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Guest Blog: Enham Trust

Guest Blog – Enham Trust

Inspiring Away Day

Managers from the prestigious Vineyard and Donnington Valley hotels had an inspiring day visiting the disability charity Enham Trust last month.

Thirty four senior managers were invited to the Trust, which is based south of Highclere, as part of the company’s social responsibility programme.

They volunteered to do some redecorating, and spruced up interior corridors at the Trust’s residential care homes.

They also had a chance to meet Enham’s disabled residents at a BBQ and were bowled over by the positive vibe and the high levels of independence amongst the residents, who live with a number of different physical and learning disabilities.

“Everyone was impressed with the work being done at Enham,” said Emma Jenkins, The Vineyard’s HR Director. “We learned so much and want to be involved with the charity in the future.  Our next project there may be joining forces with their gardening activities.”

“Most people are not born with a disability. It could be any one of us who has an accident or an illness which leaves us unable to manage. Enham Trust is there to help disabled people manage every aspect of their lives,” said Vicky Hamlen, The Trust’s Corporate Fundraiser. “Support from companies like The Vineyard Group is so important, and we really value their time and interest.”

Many of the charity’s clients, whose ages span 18 to 90, come from West Berkshire. The Trust offers a wide range of living, care, employment and community support to give disabled people choice in how they live their lives, and the ability to achieve high levels of independence.

Cathy Alexander
Enham Trust

September events in Berkshire

Events in September 2013

ABLAZE: A Festival of Fire at Newbury
Friday 6th to Sunday 8th September 2013
The Corn Exchange Outdoor Events Programme presents an immersive, magical world of fire and music that will transform the Kennet and Avon canal as it threads its way through the heart of Newbury. As night falls, you are invited to take a stroll along the waterways as they are brought to life by dozens of flickering braziers and animated by artists.
For map and times please visit

The Great Thatcham Duck Race at The Rowbarge, Woolhampton
Sunday 8th September at 2.00pm
Go quackers and join in the Great Thatcham Duck Race with the Rotary Club of Thatcham and District, as they release several hundred ducks in to the River Kennet. Tickets are £1.00 for each duck, and the first prize will be £250, second prize £100 and third prize £50. Come and see if YOUR duck will win all in aid of local, national and international charities.
For more information please visit

Newbury Real Ale Festival at Northcroft Park
Saturday 14th September 2013
The 2013 Newbury Real Ale Festival will feature more than 200 ales and ciders from across the UK and for the first time, a selection of English wines will be available. As this is the 10th anniversary of the event they are looking to source some of the original ales from the first event back in 2003. For all the foodies, there will be the usual hog with sides and extras, freshly made doughnuts, Crown Ice Cream will be serving a range of standard 99s, ice cream sundaes and strawberries and ice cream. Families are more than welcome and there will be a face painter on site to amuse all ages!
Tickets available at entrance only, but for more info visit

Romeo and Juliet at The Watermill Theatre
Tuesday 17th to Saturday 21st September 2013.
ROMEO + JULIET By William Shakespeare. Adapted by Beth Flintoff and directed by Clive Judd. As adulthood looms and the pressures of academia mount, two students find themselves entangled in an emotionally charged and inevitably tragic relationship. With a cast of two actors in a contemporary setting, shows the relationship between Romeo and Juliet and the world around them. Workshops and a free education pack will be available to accompany the production.
School Matinee performances – £7.
All other tickets prices start from £7.50 for matinee performances.
For more info please visit

The Magic of Motown at The Corn Exchange
Friday 20th September 2013.
The Magic of Motown I’ll Be There – The 2013 Tour. The all-new show for 2013, packed with 36 back-to-back massive Motown hits. Five-star performances authentically reviving the style and sophistication of all the Detroit legends – including the Temptations, Supremes, Four Tops, Jackson 5. Dazzling dance moves, glittering costumes galore and the incredible Magic of Motown band. Don’t miss the show of the year… just call its name and you’ll be there.
Tickets £23 (10% discount for groups 10+) For more info visit

Royal County of Berkshire Show at Newbury Showground
Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd September.
You will go a long way to find a bigger and better family event than the Royal County of Berkshire Show. This year’s event promises a diverse countryside adventure over two fun-filled days. While the skies will be alive with aerial displays from RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team (Sat only) and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Sun only), at ground level, there will be something for everyone – from Team Extreme BMX & skateboard coaching, heavy horse displays, food fayre and show jumping to sheep shearing.
Advance discounted tickets now on sale at Newbury Tourist Information Centre in the Market Place, Newbury or on 01635 30267.
You can buy your tickets over the phone and they will be posted out to you.
For more info please visit

Supper Club at Donnington Valley Hotel
Thursday 26th September
Enjoy a relaxing evening sampling the best of British.
Our three course English menu has been created to make the most of the best local and seasonal produce and each dish will be matched with English wines.
£39 per person.
Call us on 01635 551199 to book.
for more information please visit

Voices in Harmony at Douai Abbey, Woolhampton
Saturday 28th September 2013.
Basingstoke Ladies’ Choir and Basingstoke Male Voice Choir join forces to present a concert in the stunning surroundings of Douai Abbey in Woolhampton. Songs will include Ave Verum, Laudate Dominum, Agnus Dei, For The Beauty of the Earth and many others.
Tickets £10.
For more info please visit

Membership Open Day at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa
Sunday 29th September.
11am – 3pm
Bring along family members, friends and colleagues interested in becoming a member.

  • Special membership offers available on the day
  • File and paint mini treatments
  • Show around of the facilities
  • Chat to our instructors about the types of classes we offer.

For more information on our memberships please click here

Pre Festive Season Fun

Pre-festive season fun at Donnington Valley

We first thought Christmas had come early, but then realised Santa was just having some fun before the Christmas rush begins. Head Chef at Donnington Valley, Kelvin Johnson is thrilled to have the festive menus sorted: “We’ve already started getting enquiries for Christmas parties and the first thing that everyone wants to know is what’s on the menu.”

With dishes such as traditional roast turkey, baked salmon and a wild mushroom and stilton cheesecake on offer we can see why. A three course Christmas party dinner starts from just £39 per person and includes coffee, mince pies, party favours, late night nibbles and dancing with our resident DJ until 1am.

For more information on Christmas Parties, please call the Christmas fairy on 01635 568106 or take a look at our website 

The only limit is your ambition

The only limit is your ambition

At Donnington Valley we believe that the only limit is your ambition. We are proud that we have many members of staff who have been with us for many years. The longest serving member has been with us for 24 years!

We try to nurture the hospitality stars of the future. That’s why we have set up a six month training program for some keen employee’s who have shown an interest in developing themselves within the hospitality industry.

The training consists of management workshops such as recruitment and customer service but also external training courses such as Health and Safety and First aid.

A recent training session was on cellar management with Kirsty our Assistant Bar Manager. Topics included how to look after the beer (very important) and how to change a barrel.

It’s not all hard work though; afterwards Kirsty hosted blind cocktail competition for all of our junior manager trainees. They were split into teams and had to help each other to see who could make the best cosmopolitan!

Although quite a lot was spilt over themselves the rest was happily consumed and they decided they were all winners in the end! Luckily they had all finished their shifts!

To find out about the latest opportunities at Donnington Valley contact our Hr department by telephone on 01635 551199 or by email

Golfing Terminology

Golfing Terminology

Golf is a difficult sport in many ways, difficult to learn how to play and very difficult to be consistent, then there are all the rules and golfing terminology!

So here is a round up of some of the golfing terminology that you might come across.

PAR is the indication of how many shots a professional golfer would take in total to play all 18 holes.

In basic terms if a courses PAR is 71 and you take 91 shots, then your handicap would be 20 over PAR so your handicap would be 20.

To gain an official handicap you must first play 3 rounds of golf with another player who will score you and sign your score card which you must also sign. These are then handed into the course where you usually play and your handicap is worked out as 96% of your 3 best rounds.

You can then work to improve and reduce your handicap by entering competitions. Essentially the lower the player’s handicap the better they are! When players become really talented they can play off a zero or scratch handicap or some of the elite players can have handicaps of +1 or 2 shots.

Stroke index
All courses have Stroke Indexes, which basically rates the holes 1 – 18 in degrees of difficulty with 1 being the hardest and 18 the easiest.

The stroke index is then used by players in conjunction with their handicaps. Players can then deduct one or two shots from their gross score on that particular hole. For example an 18 handicapper would take 1 shot off his gross score on every hole, whereas a 12 handicapper, could only take 1 shot off his gross score on holes with the stroke index 1 – 12, but nothing off the holes with stroke index 13 – 18.

Competition formats
Stableford, Stroke Play, Texas Scramble, Greensomes, Foursomes competitions, it all sounds like a foreign language!!!

Stableford Competitions are where a player scores a number of points per hole depending on how many shots he or she had and against the S.I. of the hole. After any handicap shot adjustments you would score – 2 points for a par, 3 for 1 shot under par (Birdie), 1 point for 1 over par (Bogey) etc

Stroke Play is where every shot is counted on each hole and added together. At the end the player’s handicap is then deducted to give the final net score.

Texas Scramble – this is a team competition played in 4’s. Each person tees off from the group, then the group choose the best ball from which to play the next shot. Each player then plays the 2nd shot, this format continues until the ball is in the hole. There is normally a minimum number of tee shots which each person in the group must play, generally 4, this way if there is a really good player in the group, that group cannot keep using that persons tee shot.

All clear?
I did say that golf was quite complicated…
…but also great fun.

Stop by at Donnington Valley Golf Club to find out about our latest membership offers.

Peter Smith
Director of Golf

Donnington Valley Golf Course 

Charity Walk

St James Place Big Charity Walk

Those of you who know me well and even those of you who have only met me once will know that I am not known for my athletic prowess, I am actually not keen on any form of activity that does not involve a nice big glass of wine or four. So when I was put forward to take part in the 45 mile St James Place Big Charity Walk around Lake Windermere you can guess that I was not that keen; would I be able to carry a bottle of Sancerre around with me on route and would I be able to keep this chilled was my major concern. The more I thought about it however the less I worried, I have visited the Lake District before and Windermere was a lovely spot so I imagined the Donnington Valley team strolling around the lake enjoying the views and stopping at the odd welcoming inn on route. I even practiced with a walk along the canal to enjoy a glass before turning back. I was ready for the challenge now surely?

What I did not expect however was the so-called fells (aka mountains) on route and the crippling pain experienced by my thighs!

The Donnington Valley team had a very animated trip up to Windermere, arriving early evening to check in to the Great Tower Activity Centre (a 37 year old woman climbing up the ladder of a bunk bed is quite the sight I can tell you!) and quickly settled into a few casual drinks and a hot meal. The official briefing on the route, which followed, was where it all started to go down hill. Firstly; breakfast at 7am, did these people not know I was on my holidays? Secondly; the slow realization that we will actually not be spending a lot of time walking around the lake instead that we will be scaling mountains and traversing very muddy fields. Now, I am not going to spend a lot of time re-living the experiences of the next few days (I am trying to block them out in truth) but it is safe to say that there was a lot of mud, a lot of plasters being used, a lot of Haribo being consumed and there were a few choice words being shouted about.

Day two was particularly difficult with the grey and the drizzle and the already sore legs. However I am particularly proud to say that because of the super team spirit and motivation that the Donnington Valley team has we managed to get ourselves around to the finish and even get some laughs and smiles out of our fellow walkers (a special thanks to the man who had the scotch!).

The journey back was an awful lot quieter, everybody sleeping well and dreaming of hot showers and massages. A check on the Just Giving page we started to raise money for this super charity made the whole thing worthwhile with a brilliant £619 being donated by family, friends and colleagues. The best thing is that this amount will be doubled by St James Place and all of the proceeds will be donated to projects in the UK and abroad, mainly providing support to children and young people affected by illness, disability or disadvantage.

So the big question everybody is asking is will you do it again? My answer is no, not on your life, but maybe when the muscles have healed and I have finally got the mud out of my hair then I may possibly be persuaded.

A big thank you to Gemma, Justine, Adam, Helen, Sam and Nicole for helping me around and fetching my wine when I couldn’t stand, Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa is proud of you!

Sally Russell
General Manager

Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa

A tour of West Berkshire Brewery

West Berkshire Brewery Tour

On a Saturday in early April a group of the bar staff from Donnington Valley went to the West Berkshire Ale Brewery in Yattendon for their very popular brewery tour. As we arrived we all were offered a pint of the West Berkshire ales which include: Good Old Boy, Dr Hexters Healer and Mr Chubbs plus a few more, we then waited for another tour to finish while being entertained by the cutest tiny dog called Bertie who had a love for flopping down on to your feet until you stroked her belly. Needless to say this kept me entertained for a while.

As the tour started we were introduced to the head brewer and our tour guide for the day, Will Twomey. Will has been with West Berkshire Brewery since 2006 and became head brewer in 2011. We started by sampling some of the different barley and hops (we didn’t eat the hops, not nice) I can’t say I liked the taste of the barley as mine did make its way to the floor, but you could taste the difference in flavours from caramel to a bitter smokey flavour, all of which all add to the different flavours and characters of the beer.

As we made our way through the brewery, we learnt how the process has been made ‘green’ by reusing the water used utilising a reed bed drainage system. This is a natural treatment system filtering the brewing effluent and returning it to the ground as clean water, it was easy to see that a great deal of care, attention to detail and hard work goes into making all of the ales on offer here. As a bonus and keeping an eye on those ever increasing food miles, almost of all the hops and barley used is sourced from English growers.

The Brewery have also just developed their first lager which is the Isis pilsner which is based on a traditional Bavarian lager, hay coloured with English malts and continental hops adding to the crisp flavour. And if you wanted to try these yourself at Donnington Valley we currently have Good Old Boy on tap and Mr Chubbs Lunchtime Bitter by the bottle. We also often have seasonal beers made by West Berkshire Brewery so make sure to enquire when you next stop by to visit us.

Elizabeth Ward
Operations Manager

October Events in Berkshire

Up and Coming Events October

Beerfest at Bucklebury – 6th October The fourth annual Bucklebury Beerfest is a fun event for the whole family – with great live music, a combination of games and activities for children, and numerous stands (including a local farmer’s market). And of course not to forget: some great food to accompany the large variety of beer and cider available throughout the day! Starting around 1pm on the Recreation Ground in the Bucklebury Village, there is parking available around the area. Come and enjoy a great day out in the autumn sunshine! Call 01635 867186 for any enquiries or visit the website for more details.

Thatcham Festival of Arts & Leisure – 13th– 21st October The 12th annual festival has over 60 events in store again this year – and looks to turn out a success! In the new town centre venue, The Hub, this will be the home to various workshops leading up to the final Sunday on the grounds that will host Thatcham’s first Apple Day. The majority of events continue to be free, while a few will charge a small entry fee. For the list of events on each day, visit their page.

The Vineyard Wine Festival If wine’s your thing, you’ll love The Vineyard Wine Festival. We kick off with a fantastic wine dinner on Friday 26th where we’ve invited well known suppliers to each match one of their great wines to one of the delicious four courses. Get ready for a wine tasting extravaganza on Saturday 27th with 10 suppliers including the Peter Michael Winery, Moreson Estate, and Danebury Vineyards. What’s more, there’ll be over 100 different wines and seven wine masterclasses to enjoy! Call 01635 528770 to book your ticket or visit the site.

Newbury Racecourse: Worthington’s Armed Forces Day – 27th October

The famous annual Armed Forces Day is a Flat Season climax and promises to be a great success again this year – providing free entry for Armed Forces & RBL members. Free entry is also provided for all under 18s, and this year the aviation theme with a flypast by the Army Air Corps, flight simulators, helicopter displays promises many highlights throughout. To book tickets or other enquiries, call 01635 40015 or click here.

Halloween Hullabaloo at Newbury – 28th October This 4th annual free event is for all those little monsters out there who love to get dressed up for the spooky night. Get your costumes ready and head for the Newbury Market Place for a terrific time complete with a Halloween extravaganza for the whole family! With last year’s attendees adding up to over 5,000 people, the programme is expanding every year! Visit the website for more information.