ATOM Festival

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Oxfordshire

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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Oxfordshire

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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Oxfordshire

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

Line & light: Art show

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Oxfordshire

From Saturday 9th to Sunday 24th March, enjoy an exhibition of photographs, ceramics and life drawings presented by Gaby Guz and Rob Farrands.

Line and Light is the product of a wintertime collaboration between two artists using three media. It is their first joint exhibition. Rob is a photographer who lives in Oxford and Gaby, an alumna of St John’s, is a ceramicist and artist.

Gaby uses line and light to capture the fleeting poses she likes to draw. Her concerns are to convey the essence and emotion of a subject in the brief time that a dynamic pose allows. Her ceramic vessels are largely monochromatic, with bold black and grey lines spreading across egg-shell like pale surfaces.

Rob’s photographs honour the soft, reduced light of the winter solstice. He has shot directly into the light (often including the sun) and dealt with the resulting technical challenges to produce work with strong monochrome tones. His compositions are intended to arouse both a memory of winter’s darkness and the promise of the coming spring.

Rob’s photographs are all taken in Oxford mostly along the banks of the Thames between Iffley and Sandford. He has previously exhibited at the John Radcliffe Hospital in 2016/17 and also in Art Weeks. Gaby’s raku ceramics are monochrome and provide a perfect complement to Rob’s black and white photographs.

The exhibition is at The Barn Gallery, Kendrew Quad, St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP. Opening times are 12-5pm weekdays and 11am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Visit gabyguzart.com and  rfarrands.com to see more about Gaby and Rod!

Shop of Secrets

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Oxfordshire

The Shop of Secrets is set to cast its spell over Harry Potter fans

Harry Potter fans will be familiar with many of Oxford’s famous sights featuring in the blockbuster films and now there’s a new sight set to cast its spell.

Souvenirs and sweet treats galore will be just some of the charms for visitors at the new Shop of Secrets in historic Broad Street.

And you only have a few days to wait – the shop devoted to the boy wizard and the Fantastic Beasts opens for the first time on Saturday, 9th March.

Magical treasures galore will be on sale with staff dressed as some of the characters from the films.

The Shop of Secrets will be selling a wide range of collectibles including adult and children’s costumes, wands, hats, scarves, some of the original books as well as memorabilia books, and replica props including the famous sorting hat and Lucius Malfoy’s walking stick.

Visitors will also be able to discover some of the weird and wonderful sweets from the Harry Potter films including jelly slugs, chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts every flavour beans.
Co-owner of The Shop of Secrets, Sally Moss, who has run Oxford Campus Stores on Broad Street since 1996, says: “After the huge popularity of Harry Potter and its well-known filming locations in the city, we introduced a range of Harry Potter collectibles which were a hit with tourists and local customers alike.

“With another popular JK Rowling series, the Fantastic Beasts, our range has grown to a point where we needed a space devoted to it all. We had previously been running The Buttery Cafe next door but sadly due to rents more than doubling in the last 10 years, it was no longer a viable business, but has now become home to our exciting new gift shop.

“We can’t wait to welcome our old and new customers to our very own chamber of secrets!”

The first 100 people through the door will receive a bottle of Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer and there will also be a Harry Potter quiz to test your knowledge. The lucky winner will get to fly off with a  replica Hogwarts gown and wand from their favourite house at Hogwarts.

Why not take a tour of the locations featured in the films and visit Bodleian Library which featured in The Philosopher’s Stone; New College whose cloisters appeared in The Goblet of Fire and Christ Church which starred in both The Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets.

Family Runners

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Oxfordshire

Pictured, from left: Lizzie, Mark and Emel

Relatives join forces to help boost Harrison’s Fund at Surrey Half Marathon

Four members of the same family are all donning their trainers to run this year’s Surrey Half Marathon in aid of Harrison’s Fund. 

Husband and wife, Mark and Lizzie Holifeld and Emel Holifield, all from Oxford, are running on Sunday, 10th March, with Mark’s cousin Maxine Foster from Horsham whose son, Austin, was diagnosed with Duchenne in 2015. 

Harrison’s Fund was set up in 2012 and funds research into Duchenne – a rare genetic condition which causes the muscles in the body to waste away. 

Harrison’s Fund’s goal is to get as much money as possible into the hands of the world’s best researchers, who are working to find a cure for Duchenne. The charity is currently funding 16 research projects in the US and the UK. 

Lizzie, 30, said: “We are all looking forward to the challenge and being there together to raise money for this fantastic cause. The team spirit is really what gets you through as well, of course, hearing all the cheerers and seeing our gorgeous Austin and his sister, Ava too. 

“We started our training at the end of December when we were on holiday in California, and although it’s a slightly different weather, we’ve are committed to keeping it up in the UK. 

“We know that Harrison’s Fund are working so hard to raise as much money as possible for researchers to put an end to this horrible disease and we want to help! It truly is a fantastic charity and we feel honored to be part of the team taking on the Surrey Half.” 

This isn’t the first time the husband and wife team have fundraised for the charity. They have raised £2,864 so far running the Oxford Town and Gown 10k, the Brighton Marathon and the Blenheim palace 7k in the past. 

Emel, 46, who is married to Maxine’s cousin, added: “Austin’s diagnosis was a shock to all of us. I have a daughter only one year older than him and I could not imagine how they feel. But Maxine and her husband, Steve, have shown incredible courage and strength to fight with it to give their son and the other children hope. 

“I am looking forward to running in a large group with my family and it’s always fun to see other fellow runners, I just hope I can go the distance and the weather stays mild and dry!” 

The Surrey Half Marathon takes in 13.1miles of Guildford and Woking countryside. 

Laura Morgan, events fundraiser at Harrison’s Fund said: “It’s great to have families run together as we are a real family-orientated charity and Max and her family have been such huge supporters of ours over the years it’s a testament to her commitment that they are back once more putting themselves through the paces for us.” 

  To support the family visit give.everydayhero.com and if you live in the Guildford or Woking area why not go out and cheer them and the other runners on! 

The search for King Henry I

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Oxfordshire

Reading Borough Council needs volunteers to take on role of costumed historical characters 

Do you have what it takes to be Henry I or Jane Austen?

Reading Museum is once again on the search for outgoing volunteers interested in taking on the role of costumed historical characters in the Abbey Quarter over the summer. 

The museum is keen to recruit male volunteers to take on the role of medieval monks as well as looking for Tudor women, a Georgian school pupil and someone to take on the leading roles of Jane Austen and King Henry I. 

They are also trying to find people to play supporting roles and get involved behind the scenes as wardrobe assistants to the historical characters. 

The volunteer recruitment drive follows on from the successful debut of the historical characters last year, where King Henry I, Empress Matilda, Queen Elizabeth and a medieval laundress, among others, helped bring the history of the Abbey Quarter to life at its reopening in June. 

Reading Museum Costumed Interpreters 

The role of ‘costumed interpreter’ involves interacting with visitors to the Abbey Quarter, to help bring the rich history of the area alive. 

By role playing the characters, volunteers will help people understand and empathise with the lives of the people who lived, visited or worked in the Abbey Quarter. 

Volunteers will be given replica period costumes to wear, as well advice on how to carry out research into their character and learn fact-based historical information to share with the public. 

No experience of drama is necessary, although the role is suited to enthusiastic, outgoing and friendly people, who like working as a team, are happy to wear a costume, stay in character and interact positively with members of the public. 

The role would involve a flexible commitment over some Saturdays and on the occasional weekday. 

Jen Woodhams, who volunteer interprets as Empress Matilda, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to do something completely out of the ordinary. I like the fact you can do as much or as little as you can to fit it in around your everyday life. I find the research side fascinating as you get to understand so much about the period your character comes from. I also love the way the museum encourages you to develop the role independently as it gives you a great deal of creative scope. The best part is engaging people and bringing Reading’s history to life for them and of course, it is immense fun dressing up in such a lovely costume!” 

View an interview with Jen below

Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, said: “Our historical characters were extremely well received by visitors to the Abbey Quarter last year, and we are keen to expand on this success again. 

“This is a great opportunity for people to get involved in the Abbey Quarter and really help us bring history to life. If you think you could share your love of history with our visitors, this volunteer opportunity has the potential to offer loads of fun and a great experience.” 

  To find out more about the volunteer roles on offer visit www.readingmuseum.org.uk

Henley House & Garden Show

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Oxfordshire

Looking for some inspiration for your home and garden, the head to the Henley House & Garden Show at the weekend. 

The show is returning to Henley town centre and the historic town hall on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd March with more than 65 exhibitors of high-end interior and garden goods and services as well as speakers, entertainment, competitions and more. 

Exhibitors include architects and curtain-makers, hot tub suppliers, cars and garages, cushions, candles and infusers, ceramics, garden sculpture and a boat. Designers for gardens, interiors, lighting and sustainability are available for expert advice, plus conveyancing specialists, home-builders and finance advisors. Home décor stands abound and all styles of furniture are covered from Italian dining tables to antiques, farmhouse tables and chairs to ‘living edge’ tabletop consoles. 

The show’s theme is conservation – both of the home (through sustainable recycling and time-honoured building traditions) and of the garden where butterflies and bees do such hard work.  These insects are the show’s symbols as they appeal to both garden and home lovers.  The RSPB and the Woodland Trust will be exhibiting as well as Henley’s own conservation and garden societies who will be in the town hall. Honeys of Henley will be giving a bee and honey tasting talk too. 

Local school children have been involved in an arts and poetry competition to draw bees and butterflies and the winning drawings and poems will be displayed at the show. There will also be a photography competition that will be overseen by the Henley College. Hashtag #HHGS19 on Instagram to send in your winning photos. 

Demonstrations, coordinated by the Creative Duck, will take place throughout the weekend on the stage in the central marquee. Displays include lampshade making, life drawing, building a hedgehog hotel, and tile painting. Local chefs will also be cooking at the Tara Neil Kitchen stand offering delicious treats to try. 

Three speaking events are taking place in the town hall, two on Saturday and another on Sunday. 

Tickets cost only £5 and all proceeds are going to the development of the garden at the Chiltern Centre for disabled children, a respite centre in Henley. 

Also on Sunday there will be  two Lego workshops for children at a cost of £15. 

To find out more visit www.thehenleyhouseandgardeshow.com 

Thames Valley Hospitality Awards

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Oxfordshire

Picture credit: Dijana Capan, DVision Images
Picture caption: Organisers Marc Allridge and Hilary Scott

 

Nominate your favourites for 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards.

The 2019 Thames Valley Hospitality Awards are open for nominations celebrating excellence and outstanding staff in the sector. From hotels to B&Bs, bars to restaurants, it’s time to share who you think deserves to be honoured. 

In addition to last year’s categories, there are three new ones – Achiever of the Year, Wedding Venue of the Year and Outside Caterer of the Year. This is the second year of the awards and the organisers are delighted to be building on the success of last year. 

Co-organiser Marc Allridge of Cherubs Floral Design said they were very excited about the new categories. He added: “We would love people from managers to brides to nominate in the Wedding Venue of the Year category. And we want to hear form all those caterers who work away behind the scenes and often don’t get recognised for their efforts – winning Outside Caterer of the Year would fix that. 

“We also want to see lots of entries in Achiever of the Year – this is for a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine in the trade.” 

The gala awards dinner this year is being held at the De Vere Wokefield Estate on Sunday, 28th April and hosted by leading chef Daniel Galmiche. Fellow organiser Hilary Scott encouraged entries for this year, saying: “We had so many entries in our first year it was amazing. I hope that we can get more this year now we are a bit better known. And remember if you missed out last year you can enter again.” 

This year’s categories are: 

Hotel of the Year sponsored by TVHA 

Independent Hotel of Year sponsored by Newsquest Berkshire 

Bar of the Year  sponsor Matthew Clark 

​Restaurant of the Year 

Hotel Manager of the Year sponsored by Cream Design 

​Front of house star sponsored by H&D Food Solutions 

Back of house star sponsored by Cherubs Floral Design 

Warm welcome  

Best breakfast 

Apprentice of the Year 

Three new categories for 2019: 

Achiever of the Year – a youngster who has overcome physical or mental issues to shine 

​Wedding Venue of the Year – in a competitive market who stands out for their venue, service and professionalism 

Outside Caterer of the Year – in a growing market, we want to find the best 

  For full details and to nominate visit www.tvhawards.co.uk and don’t forget to share with us who you are nominating and why!

Ronald McDonald House

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Oxfordshire

Martin Keown kicks off building with twins, Finley and Billy Kearns, and mum and dad, Laura and Robert.

Former Arsenal and England star Martin Keown has helped kick off building at the new accommodation for families with seriously ill children in Oxford. 

The footballer from Oxford broke ground at the new 62-bedroom Ronald McDonald House on the John Radcliffe Hospital site on Wednesday, 6th February. The house will provide families with free accommodation while their children are being treated to save them having to go to and from the hospital. 

Among those at the ceremony were two-year-old twins Finley and Billy Kearns, whose parents Laura and Robert spent more than four months at the current house after the twins were born prematurely. Billy needed surgery to reverse a stoma. The £14million facility is due to open in summer next year with 62 en-suite bedrooms and communal living facilities, including kitchens, lounges, playrooms, laundry rooms and a garden. 

The current 17-bedroom house has experienced a rise in demand over the last 15 years and while last year it accommodated 600 families, it had to turn a further 300 away. 

Ronald McDonald House Charities has raised £9million, Oxford Hospitals Charity has added £2.5million, Children with Cancer UK is donating more than £280,000 and McDonald’s employees and customers has raised £1.5million. A further £1million is still needed to fit and furnish the house and the charity is looking to the local community to help them in this fundraising effort, as well as for volunteers to help get the house ready and provide support.

CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Jon Howard said last week they were delighted to begin the expansion work. Thanking all those who have helped, he added: “We know from research it is beneficial for the health of family members and their child to keep them close together, and that comfortable and supportive accommodation nearby is a key enabler in this process.” 

Head of the paediatric psychology department Dr Karen Steinhardt with the range of services available at Oxford, families are increasingly travelling from further afield for treatment. She said: “This new accommodation at Ronald McDonald House Oxford will allow more families to be close by in the hospital grounds. 

“It will allow them to get more rest and sleep, eat properly and lead as normal a life as possible ad importantly, feel able to make the best decisions about their child’s health.” 

The new building will be open to families with children being cared for at Oxford Children’s Hospital as well as Children’s Critical Care and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the John Radcliffe site. 

Picture credit: Richard Cave

  Read more about the Ronald McDonald House Charity