10 of the West Country’s nicest businesses and how they’ve given back in 2021

Throughout the pandemic we have seen the growing importance of the social responsibility of business.

This has included the pursuit of longer term goals, such as commitments to combat climate change, to help better their operations for the good of their people and the wider world.

But many companies have also been stepping up to give back to those who need a helping hand within communities they are based in, given the tough economic challenges of the previous 12 months.

And when Santa Claus is drawing up his nice list, he will be sure to pencil in a few stops to Bristol and the West of England, as these generous firms prove…

Leonardo Social Bite co-founder Josh Littlejohn. (Image: Social Bite)

Like many firms the aerospace giant, which manufactures helicopters at its site Yeovil and has a cyber security business in Bristol, was not able to hold its usual Christmas celebrations due to Covid.

For the second year running, Leonardo will instead be donating the funding for traditional employee celebrations to Social Bite, the charity and social enterprise that seeks to break the cycle of homelessness by offering jobs in its cafes, and offer innovative housing solutions and free food and drink.

Leonardo’s donation will allow Social Bite to buy 4,000 meals for those experiencing homelessness this Christmas, as part of its annual ‘Festival of Kindness’ campaign.

Norman Bone, chair and chief executive of Leonardo UK said: “I am pleased that something positive is able to come out of what continues to be a tough time with Covid. All Leonardo employees can be proud that they have contributed to supporting those who find themselves most in need this Christmas.”

Josh Littlejohn, Social Bite’s co-founder, said “We’d like to thank Leonardo and its staff for being #XmasPartyHeroes and joining our Festival of Kindness. For homeless people and families living in poverty, the last couple of years made their situation even more difficult.

“This generous donation will provide a real lifeline to so many across the UK this winter. We are very grateful for this generous support.”

Barratt David Wilson Homes South West Barratt David Wilson Homes and Marmalade Trust staff and volunteers preparing hampers for delivery (Image: Neil Phillips photo and film Lim)

The housebuilder is behind many major residential developments in the region including Ladden garden Village in Yate, Morton Meadows in Thornbury and Nerrols Range in Taunton.

The company’s South West head office in Bristol has been transformed into a hamper packing operation in order to share Christmas treats with hundreds of people in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset who will be spending the festive season alone.

Barratt David Wilson Homes has also donated £28,632 to Bristol-based national charity Marmalade Trust, which supports people who are lonely or at risk of loneliness.

During the course of the year the company’s South West team raised £11, 816 through a range of fundraising events and initiatives, which has been matched by Barratt Developments’ national team. The South West division has also added a donation of £5,000.

Each year Marmalade Trust runs events for people in the South West who would otherwise be spending Christmas day alone.

This year due to risks associated with the Omicron coronavirus variant, they have planned alternative activities which includes a visit from a volunteer to all those who would have attended an event to deliver a hamper and stay for a socially distanced chat.

Louise Ware, sales director for Barratt David Wilson Homes South West said: “We believe passionately in supporting the communities where we are building much-needed new homes. And we are very aware that this year carries many of the same challenges as last, particularly for people at risk of loneliness this Christmas.

“We’re delighted to have played a part in sharing some gifts and company this festive season, and we’re very grateful to our suppliers and sub-contractors who’ve supported this campaign with gifts and donations.”

Hollywood Bowl Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green The Race Santa initiative organised by Hollywood Bowl and Barnardo’s. (Image: Hollywood Bowl)

After spending the year working out in his sled, it would be no mean feat to keep up with Saint Nick over Christmas. But that’s exactly what the teams at Hollywood Bowl’s alleys at Cribbs Causeway and Longwell Green in South Gloucestershire are trying to do.

As part of the ‘Race Santa’ initiative staff have been encouraged throughout December to walk, run, swim and cycle the 7,724 mile distance from the North Pole to Hollywood, and back again, all to raise money for children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Teams log their hours online, with the aim to complete the full distance before Christmas Eve to beat Santa to it.

Hollywood Bowl started its charity partnership with Barnardo’s earlier this year and has introduced a number of fundraising activities for guests and team members to provide donations for Barnardo’s to continue its work.

In addition to Race Santa, it has run the Go Green Days initiative that sees staff incorporating green accessories into their outfits, and making a donation.

Martin Howard, senior corporate partnerships manager at Barnardo’s, said: “We are delighted that colleagues at Hollywood Bowl Group are racing Santa to Hollywood this Kidsmas!

“Their support will help us support the most vulnerable children, young people and families during the festive season and beyond – we wish the team the very best of luck with the challenge!”


We have all heard the expression ‘share the wealth’ and investment management firm Rathbones is doing so through generous support of Bristol and Weston Hospitals Charity this Christmas.

Formerly known as Above and Beyond the NHS charity University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) will give a present to every patient spending Christmas day in hospital and hampers for our hard-working staff.

Rathbones has been supporting the charity during the festive period for the past seven years.

James Fox, from Rathbones, who is also a trustee at Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity, said: “Our ethos is to do the right thing for our clients and for others too, which is why we have continued to support Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity.

“The pandemic has been an incredibly challenging time for our NHS and we want to thank all of the staff for continually working so hard to protect our communities.

“Everyone at Rathbones is proud to support patients and staff at Bristol and Weston hospitals.”

Elaine Gibson, philanthropy and partnerships manager at Bristol and Weston Hospitals Charity, said: “From everyone at the charity I’d like to say a big thank you to Rathbones for their generous donation to help support our local NHS this Christmas.

“The firm’s ongoing support allows us to continue to go above and beyond for patients and staff at our hospitals in Bristol and Weston, bringing moments of joy, comfort and hope.”

Dunkley’s Guests in 1920’s costume at Dunkley’s charity ball. (Image: Dunkley’s)

The Bristol-based accountancy firm took a step back in time in September and staged a 1920’s themed charity ball at Bristol Museum and Art gallery in aid of St Peter’s Hospice.

The long awaited event, which also celebrated the firm’s 30th year in business, was two years in the making, but guests did not get in a flap as they donned costumes and enjoyed jazz music from the era.

A staggering £5,800 was raised during live auctions at the event, which when with the money generated from ticket sales, raffle sales and client donations, meant that a total of £9,372 was raised for the Bristol charity caring for adults with life-limiting illnesses.

Dunkley’s director Mike Dunkley said: “It was so lovely to have all our guests finally come together and celebrate not only Dunkley’s 30 th birthday but also such a worthwhile cause. After the last 18 months where we’ve been unable to meet up and enjoy time together, this event was the perfect way to step back out into the world and enjoy being together again.”

Optimum Finance Optimum Finance staff taking part in the Great Bristol 10K. (Image: Optimum Finance)

Members of the Bristol-based organisation’s team, who usually spend their day supporting small and medium businesses with access to funding through invoice finance, donned their running shoes to take part in the Great Bristol 10K to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The determined staff beat all expectations, smashing their original £1,000 target with the final amount raised hitting an incredible £6,000.

Generous donations from JRJ Group, Dancerace, Hilton Baird, Atlantic RMS, Rougemont Estates, and many others, including employees’ friends and family, helped to reach the final amount.

Optimum’s chief executive, Ant Persse, said “I’m so proud of the team we have here at Optimum. We suggested the idea of supporting a charity to staff and they came back with a cause that had close personal ties to many of us in the office. Working together for such a good cause spurred us on to complete the Great Bristol 10K, our first of many.”

After the huge success, the company is already in training to join the run next year.

Kingston Barnes Kingston Barnes staff taking part in a 24-hour charity bed push in Bristol. (Image: Kingston Barnes)

The Bristol-based recruitment consultancy, which specialises in the construction, consulting and technical engineering industries, completed a 24-hour bed push challenge in November.

Starting at 12pm on Thursday November 11, teams each took six-hour shifts pushing the bed around the city with staff working all through the night raising awareness and collecting donations along the way.

The company thanked other local businesses for helping them to complete their charitable endeavour Sandwich Sandwich for their donation of brownies, and Mud Dock Cycleworks and Café for their donation of WD40 to keep the bed’s wheels turning.

The event managed to raise an amazing £2,722.26 for St Peter’s Hospice – eclipsing the £2,500 target. And to top it off, Kingston Barnes managing director more than doubled the donation, taking the total raised to £6,000.

Party Peeps Party Peeps director Jay Dormer hosts a virtual children’s party. (Image: Party Peeps)

The Bristol-based business ordinarily organises parties for children all over Bristol and the South West. This changed during the pandemic to a virtual party offering – which saw families all over the world connecting and enjoying online celebrations together.

During this time, Party Peeps also started running virtual parties for patients in the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

The company has now pledged to deliver a gift to every child at the hospital over Chrstmas, and has been calling for further donations from local businesses and residents.

Director Jay Dormer said the company had already had “huge amounts of support” from its customers as well as Bristol-based law firm Osborne Clarke.

Mr Dormer said: “It’s been an absolute joy running our virtual parties for the children in hospital. To know we have made a difference to a child’s day, seeing their beaming smiles in what is typically a difficult time fraught with worry, is such an amazing feeling.”

Perivoli Trust James Alexandroff visits ones of the schools in Africa that the Perivoli Trust has worked with. (Image: Perivoli Trust)

After passing on responsibility for the running of investment management firm Arisaig Partners, to the next generation of people in the organisation, Somerset-based entrepreneur James Alexandroff put his ownership into a philanthropic fund – the Perivoli Trust.

The trust invests all around the world in different asset classes, and the businessman has now set his sights on a radically different challenge to help unlock the potential of another part of the developing world – Africa.

The Perivoli Schools Trust was established in 2012, with its aim being to help address the challenges faced by nursery school teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

So far the trust has helped train over 10,000 nursery school teachers in Namibia, Malawi and Zambia, and aims to reach 200,000 more across nine countries over the coming decades. It estimates that its work has helped some 250,000 children and is targeting to increase this to five million.

When asked by BusinessLive earlier this year if he felt rewarded after seeing the impact the Perivoli Trust’s training programme is having in the schools in Africa he has visited, Mr Alexandroff was self-effacing.

“Well I don’t wish to make too much of that; it is rewarding but it is also motivating,” he said.

“I’m 63, I don’t know how much longer I have got, I hope a reasonable length, but I am on an absolute mission to try and help as much as possible, because time is of the essence, and these are human beings. They deserve better, and the circumstances they live in are not easy.”

Bevan Brittan Head of Bevan Brittan’s Bristol office, Rosemary Jago. (Image: Paul Groom)

Staff at the national law firm’s Bristol office have taken part in various fundraising activities including the Bristol 10k and Half Marathon, a clifftop abseil and a Euro 2020 sweepstake, to help give a £15,000 boost to the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC).

The donation, which is part of £60,000 in total the company’s four offices across the UK has raised for their respective local charities, will enable GWAAC to fund 7.5 complete air ambulance missions in the South West covering the helicopter, fuel, pilot, paramedics, doctors, drugs, and equipment.

Head of Bevan Brittan’s Bristol office, Rosemary Jago, said: “2021 has been another very challenging year for the charity and third sector so we are thrilled to be able to offer some extra support to GWAAC at what is always a busy time for their team and the people they support.

“As a responsible business, we are proud of the active role our colleagues play in supporting local communities, not to mention the range of pro bono work we do during the year.

“It is great to know that our donation will secure support for several complete air ambulance missions and we look forward to maintaining our support for these worthy causes in 2022.”

Anna Perry, chief executive of GWAAC, said: “Our partnership with Bevan Brittan is a pure delight. It is wonderful to work with such a professional and dedicated group of people, who really understand the important work of their local air ambulance, and consistently go above and beyond to support us, in so many different ways.”

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