road trip called “The Italian Run” set to be undertaken by one of their technicians Mick Long along with Matt Higgins and Ian White.

Matt was lucky to be alive after he broke his back, fractured his hip, pelvis and four ribs and tore his right leg to shreds during a terrible accident in December 2012 while driving an articulated HGV.

Keen to raise money for the hospital that saved his life, Matt organised the fundraising event for the Beaumont Hospital Foundation in Dublin.

The trio’s road trip adventure sets off from the hospital in North Dublin and they hope to arrive five days later in Portopalo di Capo Passero on the southern tip of Sicily. They then plan to make the return trip in just three days.

“To mark my return to full health and to prove I can still drive long distances, as I did during my career, I asked both Ian and Mick if they would do a driving challenge with me to raise funds for the Beaumont Hospital Foundation,” said Matt, who is still undergoing intensive physiotherapy.

Mick added: ““We have been together through all our major life hurdles, and it’s going to be great to be able to come together again on this one and to help raise as much money as possible to help Beaumont Hospital keep great friends together.”

The trio, who are all 35 and went to school together, are funding the entire trip themselves so that every penny goes to the hospital foundation and plan to complete the challenge carrying only a handful of tools and basic spares.

Matthew Huke-Jenner, managing director of Mitchells Renault and Dacia said: “Everyone here at Mitchells would like to wish the team the very best of luck in their fundraising adventure and would like to wish Matt a speedy recovery. If there are any mishaps, they’re in good hands as Mick is well-known in the town for his technician skills.”

For more information or to make a donation, click onto


Monday, 7 April 2014


Marlborough LadiesWhoLatte business women’s network are holding a shopping event to raise money for Helen and Douglas House.
A variety of exhibitors representing the wide range of women who attend LadiesWhoLatte will be showcasing products at the fundraising event which takes place on Wednesday, 14th May from 2pm to 5pm at Marlborough Golf Club.

Stands so far include clothing, fashion accessories, jewellery, colour and style, beauty, health and wellness, spa, nutrition, flowers, stationery, greeting cards and children's book author Debi Evans who will be signing copies of her book from the series “The Secret Adventures of Rolo”.

Organiser Christina Goble said: “LadiesWhoLatte has a number of direct sales businesses within the group, so we thought it a good idea to have a shopping day and raise some money for this charity, which covers the Wiltshire area and has a shop in Marlborough, at the same time.
“Many women from the networking group have come forward to offer help so it’s been a really collaborative team effort. Helen and Douglas House is a wonderful charity that does great work for local people, so please come and support us on the day if you can. It’s free to enter and there’s plenty of free parking”.

For more information about the free event, visit or email and for more details about Helen and Douglas House, visit


Wednesday, 2 April 2014


Mitchells Dacia on Long Road has recently agreed to sponsor the training tops of Lowestoft Town Football Club’s reserve side.
The dealership’s Renault arm has a long-standing relationship with the club but decided to change to Dacia to coincide with the team’s recent conversion to being a limited company.
Mitchells sales manager Paul Bayfield said: “We’re delighted to support the club and recognised that the move to becoming a limited company formalised matters and decided the time was right for Dacia to get behind the side by providing the players with official training tops. The sponsorship also celebrates the first anniversary of Dacia to the UK market. Since its arrival, Dacia has found particular favour with Suffolk motorists who like the functional, affordable brand.
“We’d like to wish Lowestoft Town the best of luck for the remainder of the season.”
Club Chairman Gary Keyzor added: “We would like to thank Mitchell's once again for their continued support of Lowestoft Town Football Club.”

Lowestoft Reserves with managers Colin Greengrass and Mike Peters.
Pic credit; Justin Brown.

Tips for Mums by Amanda-Jane Sopp

Just had a lovely pile of cuttings from a mother's day feature arrive with many thanks to Abi from PA! She used a selection of tips from experts such as Amanda-Jane Sopp, sleep specialist and therapist, on how mums can give themselves a quick wellbeing boost!

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Amanda -Jane Sopp is a mum of four children, Luke 27, Leah 26, Lewis 23, Hayden 11 plus stepson William,13.
She has run a professional consulting clinic for the last 20 years as a sleep specialist. She has seen great results in reducing stress and anxiety within adults and children and is passionate about celebrating mums.

She said: “It’s vitally important to look after yourself and to take time out to recharge to enable you to cope with the everyday trial and tribulations of the day to day activities that we are expected manage.

My biggest tips are;

Slow down Live in the now - if we fully concentrate on the task in hand and not allow our minds to wander to all the other things we needs to do, we will be more effective and productive and the end result you get more done and the job gets done quicker.

Take the time for breakfast and lunch. So many Mums eat on the run or miss meals. Taking a small amount of time to eat breakfast and a healthy lunch helps us maintain the energy required to keep on top of things.

Take a break Each and everyday stop, sit down and rest, even if it's only 5-10 mins and do nothing.