Blogs > September 2017

September 2017

Challenge number 7 complete!

30th September 2017

On Friday 22nd September, me and eight other supporters gathered at the hospice for the start of my seventh challenge, the Shop-to-Shop Cycling Challenge.

Taking on 170 (it ended up being actually 180!) miles of Dorset visiting as many of our Weldmar shops as we could in just three days.

After being cheered crossing the start line, we were off along the country roads towards Bridport.

As the day went on, the hills became steeper and our legs became heavier. I knew this was going to be a tough challenge as the days went on.

Each shop gave us a fantastic reception as we approached, cheering, waving balloons and offering sweets and snacks to keep our energy levels up.

We also had a lead and rear support vehicle on the challenge, such an important and vital part of keeping our morale high and ensuring that we were safe at all times.

As we approached the finish line on Sunday 24th, the feeling of pride (and pain!) was incredible. Nine people completed 180 miles in just three days, raising vital funds for Weldmar Hospicecare.

Here’s a video of challenge number 7: 

So, that leaves three challenges left to complete. We will also be holding a finale evening in November to highlight the end of Matt’s Colossal 10, full of entertainment, videos and interviews. Tickets will be on sale soon and the information will be put up on this blog. 

If you want to support my 10 challenges, please visit or to find out more about the challenges, visit

Posted by Matt Smith at 3:57pm

Step By Step

25th September 2017


A charity set up to help give young homeless people a place to live is looking for people who can offer a spare bedroom.

They offer full training and support for families who can offer help.

Brona Fahey from Step By Step told me more about the charity.


You can find out more on the links below.


Posted by Carl at 7:15pm

Challenge 6 complete!

21st September 2017

On the last weekend of August, I travelled to Scotland with a team of other supporters to take on the 3 Peaks Challenge as part of Matt’s Colossal 10. 

After a late night we were up early to tackle the challenge starting with Ben Nevis, then Scafell Pike and finally, Snowdon. No sleep or hotels in between mountains, just a minibus and lots of caffeine. 

Although we did not complete the challenge within the 24 hours we had hoped, the challenge was tough and conditions on Scafell were extremely poor, and everyone completed the trek in one piece, despite lots of aches and pains. 

Here is a roundup of the 3 Peaks Challenge.

So that leaves four challenges left and over the weekend on 22nd - 24th September I will be taking on my 170 mile cycling challenge between all of Weldmar’s charity shops. 

We will be departing the hospice at 9.15am on Friday 22nd and aim to be back at the hospice by 4.00pm on Sunday 24th September. 

Do come and support if you possibly can, or why not join our support stations at each charity shop throughout the challenge. Here are the estimated arrival times below: 


  • Bridport South Street Shop, DT6 3NQ - Between 11.50am-12.10am
  • Lyme Regis Shop, Broad Street, DT7 3QE - Between 1.10pm – 1.30pm
  • Beaminster Shop, Hogshill Street, DT8 3AE - Between 3.40pm – 4.00pm
  • George Albert Hotel, Evershot - ETA 5.40pm


  • Sherborne Shop, Cheap Street, DT9 3LS - Between 10.20am – 10.40am
  • Gillingham Shop, The Parade, SP8 4BP - Between 12.25pm – 12.45pm
  • Shaftesbury Shop, High Street, SP7 8AA - Between 1.30pm – 1.50pm
  • Blandford Shop, Market Place, DT11 7EB - Between 3.30pm – 3.50pm
  • Wimborne, 8 East Street, BH21 1DS - Between 4.30pm – 5.10pm
  • Premier Inn Poole, Holes Bay Rd, BH15 2BD - Between 5.45pm – 6.30pm      


  • Swanage Shop, High Street, BH19 2LT - Between 10.15am – 10.35am
  • Wool Shop, Parade, Dorchester Rd, BH20 - Between 12.05pm – 12.25pm
  • Weymouth Shop, St Thomas St, DT4 8EL - Between 2.30pm – 3.00pm
  • Joseph Weld Hospice, Dorchester - Cross the finish line 4.00pm

 And don’t forget if you want to support my Colossal 10 Challenges, please visit

Posted by Matt Smith at 8:20pm

The Great British Beach Clean 2017

15th September 2017


15th September marks the start of The Great British Beach Clean 2017. It is organised by the Beach Conservation Society and happens at beaches around the country.

Mark Smith is the Centre Officer at the Chesil Beach Centre and explained about the problems caused by litter on our beaches.

You can find out more about the various beach clean events around the UK here:

Posted by Carl at 12:47pm

Lesson 9 - It's Behind You!

14th September 2017

Carl AshwinI'd started my lessons dreading roundabouts. Having done quite a few of those by this point they have become much less of a worry. I've been using public transport for many years and one way you can have some virtual practice at roundabouts when you're sat on the back of the bus is deciding when you would go at a roundabout. Considerations for busses are a little different I'm sure but the basic rules must be much the same.

Now though the focus has to go on manoeuvres. The business of turning in the road (or the three point turn) as it is more commonly known doesn't give me any cause for concern but when it comes to reverse parallel parking or reversing round a corner, my blood runs cold. And so it was that this would be the focus for this lesson. I'd also asked to visit Victoria Park in Dorchester which has some cracking blind junctions....if you like that kind of thing!

So we started in Vic Park and it was all about dropping down into first gear on the approach to pretty much all of those junctions, edging out slowly and then going when I felt safe enough to do so. All went well here. Claire then took us down Coburg Road towards the junction with Maud Road, passing my old school (DMS) along the way. I already knew about the STOP sign that was waiting for me having previously failed my mock test with Instructor Man on this one junction so no problems here. This was as far as my luck would hold for this lesson however as we then went on our way to start practicing the reverse manoeuvres.

Claire has a system for reverse parallel parking which actually makes perfect sense but applying that to the practical element is not so easy. For starters I instinctively look to my mirrors for guidance, rather than out of the back window. You might think that looking out the back window is a little hit and miss (less unfortunate turns of phrase are available) but Claire had proven that my results were better when doing it this way. My first couple of attempts were hopeless.....and frustrating. My third however was much better. I believe that as with roundabouts, further practice will improve my results and my mindset.

We also stopped on Castle Park to practice some reversing round corners. Again my temptation is to use mirrors and again, my results are better when physically looking out the back window so my first attempt or two were poor but then things improved.

For my next lesson we'll be taking on Dual Carriageways which I did a little with Instructor Man so hopefully won't be too much of a newb on this.

And so to my song choice for today, well, finding a song about reversing in a car isn't the easiest task so I've gone lateral and gone for a song about me (or my life) in reverse.


Posted by Carl Ashwin at 9:34am

Lesson 8 - To The Left, To The Right

8th September 2017

Carl AshwinI think my lessons with Instructor Man had set me up well and built my confidence up.....though perhaps I was starting to feel a bit too confident. I was starting to take junctions a little quicker than was ideal for starters so that's where we started this week.

Claire has like a hundred mirrors in her instructor car. At first I thought she might be uber-glamorous (and she may well be!) but these mirrors serve a very different purpose. They are there so she can see what I can but also so that she can see what I'm seeing. Hang on, that makes NO sense! OK so basically Claire can look around the outside of the car using the mirrors in the same way I do as the driver but she can also watch where I am looking. This in itself is quite sinister because it effectively gives her a window into my sight.....and all in the environment of a driving instructors car. Who knew?

The problem is that I was either using mirrors I didn't need to use or not using the correct ones at the correct time. So if turning left it's good to check your rear view and your left wing. I was also checking the right wing which Claire has pointed out is unnecessary (I hope spell check rendered that correctly!)

Equally when turning right it's good to check your rear view and your right wing. Finally when observing a change or signal from the driver in front, it's all about checking the rear view mirror before taking any action needed. SAFETY!!

As I remarked to Claire, regarding my old friend the roundabout, I get frustrated at observing experienced drivers not signalling on roundabouts in the correct way effectively leading to a pot-luck situation that to me appears akin to basically closing your eyes and going for it. I'm sure that's not the case for the individual driver but what about for the drivers behind you or coming round from the right? Can everybody tell what your intentions are? If you don't signal it suggests you are headed straight on but as I have seen many times, that is by no means a firm indication of a drivers intentions. This worries me a little.

I mentioned to Claire my old gripe about driving. This being that I can be a brilliant driver but I can't account for the driver heading towards me at speed. Claire, being a driving Samurai took this entirely in her stride and countered that if I were driving safely, it would give me the time and decision making space to react appropriately to the situation. Well, I couldn't argue with that!

For our next lesson it's a mix of manoeuvres including the truly terrifying reverse parallel parking and the palm sweating thrills of reversing round a corner. We'll also be tackling some of the trickier junctions using Victoria Park in Dorchester (you have been warned!)

And so to my song choice for this lesson. The title of this blog would suggest perhaps a Stereo MC's song but instead I'm going for one of my fave M.J songs instead.

Posted by Carl Ashwin at 7:54pm


8th September 2017


Mush is the new app being talked about as "Tinder for Mums" but it's actually an app that addresses quite a serious issue for many Mum's who find themselves isolated from other adults during the day time.

I met with Jessica Beale, a Mum from Dorchester who found out about the app whilst in London, started using it and is now organising an event in Borough Gardens. You can find out more info about the event here:

Jessica explained to me about the reason the app is needed and the benefits it brings. She started out by explaining the similarities to other apps that aim to connect people.

The app is free and you can find more information here:


Posted by Carl at 10:38am

National Read A Book Day 2017

6th September 2017


It doesn't matter what you read, today is all about picking up a book and reading it.

I popped along to Dorchester Library where I spoke to Charlie and Lyra, two young people and asked them about what they loved about reading books.

I also spoke to Gill who works at the library and she told me about some of the places she finds about interesting books and why she doesn't ready during the day!

Jeanette Vaughan, a Manager at Dorchester Library told me me about how she likes to choose something to read.

My thanks to Charlie, Lyra, Gill and Jeanette for speaking to me. For National Book Day you can pop along to your nearest library, a bookshop or pick up something you've been meaning to get into for a while and get involved with Read A Book Day.

Posted by Carl at 8:27am

219 Wessex Field Hospital

4th September 2017

219 Wx Field Hosp Circa 1981

If there's one thing I always welcome, it's the opportunity to help somebody so, when Sylvia Hutchins contacted me about her plans to hold a reunion for her old Territorial Army unit, I knew I had to do what I could to help.

The unit was formed in 1967 and made up of four detachments from Oxford, Weymouth, Portsmouth and Bristol. Sylvia was a Sergeant from the Portsmouth Detachment before it was disbanded in 1995.

Sylvia is organising a reunion for 219 Wessex Field Hospital to take place on Saturday 14th October 2017, 7.30PM until Midnight, at Regimental Headquarters, Ashmead Rd, Keynsham and is really hoping to hear from former unit members in advance. You can take a listen to Sylvia from when I spoke to her on the phone, below.

If you were a member and want to get in touch with Sylvia, she can be contacted by phone on 07857 818679 or by email

I've asked Sylvia to keep in touch with me to let me know how things shape up.

Pegasus Wining Team 1984

Seargents Mess

Posted by Carl at 7:01pm


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