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Southport Reporterģ covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 6 February 2006

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PEAK CONDITION

THE Meningitis Trust is appealing for adventurous individuals from the North West who are looking for a challenge in 2006.

The 3 Peaks Challenge takes place over one action-packed weekend. In just 36 hours participants will climb the UK's three highest peaks -Snowdon, Sca Fell Pike and Ben Nevis

Event Organiser Steve Williams explained:- "We provide your coach travel between locations, and an experienced team of guides to instruct you throughout the event.  This is a tough event both physically and mentally. The ascent from Sca Fell Pike in the dark will test the whole team."  Steve concluded:- "Whether you enter as part of a group or as an individual you'll soon forge new friendships, as at the end of the day, this a team exercise. The group will rely on each other's encouragement and enthusiasm, right to the last step.  On completing the 3rd summit, the group will have the chance to trade trekker's tales over a celebratory meal and drinks. Finally in the shadow of the conquered Ben Nevis, tired trekkers get a well-deserved night's sleep in a Fort William hotel. "

In return we ask for £75 non-refundable deposit and sponsorship of £375. All money raised helps fund vital research into the disease and provides support for life to those affected by meningitis.

This year the Three Peaks Challenge takes place 12 May to 14 May 06, 16 June 06 to 18 June 06  and 7 July to 9 July 06 . For more information email Steve Williams on stevew@meningitis-trust.org or call 01453 769 024.

KIDS ARE TOYING WITH A FORTUNE

IT has been found that British youngsters are the proud owners of £28 billion worth of high-tech equipment in their own bedrooms, according to research by home expert Lloyds TSB Insurance.

While a 3rd of youngsters own gadgets, entertainment and high-tech equipment worth up to £2,000 in their bedrooms, as many as 1 in 10 children have up to £5,000 worth behind closed doors.

The survey into kidís bedroom technology shows how easily the huge price tag is wracked up. In the North West alone, over 7 in 10 kids own TVís in their bedrooms, and over half own a games console and a DVD player / recorder.

The following items topped North West kidsí must-have high-tech gadgets list:-

* 49% have a hi-fi system in their bedroom

* 38% have a video player in their bedroom

* 34% have an iPod or mp3 player in their bedroom

* 34% have a PC in their bedroom

* 13% have broadband connection in their bedroom

* 8% have digital TV or Sky TV in their bedroom

The survey reveals that 86% of children from the North West were given high tech items as gifts, as opposed to purchasing items themselves with money earned from jobs (only 8%) or pocket money (only 6%). Despite the huge amount of gift-giving, just less than 1 in 10 parents thought that buying children high-tech items as gifts spoilt them. 47% of parents felt their children deserved or needed the items and 22% of parents said they thought these items kept kids entertained and out of trouble. Significantly, 6% of parents said childrenís bedrooms now hold more valuables than any other room in the house.

Phil Loney, Managing Director Lloyds TSB Insurance said:- ďIt may surprise some parents, but our survey shows that youngsters are quite literally, sleeping on a gold mine. As new technology increases, so to does the value of kidís bedrooms, with many kids owning 7 or 8 individual high-priced items.  With high tech trends set to continue, itís important that parents ensure their home contents insurance is updated to include the ever increasing value of their kidís bedrooms.Ē

For more information on Lloyds TSB Home Insurance or a quote visit your local branch, log onto www.insurance.co.uk

LAKE TECHNOLOGIES WINS GOLD AWARD

MERSEYSIDE-based business Lake Technologies Ltd is being rewarded for fostering a culture of giving in the workplace with a Gold Award, at the launch of the new Payroll Giving Quality Mark. Lake Technologies, along with local MP Shaun Woodward, is calling on employers across Merseyside to follow suit by making Payroll Giving - the tax-effective employee donation scheme - available to employees.

Kevin Cliffe, Joint Managing Director of Lake Technologies says:- "Payroll Giving is a key part of our corporate social responsibility. As an extra incentive for our employees, we match their donations to our dedicated charity, Macmillan Cancer Relief. Payroll Giving builds on staff morale, encouraging a sense of pride and fulfilment."

Presenting them with their award, Shaun Woodward, MP for St Helens South, adds:- "Payroll Giving is something every organisation can get involved in, whatever their size. It is an important and reliable source of revenue for charities that is quick and easy to set up and run, and gives businesses the chance to connect with their local community. By donating money straight from their salary, employees can make a regular, tax-efficient commitment to their favourite good cause."

Each month, 14 of Lake Technologies' 21 employees donate an average of £5 a month through Payroll Giving to Macmillan Cancer Relief. This is matched by the company, raising £140 a month - £1,680 a year - for a charity that 'touches all of our lives'.

The Payroll Giving Quality Mark aims to provide sustainable income sources for UK charities by increasing participation in Payroll Giving. The scheme recognises and rewards employers for making Payroll Giving available to staff, providing them with a certificate and use of a logo which enables them to publicly demonstrate their commitment to good causes. Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards are allocated to organisations that demonstrate excellence in fostering a culture of giving in the workplace through Payroll Giving. The Payroll Giving Quality Mark is funded by HM Government, administered and promoted by the Institute of Fundraising, with support from Business in the Community.

Ivan Lewis MP, Economic Secretary to HM Treasury, welcomes the initiative, saying:- "This innovative new scheme, funded by Government, aims to encourage more employers to foster a culture of giving in the workplace by making tax-effective payroll donations available to their employees. Payroll Giving is good for business and a real benefit to offer employees. I hope that the coming financial year will be a record year of donations raising in excess of £100 million for good causes."

By setting up Payroll Giving, employers enable their employees to give to any UK charity straight from their gross salary and to get immediate tax relief of up to 40% on each donation. Payroll Giving has minimal administrative requirements or costs and is an ideal way for organisations at all budget levels to generate a regular, reliable income stream for good causes.

The new Payroll Giving Quality Mark comes one year after launch of the Payroll Giving Grants programme, which offers grants of up to £500 to small and medium-sized employers ('SMEs') simply for making Payroll Giving available to their staff. Grants are payable to SMEs with fewer than 500 employees that sign up to Payroll Giving before the end of the year. As an additional incentive, the Grants programme matches the first £10 donated by each employee, every month, for a period of 6 months. Since launch of the Payroll Giving Grants programme, the number of SMEs signed up to Payroll Giving has more than doubled.

Web:- www.payrollgivingcentre.org.uk

Hotline:- 0845 602 6786.

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