Learn to Play Day

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Photo credit: Indigo James

Pick up an instrument and Learn to Play this weekend for free

Feel there’s a budding Eric Clapton or Charlie Watts just trying to get out or maybe you just want to give your guitar or drumming skills an outing? This is the perfect opportunity to give it a go…

Share in the joy of music on Learn to Play Day – actually two days – Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th,  as venues all over the country encourage thousands to pick up and play a musical instrument, whether you’ve never played before or once did as a child this is your chance to have a go for free.

The event has been running for eight years and in that time music shops, teachers, venues and schools have given tens of thousands of free lessons, including 10,000 last year alone.

Learn to Play Day (or two days to be precise) is run by charity Music For All and supported by a host of big names including Jools Holland, patron of the Music For All charity.

“I’m delighted to lend my support to National Learn to Play Day on March 23rd and 24th,” says Jools. “It’s a pleasure to be able to share the joy of music and this special day allows thousands to get involved as venues all over the country offer music lessons for free.”

Jazz star Jamie Cullum is another supporting the event. He says: “National Learn to Play Day gives everyone a chance to play an instrument, even if they’ve never played before. This wonderful day introduces thousands to the magic of music making, and often reunites people with a lost passion for playing. Get involved and perhaps discover a skill you thought you didn’t have.”

Spreading the joy of playing an instrument is the key element of the two days, as Music For All CEO Paul McManus explains: “While we all may have different tastes and preferred genres, there is no doubt that music is something that is universally loved around the world.

“Our Learn to Play Day events are all about spreading the joy of playing and inspiring those of all ages to take up something that will not only have health benefits for the future, but that also brings so many people together.”

Other Music For All ambassadors include Rick Astley, Aled Jones and Gareth Malone and who knows this could be your first foray into following in their footsteps!

Photo credit: Brian Slater

Photo credit: Alan Fletcher

There are various locations where you can begin your musical journey across the region:

Hickies Music Store, Reading 0118 957 5771
Hogan Music, Newbury 01635 37868
PMT Oxford, Cowley Road 01865 725221
Langdale Hall, Market Square, Witney 07904 397603
Archway School, Stroud 01452 330300
ACM, Bridge Street, Guildford 01483 501212
The College of Richard Collyer, Horsham 07470 964369
Westmount Music, Marlow 01628 481510
Unity Centre, Balham 020 8672 8095
Musicroom London, Denmark Street 020 7632 3950
Yamaha Music London, Wardour Street 020 7432 4400
PMT Music, Clerkenwell 020 7253 3283

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The Rose of Hungerford

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Hop aboard The Rose of Hungerford and enjoy a trip along the canal

There can be few more enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon than on a canal boat along the Kennet & Avon and there’s the chance to find out more about how you can get involved in just that at an open day this month.

The Rose of Hungerford is a purpose-built 55ft long wide-beamed passenger trip boat owned by the canal trust. The boat is now preparing to operate public trips for the 2019 season as well as being available for private charter.

Trips run every Saturday and Sunday from April through to October and from May, additionally on Wednesdays and there’s a special treat for Mother’s Day on 31st March when the popular cream tea cruise will be operated.

In 2017, The Rose of Hungerford undertook more than 200 trips, carrying around 6,000 passengers. It travelled about 660 miles and through 772 locks as it toured the canal.

If the idea of this appeals to you as more than just a ‘passenger’, they are always on the look out for more volunteers to help with all aspects of the running of the boat.

The Rose of Hungerford is owned by the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and crewed entirely by trained volunteers but keeping the service in operation is about much more than just crewing the boat with help needed with a multitude of behind the scenes tasks too. They’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in getting involved.

Pop along to the open morning on Saturday, 23rd March at Hungerford Wharf from 9.30am to 12.30pm to find out more about the trips, meet the crew and volunteering aboard The Rose of Hungerford.

visit their website for more information and to book a trip!

DownRight Amazing

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As it’s World Down Syndrome Day this month (Thursday, 21st March), we’re celebrating a positive campaign this month to raise awareness and funds for a very special charity.

Teddy is a smart, funny, wonderful little boy who puts a smile on the face of everyone he meets. “He’s exactly the way he should be and we wouldn’t change him for the world,” says his proud mum Emily Reay, “but it would be nice if the world would change for him…”

Teddy (pictured) is one of 21 poster stars who, along with their families, are helping raise awareness about Down’s Syndrome (DS). Photographer Magdalena Sztechman, whose sister has Down’s Syndrome, grew up in Poland where she attended regular educational therapy groups and workshops. She wanted to create a positive picture of diversity and similar sense of community here in the UK. Last spring she photographed a sweet little girl called Cara who happens to have Down’s Syndrome and the reaction was hugely positive. “I felt inspired to raise awareness and decided I wanted to do another photo session this year,” explains Magdalena. “This cause is very close to my heart.”

With the help Sparkles, a small, parent-led support charity that offers speech and language therapy and more, 22 willing families got in touch. The resulting images of her subjects will be celebrated on social media daily from 1st March.

“People with Down’s Syndrome can achieve much more than most people can even imagine,” adds Magdalena. “The key is early intervention and extra, well-timed support. It is very important for me to ensure my own daughters understand diversity, the importance of inclusion and that they are naturally open-minded.”

Teddy’s mum Emily is delighted her son is helping to challenge outdated and negative perceptions about Down’s Syndrome. “I didn’t need a test or a doctor to tell me [that he had Down’s Syndrome],” adds Emily of his birth. “I wasn’t sure what this was going to mean for us, but he’s taken my hand and led the way. Don’t be afraid, don’t say sorry, don’t doubt him, don’t treat him differently. Only he can determine what he can and cannot do, my job is to simply provide the love and support to help him achieve his goals. The sky’s the limit.”

Sparkles was started in 1999 by a small group of parents of children with DS who wanted to be able to offer their children more speech therapy than was available through the NHS. To find out more and donate please visit www.sparkles.org.uk
Also visit www.sztechman-photography.co.uk

● Join the social media campaign @randamag will be supporting – #DownRightAmazing

Spectacular science

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Science and art come alive this March at Innovate Guildford 2019

Our science and arts festival, Innovate Guildford is back for its fourth year and this year’s event promises to be the biggest and best yet!

Innovate Guildford celebrates the best in innovation in Guildford and beyond. Building on the success of previous events, there are exhibitors from across the local area – Innovate Guildford will inspire and delight people of all ages. There’s plenty for the kids to do and best of all the event is completely free!

Already confirmed this year are McLaren Cars, The Pirbright Institute, a pop-up Planetarium and the Academy of Contemporary Music. They will also be interactive exhibits and workshops for lots of hands-on fun.

Proving there really is something for everyone at this year’s Innovate Guildford, visitors will be able to take part in a wide range of activities including slime design, coding, Minecraft, robotics and even step inside a planetarium.

Plus we’ve got a special treat for computer gamers – Guildford’s megastar game company Media Molecule will be at the show with brand new entertainment!

The event which showcases technology, innovation and creativity in the region, will run from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 23rd March at G Live, so save the date for a day out with a difference.

To find out more about the day, exhibitors and workshops visit innovateguildford.co.uk

Health walks

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Step out and step up your health and fitness with a good walk

Walking, we all do it everyday, but have you ever really thought about all the health benefits and how you can make it really count?

With Walking for Health, the Guildford walks programme, you can take part in a short free walk nearby to get active and stay active at a pace that suits you.

And as well as being active, it’s also a great way to explore what’s around you and make new friends while you walk, you don’t need any fancy equipment and unlike most things – it’s free!

To take part in one of the Guildford Walking for Health walks just pop along to the start point and one of the trained leaders can take your details then you can get involved in as many and as often as you like.

Walks currently take place every Monday in the Guildford area and are due to start on Tuesdays in Worplesdon and Thursdays in Shere. For more information about any of these contact Annelize Kidd on 07554 423010

Shalford area walks can be enjoyed on Wednesdays, contact Georgina Churchlow on 07714 821159

For walks in the Whitmoor Common area on Fridays, contact Roger Philo on 07905 282658

Volunteers are also needed to help the walks happen either as a walk leader or a back marker. If you are interested in helping with the walks, contact Annelize Kidd on 07554  423010

Or email any queries to guildfordwfh@outlook.com

If you still need convincing, it’s worth bearing these health benefits in mind:

– Help your heart and lungs work better

– Lower your blood pressure

– Keep your weight down

– Lighten your mood

– Keep your joints, muscles and bones strong

– Increase “good” cholesterol

The Walking for Health programme operates around the country helping people to lead healthier, more active lives. To find more walks near you or if you’re not in the Guildford area have a look at walkingforhealth.org.uk

Surrey Wildlife Trust

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Happy anniversary to Surrey Wildlife Trust!

Surrey Wildlife Trust is celebrating its 60th anniversary of protecting the county’s wildlife this week and has a range of events to mark the milestone.

On 21st March, 1959, a band of naturalists and conservationists founded the Surrey Naturalists’ Trust with two goals – to protect wildlife and educate the public about nature – these tenets are still fundamental to the Trust today.

While much work has been carried out over the past 60 years to ensure they have stayed true to this since securing the first reserve in 1960, Seale Chalk Pit on the Hog’s Back to saving the ancient woodland Nower Wood, near Leatherhead to creating a new reserve in 2013 called Priest Hill.

Today the Trust manages more than 70 reserves, has more than 26,000 members and is supported by in excess of 1,000 volunteers who won The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service last year.

2019 marks a new milestone for the Trust with  new chief executive officer Sarah Jane Chimbwandira and a new strategy to reconnect the landscape with nature recovery networks. Healthy and well-managed hedgerows, rivers, nature reserves and green spaces will help people and wildlife flourish.

Sarah Jane said: “If we all take action now, in 60 years’ time wildlife could be thriving and at the heart of everyday life. If not, we may not even notice that wildlife has disappeared from Surrey’s precious landscape, being replaced by litter and pollution.  And all because we think it’s someone else’s job to look after it; it isn’t.

“We all have to take action and we all have to look after Surrey’s landscape like our early founders and volunteers.”

She adds: “We welcome everyone to get involved. Anyone can be the next leading environmentalist in Surrey. Could it be you?”

The Trust has walks, talks and events planned over the next few months to celebrate its 60 years beginning with an environmental youth summit for 16-18 year olds on 28th March.

There’s still time to enter the Wild Surrey art and photographic competition!

Entries must be submitted by 14th April –  an exhibition will then take place in Guildford from 25th May to 14th June during this time on 1st and 2nd June Guildford Goes Wild on the High Street.

Other events to look out for are Bay Pond open day in Godstone on 15th June; heath week from 28th July to 2nd August and rivers week from 22nd to 29th September.

Picture: David Attenborough visits Nower Wood in 1985

For more information about Surrey Wildlife Trust, it’s activities, celebrations and how you can get involved visit surreywildlifetrust.org

ATOM Festival

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Science is for all at the ATOM Festival of Science & Technology

The ATOM Festival wants to show you science is for you and that it affects every part of your life.

From today, 16th to 27th March, ATOM will be taking place at venues across Abingdon with a variety of activities, talks, family shows, science comedy and film screenings.

One of the highlights of the festival will involve five leading scientists, engineers and educators taking up the Three Million Dollar Challenge – how to get more people into science and technology.

Among other speakers will be BBC science presenter and mathematician Dr Hannah Fry who will talk on How to be Human in the Age of the Machine by taking us on a tour of the good, bad and ugly of algorithms. Her talk takes place on Friday, 22nd March at Amey Theatre, Abingdon School, doors 7pm for 7.30pm start, tickets £12 adults, £6 under 16s.

Back by popular demand is the Science Discovery Dome, an interactive experience offering people the chance to travel to distant planets and galaxies and explore subjects such as geology, geography and astronomy in a fun way. This event today (16th) in Abingdon Market Place from 10am to 4pm is free, but donations welcome.

Fifty years after the Apollo moon landing, a discussion panel will ask how does science fiction imagine our future in space? Join the panel at Our Ladys Abingdon on Tuesday, 19th March (6.30pm for 7pm start), tickets £5 adult, £2.50 under 16s.

Among other events are the ATOM Festival science market, a family science fair and talks on being your child’s first science teacher, stand-up science comedy and a talk entitled Remarkable fossils: From egg yolk to dinosaur dung – so truly an event to cover all science offering something for everyone!

For more details and to book tickets visit atomfestival.org.uk 

First aid: Shockingly simple

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Pint of Life volunteer Christopher Tancock offers invaluable advice on how to save a life 

You walk into the lounge to find your best friend unconscious, they’ve turned grey, they’re not breathing – what do you do?  

This scenario may sound unlikely, but situations like this play out every day. You can call an ambulance, but unless you can keep the casualty going in the 8-10 minutes it takes to arrive, they are unlikely to survive. 

Pint of Life aims to help prevent such situations by teaching basic first aid in local communities in a free and innovative way. The sessions demonstrate, for example, that after trying to get a response, you should check the patient’s airway and breathing. If you find they are not breathing, the best thing to do is to dial 999, get hold of a defibrillator fast and start CPR.  

The chain of survival means that for maximum chance of survival, a patient needs fast CPR, defibrillation and hospitalisation – only 40% of casualties receive CPR from passers-by in the UK. Even more frighteningly, fewer than 2% of those who need one get a defibrillator before the ambulance arrives.  

People might be afraid to use a defibrillator as they “don’t want to do it wrong” or are worried that they might get into trouble if things don’t turn out well despite their attempts. The fact is that defibrillators can boost survival rates by a huge amount. We need to overcome our fear of these life-saving devices and get to grips with the simple skills that could very well prove the difference between life and death. 

Pint of Life, run by Oxfordshire volunteer Christopher Tancock, shows communities that using a defibrillator is simple. These amazing machines just need to be switched on, after which they guide you through what you need to do (by verbal commands and prompts). Some models even give feedback about your CPR and beep to show when you need to push. None of these community defibrillators can “accidentally” shock someone who doesn’t need to be shocked, either, so they are safe – and very easy – to use. They’re available in many local communities now – in pubs, restaurants, shops and village halls 

When it comes to CPR itself, it’s just a matter of pushing on the centre of the patient’s chest hard and fast… You should aim for two compressions a second and after 30, give the patient two rescue breaths before returning to compressions. Then continue the same sequence. (With children and infants, it’s important to start with five rescue breaths before doing the 30:2 routine).  

These skills are so simple yet so effective. They could change the situation described above from a nightmare to a survival. So why not help yourself to a Pint of Life and learn how to keep someone’s glass half full!  

Cycling golfers!

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Golfers’ cycling challenge to tee up funds for Against Breast Cancer 

A group of golfers are swapping their clubs for bikes to cycle 200 miles to help raise funds for Oxfordshire-based charity Against Breast Cancer. 

Starting in the early hours of Saturday, 6th April, five intrepid golfers and their support team will ride from Royal Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire to Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, giving themselves just two days to complete the challenge before sunset the next day. 

The Las Ratas de Grendon golf society raise money each year for the charity through their annual golf tour to Spain and this year decided to add the cycling challenge finishing the day before they fly off. 

Team member Neil McCrorie says: “There will be five of us riding, ranging from ages of 29 to 59 with a wide range of cycling experience so it will be a difficult challenge for us.” 

The team have already raised £1,400 before they set off or embark on their golf tour. Over the years they have donned fancy dress while on tour, surprising many generous members of the public. 

Fellow rider Michael Vaill says: “It’s going to be tough but nothing compared to the challenge that so many have to battle against every day. Riding in memory of our mums, wives and family members who have been lost to this terrible disease.” 

Against Breast Cancer raises vital funds for research into the secondary spread, the main cause of breast cancer deaths. 

Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in the UK with more than 55,000 women diagnosed every year. 

Las Rats de Grendon have set a target of £2,000 for the ride. 

Sponsor them at www.justgiving/fundraising/las-ratas-de-grendon-golf-society

See how they get on over the April weekend on their Facebook page