Colors: Blue Color

Shoppers were surprised to see a life size Triceratops roaming Coventry City Centre today. The astonishing 6 foot tall dinosaur, operated by two highly skilled puppeteers, was sighted in the Lower Precinct ahead of the arrival of the fun, interactive show, Dinosaur World at the Belgrade Theatre later this month.

Using incredible puppetry, Dinosaur World brings a range of remarkably life-like dinosaurs to the stage, including every child's favourite flesh-eating giant, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, along with a Giraffatitan, Segnosaurus and baby Triceratops, to name a few!

The live show is followed by a post-show ‘meat and greet’ where audience members have the opportunity to meet the dinosaurs in person.

Visiting the Belgrade’s Main Stage this half-term from Thurs 26 to Sat 28 Oct, Dinosaur World is sure to delight the whole family, whilst also educating young people aged 3+ (and adults) about these incredible creatures from the Mesozoic era.

Dinosaur World is written and directed by Derek Bond (Sweet Charity, Manchester Theatre Awards 2017 winner, Little Shop of Horrors, Manchester Royal Exchange). The creative team includes: Puppet Designer Max Humphries (National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Cirque de Soleil); Puppet Director Laura Cubitt (Running Wild, Chichester Festival Theatre; Don Quixote, RSC; War Horse, NT Berlin); Puppetry Consultant Toby Olié (for the National Theatre: Elephantom, Peter Pan, The Light Princess, Hansel & Gretel, NT: 50 Years on Stage and also the original hind puppeteer of Joey in War Horse); Set & Costume Designer James Perkins; Lighting Designer John Maddox and Sound Designer Tom Mann.

Performed by Danielle Stagg (Miranda), Rosie Nicholls (Puppeteer), Yana Penrose (Puppeteer), James Taylor (Puppeteer), Emma Thornett (Puppeteer), and Rafe Young (Puppeteer). Further casting to be announced.

Three Birmingham based charities have said thank you to local people for helping raise £5 million in vital funds over 20 years.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, Focus Birmingham and Acorns Children’s Hospice have received the impressive amount from the TLC Lottery, an organisation set up jointly by the three charities in 1997.

Players pay £1 per weekly draw and the money raised after running costs and prizes is split between the three charities. Currently over 13,000 players play the lottery across the West Midlands, competing for prizes ranging from £5 to £1,000.

Lynne Carter, Head of Fundraising at Acorns Children’s Hospice, said: “On behalf of the children and families we support and everyone at Acorns I want to say a huge thank you to the loyal players who have contributed to the Lottery over the past 20 years. We rely on fundraising for the £10 million it costs to provide our services every year - so your generosity means we can continue our vital work.”

Hamish Shilliday, head of fundraising at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, said: “The TLC is a fantastic initiative which allows players to have fun whilst raising vital funds for three local charities.

“I would like to thank all the players who have taken part over the past 20 years – with your continued support, we are able to provide expert care to local individuals and families living with terminal illness.

“All of our services – whether they are provided at the Hospice, in people’s homes or in the local community – are free of charge and so we rely on the generosity of local people, like the TLC’s players, to ensure we can continue to provide our care in Birmingham and Sandwell.”

Jasmin Rana, Marketing and Fundraising Manager at Focus Birmingham, said: “The TLC Lottery initiative has allowed Focus Birmingham to provide specialist support and services to people living with sight loss and disability in Birmingham for the past 20 years. We are truly grateful to the contributions made by the players over the years. Thank You.”

Acorns Children’s Hospice provides specialist palliative care for life limited and life threatened children and support for their families.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is an independent charity which provides vital care to individuals and families living with terminal illness across Birmingham and Sandwell. Based in the heart of Selly Park, its services can be provided at the Hospice, in people’s homes and in the local community, making end of life care more accessible to all.

Based in Harborne, Focus Birmingham provides support and training to blind, visually impaired and disabled people of all ages and backgrounds, enabling and empowering people to reach their full potential.

The TLC Lottery is holding a series of celebrations on Friday 20 October to give the owner charities an opportunity to say thank you. The celebrations will also include a one-off £5,000 ‘super draw.’

85 per cent of people surveyed in the West Midlands would be reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest victims, according to latest statistics from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The BHF warns that a lack of public knowledge of CPR could be costing lives as new research from the University of Warwick also finds that those who have been trained in CPR are three times more likely to perform it.

The main reasons for reluctance to step in were fear of causing more harm than good (44 per cent) and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR (34 per cent). But experts warn that the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, as survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until paramedics arrive.

There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK, and devastatingly less than 1 in 10 survive. But according to the BHF, if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.

Every minute without CPR or defibrillation can reduce a person’s chance of surviving a cardiac arrest by around ten per cent.

A survey of people in the West Midlands found:

  • Only 43 per cent would feel confident giving CPR to a stranger
  • By contrast, 62 per cent would offer a stranger a seat on the bus, and 79 per cent would give directions to a stranger
  • Just 15 per cent were able to identify the two signs of a cardiac arrest, which are  when someone is not breathing or not breathing normally, and that they have collapsed and are unresponsive
The worrying figures have been released today on Restart a Heart Day – an annual day to increase awareness of the importance of CPR.

The BHF, Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and all the UK NHS ambulance services along with Fire & Rescue services are working together to train more than 150,000 young people across the UK in the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:

“CPR may be the difference between life and death for hundreds of people every year in the West Midlands who suffer a cardiac arrest. Every second counts, and it simply isn’t enough to hope that someone who knows CPR is present.

“We need everyone in the West Midlands to learn this life-saving skill to give them the confidence to step in and give CPR when someone collapses after a cardiac arrest.

“That’s why we are urging secondary schools across the UK to apply for our free training kits and help create a Nation of Lifesavers.”

To help the BHF create a Nation of Lifesavers, or find out how you can teach CPR in your school, workplace or community group visit

Wolverhampton City Archives will be holding its annual Local History Fair later this month.

Among those taking part will be representatives from the Western Front Association, the Birmingham Canal Navigations Society, Wombourne History Group, Black Country Visual Arts, the Black Country Living Museum and Wednesfield History Society, who will be on hand to talk about their work and research.

There will be screenings of archive film material showing Wolverhampton over the years throughout the day, while a series of activities for younger visitors include the chance to dress up in Victorian costumes, model making and colouring.

There will be a sale of second hand books, and the Friends of Wolverhampton Archives will be holding a raffle and selling cakes and drinks in their pop up tea room to raise funds for Wolverhampton City Archives.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: "The annual Local History Fair is a great chance to discover more about our City's fascinating history and meet with like-minded people and specialist organisations."

The Local History Fair takes place at Wolverhampton City Archives, Molineux Hotel Building, Whitmore Hill, on Saturday 28 October, from 10am-4pm. Entry is £2 for adults, £1 for children.

Wolverhampton City Archives houses a wealth of materials relating to the history of all areas now within the City of Wolverhampton including Bilston, Bushbury, Penn, Tettenhall and Wednesfield.

Constantly growing, the Archives’ vast collections include maps, books, census returns, newspapers, records from local schools, churches, clubs, societies and businesses, electoral registers, and indexes to births, deaths and marriages. There are also over 30,000 photographs, plus films, sound recordings, memorabilia and much more.

The results are in for the Safer 6 campaign’s first week, which had a special focus on Rowley Regis.

The week was packed with events from road safety operations and school parking patrols to shop raids, community clean-ups and crime prevention sessions.

The Mayor of Sandwell Councillor Ahmadul Haque MBE officially launched this year’s Safer 6 campaign at Haden Cross Community Fire Station’s open day. Families flocked to the event, inspecting a fire engine, watching a chip pan fire demonstration, checking out an ambulance, police van and the Youth Bus and getting advice from a wide range of organisations.

A big success was trading standards officers and police seizing more than 150,000 illegal tobacco products along with four suspected bottles of counterfeit vodka with a retail value of more than £15,000. The raids were at four shops in Rowley Regis and West Bromwich. You can read more about this operation here.

The many activities in Rowley Regis during the week (which ran from 23 September to 1 October) included the following:

  • Police and council highways officers targeted irresponsible parking around primary schools across the town and promoted road safety to parents and children at schools and Springfield Children’s Centre. The week saw the launch at Burnt Tree Primary of a new digital road safety website, which is free for all Sandwell schools to use.
  • Police ran a traffic enforcement operation, checking 330 vehicles and dealing with 22 offences. These included drivers using mobile phones, seatbelts not being worn, no MOT, illegal window tints and illegal number plates. Police also seized an off-road bike being driven irresponsibly in Blackheath and seized and towed two untaxed cars.
  • Volunteers from Sandwell Crime Prevention Panel attended the fire station open day and held sessions at Blackheath’s Wilko and Sainsbury’s stores. Together with partners, they handed out 478 ‘no caller at the door’ cards, 224 purse/mobile phone security cords, 257 purse bells and more than 70 security whistles/torches.
  • Fire crews carried out 95 ‘safe and well’ visits, offering advice on everything from vehicle safety and smoke alarms to stopping smoking. They also gave firework and road safety talks to schoolchildren and held a roadside education day with the police and council at Waterfall Lane, advising people on child car seats and the dangers of seatbelts and using mobile phones while driving.
  • A major tidy up was held at Mousesweet Brook Nature Reserve by council neighbourhood services officers, councillors, PCSOs and volunteers as well as offenders doing unpaid Community Payback work. They cut back overgrown trees and bushes to clear paths at the reserve and reveal hidden ornamental sculptures.
  • Trading standards carried out alcohol test purchases at six shops in the area, with half selling to the underage volunteer. The shops have been warned and face action against their licence and/or prosecution if they fail again.

  • The Big Local project, Litterwatch and council neighbourhood officers held a clean-up with volunteers on the Grace Mary and Lion Farm estates, filling six skips.
  • Community Payback cleared overgrown bushes in Perry Park Road and tidied up an area by garages at Falcon Place, while the council’s estate maintenance team cleaned up the grounds of Oakham and Cradley Heath libraries.
  • A surgery was held at St Giles Court with the police, fire service, council and Black Country Women’s Aid giving advice. Police also held a surgery at St Michael’s CE High School and PCSOs chatted to children at junior schools.
Also during the week, council wardens lifted three abandoned and two burnt out vehicles from around Sandwell, and removed four untaxed vehicles, including two from Alma Street, Smethwick, in partnership with the police. The council's enforcement team helped to get fly-tipping cleared from Bearwood Road and is working with landlords and businesses in the area to tackle the problem.

Councillor Susan Eaves, Rowley Regis town lead member, said: "I would like to thank all the organisations, officers and volunteers for an excellent week of activities to help keep our community safe and clean, building on their day-to-day work together. What a fantastic start to this year's Safer 6 campaign."

The Safer 6 campaign runs for six weeks across Sandwell’s six towns, with partner organisations targeting their efforts and providing extra reassurance as the nights draw in. Each of the six towns has a focus week during the campaign.

Debenhams’ new Mander Centre store today (Thursday) opened its doors – providing a further boost to employment in the City of Wolverhampton.

Almost 90 per cent of the flagship store’s workforce are residents in the city – taking up around 130 of the 150 jobs created.

The impressive figures stem from the partnership work led by City of Wolverhampton’s employer engagement team showcasing the vacancies and providing bespoke recruitment support through the Wolves@Work city team.

Alison Young, Debenhams store manager, said: “The council could not have been more helpful.

“We had an incredibly warm welcome when we came to the city and the council has helped answered the smallest query about where is best to park, all the way through to help with filling vacancies.

“They have done a lot of work with Jobcentre Plus and we have taken on some guys through them.

“To finally open the doors and see everyone enjoying the store is the best thing.

“It’s lovely to come to a city where everyone is so knitted together around regeneration – and we are really enjoying being in the city.”

The opening of Debenhams is part of the £35 million refurbishment of the Mander Centre which also saw the arrival of an H&M outlet in November, with further new stores to come.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, added: “The Debenhams figures show just how this type of investment not only regenerates the city – but also impacts on people’s lives by delivering jobs.

“The new Debenhams store is a wonderful addition to the city and is a major boost the retail offer in the city, which should bring in more visitors to further boost the local economy.”

A senior Birmingham academic has a busy month ahead, as he has been invited by two major art institutions to interview two of the world’s most renowned artists – China’s Ai Weiwei and John Akomfrah MBE.

Professor Anthony Downey from Birmingham City University will first be in conversation with the award winning film-maker John Akomfrah on Thursday 12 October at the Barbican Centre, London.

The conversation coincides with the screening of Akomfrah’s most ambitious film to date, ‘Purple’ (2017) which premiered last week at the Barbican. ‘Purple’ is an immersive six-channel video installation that examines global environmental change and degradation through archival footage and newly shot film.

From the hinterlands of Alaska to desolate, icy Arctic Greenland and the volcanic Maquesas Islands in the South Pacific, Akomfrah’s new film prompts the viewer to meditate on the complex relationship between humans and the planet.

Professor Anthony Downey, Birmingham City University, said:

“Over the last three decades, the work of John Akomfrah has consistently rearticulated how the medium of film can effectively explore the immaterial nature of memory, place and identity.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday 25 October, Professor Downey will interview Chinese visual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei in Antwerp. The interview will coincide with Ai Weiwei’s first solo show in Belgium, which will take place at the Fotomuseum provincie Antwerp (FOMU). The exhibition will showcase the Chinese artist’s seminal political statements such as ‘Study of Perspective’ (1995-2011) and his daily stream of selfies and snapshots on social media.

A leading exponent of contemporary art, Ai Weiwei’s work has increasingly become identified with a political turn in visual culture and his work continues to realign the boundaries of what art as a practice can achieve.

Commenting on the artist’s practice, Downey observes how “the critical and institutional momentum surrounding Ai Weiwei’s work, including its circulation and distribution across print and digital media, offers a crucial entry point into how we reconsider the politics of contemporary visual culture today.”

Anthony Downey was appointed to the post of Professor of Visual Culture in North Africa and the Middle East in 2016. The first position of its kind in the UK, Professor Downey is currently establishing a research centre and a postgraduate programme in partnership with organisations across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

As an academic, editor and writer of 20 years, Professor Downey is the founding editor and editor-in-chief of ‘Ibraaz’, a leading online research platform for critical analysis of visual culture in the Middle East, and an editor at ‘Third Text’, the leading international journal dedicated to the critical analysis of contemporary art in the global field.

Downey’s recent publications include ‘Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet: The Works of Hiwa K’ (Walther König Books, 2017), ‘Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East’ (Sternberg Press, 2016) and ‘Art and Politics Now’ (Thames and Hudson, 2014).

The interviews with John Akomfrah and Ai Weiwei will form part of his next book, ‘Zones of Indistinction: Contemporary Art and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ (Sternberg Press, forthcoming, 2018).

Professor Downey is based in Birmingham School of Art, part of Birmingham City University. Purpose-built for the study of art in 1885, the historic School is located in the city centre’s museum and gallery quarter.

Severn Trent has pledged to replace its 2,200 vans, cars and tankers with alternative fuel vehicles as soon as possible as the water and waste water company continues to embrace green energy.

The company is launching the drive to alternative fuels on its light commercial vehicle fleet and its first fully electric vans will hit the roads in November this year.

Severn Trent then plans to convert its entire fleet in the coming years as the right technology comes on stream. Liv Garfield, Chief Executive of Severn Trent, said: “We’re really clear that this is where the future lies for us. Our colleagues clock up a lot of miles every year helping customers and using alternative fuel vehicles will greatly reduce our environmental impact, as well as saving customers money.

“As far as we’re concerned, this is the right thing to do as a company and for the environment, as we move to make our business as sustainable and as efficient as possible in the years ahead.”

Alongside the pledge to use alternative fuel vehicles, Severn Trent is also sector leader in renewable power and is on track to self-generate the equivalent of half of the energy it uses by 2020. The company uses a combination of anaerobic digestion, solar power, small-scale hydro and wind turbines across its estate. “Generating green power is a key priority for us, and we’re looking forward to not only producing power for our treatment works but also for some of our vehicle fleet,” said Liv.

Severn Trent has just completed its second food waste anaerobic digestion facility in Worcester and is currently building another, similar facility in Derby. Both sites take contaminated food waste and turn it into renewable gas which will contribute towards its 2020 target.

The company will be taking delivery of its first batch of four Nissan e-NV200 electric vans in November. The vehicles have a range of 106 miles and charge in just 30 minutes.

The High Commissioner of India to the UK, H.E. Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, paid respects to Guru Granth Sahib Ji at Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham (GNNSJ) as part of the year-long 350th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Patna-born Mr. Sinha, who was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Girija Sinha, and the Consul General of India – Birmingham, Dr. Aman Puri, amongst others, met with Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia, Spiritual Leader of GNNSJ and other dignitaries.

The High Commissioner, who is the son of the former Vice-Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen S.K. Sinha, paid tribute to the historic Kar Sewa projects carried out by GNNSJ in India, including the heritage conservation and beautification of the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Takhat Sri Harmandir Ji, Patna Sahib, and added, “It was a great honour and privilege for my wife and I to pray and pay respects here.”

Bhai Sahib Ji added, “The paramount purpose of celebrating Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s 350th Prakash Ustav is to pay loving tribute to the Saint-Soldier Guru, who not only created the Khalsa fraternity, but also blessed Sikhs with the highest exalted spiritual authority – Guru Granth Sahib Ji.”

The year-long celebrations will culminate on the 25th December, 2017, at the Takhat Sahib in Patna. Dr. Puri is planning a mobile exhibition, in conjunction with GNNSJ, celebrating the life and legacy of the great Guru Ji to launch in Birmingham during November. Dr. Puri had earlier staged a passionate drama production in Birmingham, as part of the 350th Birth Anniversary celebrations, which was supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

The dignitaries later proceeded to ‘Diwali on the Square,’ a celebration hosted by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, before proceeding to the Shree Geeta Bhawan Multi-faith Diwali event. Bandi Chhor Divas, the Sikh celebration of Guru Hargobind Ji’s release and liberation of 52 imprisoned Rajas from Gwalior Fort, is also celebrated at this time.

A Wolverhampton business is being helped with its expansion plans by the council’s business growth team after securing a £1 million contract from the city’s Sunbeam development.

Kalsun Aluminium is supplying the specialist windows, which have a noise-reducing acoustic skin, for the renovation of the landmark building off Penn Road Island.

Wolverhampton-born developer Liam Wordley is in the final few months of a £12.5 million, four-year project to convert the historic Sunbeam factory into a mixture of 117 one to six-bedroom apartments.

Kalsun Aluminium has already manufactured and fitted 493 windows and 13 doors containing 2,672 glass units, with a further 150 windows and 40 doors to be delivered.

The company’s success saw them relocate six months ago, from a 2,500 sq ft premises in Sunbeam Street, Graiseley, to a 10,000 sq ft factory unit in Shaw Road, Blakenhall.

Kuldeep Burmi, Kalsun Aluminium managing director, said: “This is one of our biggest contracts and the help we have had from the council’s business support team has helped us progress.

“They have helped us recruit more staff and put in place the right policies and procedures to enable us to win further contracts – I’m very pleased with the help we have received.”

Liam, aged 38, added: “It’s great to see Kuldeep’s business grow alongside the Sunbeam development.

“He offers a fantastic product and it has been great to see Kalsun Aluminium flourish and grow in stature.

“I’m always keen to support local businesses and this has given the company confidence to look at bigger contracts and shown businesses can trust what they do.

“The response to the Sunbeam development has been amazing. We currently have around 60 occupiers who view it as a vibrant, modern place to live and we hope to complete the final phases over the next few months.”

Forty-two-year-old Kuldeep from Parkfields revealed Kalsun Aluminium is also supplying the glass units for Vauxhall’s London showroom in Romford, and is hoping to capitalise on future contracts associated with HS2.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The Sunbeam project highlights exactly how regeneration in the city is benefiting local people and businesses.

“To see this historic city centre landmark being brought back to life is fantastic and to know it has helped a Wolverhampton company expand and take on more workers is the icing on the cake.

“It is also hugely satisfying to see the excellent business support structure in the Black Country - accessed through the council and a wide-range of partners and programmes such as the AIM programme – is helping.”

The council is providing business support through ERDF-funded programme AIM (Black Country Advice Investment and Markets), helping with growth potential, inward investment, and market development.

AIM pools the resources of the four Black Country local authorities, University of Wolverhampton, and Black Country Chamber of Commerce, to provide specialist consultancy to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) via the Black Country Growth Hub.

Dog owners across the region have been sharing their thoughts on leaving their pet pooch home alone in a survey commissioned by Lintbells.

Over half of those surveyed in the West Midlands typically leave their dog alone during the working day and almost 70% admit to feeling bad about it. To make up for it, over half of the owners surveyed take their dog for an extra-long walk when they get home.

Owners that do leave their dogs at home during the day often leave the radio or TV on for their pets whilst out. 45% admit to feeling as bad, or worse, about leaving their dog home alone compared to their teenage children.

Alethea Maillard, Marketing Manager at Lintbells, producers of the YuCALM supplement proven to keep furry friends happy at home, said: “People say dogs are man’s best friend, and it seems that really is the case.

“No owner wants to leave their dog alone but sometimes it’s unavoidable.  As a result, it seems many are finding different ways to try and make sure their dog doesn’t end up feeling lonely while they are out. It just goes to show how much we love our pets.”

The national study of 2,000 dog owners found that more than a fifth have allowed their dog to sleep next to them in bed to make up for not being around while more than one in ten have even given them a steak dinner. One in ten have also taken time off work or dodged social events to keep their pooch company.

Dog behavioural expert Dr. Emily Blackwell PhD, CCAB, senior lecturer in Companion Animal Welfare, said: “Leaving dogs alone should be a normal experience for both owners and their pets, and shouldn’t be something to worry about. It is vital to introduce this time alone for your dog from a very young age so that it becomes a normal part of life.

“There is a lot of useful advice out there to help owners. Giving dogs a special treat when they are left alone can be a great way of making time alone fun, however if the dog doesn’t eat the treat, it can be a sign that it is anxious. Leaving nice toys and treats can also help owners feel less worried about leaving their pet.”

The Help for Heroes (H4H) Recovery Centre in Colchester recently welcomed a special guest.  Comedian Sean Kelly, star of TV’s Storage Hunters, popped into Chavasse VC House for a tour of the facilities; he even brought his co-stars Green Mile and T-Money.

    Sean, who was in the army himself, is currently on a stand-up tour of the UK. The audience are encouraged to bring in items for auction after the show and all proceeds are being donated to H4H. Sean talked candidly about why he chose to support the charity during his recent visit:

    “I suffered from post-traumatic stress following my service in Iraq during the early nineties but there were no organisations like H4H at the time. My wife helped me as much as she could but I needed so much more help. I felt like I was battling it alone. I would find myself driving along and the next thing I’d be on the side of the road crying my eyes out. I couldn’t remember how I got there. I also had nightmares which tortured me for a long time”.

    Life is very different now though and Sean is determined that nobody else should have to go through that alone. He had some words of encouragement for those who have been wounded, injured or have become sick whilst in service and are struggling:

    “Please just pick up the phone and ask for some help; don’t go it alone. I liken it to combat. You’re not expected to go it alone then. When you’re in a unit everyone has a job and when one goes down others come to their aid. You didn’t go it alone in Iraq or Afghanistan so you shouldn’t be going it alone once home. If you’re feeling down then there are people who will reach out to you. The sooner you do so then the sooner you will recover”.

    Chavasse VC House, inspires, enables and supports those who are wounded, injured or sick while serving our country, encouraging them to lead active, independent and fulfilling lives, while also supporting their loved ones. With an adaptive gym, an award winning reflective garden (Hope on the Horizon), a Support Hub made up of multiple charities and other organisations, psychological well-being suite, en-suite bedrooms, family rooms and a creative studio, the Centre has been specially designed to offer the very best recovery environment.

    Sean said: “The Recovery Centre in Colchester is a fabulous facility. It’s nice to know that for those men and women who come home from combat that there’s a clean, professional and well-staffed facility where they can get the help that they need and deserve. It’s also nice to know that every time we’re on stage entertaining that we’re doing it with a purpose. We’re helping people we may never meet but whom we have a connection to; because we know what they’ve gone though”.

The rest of the tour will take Sean and team to: Crewe, Northampton, Folkestone, Harlow, Leeds, Crawley, Bury-St-Edmunds, Exeter, Yeovil, Truro, Swansea, Brighton, Wolverhampton, Swindon, Aldershot and Birmingham.

85% of vets report that either they or a member of their team have felt intimidated by a client’s language or behaviour, according to statistics revealed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to mark National Work Life Week (2 - 6 October).

Veterinary teams are experiencing a high level of intimidation from clients bringing their animals into practices across the UK, according to the survey of more than 1,600 BVA members. While around half of vets have felt threatened by their clients’ actions or language many vets commented that support staff such as receptionists often bear the brunt of threatening behaviour.

Those vets who work with companion animals or in a mixed practice are particularly likely to have experienced difficult clients with 89% reporting some form of intimidating experience. Younger vets and female vets were significantly more likely to have experienced some form of intimidation.

BVA’s survey revealed that animal owners’ intimidating language and behaviour is often related to the cost of treatment, with 98% of vets saying that at some time they feel under pressure from clients to waive fees or to accept the promise of late payment.

President of the British Veterinary Association, John Fishwick, said:

“It’s concerning to see the figures around challenging client behaviour and fees, especially when vets, vet nurses and other members of the veterinary team are just, like any of us, trying to do their job. Owning an animal is an important responsibility and, with no NHS for animals, the reality is that owning a pet will cost tens of thousands of pounds over its lifetime. In order to help understand costs, it’s important to ensure a two-way vet/client discussion about the treatment options available, and the potential costs involved, so clients can make a decision that is right for them and their pet in collaboration with their vet. When you break down the total costs, vet fees offer value for money, covering not only the healthcare and treatment they provide for animals, but the vet team’s time and expertise, the necessary technology and equipment used, and the overheads of running the practice itself.”

President of the British Veterinary Nursing Association, Sam Morgan, said

“We understand there can be a lot of distress when pets are ill and deciding the best course of action for a loved pet or sick animal can be very difficult. However, this is no excuse to be aggressive or intimidating to a member of the veterinary team. Animal welfare is at the heart of our work and we are always working towards getting the very best possible result for the animal’s health. We hope that by building awareness around intimidating behaviour in National Work Life Week we can start to address this issue.”

A new coffee shop that will work with those affected by drugs and alcohol, mental health issues and homelessness has received a £5,300 funding pledge from Haringey Council.

The team behind the innovative Shine Cafe launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to set up the spot in Turnpike Lane, and needed a final boost to reach their £28,763 target.

The cafe – run by Shine Enterprise Centre – will help train local people experiencing difficulties with drugs, alcohol, homelessness and mental health issues in the art of coffee-making. This will help them to find employment, build skills and confidence, and provide a social hub for the community.

Kevin Farrell, from Shine, said:

Finding employment and developing new skills while you are recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, homeless or struggling with mental health difficulties is particularly difficult. We want to provide the space and support for people facing difficulties to be trained in working in and eventually running a cafe, as well as contributing to the local economy.

Shine have already found their first trainee and plan to host regular courses for future trainees.

The cafe will be operated as a social enterprise, reinvesting profits back into the business and the community and ensuring a sustainable source of training and employment in Haringey.

A range of people pitched in to raise the cash, which included £9,000 from the Greater London Authority. The public helped to get the coffers up to £23,463, and the council added the final £5,300. As the campaign is all-or-nothing, all the funds raised would have been lost if they did not hit the full £28,763 target.

Cllr Joe Goldberg, Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Social Inclusion and Sustainability, said:

Shine Cafe will not only offer a great support for those who need it, but it will also create a brilliant place for residents to enjoy. The skills trainees learn through the project will be invaluable to them and to the borough, and we are delighted to support such a creative idea that will have such a positive impact on Haringey’s communities.

The Shine Enterprise Centre works with people who are recovering from a drug or alcohol problem, supporting them to re-engage with their local community through a range of local initiatives. Its inception was supported by a capital grant from Public Health England. The project is part of HAGA – a local charity that works with and on behalf of people, families and communities affected by alcohol. You can find out more about the Shine Cafe project, to be based at 89-91 Turnpike Ln, London, N8 0DY, here: and more about the work of HAGA here:

A spectacular new Christmas trail at The Birmingham Botanical Gardens will be transforming the gardens into a magical illuminated wonderland when it opens on 29 November 2017.

The jewel-coloured trail will lead visitors through the Gardens, highlighting the rich Victorian history and heritage trees, all with the magical entertainment of the festive season.

The trail weaves across the landscape, telling little stories and encouraging visitors to interact with the seasonal themes. Installations that visitors will experience include illuminated scenes bringing to life The Twelve Days of Christmas; a tunnel of lights; a mistletoe moment, a scented fire garden and much more.

Visitors will also see an incredible Singing Tree. This magnificent coppice tree has five trunks! Using the latest technology this single coppice will appear to magically sing as visitors wander past. Inspiration will also be drawn from other festive pieces including Silent Night, O Holy Night and The Holly and the Ivy.

Leading the creative, design and implementation is Zoe Bottrell, who is responsible for the creative concepts enjoyed at the popular Christmas at Kew, whose trail has had over one million festive visitors!

The much-loved Botanical Gardens, with four Glasshouses, a Victorian park and bandstand, has provided horticultural inspiration for the Creative Designer.

Zoe plans to have every rib of the beautiful aviary aglow with programmable lights, whilst the entire lawn will be washed with fire-like illumination. This installation alone will feature over 60,000 individual lights. It will take the team over five days to rig the lighting using specialist riggers.

She says: “The Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Edgbaston, are an enticing canvas to create a Christmas story, featuring a beautiful aviary, to provide inspiration and illumination opportunities.”

Working in a heritage and botanical landscape creates its own challenges. From the vast amount of infrastructure, to getting hundreds of visitors into gardens whilst keeping them pristine in the midst of winter.

The trail has been specially designed for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

Vet charity PDSA is urging pet owners to take action now to prevent millions of pets suffering from extreme distress and trauma triggered by fireworks.

Research by PDSA has revealed that the owners of a staggering eight million dogs and cats* report that their pets are afraid of fireworks with more than a thousand pets** being seen at its pet hospitals in the last 12 months for fireworks-related issues such as phobias and injuries.

PDSA Senior Vet, Sean Wensley, explained: “The PDSA Animal Wellbeing Report found that around 40% of UK owners of cats and dogs report that their pet is afraid of fireworks, and anyone who has seen their pet go through this misery knows how serious their anxiety and fear of firework sounds can be. Many shake and tremble, are unable to settle, toilet in the house, destroy furniture, and can even cause themselves physical injury if they panic, try to escape or run away.”

To help pet owners reduce their pets’ fears, the charity is urging people to take action early. Thanks to funding from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, PDSA’s expert vets have produced a step-by-step Fireworks Ready guide for owners to help them prepare their pets. Go to

Sean continued: “For young pets, careful management of their first experience of fireworks can prevent these fears from developing in the first place. For older pets who are already suffering, reward-based behaviour techniques can be very effective. Both of these approaches take time and patience, so it’s important to start early; in puppy or kittenhood for young pets, and well before fireworks season for older ones.”

PDSA’s Fireworks Ready action plan takes owners through the process of preparing pets for fireworks season, use of pheromones and sound CDs, how to build a noise-reducing fireworks den for pets, plus a checklist for the day itself.

PDSA hopes to help pets like Zakk, who ended up with severe but unexplained injuries to his legs and paws after he was spooked by fireworks. His owner had let him out into their garden when a neighbour suddenly set off fireworks – Zakk panicked and jumped over the gate. He was eventually found the next day covered in blood caused by nasty cuts to his paws. He was taken to a PDSA Pet Hospital where his wounds were treated, but it took a month for them to heal.

Sean commented: “We don’t know exactly what caused Zakk’s injuries – he could have been hit by a car, or cut himself on something as he panicked. But his story highlights how important it is to be aware of the significance of firework phobia for pets and to know that help is available from your local veterinary practice.”

PDSA’s advice on preparing pets for fireworks

  • If you own a young puppy or kitten who will be having their first experience of fireworks, read up on the process of socialisation. This is when young pets are gradually introduced to various people, objects, sounds and experiences during their first few months, which can significantly reduce the likelihood of fears developing in later life.
  • If you have an older pet who already shows signs of fireworks phobia, using a CD for noise-phobic pets to gradually get them used to the sounds of fireworks may help. Build up the volume and duration very gradually over a period of weeks, and ensure you remain calm and relaxed whenever you play the sounds, so your pet learns there is nothing to be afraid of.
  • Build a ‘fireworks den’ for your pet, somewhere they feel safe. For dogs, this may be behind the sofa or under a table - cover it with blankets and line it with pillows or cushions to absorb some of the noise. Cats often feel safest when high up, so a safely secured, covered cat bed on top of a wardrobe or shelf may be their preferred option. Build it a few weeks ahead of fireworks season, and give your pet healthy treats or praise when they use it so they build a positive association, but don’t force them to use it.
  • Ensure that cats and dogs are microchipped (this is a legal requirement for dogs anyway), so that if they run off in panic, they can be quickly reunited with their owner when found
  • Use pheromones – these are available as diffusers, which release scents which are undetectable to humans, but have a calming, reassuring effect on our pets. They are available for dogs and cats, and should be used for several weeks leading up to fireworks season.
  • For severe phobias, we recommend speaking to your vet, who will be able to discuss various options including referral to an accredited behaviourist.