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Mother Knows Best!

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It’s funny how, as you grow older, you develop your own idiosyncrasies and become a stickler for rules that many just roll their eyes at. I make my son restart a sentence if he uses the word ‘like’ in any context other than expressing a preference or making a comparison; and I really don’t understand the need for ‘text speak’ – it takes a nanosecond more to type the word ‘your’ rather than ‘ur’ or even ‘OK’ rather than ‘k’ (what’s that about?) When my brother and I were growing up, they were simpler times (we’re talking the 1970s though, not the 1870s) and it was instilled in us that you should always be polite, honest, and wear clean pants. As many of you know, Majestic Publications is a family company founded by our MD (and mother) Liz Manifold, so it’s only natural that those values that have been drummed into us follows in the way that we run the company. Equally, it’s important to us that, as the company has grown, the people that we employ and work with have the same outlook and values that are now part of our DNA (OK, so we don’t check on the clean pants thing, but you get my drift…).

With all the developments in the Third Sector over the past 18 months, there has been much made about transparency and integrity in the ways that charities, and those ancillary organisations who work on their behalf, conduct themselves and represent their cause to the good people of the UK. In an ever more competitive charity marketplace, there was a view propounded by the media that charities would stoop to any level to attain their fundraising targets, unscrupulously hounding and pressuring vulnerable members of the public to bully them into supporting their cause. Anyone who has worked either in or alongside the charity community knows that this ‘truth’ related to only a tiny proportion of the sector with the bulk of fundraisers working long and honest hours to improve the lot of those individuals their charities serve. However, change was called for and change is underway.

 

For everyone in the Third Sector and those companies that serve them, it has been a time of self-scrutiny and reflection. As a company that represents charities out in the business community, we too had to hold a mirror up to our work and ensure that it wasn’t lacking. Our business is based on speaking to companies within the charity’s catchment area seeking support advertising to go within publications that we provide free of charge to that charity. As we are acting on behalf of our charity clients, we believe that the Institute of Fundraising Code applies as much to us as it does to them. When the changes to the Code came into force earlier this year, we were not surprised to see that we were already completely compliant with everything requested. We already were fully conversant with the Code and had gone to many additional lengths to ensure a belt and braces approach. We’ve never sold, bought or shared data; we always conduct ourselves as Majestic acting on behalf of the charity to make sure that our dealings are all transparent; we have a Corporate Telephone Preference Service licence, just to name a few. We were incredibly proud of our FRSB accreditation and must be the only company who makes calls to the Fundraising Regulator (I speak to Ed there – lovely guy; they’re all settling in nicely) asking for greater scrutiny and accountability for companies such as ourselves (he thinks I’m a bit mad; he’s not wrong.)

There’s still a lot to be settled in the Third Sector, but we’re glad that by us listening to our mother and how she taught us to ‘do it honestly, or don’t do it at all’ (she also said something about not mixing the grape and the grain, but we tend to ignore that) means that we’re known and trusted by charities all over the UK and don’t intend, anytime soon, to betray that trust.

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Snorkelgate

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As you will remember, I am currently training for a number of fundraising events to raise money for some of the clients that we work for. In a week and a half it’s zip wire and triathlon time closely followed by the Manchester 10k.

It was all going so swimmingly. Well, actually, that was the farthest thing that it really was. I have still been struggling with the swimming (what with the errant bathing costumes and swallowing half of the pool) but after some very patient coaching from Yoda and a full blown tantrum from me in the Leisure Centre Pool in Kendal. I finally got to grips with the damn thing.

The tantrum was a thing to behold. Easter Saturday with about 40 people in the pool, I decided that I should put into practice my theory that I had worked out for breathing during my front crawl swimming technique. I had practiced it in my head; I had mimed the movements of extending arms and working out head placement as if I was in the water; I had even perfected when to breathe in and when to breathe out and didn’t look anything like an idiot at all (honestly). Three strokes in at the pool I realised that you can theorise all you want but it’s worth nowt if the practical application means you drop to the bottom of the pool like a stone. Let’s not underplay this; I carry a fair bit of weight which helps me be quite buoyant. On that day in Kendal I could have had the BMI of Kate Moss given the speed with which I started heading south. Anyway I picked myself up, quite literally, and started again. Nope, not going to happen. I switched to breast stroke and within a length and a half my arms felt like they were burning.

It’s fair to say that I have avoided the swimming because I dislike it intensely. The bike riding has been a breeze and the running is ok. Not so when you apply water. I lecture my son, Ben, for hours on end about how procrastination is the thief of time but it is very much a case of do as I say, not as I do. With 3 weeks to go at this point, panic started to set in big time. I had not put in enough training, I need to rectify it immediately so what did I do? I started to get stroppy. Whilst this might be expected in a toddler or even a teenager, you would think that a 44 year old woman would know better. If you’ve ever seen the film Gremlins you will know what happens when Gizmo has a bit of a drenching. That was me. I swore, I splashed and kicked in the water, I threw things and, to my eternal shame, I even sobbed a little too. It was bad. Not even Yoda could settle my nerves. It was not attractive, except to one bloke in his 20s who tried to chat me up but I think that says more about him than it does about me. Have you ever seen that Victoria Wood sketch where she attempts a channel swim? That’s what I looked like bar the goose grease and a bag of sandwiches.

A new approach was required. Yoda, after she’d finally calmed me down and bought me a sausage sandwich (she knows what makes me tick), made a suggestion: why not try a snorkel to help with the breathing? Genius idea. Snorkel was purchased and after a couple of false starts of how to put the thing in my mouth (get the rude thoughts out of your mind please) I was away. It worked and it was wonderful. I was like Becky Adlington pounding up and down the pool. 20 lengths went by in a flash. Hurrah I hear you cry…………. Then wonderful husband Richard made a comment. Had I checked with the triathlon organisers that I could use a snorkel?

Bugger.

I went and checked.

I can’t use it.

Tantrum number two was at least in the privacy of my own home.

After that devastation (no lack of hyperbole here, chums) I decided that I was just going to have to get on with it. A calm descended and with it came an ability to get everything in sync. As soon as I stopped fighting, it suddenly all clicked in to place. I can now front crawl up and down a pool without it being controlled drowning. And then I made a decision. I wasn’t going to swim front crawl, so yah boo sucks. Breast stroke suddenly became easier too. I am Sharon Davies….. just with shorter legs.

In other news, all the other training is fine. Running and cycling are going great and I have finally set up the Just Giving pages too.

If you would like to donate anything at all to help these lovely hospices then it would be very much welcomed. My just giving page can be found at:

http://www.justgiving.com/user/17621605

On it, it lists some of the events I’m taking part in.
Thanks for helping, even a little.

Jane

#stmaryshospice #ashgatehospice #nightingalehouse #willowwoodhospice #majesticpublications #wirralhospice #derianhouse

I’m an athlete don’t you know???

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I’m an athlete! I’m an athlete!

It doesn’t matter how many times I repeat this, I’m so far removed from the actuality of it that Justin Bieber has more chance of being a poster boy for the Amish. Progress has been made though and the running is sorted. Stamina and endurance is being built up and in good increments too. I’m still more Blunder Woman than Wonder Woman but as I pound the streets (there’s no lightfootedness about my running) my muscles aren’t screaming at me to stop. The mental battle is tougher than the physical one and I literally have to say to myself that I can do this.

I have added to my training team. In addition to Yoda (very close friend Hayley), I have inadvertently added two more to the crew. One is Richard – not husband Richard, but neighbour Richard. Richard noticed that I had been out running and, in his usual straight to the point way, commented that I had obviously been out on quite a tough run and was finding it difficult. I agreed that, yes I was breathing like someone with severe asthma and that the run had been challenging. To be frank, it hadn’t been. I had only run 1.5 miles and stopped about 5 times. Not good. Richard is a seasoned runner; 10 miles is a mere stretch of the legs to him. Imagine the sense of dread when I realised that I had agreed to go on a run with him. He is quite acerbic and competitive. My fitness level was no match for his and I was dreading the prospect of doing a run with him. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was lovely and very supportive and has even agreed to running at stupid o’clock in the morning so that I can get a run in before having to take Ben to school. Result.

Yoda is doing her stuff and still instils in me that we are runners not walkers. We’ve now expanded on that mantra and I have to repeat that we are ‘Triathletes’. Thing is, Hayley is; she’s done two. I, on the other hand, have bought two Triathlete magazines and I’m pretty sure that that doesn’t count….. at ALL!

The other member of the team is my boy, Benjamin. I adore my boy. He’s amazing, intelligent, funny, sensitive, well mannered, gorgeous and has just the right level of freakshow about him (he can cross his toes and twist his tongue). He has agreed to run a 5km Colour Run with me, bless him, and so said he’d train with me. He’s brilliant and really encouraging but runs three times the speed I do. He comes out with me but ends up running twice the distance I do because he keeps doubling back to check I’m ok. He’s an inspiration though, and another shouter of advice. Isn’t it the parent who’s meant to be coming out with phrases like, ‘you’re nearly there’, ‘you can do it, look how far you’ve come,’ ‘almost home, so shift your backside’? He never breaks into a sweat nor seems to be out of breath. Makes me sick sometimes.

So with the running now being comfortable, although still slow, I need to shift the attention to the swimming which I have been avoiding like the plague. Avoidance is not going to sort this. I’ve worked out what’s wrong and theoretically it’s fixable, it’s just that the last time I swam in the pool, David Cameron got on to the phone to me. He’d heard that I’d swallowed so much water that he was going to draft me in to help with the Somerset Levels flooding. Anyway, with less than 6 weeks to go, I’d better shift that ample butt of mine.

Swimsuits are apparently not for swimming

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I may be responsible for a small boy’s descent into hell. I am wracked with such guilt that I am considering tracking down his parents and offering to pay for his counselling. Why? Because my swimsuit does not conform to the 1979 Sale of Goods Act.

Those who read my last blog will know that my aim this year is to try and do as many challenges as possible to raise money for some of my charity clients. With just over two months to go, training needs to be very much underway. It’s not. One of the challenges is a mini triathlon. Literally as I write those words I come out in a cold sweat. Why the buffalo have I said I’ll do that??? Well anyway, it’s too late and the entrance money is paid, so pony up Montague!

Anyhoo, one of my close friends, Hayley, has promised to do the triathlon with me (if I omit the word ‘mini’ it sounds more impressive). I am blessed with having a small but incredibly close circle of best friends, all from different walks of life. Hayley is my exercise Yoda. Let’s be clear on this, she isn’t 3′ tall with green skin and hairy ears. She can’t make things levitate, although she does have a death stare to die for. She speaks in grammatically correct sentences, none of that “powerful you have become, the dark side I sense in you” malarkey. She does, however, thoroughly kick my butt when it comes to exercise and helped me train when I did the Ashgate Twilight 5k, running it with me in a wonderful display of camaraderie, support and bossiness. As we slogged our way around the course, she aimed cries of  “we are runners not walkers” at me if it ever looked like I was flagging. It worked wonders, well that and also stewards jumping out from behind trees! Hayley is an excellent swimmer; in another life she could have been Flipper. I, on the other hand, feel like one of the key players in Moby Dick. Hayley, quite rightly, has identified that swimming ain’t my favourite recreationalactivity. As a treat and to break me in gently, she took me along to a lovely gym and ‘country club’ that she is a member of so we could embark on the liquid aspect of my training. Let’s be clear here, liquid training for me would usually be improving on my speed at downing a yard of ale. This was never going to end well. 

Once all suited and booted, we made our way into the ultra exclusive pool. Hayley was there in her very professional Speedo swimming costume whilst I wore a delightful pink confection last put to good use poolside in Marbella. This is where the problems started because it would seem that although it is called a swimming costume, it’s not really meant for swimming in, particularly not with the mammaries that God gave me. As I embarked on a very shaky front crawl, the top part of me decided it would do a bit of indiscriminate freestyle action. To quote Scooby Doo, “I would have got away with it but for you pesky kids,” the ‘kid’ being the poor, innocent, angelic looking 5 year old boy who, at the precise moment that my breasts made a break for freedom underwater, decided to dive in with fully operational swimming goggles on. Thankfully his panic attack and episode of drowning didn’t last and his mother managed to get his crying under control relatively quickly. Maybe no harm was done; maybe he won’t scream about his unexplained, yet uncontrollable, fear of huge balloons closing in on him, as he sits rocking on a psychiatrist’s couch…. maybe.

So now I am the proud owner of a very professional looking, strap them in/bind them down swimming costume that makes me look like a German shotputter. At least, no small children will be harmed though in the future training regime that I have embarked upon, well, let’s hope not.

 

New challenges signed up for this week:

Mersey Tunnels 10k for Wirral Hospice St John’s

25km Anniversary Walk to Remember for St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston

 

I’m also still trying to get to grips with setting up the Virgin Money Giving Page. Any hints would be gratefully received.

A bientot!

 

Am I Mad? …… Don’t answer that

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My old PE teacher, Mrs Mason, got it right all those years ago, ‘Stick to the books, Jane. Sport just isn’t for you.’ Who was I, at the tender age of 11, to argue with a woman who single-handedly could reduce even the most out of control 5th year with just one withering look? My Great Aunty Lillian also put it quite succinctly. When, after nearly 20 years since my last visit as a kid, she announced on seeing me, ‘Och, you’re built like a wee West Highland lassie!’, I knew what she really meant was that I had all the qualities of a Shetland pony.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been quite glad of my sturdiness. OK yes, I would have loved once in a while to just be like the cool, pretty girls at school but I was never short of boyfriends – a great rack and comic timing meant that I was usually busy on a Saturday night in my late teens. I am in extreme rude health (some might say I am just extremely rude but we’ll gloss over that) and the fact that I take after my Dad in shape, rather than my mum’s beautiful, petite elegance, has stood me in good stead, not least when my strength meant I didn’t have to subject Dad to a hoist when he was dying from a malignant brain tumour. I helped Mum nurse Dad through the very long/very short 8 months between the brutal diagnosis (literally the words were ‘malignant brain tumour, inoperable, 9 months’) and his death. I was strong enough to be able to manoeuver and lift my wonderful Dad myself. The hoist hurt him and it meant I was able to give him an extra cuddle too as I moved him from bed to chair after the steroids robbed him of the fantastic muscles he once had in his legs (my 11 year old son has inherited his legs – I pity the girls who will swoon after him!)

Anyway, to get to the point, last year I had reached that time in your life when the scales ask you to step on one at a time please. I had started up with a gentle fitness campaign, even paying a personal trainer to come and put me through hell twice a week at some ungodly hour. Every session we would work on strength and give a cursory nod to cardio. I had thighs of steel but couldn’t ride a bike for a mile without being out of breath. Then I saw an event that the wonderful team at Ashgate Hospice were holding – a Twilight 5K Run through the grounds of Chatsworth (one of my favourite places in the world). With Mrs Mason’s words in my ears I thought, what the hell, let’s see if I can do this and I quickly signed up. This met with much hilarity when I told friends and family along with the comment ‘what, you?’ Nothing is guaranteed to get me more motivated than being the butt of someone’s joke or being told that I can’t do something. 

Metaphorically sticking two fingers up to the mockers, I started training. Let’s be straight about this, it was not a pretty sight to see an overweight 40 something pounding the streets of South Manchester, but pound them I did. I may have started just running four lamp posts and walking one but soon I could take on a good couple of miles. OK, so I’m no Paula Radcliffe but I found that I loved it. I found the best thing to clear my head and start my day other than a cup of tea and toast with peanut butter. I completed the 5k on that eventful night last September and raised nearly £500 to help patients and their families being cared for by Ashgate. It meant that I had helped a family who was maybe going through something like we did. I may not have been fast (mobility scooters passed me) and the stitching of my sports bra did need to work against industrial strength forces but I did it. Me. The person who never thought she could run.

The Twilight Run for Ashgate had changed my life. I had proved to myself and the doubters that I could do something that I had always been led to believe I couldn’t. Admittedly Christmas then happened and the training plan was replaced by mince pies and the small (large) glass (bottle) of gin. I wanted to get the buzz back; have my shot of adrenaline again and so I decided that I would take on challenges in 2014 to see how far I could push myself.

So far I’ve signed up a few to get the juices flowing. I hate heights so of course I need to do the longest Zip Wire in the UK. I’m heading to Snowdonia, where it’s based, not once this year, but twice. I’ll be gliding (stop laughing) through the Welsh air in May for Nightingale House Hospice and in July for Wakefield Hospice. But let’s not stop there. A Midnight 10k walk for Willow Wood Hospice also beckons in July.  What about the Manchester 10K? What about it? Well I’m going to be running it and raising money for a fantastic children’s hospice, Derian House. This too is in May and the idea of 10k is slightly scary. However, it’s made less scary by the idea of what I’ll be doing the weekend before and the day after the first Zip Wire event. I will be undertaking the Ashbourne Mini Triathlon for Ashgate Hospice (who else?). A 400m swim, 10 mile bike ride and 3 mile run no longer fills me with fear ………… frankly, it terrifies me. But hey, I’m not facing a terminal illness. That’s the really scary challenge and if I can fundraise to help ease the fear of someone who is facing that fight, then that should be motivation alone to move my lardy bottom and don my trainers.

I’ll be blogging about my training over the next few weeks. I’ll also be setting up a Virgin Money giving page too. If you’d like to sponsor me then that would be wonderful. If you’d also like to get up off your backsides and undertake a challenge for charities that mean something to you and others, then think how fabulous you’d feel.

Equally, if you’re one of my clients (or not) and there’s a challenge you want me to undertake, then let me know and if I can, I will.

Am I mad? Probably. But life is so more interesting as a result.

Going the extra mile

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At Majestic Publications, we are proud of the quality of our products, of the service offered to our clients, of our ‘on time, every time’ delivery policy, of the transparency of our dealings and of the relationships we have built with our clients.

We support many of our charity clients in a number of different ways, as well as supplying them with great products!  This extra support sometimes comes in the form of cash donations and also comes in other ways.

Earlier this week we were able to help Martin House Children’s Hospice in their hour of need.  And 12 bottles of wine was all it took! They were looking for someone to donate bottles of wine for their Remembrance Service – an occasion which we have been proud to have attended at many Hospices in the past few years.  And we were only too happy to help.  Here is the public ‘Thank you’ we received from them on Twitter.

A big thank you to Majestic Publications for coming to our rescue and donating the wine for our church service #superstars!!

We buy tickets to events held by charities and regularly supply raffle and auction prizes.  We recently had a great afternoon with the Reindeers at The Derian House Winter Sparkle Fair at Astley Hall

Our work with the Countess of Chester Hospital on the production of a book commemorating the birth of Prince George helped generate news coverage in a local paper as well as £1,200 in donations for the Babygrow Appealpic.twitter.com/bRviZJWtA1

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We sponsor events or elements of events and support those with our attendance and involvement.  Our sponsorship of one of the prizes at Bury Hospice’s Woman of the Year celebrations has been in place for a number of years and it is an event we are proud to be associated with!

If you would like to find out more about how we could be working with your charity on great publications and associated support, please get in touch now!

Call us on 01244 852360 or email info@majesticpublications.co.uk

This is how we do it! (sung in a Montell Jordan style)

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At Majestic Publications, we are proud of our products, our relationships with our customers and clients, and in the way we operate! But everyone tells you that.  Let us qualify what we mean.

We work with our charity customers.  When in discussions with potential advertisers, we always have the charity’s best interests in mind. If we’re asked to not contact a particular group of companies, we don’t.  If we’re given feed back from the companies about the Charity in question, we pass it on.  We don’t hassle, pester or become a nuisance.  We build relationships that benefit the charity and the advertiser.  We frequently pass on information about potential donations and sponsorships resulting from our conversations with businesses in the area.  Our calls have prompted more than once a charity being taken on as a charity of the year or taken a table at a Ball. It’s the little but significant steps the underpin the relationship between the charity and the community.

We deliver on time and at a quality were are proud of.  You may think December 2013 is early to start working on a 2015 Diary but our timescales ensure that your diaries are with you in plenty of time to circulate to your shops and other sales outlets.  We plan our work carefully so that we know your supporters won’t get annoyed with multiple calls about different products in a short space of time.

We are realistic about what we can achieve for you and will always deliver on our promises.  If you ask us for 5 newsletters, a diary and two event programmes in a year, we will tell you that this is (in most cases) not achievable. Our aim is always to work alongside not against. If we’re always on the phone then the companies within the community will grow tired of the approach and, in turn, of the charity who has commissioned the publication. We also specifically time our approaches so that they don’t overlap with the charity’s own campaigns. However, we can always provide a competitive quote on design and print costs for any additional jobs you may still want to work with us on without the need for advertising.

We are committed to the Charity Sector and have been consistently working with charities for the past (nearly) 15 years.  We are charity partner of the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers.  We work with many Hospices throughout the UK and are proud to support both the umbrella organisation and the Hospices themselves.  However, our products are also open to many other types of charities and not-for-profit organisations across the UK.  As well as providing our Free of Charge publications, we also provide adhoc donations, sponsorship of events and elements of work, we take part in their sponsored events and we attend their fundraising events.  We do not, as standard, offer a % of income from each job as a donation.  We do not feel that is a sustainable option for us as an organisation. Instead we work with our clients individually and offer additional support (monetary and resource wise) where we can.

We love the work we do. We are proud of the long-standing relationships with have with our clients and we will  absolutely be around to maintain and develop these relationships in the future.

To find out more about how we could help your charity, please click here to send us an email and we’ll be in touch!