National Carers Rights Day

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People in Reading who provide unpaid care for a friend, relative or neighbour can access support and information at an event to mark National Carers Rights Day 2019 today, Thursday 21st.

The free event aims to reach out to people who might not access all the support they are entitled to and also to recognise the vital role unpaid carers play in the wellbeing of the community.

In Reading, an estimated 12,000 people provide unpaid care for someone who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, cannot cope without their support.

The event is hosted by the Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub with support from Reading Council, local voluntary care sector providers, carers and charities. The event runs from 2pm to 6pm at Wycliffe Baptist Church, 233 King’s Rd, Reading.

The theme of the national campaign this year is ‘Helping you find your way’ with the aim of encouraging people to think about how caring might affect them now and in the future and what support they might need.

Reflecting this theme, advice and information will be provided at the event, which will also feature a series of presentations relating to health, benefits and carer assessments.

The event organisers are also keen to reach unpaid carers who also work and may not be aware of their rights and the support they are entitled to from their employers.

Information stands manned by community groups and charities will run throughout the event for people who cannot stay for the whole event. Light refreshments will also be available.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “Carers play an essential role in our community and they deserve the best advice and support in their role as well as help in maintaining their own independent lives.

“Most of us will care for or be cared for at some point in our lives. Support for a loved one who is older, ill or has disabilities can be a source of great joy and satisfaction but without the right financial and practical support in place it can also be tough. We’re encouraging people to think about what support they might need so that they don’t miss out now or in the future.”

Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s lead member for adult social care, said: “This Carers Rights Day, we hope to reach as many carers in Reading as possible with information and advice about the range of support they are entitled to – whether that’s certain benefits or practical help, like getting adaptations in the home.”

Although there is no need to book for the event, people will need to book in advance for advice sessions including Health MOTs and Power of Attorney.

Book a session

To book an advice session appointment or for any queries, please contact Carers Hub on 0118 342 7333 or email [email protected] 

Citizens Advice S&V

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Photo: Chair of trustees Jane Richardson and manager Liz Johnson celebrate 80 years of Citizens Advice 

Volunteers and staff from Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale celebrated 80 years of service to the local community at a ceremony recently.

Citizens Advice was founded on 4th September 1939, the day after the Second World War was declared, to help people deal with the impact of war.

Volunteers gave advice on evacuation, ration books, new housing for those whose homes had been bombed, and even provided recipes using the limited ingredients available on rationing.

Eighty years on, the issues may have changed, but the core values of Citizens Advice remain the same: to provide free, confidential and impartial advice to everyone everywhere.

Last year, Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, an independent charity, helped 11,999 people resolve 20,200 problems including debt, housing, Universal Credit, benefits, family problems and consumer issues. For many people this service is a lifeline.

Jon Bright, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale, said: “This service is only possible thanks to the dedication and commitment of our 160 highly trained volunteers who give up their time to help people in our community find a solution to their problems.”

The number of people in need of help and advice has risen by 30 per cent over the last three years and local offices are in greater need of volunteers to help keep the service running with posts including advisers, receptionists, administrators, IT support and fundraisers.

Find out more

If you are interested, contact Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale for more information on 01235 550553 or email [email protected]

Pride of Reading 2019

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Photo: Winner of the Chris Tarrant Award Sam Dixon with son Parker and left, general manager of sponsors The Oracle, Andy Briggs. Picture by: Emma Patterson

 

Amazing people from around Reading were honoured at the 16th Pride of Reading awards as tales of bravery, service to the community and special achievements were revealed.

Once again hosted by home-town boy Chris Tarrant, the glitzy ceremony at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre saw winners of 22 awards celebrated.

The event was attended by around 300 guests who after enjoying street food starters and a two-course sit down lunch enjoyed the afternoon’s awards hosted by Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas and ITV’s Mel Bloor.

Among the amazing winners earlier this month were Child of Courage Logan Edwards who underwent painful surgery to fuse his skull, Local Hero Ricky Prince who saved a man’s life after seeing him collapsed as he walked past and former councillor Jo Lovelock who was honoured with the Special Recognition Award.

There was barely a dry eye in the room when the Volunteer of the Year was posthumously named as Alice Driver. Her parents were given the award in her honour for her work with Reading Refugee Support Group and Reading PRIDE all while being treated for a brain tumour.

The winner of the Chris Tarrant award this year was Sam Dixon whose husband PC James Dixon was killed on duty in December 2017, when Sam was pregnant with Parker. PC Dixon’s motorcycle collided with a car in Hare Hatch and he died instantly.

Full list of award winners 2019:

∙ Business in Action (Over 50) sponsored by BDB Pitmans: VISA

∙ Business in Action (Under 50) sponsored by BDB Pitmans: Shinfield View Care Home

∙ 999 Award, sponsored by De Vere Wokefield Estate: White Watch, Caversham Road and Whitley Wood

∙ Special Recognition Award: Councillor Jo Lovelock

∙ Charity of the Year sponsored by Roc Search: Sport in Mind

∙ Community Champion sponsored Reading Football Club: Eddie Winship

∙ Smile of the year sponsored by BerkshireLive: Zoe Correa (AJ Making a ∙ Stamp)

∙ Family of the Year sponsored by Ikea: The Johnson Family

∙ The Inspiration Award sponsored by McDonalds: Richard Witt

∙ Volunteer of the Year: Alice Driver

∙ Reading’s Best Street sponsored by Haslams: Talfourd Avenue

∙ Local Hero sponsored by Green Park: Ricky Prince

∙ Employee of the Year sponsored by Reading Buses: Richard Deadman 

∙ Young Person of the Year sponsored by University of Reading: Nevaeh Small

∙ Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by The Purple Turtle: Luci and Mike Clayton Jones

∙ Cultural Contribution sponsored by M&G Real Estate:  Andrew Taylor (Aldworth Philharmonic Orchestra)

∙ School of the Year sponsored by QWERTY: New Town Primary School

∙ Fundraiser of the Year sponsored by Cream: David and Julia Eversham (for Alexander Devine 

∙ Love Where You Live Award sponsored by Berkeley Homes: Turn Tilehurst Red

∙ Child of Courage sponsored by IQVIA: Logan Edwards

∙ Chris Tarrant Pride of Reading Award sponsored by The Oracle: Sam Dixon 

Devine Dash 

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It’s the time of year when you expect to see a man in a red suit with a white beard but get set to see hundreds of them.

Now in its seventh year, the Santa Dash in Windsor in aid of Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice is the annual festive fun run on Saturday, 24th November.

The dash will guide you through Windsor, along the Long Walk, the Castle, Queen Victoria’s statue and the town’s streets and it’s up to you how you decide to take on the 5km – dash, run, jog, skip or dance.

The entry fee includes a free Santa suit or reindeer antlers for children and a medal and every penny goes to the children’s hospice service in Maidenhead.

The hospice opened in 2018 after years of hard work and tireless campaigning to raise the funds by Fiona and John Devine. Their son Alexander was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four and their lives became consumed by hospital appointments and treatments.

They sadly lost Alexander after four and a half years and through their experiences found there was a need for a children’s hospice in Berkshire.

Fiona and John wanted to provide a safe, loving environment for all that gives children and families a choice of care and support. The hospice complements the existing community service with state-of-the-art facilities. It has six children’s bedrooms, two-self-contained flats for families, a dining area, open plan sitting room and suite dedicated to end of life and bereavement care.

There is also a sensory room, creative learning zone, music room and hydrotherapy pool.

A woodland-themed sensory garden, mud kitchen, musical play pieces, scented plants and raised flower beds allow children to enjoy the outdoors.

There are LEGO models scattered around the garden and an adventure playground is currently being built designed with special equipment.

Nurses and nursery nurses, play and music specialists and counsellors and doctors use their knowledge, compassion and expertise to provide the support and care each family and child needs.

Santas are encouraged to raise at least £57 in sponsorship – this alone could pay for a specialist play session.

The dash starts at 9am, but dashers are encouraged to arrive at 8am for a briefing, to join the warm up and collect their Santa suit, these can also be collected in advance from this month with previous arrangement.

Registration is at Bachelors Acre at 8.40am before the run starts at the top of the Long Walk by the Castle.

Entry costs £20 adults, £7.50 children, under 5s free, family of four (2&2) £36.

Take part

For more details and to enter

Wallingford Art Club

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With the dark nights here, Wallingford Art Club’s November demonstration evening is very appropriate.

Melanie Cambridge’s demonstration on 19th November (7.30pm) titled Capturing Night Scenes uses oils and will offer some invaluable hints and tips.
A future date to put in your diary is the club’s Christmas Exhibition on 30th November and 1st December which coincides with Wallingford Christmas Festival and the Santa Dash.

This is always great fun and a chance to buy original art for presents, or treat yourself, all at reasonable prices. The venue will be in the centre of town, so look out for our posters and notices in November. The exhibition will be open 10am to 5pm Saturday and 10am to 4.30pm on Sunday.
IN addition to all the extra events, Tuesday morning fee paying tutored classes continue and these are proving very popular, the afternoon classes have finished for now but will start again with a new tutor in December/January, more details to follow.

The Tuesday evening club painting sessions start as usual at 7.30pm. If you would like to paint or draw then go along and join them.

Non members are very welcome to attend these evenings and the demonstrators for a cost of £3. We cover all mediums throughout the year so there is always a subject to tempt you, or perhaps to try something new.

All events apart from the exhibitions are held at Centre 70, Kinecroft, Goldsmith Lane, Wallingford.

More info

Further information can be obtained on the website Wallingford Art Club or call David on 01491 681400.

Wrappers delight

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Guildford’s Carolyn Ledger explains more about Naturally Wrapt – the planet-friendly business she launched this year, in addition to her job as a SEN teacher

t the end of last year, after realising Sellotape was a single-use plastic, I decided to opt for plastic-free gift wrapping and to encourage others to do the same.

Sourcing real eco-friendly products was not easy. Some labelled “natural” or “jute” are actually entirely man-made! Others are natural but contain near-invisible plastic thread. And the products that are out there are spread far and wide making them hard to find and costly to deliver.

I was undeterred but began thinking this might put off other plastic-free wrappers. What we needed was one source of reasonably priced plastic-free wrapping products, shipped in plastic-free packing… After grappling with the computer for a few weeks this became a reality in February!

I was surprised how few people knew washi/masking/rice tape was even an alternative so took to social media. I post pictures of “Life after Sellotape” showing “sustainable choices”.

Right now, Naturally Wrapt is a hobby (no big margins) but that’s OK. I enjoy promoting environmental gain for the planet over profit. The point is to raise awareness about choices (we need to think more about using what we already have). Sending orders plastic-free has attracted small businesses to ask for advice (FYI: gummed tape is the way forward!). I’m working with two refill businesses – check out Noel’s Farm Shop in Sutton Green and – if you’re over that way – Packaging Not Included in Marlborough. Who knows where this will take me next?

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Make no bones about it…

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Ella Reeves reviews Lovely Bones at Oxford Playhouse

If there is one play you go to see this year, this is it.

I have just returned from the stage version of Alice Sebold’s 2002 novel The Lovely Bones, adapted by Bryony Lavery and directed by Melli Still.

My mind was blown. I am not one to be reckless with my superlatives, and this was the best play I’ve ever seen. It is the kind of show where you are not thinking about when the interval is coming, because you are completely enthralled by the performance.

The Lovely Bones was one of the few books I found gripping enough to read cover-to-cover as a teenager. The book is set in Pennsylvania, 1973, where the main character, Susie Salmon, dies at the beginning, raped and murdered by a neighbour. The rest of the story follows Susie’s journey in the afterlife, as she watches over her family, while they deal with the aftermath of her death.

When I heard the production was coming to the Oxford Playhouse, I was keen to see it. I was curious as to how a stage production could plausibly portray Susie’s ghostly presence alongside the living world, and how they would deal with the book’s complex and disturbing themes.

How could it be possible to convey that one part of the scene is in the present, then it is in the past, and some characters on stage are in heaven, while some are on earth?

The situation and mood changes were seamless, owing to the actors’ convincing performances, the suspense-building sound design, the lighting, and the innovative scenery. The actors frequently changed roles, which could have been confusing or overdone, but they subtly conveyed the changes, so it felt as if as if you were in the characters’ heads.

It was clear that the other audience members were as captivated as I was. Through the contrast of lightness and laughter with darkness and gruesomeness, a full range of emotions were teased out in each scene. We gasped, we giggled, and we had tears in our eyes.

The stage play was beautifully choreographed, and there were parts where I was mesmerised by how the motion of each actor slowed and sped up, in sync with one another. I wondered how many times they must have rehearsed to perform it so perfectly. The live band, which transported the audience to the place and era of the story’s setting, was worth seeing in itself.

The scenery was inspired. The backdrop was an angled screen, which, dependent on lighting, acted as a mirror of the main act, or an illusion between the dimensions. When the actor playing Susie (Charlotte Beaumont) talks to the audience and “breaks the fourth wall”, you could imagine that the scenery creates a fifth wall.

There was no weak link to be found in the play, certainly not among the actors. Holiday, the dog, was played by actor Samuel Gosrani, and was clearly recognisable while playing a dog, while also credibly playing Ray, Susie’s love interest. It is notable that Susie never leaves the stage, and despite her screams to her parents, siblings, and friends, she is in a different dimension, so they never bat an eyelid.

Oxfordians are fortunate to have the Oxford Playhouse, an attraction of such excellent productions. I went to see the captioned show on a Wednesday, which enables people with hearing loss to enjoy live performances. The casting team of this production should also be commended for their inclusive approach: the actors were selected for their role based on their acting ability and suitability to the character, no matter their race or gender.

Tickets are still available

For the Thursday evening, Friday evening, and Saturday matinee and evening.

You will not regret it!

Puppy love

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Top Dog Film Festival, coming to Abingdon this month, stars man’s best friend

Who doesn’t love a dog? Whether scruffy or pampered, they really are man’s best friend. So celebrate them in style this month!

Touring the UK for the first time, the Top Dog Film Festival features heart-warming stories of man’s best friend – via the big screen. Using stunning cinematography and heart-warming storytelling, the festival features tales from all around the world.

The collection of canine-inspired short films is touring the UK and comes to Abingdon’s Amey Theatre on Tuesday, 12th November. Tour director Neil Teasdale says: “Humans and dogs share a precious, heart-warming bond, and this new collection of films celebrates the canine companions that enrich our lives.

“Whether you’re a dog owner or just like dogs, these films are guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and fall in love with man’s best friend all over again.”
Highlights include the story of Arthur. A team competing in a gruelling adventure race in Ecuador unexpectedly had a surprise addition to their team.

The athletes encountered a then un-named stray dog, severely injured with a wound on its back – he joined them on their journey and found a home.

Another tale, The Dogist, features Elias Weiss Friedman, who lost his corporate job and took to the streets of New York with his camera and a squeaky tennis ball. Since then he has photographed 30,000 dogs all around the world, racking up 3.2 million followers on Instagram.

The event will also include a free prize giveaway, and a festive, dog-loving atmosphere is guaranteed!

🐕

For more information and tickets, visit

Beer-fuelled Bard

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Peter Anderson catches up with Stacey & Saul of Sh*tfaced Shakespeare which lands at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre on Tuesday, 12th November

A smash-hit, internationally acclaimed, award-winning, multi sell-out fringe phenomenon comes to Swindon this month presenting Shakespeare in a way none of us remember it from our schooldays. We all know about pre-show drinks, but what if it is a random member of the cast who spends the four hours before a show having the pre-show drinks? Welcome to Sh*t-faced Shakespeare and their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With a gin in one hand, a cup of wine in the other and a flagon of ale in the other… What could possibly go wrong?

I catch up with Stacey & Saul from the group to find out this combination of beer and the Bard, came about. “We had one of those sessions where we all put our heads together and came up with ideas on how we can make the improv different. This was the suggestion that someone came up with. I don’t remember whether we said yes or no to it at the time, but it was a little while later that in a radio interview someone mentioned that this was something, we had thought of doing. From then on, we had to it, and it seems to have been well received as we are still filling theatres after some years.”

Is there a chance the plot could change? “Oh yes, when you are one of the sober cast you have to be ready for just about anything, from Juliet deciding she is not going to commit suicide to characters appearing in the wrong play which adds to the spice and fun – for both us and the audience especially. There are rules that we use in improvisation and these can usually keep the play flowing. The important thing is that we are providing something enjoyable for the audience, there is no question of deliberately making one of the cast look stupid.”

You are quite a close-knit group of actors to be able to do improv, especially with the additional jeopardy of alcohol, but if you could have a famous actor join you for a show, who would you love? “Now, there’s a thought! I think the one actress who always seems good fun in the things she does is Helena Bonham-Carter, I am sure she would be up for it and extremely good fun whether she was drunk or sober.”

The Evening Standard said of this show “There is no doubt this is a hoot to watch”. To get your chance to see what could be subtitled for one actor A Midsummer Morning’s Hangover the show is on Tuesday 12th November at the Wyvern Theatre

Want to go?

Get your tickets here

Sir William Perkin’s School fair

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There are so many Christmas fairs to choose from at the moment but if you’re out Surrey way then you should definitely put this one in your diary.

Sir William Perkins’s School in Chertsey will open its doors to the local community for its annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, 23rd November.

Soak up the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas during the afternoon as you stroll around the market stalls stocking up on gifts, crafts, artisan food and drink (don’t forget to bring your own bags).

There will be live music playing while you shop and a luxury raffle will take place at the end of the afternoon where you can win the chance to have a go at winning a cookery course, gym membership, a brand new iPad mini or a family photoshoot. There will also be luxury gift hampers filled with some amazing prizes so try your luck.

If you get hungry then Olu will be serving his famous bbq along with mulled wine and mince pies. Hot waffles on a stick with toppings and other goodies will be available to buy as well to keep your tummies feeling good.

The main attraction this year is Bubble Zorbing which is great fun for kids and adults alike. Blow off some steam and climb inside a harnessed bubble to safely crash, bump and tumble about and have a laugh with your friends and family. The costs just £3 per go or £8 for three goes in advance, you can purchase tickets for the bubble zorbing via [email protected]

The family friendly event is open to all from 11.30am to 3.30pm and entry is free so go along and have a great afternoon at the school in Guildford Road.