Colors: Blue Color

A Dudley woman is taking part in Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in Sutton Park, Birmingham, for her mother whom is living with dementia, raise awareness about dementia and money to combat the condition.

Louise Overton, 32, from Dudley said: “Everyone knows someone who's life has been affected by Dementia and my mum, at the young age of 44 developed dementia. We noticed things weren't quite right, mom was finally diagnosed when she was 50 and since then we have watched the painful process of deterioration. Growing up I have always needed my mom as any girls do, especially when I had children of my own, but I've never had that luxury and never will. My mom is now on complete bed rest and struggling to eat. I'm doing this walk for her, for other women who will need their mom, for the children who will need their nan. Let's all stand together and try and find a cure for this horrible illness.”

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“My mum is now 57, she was diagnosed in 2010 after lots of tests and investigations into her behaviour, deterioration has been slow but has been much more rapid the past year. She has gone from being able to walk about to complete bed rest and very limited movement. It took her speech completely just after diagnosis but she still recognised family until about 3 years ago but now there is nothing. For people going through the same I think they just need people that care around them, to be as strong as they can for them and appreciate that they are in there somewhere, let them feel sun on their faces, let them sit in the fresh air and listen to the birds sing, smile and talk to them like you would anyone else, I cling to the fact that there is a little part of her that can still hear me and feel me holding her, hearing me tell her how much I love her and miss her."

More than 26,000 people over-65 in Birmingham and the Black Country are estimated to be living with dementia and last year’s event at the smaller location of Cannon Hill Park was attended by 5000 people, raising more than £322,000 to help people living with the condition.

Janice Le Tellier, Alzheimer’s Society Operations Manager for Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. We are calling on family, friends – and furry four-legged supporters – to unite against dementia this autumn. Dementia devastates lives. Walk with us at Memory Walk and dementia won’t win. Every pound raised will help Alzheimer’s Society provide information and support, improve care, fund research and create lasting change for people affected by dementia. Alzheimer’s Society is urgently calling on people to register now at and unite against dementia.”

One in ten UK adults, equivalent to 5.3 million people, intend or would like to write their autobiography, according to new findings from Type & Tell, the leading self-publishing company.

Fuelled by the desire to tell their life story for reasons including self-help, to help others learn from their life lessons, or to pass on a record of their life to younger family members, aspiring authors would like to write their autobiography more than any other genre of book. One in five of those planning to write a book would like to pen their own life story (21 per cent), more than twice the number of any other non-fiction genre and considerably more than any genre of fiction.

Whilst the genre is most popular amongst more experienced would-be authors, with 27 per cent of those aged 55 or over hoping to write one compared to 22 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 and just 14 per cent of those in the 18-34 age group, their reasons for doing so differ significantly between generations.

Life after death, life lessons and self-help: reasons for writing autobiographies

Over half (52 per cent) of would-be autobiographers said they believed their life would make an interesting story to tell. However, this rises to 62 per cent of those planning to commit their life story to paper in the 18-34 age group compared to just 45 per cent of those aged 55 or over. The younger age group may have been inspired by the increase in commercial autobiographies by young sporting stars and musicians.

Possibly influenced by high levels of followers on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, the younger age group are also far more likely to believe their own life is more interesting than that of most people who publish autobiographies, with 21 per cent of them holding this view compared to just nine per cent of those aged 55 or over.

One in three prospective autobiographers (30 per cent) felt their work could help readers benefit from their life lessons (30 per cent). Perhaps unexpectedly given their relative lack of life experience, the younger age group was more likely to be motivated by this sentiment, with 33 per cent of them expressing it compared to just 23 per cent of those aged 55 or over.

The older age group is more motivated by leaving something behind for other family members, with over half of them (55 per cent) wanting to have a written record of their life for their children or grandchildren compared to just 39 per cent of 18-34 year olds with this motivation.

For many hopeful autobiographers, writing their life story would be self-help, with almost a third (32 per cent) of those planning to write their memoirs doing so for their own wellbeing.  There may be some merit in this reasoning as some psychologists encourage patients to view the events in their life as stories in narrative therapy2, a form of counselling which aims to separate individuals from their problems and externalise their issues.

Jon Watt of Type & Tell commented: “In our social media age, we already share large parts of our lives through photos and videos, so the leap to autobiographical writing is not a great one. We are working with writers who want to tell their life stories for a wide variety of reasons. Some want to entertain, other to inform; some are writing very personal memoirs for family and generations to come, others see their story appealing to a global audience. Publishing has changed and it is now possible for us to meet all these authors’ ambitions. The rise of accessible self-publishing platforms has given people the ability to cost-effectively create, publish and print books themselves, and if they want to, sell them around the world.

“For every fascinating and unforgettable autobiography from household names like Nelson Mandela or Barack Obama, there are numerous books recounting everyday stories of hardship, humour, adversity or triumph which fly under the radar but have just as deep an impact on their readers.”

While a significant 63 per cent of the UK admit to being in debt, new research from VoucherCodes’ Annual Cost of Living Life Report reveals that there has been a year on year reduction in the amount of new debt that Brits have accrued since the start of the year, with the average Brit taking out £363 in new debt in 2017, down from £446 in 2016. Despite this, it seems the nation is still struggling to stay on top of their finances, with over a quarter (27 per cent) confessing they are clueless as to just how much debt they are in.

The study over 2,000 UK adults found that while men have borrowed slightly more than women since the start of the year (£389 versus £344), where age is concerned, millennials are seemingly struggling to make ends meet, with 18 to 34’s borrowing more money since January than any other age group in the UK. Perhaps in response to the increasing cost of living and strained disposable incomes for many young people, millennials took out £540 in new debt in 2017, more than double over 55’s average of just £202.

Looking across the UK, those in Plymouth have borrowed the most money nationwide since the start of the year at £997, followed by those in Bristol (£497) and Birmingham (£426), all of which have undergone redevelopment in recent years, with rising property prices and new retail and leisure facilities in the regions pushing up the overall cost of living for many. Despite this, surprisingly, it’s Londoners who are among those who have the worst grips on their finances, with people in London and Northern Ireland being the most in the dark about money matters.

The survey of over 2,000 UK adults found that in line with 2016, student loans are the costliest driver of debt for those that have borrowed money since the start of the year (£5,162), followed by bank loans (£2,886) and credit cards (£1,378). But even in light of this nationwide debt, just 7 per cent of Brits believe they need to get better at money management, with over half of Brits (54 per cent) claiming they are ‘very clear’ on the current state of their personal finances.

In:Site Festival returns to Birmingham City Centre for a seventh year this September with recent graduates transforming the outdoor space around the cathedral with unusual craft ‘interventions’ . In:Site, a festival of graduate creativity, organised by Birmingham based arts charity Craftspace, takes place in Cathedral Square from the 4th – 8th September.

The public can get involved with the making of some of the artworks using different techniques; embroidery, casting in concrete, enamelling, manipulating wire and spinning wool. With different artists working each day, at the end of the week visitors can expect to see the space adorned with twelve new art works including a Camera Obscura, a crocheted chandelier, architectural wire sculptures and a textile tribute to historical figures buried in the graveyard echoing the shape of the Cathedral’s stained glass windows.

Craftspace Director, Deirdre Figueiredo said: “A festival of making in this public square draws attention to  Birmingham’s rich heritage in a creative way, encouraging people to slow down and take time to appreciate skills and stories - strangers from all walks of life talk and make together finding surprising ways to connect in an otherwise busy world.”

In a new partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, their clay modellers will collaborate with ceramicist Sarah Christie, showing the versatility and importance of clay as a material which is used expressively by artists and as a sculpting material for design in the car industry.

Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design said: “Developed to create sophisticated surfaces that would otherwise be drawn by hand, clay models have been in existence in the car industry since the 1940s and remain a fundamental part of the design process.  Watching the car come to life through the incredible artistic ability of our clay modellers, working together with designers, is still the favourite stage for many designers.”

The festival is supported by Birmingham Cathedral, the Edward Cadbury Trust, the Oakley Trust and Radcliffe Trust.

A new £2.2m development of quality but affordable family homes has been unveiled in Stockland Green, thanks to a small group of residents that galvanised itself into action when it saw its community going into decline due to poor quality and absent private landlords.

The construction of 14 family homes at Copeley Hill on Slade Road has totally transformed a site that had been left derelict and abandoned after being bombed during WWII and then cut off from the rest of the community by Spaghetti junction.

Stockland Green Opportunity Housing and Training (SGOHT) is the community-led organisation that inspired the Copeley Hill development of aspirational and quality private rented homes, which will enable local families to stay in the area.  The homes were built by MCE Property with the backing of SGOHT partners, Pioneer Group.

Sarah Kelly (33), son Amari (11) and daughter Ivy (5months) are the first family to receive keys to Copeley Hill.  Erdington born and bred, Sarah moved to Coventry for nine years but wanted to return to Birmingham so she could be around her family and support network.

“When I discovered there was a new development being built in the area, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to move back to my roots and have a fresh start,” said Sarah.  “The houses at Copeley Hill are absolutely fantastic and we can’t wait to get moved in and into our routine back in Birmingham, just minutes away from the people we love.”

Labour MP for Erdington, Jack Dromey said:  “A loving mum, Sarah, and her two delightful children, cannot wait to move into their new home; a good home, at a reasonable rent and with real security for the future.  The SGOHT is to be congratulated for its outstanding initiative in building 14 new badly needed homes.”

Those families renting from SGOHT at Copeley Hill will benefit from living in a modern, spacious home and receiving a quality maintenance and repair service.  In addition, because SGOHT has made a long term commitment to the area, they will also enjoy the peace of mind that comes from certainty of tenure and sustainable and ethical rent levels.

Penny Holbrook, Chair of SGOHT said:  “Stockland Green has always had a rich heritage and vibrant and ethnically diverse community, which was quick to organise itself and meet the challenges head on as the area went into decline.

“We could never have imagined only four years ago what we would be celebrating today, but from small acorns mighty oaks do grow. Copeley Hill was an abandoned part of Stockland Green, an eye-sore that was blighted by fly tipping, but the transformation is remarkable and one that we can all be proud of.

“The ambition and drive of a small group of people disillusioned at the lack of good quality private rented housing, which was driving young families out of Stockland Green and destroying the community, has resulted in a fabulous housing development of three and four bedroom houses that will allow them to stay in the neighbourhood and help the community grow and thrive.”

There are 12 spacious three-bedroom (from £725 per month) and two four-bedroom homes (£850 per month) in the Copeley Hill development, all with master bedroom and ensuite bathroom, modern fitted bathroom and kitchen, cloak rooms, sound-proof windows and rear gardens.

Penny concludes:  “We’ve delivered homes with the same rents as private landlords, but with superior housing and services.  This community-based solution to a lack of quality housing in the area is one that we have committed to and intend to build on.”

As a Pioneer Group partner, SGOHT benefits from its financial support and management resource, but is able to work autonomously in the community it knows inside out and has its own board that shapes future activities and investment in the area.

SGOHT is committed to helping Stockland Green and its people flourish by providing excellent homes and creating development and training opportunities for those living in the community, including working with a local training provider on the refurbishment of its properties.

The new Copeley Hill housing development is the first in a new chapter of regeneration in Stockland Green with SGOHT planning a further 20 houses over the next four years.

Now in its second year, KXCQ brings together a vibrant collection of pop-up design events, exhibitions and stunning architectural installations as well as all the best places to eat, drink, shop and stay at King’s Cross during the LDF.

Will Sorrell, Event Director of designjunction added, “Following the success of the King’s Cross Creative Quarter during last year’s show, we’re thrilled that the celebration returns this September, bringing together visitors from all over the globe.

With the plethora of inspiring design, architecture, culinary delights and retail hot spots that are on offer it’s a great location to be, and even better that it’s all situated within just a one-mile radius of King’s Cross.”

KXCQ offers something for everyone from design enthusiasts to those on a family day out, with a host of special events for visitors to enjoy. Taking place over four days in tandem with designjunction, the KXCQ is supported by King’s Cross Development and the Wellcome Collection plus headline media partner

Green-fingered apprentices from Sandwell are celebrating after being rewarded for their achievements by their horticultural college.

Apprentices working towards their Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications with Sandwell Council were welcomed to South Staffordshire College’s new AgriSTEM Academy at the Rodbaston College in Penkridge to celebrate their progress.

They included Kayleigh Hartwell aged 20 from Tipton who was awarded the British Association of Landscape Industries' (BALI) Best Student 2017 award for her hard work, commitment and talent. She works with a gardening gang in the council's neighbourhoods team.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Simon Hackett said: “It’s great to see these young people working so hard to achieve their qualifications.

“An apprenticeship is a great step onto the career ladder and at the council we’re doing all we can to support people to gain qualifications and experience that can learn to a great career.”

The apprentices, who all work at the council's cemeteries or in grounds maintenance, were presented with certificates of achievement by the college’s chief executive principal Graham Morley. He congratulated them on their achievements and told them how he too began his career as an apprentice.

Graham said: “All of these apprentices should be extremely proud of themselves. What they do makes a real difference to the vibrancy and prosperity of Sandwell, the contribution each of them makes to their local area should not be underestimated.

“We’re delighted to have welcomed the learners here today and to have played a part in their success. We wish them all the very best for their future.”

South Staffordshire College’s Head of Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement John Renshaw added “What a fantastic achievement for Kayleigh and indeed, for all of the apprentices who are here today to celebrate their hard work.

"I’d like to congratulate all of the learners again and thank all of the staff from both Sandwell Council and South Staffordshire College who have supported them during the course of their apprenticeships.

“We have worked in partnership with Sandwell Council for many years and are delighted that our relationship continues to go from strength to strength. It’s an absolute pleasure to work alongside such a fantastic group of people and play a part in shaping the future of their apprentices.”

Sandwell Visually Impaired (SVI) officially opened its new offices at West Bromwich Town Hall with a special launch event.

Visually impaired people and their families and friends joined the celebration, which was also attended by local organisations, West Midlands MEP Sion Simon and Councillor Ann Shackleton, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for social care.

The new offices, off Lodge Road, provide a central location for SVI, helping the voluntary organisation to extend what it does for blind and visually impaired people.

From supporting people to use the gym at Portway Lifestyle Centre and swim at West Bromwich Leisure Centre, to holding a group for over-50s and a young people’s programme, SVI offers a wide range of services and support. SVI also sends out the free weekly Sandwell Talking Newspaper.

SVI chair Tony Averis said: “It was wonderful to officially welcome everyone to our new offices. It was a fun atmosphere, with some great entertainment too. I want to thank everyone who came along, including our speakers Sion Simon and Councillor Shackleton, and Tesco New Square which donated refreshments for the event.

“SVI has plans for the future and we want to do even more. We want to hear from visually impaired people about what services they want, what issues and concerns matter to them and how we can help.”

Councillor Shackleton said: “It was an honour to attend the event and welcome so many independent and positive users of SVI supported by many carers and volunteers, including the well-behaved guide dogs.

“From my tour of the new base I realised that the service would now be able to operate from a well-positioned central venue in the town hall with up-to-date equipment in light, airy accommodation with user-friendly facilities including signs and an entrance keypad in Braille.

“It shows that here in Sandwell we care and continue to ensure that people with a disability receive the support and guidance they need.”

Go to to learn more about the services and support SVI can offer to people living with sight loss and their families. Or call the office on 0121 525 4810.

Two of Birmingham’s most iconic statues - Boulton, Watt and Murdoch and Iron: Man - will be temporarily removed from their familiar sites, to allow ongoing transformation of the city centre to progress, in the coming weeks.

Preparations to remove Boulton, Watt and Murdoch on Broad Street are expected to begin in late August and Iron: Man is expected to move in early September, as the next phase of regeneration works around Centenary Square and Paradise begins.  Both will return to public view in late 2018.

Birmingham Museums Trust is responsible for both of the public artworks and cares for them on behalf of Birmingham City Council.

The Birmingham Museums’ Collections Care team have overseen the consultation and appointment of Allelys, and conservation specialist Ian Clark Restoration, who will undertake the removal and transportation of these statues.

Experts from Birmingham Museums will be involved throughout the process to ensure the artworks are conserved and stored safely at a secure location.

Rob Lewis, Collections Care Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “The statues are an important part of the city’s collection and we are pleased to oversee the plans to ensure the two artworks are cared for during this process. We look forward to welcoming them back in the future, so the public can enjoy them once more and learn about Birmingham’s industrial heritage.”

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Both of these statues are important to Birmingham and its citizens, which is why we’re putting them into temporary storage with the support of Birmingham Museums Trust.  This will enable regeneration works in Centenary Square, Broad Street and Paradise – and the city centre’s transformation – to progress. I look forward seeing them back on public display next year."

Boulton, Watt and Murdoch is the work of William Bloye, formerly head of sculpture at Birmingham School of Art, and sculptor Raymond Forbes-Kings. Standing on Broad Street it depicts the three pioneering figures of the industrial revolution discussing engine plans. Made of bronze with a gold finish, the larger-than-life size figures stand on a pedestal of Portland stone.

Iron: Man was created by renowned sculptor Antony Gormley and stands prominently in Victoria Square near Pinfold Street. Cast at Firth Rixon Castings in Willenhall, the statue also has links to the city’s industrial heritage as it represents the traditional skills of the people of Birmingham and the Black Country.

Erected in March 1993, the sculpture, which weighs six tonnes, was a gift to the city from the Trustee Savings Bank. It was originally named Untitled, but became known as Iron Man by residents, and so Gormley requested for its name to be formally changed to its current title.

The temporary move has been supported by the sculptor, Antony Gormley.

He said: "Birmingham, the birthplace of the industrial revolution, is made by the extraordinary number of its citizens who were, and continue to be, skilled engineers, foundrymen and ironworkers. Iron: Man was an attempt to ask a material question: what will the womb/crucible of the industrial revolution produce - what kind of collective or individual body? This question is still open and relevant. I am proud that Iron: Man will return to its place in Victoria Square asking questions about the future."

Collections Care experts from Birmingham Museum Trust, which oversees the care of part of the city’s collection of public art, also advise on suitable cleaning methods that will be undertaken by conservation specialists while the statues are in storage.

Both statues will join other works of public art which are already placed in temporary storage while regeneration works continue in some of the city’s public spaces.

Old office chairs are being transformed into hard-shell backpacks and bicycle panniers as part of an innovative new project.

Thomas Howell-Jones, a Product Design student at Birmingham City University in the UK, has created ‘Rest’, a new product which uses the backrests of discarded office chairs to form the durable, waterproof and impact proof bags.

The sustainable solution converts the back of the chairs into a large bag which can be worn or mounted onto a bicycle.

More than 810,000 office chairs go to waste every year in the UK alone and ‘Rest’ was designed in an attempt to slash the number which need to go to refuse tips.

Thomas came up with the idea after collecting discarded office chairs in a bid to find a sustainable use for them.

After dismantling several chairs he found that the backs could be used as a protective container and after experimenting with various other products he successfully converted chairs of different shapes and sizes into uniform bags and bicycle panniers.

Birmingham City University Product Design student, Thomas Howell-Jones said:

Realising that a backpack was possible from office chair waste was the turning point for the project. This allowed me to continue detailed investigation and development showing results seen today.

“Materialising the office chair backrest shell allowed ‘Rest’ to be as functional as possible whilst also supplying an impact resistance and waterproof bag. The process from realisation to outcome was very enjoyable and I now look forward to developing the range.”

Thomas now plans to look at other waste materials which can be transformed into everyday use products, such as bicycle inner tubes.

Birmingham Airport has given support to a local primary school to build a sensory playground area.

The Oval Primary School in Yardley was awarded £3,000 by the Birmingham Airport’s trust fund to build the play area in the school grounds. They worked with adventure playground specialists, All Out Play, to plan and build the new interactive facility which opened in June.

Andy Holding, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Birmingham Airport, said: “The trustees decided to award The Oval Primary School with this funding as we could see that the planned learning environment would greatly benefit the local pupils.

“It gives a ‘hands on’ learning approach that will teach environmental awareness and knowledge of nature whilst protecting local wildlife with features such as a wormery, bug area, pergolas and climbing plants.

“This work is very much in line with our Corporate Responsibility Strategy of developing local communities and promoting health and wellbeing in the area.”

In addition to the wildlife sections the play area also includes a musical area with drums, chimes and xylophones, a story telling corner, a bamboo maze and a water play section, amongst many other features.

Julie Gouldbourn, Strategic Business Manager at The Oval Primary School, said: “The outdoor retreat that has been built with the Airport’s support is of huge benefit to the children and the local community.

“The design of the garden with its mixture of interactive zones combines play with learning. It has also made a huge difference to the local community by greatly improving the outlook of the area for future generations.”

The funding awarded to The Oval Primary School, forms part of the Birmingham Airport Community Trust Fund which awards grants of up to £3,000 to community groups in areas most affected by the Airport’s operations. Each year the airport contributes nearly £80,000 to the Community Trust Fund.

Additionally any charges made to airlines which breach night noise regulations, are added to the fund.

The veteran entertainer who was known for shows such as The Generation Game, The Price is Right and Play Your Cards Right had been unwell for a while.

Starting in showbusiness at only 14, Bruce was said to have died "peacefully at his home surrounded by his wife Wilnelia and all his children" according to a statement from his manager Ian Wilson.

"A couple of weeks ago, a friend visited him and asked him what he had been doing these last 18 months. With a twinkle in his eye, he responded, 'I've been very, very busy... being ill!'" he added.

Sir Bruce's family thanked "the many people who have sent cards and letters to Bruce wishing him well over his long illness", adding there would be no further comment at the moment.

Community projects across Great Britain are being urged to apply for a share of over £4 million of funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Applications are now open and will close on the 28th August.

Both charities and community groups are eligible to apply for the grants of between £500 and £20,000.

The funding will be allocated through one of three Trusts, which support different categories of projects:

·         People’s Postcode Trust seeks applications for projects that focus on the prevention of poverty, promotion of human rights, equal rights and conflict resolution for some of society’s most vulnerable groups.

·         Postcode Local Trust supports wildlife, sustainability, play areas and green spaces.

·         Postcode Community Trust focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.

Over 400 projects were awarded with grants in the last funding round. With previously funded projects ranging from sports clubs, to mental health groups, to wildlife conservation charities, this is a fantastic opportunity for groups to access funding to make a difference in the local community.

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “More than £4 million injected into grass roots projects across Great Britain will have a tremendous impact in local communities. Between the three Trusts, a very wide range of causes are supported, so I’d urge groups to have a look at the websites to see where their project fits – no matter how big or small – and get applying.”

As a charity lottery, a minimum of 30% goes directly to charities. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have raised more than £221.2 million to date for over 3,000 good causes across Great Britain and internationally.

School-friends Greg Yates and Tim Jones have enjoyed a friendship that has spanned the last 40 years. Having acted in hundreds of shows together they have now embarked on a new project; Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s production of Brassed Off as Jim and Harry.

Both Greg and Tim auditioned as part of the community and were given two of the principal roles which they will reprise when the production plays at Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne in September.

Having attended St Thomas Moore school in Willenhall, the friendship was formed through their first love of sport, playing cricket and football together. However, they soon turned to the stage with the school producing four shows a year including pantomime, Shakespeare, musicals and plays. Between them they performed in most of the productions. Greg played iconic roles such as Macbeth and Edmond in King Lear. Although in pantomime he would go to the extreme opposite in the role of the Dame or Silly Billy. Greg’s most memorable part was playing the role of Jesus in Godspell.

Greg first saw the casting call for Brassed Off in the local newspaper and despite what is a very large commitment over the summer he decided to apply for the auditions.

“The main draw for me is that I would like to turn professional again, I’ve just been in a film called Sustain which was crowd funded to enter into film festivals.  I loved being in front of a camera again. With Brassed Off being a professional production it’s a great opportunity to add to my show reel.

I also consider it a massive privilege to be working with esteemed professionals, especially Jeffrey Holland and Director, Gareth Tudor Price. I would also like to say thank you to the Grand for putting trust in the community that are taking part.

On a personal level, it was my father’s favourite film and he passed way in 2012 so I would like to do this for him.”

Tim first performed at The Grand in 1985 for the Bilston Operatic production of Guys and Dolls and since then he has performed in over 40 shows. His most memorable male lead was as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady for South Staffs Musical Theatre Company in both 2001 and 2009.

“Brassed Off is a chance to be involved with something that is home produced on a professional level, which is thrilling.

I have relished the opportunity to work with a recognised director and being involved in the whole process of a professional show from start to finish has been fascinating. This show is very exciting because you have the band and a large community ensemble and it’s great to do it at my home theatre the Grand.”

Pamper your pooch on National Dog Day, which falls on Saturday August 26th, and treat them to a trip to South Sands Hotel!

Salcombe's seaside gem South Sands has always been a luxury dog friendly hotel, situated right on the beach in Salcombe's stunning estuary. The boutique hotel welcomes dogs and humans alike with its classy, understated beachside décor that combines timeless seaside-chic with a modern touch.

Commenting on the hotel's welcoming attitude to dogs, director Stephen Ball says: “We love dogs at South Sands and we're very happy to accommodate them. South Sands beach welcomes dogs from October through to May and our neighbouring North Sands beach all year round. On top of that there are the dramatic coastal paths to explore, allowing your dogs time off the lead to experience our beautiful craggy scenery with freedom.”

For the owners, South Sands offers a fantastic culinary experience too! Head chef Allister Bishop's menus stand apart for their creativity blended with a level of simplicity, encouraged by knowing the lure of fresh beach side produce and divine country living. Wherever possible, Allister uses local ingredients and integrates foraged food into the menu and the food is matched with carefully chosen wines and cocktails.

Bar manager Will Neal also frequently incorporates seasonal, foraged ingredients with locally produced drinks into cocktails and non-alcoholic options. The spectacular curved wall of the restaurant's pristine French windows presents a breath-taking centrepiece to the extraordinary bar and terrace area. The unparalleled views overlook the brilliant blue, green colours of the Salcombe Estuary and end result is a sensational dining experience.

Young people from as far afield as Brazil, China and Australia enjoyed the chance to debate issues in Sandwell Council’s chamber.

A group of 38 young people on a cultural exchange, organised by the Lions Club International Youth Centre, spent an afternoon at the council house and met councillors as well as the mayor, Councillor Ahmadul Haque MBE.

Sandwell Lions Club arranged the visit which also included a trip to the Balajhi Hindu Temple, Sandwell Valley Country Park, and ended with fish and chips and a skittles competition at Thimblemill Library.

Sandwell mayor, Councillor Ahmadul Haque, said: “It was a pleasure to host part of the group’s trip to Sandwell and show them around the council chamber. They enjoyed a lively debating session in the council chamber covering lots of topics including should people who don't vote be fined.”

Sandwell Lions Club president Melissa Murphy said: “It was a great opportunity to welcome our young visitors from all over the world to Sandwell. We think we may have set a record for the number of nationalities in a library at any one time.”