PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH
10 days ago
153 days ago
303 days ago
On Saturday I shall try to walk 33 miles from Horse Hill to Woodlarks with Brokerman Dan and Lucian Miers, my fellow rogue bloggers. In this podcast I explain why I got involved so many years ago, what Woodlarks does and why all of you should donate to this great charity HERE. Please take 12 minutes out to listen and then make a donation.
304 days ago
335 days ago
In the build up to my 32 mile charity walk for Woodlarks on July 28, I planned to build on last week’s 15 miler stroll with 19 miles and it all started so well. My pal Lucian Miers drove over from Winchester first thing and at 8 AM we started walking from just near Bristol Temple Meads. According to my calculations the Bath Bristol Railway path was 13 miles and Bath to the Hop Pole Inn on the other side was 6 miles largely along the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Things started well. We talked about a wide range of things including the retirement of Lucian from squash aged 56. He had drawn a woman called Beverley aged 76 in the local ladder and felt that surely he could get a much needed confidence boosting win. Beverley pitched up and was, in fact, a chap. But still Lucian reckoned that the 20 year age gap would be enough. The match lasted less than 30 minutes with a predictable result. Lucian has retired. We laughed and chatted.
We made good time and allowed ourselves a stop after about eight miles for a cup of tea. Lucian had a bacon bun and I removed some insoles I had bought to avoid blisters but which were causing me real pain. I don’t think I really recovered from that pain. But we cracked on reaching Bath after about five hours. 13 miles had somehow become fifteen according to the signposts and Lucian’s GPS tracker.
We headed through the back streets of Bath and by the time we were on the Canal we were somehow at seventeen. My water was running out, my feet were hurting, Lucian says his back was hurting and his GPS said we had another seven miles to go.
The Mrs and Lucian’s god son Joshua waited patiently for us. We finally arrived two hours behind schedule. 19 miles had become 24 and for the last few miles we were struggling, myself more than Lucian. There was some amazing Victorian architecture along the way, notably a wonderful aqueduct and as or nature we caught full sight of what was, I think, a carp. As we peered at it we caught our breath.
At the Hop Tree Inn I collapsed on the grass. Joshua helped me remove my boots and socks, I could hardly move. I feel eve r more stiff. But I made it. If I can do 24 miles and struggle this week, next weekend I target 26 and struggling less. That 32 miles is in reach.
Poor Lucian did not sign up for 24 miles of pain and he now drives back to Winchester and must be I agony. For me bed beckons. As you contemplate our pain please consider the video below, the great cause that is Woodlarks. Consider our pain again and please donate a tenner here.
353 days ago
In just under two months I shall be doing a 30 mile walk for the excellent Woodlarks Charity with my friend the blogger and former bank robber Brokerman Dan. Dan is rather fitter than I am and keeps tweeting messages about how he is just popping out for a quick 10 mile training yomp. I do not know if he is just trying to spook me or if he is serious but I have a horrible feeling that it is the latter.
Anyhow I did my first training walk just now. Don't laugh. Five miles. My advisor is the veteran hack turned PR guru Brian Basham who aged 74 years and nine months completed this year's London Marathon and so knows what he is talking about. Brian advises starting modestly - which I am. But building up steadily so that by two weeks before the big walk I am doing 20 miles with comfort. I must only do walks once every two days and my big one should be a weekend stroll.
So far so good. It was glorious to walk alongside the Avon just now. Dan may laugh at my pitifully modest start but I was comfortable with it and maintained a steady 3 miles an hour pace with ease.
I shall do the same again, but pushing Joshua as a bonus, on Thursday before finding a 7.5 mile walk to do on Saturday.
So far Dan and I have raised more than £5,000. Our target is £20,000 which will make a massive difference to a small and unfashionable charity. I am sure you can spare a tenner, please to donate HERE
384 days ago
469 days ago
I have been consistent over many years in my belief that at almost every level the Oxfam charity is not fit for purpose, as you can see from a stream of articles HERE. I try to persuade my reactionary old father that he should stop pretending to my PC sisters that he is one of them by giving money to Oxfam but to no avail. Maybe today I might get my way, you see it appears his cash has been spent on underage hookers.
Dad should have cancelled his direct debit a few weeks ago when Oxfam launched a ludicrous report on poverty. Its claim then was that the 62 richest folks in the world had the same wealth as the 3.6 billion poorest and that this poverty ( i.e inequality) must be eradicated and that we should give it cash to stamp that out.
Of course that is nonsense. In the Oxfam work view if we were to shoot the 62 richest folks (can I have Saint Bono if, after all his tax avoidance the old hypocrite is on the list please?) and burn all their cash thee gap between rich and poor would narrow so there would be less of what we define as poverty. Of course this would make absolutely no difference at all to those who are in absolute terms poor, starving or unable to afford clothing or housing.
Relative poverty is a concept for middle class and affluent lefties to wank off about. Absolute poverty is what must be tackled. And you do that not by attacking the rich but by encouraging capitalism which, where it has been allowed to flourish, has seen the numbers of folk starving or without housing fall dramatically. Absolute poverty still flourishes in economies drowning in NGOs but starved of capitalism.
My father almost accepted that point but he still supports Oxfam. Maybe today's headline in the Times might change his view. It seems that seven Oxfam workers put up in luxury accommodation by the charity in Haiti were using their Oxfam wages to have sex with hookers, many of them under-age. The workers included the head of Country operations and while four were fired the three most senior were allowed to resign to spare any blushes.
Accountability is always weak in organisations such as Oxfam but now Dad knows where some of his generous donations have gone. I appreciate that he is keen to leave as little as possible to what he terms the "nest of vipers"that is to say my five siblings and me. But, perhaps, there is a marginally less degenerate charity employing a few less Guardian reading tossers on £100,000 a year or more and spending a bit less on underage hookers than Oxfam out there who he might consider bankrolling?
553 days ago
The loathsome, state funded, fake news producing, BBC will tonight tell you that “all your donation will go to Children in Need.” They will not tell you that "all your donations go to children in need." Do you get the difference? It is c£8 million quid of difference.
According to the June 2015 accounts, spending by Children In Need was more than £62 million but included £4.7 million costs of generating funds, £2.5 million grant-making and policy and £400,000 governance. Just under £55 million went out in grants. An awful lot of the 96 full time staff are earning more than £100,000 a year and all of them are very well paid.
Call me a hypocrite but at my son's nursery the staff have this week been raising money for Children in Need. After paying steep fees it is a bit rich asking for us to dip our hands in our pockets again but there was real moral pressure as they encouraged us to buy tea cakes and as they dressed up in animal costumes pedalling away on an exercise bike. So I gave a couple of quid.
I gave far more to Woodlarks which is not a fashionable charity so does not get a cent from Children in Need even though it helps children who being hugely disables really are in need. And I have asked others to donate too.
The celebs on the BBC tonight who boost their careers with a spot of charity virtue signalling are one reason I find the whole spectacle of Children in Need so nauseating. But it is the fact that so much of the cash given goes to Children in Need not children in need that really makes me angry. If you really want to help Children in Need this Christmas support the Woodlarks grotto campaign where we have raised almost 80% of our £2,500 target since Tuesday, by making a small pledge which will change someone's Christmas HERE.
650 days ago
Anyone with kids will know the classic tale The Gruffalo. One godfather of my baby son Joshua recently worked in the Shetland Islands so gave him a copy of the book in Shetlandese. I was reading that to Joshua, the other day, when a mining fellow called Paul Johnson rang and Paul said that if I recorded a podcast of the Gruffalo in Shetlandese then he would donate £100 to my favourite charity Woodlarks, which I have been supporting for more than a decade and a half. I know that I will sound like a total prat and my apologies go out to Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson and to the entire population of the Shetland Isles but it is for a good cause. If you appreciate this exercise in self-humiliation and wish to make a small donation to a good cause go to the Woodlarks website HERE
903 days ago
On my way to Heathrow I stopped off at the Woodlarks campsite in Surrey a place where I have had an involvement since the birth of my daughter Olaf almost sixteen years ago, as I explained HERE. This site provides holidays for folks who are severely disabled and who would otherwise not get any sort of break. It is not a fashionable charity but it is one I have supported financially and which readers have supported over many years. To all those who have donated both to the Christmas festivities for 181 kids and also to the ongoing work here is the proof that your cash has made a difference.
I was greeted by the man behind it all, superhero Nick Richards. Nick had been working hard with two volunteer lads who are themselves chaps with special needs but who have laboured away to create something special this Christmas.
The tracks you see here will soon have a sleigh on it in which Santa will arrive.
At two or three places throughout the site sheds have been transformed into magical grottos where Santa will hand out gifts. What will arrive today in time for next week are massive snow machines to ensure that this is really a magical Christmas experience.
What you cannot see in that photo above is Nick lying on the ground pulling strings to make those figures rotate and move.
As we wandered through the camp and the woods around it we came upon the swimming pool. The building you see is a specially constructed changing room allowing campers to change before being hoisted into the very well heated pool in special lifts. For many of the campers this is the only place they ever get to swim. There won't be swimming next week but next summer the pool will be buzzing and much of the work on the pool was funded by readers of my scribblings.
Next week Nick and his team will bring real joy to kids who lead difficult lives. Thank you to all who donated to make next week special.
But Woodlarks is an all year round centre of happiness. If you have a few quid spare this Christmas and can donate that to a great cause you can do so HERE
1892 days ago
The only charity I support (it is a long story) is Woodlarks. It is an amazing organisation which provides severely handicapped folks with probably their only opportunity to enjoy a holiday each year. This is not a fluffy kitten fashionable charity. Keeping it going is hard work and the team at Woodlarks are all total heroes.
Now I ask can you spare £5 a month? Or even £10 a month? I shall keep asking until I find enough people who say yes. Woodlarks has a special swimming pool for its campers which needs to be very well heated and that costs money. £15,000 a year.
And so it has launched an appeal asking those who can afford £5 a month or even £10 a month to make out a standing order to keep the pool heated and going.
I will kick this off with a £10 a month pledge. If 124 others make the same pledge then I shall stop banging on about this. Until then, I shall not let up.
Please help, this is not a fashionable charity or one with celebs backing it. If you can spare £5 or even £10 a month make the Woodlarks pledge now.
You can download a form here