New Walsall Covid Vaccination Centre Opens Next Week

A new Covid-19 vaccination centre will open in the Saddler’s Centre in Walsall on Monday, 15 March.

walsall saddlers centre covid testing site

Walsall Covid Vaccination Centre Opening At TJ Hughes Store

The former TJ Hughes and Argos store will accept its first patients next week with up to 1,000 locals due to be vaccinated on day one.

The new vaccination site, run by the Walsall Together Partnership, will only accept patients with an appointment.

Initially, patients who fall into the eligible categories, such as being over 55 or at high risk from coronavirus, can book appointments online. Others will be contacted be via text from the National NHS Booking Service or by letter.

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s acting chief executive office, Darren Fradgley, said:

“It is really important that members of the public help us to ensure things run efficiently and effectively by only coming to the centre if they have been contacted by the NHS and have an appointment booked.”


Free parking for one hour is available on the Saddlers Centre car park for anyone with an appointment, and essential retailers will be unaffected.

Melvin Glasby, Centre Manager commented, “The Saddlers Centre is happy to support our community in the fight against Covid-19 and welcomes the vaccination centre.  Our essential retailers are open at this time, and we will do all we can to support the Council and NHS in the operation of this important task.”

Other Walsall Covid testing centres include Walsall Town Hall on Darwall Street and Wolverhampton University, Walsall Campus.

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Carpet Cleaners Support St Giles

Knight & Doyle at St Giles Hospice
(L-R) Knight & Doyle Partners Steve Winkles and Richard Doyle with St Giles Head of Fundraising Chloe Herbert

Aldridge based Knight & Doyle Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning has teamed up with St Giles Hospice to help fund its vital care services for local families.

Knight & Doyle are now corporate supporters of St Giles pledging to donate more than £2,500 to the hospice each year.

The business is also offering St Giles Hospice lottery players a 10% discount through the charity’s Promise Card scheme.

Knight & Doyle, which offers residential and commercial carpet cleaning services across Lichfield, Aldridge and Walsall has  rebranded its vans to promote their support of St Giles and will feature its logo in marketing materials to further raise awareness of the hospice.

Rich Doyle, partner in Knight & Doyle, said: “We wanted to support a local charity and when we looked at St Giles Hospice and the work that it does, we knew we had found the right cause. When we heard about the support patients get in the community and bereavement services on offer to patients’ families, we realised that St Giles is not just a place where people go to die – it’s so much more than that. By helping a vital local charity like St Giles, we can give a little back to support local people.”

Chloe Herbert, Head of Fundraising at St Giles, said “In a tough year which has been so hard for everyone, it’s absolutely wonderful to receive this support from Knight & Doyle, businesses and charities alike have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic so their generosity is particularly welcome and inspiring right now, and our message to all of our supporters is that we’ve never needed you more than we need you today.”


The Five Best Hidden Walks In The Local Area

Walsall Magazine
Holly Wood Nature Reserve, Great Barr

The Five Best Hidden Walks in the local area by SMALLHOUSEBIGTRIPS

Correction: This article was updated on 29 March, 2021 to clarify that much of the area of Great Barr Hall is privately-owned and cannot be accessed by the public.

As the New Year kicks in, resolutions for a healthier year begin. How about burning off your Christmas treats and starting 2021 walking around some fabulous local, hidden gems.

We at SmallHouseBigTrips have you covered with some of our personal favourites. But sshhh – remember, it’s a secret!

Great Barr Hall, Sutton’s Drive, B43 7BA

A hidden gem that even we didn’t know about until lockdown in March 2020. Much of the grounds of the Great Barr Hall estate is privately-owned with no public right of way. However, Sutton Drive and the land situated to the East of Sutton Drive are beautiful, public open spaces.

Holly Wood Nature Reserve, Whitecrest, B43 6EA

Enter the nature reserve through a magical gate where you will be greeted with 5 hectares of mixed broadleaf woodland and wet meadow. Trees to climb, a stream to paddle in and the largest blanket of bluebells in spring.

Park Lime Pits Nature Reserve, Rushall, WS4 2HH

A former limestone quarry in the woods, this woodland walk has a rope swing over one of the two clear pools, horses, walking trails and plenty of streams for little ones to paddle in.

For nature lovers, there are over 300 species of plants and it is the home to over 100 species of birds.

Cuckoo’s Nook and The Dingle, Walsall, WS9 0PQ

Cuckoo’s Nook is an ancient woodland over 400 years old full of acidic loving trees like holly, oak, birch and alder, winding picturesque paths and a sea of bluebells during spring. Step into The Dingle part of the walk and you enter an area surrounded by hawthorn, ash, beech and elder trees.

It is the perfect place to learn about geology as you enjoy your walk,through the woodland flowers, by the babbling Longwood Brook running next to the path.

There’s a rope swing and little bridges for children and keep your eyes out for the wishing tree which is decorated beautifully throughout the year. Recently it had Christmas lights, tinsel and other decorations.

Sot’s Hole Nature Reserve, B71 4DE

A fabulous circular route starting at Sot’s Hole Nature Reserve, walking through the ancient woodland, looking at wooden statues and various species of plants, leading through to Sandwell Valley Farm seeing cows and horses, before following the path all the way round back to the car. Fields, woodland and kissing gates. Make for some perfect exploring.

If you would like to follow our adventures, you can find us on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter

The Unintended Consequences Of Covid-19

Dr Ron Daniels
Dr Ron Daniels

I know I am not alone in wondering what the collateral damage of Covid-19 will be. Especially when we assess the damage to our high streets, local economy and to our overall health and wellbeing.

In our September/October issue we have an article from Dr Ron Daniels an intensive care doctor working in our local NHS hospitals. I share his concerns about people not seeking medical attention and as a community publisher The Pioneer is doing all we can to spread the word that the NHS is open and don’t leave it too late to go and get help!

The whole of Dr Daniels’ article is below but to summarise. The NHS is reporting that people are leaving it too late to seek help for heart attacks, cancer, pneumonia, and sepsis. Dr Daniels describes it as “…seeing severe pathology.” In layman’s terms the NHS is seeing people who are in a very bad way.

The over-riding message from Dr Daniels is ‘please seek medical help early’. Don’t be put off by news headlines because the reality is that there are few people in hospital with Covid now. And, you are not being a bad person, putting the NHS under pressure, if you seek help because right now they do have the capacity to help you.

In fact, if you don’t seek help and leave it too late you may well end up costing the NHS more. Not to mention suffering unnecessarily.

Dr Daniels is also Founder and Executive Director of The UK Sepsis Trust. He says in his article that in adults the symptoms of sepsis can be mistaken for Covid-19, flu, gastroenteritis or a chest infection. He is seeing young, healthy people who have developed sepsis as a consequence of pneumonia.  Sepsis can be fatal if not identified and treated early with at least 48,000 people losing their lives every year. To put that into perspective it’s more people than are reported to have died from Covid-19.

If you are feeling unwell, please seek medical help.

Yours locally

Editor Great Barr Gazette





Feeling Ill? Seek Medical Attention

A West Midlands NHS doctor is urging people to seek medical attention straight away if they are feeling unwell, following growing evidence that people are going to GPs and doctors too late.

Dr Ron Daniels BEM, an intensive care doctor at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, working at Heartlands and Good Hope Hospitals, said it was imperative that people laid aside their fears of “catching Covid-19” at GP surgeries and other healthcare facilities.

“We are now in a position of unintended consequences and after effects on mental health as a result of lockdown, which means people are not presenting with symptoms early,” he said.

“We’re not seeing a holistic approach to these conditions, perhaps because we’re focusing unilaterally on Covid-19. In making decisions around reopening or restricting society, we need to look at PCR tests <which test for viruses and viral fragments> in the context of case fatality rates, ICU occupancy and how many tests are being done.

“There is a perceived fear around Covid-19 but this has to be balanced by issues caused by other health problems. We’re seeing people come into hospital who are severely ill who would’ve presented earlier, were it not for Covid-19 and this is a massive problem because we’re seeing some severe pathology.

“There’s huge anxiety among the population at the moment even when there are very few patients in hospital with Covid-19.”

“Of course, we have to be mindful of Covid and follow the guidelines but the NHS has capacity and it is open for business – we are urging anyone who is unwell to seek medical attention.”

Dr Daniels, who is also Founder and Executive Director of The UK Sepsis Trust, said clinicians are seeing late cancer, sepsis, pneumonia, and heart attack presentations.

“We are also seeing young, healthy people who have developed sepsis as a consequence of pneumonia,” he said.

Dr Daniels also warned that there is potential for as many as 20% of Covid-19 survivors to be at risk of sepsis within 12 months of being discharged from hospital.

The UK Sepsis Trust has launched its Blurred Lines campaign to raise awareness of the problem, which could save the Government millions of pounds and save lives.

Dr Daniels said a £1 million investment in awareness of the symptoms of sepsis, made right now, could save as much as £200 million in treatment and benefits.

About 245,000 people are affected by sepsis in the UK with at least 48,000 people losing their lives every year.

The UK Sepsis Trust and the York Health Economics Consortium have calculated that for every patient who is diagnosed early there is a cash saving to the NHS of more than £5,500, which means that 20,000 sepsis patients could cost society more than £1 billion in patient care and benefits.

Dr Daniels said: “Covid-19 is a disease caused by the immune system over-reacting to infection, which is exactly what sepsis is. The question to ask is: if I feel ill, could it be sepsis?”

In adults, sepsis may feel like ‘flu, gastroenteritis, or a chest infection at first, with early symptoms including fever, chills and shivering, a fast heartbeat and quick breathing.

Other symptoms of sepsis or septic shock include feeling dizzy or faint, confusion or disorientation, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and cold, clammy, and pale or mottled skin.

For details about The UK Sepsis Trust, visit


Slurred speech or confusion

Extreme shivering or muscle pain

Passing no urine (in a day)

Severe breathlessness

It feels like you’re going to die

Skin mottled or discoloured

It is vital to seek medical attention immediately if you or another adult has these symptoms.

Brother And Sister Stream Concerts To Entertain Care Homes Residents

Streetly Advertising Magazine
Priya and Arun

Walsall siblings Arun and Priya Saini have spent the spring and summer entertaining elderly and vulnerable people living in care homes by staging online concerts.

The duo, from Streetly, have picked up their violins and streamed dozens of recitals to keep care home residents entertained while they were in lockdown, unable to receive visits from their own family and friends.

The idea came after their mother Jyoti, a clinical pharmacist, had to visit homes as part of swabbing teams at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Everyone was in full PPE, which is disconcerting for residents when they can’t see anyone’s faces,” she said. “When I suggested playing for them online, the children were keen to do it and I contacted care homes to see if they were interested.”

The duo – Arun, aged 13, a student at Hydesville Tower School, and 10-year-old Priya, who attends Mayfield School – have played short concerts on Zoom, Skype and Whatsapp to residents as far away as Sunderland.

“Residents have been isolated for so long that we felt it was really important to do something to lift their spirits,” said Jyoti. “It’s not only ensured the children do their violin practise, but also helped elderly people enjoy something a little different, as well as support the hard working carers who look after them whilst sometimes being away from their families.”

They are also raising money for The Care Workers’ Charity and have already raised £645. To help them raise more, visit

September Editions Now Available

Great Barr GazetteOur September editions are dropping through letterboxes throughout the local area. If you have not yet received yours don’t miss out.  You can read all three of our local editions right here.

Find out what happened to the Streetly Phone Box in our Villages edition. We’ve introduced a new Social Media Diary page. It sums up what’s been going on on our Facebook and Twitter pages over the past few weeks. See if you got a mention!

Each edition is full of local news and community initiatives. This month Dr Ron Daniels an intensive care doctor at Heartlands and Good Hope offers encouraging and balanced advice on the current Coronavirus situation.

Happy reading and thank you for helping us to do our bit to help our local community.

Perry Barr Trefoil Guild Rallies The Troops

Perry Barr Local Magazine
Member Beryl Bailey with some of the baby hats for City Hospital

Like other organisations and clubs, Perry Barr Trefoil Guild has been in lockdown since the middle of March.  Although they have not been able to meet, they have certainly been very busy.  Not many days in, they were asked to ‘rally the troops’ as an urgent call came for laundry bags for nurses.  Over 300 have been sewn, washed and delivered to Queen Elizabeth, Sandwell, City Coronary Care, Russells Hall, Good Hope, George Elliott, New Cross and the Women’s Hospitals – some even went as far as Scotland. Mask extenders were also made and sent to hospitals with some of these reaching as far as Canada.

The ladies have also been busy knitting and displaying NHS Rainbows, snowmen for a charity, twiddle muffs for Alzheimer patients, hundreds of baby hats for City Hospital Premature Baby Unit and finally, jumpers and jackets for a children’s charity.

Shopping Bags, lunch bags, bead bags have also been sewn, along with reflection for many, sewing ‘Fleeting Moments’ birds to celebrate John Taylor Hospice 110 years.

And the ladies’ skills don’t stop there. Seeds, plants and vegetables are being grown in many gardens whilst others are just enjoying the lovely sunshine and being out-of-doors.

“This is just a small contribution Perry Barr Trefoil Guild has made during these past few weeks and has been linked into our STARS Trefoil Challenge, with many near completion of their 25 clauses,” said Chairperson Wendy Brown.  “But, most of all, the Guiding spirit has shone through all of our 31 members, albeit helping others, or themselves, and always supporting each other.”

Shelfield Students Perform In Lockdown

Shelfield AdvertiseLockdown didn’t stop current and former students of Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy performing an uplifting song online to showcase their true community spirit.

Organised by former students Isobel Higgins and Alex Banks, the challenging project saw the pair galvanise 15 other students and staff members to take part in a video performing Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.

19-year-old Isobel, who is now studying English as well as working full-time, said the project was the ideal vehicle for rekindling old friendships.

“A small number of us remain in contact as close friends and had always had a dream of getting a group together to sing Seasons of Love,” she said.

“Being stuck in lockdown seemed like the perfect opportunity, especially given the message of the song. As we reached out to more people, this dream became a reality, comprising ex and current staff and students from Shelfield, all of whom maintain a passion for the creative arts.”

She said co-ordinating the 17-strong chorus over two weeks was challenging, but rules, schedules and deadlines for each musician and singer were all communicated via social media

“We received back a set of wonderful performances, which Alex was able to edit,” continued Isobel. “She definitely had the most difficult job and she executed it with such professionalism and positivity.

“I am incredibly proud of every person involved in the project as the outcome has been incredible, thanks to every person’s commitment to their roles in the project.”

Alex, who is studying Media Production at Birmingham City University, said she took on the task of editing to use it in her showreel as part of her degree, but said it quickly “became a joy to work on and put together”.

“I felt that I had a great deal of responsibility in this project and it challenged me greatly through time management and organisation,” she said. “This video really helped me feel a sense of togetherness during lockdown and I hope that it creates the same feeling for others, too.”

Stuart Turnbull, the Academy’s principal, said he was proud of the efforts made by the school’s past and present students.

The Dads In Charge Of Lockdown Lessons

Walsall Community
Rob, Isabel & Toby Pearson Get To Grips With A Construction Project

Philosopher George Santayana once remarked that ‘a child only educated in school is an uneducated child.’

With lockdown removing most children from the classrooms, home schooling has been the ‘new normal’ for many.

“Opportunities to learn surround us in everything we do – it doesn’t just happen in school,” explained Head Teacher Helen Wright.

“Give a child your time and attention and they will learn and remember more than they will ever in the classroom.”

Parents across the country have risen to the challenge and we catch up with a couple of local dads in charge of lockdown lessons.

Rob Pearson swapped his day-to-day job as a building maintenance systems engineer for teacher when schools closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His daughter Isabel, who attends Park Hall Infants Academy, enjoyed daily lessons from dad, while his school teacher wife Cassie continued her day job.

As well as the 3 Rs, Rob and Isabel enjoyed regular nature lessons – signing up for a five-week bird-watching survey with the British Ornithological Trust (BTO) and planting flowers and tracking them as they grew.

There was also plenty of play-style learning to help keep Isabel’s three-year-old brother Toby occupied, too.

The pièce de resistance for Rob was the science lessons – making different paper aeroplanes and measuring how far they fly, and building a wind turbine out of tin cans.

“I’ve been wanting to make one for a couple of years and as we had the chance to do it, we made it one of our projects,” said Rob, who was placed on furlough in April.

“Isabel helped where she could, with the gluing, looking at the instructions, and holding the pole in place, but I did the cutting and twisting the blades because the edges were sharp. It’s still in the garden now and looks great. I’ve enjoyed doing it for the past few weeks.”

It was DIY and science that Stuart Webb’s children enjoyed when he supervised their lockdown lessons.

The Aldridge dad of two, who works as a service manager for Walsall Council’s leisure services department, worked throughout the lockdown period, but was able to do the lessons when he took annual leave.

Martha, aged eight and in year four at Cooper & Jordan School, and her brother Henry, who is 11 and in year six at the school, have spent most of their time being supervised by their mother Kelly, who works at Bloxwich Leisure Centre as swimming instructor and receptionist.

But Stuart, who admitted he felt guilty about not being able to dedicate the same time to doing lessons with his children because of working, he ensured he did his bit on his days off.

His favourite project? A challenge from the school to create something from marbles – with his children, they collected old timber from the garage and other bits and bobs to make a pinball machine, which worked brilliantly, he said.

“We came up with the idea and they both did the sawing, drilling and hammering to make it – the kids absolutely loved it,” he said.
In fact, Martha enjoyed woodwork so much she enlisted Stuart to help her make a birdhouse from offcuts of wood.

Stuart also enjoyed a wind power science experiment that the children were asked to do at home, with cardboard, string and a hairdryer.

“We’ve also been on plenty of walks and bike rides, while Henry has been able to practise some cricket as the nets opened at Aldridge Cricket Club,” he added.

Bloxwich Community Partnership Make Me Smile Project

Bloxwich Charity
Make Me Smile Project – Bloxwich Community Partnership

Bloxwich Community Partnership is a local charity based in Bloxwich and Blakenall. We run two community centres, Stan Ball Centre and Palace Play Shop Eat.

Our services changed massively on 23rd March with the closure of our normal activities and the development of the Making Connections Covid 19 Community Response Hub for the North of Walsall.  This service delivered on behalf of Walsall Council now provides vulnerable and isolated people with shopping delivery of basic provisions, fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and cleaning and hygiene products, help with medication and prescriptions, befriending and welfare calls and for those most in need suffering financial hardship free food parcels. To contact this service call the Stan Ball Centre directly on 01922 403351 or email

In addition the ‘Make Me Smile’ project is a partnership working with local primary schools and funded by Big Lottery Community Fund putting together and distributing 300 wellbeing packs.  This project is putting letters, drawings and decorated craft items produced by key worker children in schools together with magazines, adult colouring books, puzzle books and other items to help stimulate, engage and bring a smile to the faces of isolated and vulnerable people.

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