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Young Poet Laureate Rebecca Lockwood

THE new young poet laureate for Staffordshire has been announced as 17-year-old Rebecca Lockwood, from Cannock.

Rebecca is the fifth person to hold the prestigious role which promotes a love of poetry and showcases the creative writing skills of young people across the county.

She performed her powerful poems alongside her fellow shortlisted poets, impressing the judges at a special poetry event at Church Lane Evangelical Church in Stafford.

Rebecca, currently a Year 13 pupil at Cannock Chase High School, said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed Young Poet Laureate of Staffordshire for 2017/18. I am especially excited for my year ahead, as I hope to create poetry events specifically for young people throughout Staffordshire where we can openly discuss and relate to each other in a time where things around us can appear daunting.

“I love poetry and also manage a blog dedicated to my poetry rebeccalockwoodblog.wordpress.com which I also hope to share with other young people.”

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member responsible for libraries at Staffordshire County Council who organise the Poets Laureate scheme, said:

“I’m delighted to welcome Rebecca to her new role. Rebecca is our fifth young poet laureate which has become an incredibly popular scheme for our county’s young writers and poets. I know the judges were very impressed with her poetry and we all wish her every success in her forthcoming role.

“I’d also like to thank our outgoing post holder Isobel Horsley who has done a marvellous job over the last year and I offer her our best wishes for the future.”

The judges were Current Staffordshire Poet Laureate Bert Flitcroft, Brenda Read-Brown, co-ordinator of Poetry on Loan for libraries in the West Midlands, Jane Seabourne, poet and partner in Offa’s Press and Lucy Cooksedge, a university student shadowing the judging process.

Bert commented:

“Rebecca’s poetry and her delivery were exceptional and showed great maturity. It’s important we attract young people to Poetry and I’m sure Rebecca will be a great advocate. I think she’s one to watch for the future.”

Rebecca will take up her tenure on National Poetry Day on Thursday 28 September.

school bloom banners

SCHOOLS across the borough have been contributing to the Tamworth in Bloom celebrations by designing their own ‘Mercian 10 – the Heart of England’s Infantry’ themed banners.

Pupils have complemented the work going on in the town over the past few months by entering a school competition. The winning banners were displayed proudly in the town during the ‘in Bloom’ judging day and other events celebrating the Mercian Regiment’s 10th Anniversary.

It has recently been revealed that Tamworth has successfully received a GOLD award for the eighth year in a row in the Heart of England in Bloom competition. The borough’s accolade in the ‘Small City’ category was revealed at a ceremony at Warwick Castle on the evening of September 14, where Tamworth also picked up two additional special awards for the community cabinet.

Birds Bush Primary School, Flaxhill Junior School and Hanbury’s Farm Community School are the winning schools that now have their banners on show at Tamworth Library.

Each school that entered was given a length of calico canvas by the in Bloom committee measuring one metre by five metres in size, to be painted or drawn on with waterproof materials. Pupils could decorate it with images, words, symbols or flowers. Green, red and buff are the regimental colours and their symbol is a crowned double headed eagle; as shown on the Mercian Crest floral display on Moor Street traffic island at the end of Lichfield Street.

The regiment was first formed on 1st September 2007 at Tamworth Castle Grounds in the presence of The Colonel in Chief, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The Mercian Regiment is the Heart of England’s Infantry making them one of the most experienced regiments in the British Army.

Tamworth in Bloom Champion, Cllr Joy Goodall, said: “It is exciting to see schools being involved with the ‘in Bloom’ work and celebrations of the Mercian Regiment.

“Mercian soldiers are renowned for their professionalism and courage, which is another reason for Tamworth to be very proud to display the pupils’ banner tributes. Residents and visitors to the town have been treated with such amazing floral displays and I’m sure will be delighted to view the school banners, on display in the library throughout September and October.”

A spokesperson for Hanbury’s Farm Primary School said: “Children of all ages have really enjoyed coming together as a school to create the banner in order to remember our brave  and  heroic soldiers.”

A spokesperson for Flaxhill School said: “Pupils thoroughly enjoyed completing the project. It was lovely to see how much pride they took in their work as well as the attention to detail they displayed while producing the banners. I know they were really enthused to be able to showcase their talents with the wider community.”

James Hickman touring theatre

THEATRE is continuing on tour in Tamworth, bringing a variety of professional productions to community venues across the borough.

The project – Touring Theatre – has produced a range of high-quality shows that started from April this year. All performances have been staged in familiar but unusual community locations in a bid to increase opportunities for people to experience the arts.

Live & Local – the Midlands’ Rural and Community Touring Network – will continue to work with Tamworth community groups to provide volunteers with the tools they need to bring professional touring theatre companies to the town, including booking, promoting and selling the events.

The programme has proven a great success so far this year and has included five touring productions all performed in venues such as churches, a library and the Castle Grounds bandstand, attracting new audiences. Productions have included storytelling and puppetry of ‘The Fabularium – Reynard the Fox’, a particular hit with children and Mambo Jambo a popular acoustic duo.

Touring Theatre is part of the two-year Arts in Unusual Spaces project funded in partnership with Arts Council England, Tamworth Borough Council and the local community.

It includes a number of exciting initiatives for Tamworth, designed to bring the arts to all corners of the community. More information is available at http://www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk/arts-unusual-spaces.

Details of the next instalment of Touring Theatre is as follows:

Theatre Chipping Norton – Sherlock Holmes and the Crimson Cobbles

Sacred Heart Church (B77 2EA): Tuesday, October 17, 7.30pm

A witty, laugh-a-minute pastiche of Conan Doyle’s great detective sees Holmes stalking Jack the Ripper in the streets of London’s East End. As the evidence builds only one conclusion can be drawn – that the Ripper is actually Sherlock’s trusted partner Dr Watson. But will Holmes believe this shocking revelation? Tickets are priced at £8 adults, £6 concessions and £26 for group of 4 (standard tickets).

James Hickman and Dan Cassidy in Concert

St Francis Church (B79 8JB): Sunday, November 19, 7.30pm

A transatlantic folk and roots duo inspired by the traditions of America and Britain. Dan Cassidy is an exciting and virtuosic fiddler providing the tunes and harmony singing, while James Nathan Hickman brings driving guitar playing and wonderfully unique vocals to their mixture of new and old folk music. A show bursting with humour, heartbreak and excitement. Tickets are priced at £7.50.

Noble Jacks in Concert

St Francis Church (B79 8JB): Thursday, February 8, 7.30pm

This rip-roaring alt-folk band brings warm electro-acoustic interactions to its live shows, fused together with a mixture of lively, folky foot stomping rhythms and engaging lyricism. The band encompasses heartfelt, yet up beat songs, showcasing fiddle, blues harmonica and big anthem songs. Exhilarating and refreshing to hear, this band will be raising the roof in February. Tickets are priced at £7.50.

Tantz in Concert

Sacred Heart Church (B79 8JB): Friday, February 9, 7.30pm

A high spirited and original klezmer dance and gypsy style band. Offering a performance of great global music this remarkable six-piece band will bring joyous jazz infused music with an infectious vibe.  Tickets are priced at £8 adults, £6 concessions and £26 for group of 4 (standard tickets).

Tickets are available via the box office: www.tamworthartsandevents.co.uk. A transaction fee of £1 is payable on all online and telephone bookings. St Francis Church Tickets: 01827 65926, available from St Francis Vicarage, Masefield Drive. Sacred Heart Church Tickets: 01827 709618, available at the Hub in the Castle Grounds.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “The Touring Theatre project is working with groups of volunteers to provide them with the skills and confidence they need to bring touring theatre productions to venues in the community on a regular basis. As well as broadening the use of community venues, this will hopefully make it even easier for people to experience and enjoy theatre and the arts.”

 

 

Tamworth in bloom

TAMWORTH has gold fever following another successful year in the Heart of England in Bloom competition – striking GOLD for the eighth year in a row.

The borough’s accolade in the ‘Small City’ category was revealed at a ceremony at Warwick Castle on the evening of September 14.  Representatives from Tamworth Borough Council’s Assets and Environment team attended the ceremony to collect the awards where Tamworth also picked up two additional special awards for the community cabinet, a complete surprise.

The first was a special award for the grounds maintenance at Cheatle Court sheltered housing scheme in Dosthill, who took part in the sheltered housing gardening competition. The grounds have been completely transformed with new fencing, planters and flower bed areas. This has been a successful make-over and created an amazing space for the residents to enjoy.

The second was the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Greening Grey Britain’ award for the Arts in Unusual Spaces project, which includes a community initiative called ‘Catch Art’, involving local artists and school children in decorating and brightening up a selection of bus shelters across the town.

Catch Art is just one of a number of fantastic projects being delivered by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts and Events team, thanks to lottery funding from Arts Council England, to bring art to new and unusual spaces during the refurbishment of Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

Months of hard work by council staff, community groups, sheltered housing schemes, businesses and green-fingered residents across the borough ensured it was the incredible eighth year for the gold medal by helping to maintain the town’s high standard for fabulous floral displays, impressive community projects and thriving wildlife habitats.

The floral displays in the Castle Grounds

The floral displays in the Castle Grounds

This year’s competition organisers teamed up with the Mercian Regiment to celebrate its 10th anniversary, with the special theme ‘Mercian 10 – the Heart of England’s Infantry’. The theme has been reflected all over Tamworth with beautiful floral displays and the Mercian Regiment crest proudly presented on Moor Street Island.

Judges Nicola Clarke and Roger Tait from Heart of England in Bloom were impressed with what they saw during their tour of Tamworth; they commented: “The high standard of grass cutting and street cleansing, complemented the outstanding work of the Tamworth in Bloom community at projects like Cheatle Court and Belgrave allotments.

“The gardens at Cheatle Court have been transformed with a huge amount of work being carried out by resident Keith Hall. He has reclaimed the area around the side of the scheme into a ‘secret garden’ – complete with bird feeders and post of plants. Other residents at the scheme also contribute to the upkeep of the gardens and the overall standard of maintenance is immaculate. The award given for Grounds Maintenance is something that the residents should be very proud of.

“Partnerships and community spirit continue to thrive in Tamworth, with the spirit of Bloom truly embedded in service delivery.

“Wild about Tamworth also continues to impress at Broad Meadow LNR with the increase in fritillary cover.

 

“The grey and bland corners of Tamworth have been enlivened by the Catch Art project which has seen beautiful images of wildlife painted onto bus shelters, a WW1 mural painted onto the gable end of a pub, a derelict building given a facelift by the probation

team and empty shops having colourful vinyl inserts installed. This project is a true demonstration of bringing art to unusual spaces and rightly deserved the special Greening Grey Britain award.

“Stunning hanging baskets around the town and barrier planters on the bridges to their full effect, displayed an array of wonderful colours, complemented by the Mercian Regiment carpet flower bed on Moor Street roundabout.  The Castle Grounds bedding with the introduction of some perennial planting has certainly contributed to keeping standards high.”

Tamworth in Bloom Champion, Cllr Joy Goodall, said: “Our continued success in this competition is incredible, because staying on top of the game, year after year, means extreme hard work and planning.

“Securing gold again and winning these two special awards really serves to demonstrate the importance of the partnership approach to Tamworth in Bloom. It’s a great team effort across the council, community and business sector and our continued success reflects that.

“The Cheatle Court special grounds maintenance award and the Greening Grey Britain award are a real testament to the creativity and dedication of the sheltered accommodation schemes and members of the Arts and Events team who have worked so hard to develop another great scheme.

“The displays have looked amazing this year thanks to the hard work on the ground by members of the Street Scene team, who work tirelessly all year round to keep the town looking nice with some fantastic floral displays to mark this year’s theme of ‘Mercian 10 – the Heart of England’s Infantry’; but we must also praise the efforts of Tamworth’s growing army of green fingered enthusiasts who are working hard to improve the areas they live in.

 

“A huge well done to all involved and fingers crossed for more success for Wigginton Park when the winners of the Parks and Open Spaces Campaign are revealed on September 21.”

Ankerside Big Toddle 1

THE town’s shopping centre will be showing support for Macmillan next week as Stay & Play returns for free mug decorating.

Ankerside Shopping Centre’s monthly Stay & Play morning will return on Thursday, 28 September, where little ones will have the chance to decorate mugs to take home and donate to the centre’s Macmillan fundraising day on Saturday, 30 September.

Alongside all the drawing fun, children along with mums, dads and grandparents will also be able to enjoy inflatables, a bubble machine and a visit from Ankerside’s colourful monster between 9.30am and 11.30am.

Jeff Wigley, Ankerside Shopping Centre manager, said he is looking forward to starting the fundraising fun early at the centre’s monthly Stay & Play. “The response to our Macmillan fundraising day is fantastic each year, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to create something extra special to mark the annual event.

“Throughout the morning, little ones will be decorating mugs with their very own drawings,” he said. “These will then be donated and sold at our Macmillan fundraiser the following Saturday.

“Thursday is also a chance for children to fill in their learning books that they bring along to each event and it’s a great little memento for parents.

“We hope everyone has a lovely time at our Stay & Play morning next week and we can’t wait to see the children’s fabulous mug creations.”

The Stay & Play fun takes place from 9.30am to 11.30am in Druckers Café on the last Thursday of each month and is free for anyone looking after children to attend with the little ones.

Battle of Britain Parade

VETERAN Airmen from the ‘Old Comrades Associations’ were joined by youth organisations, dignitaries and members of the public yesterday, Sunday 17 September, for the annual Battle of Britain service in Tamworth.

The Service, which took place at St Editha’s Church is to not only remember those from past conflicts but also the service personal that are involved in todays commitments.

The amazing event saw the formation for inspection of various youth organisations, including; 1122 ‘Marmion’ Squadron Air Training Corps; Tamworth Police Cadets; Tamworth Sea Cadets and  Tamworth Scouts, Guides & Kinder Cadets in St Editha’s Square.

Pupils from Tamworth’s Rawlett Academy were also in attendance to show their support to the community and the parade.

Once the formation was complete an inspection was conducted by Air Commodore David McLoughlin OBE from DMS Whittington, along with The Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Chesworth who both arrived to St Editha’s Square to be greeted by Standards, bought to attention by Parade Marshal, Sgt (ATC) Jon Thursfield.

Following the inspection the Standards moved to form up outside St Editha’s Church Doors with the Standards forming a Guard of Honour outside the Church.

A church service was then led by Reverend Vic Van Den Bergh. RFCF, RNR within the church.

It was great to see the event supported by members of the public; Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher; Cllr Danny Cook Leader of Council, Cllr Simon Peaple Leader of Opposition and various other dignitaries.

Start Mart logo

OPENED by Mayor Cllr John Chesworth & Mayoress Mrs Tereasa the inaugural START-Mart or Small Tamworth ARea Traders market got off to a good start.

Paula Burton of “Paula’s Kitchen” who started this initiative said: “START-Marts initiative is to offer small Tamworth based businesses an opportunity to have a regular outlet where they can present their produce and build a strong client base. Helping them to expand their businesses, and hopefully allow them to take the next step in furthering their businesses.”

The START-Mart will open in St Editha’s Church Hall every other week from Saturday from the 16th of September.

Among the varied stalls from high quality had made chocolates to various craft clothing items to a couple of Si-Fi geek stalls Tamworth Informed spotted Chris Pincher MP giving encouragement and support to the stall holder

Entertainment was provided by Teresa Meads singing during day assisred by the local community recording studio Sync Studios

The traders present were:

  • Suzie Q’s
  • Bowbizz by Stephanie
  • Colleens On-line shop/Kleeneze
  • O’Beez Home Sweet Home
  • Naughty but Nice
  • Just For Little’ns
  • Lauren Heaton Accessories
  • Dolly Daydream
  • Geektastic
  • Andrea Mullins Designs
  • Paper Craft Heroes
  • Forever Living
  • Sonia’s Craft
  • Dye Hard
  • Paula’s Kitchen: A Cupcake Witch

START-Mart offers the Tamworth community an exciting and unique shopping experience while helping to support businesses within their own town, and hopefully begin the process of regenerating the town centre.

For further information, contact; Paula’s Kitchen: A Cupcake Witch

PEOPLE from in and around Tamworth are being invited to the town’s shopping centre, as they gear up for the return of its fundraising day in aid of one of the UK’s leading cancer charities.

On Saturday, 30 September, Ankerside Shopping Centre will be teaming up with Macmillan Tamworth and the local fundraising committee to host its sixth annual Macmillan Coffee Day giving shoppers the chance to win fantastic prizes whilst they donate.

Between 11am and 4pm, the shopping centre will play host to everything from a teddy bear tombola and a cake decorating stall to a charity raffle with prizes including a bottle of wine, one month’s free parking and crazy golf vouchers.

Jeff Wigley, Centre Manager at Ankerside Shopping Centre, said he is so pleased to be able to host a full day of charity fun for Macmillan. “The last few years of fundraising for Macmillan have been a huge success with last year bringing our overall total to almost £9,000. This year we’re sure that even more people will be coming along to show their support,” he said.

“Throughout the day, we’re inviting shoppers to stop by the centre and take part in the huge variety of exciting activities,” he said. “Our prize raffle is always popular with shoppers and we have lots of prizes from our retailers and local stakeholders including a bottle of wine from Specsavers, one month’s free parking from the APCOA team running the Ankerside car park, a NAMCO voucher for bowling and crazy golf, a hamper of goodies from Druckers and two tickets to see England play at Wembley.

“Plus, little shoppers will have the chance to enjoy tucking into some candy floss, decorate their very own cake with Greggs and have their faces painted,” Jeff added.

Pauline Lewis, Fundraising Manager for Macmillan, said, “We are absolutely delighted that Ankerside Shopping Centre are supporting Lichfield and Tamworth Committee’s WBCM event again this year,” she said.

“We’re really hoping all the local business and the kind people of Tamworth will enjoy a festival of fundraising to help support people affected by cancer in Staffordshire!

“Thank you to the businesses who have generously donated prizes. We would really love as many shops as possible to collect too with a Macmillan collecting tin in store, or staff could dress up in Macmillan green to highlight their support”

Staffordshire PCC

STAFFORDSHIRE Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis is once again highlighting how work needs to be done to ensure that people suffering from mental ill-health are dealt with and cared for by the most appropriate people.

Mr Ellis first put this issue on the national stage several years ago. Progress has been made since then by Staffordshire Police in reducing the number of times cells are used as a so-called ‘place of safety’ for those in mental health crisis. But Mr Ellis is concerned the issue has just shifted elsewhere in the system and is still having a huge day to day impact on policing.

The Commissioner has called an urgent meeting of health professionals to discuss the matter tomorrow,  Wednesday September 13 at Staffordshire Police Headquarters in Stafford.

He is also doing a fact-finding tour of the County today, visiting mental health services, finding out first hand from professionals and service users what their experience is currently.

Mr Ellis hears from team at mental health facilities at St George's Hospital.

Mr Ellis hears from team at mental health facilities at St George’s Hospital.

This is what Mr Ellis had to say to us about the work so far and what needs to be done:

I must confess that before being elected as Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner it wouldn’t have occurred to me that mental health issues and policing are quite so inextricably linked.

Less still would I have imagined that in the UK, in 2013, society would be routinely placing individuals with mental health issues in police cells when no crime had been committed, simply because there were no appropriate healthcare facilities available.

I admit that is a somewhat simplistic view of an immensely complex subject. After all, if I was walking down the street and saw someone distressed, acting irrationally or potentially putting themselves in harm’s way, I too would call the police in the first instance.

The urgency of that situation probably means they are needed initially but once things are under control the police are not equipped, nor best placed, to take responsibility for that person for any longer than is absolutely necessary. They need healthcare support and too often people can even end up criminalised in the justice system when they shouldn’t be.

In 2014 I kicked off work to understand the scale of the issues police faced. The ‘Staffordshire Report’ provided detailed analysis over an eight week period of all police incidents involving mental health. It illustrated, case by case, the human aspect and the pressures on police officers, often in the middle of the night, dealing with individuals who have some sort of mental health condition.

It found 15% of total police time here was spent dealing with mental health related incidents. Wellbeing of all individuals is paramount to policing but it is not wholly unreasonable to question the thousands of hours of police time spent supporting people in that situation when other services should be.

New thinking, extra investment from my office and renewed effort across all agencies since then means that the number of individuals ending up in custody in those circumstances has reduced by over 80% in Staffordshire. Our work also stimulated other areas to focus on this very human and very practical issue as well as catching Government’s interest, resulting in new laws, joint concordats and national action.

I am the first to praise Staffordshire Police, healthcare professionals and everyone involved in achieving the goal I set which was to substantially reduce the number of people ending up in a cell who shouldn’t be there. In short using police custody as a ‘place of safety’ because no healthcare facilities are available now happens less here, and also across the country.

However, whilst this is genuine progress the situation may not be quite as it seems. The challenge for policing in relation to incidents involving mental health is much wider than simply the custody issue. At the sharp end, officers are still saying with certainty that they spend more time than ever dealing with incidents involving some aspect of mental health. So what is going on?

The lack of consistency locally and nationally around what constitutes a mental health associated police incident is not helpful. Not being clear about the length of time police officers spend dealing with each incident involving mental health may well be masking an even more complex picture.

The evidence suggesting police officers often spend hours waiting in A&E with people in their ‘care’ or comforting individuals in distress, is compelling. Not relying on police cells, as happened historically, is a big and humane step forward but it’s clear that officers are regularly going beyond their responsibilities, and expertise, by spending policing time filling gaps in some other public services

I’ve seen first-hand that collaborative working between police and health agencies has improved, no question on that. Although that does vary geographically across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Police are also now better trained to recognise mental ill-health and whilst the availability of crisis care beds is generally better now in Staffordshire that too varies geographically.

The wider pressures on policing are growing because of societal change, threats that emanate from countries far away and new types of crime in an internet connected world. It means our police have little or no capacity to pick up extra responsibilities that other agencies should be dealing with.

Understanding wider issues around the increasing number of young people suffering mental ill-health, the impact of so called legal highs and the widening spectrum of social and practical pressures that are often labelled mental health is crucial to policing and our society.

All this feels a bit déjà vu. It takes me back to 2014 and to me it is clear that a new piece of work is needed to update the one I commissioned back then. That will start soon and I’m also hosting a meeting of mental health professionals and leaders where I expect discussions to be honest all round, forthright and informative.

It is so important that society continues to accept and embrace the challenges mental health brings to all ages and all backgrounds. The signs are there in relation to understanding and being compassionate towards this highly complex, very human area of public work, but they ebb and they flow.

To deal better with the lasting problems that the mix of mental health, policing and criminal justice can bring we must have a true and comprehensive picture. I am hopeful that part two of the work I kicked off in 2014 will help once again to provide that.

Tamworth Food Gusto images

Food Gusto once again proved that Tamworth likes it’s food this weekend!

The event in Tamworth Castle Grounds over the last two days brought more than 80 of the region’s best artisan food and drink producers to the town.

All exhibitors are hand-picked for variety, provenance and passion to ensure visitors get a taste of something different from each stall and many were taking advantage of the selection on offer.

While great food and drink is at the heart of the festival, the tantalising array of culinary delights will again be complemented by a packed programme of family entertainment, making it the perfect weekend out for foodies and families alike.

Including a full line-up of live music from local singers and bands on both days, plus fairground rides, activities and games for children. Tamworth Informed were there to capture the event on film:

Food Gusto event director, Wesley Ewing, said: “The Tamworth Food Festival has really taken off in the last two years and we’ve worked hard to create an unforgettable experience for the festival goer. Our festivals are about relaxing and having a good time as a family, while sampling some amazing food and drink. The event is constantly improving as we aim to establish it as one of the region’s best food festivals.”

Food Gusto returns to the Town later in the year for the Tamworth Food Gusto Christmas Fair.

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