Colors: Blue Color

As the cold spell sets in and weather conditions become increasingly unpleasant, Royal Voluntary Service in partnership with SGN is launching advice to help the many older people who are left feeling isolated and vulnerable.

The charity has teamed up with SGN, one of the UK’s largest gas network companies, to produce a free leaflet offering tips on staying physically and emotionally well whatever the weather.

Tips on staying safe and well this winter include:

·        Keep an eye on weather forecasts, particularly severe weather warnings from the Met Office

·        Don’t take any risks in bad weather. If you have to go out, make sure you wear shoes with a good grip to avoid unnecessary falls

·        Wear warm clothes in layers and, if you can, get up and move around. If your mobility is more limited do some chair exercises to help you stay warm and active

·        Make sure gas appliances have a regular service and a gas safety check every 12 months

·        Keep torches, a battery powered radio and spare batteries easy to find in case there is an unexpected power cut

·        Look out for any warning signs that your gas appliances aren’t working correctly e.g. lazy yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones, black marks on or around the appliance and too much condensation in the room.

Royal Voluntary Service Chief Executive, Catherine Johnstone CBE, said: “As the colder weather sets in, some older people need to start thinking about how they can keep well and preparation plays an important part in that. The Stay Safe, Warm and Well leaflet provides a prompt or reminder for people to find out how to stay well and safe in winter and to flag more about what services are available to them.”

“Royal Voluntary Service volunteers can help with things like transport after a stint in hospital or to medical appointments, picking up prescriptions or getting some shopping in if the icy temperatures mean it’s harder than usual for an older person to get out and about. We are also encouraging anyone who has an older neighbour or relative to check on them regularly to make sure they have everything they need to stay happy and healthy during the winter months.”

Pamela Goee, Head of Community at SGN, said: “We’re supporting Royal Voluntary Service because we want to help improve the safety and well-being of older people who are isolated or more vulnerable. It is vital people are aware of gas safety, especially in winter. We’d recommend everyone has a carbon monoxide alarm. Knowing the simple warning signs to look out for such as ‘lazy’ yellow or orange flames instead of crisp blue ones or black marks on or around the appliance, could save a life. We would also recommend a locking cooker valve which is connected to the existing gas cooker pipework and stops the supply of gas once locked, eliminating the risk of the cooker being unintentionally turned on or left on.”

“If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or is worried that fumes containing carbon monoxide are escaping from a gas appliance, they should call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999. Lines are open 365 days a year and calls are free.”

Royal Voluntary Service is one of Britain’s largest volunteering charities with over 25,000 volunteers supporting thousands of older people each month in hospitals and the community.  The focus is on building confidence, improving well-being and keeping loneliness at bay through an array of social activities and more structured support.  The charity is also one of the largest retailers in the NHS, with its network of cafes and shops providing a valued haven in hospitals.

The Choreographer and Movement Director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games opening ceremony has been announced as Visiting Professor of Dance at Birmingham City University’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Professor Kevin Finnan MBE is known for his dynamic, highly visual productions integrating dance, circus and digital technology. As the Founder and Artistic Director of Leamington Spa-based Motionhouse, he is responsible for the distinctive style that his dance company is renowned for around the world.

This first appointment of its kind will see Kevin Finnan visit the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire to host masterclasses for the Acting students, as they seek to be among the next generation of great performers. Kevin will also work alongside academics and artists within the University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media to develop exciting research projects that build upon his 30 years in practice and break boundaries with new work.

Kevin Finnan, Visiting Professor of Dance, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, said:

“I’m thrilled to be taking up the role of Visiting Professor of Dance at Birmingham City University. I’m looking forward to contributing to and supporting the University’s dance activities and exploring the exciting opportunities that the role brings with it.

“The collaboration reflects our commitment to the dance sector in the West Midlands and will help celebrate Birmingham and the wider region as a centre of excellence in dance.”

Kevin has created major productions celebrated globally, including more than 30 theatre and outdoor festival productions, large-scale outdoor spectacles and bespoke performance events to mark cultural capital celebrations.

In September this year he created and directed ‘Watermusic’, a spectacular total experience with advanced light, sound and 3D projections for the Aarhus 2017 European Capital of Culture celebrations in Randers Harbour, Denmark.

Previously, he collaborated with Australian physical theatre company Legs On The Wall to create ‘The Voyage’ in Birmingham, which launched the London 2012 Festival in the West Midlands and was the largest free open-air spectacle ever seen in the city.

Polly Hudson, Head of Movement, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham City University, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Kevin Finnan to Birmingham City University as the first visiting Professor of Dance. Here in the University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Media we have a rich community of artists and scholars that Kevin will be joining, including Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Professor Stephen Simms and Errollyn Wallen.

“Kevin and Motionhouse have a long history of working in the West Midlands and I am excited about the new possibilities that are currently opening up for dance in the region. Kevin’s appointment will contribute to that development and we look forward to working with him on new and innovative projects.”

Kevin has a PhD in Theatre from Warwick University and MA in Contemporary Performing Arts from University College Bretton Hall. He is Associate Artist of Greenwich+Docklands International Festival and in 2013 he was awarded an MBE for his services to dance.

Part of Birmingham City University, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire is a unique contemporary building, incorporating five public performance spaces including a new 500 seat concert hall for orchestral training and performance, a purpose-built organ studio and private rehearsal and practice rooms.

Furthermore, as the first purpose built conservatoire in the UK since 1987, the new £57 million music and acting academy is the only one of its kind in the country designed for the demands of the digital age.

Staff and volunteers at RSPCA Birmingham Animal Centre were all featured in this year’s Christmas video for the charity.

The tear-jerking video tells the tale of Woody the Christmas pup who is thrown out with the rubbish before being rescued and taken in for care by the RSPCA.

The film features an acoustic cover of the Simply Red song Stars, written by Mick Hucknall. The song was performed by up and coming singer Lucy Ellie.

Manager at RSPCA Birmingham Animal Centre Deborah Caffull said: “While this video shows the tale of a toy dog -  the sentiment behind the story is very real.

“We rescue, rehabilitate and rehome dogs just like Woody every day, all year round.

“It was lovely to show all the different aspects of the work we do - from the inspector rescuing the dog, to him being treated by vets, looked after by our canine carers and volunteers before being rehomed.

“This time of year is very busy for us as an animal rescue charity and everyone pulls together to help the animals that come into our care - and this video really shows that.”

Broadcast manager at the RSPCA, Alan Laxton, said: “It was great to be able to reflect the work of the staff at the RSPCA and also the story of so many dogs - and other animals that come into our care.

“Staff gave up their own time to help us with the filming and while this story is of a toy dog - with a twist at the end - this story is played out every day across the RSPCA, but for real. We take in the most cruelly treated and neglected animals from across England and Wales and work hard to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome them.”

The RSPCA is braced for 2,000 calls a day this festive season as it launches its Kindness at Christmas Appeal to help care for abused, neglected and sick animals.


Waterloo has topped the list of Britain’s busiest stations with a total of 99,403,096 entries and exits in 2016/17, the 14th consecutive year it has been the most used station.

Figures published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) today reveal that stations in London are the most heavily used, with only Birmingham New Street, in 6th place, breaking into the capital’s dominance of the top 10.

Glasgow Central retains its position as the busiest station in Scotland, with passengers using it 32 million times this year, and Cardiff Central was top in Wales with more than 12.5 million entries and exits.

Three new stations opened during the year – Edinburgh Gateway, Kirkstall Forge and Lea Bridge - bringing the total to 2,560. In total, it was estimated that there were over 2.9 billion entries and exits at all rail stations in Great Britain in 2015/16, an increase of 0.4% on the previous year. There were almost 223 million connections made.

This year the ORR has published an interactive graphic with the statistics. This allows users to instantly access key details such as where a station ranks, how usage has changed in recent years and how it compares with other stations.

YMCA Birmingham celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the official opening of Will Steel House, one of YMCA Birmingham’s supported accommodation projects. The housing development first launched in Aston in 1992 providing 30 homes and has since helped over 2,000 people in and around Birmingham.

A celebration event, which was held on Friday, 1st December 2017 saw staff members past and present talk about the amazing work of Will Steel House and show the impact that the housing scheme is having on its Birmingham residents today. Housing Service Director, Hyacinth Blackburn spoke of the anniversary: “The 25th anniversary is a great occasion to not only reflect on the fantastic work being delivered to help people in our city who need housing but also to celebrate the life of the late Will Steel, who was the Chief Executive of YMCA Birmingham and who’s passion, drive and commitment was crucial in bringing the vision for Will Steel House to fruition. “We are also using this occasion to announce exciting some news that YMCA has bought Will Steel House from Midland Heart in a deal worth over one million pounds!”

Congratulating Will Steel House on reaching this milestone, Vice Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE, was Guest of Honour at the celebrations. Beverly is a celebrated mentor, champion and supporter of the African Caribbean community not only in Birmingham but throughout the UK and internationally. Her success in business, aligned with her longstanding support for the local community, has resulted in her receiving many awards in appreciation of her outstanding work.

YMCA’s resident rep, Gabriel Aoimevbore who recently won the ‘Young Leader of the Year’ award was also on hand to showcase YMCA’s wider work. Located in Aston, Will Steel House has been an example of successful partnership working between Midland Heart, YMCA Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, whose generous grant allocation allowed the scheme to be built. “We want to celebrate these partnerships and the huge positive impact that it has had on so many lives” Hyacinth continued. 02 The light and modern building is made up of bed-sitting rooms with an integrated kitchenette, ideal for those who have some independent living skills. There are also shared bathrooms and toilets and a communal laundry room. “At YMCA Birmingham we like to promote a healthy community atmosphere. We have a communal lounge with a large screen TV, computers are available on site for training and general access and there is a pool table in our games room where we hold regular tournaments for those who wish to participate.

“Applicants who come to us either directly or through referral from other agencies such as, Homeless services and the Salvation Army, are supported into education, employment, volunteering and training. We work with agencies to support resident wellbeing and nurture their mental health.” Hyacinth added. The Housing Team is also based on-site, and there are staff available 24 hours per day and two of the rooms are adapted for disabled access.

Kind-hearted pupils from a Yardley Wood primary school have donated their harvest festival goods to a local hospice.

Staff and pupils from Yardley Wood Community Primary School made the donation to Birmingham St Mary’s this month, which provides vital care to individuals and families living with terminal illness.

It is the fourth year that the school has supported the Hospice by collecting food at the annual festival.

All food donated will be used to cook meals for people staying at the Hospice, as well as the individuals who attend its Day Hospice and Welcome Group sessions.

Miss Blackwood, acting deputy head teacher at Yardley Wood Community Primary School, said: “We’ve had a fantastic harvest festival collection this year and all of our staff and pupils are incredibly proud of the contributions we’ve made to Birmingham St Mary’s. The children enjoyed learning about the harvest and how our donations will make a difference to the Hospice and the individuals it cares for. The collection has become a tradition at our school and we’re already looking forward to the festival next year.”

Year 4 pupil, Harvey Pal, said: “I really enjoyed collecting donations for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice and getting to see the people that we helped. It was good to meet the cooks who help look after the people at the Hospice and I think everyone appreciated our donations.”

Julie Price, catering team leader at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “We are so grateful to the generous staff and pupils at Yardley Wood Community Primary School for their support during the harvest festival. They’ve had a brilliant collection this year and we can’t wait to cook the donated food into delicious, nutritional meals for our individuals and families staying at the Hospice.”

Every day Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice supports 350 individuals across Birmingham and Sandwell. It is committed in ensuring that the best hospice care is available to people and their loved ones, wherever and whenever they need it – whether that’s at the Hospice, in their own homes or in the local community.

As we approach the shortest days of the year, and the coldest, the last thing most homeowners will want to think about is getting out in the garden to do some clipping back or raking up the leaves that are rapidly falling.

Around this time of year gardens are  starting to look a little tired, drab and in need of some colour to brighten them up. If you’ve just moved into a new-build home, the garden is a blank canvas, and it’s all too easy to put gardening off until the warmer weather arrives, but there are plenty of things to do to keep your garden looking good and to attract winter wildlife during the colder months.

NHBC, the UK’s leading warranty and insurance provider for new homes, is offering all homeowners some autumn tips to get your garden ready for winter and spring:

-           Treat your lawn with autumn fertiliser to help strengthen the grass ahead of winter. Be careful not to use a traditional summer fertiliser because this can encourage grass to grow, making it more susceptible to frost.

-          Tidy up your garden by clipping back all the summer growth. Plant some of the off-cuts in pots if you want more in your garden or to share with friends and family.

-          Dig up your annual plants so you have space to plant pansies and other bedding plants that will be blooming in the spring. Bulbs need to be planted at a depth of two to three times their height so they’ll bloom in Spring.

-          Regular autumnal showers mean the soil is moist and perfect for transplanting work if you need to move any of your established plants around.

-          Remove dead and yellowing leaves to prevent your plants from decaying as the temperature drops. If you have a pond, make sure you cover it with a net to prevent fallen leaves from polluting the water.

-          To protect your flower beds and other frost-sensitive plants, cover them in bubble wrap.

-          To help garden wildlife during the lean winter months, fill bird feeders with nuts and seeds and plant berry bushes such as holly.

Builders, plumbers and electricians and more from across the country are taking part in the MyBuilder 2017 Hero Project, giving up a day of their time to carry out work for homeowners who would normally be unable to get essential work done., the leading online marketplace for homeowners to find quality tradesmen, has launched its annual Hero Project, challenging generous tradespeople to give up a day of their time to undertake jobs for people in need. Tradespeople from all over the UK are already answering the call, taking on jobs without pay in order to help people out this Christmas.

If you or someone you know has not been able to afford a small, but essential job around the house, the MyBuilder Hero Project might be able to help.

To take part, homeowners-in-need can simply post a Hero Project job on the website, explaining what the job is and why they need it done. MyBuilder will then attempt to match them with tradespeople who will volunteer up to a day of their time, as well as compensating every tradesperson who takes part up to £100 for material costs.

Jobs that have already been posted on the site include fitting an extractor fan for a homeless shelter, and painting an autistic child’s bedroom their favourite colour.

Commenting on the Hero Project, MyBuilder founder and CEO Ryan Notz said:

“We know how much the amazing tradespeople that use MyBuilder love their communities, and we knew they’d jump at the chance to give something back this Christmas. When we’ve run the Hero Project in the past, we were overwhelmed with the response we got, and we expect this year to be bigger than ever. I’m sure we can help people and families in need across the country at a time when they need it most.

Royal protocol is such, for centuries that would have forbidden the match. Not too long ago, it would have been nigh-on impossible to imagine a Prince becoming engaged to marry a woman who doesn’t ‘tick the boxes’ - in any way – that is the ‘given’ as history has revealed.

So, as 2018 is on the starting blocks, and the impending nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle gathers greater column-inches, their collective generation of royal followers, and future news-seekers of the monarchy, will continue to doth their caps to someone who is proving, ongoing, to be a man for all people.

Given that actress Meghan is Black, Catholic, divorced and from the United States, the prospect of the ‘Suits’ star being beside the fifth in line to the throne marks probably the most telling indication that the House of Windsor is, more so now than ever before, ‘representing’ their people over whom they rule.

Less of a constitutional significance than, say, had Prince Harry had been older than his brother, Prince William, but the fact that his relationship with the 36-year-old is likely to be played out on pretty much every given media platforms, for, ostensibly, an unimaginably endless period of time, it’s clear that these are changed times.

The right-wing tabloids have made Ms. Markle’s race a talking point and were criticized for dog-whistle racism in their coverage of her, with one – the Daily Mail - describing Markle’s mother’s neighbourhood as being “famous for gangs” as it detailed the number of crimes that happened in the vicinity of her home.

The young, dashing 33-year-old Prince Harry is the very epitome of what his late mother, Princess Diana, represented.  And, with his relationship with the ‘90210,’ ‘CSI: NY’ and ‘Castle’ star the subject of endless bulging discussions and mega media hype, it’s just plain to see; Love clearly does conquer ALL.


Two of Severn Trent’s senior leadership team, Sarah Bentley, Chief Customer Officer, and Jane Simpson, Head of Asset Creation, have been named in Cranfield University’s ‘100 Women to Watch’ list, further showing the company’s commitment to diversity,

Sarah Bentley, Severn Trent’s Chief Customer Officer is a member of the Executive Committee and runs the water and waste network as well as the retail operation and group technology.  She is responsible for the whole customer experience and providing great service to 3.5 million households and over 8 million customers across the Midlands and into Wales.  Jane Simpson, as Head of Asset Creation, oversees 150 engineers in house and 1000 people in the supply chain, and manages £1.2bn worth of investment, including the company’s biggest ever engineering project to secure water supplies for over a million customers in Birmingham.

In 2009, Cranfield School of Management published The 100 Women to Watch. Now in its 8th year, it aims to highlight the broad and deep female talent pool for UK businesses to draw on, by showcasing different talent and, in so doing, refuting the myth that there is a limited supply of willing and able women to take on board-level accountability in UK listed companies.  This year is not the first time that Severn Trent has been included in the list, in 2016 Bronagh Kennedy, General Counsel and Company Secretary, was one to watch and also in 2014, Liv Garfield, now Severn Trent’s CEO.

Severn Trent has a proud record of diversity, especially female representation, with women making up 44% of Severn Trent’s Board, 60% of the Executive Committee and 27% of the senior leadership team.  In addition, Severn Trent is ranked joint first in the FTSE 100 for female representation at Board level by the Hampton-Alexander review, and has recently reported a mean gender pay gap of just 2.4%, which is well below the national and industry averages.

Liv Garfield, CEO at Severn Trent, said: “I’m delighted that two of our leading women are recognised in the Cranfield University ‘100 Women to Watch’ list.  It’s a real honour to have our colleagues listed alongside so many talented women, and I think it’s important that we have strong female role models like Sarah and Jane.

“Diversity is really important to everyone at Severn Trent and we believe that successful businesses are those that embrace a diverse and inclusive culture that welcomes people from all walks of life.  But we know there’s always more to do in our ambition to go further and deliver more opportunities for everyone.”


Earlier this year, Severn Trent was named in the first-ever Social Mobility Employer Index as one of Britain’s top employers for the actions the company is taking to make sure everyone has the opportunity to find a job and to be promoted, regardless of their gender or background.

18-month-old Daisy Blakeley, from Kingswinford, is set to be the star of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Foundation Trust Annual Christmas Concert.

Taking place at St Martin in the Bullring on Wednesday 13 December at 7pm, the event is set to be bigger and better than ever as it’s the first time the two hospital charities will host the Christmas Concert as a joint initiative.

The event will treat guests to Christmas carols and fundraising festivities for the £2 million Critical Journey’s Appeal - a cause very close to Daisy’s family’s heart.

The Appeal will raise money to kit out four Critical Care Ambulances with the latest, life-saving medical equipment. This will enable the KIDS/NTS service to respond faster and more effectively, helping critically ill patients and their families in the West Midlands get to the right place, at the right time, for the right treatment.

At just seven-months old and following her first trip to see Father Christmas, Daisy began to have breathing difficulties and was later diagnosed with severe bronchiolitis. After reaching the final stage of her treatment she needed an urgent transfer to a different hospital to be ventilated.

Dad, Andrew, remembers: “The KIDS/NTS team arrived very quickly, straight-away we were put at ease and felt totally reassured that Daisy was in the best possible hands. Both of us were able to travel in the ambulance and the team were absolutely fantastic throughout the whole process, they told us what was happening and why.

“As a family, we know without the fantastic support the KIDS/NTS team provided Daisy, she may well not be with us today. We can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”

Daisy’s family have shared their story to help raise awareness of the appeal and Dad, Andrew, will be sharing more of his story on the evening following performances from The School of Theatre Excellence, Signature String Quartet and Benson Community School. Daisy is just one of over 2,000 babies, children and young people moved by the Critical Care Ambulances every year.

Miranda Williams, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Daisy and her family to our annual Christmas Concert as their story is at the heart of our Critical Journeys Appeal. The money raised from the concert will transform our vital KIDS/NTS service an advice, stabilisation and transport service dedicated to the management of critically ill babies, children and young people across the West Midlands.

“Our Christmas Concert is a fantastic evening full of festive fun and it’s not too late to get your tickets so come along and join us for yuletide treats and Christmas carols whilst showing your support for the Critical Journeys Appeal.”

Discover the real 'Behind the Scenes' at Blenheim Palace, in a fascinating limited edition tour for 2018. 'Restoration & Conservation' will be the theme of the guided tours which will begin in the New Year as part of the extended opening season experience offered to visitors at the Oxford World Heritage Site.

The 'Restoration & Conservation' tour will be exclusively available from 5th January – 28th February, running twice per day excluding Sundays. The new tours will tie in to the annual deep clean of Blenheim Palace which will now be on full to visitors during this period. The tour will give an in-depth look into what is being done in each of the State Rooms.

Kate Ballenger, House Manager at Blenheim Palace: “Each year, when the Palace is usually closed, the Operations team, accompanied by various specialists, complete the 'deep clean'. This process is much more than just cleaning, it is the careful review of the entire collection followed by a thorough cleaning programme alongside the ongoing conservation and restoration work.

This tour of the Palace gives insights into both the deep clean and the conservation and restoration that is happening at present and has happened in the past.”

The new tours will look at two very important aspects of running a 300 year old Palace, including restoring a piece of art, building or tapestry to its original condition, as well as the preservation and repair of the historical and cultural site and its artefacts. The tour will also examine the theme of renovation, exploring how Blenheim Palace must also modernise and remain as a comfortable family home and appealing to visitors.

From the necessary continuing restoration of the 'Capability' Brown Cascades and Bladon dams, work which will total approximately £2m when completed to keeping the Palace safe for its inhabitants and visitors, the tour will look at which projects are undertaken, when and why.

The fascinating tour will also look at the most impactful projects including The Eyes in 1928. Painted for the 2nd wife of the 9th Duke, Gladys Deacon, these have a great visual impact on visitors. Exposure to the elements over 80 years had caused the painting and plaster work to degrade to a point where they were barely visible.

From clocks to paintings each piece of work often requires specialist and niche attention, with specialists sought from all over the world to complete the painstaking tasks of restoring priceless pieces of history.

The job of cleaning the China collection used to fall to the 10th Duchess and her unfortunate administrator, Archie Illingworth – he used to dread the call, 'Mr Illingworth, today we are going to clean the China!' The Duchess would wash the China and it was Archie's responsibility to dry it.

One of the recent renovations is the Bouchain Tapestry, the priceless 18th century tapestry depicting one of Britain's most important military victories is 25ft wide and almost 15 feet high. The giant wall hanging is made of wool and silk and was woven in the Brussels workshop of the Flemish weaver, Judocus de Vos.

Part of a set of 10, the tapestries are the most accurate and detailed contemporary records that exist of the campaign, not least because the 1st Duke, John Churchill, provided accurate battle plans and portraits of the principal characters. After being painstakingly removed from the walls of the Palace's Second State Room, the tapestry was carefully rolled up before being transported back to the city it was originally created in for renovation. It took a year to completely renovate!

From keeping the rain out, Blenheim Palace has over 7 acres of roof, to protecting ceremonial robes, the Marlborough's Coronation Robes were beginning to deteriorate in the sunlight, there is much to learn and lots of exciting facts to discover.

Princess Cruises announced today its fourth Royal-class ship will be named Sky Princess. Sky Princess is scheduled to launch in October 2019 on a series of Mediterranean voyages and will be a sister ship to Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess.

The 3,660-passenger vessel will include a number of the signature elements that feature on Royal-class ships. These include:

· A three-deck central Piazza-style atrium · Multiple dining, entertainment and retail venues · A top-deck outdoor “Movie Under the Stars” theatre · 80 percent of all staterooms with balconies · The adults-only Sanctuary · Camp Discovery youth and teen centres · Dining venues including the Salty Dog Grill, Alfredo's Pizzeria, Vines Wine Bar, Chef's Table Lumiere and World Fresh Marketplace

Sky Princess will also include various new innovations with details to be revealed shortly.

Sky Princess' Mediterranean voyages feature 10 departures on eight itineraries, sailing from Barcelona, Rome or Athens.

The first is a seven-day Mediterranean and Adriatic cruise from Athens to Barcelona on October 20, 2019. The voyage can be combined with the following seven-day Barcelona to Rome cruise to form a 14-day Western Mediterranean & Adriatic Medley.

The season will end in November 2019 with a 14-day Spanish Passage from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale, USA, which can be combined with the previous seven-day Mediterranean cruises to form extended 21-day or 28-day Grand Adventure sailings.

Sky Princess' Mediterranean voyages are available to book from December 14, 2017. Princess guests holding Elite status will have the opportunity to secure their booking a day earlier on December 13, 2017.

Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia group president, said: “Sky Princess continues a Princess Cruises legacy and honours one of our previous ships. When Princess merged with Sitmar Cruises in 1988, Sky Princess joined our fleet and sailed with us for 12 years. Now more than 30 years later, a new Sky Princess will join the fleet featuring our modern design platform and contemporary innovations, offered to exceed our guests' expectations.”

City of Wolverhampton Council yesterday (Monday) welcomed representatives from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to the city.

It was the start of a three-day visit as part of an international exchange programme with Access to Business and the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.

The ten Bulgarian delegates were greeted by the Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Phil Page, Leader of the Council, Councillor Roger Lawrence, Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, and Managing Director, Keith Ireland, at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

They heard a presentation on regeneration in the City of Wolverhampton and were also given an overview of the Black Country’s enterprise teams.

The aim of the visit is to exchange experience, good practices and models for promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship.

Rositca Antonova, Shumen Municipality Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, said: “We have had a fantastic welcome and we are really impressed with the regeneration in the City of Wolverhampton.

“We were also surprised by the strength and importance of the Wolverhampton economy to the region and the UK, in terms of manufacturing.

“The organisations in the city also seem well connected in helping young people gain the skills that businesses need.

“It is clear there is strong political leadership and we have learnt many things.”

Councillor Reynolds said: “We were delighted to welcome our visitors from Bulgaria.

“We are always keen to share our knowledge and spread the word about our great city on a global stage.

“This is just one of many international delegations we have welcomed to the city.”

The remainder of the trip will see the Bulgarian delegation visit Black Country Chamber of Commerce, the new University of Wolverhampton Science Park, Black Country Growth Hub, and Access to Business.

From a succulent roast dinner with all the trimmings to fruit-laden puddings, cakes and chocolates - not to mention nuts, mince pies and smoked salmon - Christmas Day is all about eating.

And it’s not just as we like to indulge, but our much-loved four-legged family members too. It’s hard to resist slipping them scraps or even their own Christmas dinner from our leftovers, however, we need to be mindful that not everything on the Christmas menu should be shared.

With this in mind, and to give pet owners a helping hand this festive season, insurer MORE TH>N’s qualified vet Andrew Moore has devised the ultimate Christmas dinner guides for cats and dogs, ensuring all the family can join in safely on the fun and the food this year.

Andrew Moore, MORE TH>N’S veterinary consultant, explains: ‘We all overindulge at Christmas, but festive food in human-sized quantities is more no no no than ho ho ho for our pets. Most festive food is fatty, rich and can sometimes even be downright poisonous to cats and dogs. However it’s not all Bah Humbug, there are certain foods that are fine to feed your pet for one festive meal. When it comes to our pets and food, it’s all about moderation - so the one occasion you should act like Scrooge is to keep the festive treats small and then your pet can enjoy their very own Christmas meal this year, without any nasty repurr-cusions.’

Christmas Dinner Guide For Dogs


FISH: Whilst salmon is a favourite amongst us, humans, it’s also a great starter for your dog as it is high in protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, which help support a dog’s immune system and also add shine to a dog’s coat. Choose plain salmon in spring water over smoked salmon though.  Prawns - as long as they are well cooked and shelled - will also go down very well.


MEAT: Treat your pooch to some turkey this Christmas. Choose small amounts of boneless and skinless breast meat, which can be added to your dog’s meal in moderation. 

VEGETABLES: To bring a bit of variety to their Christmas bowl, add some sprouts, swede mash, potatoes, green beans and parsnip, ideally served plain – before any butter or oil is added. 


Pudding is just as important as the main in our opinion and there’s no need to leave your dog out once the dinner is over. Low in lactose desserts like yoghurt and ricotta cheese in moderation are a great option, as they are excellent sources of calcium and protein. You could also swap grapes and raisin-based desserts for blueberries and dried cranberries, which are both safe for dogs.

TOP TIP: Don’t forget to remove a little bit of their normal food to even things out!

Christmas Dinner Guide For Cats


FISH: Cats too can tuck into a fishy starter with small amounts of canned tuna, which is a great source of protein in moderation 



MEAT: Small amounts of lean meats like skinless turkey breast can add some variety to their moggy menu 

VEGETABLES: Sprouts, swede, carrot and parsnip mash add some colour to their festive feast, but just make sure they don’t contain butter, seasoning or anything toxic such as onions or garlic.



Sugar, spice and everything nice hold no interest for a cat, so don’t feel guilty when tucking in to your fourth dessert of the day – cats would much prefer to be eating savoury foods

TOP TIP: Don’t forget to remove a little bit of their normal food to even things out!

It’s not just the Christmas dinner our dogs and cats want to get involved with during the festive season. Andrew Moore’s veterinary team has recalled some funny tales from clients who had to “paws” the festive fun to deal with some pets who took it a step too far during the festive season…

‘I once pulled a very long string of tinsel out of a Labradors throat, which never seemed to end’.

‘A dog ate an entire Christmas cake (seconds after they had drizzled it with brandy and lit it on fire) while it was still engulfed in flames!’.

‘A very small sausage dog came in after eating an entire box of Twilight dark chocolate mints in their wrappers on Boxing Day…three years in a row – setting quite the Christmas tradition for the family’. 

John Ellenger, Head of Pet Insurance MORE TH>N, added: “Eating the Christmas dinner has to be one of the most exciting parts of the festive period, so we wanted to make sure the whole family, including those with four legs, could come together and join in this year. We are, however, aware that there are also a lot of don’ts when it comes to feeding pets over the merry season, so we have also developed guides online with information on what our pets should avoid to ensure trips to the vet are kept to a minimum!’ 

We can’t forget that there’s a number of festive no-no’s that need to be avoided on dogs and cats festive menus this Christmas - the main foods being grapes, raisins, nuts, onions and chocolate. 

Black Country Chamber of Commerce is officially named a ‘Fairtrade Workplace of World Changers’. This is following the launch of the Black Country Chamber Social Impact document that was released back in June at a special event.

The Chamber is committed to supporting businesses to better their social impact whilst also implementing a plan of action internally. With this in mind, following conversations with the local Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership about how they can engage more with local organisations, the Chamber decided to lead by example and become a Fairtrade workplace.

Becoming a Fairtrade workplace is a straight forward process that all businesses could achieve, by visiting the Fairtrade website and certify your workplace as Fairtrade by providing coffee, sugar and tea products carrying the Fairtrade Mark available to staff and visitors.

Barbara Gwinnett, Chair of the Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership, commented: “Wolverhampton City Fairtrade Partnership congratulates the Black Country Chamber of Commerce on becoming a Fairtrade Workplace of World Changers. They are giving inspiring leadership to other businesses and helping to ensure that farmers in some of the world's poorest countries will get a fair price and a social premium for their produce. Well done to the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.”

Corin Crane, Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, added: “We want to lead by example with our social impact work and this is our first step towards more responsible business practices. We are proud to be supporting such a great initiative that helps to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow the things we love, and would encourage other businesses to do the same.”