Preventing homelessness in Reading

Over £6,000 raised for work and life skills centre at Launchpad’s Pancake Race

26 February 2020

A total of £6,299 and counting has been raised at our annual Pancake Race, which saw 37 teams batter it out on Broad Street on Shrove Tuesday and solicitors Blandy & Blandy take home the coveted frying pan trophy. Now in its 23rd year, this year’s event was supported by Reading Chronicle and Broad Street Mall, and raised money to help fund the refurbishment of Reading’s first work and life skills centre.

Teams of four from organisations across Reading donned fancy dress and met at Broad Street Mall – where they enjoyed a lively warm up session with fitness instructor, Maggie Watkins. They then paraded to Broad Street where they flipped pancakes in relay races through a series of 12 knock-out heats, semi-finals and a gripping final, all compered by BBC Radio Berkshire’s Michele Jordan and egged on by hundreds of spectators. The event was also supported by 25 volunteers.

The finalists competing for first place were RSM UK, Blandy & Blandy, Reading FC youth team and Nexus Planning, and the race ended dramatically when Reading FC raised concerns over Blandy & Blandy’s winning performance when the football team were pipped to the post. They claimed the solicitors had not completed the required three pancake flips in the last relay of the final – but after judges consulted video footage, it was verified that three tosses were made and Blandy & Blandy were in fact the rightful winners.

Blandy & Blandy – who have been Pancake Race finalists three of the last four years and winners twice before now – received a night’s stay at pentahotels with breakfast in addition to the frying pan trophy. Clas Ohlson vouchers were awarded to both Reading FC for second place and Nexus Planning for third place, and Reading Minster Church received breakfast at Novotel for the best team spirit award. R Collard were given Fun ‘n’ Frolic vouchers for the best fancy dress and University of Reading Law School received tapas and a drink at Revolucion de Cuba Reading for fundraising the most for Launchpad.

Ian Caren, Launchpad’s Chief Executive, said about the event: “This year’s Pancake Race was flipping brilliant! The people of Reading and local organisations all came together to have fun and raise a record amount for Launchpad, and it really was a fantastic atmosphere. Not to mention a tense final!

“We couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who was there to support us – from the participants and our event partners to Launchpad’s amazing volunteers and the crowds who came to watch – because of you, we are even closer to our goal of refurbishing and opening the work and life skills centre so our clients can leave homelessness behind for good.”

Launchpad’s work and life skills centre is due to open later this summer, so that local people who are homeless, or at risk of losing their home, can learn new skills, build confidence and get back into work. With no government funding, the charity is relying on the incredible support and generosity of Reading to help raise £80,000 to completely refurbish the facility with bespoke facilities which include:

  • a training kitchen for cooking and barista courses
  • a DIY workshop and laundry area to help people learn how to maintain a home and practice self-care
  • an IT suite for job searching and online learning
  • a counselling service for talking therapies
  • a space for creative writing, art, photography and wellbeing activities such as yoga and meditation.

Check out all the photos from the day on our Facebook page. Photo credits: Paul Clark