26 years of Bridges

In 2016 our School Sponsorship hit record levels for us with no less than 51 local schools receiving some kind of sponsorship. It is perhaps our proudest record.

Our ongoing sponsorship of the Phyllis Tuckwell hospice also delights me. The hospice was fantastic with help for my Father during his last days a couple of years ago and is something I will never forget. The way the Bridges teams have thrown themselves in to the 10 Peaks Challenges, the Surrey/ London Bike ride, parachute jumps, a ‘strictly come dancing’ challenge and many other challenges in order to help the hospice has been very humbling.

We have recently agreed to extend our sponsorship of Aldershot Town FC until 2020 as we admire the community work they get involved in since Chairman Shahid Azeem took control. Under his stewardship we have watched the club go from administration, where it was when we first became club sponsors to Top of League after a 6-0 win at the weekend as I write this column!

Our company presence belies our size, with some thinking we are a national company, and we know our community efforts are unmatched by our competitors in this area. I hope we can continue to play our part in funding some great events and organisations for many more years to come.

To find out more about the care and support which Phyllis Tuckwell provides for its patients and their families, visit www.pth.org.uk.

Proud Sponsors

To think that the club have gone from administration to top of the table in that time fills us with pride. A lot of our decision to continue sponsorship was driven by what we see as similar commitment from the Club Chairman, Shahid Azeem, a philanthropist if I ever met one!

His commitment to local charities, including sleeping outside for the Step by Step charity every year along with the Shots Trust and other charitable events he embraces makes him a great role model for us. Under Shahid’s leadership Aldershot Town FC have won the Inspire Business Award for Business in the Community, in 2014 and 2016, and in 2015 won the National League’s Respect Campaign Award, its something I hope all fans are aware of. On the community section of the shots website you can see a list of some of the achievements. For our part we love working with Shahid, Mark Butler, Steve Gibbs and all the committed staff at Aldershot.

The new Shots Foundation, launched this season, aims to promote active and healthy lifestyles, and allow as many people as possible to play football regardless of age, ability or circumstances.
Working with Rushmoor residents who live in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the UK, the Foundation will seek to improve standards in education, health and mental wellbeing. We feel privileged to be associated with such a fantastic Club and there is no doubt we have a similar outlook and winning mentality as each other! After all, we are here to serve our community – not the community to serve us!

Simon Pearson Appeal

The fight is not over though. Simon is confined to hospital for another few weeks and will need to avoid crowds for several months after. His situation will remain precarious with regard to catching any infections that can set him back.

We have a Go Fund Me site where we hope his former work colleagues and his many friends can make a donation, however large or small, and we are running an auction site via eBay. We hope we can gather as much support as possible and we look forward to having Simon back behind a Bridges desk in the not too distant future.


Simon went to school at Stoneham comprehensive in Reading until 1985. His first job in agency came soon after with Bancroft Groves as a trainee Estate Agent where he worked for 2 years until they were taken over by General Accident insurance company. He moved to an independent agent, Oakridge in Reading, in 1989 and he stayed there for 2 years. He was head hunted by Bob Mason of Parkers and worked at their newly opened Lower Earley office.

Four years later he was hunted down again, this time by Tony Griffiths of Mann & Co and the next four years were spent in a Mann & Co office. In 1999 he decided to break from agency and joined Lancaster Landrover of Pangbourne before being transferred to the Jaguar sales team. The call of agency was too strong and in 2002 he was approached by Richard Lowe, then of Romans, but he only stayed there for 18 months. He decided to take a chance and opened EP Properties in Blackwater and after a very strong start the financial crash forced him to close the doors in 2009.

Next stop for Simon was as a sports agent and, although successful, the call of Estate Agency was too strong and we at Bridges were lucky enough to snap him up! We hope it won’t be too long before he is back behind a Bridges desk doing what he knows best and the job he loves.


Bridges Fundraising for Phyllis Tuckwell

The money has been generated by a series of fundraising events which Bridges employees have taken part in, showing their wholehearted support for Phyllis Tuckwell, which cares for patients and families who are living with a terminal illness, such as cancer, in West Surrey and North East Hampshire.

As well as taking part in Phyllis Tuckwell’s skydive and Strictly Dancing events, Bridges staff have also organised their own fundraising activities. Football matches, cricket matches and exhausting treks across ten peaks in Yorkshire have all pushed the total amount raised higher and higher. In addition to this huge show of support, Bridges have also sponsored three of Phyllis Tuckwell’s Hospice Care at Home (HCAH) cars, pool cars which are used by the charity’s nurses to enable them to visit patients across West Surrey and North East Hampshire, who have chosen to spend their last days in the comfort of their own homes, rather than in hospital or at the Hospice.

“It has been a fabulous year and we would like to thank all of the Bridges staff who took part in raising this fantastic amount of money for Phyllis Tuckwell,” said Nick Adams, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Phyllis Tuckwell. “It is with generous donations and support from local companies such as Bridges that we able to continue to care for our patients and their families at such a crucial time in their lives. We are really pleased to be able to continue our partnership with Bridges and look forward to working with them to raise money together again next year.”

“It has been a real privilege to partner with such a valuable local charity with such a fantastic set up,” said Carlo Stocchetti, Group Managing Director at Bridges. “We are grateful to all of our staff who contributed their time and effort with fundraising and all those kind people who sponsored us. Without everyone’s effort this wonderful goal would never have been achieved.”

Every day Phyllis Tuckwell supports over 250 patients, relatives and carers – in their own homes, in the community, at the Hospice in Farnham and at the Beacon Centre in Guildford – through medical and nursing care, therapies, counselling, social work advice and practical support. All of its services are provided free of charge, but as the NHS/ Government only covers 20% of its costs, it has to raise over £20,000 a day to be able to do this, and therefore relies heavily on the support and generosity of the local community.

To find out more about the care and support which Phyllis Tuckwell provides for its patients and their families, visit www.pth.org.uk.

Support Aldershot Town this Saturday!

Torquay United visit the EBB Stadium this Saturday, 8 April, and with the best home record in the National League, The Shots will be confident of maintaining their excellent form against a team who have proved great rivals over many years.

Join us, be a part of the team and cheer The Shots to glory!

Kids Go Free

Don’t forget, under 11’s go free if they are accompanied by a paying adult.

Community Stand

Free tickets are available in the community stand to schools, clubs & associations run for young people (like local football teams or other sporting, charitable or religious organisations). If you are part of an organisation that would like a free and fun day out at an Aldershot game apply to mark.butler@theshots.co.uk.

Viewing Tips for First Time Buyers


Before you start, think very hard about your priorities. Inevitably there will be compromises, so go in knowing what you really want. Whether it’s proximity to the nearest train or bus, or having some outdoor space, make a list of the must-haves. After you’ve viewed a few properties you might have to revisit the list if it’s proving unrealistic, but try not to lose focus, or it is easy to be swayed or to dither.


Once you have worked out what you can afford, stick to it! Estate Agents might show you some properties just above your limit but no matter how much money you have, it always seems your dream home is just that little bit more. Remind yourself that if things go wrong when you are already stretched you could end up losing your property. With wriggle room, you will have more money to spend on furnishings, or holidays, or to tide you over if you should lose your job. Remember that things usually end up costing more than you think, not less! (And don’t forget to include extras like stamp duty, survey costs and legal fees.)


Once you have decided what you can afford, sort out your mortgage in principle. Speak to one of Bridges partner financial advisors to get you the best deal. If you are going to need help e.g from your parents, talk to them in plenty of time to find out what arrangements they would be comfortable with.

Research the area

Find out as much about the area you are looking in as you can. This can save you a lot of time going to viewings for properties that turn out to be too far from transport, too close to the main road or outside the catchment area of a particular school.

Take a friend

When viewing it helps to take someone with you who will notice or remember different things and can talk over your concerns or curb your enthusiasm.

Take a tape measure

If you already have some furniture that you’ll want to use in your new home, make sure it will fit. A notepad for jotting things down can be useful too. It is surprising how easily you can forget the details, or confuse in your mind the various properties you have seen. Why not take some photos to jog your memory?

Make allowances for the condition

Perhaps you decided from the outset that you want a newly built or refurbished property that needs no work. But most people will update the décor of the place they buy. Remember that you won’t have to live with the taste or personal effects of the current owner, and that a fresh coat of paint is cheap and easy and can make a huge difference. If you think you’ll give the rooms a lick of paint, replace the carpet, curtains, or kitchen, make sure you can a afford to do so.

Go more than once

Don’t be afraid to go back! Try to make sure you visit at different times of day, even if it’s just to the street outside. You’ll want to know whether the bar opposite is noisy at night, or whether the street is a rat run in the rush hour. And it’s important to visit the inside of the property in daylight hours, to see whether it’s bright or gloomy.

Ask questions

Some of your questions will be answered later, for instance which fixtures and fittings are included, but if these details are material to your decision, ask them up front. It’s a good idea to have a list of questions to ask because it’s easy to forget.

“Is there a service charge? What is parking like round here? What heating system do you have? What are the neighbours like? Is it a conservation area? How often is the rubbish collected? Is high speed broadband available?”

If you have a list, you can ask the same questions in every property, and jotting down the answers can then provide you with a systematic way of evaluating the pros and cons of each if they all start to blur.

Try not to be too emotional

Easier said than done, of course, if you fall in love with a particular property, but it’s best to remain calm and rational, especially when negotiating the price. Don’t be too influenced by the superficial: remember, a bit of DIY can change the appearance of the place, but nothing can move it nearer the railway station. You are going to have to live with your decision for a long time, so try not to rush into anything.

5 Home Resolutions for the New Year

In the spirit of new beginnings, Bridges have come up with some resolutions that will make your home a more beautiful, efficient, clean and green place in the coming year. Here are our five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:

1: Streamline

One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter. Each year most of us acquire a mountain of ‘things’. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.) This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in!


Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in fashionable storage items or baskets. Clear your surfaces of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.

2: Make it safe and sound

Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they’re not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk. Make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or wood burner vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and be fatal. This is a small investment of £40 upwards and for such an important safeguard, why not!

Make sure your house can breathe. It’s surprising how many people’s bathrooms and attics aren’t vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over). This makes you a prime candidate for mould. And if you’re considering a refurbishment of your current home and it was built or refurbished previously before 1978 — consider testing for lead paint and asbestos, it will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.

3: Shrink your bills

When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference. The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home. Remember your parents advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off or reduce the temperature of the heating when you leave the house. Install energy saving bulbs and low-flow shower heads.

Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them. Turn off the power to your appliances not in use and set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use. Water your garden less or farm water using water butts using the rainy season. Give composting a try. Your garden will definitely thank you.

4: Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control! Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the wash basket and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the wardrobe. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips: Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable caddy that moves with you from room to room. Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.) Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster apparently. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping work surfaces. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.

For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and rubbish emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

5: Get your home ready for entertaining

Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update? You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates. One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, they bring in new energy and help clean the air, plus it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget!

Pulling out a new accent colour from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused colour in the room and add more of it in the form of a new cushion or throw to update your look, A colourful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

What did you do with the extra day?

As we have partnered with Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice as our chosen charity we have taken the profits for that day and added them towards our £30,000 target for the year.

We have set off the first part of our donations by providing the Hospice with 3 brand new cars, in order that more nurses can provide palliative care at home when it is needed most. The Hospice staff helped my family incredibly when we lost my father in 2015 and I can’t imagine anyone having to go through that experience without the remarkable help of the superb nurses engaged within this amazing organisation.

Did you know it costs £25,000 every day to keep Phyllis Tuckwell’s services running and that as NHS/Govt funding only covers 20% of its costs, the charity has to raise over £20,000 a day.

Lots of our staff have already engaged with the desire to make this year extra special as we celebrate 25 years since I opened the first office in Ash Vale. We are raising money through as many means as possible including sky dives, mountain challenges, our football event in association with Aldershot Town FC, a celebrity cricket match, fun runs, the annual Phyllis Tuckwell dash of colour event and many other activities.

If you know anyone from our teams, I do hope you will sponsor them in aid of this incredible local Hospice without whose help many people would have endured an even more painful end to an extremely sad experience. One thing I can assure everyone locally is, that if you ever need this service, following the support you receive from them, you wouldn’t hesitate in making regular donations. Having been able to help get their ‘home care’ to more people locally, fills me with enormous pride and I must truly thank all my staff for the way they have fully engaged with what we are trying to do this year and hopefully for many years to come.