Colors: Blue Color

Homework is an instrumental part of the national curriculum for both primary and secondary school children, but how do parents help their children when they come unstuck? And how do they ensure their child’s learning continues when they leave the classroom?

New research by home education provider Oxford Home Schooling reveals that 13% of primary school pupils spend five hours or more on homework a week, compared to 39% of those in secondary school and more than half (55%) of sixth form or college students.

With homework playing such a huge role in a child’s education, Dr Nick Smith, principal at Oxford Home Schooling, shares his top tips on how parents can help children with their homework.

Keep up to date with homework policies

Read the news and keep up to date with school policies and standards. It’s important to know what is expected of children when it comes to homework, so you’re able to help in a productive way. Swot up so you’re not left flustered if your child asks a tricky question.

Create a homework-friendly area

Create a calm and relaxing area that will stimulate a child and heighten their willingness to learn. This might be a private study room in the home, a corner of the bedroom or simply a seat at the kitchen table. Whatever the location, ensure your child feels comfortable working in this area.

Shower children with praise and support

It doesn’t matter whether your child is struggling with a certain subject or exceeding expectations, praising their efforts continuously is really important. These positive words will help to shape their learning and progress.

Set a good example

Read a book in front of your child, as well as carrying out general life admin tasks such as studying bills, and keeping things in order. Children are more likely to follow your lead and advice if they see you setting a good example.


Dallaglio RugbyWorks, the charity founded by former England rugby captain Lawrence Dallaglio, celebrated its 8Rocks fundraising gala dinner on Friday 03rd November. The annual event, now in its ninth year, saw the charity raise £606,000 towards its RugbyWorks initiative, which delivers a long-term intensive skills development programme, based on the values of rugby, to 14-17 year olds outside of mainstream education.

The charity was founded by Dallaglio in 2009. Through various annual events, including 8Rocks and the Dallaglio Cycling Slam, the charity has raised close to £10 million in the last nine years. Now working in Pupil Referral Units across the UK in London, Newcastle, the East Midlands, North West, Bristol and South Wales, RugbyWorks provides teenagers with the support, experience and opportunity to help them into sustained education, employment or training.

The dinner was held at Battersea Evolution and attended by celebrity guests including Dallaglio and his family, Andrew Ridgeley and the cast of Jersey Boys who performed for the guests on the night.

Rachel Roxburgh, CEO, said “We are truly delighted with the generosity shown by our supporters and it was encouraging to see the continued dedication after nine years. I would like to thank everybody who attended 8Rocks. We are proud to have raised such a significant amount towards the programme and we look forward to building on this success in the coming months.”

Lawrence Dallaglio said “Once again, I have been blown away by the fantastic support shown by so many. It’s an amazing achievement to raise such a significant amount of money towards our RugbyWorks programme. It just goes to show how many people are as passionate about what we do as I am.”

A shopping trip with a historic twist and a world premiere of a children's classic are among the compelling reasons to head to Chester and Cheshire at Christmas.

The city's medieval Rows – the world's first shopping arcade – will be the focus of The Rows Revealed, a fascinating 90-minute tour now available to the public. The Guild of Chester Tour Guides will unearth archaeological gems within the double-decker shopping galleries, some only accessible with their help, such as the remains of pillars that were once part of the Roman fortress Deva Victrix, now hidden beneath Pret a Manger. Other sites likely to be on the itinerary include the remains of a Roman hypocaust beneath Spudulike, medieval cellars in Corks Out, and Tudor plasterwork and a priest hole in Sofa Warehouse.

Enid Blyton's 'The Secret Seven' will be live on stage for the very first time this Christmas at Storyhouse, Chester's new integrated arts centre. In this new production of the classic children's tale, the intrepid gang are on the trail of strange clues that will lead them straight to the heart of a mystery they must solve by Christmas.

Floral delights return as the Blenheim Palace Flower Show announces dates for 2018. From Friday 22 June – Sunday 24 June, 2018 the unmissable gardening show returns to the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site.

Now in its 5th year the horticultural show houses over 300 exhibitions located around a Grand Floral Pavilion, which is situated on the South Lawn of the picturesque Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Visitors can expect to enjoy Garden Talks with experts and enthusiasts, fabulous food and drink as well as an outdoor Plant Village and live entertainment throughout the weekend.

Show Director Matthew Upson, Managing Director of Aztec Events, said: “Blenheim Palace Flower Show has really established itself as one of the great summer occasions and there couldn’t be a finer setting for a flower show than the beautiful landscape of Blenheim Palace.”

He continues: “Last year’s event was opened by gardening legend Alan Titchmarsh and previous guests have included Sir Ian McKellen and Mary Berry. The show attracts tens of thousands of visitors of all ages and appealing to both experienced and novice gardeners.”

At the heart of the show will be the 20,000 square foot Grand Floral Pavilion featuring more than 30 floral displays and a large selection of flowers and plants from the UK’s finest plantsmen. Admission to the show includes entry to the Palace, Park and Gardens so visitors can also make a day of it exploring the 10 Formal Gardens and 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland.

With autumn in full flow, City of Wolverhampton Council is in the midst of removing billions of leaves from pavements, streets, parks and open spaces.

Every year the council collects vast amounts of fallen leaves from public land from the thousands of trees which line the city’s highways and green spaces.

Last year the council collected a whopping 420 tonnes – the same weight as 33 double decker buses or 60 African elephants.

While autumn leaves provide an attractive display, if left on the ground they can become a slippery safety hazard when wet and can block drain covers causing flooding.

Keeping on top of the huge accumulations of leaf fall is the job of the council’s City Environment team.

The council keeps records of known hotspot areas which contain the most trees and generate the most customer calls.

The teams work hard to systematically remove leaves and respond to reports of wet leaves causing potential slip hazards.

The City Environment team use a variety of methods to remove the leaves in the most efficient way possible – including the use of machines which suck up the leaves like a very powerful vacuum cleaner.

All leaves collected in the city are sent to a composting plant.

Cllr Steve Evans, City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for city environment, said: “Autumn leaves undoubtedly look beautiful, but when they fall they make this season a hugely busy time for the council’s street cleansing teams.

“The teams clear literally billions of leaves from public land to keep the city looking tidy and preventing slip hazards.

“This is a huge undertaking which our teams carry out systematically and efficiently and we try and get around everywhere as quickly as we can.

“I would urge the public to please ensure you dispose of leaves from your private property by either composting them or taking them to one of the city’s two household waste and recycling sites. Please don’t sweep them onto the street or pavement as this can cause slip hazards and contribute to blocked drains and flooding.”

The awards keep flooding in for Salcombe Distilling Co.  On Thursday evening, surrounded by the pinnacle of the county's food and drink producers, this relative newcomer was awarded 'Best Drinks Product' for its Salcombe Gin 'Start Point' at the Devon Life Food & Drink Awards.

Voted by the public, this tremendous accolade was presented at the prestigious ceremony held at Exeter's Sandy Park to Co-Founder Angus Lugsdin and wife and Marketing Manager Andrea. Commenting on the win, Angus says: “Less than a month ago we were celebrating being named the county's 'Best Producer' at the Food & Drink Devon Awards.  To now have won this hugely competitive accolade, again receiving such high recognition in our home county, is a real honour.”

Fellow Co-Founder and Director, Howard Davies continues: “We'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been so supportive during our first year.  A big thank you too to everyone who has visited our gin school and distillery bar in Salcombe and has sought us out at the various festivals and events we have attended throughout the year. We are incredibly grateful to them and to our ever expanding and hardworking team.”

In addition to these impressive local awards Salcombe Distilling Co. was recently awarded 'Three Stars' at the prestigious Great Taste Awards 2017 for Salcombe Gin 'Start Point'. This innovative drinks' company also achieved international success with Double Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Gold at the World Drinks Awards.

Refreshing, delicious and super-smooth Salcombe Gin is hand distilled in South Devon using only the finest hand sourced ingredients. The zesty blend of grapefruits, lemons and limes is a nod to the famous Salcombe Fruiters, who imported over 80% of the citrus fruits to England during the 19th century. Harbouring distinct notes of ruby red grapefruit, along with the heady, earthy pine notes of the finest Macedonia juniper, Salcombe Gin is the perfect balance of aromas and flavours with an amazing lingering finish.

Salcombe Gin 'Start Point' 44% 70cl bottle (£37.50) is available to buy nationwide from independent retailers, farm shops, delicatessens, directly at the distillery in Salcombe and online from the Salcombe Gin website

The Wolves in Wolves auction at Molineux raised a massive £35,440 for charity.

More than 150 people attended the auction led by Fielding Auctioneers Ltd’s Will Farmer, who is well known for his appearances on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

There was also a swathe of online bids as 15 of the wolves from the biggest ever public art exhibition the city has ever seen went under the hammer in the Hayward Suite.

Garden (artist Claire Rollerson) was the wolf that went for the most money – a staggering £3,200, while the most expensive of the 40 mini-wolves proved to be Ralph (artist Meg Gregory) at £1,000.

The proceeds will be shared between Outside Centre and the Mayor of Wolverhampton, Cllr Elias Mattu’s chosen charities.

The Mayor, Paul Darke of Outside Centre and Wolverhampton BID Director, Cherry Shine, all made speeches and entertainment was provided by Dicky Dodd of Signal 107.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The wolves have really captured people’s imaginations and the whole project has been a howling success.

“The auction was a great event. People were eager to get hold of their favourite wolf and raise money for charity at the same time.

“Wolves in Wolves has showcased the city to visitors and the wolves have helped put the city on the map as a cultural centre.

“It has also been a great way for people of all ages to get active and discover the city and what it has to offer.”

The other wolves auctioned off were Wild, Colour, Love, The Sitting, Sunset, Compton, Kiyiya, Rainbow, Meditation, Endless Opportunities, Dynasty, Sacred Grandfathers, Zeus and Beowulf.

The remaining wolves will either be retained by their sponsors for use in projects, such as Hope at Headstart and Aurora at Talentmatch, both being used for activities with young people.

A handful of the wolves are set to remain on display in the city centre, such as Hunter outside the University School of Art, Old Gold in the Wolves Museum, Thomas at Marston’s House, Support Life at the University of Wolverhampton, Mander at Mander House, Beanstalk at the Grand Theatre, and roaming wolf Claude.

Sandwell Council apprentice Callum Hixon, age 17 has been awarded the very first Darren Cooper Award at the annual Sandwell College Business Awards event.

Callum, a former student at ACE Academy Tipton, started with Sandwell Council a year ago working in the revenues and benefits team. He is also studying towards a Level 2 business administration qualification.

Callum has been singled out by his colleagues as being an outstanding employee. He has learned the skills to do his job very quickly and is always eager to learn more.

Callum was thrilled to win this award and saw off some stiff competition. He said: "I was very surprised to have won this award. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me along the way to help me achieve this. I am very grateful for the opportunities I have been given."

The Darren Cooper Award was set up in memory of the late leader of Sandwell Council who passed away in March 2016.

The award was set up to recognise outstanding apprentices and is judged by Sandwell Council’s apprentices team.

Callum was presented with the award at the Sandwell College Business Awards held at Sandwell College, West Bromwich by Councillor Simon Hackett. He said: “In the short time Callum has been with the council he has shown a real willingness to learn and picked things up quickly.

“I want to congratulate Callum on getting this award and wish him all the best with his qualifications and the rest of his apprenticeship.”

New research by the Spirit of Christmas Fair, the UK’s leading high-end Christmas shopping event, has found that our friends are by far, the most likely to suffer as a result of our “gift envy”. 7 in 10 people in the UK admitted that they have purchased gifts for their friends, only to decide that they would rather keep it themselves. A small percentage (6%) also admitted that they would even steal from their children.

The full list of those we experience gift envy with, who we purchase gifts for but decide to keep for ourselves:

  1. Friends (70%)
  2. Acquaintances (8%)
  3. Parents (7%)
  4. Children (6%)
  5. Colleagues (5%)
  6. Partner (3%)
  7. Parents-in-law (1%)
Almost half (41%) of people admitted that when on a mission to purchase gifts for others, they end up purchasing a gift for themselves too. And when asked about the most important factor when purchasing gifts for others, 61% admitted that the amount we spend is determined by how “nice” they are to us. Other factors included choosing something that was multi-purpose to increase the likelihood they’ll find a good use for it (24%), and something that they could display or show off as a reminder of our generosity (14%).

Most of people also feel that they have great taste when it comes to choosing gifts with 66% stating that they always choose a gift they would like themselves, regardless of whether the recipient would choose it, because “if I like it, they will like it”.

The research has also proved that “retail therapy” is real with 71% of people in the UK admitting that shopping is their most therapeutic experience.

Thi Dinh, Retailer Expert & Show Manager at the Spirit of Christmas Fair says:

Retailers traditionally see significant uplift in the number of people beginning their festive shopping in late October, early November. This prime shopping period is one of the most important times for both high street retailers and independent boutiques as they showcase their big-ticket items among affluent shoppers who tend to begin their festive shopping earlier than most.

However, our new consumer research found that shoppers tend to use this time to their advantage, by literally shopping for themselves. It’s extremely common for shoppers to act on something we call “gift envy” – that is when people cannot bear to part with a gift they have purchased for others, so much so that they decide to keep it for themselves. Many go so far as to keep gifts back from their parents, and even their children.

And it seems that retail therapy really does exist, with a significant majority of people (71%) stating that they find it to be a therapeutic experience. And if during the experience, they manage to pick up a gift for themselves, I’m sure that also plays a role in contributing to the pleasure of shopping.”

Sandwell libraries are running a number of free iPads for Beginners courses.

These are being run in partnership with Sandwell Adult and Family Learning Service and will take place at Central (West Bromwich), Blackheath, Oldbury, Smethwick, Tipton and Wednesbury libraries.

The library will provide the iPad to use during each two-hour lesson, and the full course lasts six weeks. The lessons are for beginners who may have an iPad and don’t know how to get the best out of it, or for anyone who is thinking of using one.

The next courses will begin later this month (November), and new courses will be started throughout this year and next year.

British racing driver Jenson Button swapped the F1 paddock for fried haddock as he took the wheel of Santander’s unique scam-busting Phish & Chips van and served fresh 

fish and chips to the public in exchange for phishing emails and smishing texts. 

As Santander’s brand ambassador, Jenson is throwing his weight behind the bank’s national campaign to help the public avoid being scammed by phishing emails and smishing messages.

Jenson fired up the friers of the Phish & Chips van as it made its appearance in London, following a month-long nationwide tour visiting Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leicester, Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and Bristol.

During the tour, the Phish & Chips van, which accepts payment in the form of phishing emails and smishing texts, has handed out over 3,000 portions of fish and chips to the public, along with a side of advice on avoiding the tricks criminals’ use in their attempts to steal people’s money and identities.

On his honorary new role as a scam fighting, itinerant purveyor of fish and chips Jenson Button said: "Being behind the wheel of the Phish and Chip van around London 

was certainly a different driving experience! It was a lot of fun being part of the tour and serving fish and chips to the public in exchange for their scam emails. It’s been eye opening to see how many people receive these emails every day!”    

The Phish & Chips van was created following research showing how the nation is in the grip of a phishing epidemic, with a staggering three quarters (74 per cent) of Britons targeted by scammers with phishing emails, smishing texts and vishing calls. With each person targeted receiving an average of 16 fraudulent emails, texts or calls last year, this means up to 600 million phishing, smishing and vishing attempts potentially took place in the UK in the last 12 months (the equivalent of over 1.6 million scam messages each day).

While ‘phishing’ as a term may have entered the mainstream lexicon, Santander’s research shows that one in seven people don’t know the terms phishing, smishing or vishing at all, while almost three quarters of people are not fully familiar with their meaning5.

Reza Attar-Zadeh, Head of Customer Experience at Santander UK, commented: “Santander takes the fight against fraud very seriously – we have seen the life changing impact it can have on people’s lives.  Consumer awareness is absolutely key to tackling what is currently one of the biggest threats to the security of people’s finances. 

 “Our Phish & Chips van is a way of delivering our three key fraud prevention messages in an engaging way while educating people that both banks and consumers have a role to play in keeping the fraudsters at bay.”

 In addition to dishing out fish and chips, Santander UK is serving up its top tips and advice on avoiding becoming a victim of phishing scams:

·       Never share your Santander One Time Passcode (OTP), PIN number or online banking password with another person, not even Santander staff;

·       Never download software or let anyone log on to your computer devices remotely during or after a cold call; and 

·       Never enter your online banking details after clicking on a link in an email or text message.

Reza Attar-Zadeh added: “Phishing has been around for a number of years, originating with emails that were unsophisticated and obviously fraudulent. However, today phishing 

emails have evolved. They can appear in inboxes as convincing and genuine communications from consumer brands, but there are signs to look out for such as spelling mistakes, 

generic greetings rather than your name and suspicious looking email addresses.”

City Year UK volunteer Holly O’Shea, from Selly Oak, Birmingham, has been awarded one of the first Domino’s ODEs - Order of the Domino’s Empire - in recognition of her charity work.

Loughborough University student Holly, 20, will now receive free pizza from Domino’s for a year after being nominated for the award by her boyfriend Jonah.

Holly is spending her placement year volunteering full-time with City Year UK at Bristnall Hall Academy in Oldbury, where she serves as a mentor and role model to pupils as part of a team.

As part of Bristnall Hall’s inaugural Lighthouse Team, Holly serves as a peer mentor to the pupils, being a part of their school day from breakfast club to homework club. As well as taking a whole school approach, each member of the team has a focus list of pupils who particularly benefit from extra support, which could be related to attendance, behaviour or curriculum results.

City Year UK is a youth social action charity which believes that through a year of full-time volunteering, 18 to 25-year-olds can make a real difference to the life chances of school pupils from the most disadvantaged communities, whilst gaining valuable leadership experience and boosting their own career prospects.

Holly said: “Winning this award was honestly such an amazing surprise! Helping people already comes with so much satisfaction and to receive this recognition on top of that is really just an incredible extra.”

As well as giving her time to volunteer with City Year, Holly was also the youngest ever athlete to compete in the Dubai Ironman Challenge to raise money for Palestinian refugees and spent a summer teaching children in Uganda how to read and write. Whilst at university at Loughborough she ran campaigns to support the LGBT community.

Each recipient was presented with the pizza-shaped ODE medal and will receive free, freshly made Domino’s pizza for a year. Only a limited number of people are being awarded the honour each year, based on nominations from the public via Domino’s UK Facebook page.


National disabled people’s charity Revitalise has a mystery on its hands…

Revitalise recently launched ‘Wish You Were Here’, a campaign to highlight the importance of holidays, fronted by the charity’s Vice President Dame Judi Dench, shortly to be embroiled in a whodunnit of her own in cinemas as Princess Dragomiroff in ‘Murder on the Orient Express’.

The Wish You Were Here campaign is inviting celebrities to send the charity a doodle or some words about a treasured holiday memory on specially designed postcards.

All the postcards received so far, from celebrities such as Sir Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Christopher Eccleston, Warwick Davis and Zoe Wanamaker CBE, have been signed – with the exception of five (actually, says the charity, one of the five has been signed, it’s just we can’t work out the signature!).

Revitalise is now calling on the celebrities in question to come forward and claim credit for their contributions.

The mystery postcards can be seen on the Revitalise’s website, Supporters are also welcome to offer up their own theories and leads as to the identity of the celebrity contributors, including translating the mystery signature. Revitalise has come up with a special hashtag, #whosedoodle, for this purpose.

The charity devised Wish You Were Here to highlight the importance of holidays, especially for disabled people and carers, who find getting away particularly difficult. The campaign celebrates the sharing of holiday memories, since the opportunity to share one’s stories with others is something we all love about a good holiday.

Revitalise is to hold a special exhibition of the postcards it receives next year. The celebrity contributions will then be auctioned to raise much-needed funds for the charity, so it is important that all the postcards be ascribed to the individuals who drew or wrote them.

Revitalise CEO Chris Simmonds commented:

“Here at Revitalise we love a mystery, and all we know about these unsigned cards is that each one was contributed by a celebrity. So who are the ‘Famous Five’?

“If we can’t put names to the postcards we won’t be able to auction them, so there’s a lot at stake!

“That’s why we’ll be posting the mystery celebrity postcards on our website and social media and urging the mystery celebrities to come forward and claim credit for their handiwork.”

The mystery celebrities are urged to claim their handiwork and send Revitalise a signed picture so that the postcards can be auctioned to raise money for the charity’s vital work. Celebrities can contact Revitalise directly or make themselves known to the charity on social media, using the hashtag #whosedoodle.

The national disability charity, Sense, in partnership with Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), is inviting people with sensory impairments and complex needs living in Birmingham to participate in a major new programme: Sensibility, aimed at making art more accessible to people with sensory impairments by changing the way art is made.

How do you experience art if you don’t know what art is?  Sense’s Sensibility project aims to answer this question by exploring how art is experienced by people with sensory impairments, and using this knowledge to build a new way of making art – which puts sensory experiences at the heart of the process.

The programme is co-directed by Graeae Theatre and Stephanie Singer (BitterSuite). Four artists, Justin Wiggan, Saranjit Birdi, Lyn Cox and Becca Thomas (InterAction), have been commissioned to develop art with people with sensory impairments, and both the process and results of these pioneering collaborations will be shared with the wider arts sector at the inaugural Sensibility Festival in May 2018.

The festival, which will be hosted at Touchbase Pears & MAC Birmingham, will invite audiences and art makers into an experiential world dedicated to exploring, listening to and savouring the details of the bodily experience. It promises to be a combination of commissioned work, guest speakers, artists and a sensory installation co-created by the Sensibility participants.

Stephanie Tyrrell, National Art Manger at Sense, said: “The programme will challenge conventions of established art making methods and provide progressive, socially engaged, experimental art opportunities that nurture and inspire the creative potential of people with sensory impairments and complex needs and the wider artistic community.

We hope that it will enhance creative opportunities for people with complex needs, which will in turn enrich current contemporary art.”

Funded by Arts Council England, the programme has already received attention for two summer events: ‘Descriptive Realities’, a digital installation for the Birmingham Weekender, which invited customers at John Lewis to experience how people with sensory impairments experience the world; and ‘Kinesthesia’, which brought together professional dance artists and participants  to explore dynamic practice for Inclusive Dance 2017.

Sense would like to hear from people with sensory impairments and complex needs who are interested in participating in the project, through exhibitions, workshops and performances.

Nearly one in five adults are unlikely to wear a poppy to mark Remembrance Day this year including nearly one in three under-25s, a nationwide study from independent researchers Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its research found 11% of adults will not wear poppies, while another nine per cent are unsure about supporting the annual Poppy Appeal, which raises around £43 million a year for Service personnel and veterans. Among the under-25s, around 21% will not wear poppies and 11% are unsure.

Their main objection is that they feel bullied into supporting the appeal, but around a fifth of those who object to poppies say they believe the Remembrance symbol glorifies war. One in six oppose current military action by UK armed forces.

The study also highlights ongoing support for the Appeal, which last year aimed to ‘Rethink Remembrance’ in recognition of the sacrifices of a generation of veterans and service personnel. Around 32% of donors plan to give more for the Poppy Appeal this year.

It also underlined acceptance of different views on the Poppy Appeal –  just 29% of adults believe poppies should be compulsory in the run-up to Remembrance Day, which falls on Sunday November 12th this year.

The Poppy Appeal has been the subject of controversy in recent years with a debate raging around wearing white poppies to symbolise pacifism, and criticism of politicians for not wearing poppies.

Consumer Intelligence’s research found one in 12 people (8%) have suffered hostility from others for wearing poppies, or experienced arguments. Around one in 20 parents say they would not encourage children to wear poppies in case they are targeted.

Ian Hughes, Chief Executive of Consumer Intelligence said: “The Poppy Appeal commands widespread support and raises huge sums but not everyone agrees with it or backs it.

“It is interesting however that tolerance of those who oppose poppies is so high with most people accepting it is a matter of personal choice.”

Around three out of four adults say that their workplace or college marks the two-minute silence and even 72% of those who are not at say they expect to mark the two-minute silence.

Malta, an archipelago located in the sunny Mediterranean, has been one of the best kept secrets for a Jewish Heritage Experience. Exploring a Jewish presence that dates back to the Roman Period, over 200 guests attended the American Sephardi Federation and New York Jewish Travel Guide’s special Jewish Heritage Malta program created in partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), Exclusively Malta, and the Corinthia Palace Hotel, held recently at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

The Jewish Heritage Malta evening was opened by Jason Guberman, Executive Director, American Sephardi Federation, who praised Malta’s cultural diversity, including centuries-old Jewish connections still visible at several heritage sites, and noted how some Maltese are discovering Jewish ancestry.

The program included welcome remarks from H.E. Carmelo Inguanez, Malta’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and Joel Levy, Past President and CEO of the Center for Jewish History, who shared his Malta experience from when he lived there as a former Foreign Service Officer at the US Embassy in Malta, at which time he helped the community relocate the synagogue to an historic building.

The featured speaker, Dr. John Baldacchino, Director, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Arts Institute and Professor of Arts Education, a scholar of Mediterranean aesthetics, discussed the history of the Jews in Malta. Jewish roots in Malta date back to the 4th and 5th Century during the Roman period as evidenced by several Jewish Catacombs with drawings depicting the Jewish Menorah (candelabra) that can be found at the St. Paul’s Catacomb site near Rabat. The long Jewish history includes periods of enrichment as well as slavery, depending on who was ruling Malta at the time.

Michelle Buttigieg, MTA Representative North America, then told the audience that the Jewish Heritage Malta program was launched in May, 2016, in recognition of the importance of the Jewish Heritage niche travel market in North America. “MTA invited, with the support of Exclusively Malta and Corinthia Palace Hotel, an American Jewish journalist, Harry Wall, and world-renowned photographer Richard Nowitz, to visit Malta and create a video and story about the Maltese Jewish Experience”, said Ms. Buttigieg, who then shared the video with the audience.

Jason Allan, Managing Director, Exclusively Malta, then presented the Jewish Heritage Experience in Malta program that his company designed. He spoke about today’s Jewish Community in Malta, which although small in numbers (less than 200), is still very vibrant. The majority of the contemporary Maltese Jewish Community originate from Gibraltar, England, North Africa, Portugal, and Turkey during the French and British rule from 1798. During the early 20th century, since the islands did not have a rabbi of their own, rabbis would often be flown in from Sicily to perform religious ceremonies. During World War II, Malta was the only European country that did not require visas for Jews fleeing Nazism and numerous Maltese Jews fought Germany in the British Army during the war.

Exclusively Malta can make arrangements for visitors to meet the local Jewish community and to attend Sabbath and holiday prayers at the Synagogue. Allan noted that two years ago Chabad set-up the first Kosher restaurant in Malta, which is centrally located in St. Julian’s.

Points of special Jewish Heritage interest on Malta include old landmarks and street signs. In the walled city of Mdina, where the Jews made up almost one third of the population, there is a “Jewish Silk Market”; and in Valletta, Malta’s Capital and European Capital of Culture 2018, one can see the old “Jews Sally Port”.

Even the Island of Comino, almost uninhabited today but famous for the Blue Lagoon, has Jewish roots. Comino is where the well-known Sephardi-Jewish mystic and self-proclaimed messiah, Avraham Abulafia, lived from 1285 until his death in the 1290s. During this period, he compiled his Sefer ha Ot (“Book of the Sign”) as well as his last, and perhaps his most intelligible work, the meditation manual Imrei Shefer (“Words of Beauty”).

There are three Jewish cemeteries in Malta which although kept locked, can be visited through prior arrangements with Exclusively Malta. The stories gleaned from the tombstone inscriptions, are a rich narrative which includes Jewish soldiers who fought in WWI and were buried in Malta.

Ms. Buttigieg, commenting on the enthusiastic response to the New York event, said, “The Malta Tourism Authority, together with its partners for the Jewish Heritage Malta Program, Exclusively Malta and Corinthia Palace Hotel, look forward to increasing the number of Jewish tourists by hosting similar events to introduce the Jewish Heritage Malta experience, not just in the US and Canada, but in Israel and other countries as well.”