Colors: Blue Color

People needing help from food banks in Sandwell are benefiting from a Christmas collection organised by council staff.

Crates of donated food are going to West Bromwich Food Bank, with £520 raised in cash donations going to Breaking Bread Food Bank in Wednesbury and The Well Food Bank in Tipton.

The council’s education benefits office has organised a collection for several years on the first floor of Sandwell Council House, Oldbury. This year, the team expanded its collection and received donations from across the Council House as well as council offices at Jack Judge House, Oldbury, and Providence Place, West Bromwich.

Items donated by council staff and their families range from pasta, sauce and tins to Christmas puddings and chocolates.

Local companies Clarke Transport’s head office in Oldbury and FCL Global Forwarding Ltd in Smethwick also supported the initiative.

Councillor Steve Trow, cabinet member for core council services, said: “I want to say a big thank you to the council staff who organised this collection and to everyone who donated items or money. Staff in the education benefits office work day in, day out with families who need help and support, so they really understand how difficult some local families are finding it to make ends meet. Their effort over several years to collect items and raise money makes a real difference to local people.

“We also thank the many fantastic volunteers at food banks in Sandwell who support local families all year round.”

Keith Turner, from Elim West Bromwich Community Church, which runs the West Bromwich Food Bank, said: “We would like to say a big thank you to the education benefits office for organising the food collection this Christmas.

They collected a massive 320 kilos of donations which will make a real difference to residents of West Bromwich and Sandwell who are in crisis, often through no fault of their own. The seasonal donations will also help to make their Christmas a little happier. Thank you again to all who contributed.”

The 29th of December will once again be the best day for Brits to re-sell any Christmas gifts that aren’t right for them and make self-improvement purchases ahead of the new year, according to data* by online marketplace eBay.

Christened ‘Boxing Up Day’, the 29th of December is the day each year when Brits pack up the Christmas gifts that haven’t quite hit the mark and list them for re-sale on eBay.

This modern-day Christmas tradition returns, as data** shows households across the UK are set to receive more than £850million worth of gifts that aren’t right for them. One in five of Brits stated that they would use the money they make from re-selling Christmas gifts to fund their new year goals,  with the average person set to spend £511*** in January on items including new clothes, DIY, hairstyles and fitness equipment.

The biggest motivator for these self-improvement purchase decisions is weight-loss (30%), followed by stress relief (12%) and making new friends (10%).

Between 9pm and 10pm on 29th of December is the best time to re-sell gifts on eBay as the online marketplace sees a peak in searches - one every eight seconds - as a third of Brits admit Christmas fatigue has set in and 81% said they are fully focused on the year ahead by this point in the festive break.

This year the analysts at eBay have trawled through all the data from 2016 to create a list of the best items to re-sell on the 29th of December, based on best sellers from last year between 27th – 30th December, that can support new projects:

  1. DVDs and blu-rays (30,404)
  2. Home Décor e.g lamps, vases and soft furnishings (18,062)
  3. DIY materials e.g. powertools (15,831)
  4. Mobile smart phones (15,312)
  5. Furniture e.g. sofas, coffee tables and chairs (11,250)
  6. Women’s Handbags (9,594)
  7. Appliances e.g. blenders, sandwich makers and electric steamers (9,496)
  8. Women’s Shoes (9,417)
  9. Men’s shoes (6,760)
  10. Women’s fragrances (3,144)

Eight out of ten of us believe that Christmas is the perfect time to declutter, making space by getting rid of stuff they no longer need, with one in three admitting it’s a cathartic exercise that leaves them feeling more positive about the year ahead.

With more than 23million buyers on eBay every month and last year Brits bought more than one million items on the site between 27 – 30 December at a rate of 173 products per minute, or three every second.

Will Weightman, Senior Director, Consumer Selling, eBay UK says, “The period between Christmas and the New Year is an incredibly busy listings period on the site. Normally at this time of year people are looking for ways to make a bit of extra cash and fund the things they want to do in the new year.”

Work is progressing well on Wolverhampton city centre’s new Jaguar Land Rover showroom.

The steel framework for the £14 million development on Penn Road - close to Ring Road St Mark’s – is set to start going up in January.

The Jardine Motors Group dealership is expected to create around 70 jobs and is planned to open in Autumn 2018.

New artist’s impressions show what the finished showroom will look like.

“Nick Morgan, Jardine Motors Group Construction Manager, said: “The development is moving ahead at great speed now.

“The teams at SRA Architects, Speller Metcalfe and City of Wolverhampton Council have worked hard to ensure the success of the project and to enable Jardine Motors Group to deliver the best customer experience possible.”

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, added: “It is great news for the city centre to see this development project moving forward.

“This is a major development in this area – regenerating a redundant site which lies in a prominent position on one of our gateways to the city centre.

“Attracting this type of development shows what an aspirational city we are.

“Jaguar Land Rover is a global leader who chose to build a major production base on the i54 site we developed in collaboration with South Staffordshire Council and Staffordshire County Council.

“Cars that have been part-produced in the city could be sold from the Penn Road site in the future.”

The new dealership will cover four acres and will include a showroom and a service centre.

Aston Villa FC players, including Captain John Terry, stopped by Birmingham Children’s Hospital to help spread festive cheer with young people, staff and families.

Over 20 squad members took time out to spend time on Wards 5, 7, 10 and 15 along with the Oncology Outpatients and Play and Admissions Centre. They signed autographs, posed for photographs and gave out early Christmas presents.

Emma Eardley, Deputy Manager and Senior Play Specialist for Play and Youth Services, said: “It’s always a highlight of the year when we welcome the Aston Villa players into our hospital. It gives our children and families a real lift, especially those who will be spending the Christmas period with us.

“We’d like to thank everyone at the club who helped make the visit happen and also for their support for our Out To Play Appeal. It was fantastic to see the excitement and happiness that came from our young people meeting their football heroes.”

More than one in four teenagers – an estimated 90,000 young people in the West Midlands - say they couldn’t enjoy Christmas without social media according to a new survey carried out for The Children’s Society.

Almost one in three, 106,000, said they thought it was getting harder to enjoy Christmas, while only 1 in 10 felt it was getting easier.

Many young people are left casting envious glances at their peers and people they follow, with 31%, 103,000, saying that social media use at Christmas makes them want more gifts and presents after having compared themselves to others.

One in five children think that friends on social media seem to be having a better Christmas than them.

However, 40 per cent felt that social media made them think more about those who are less fortunate than they are at Christmas time.

The poll of 1,010 13-17-year-olds in England and Wales, conducted by Research Now for The Children’s Society, found nearly a third (32%) increased their use of social media over Christmas, with only 8 per cent saying they spent less time on the online platforms.

Almost half (47%) of all young people said they didn’t spend enough time with friends during the Christmas break, with three quarters (76%) of those who use social media more at this time of year saying they did so to see what their school friends were doing over the holidays. Worryingly 13 per cent said they use social media more at Christmas to help them feel less alone, while 17 per cent do so to escape family stress and 32 per cent do so because they feel bored.

Rob Willoughby, Midlands Area Director at The Children’s Society, said: “Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone, including children. Many miss their friends whilst not at school and social media can represent an important lifeline to the outside world.

“Although social media can have many benefits, we know that overuse can be damaging to young people’s well-being and may harm their mental health.

“That is why parents need to be aware of what children are doing online and more needs to be done to raise awareness about how to minimise risks and help ensure use of social media is as positive an experience as possible.

“It is also absolutely vital that parents talk to their children, support them to see friends and encourage them to stay active.

“By doing so they can help them to overcome the stresses of the season and enjoy the festive spirit.

“There will however be many children this Christmas, with nowhere to turn, and at The Children’s Society we support thousands of these young people.  It is vital that more of them are able to access the support they need all year round.”

The Children’s Society is calling for tougher regulation and decisive action by social media companies to ensure the online world is safer for children and to minimise risks like cyber-bullying and online grooming.

It wants to see clearer child-friendly guidelines, better advice on blocking people and reporting issues, and quicker and more effective responses to reports of inappropriate behaviour and material.

Mr Willoughby added: “The Government must do its bit to make sure this happens, and we would urge it to listen to the voices of young people in developing its proposed Code of Practice for social media companies, which we would like to see in place as soon as possible.”

Over the Christmas period we’re all bound to divulge in a few Christmas movies and holiday specials, however do you know if your friends and family are actually enjoying themselves? A study conducted by & Liverpool John Moores University has identified that people will often say and think one emotion but their body may be reacting in a completely different way.

A group of 21 participants claimed to experience only the slightest increase in happiness (just 13%) when watching a movie, but their bodies showed an increase of ten times that rate. So the question is are these participants aware they’re enjoying the movie and are just too embarrassed to say?

The human body has a number of giveaways to reflect someone’s emotion meaning you’ll be able to tell if they’re lying when they say “I didn’t enjoy that EastEnders special”. AO,com’s new study reveals how to do this.

Zygomaticus Major

This is a muscle that is located slightly above the cheek and is associated with positive emotions; almost like a secret smile. A twitch can indicate someone is enjoying something even if they won’t say they are. This is a great giveaway if someone is watching something they claim to dislike. Keep an eye on your partner, brother or dad when you’re watching Frozen, a twitch of their mouth will tell you that they’re singing “Let It Go!” on the inside.

Corrugator Supercilli

A muscle that sits across your eyebrow, the movement of the Corrugator can indicate when an individual is having a negative experience. The movement of this muscle is a huge red flag when watching most Christmas entertainment, however if you prefer your programming to make you anxious or scared then this is the muscle you should look for. Notoriously scary movies such as Krampus and Gremlins should have your eyes twitching.

Skin Conductance Levels

Skin conductance is essentially how sweaty or clammy an individual becomes during an emotion response. If you are watching Home Alone this Christmas, look out for any signs of anxiety during the scenes with Kevin, Marv and Hank, as this can be a key factor in producing this response. You’ll be able to see just how scared they are for Kevin, no matter how many times they’ve seen it.

A new community centre in Tottenham Hale has just opened featuring the first purpose-built Anglican church in London for 40 years.

At the heart of Hale Village is The Engine Room which will serve the community in a number of ways by offering a community centre, St Francis church, a nursery and a café.

Run by the Diocese of London it aims to be the ‘engine of the community’ and is named after the site on which it is built - a furniture factory, requisitioned during World War Two to build engines for fighter aircraft.

“Our strapline is ‘the community starts here’, said The Engine Room’s operations manager Andrew Johnston. “And we really want to get all sections of the community involved in what we are doing. We already have an incredible diversity of bookings – from children’s birthday parties to Christmas fairs to corporate bookings – and we have three spaces for people to hire at reasonable community rates. We are looking for people to bring in their ideas and their enthusiasm because a place like this really can make a difference.”

Walk into St Francis’ main hall and you are instantly struck by the huge, colourful piece of artwork behind the altar created by acclaimed artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn. Called The Eternal Engine it is the UK’s largest contemporary altarpiece and is open to a variety of interpretations.

“Graeme lived in our community for over a year and we talked about connectedness, which is reflected in this piece, and how connectedness is key for our work here in the community,” said the Revd Andrew Williams, priest at St Francis. “It is hugely exciting to be a part of this and the community is the absolute focus of what we’re about. We also have the lease for 250 years so everyone knows we are here for the long haul.”

Loven bakery is a community focused cafe, bakery and wine shop which runs in collaboration with The Engine Room as part of the new community centre. It hosts events, promotes local businesses and organisations as well as providing appren­ticeship training schemes and affordable, healthy, high-quality food and drink.

For Martina and Andrew Kwapong the opening of the new building is a particular cause of celebration. For the past four years the church community workers have been helping locals from a small flat around the corner.

“We also worked from a shipping container and a park and now we’re here!” said Martina, laughing. “We wanted something different, something where the church and the community really does live side by side, and this is what we have in The Engine Room. The community love this place and people have already made friends through this.”

For more details, or to make a booking, call The Engine Room in Eagle Heights, Hale Village on 020 8808 5490 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. St Francis holds services every Sunday at 11am and on the last Sunday of the month there is a ‘shared lunch’ where members of the congregation can bring food to share.

Eating chocolate for breakfast, Christmas coffee cups and time off work are some of the nation’s favourite things about the festive season, according to a new study by Ladbrokes Casino.

The research, which polled more than 2,000 Brits, looked into our favourite things about Christmas including traditions, food and drink, films and music.

Some of the more unusual Christmas traditions included; one in 20 said ‘an excuse for a kiss under the mistletoe’, 10% voted for ‘post-Christmas dinner naps’ and more than one in 10 felt one of the best things was that ‘it’s the time of year you don’t feel guilty about gaining weight’.

The Christmas football fixtures get the nation excited every year and the poll revealed the biggest hot spots around the UK that are most excited about tuning in to watch the nation’s favourite sport during December.

The cities most dedicated to the Christmas football fixtures:

  1. Cardiff (20%)
  2. Liverpool (20%)
  3. Nottingham (13%)
  4. Leeds (11%)
  5. Birmingham (10%)

When it came to festive food ‘Boxing Day leftovers’ proved to be more popular than a ‘Christmas Eve buffet’ or a ‘Christmas Day breakfast’ (26% vs 17% and 15% respectively).

The study also aimed to rank our favourite Christmas movies, songs and carols:

The Top 5 favourite Christmas movies are:

  1. Home Alone (24%)
  2. It’s a Wonderful Life (21%)
  3. Miracle on 34th Street (18%)
  4. Elf (16%)
  5. The Muppet Christmas Carol (15%)

The nation was more sure of their favourite Christmas song as almost a third (30%) voted for Fairytale of New York by The Pogues overshadowing second and third place, Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade (24%) and Last Christmas by Wham (23%).

Kaidi Kuusk at Ladbrokes Casino said: “The nation has voted on what the best things about Christmas are and the list reveals we look forward to Boxing Day leftovers more than Christmas Eve buffets or Christmas day breakfasts.

“Home Alone’s an all-time classic so it’s no surprise to see it top the list as the nation’s favourite Christmas film. It looks safe to say Cardiffians and Liverpudlians can’t wait to stop watching the likes of Mrs Brown’s Boys and get stuck into the Boxing Day fixture list.

“Whether you agree with our list or not, it’s clear the nation has an opinion on what the best things about Christmas are.”

A delegation from the Chinese government was recently invited by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities to visit Sandwell Valley Crematorium to find out about the UK's approach to burial and cremation.

Sandwell Council cabinet member Councillor David Hosell welcomed the party from the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Rick Powell, secretary and executive officer with the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities, said he was delighted that Sandwell had been willing to host the meeting after he had been asked by the Chinese government to provide a training session.

Delegates wanted to have a better understanding of the UK’s approach to laws and regulations regarding burial and cremation, the structure of UK burial and cremation services, codes of practice and service delivery.

Councillor Hosell said: "It was a pleasure to welcome delegates from China, who were all experienced senior officials.

"Given the extensive breadth of excellent services and facilities provided by our bereavement team, the Federation felt there was no better place than Sandwell for the delegation to visit to see how this should be delivered."

After dinner board games are still as popular as ever, as more than five in six adults will rummage around in cupboards to dust off board games over the Christmas period, according to new research by Coral Casino.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults, conducted by Coral Casino, asked the public to rank a series of board and card games to find the nation’s favourite ‘after Christmas dinner’ game. The research found that across the UK, 84% of adults will sit down to play one with friends and family after their Christmas dinner, with people in Edinburgh the most partial to a game – 91% will be playing a board or card game this Christmas.

The research by the online casino operator found that Monopoly is by far the country’s most popular game, with 31% of the 2,000 adults polled saying it was their favourite. Board games dominated the top ten most popular games, with Cards Against Humanity the only card game to make the cut.

The UK’s top ten favourite after dinner games for UK adults to play this Christmas are:

  1. Monopoly
  2. Trivial Pursuit
  3. Scrabble
  4. Pictionary
  5. Cluedo
  6. Draughts / Checkers
  7. Cards Against Humanity
  8. Chess
  9. Battleship
  10. Yahtzee
Ironically for a more tech-savvy generation, more 18-24-year-olds will play a board game over the festive period (86%) than those from older generations (72%).

Although the popularity of different games remains roughly the same across all ages, with Monopoly always the favourite, almost twice as many young adults prefer Cards Against Humanity as 25-34-year olds do, with almost nobody over 45 choosing it.

Blackjack also appears to be making a resurgence with the younger generation, being more popular with those aged between 18 and 24 than anyone else. Meanwhile Scrabble and Cluedo, typically two of the country’s top choices, lose out among the younger adults.

John Hill, PR Manager at Coral said: “Our research shows that, however popular high tech gifts have become at Christmas, the long standing tradition of sitting down with friends and family to a good board game after their Festive feast is alive and well.”

“It is no surprise to see that Blackjack is becoming more popular with young adults as this is something that we’ve seen with our own games.”


Over the past five years, Romans has supported Alexander Devine, a local children’s hospice, raising over £100,000 through their fundraising efforts.

This year, Romans’ Directors challenged the three teams in their Training Academy to see who can raise the most money for Alexander Devine. Spin Masters Toys kindly donated over 1,000 brand new, packaged toys and on 15th of December the three teams went head to head in Romans’ Reading, Maidenhead and Wokingham branches. A grand total of £5,381 was raised across the three branches, the winners of the event were the Persians who were selling toys from the Maidenhead branch raising £2,500!

Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service was set up by Berkshire parents John and Fiona Devine in memory of their eight year old son Alexander, who died after four years of treatment for a brain tumour, with the aim of building Berkshire's first dedicated hospice for children with life threatening illnesses. The first hospice opened earlier this year in Maidenhead, providing much needed care and support for families around Berkshire.

Fiona Devine thanks the staff from Romans, “A huge thank you from all of us at Alexander Devine to Romans, you have been with us since the inception of our journey and we are phenomenally grateful for the donation we have received from Toy Wars. You have been an integral part in our journey and without you we wouldn’t be in our purpose built hospice today!

The donation of £5,300 from Toy Wars will go towards funding our care team which needs to grow exponentially next year to enable us to open our day care centre in Maidenhead. This donation will go towards the costs of employing more carers and nurses to support 6 children per day to use all our facilities. Thanks again to Romans, please know that you are making such a difference to our local children.”

WaterSafe, the UK body for approved plumbers, is urging homeowners in Gloucestershire to wrap up their homes this Christmas to avoid frozen and burst water pipes putting a damper on festivities.

The national accreditation body, which is backed by water companies including Wessex Water and Severn Trent Water, is supporting the Met Office’s Get Ready for Winter Campaign. The campaign includes advice on keeping homes warm and safe during the festive season and beyond.

Derrick Ryall, Executive Head of Public Weather Services at the Met Office, said: “People in the UK are resilient and severe winter weather is something we’re all used to, so we sometimes underestimate its impact on our everyday lives.

“Our research shows that many people are too relaxed, however, and are confused about what they need to do to prepare. This is why we have created the comprehensive winter checklist, so households can ensure they are fully prepared this winter.”

As temperatures drop below zero degrees, frozen and burst water pipes can cause flooding, damage and leave homes without water. New figures from the Association of British Insurers say claims to repair a burst water pipe can reach £7,500.

Despite this, new Met Office research shows that 75% of people it surveyed are unsure if their pipes are insulated and protected against freezing.

WaterSafe is advising homeowners to check water pipes in draughty areas such as attics and garages and outside taps. If they aren’t wrapped in lagging (a foam material designed to prevent freezing) it’s time to act. Insulating pipes not only protects them from winter weather but keeps the heat in, saving money too.

WaterSafe is also encouraging homeowners to fix leaky taps before temperatures drop, as even a trickle can result in a frozen tap. Dealing with leaks as soon as you discover them is also an important water-saving measure as every drop counts. Fixing a dripping tap could save 5,500 litres of water a year, not to mention £18 off water bills.

Top tips for a winter-ready home include:

  • Make sure you know where your stop tap is and check it’s working.
  • Make sure all pipes in unheated areas and outside taps are insulated.
  • Fix any dripping taps or toilet cisterns – this will also save water.
  • Check your central heating boiler has been serviced.
  • If you’re going away, consider leaving your heating on and set the thermostat to 14°C. Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your property.
  • Keep the name and number of a WaterSafe approved plumber to hand for emergencies.
Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe said: “Knowing where your stop tap is, so you can turn off the water quickly if a pipe freezes or bursts, is essential.

“However, ‘prevention is better than cure’ so following our tips now will help homeowners enjoy peace of mind and a safe festive period during colder weather. If you’re not confident about insulating water pipes or fixing dripping taps yourself, a WaterSafe recognised plumber can help and offer advice.”

Statistics show an estimated 350,000 trees will be bought in the West Midlands this Christmas, yet only 3,500 of those will be recycled. Local charity, Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is challenging residents to help increase that figure by recycling their festive firs in the largest tree collection the city has seen.

Volunteers from the Hospice are expected to collect 3,000 trees from residents’ doorsteps on 13 and 14 January across the city, in return for a donation.

The ‘Treecycling’ scheme will reach out to a range of postcodes across Birmingham and Solihull, where all collected trees will be recycled into compost and biomass fuel.

All funds raised from Treecycling will go towards Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, which provides vital care and support to local families living with terminal illness across Birmingham and Sandwell.

Richard Green, Treecycling volunteer at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “After all the festivities are over, getting rid of the tree can feel like a post-Christmas chore. With Treecycling though, we can save you both time and hassle by picking up the tree right from your doorstep, saving you from getting needles in your car and queuing for the tip.

“Not only is this scheme a fantastic way to be eco-friendly in the New Year but it will also help raise crucial funds for our Hospice. All of our services – whether they are provided at the Hospice, in people’s homes or in the local community – are completely free of charge and so we rely on the generosity of local people to help us provide our vital care to everyone who needs it.”

Treecycling is supported by the civil engineering contractor, Fitzgerald, who has generously provided staff for the collection weekend, vans and financial support since the scheme’s inception.

Nick Coley, managing director at Fitzgerald, said: “We have a long-standing partnership with Birmingham St Mary’s and it’s fantastic to be able to work together on the Treecycling campaign. Our employees always enjoy helping out during the collection weekend and it’s brilliant to know that every penny raised goes directly towards the Hospice. I know our staff are already looking forward to this year’s event and want to make it its biggest collection yet.”

Treecycling is part of the Hospice’s ‘Care at Christmas’ campaign – a festive appeal to boost support for individuals and families living with terminal illness. It will cost £22k to run the Hospice on Christmas Day so every penny raised will ensure that the best hospice care is available to people and their loved ones, wherever and whenever they need it.

The postcodes that Treecycling will be collecting from, are: B13, B14, B15, B17, B26, B27, B28, B29, B30, B31, B32, B38, B90 and B90. To book your collection, head to:

Pouring turkey fat and other festive leftovers down the plughole is a recipe for disaster that could make it a costly Christmas for unsuspecting households.

As millions of people prepare to tuck into their Christmas dinner, the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) is urging everyone to stop and think about what they pour down the sink and not run the risk of a blocked drain or seeing their home flooded with sewage.

Fatty substances put a huge strain on the sewer network and can create giant pipe-blocking ‘fatbergs’ which feast on our festive leftovers, enabling them to grow up to 250 metres long.

Blockages are one of the main reasons the number of properties across England and Wales flooded with sewage increased by almost a third in 2016/17.

Greasy leftovers can also clog up a property’s drains, landing the householder with a callout charge for someone to clear up the mess.

Steve Grebby, CCWater’s sewer expert, said: “We all love a surprise at Christmas but seeing your home flooded with raw sewage isn’t one of them.”

“There are lots of simple ways to safely dispose of leftover fat or grease, including letting these substances cool in a container before scraping them straight into the bin. It might cost you a little more time but it could save you a lot of money.”

Consumers can protect their pipes and drains by keeping a ‘fat trap’ or container in their kitchen to collect leftover fat, gravy and grease before emptying it into the bin.

The water industry currently spends up to £100 million a year clearing blockages caused by inappropriate items being put down the sink, drain and toilet, with customers footing the bill through their sewerage charges.

A squad of singing railway workers today released a rowdy rework of the Christmas classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

‘We Are The Railway Grafters’ was sung, and later tweeted from @NetworkRailBHM, by a choir of Birmingham New Street station staff.

Their re-written lyrics - to the tune that took Gene Autry to the top of the American Billboard chart in 1949 - tell how 32,000 Network Rail workers will be “making the railway better” around the clock across Britain this Christmas.

Patrick Power, Birmingham New Street station manager and a member of the Railway Grafters choir, said: “What we lack in choral talent we more than make up for in soul.”

He added: “This is our way of reminding people that Railway Grafters up and down the land are working hard to make the railway bigger and better for you this Christmas.”

As part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan this Christmas and New Year, Network Rail is carrying out £160 million of investment at 3,100 work sites under 260 individual projects nationwide.

Some of the big railway upgrades taking place are at Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool (Great North Rail Project), Birmingham (West Midlands Resignalling), London Bridge (Thameslink Programme) and London Paddington (Crossrail).

Train customers planning trips over the festive period are advised to plan ahead and check before travelling on Information can also be found on Twitter using the #ChristmasBHworks hash tag.

The Railway Grafters recorded their song in one take and at zero cost on a smart phone at Birmingham New Street station.