Colors: Blue Color

During a ceremony held yesterday to mark the first Blue Economy Day at the Seychelles Institute of Teachers Education (SITE), the Chief Executive Officer of the James Michel Foundation, Mr. Jacquelin Dugasse, and the Minister of Environment, Energy & Climate Change, Mr. Didier Dogley, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Cooperation.

The aim of the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation is to ensure harmonization and a holistic approach to the work undertaken by the Government of Seychelles and the James Michel Foundation on the Blue Economy.

Under the MOU, the James Michel Foundation and the Government of Seychelles will pool resources and actions in the following areas:

• Policy compatibility and representation • Joint activities • Exchange of information and experience

“The signing of the MOU establishes the platform for cooperation between the Government of Seychelles and the James Michel Foundation for the promotion of the Blue Economy concept, raise awareness of climate change impacts on Seychelles, advance the cause of small island developing states nationally and internationally,” said Mr. Dugasse.

The ceremony was also organized to celebrate the Youth Ocean Champions. The James Michel Foundation sponsored prizes, which were presented to the children by Mr. Jacquelin Dugasse. The prizes were given for the winners of the national school competition “Blue Economy Career Profile” as well as prizes for Anse Royale primary school and Pointe Larue secondary school for promoting the Blue Economy Concept at community level.

Also present at the ceremony were the Vice President, Mr. Vincent Meriton; Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Mr. Joel Morgan; and Minister for Youth, Sports and Culture, Mrs. Mitcy Larue.

Thirteen Leaders directors braved the heat on Thursday 6th July to walk 10 miles in fancy dress - from their head office in Worthing to Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice near Arundel - to raise money and awareness for the firm’s charity partner, Together for Short Lives.

Superman, Thor, Wonder Woman, a giant strawberry and a man on an ostrich were among the characters who walked for more than four hours in sweltering heat.

The group raised more than £4,000 which will go towards Leaders’ fundraising target of £50,000 to support seriously ill children and their families when they need it most.

Allison Thompson, managing director at Leaders, says: “Since we partnered with Together for Short Lives in 2015 we’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and generosity of our staff, customers and business associates for this fantastic cause. The directors and I wanted to do our own challenge to show our support and contribute to our ambitious fundraising target for the year.

“We are so grateful for all the sponsorship and encouragement we received, and for the warm welcome that greeted us when we arrived at Chestnut Tree House. We were given a tour of the hospice, which is a truly inspirational place and makes such an enormous difference to the children and families they care for.

“This is a cause very close to our hearts and we are delighted that through our partnership with Together for Short Lives we are supporting all our local children’s hospices which do such a fantastic job across the UK.”

Nick Appleby, head of corporate fundraising at Together for Short Lives, says: “We are thrilled with the amount raised by the Leaders directors through their fantastic challenge. The wonderful commitment that Leaders staff show to the charity continues to amaze us!

“The funds raised for Together for Short Lives will help to ensure that children's hospice services can continue to deliver essential 24/7 support for thousands of seriously ill children and their families who rely on their vital care.”

Together for Short Lives supports all 54 children’s hospices across the UK. Leaders named the organisation as its charity partner in 2015 and has raised £95,000 for it since then.

The East-Midlands’ drinkers are curating a collection of increasingly premium drinks at home, with the average household ‘drinks cabinet’ now worth in excess of £200, according to a new nationwide study by premium tonic and mixer specialist Franklin & Sons, and the East-Midlands’ monthly drinks bill tops £100 per household.

Yet it appears we could be spoiling enjoyment of our top tipples with poor choices and habits when it comes to mixing our favourite drinks, with using warm, flat mixers and no ice among the top home drinking sins.

The study of 2,000 householders – commissioned to mark the height of the summer G&T season – found that the average British home now has a selection of spirits worth £63.20, with gin, whisky, vodka and rum at the top of the nation’s list of favourite spirits.

And we are also clearly becoming more discerning, with more than half our spend on spirits now going on premium or craft options costing more than £15 a bottle, while the rest of the nation’s average drinks cabinet is made up from a collection of beers, lagers and ales worth £15.13, cider (£10.66), red wine (£27.06), white wine (£22.88), Champagnes and sparkling wines (£28.68), port (£15.36), sherry (£12.04), and fortified wines (£11.84).

Irrespective of geography, though, Franklin & Sons’ study also found that the current out of home cocktail craze in the nation’s pubs, bars and restaurants has now most definitely found its way into our homes. Three out of 10 respondents said they had recently hosted or attended a cocktail party and seven out of 10 said they regularly mixed cocktails at home, with no fewer than 29 popular creations on the nation’s home drinks menu, including a Dark ‘N’ Stormy (dark rum and ginger beer served over ice and garnished with a slice of lime), a Woo Woo (vodka, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice), and even a Gimlet (gin and lime juice).

World’s Best Spirits drinks consultants Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley – regular contributors to Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch – comment: “It’s clear from Franklin & Sons’ findings that, as a nation, we are becoming increasingly discerning, knowledgeable and adventurous about what we are drinking.

In celebration of the school summer holidays Victorian Arcade in Walsall will be hosting a day of circus entertainment on Saturday 5th August.

Shoppers and their families are invited to join in with a free circus workshop from 11am until 4pm where youngsters can learn how to juggle, spin plates and more with the help of the Arcade’s professional circus performer.

What’s more, the centre will be welcoming an amazing all round entertainer who will be on hand to entertain children and create balloon models for all visitors to the Arcade. A free face painter will also be helping youngsters get into the circus spirit.

Darren Griffiths, Senior Regional Facilities Manager of GBR Phoenix Beard, commented:

“We are thrilled to be hosting a circus extravaganza here at the Arcade. We hope to provide the perfect opportunity to entertain local kids for free. Our event promises to be a unique experience for the whole family to enjoy.”

Qatar Airways celebrated the arrival of its inaugural flight to Alexander The Great Airport, Skopje on 17 July with a press conference and gala dinner at the Marriott Hotel Skopje. The events were hosted by Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Ehab Amin, who welcomed VIP guests including the Republic of Macedonia’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr. Goran Sugareski; TAV Macedonia General Manager, Mr. Alp Er Tunga Ersoy; Macedonian Ambassador to Qatar, Mrs. Vukica Krtolica Popovska, and Qatari Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia, Mr. Hassan Bin Abdullah Zaid Al Mahmoud.

The gala dinner invitees, including Macedonian and Qatari VIPs, honoured guests from the travel industry and media, all enjoyed a dazzling line-up of entertainment and a headline performance by famous Macedonian singer Jana Burceska.

Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Ehab Amin, said at the press conference: “I am delighted to be here today to celebrate the launch of Qatar Airways flights to Skopje, our new gateway into Eastern Europe from our hub, Hamad International Airport in Doha. Qatar Airways is proud to bring the five-star experience to the Macedonian capital, which is so rich in culture and history.”

General Manager of Airport TAV Macedonia, Mr. Alp Er Tunga Ersoy, said: "Doha, known as the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf, will be an exciting travel opportunity for Macedonian citizens, both in terms of leisure and business, but it will also enable Macedonians who live in Australia and New Zeland to visit their motherland. We hope that the Republic of Macedonia, with its natural beauty and cultural-historical heritage, will be an interesting destination for Qatari tourists and business travellers. The presence of Qatar Airways in the Republic of Macedonia as a brand will make Skopje Airport even more attractive as a market, opening new possibilities for its development, while additionally contributing to further traffic growth.”

Qatar Airways is expediting its expansion in Eastern Europe, with service to Prague, Czech Republic and Kyiv, Ukraine set to commence by the end of August. The award-winning airline is committed to bringing more visitors to Eastern Europe by adding a further level of choice for passengers travelling to or from Croatia, Hungary, Azerbaijan, and other Eastern European destinations.

In response to increasing demand, flights to Zagreb increased to a 10-weekly service last year, while Budapest and Baku both increased to a 12-weekly service in June 2017. Inbound tourism to Eastern Europe is expected to grow after the airline’s route launches of Serbia, Armenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria in recent years.

The new route to Skopje will also provide the people of the Republic of Macedonia the opportunity to connect to more than 150 destinations on the airline’s global network via its hub, Hamad International Airport, in Doha.

Qatar Airways will operate the four-times weekly service to Skopje with the award-winning Airbus A320, featuring 12 seats in Business Class and 120 seats in Economy Class. Both Economy and Business Class passengers can enjoy the airline’s relaunched superior entertainment system, offering up to 3,000 entertainment options.

In addition, the commencement of air cargo service to Skopje by Qatar Airways Cargo will promote air trade growth in Republic of Macedonia by connecting the country with its major importers in North East Asia via the airline’s state-of-the-art Doha hub. The cargo carrier’s newly launched Climate Control Centre enhances its seamless cool chain solutions and offers perfect transit services to support the exports of fruits and fresh produce out of Skopje to various destinations across its global network.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, this year celebrates 20 years of Going Places Together with travellers across its more than 150 destinations business and leisure destinations. One of the world’s fast growing airlines will continue to add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network in 2017 and 2018, flying passengers on board its modern fleet of 200 aircraft.

As the summer holidays kick off, parents across the UK are expecting to spend £468 on entertaining their children, according to the Post Office Money annual Parents’ Summer Spending report.

The costs associated with the summer break have decreased by 14 per cent compared with last year – although remain almost a fifth (17 per cent) higher than in 2012, when Post Office Money first conducted the research. With a third (33 per cent) of parents admitting they spent more than expected last summer, the anticipated fall in costs this year may suggest that many plan to keep a closer eye on their spending over the coming weeks.

Summer expenditure year-on-year













With the recent heatwave sweeping the country many parents will already have kicked off their summer spending; 27 per cent of parents spend more as a result of good weather, as they look to make the most of the sunshine.

When it comes to entertaining, two in five (40 per cent) parents expect to spend the most money visiting attractions, while 37 per cent of parents say family meals out will be their biggest cost. Just over a quarter (28 per cent) expect to spend the most money on treats for their children, with 22 per cent stating a holiday abroad will be their biggest expense.

There are also additional costs, aside from entertaining their children, which bump up the overall cost for mum and dads.  Parents expect to spend an average of £43 on other people’s children in addition to their own, as well as expecting to pay £78 on childcare and £97 on fuel – pushing the total potential summer expenditure to £686.

While their children will be excitedly counting down the days until summer, many parents are busy planning how they’ll cover the increased cost of summer, with over half (52 per cent) worried about how they will afford the summer costs – 41 per cent also feel under pressure to compete with other parents’ spending.

Owen Woodley, Managing Director at Post Office Money, said: “There can be many hidden costs over the summer months and while two in five parents we spoke to have the cash to cover these additional costs, many do not. 13% of parents told us they are planning on dipping into their savings, 9% will draw on their credit card and some families are even saying they’re likely to miss bill payments or even take a mortgage holiday to help manage this overspend.

“Planning in advance to find the best ways to cover any shortfall now can help relieve financial pressure and avoid negative financial implications further down the line.”

Some ‘savvy’ parents would even consider making little sacrifices now to help fund this summer’s spend – with 26 per cent saying they would consider sacrificing buying new clothes and 21 per cent prepared to give up going out during the evenings and at weekends. Some parents would also consider sacrificing saving during the summer period (22 per cent).

Owen Woodley continues: “If parents do plan to use credit, they should review their credit services to ensure they have the best value product to suit their needs. Avoid going into an unapproved overdraft to avoid unnecessary fees and penalty charges and review if your credit card offers the most competitive rate of interest. Some credit cards offer 0% interest rates, allowing you to spread the costs over a number of months, without incurring interest on the balance until the interest free period ends. These cards can also provide balance transfer facilities where you can transfer existing credit balances to another card that charges less interest. By using the next couple of weeks to consider the different options available to them, families can help relieve themselves of the worries connected with their upcoming summer spending.”

Helen’s Haberdashery situated within Victorian Arcade in Walsall has announced that series two competitor of the Great British Sewing Bee, Jenny Taylor, will be hosting an exclusive workshop and book signing on Saturday 26th August from 10am until 12:30pm.

In celebration of the launch of Jenny Taylor’s new book, attendees can expect to take part in an exclusive workshop in which Jenny will be on hand to offer expert advice on how to create their very own vintage teacup pin cushion. Visitors will also be given the opportunity to take part in a question and answer session with the star herself regarding her time as presenter on Create and Craft as well as her current positon on Sewing Quarter.

Even better, from 1pm until 4:30pm, Victorian Arcade shoppers are invited to attend a special book signing of Jenny Taylor’s new book titled ‘Girl with a Sewing Machine – The No-Fuss Guide’.

Those wishing to attend the workshop are encouraged to pop in store and register their interest as soon as possible to reserve their space at the workshop as places are expected to book up quickly. All attendees will be required to bring along their own cup or alternately purchase one from Jenny on the day.

Helen Baines, owner of Helen’s Haberdashery, commented:

“We’re delighted that Jenny Taylor will be making an exclusive appearance at Helen’s Haberdashery on Saturday 26th August. It’s set to be a day full of handy hints and tips and a fantastic opportunity for local crafters to meet a sewing star!”

Darren Griffiths, Senior Regional Facilities Manager of GBR Phoenix Beard, commented:

“I hope that many local knitters and sewers take advantage of this wonderful opportunity at Helen’s Haberdashery and I encourage them to sign up as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment. I would also like to remind shoppers that Saturday 26th August will see Victorian Arcade host a very special Jurassic Park themed event from 11am until 4pm and visitors are encouraged to bring along their cameras as the Arcade will be welcoming a very special pre-historic visitor.”

A Birmingham mum whose life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease is supporting a national campaign to extend hospice care to more families.

Fran Tierney, who receives support from John Taylor Hospice in Erdington, is backing the Open Up Hospice Care campaign.

The campaign has been launched this month by Hospice UK with John Taylor as a partner after it emerged that nationally one in four families who could benefit from hospice care are not able to access that support.

Fran’s life changed on 12 May 2011 when she was told she had motor neurone disease (MND). A progressive condition which leads to the muscles gradually weakening, MND has had a massive impact not just on Fran but on all those who love her.

“I was having back pains and had tests at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. I was in complete shock when the consultant gave me the diagnosis as I’d never heard of MND before,” says Fran, aged 49, of Erdington.

“Before John Taylor Hospice became involved I was very scared and felt lost in a bewildering new way of life. I knew nothing about my condition and was too frightened to look on the internet for answers.”

But a few months after her diagnosis, Fran was put in touch with the team at Birmingham’s John Taylor Hospice. From that moment onwards, the hospice and its staff have been her point of access – helping her in every way they can.

“Anything and everything I have needed, from equipment to help me stay safe in my home and medical advice to spiritual and well-being comfort, have been offered by the staff at the hospice,” says Fran who is married to Martin and has three grown-up sons Louis, Daniel and George.

“On a practical level this has been invaluable - knowing I can text or email one team in one location and ask for help or advice without having to contact lots of different services, explaining who I am and what my condition is over and over again, which can be upsetting and annoying.

“The specialist nurse from the hospice has been a constant support for me and my family. She has explained everything for me and I know that I can ask her anything without feeling embarrassed.”

As Fran’s ability to speak lessened, the hospice’s occupational therapy team researched ways to help her continue communicating.

“My occupational therapist arranged for a new communication aid to be delivered for me. This was the latest version of software and camera incorporated in a tablet. She organised the different services (speech and language therapist, software development team and the access to communication and technology team) to come to my home and set me up on what has been an unbelievable piece of equipment. It has not only given me a voice but privacy and dignity, you just can't put a price on that. Thank you doesn't seem enough.”

Fran is also a regular member of John Taylor’s day hospice where she has made firm friends among staff, volunteers and other patients.

“The hospice organises a variety of different groups and organisations to come into the day hospice from theatre groups, musicians and choirs and artists,” she says. “Patients are welcome to participate if they want to. Some days I just want to read my Kindle and I'm able to do this without any fuss being made.

“And the hospice has opened up lots of opportunities for me. I was privileged enough to take part in a film exhibition in which participants were enabled to make their own films about their illness and what it has meant for them.”

Fran is close to all of her family including her three sisters and brother. Knowing John Taylor’s staff are on hand not just for her but also for her family has helped.

“The hospice have given my family piece of mind. They know that when I am at the day hospice I am happy and safe and when I have had a choking episode I have received the best care possible. The staff make time to get to know me and my family, so it is definitely not a one size fits all, it is truly personal.”

And Fran is keen for other families to benefit from hospice care.

“I honestly don't know how I would have managed without the constant care, support and advice I have received from the hospice. Everything I have needed and more has been supplied or obtained by the staff at the hospice. They even gave me tickets to go and see Aston Villa Football Club play at home - and we won!

“People have said that the hospice is like a family but for me, you can't always choose your family but you can choose your friends and that is how I feel about the staff in the hospice. They have seen me at my lowest and most scared and like real friends they have protected my family from this.”

John Taylor Hospice CEO Penny Venables said stories like Fran’s reveal how specialist palliative and end of life care can make all the difference.

“Fran and the many other patients families we support tell us how our expert care helps them with nursing care and pain management, practical help and emotional support.

“But we know there are other families nationally and in Birmingham who could benefit from hospice care who are not currently accessing that help. At John Taylor our vision is a compassionate and dignified death for all and that is why we are partnering Hospice UK for Open Up Hospice Care.”


Tipton Community Funday is back and this year’s 11th annual event is set to be bigger and better than ever.

The event is being held on Sunday 23 July at Victoria Park, Tipton, from 11.30am to 6pm. Entry is free, with small charges for some attractions.

The day will be packed full of activities for all ages including fairground rides, car boots, dancing, a snake man, gatka, karate demonstrations and band music on the stage. Bouncy castles, a climbing wall, cricket tournament, Punch and Judy and a gospel choir are also planned. There will also be health and beauty stalls as well as various cultural and traditional food stalls.

The event has been organised by Bangladeshi Women’s Association (BWA) in partnership with Sandwell Council and supported by many partners including the police, Friends of the Victoria Park and many others.

Pauline Hodgetts, chair of the Friends of the Victoria Park, said: “This is the 11th community fun day and we are delighted that Victoria Park is used to bring so many people and organisations together in making Tipton wonderful place to live. We are expecting this year’s event to be bigger and better than ever!”

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, added: “This is a very popular annual community event with fun for all the family and what a great way to start the summer holidays.”

BWA Limited’s vision is to transform the lives of those who face disadvantage, inequality and deprivation and the team will be on hand throughout the event to talk to residents and visitors about what matters to them and activities and plans for the regeneration of Tipton.

Workers in the West Midlands are being urged to change their lifestyle in a bid to relieve stress in the workplace as job dissatisfaction has slumped to a two year low.

According to a new survey by outdoor holiday experts, Camping in the Forest, more than a quarter (26%) of Brits in the West Midlands are desperately unhappy in their current job. It seems it’s men who are most dissatisfied (29%) compared to a quarter of women (24%).

Research also shows that surrounding yourself with some ‘green’ provides a boost in motivation and also that a glimpse of the colour green can spark creativity. Spending as little as five minutes outside can also reduce stress levels and increase brain activity.

With an average of 92,120 hours over the course of a lifetime being spent at work, it’s essential that workers take action now so they do feel motivated and stop being ground down by the everyday stresses that work causes.

Nature expert and TV personality Chris Packham, who is supporting Camping in the Forest’s campaign to get people into the great outdoors said: “I’m lucky because my job takes me outdoors a lot, so I get to spend time away from the city and experience the fantastic sights and sounds of nature, but it seems so many of us get bogged down in the daily grind of urban life.

“Not only is greenery great to help us unwind, but it’s also beautiful. If we don’t take time to get away from it all, we’re missing the wonderful smells, sounds and sights that surround us in the British countryside. No matter what job you do, I think we’d all enjoy having a bit more of this free-spirited approach to life – so if you do one thing this summer, go outside and explore.”

When asked if they are in the profession they aspired to be in as a child, almost two thirds (64%) of those polled in the West Midlands admitted they are not. When it comes to age those 55+ have strayed furthest from their childhood dream (97%) while almost a third (30%) of the 25 – 34 year old are currently doing their chosen job role.

Experts say there a number of key factors why workers are so unhappy in their job, including being underpaid, having limited career growth and enhancement, job insecurity, lack of interest and poor management.

Bob Hill, sites director from Camping in the Forest, comments: “We spend thousands of hours during our lifetime at work so it’s vital that we are able to enjoy real job satisfaction and feel motivated about what we do. It’s worrying that so many workers across the UK are stressed and unhappy in their job roles.

“The great outdoors is known as a fantastic stress reliever, with camping seen as one of the most relaxing getaways there is. It’s so important to take time away from checking emails, being glued to your laptop and feeling like you’re constantly on-call.

“Taking a camping trip enables you to escape from it all and enjoy the peacefulness and tranquillity of nature at its best. Enjoying a break outdoors allows you to think without a screen full of distractions and hopefully take stock, unwind and return to work with a clear mind and motivation for your future.”

For more information visit

From a Roman distance slab to a medieval football, Antarctic goggles to a dancing fiddle- VisitScotland has today revealed the top 25 objects that have shaped Scotland's history in a stunning new e-book.

The list has been unveiled on International Chess Day (20 July) as a special nod to the most famous chess pieces in history – the Lewis Chessmen  - who feature at number 9 on the date ordered list.

Compiled by an expert panel for the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the 25 objects cover over 5000 years of Scottish history and the length and breadth of the country from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway.

The objects were chosen based on chronological and geographic spread alongside their individual interesting stories. The final 25 were chosen by a panel that included representatives from Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and VisitScotland.

VisitScotland hopes that visitors will go on a trail this summer to discover as many of the objects as possible and in turn discover more about Scotland's fascinating past.

The oldest object in the list is a barbed harpoon point (originally found in the Macarthur Cave, Oban) that dates back to the Middle Stone Age, and is one of the earliest instruments used to hunt and fish in Scotland.

The most modern in the list is Dolly the Sheep - the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell – who is currently housed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and celebrated her 20th anniversary in 2016.

More unusual objects on the list include the Orkney Venus – the earliest known depiction of the female human form - which dates from the Neolithic period and was uncovered at the Links of Noltland on the Orkney island of Westray in 2009.

A violin which ignited Robert Burns' rebellious streak, revealing more about the great Bard's personality is another object that makes the final cut.  The Gregg Violin was owned by Burns' dance teacher, William Gregg. In around 1779, Robert Burns started taking dancing lessons and wrote that he hoped these new skills would 'give my manners a brush', but it was most likely an act of rebellion because his father did not approve of such seemingly sinful behaviour.

Full list of Scotland's History in 25 Objects

  1. Barbed Harpoon Point
  2. The Orkney Venus
  3. Poltalloch Jet Necklace
  4. The Carpow Logboat
  5. Mousa Broch
  6. Roman Distance Slab
  7. Carved Footprint
  8. St. Martin's Cross
  9. The Lewis Chessmen
  10. Stone Effigy at Sweetheart Abbey
  11. Robert the Bruce Equestrian Statue
  12. Honours of Scotland
  13. Oldest Football
  14. Castle of Mey Tapestry
  15. Penicuik Jewels
  16. Bonnie Prince Charlie's Travelling Canteen
  17. The Gregg Violin
  18. Sir Walter Scott's Desk
  19. Mackintosh Trail Music Room
  20. Paisley Shawls
  21. Tom Morris Junior Medal
  22. Dallas Dhu Stencil
  23. Captain Scott's Snow Goggles
  24. Steam Locomotive "Maude"
  25. Dolly the Sheep
Scotland's Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology began on 1 January 2017.  To date, a large number of funded and partnership events have taken place across the country including Scotland in Six and Edinburgh Georgian Shadows.

A Birmingham volunteer has received a prestigious, national accolade to honour 20-years of dedicated voluntary service.

Michael Price, a catering volunteer at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, took home the acclaimed ‘Badge of the Order of Mercy’– a century-old award given by The League of Mercy Foundation.

The former building society manager from Bromsgrove was presented with the distinguished medal after spending two decades in charge of the kitchen trolley, providing individuals on the Hospice’s inpatient unit with meals, drinks and a listening ear.

He was nominated for the award by colleagues at the Hospice – which provides vital care and support to families living with terminal illness – who wanted his exceptional commitment and hard work formally recognised.

The 84-year-old was presented the medal by Lord Lingfield, president of the League of Mercy Foundation, at a ceremony at Mansion House in London earlier this week. It was awarded to just 25 outstanding volunteers across the UK, who have spent at least seven years supporting others in an area of care.

Speaking of his award win, Michael Price said: “All the volunteers at Birmingham St Mary’s do fantastic work so I don’t feel very deserving of this award. However, I am incredibly grateful to have won and have had an excellent day celebrating at Mansion House.

“Volunteering has given me a great sense of purpose – it feels like you’re doing something useful. The Hospice has given so much to the community and so it’s brilliant to be able to support them and give back.”

Tina Swani, CEO of Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, added: “Michael is a perfect gentleman who demonstrates the utmost care and respect for everyone. He is incredibly popular – both with staff and individuals on our inpatient unit – and is an absolute asset to our catering team. His dedication and high-standard of work helps us to continue to deliver the best experience of living to local families using our services.

“The Badge of the Order of Mercy is an outstanding achievement and we’re thrilled that Michael was one of the few to be honoured on the day.”

Lord Lingfield, President of the League of Mercy, said: “Michael has done extraordinary work for those most in need. He is a marvellous example of someone whose longstanding and voluntary dedication to the service and welfare of others is noteworthy and remarkable and we were delighted to be able to make this well deserved award to him.”


Lidl’s new distribution centre in Wednesbury has donated more than two tonnes of compost to Sandwell Council which will be used at local parks and allotments.

Lidl intends to provide compost to Sandwell Council throughout the year to help keep parks and allotments looking attractive and kept well maintained.

Richard Cooper, recycling manager for Lidl's new distribution centre in Wednesbury, said: “Part of my role is to manage the recycling of all store returns.

“This partnership with Sandwell Council will reduce waste at our facility and assist the parks department to improve their green spaces.”

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “It’s brilliant that Lidl has donated this compost. This will help to keep our parks and green spaces looking great all year round.”

Sand le Mere Holiday Village in Withernsea on the Yorkshire coast has become the first holiday park in the UK to launch a sensory playroom for children with autism, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome. Sand le Mere Holiday Village in Withernsea on the Yorkshire coast has become the first holiday park in the UK to launch a sensory playroom for children with autism, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome.

Sonny's Sensory Room is furnished with bright and tactile equipment to provide a stimulating setting in an environment that is safe for youngsters.

The space is equipped with brightly lit bubble tubes, sensory wall art, a star cloth and changing lights, multi-coloured flooring, bean bags, rollers and gym balls.

A second room provides a quiet setting where parents can relax or calm youngsters who become distressed.

The space has been named after Sonny Cooke, whose dad Allan is Complex Manager at Sand le Mere and had the original idea for the project.

Says Allan, "As a parent of a child with autism I see the wonderful benefits a sensory room provides. Going on holiday can be a scary experience for people with autism, ADHD or Asperger's syndrome and the transition from home to a new environment causes lots of anxiety, so having a safe and calming place helps to ease their worries.

“I feel like I've been on an emotional roller coaster during the development but I am very proud of the effort and enthusiasm so many people have put into creating the space.” Sonny's Sensory Room is free-to-use for guests staying at the Yorkshire Coast holiday park and is also available to local charities and groups.

Support for the project has come from suppliers who gave money, equipment and their installation skills, and from Sand le Mere team members who volunteered to renovate the room.

Amby Tatla, General Manager at Sand le Mere says the park is encouraging local groups to use make use of the sensory room: “We are proud to work closely with groups such as Hull Active Day Care, who support young adults with additional needs and visit the park to swim, eat lunch and play sport.

“Having our own dedicated sensory space means that we can provide support to even more people, and we would be delighted to hear from any groups who are interested in finding out more.”

Over the past few years Sand le Mere has invested more than £9 million in new facilities including an indoor swimming pool, entertainment lounge and restaurant for holidaymakers and holiday home owners.

The Library of Birmingham has been included in a set of new Special Stamps issued by Royal Mail that celebrate 10 iconic buildings in the UK.

Designed by Francine Houben, of the Dutch architectural practice Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham has been designed to be a “people’s palace” – a grand structure that celebrates the importance of learning but which also “promotes the informal” and “seduces people into coming in”.

Houben believes that libraries are “the cathedrals of nowadays” and “the most important public buildings”.

The exterior of the ten-storey building is wrapped in broad bands of gold and silver cladding, overlaid with a filigree pattern of interlocking circles in thin sections of aluminium.

Inside, a large cylindrical void rises through the centre, criss-crossed by blue-lit escalators and giving access to many different uses, including adult and children’s libraries, a musical collection, a studio theatre, an exhibition gallery and the Shakespeare Memorial Room, whose ornate timber interior was originally created in 1882 and reinstalled at the top of the new building.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The fact that the Library of Birmingham is included in this series of stamps seals the city’s national and international reputation –  Birmingham is now officially first class!

“The Library of Birmingham has become an iconic part of the city’s skyline and it attracts visitors from around the city, the UK and the world who come to see our Shakespeare collection, beautiful terraces and admire its architecture. I’m thrilled Royal Mail recognise it as a landmark building.”

Francine Houben, Founding Architect of Mecanoo, said: "Our dream was to create a People's Palace: inviting, welcoming, and inspiring for all ages and backgrounds. Where visitors embark on a journey of discovery, moving from one floor to the next through a sequence of rotundas. The repeating circles of the facade create a continuously changing world of light, shadows and reflections inside the building. To have a building on a UK stamp is a great honour for a Dutch architect."

Philip Parker, Stamp Strategy Manager, Royal Mail, said: “These new stamps celebrate visionary buildings which combine stunning architecture with great engineering.”

The images on the stamps capture the distinctive lines and shapes of the structures that have become famous landmarks.

Also featured in the set are: the London Aquatics Centre; the SEC Armadillo, Glasgow; the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh; Giants’ Causeway Visitor Centre, Northern Ireland; the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff; the Eden Project, St Austell; the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool; the IWM North, Manchester and the Blavatnik Building – formerly Switch House, Tate Modern, London.

The past two decades has seen a surge in the construction of new public buildings in the UK.

A great many of these adventurous and innovative structures, serving culture, sport, government and business, have since become popular and integral parts of their local landscapes, often playing a part in regeneration.

Some were initiated by central government, some by civic leaders of major cities, and others were the ideas of passionate individuals.

There has also been a renewal of confidence in British architecture led by world-famous architects including Zaha Hadid, Lord Richard Rogers and Lord Norman Foster, along with a host of other talents.

The countdown is on as nominations open for the fifth annual Haringey Outstanding for All awards.

The awards celebrate the fantastic achievements of the teachers, students, staff and governors whose phenomenal efforts have helped make education in Haringey top class.

Accolades are up for grabs in a range of categories that highlight exceptional achievements in teaching and learning, and this year’s ceremony will see the introduction of an Apprentice of the Year Award.

Cllr Elin Weston, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said:

“With Haringey’s schools continuing to go from strength-to-strength – with all secondary and special schools, and almost 98 percent of primary schools, rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted – this year’s awards will be a great opportunity to celebrate and say thank you to the exceptional people that make education in Haringey amongst the best in the country.

“Every day, school staff across the borough make a huge contribution to children’s learning development, while pupils and students are going above and beyond with exceptional achievements. The Outstanding for All Awards are our opportunity to shine the spotlight on those success stories. If you know of any individuals or schools that deserve recognition, make sure you nominate them for the Outstanding for All awards.”

The twelve categories are:

Support Staff of the Year Award Achievement in Arts Award Achievement in Sport Award Early Years Champion Award Governor of the Year Award Teacher of the Year Award STEM Achievement Award – Primary STEM Achievement Award – Secondary Overcoming Adversity Award Community Hero Award Apprentice of the Year Award The Councillor Egan Achievement Award