Welcome to our 2019 blog!!

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Royal (or not) Baby

Posted by Steve at 10:50 on Wednesday 15th May 2019.

A week has gone by since the birth of the latest royal baby. Firstly, I hear the question, why does the title of this month’s article have the words ‘or not’ in brackets. The simple answer to this question is to do with the official title of this newborn baby; we will explore this shortly.

First of all we, along with everyone else, would like to welcome the latest baby to the world and congratulate his parents, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on the arrival of their ‘little bundle of joy’.

On Bank Holiday Monday at 05:26, baby Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born weighing 7lbs 3oz, in doing so becoming the 7th in line to the throne, displacing his Great Uncle, Prince Andrew. We have taken a look at the 20 in line to the throne at the end of this month’s article. At the time of writing, Archie’s place of birth has not been announced although it is thought that his mother, Meghan, had wanted a home birth; there is some rumour that this plan had to be abandoned, due to the child being overdue, as eluded to by Prince Harry.

Archie is the first child to be born to Prince Harry and Meghan and is the first half-American child to be born into the UK’s Royal Family as well as the first multiracial baby in the history of the British Monarchy. He is a citizen of the United Kingdom as well as the United States of America.

The birth was announced in the traditional way, with an announcement being placed on an easel in the grounds of Buckingham Palace as well as on the Sussex’s Instagram page. The Instagram post being a simple blue background with the words, It’s a boy. The difference between Prince Harry and William’s children’s birth announcements are clear for all to see. With Prince William the world was made aware of the birth of his children with the easel at Buckingham Palace and was then introduced to the children on their release from hospital outside the Lindo Wing. With Prince Harry the world had to wait until last Wednesday, 2 and a half days after the child’s birth, for a 3-minute photo call in the hall of Windsor Castle, which was then simulcast around the world. It was only after this initial meeting of the world’s press and having met with Her Majesty the Queen, did the Duke and Duchess make their child’s name known to the waiting world. It is fair to say that the names are not as traditional as some expected them to be.

Welcome to the world Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

Now, we move on to the original question, which I know has you thinking why we have queried whether a royal baby or not. Of course, we are not questioning the royal-ness of the baby, after all Archie is the son of Prince Harry and the great-grandson of Her Majesty the Queen. The question is more around the title of the child, of which he will not have an official title. He is however heir apparent of his father’s Dukedom of Sussex. Archie will not be automatically entitled to the title of Prince or to be addressed as His Royal Highness (HRH) unlike his cousins, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. He could however have a subsidiary title for example Earl of Dumbarton, but his parents have decided that he would be simply known as Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor.

So if Archie’s cousins, the children of Prince Harry’s brother, William, are entitled to be addressed as his/her Royal Highness and the title Prince/ss why is Archie not entitled?

This distinction dates back to the reign of King George V and a decree he made in 1917. During this period, it is important to note that there were revolutions occurring across Europe and monarchies were collapsing. So King George wanted a slimmed down version of the monarchy. What the decree said in a simplistic form is that when it comes to the monarch’s great-grandchildren, only the eldest living son, in this case George, of the eldest living son, Prince William, of the eldest living son, Prince Charles of the monarch, Queen Elizabeth, should have the titular dignity of Prince or Princess prefixed to their Christian name. All other great-grandchildren are to be known as Lord or Lady and do not need to be addressed as His/Her Royal Highness.

Since the original decree in 1917, Queen Elizabeth has amended it recently in 2013, a few months before the birth of Prince George, to provide special dispensation for all of Prince William and Kate’s children to be Prince or Princess. A few months after this change in the decree, the UK Government made legal changes to the succession to the throne rules, ensuring that any Princess would not be bumped down the list by any younger brother, hence the reason Princess Charlotte is 4th in line and her younger brother Prince Louis is the 5th. She is the first female heir to the throne to not be displaced by her younger brother.

It is thought that Her Majesty would not provide the same special dispensation to William’s brother Harry’s children, especially as it would take a massive disaster for Archie to ever become King, in that he has 6 people above him in line to the throne, including his father.

Archie is likely to become Prince Archie, should his grandfather, Prince Charles become King, the next in line to take the throne. Since he is the grandson of Charles, he would then be grandchild to the monarch and entitled then to the title Prince.

So, what does Archie Harrison’s name mean?

As we mentioned earlier, the new royal baby’s names were a bit of a surprise and were not on the running list of the names according to the bookmakers, who were offering money on Alexander, Arthur and Albert with Spencer as an outside chance due to his grandmother’s maiden name. It is believed that neither of the 2 names selected have any royal connotations.

Archie means genuine, bold and brave, it is a more common name in the UK than the US, and has often been used as the abbreviated form of Archibald, although in recent years it has been used as a name in its own right. During 2017, Archie was the 18th most commonly used name for a boy in the UK with 2,803 children born with the name. Since 2003, Archie has been in the top 50 names consistently.

Whereas Harrison, in popularity terms, is opposite to Archie and slightly more popular in the United States than the UK, however in 2017 it was the 34th most popular name. Fittingly the name means son of Harry! and has been more commonly a surname.

Whilst there is a lot of love and joy around the world for the birth of this child, who is the 7th in line to the throne and obviously there is a special interest in him, there is always a flip side to the story, and this time we feel we should explore the not so happy side of the story, which is also the reason why on this article we have decided not to show any picture of the new child. And this reason is due to the parents out there, who will look at the picture of happiness and wonder why they aren’t as lucky as the Duke and Duchess. Not in terms of the status, money and international admiration, but more because they are not able to hold their child.

Some parents have never been able to hold their child and although they are happy for the royal couple or anyone who is able to, they still feel the pang of emotion and hurt, and envy of not being able to hold, and cuddle their own children anymore. For some they never got the opportunity to hold their bundle of joy. It is important that we don’t forget these parents, who will always be parents, who never forget their little one.

There is a thought process after the sad news of the loss of a child from people outside of the situation where the idea is to not discuss the child, or avoid situations with the parent where there are children; this is actually an unhelpful thing for the bereaved parent. It is important to talk about the loved one, to allow the bereaved parent to talk about how they are feeling, allowing them the opportunity to feel that someone is there for them. Sadly, some child deaths can cause a massive rift between the 2 bereaved parents, which causes the break-up of their relationship. This is an event when they will need to rely on their friends and families more than ever before, and will need the support network to not apportion blame to the other parent.

As the days and months grind on, other events will arise that will then bring back all the emotions felt for the death of their child sending the intense pain back to the bereaved parents at the point of the initial loss. These events include, birthdays, Christmas, Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day etc.

So how can you support a bereaved parent? The Lullaby Trust has compiled a list that may be helpful but is not a to-do list and it is important to remember that each situation is different. The Lullaby Trust has put together some guidance on how to support a bereaved parent; we use their guidance with thanks to them:

The Lullaby Trust is there for anyone in the family affected by the loss of a child, their helpline is 0808 802 6868 or you can contact them on support@lullabytrust.org.uk.

In returning to the main aim of this month’s article, we take a look at the succession to the throne, the next 20 in line to the British throne are:

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, (b.1948)

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (b.1982)

Prince George of Cambridge, (b.2013)

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge, (b.2015)

Prince Louis of Cambridge, (b.2018)

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (b.1984)

 Archie Mountbatten-Windsor (b.2019)

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, (b.1960)

 Princess Beatrice of York (b.1988)

 Princess Eugenie of York (b.1990)

Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (b.1964)

 James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn (b.2007)

 Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor (b.2003)

Princess Anne, Princess Royal (b.1950)

 Peter Phillips (b.1977)

  Savannah Phillips (b.2010)

  Isla Phillips (b.2012)

 Zara Tindall (neé Phillips) (b.1981)

  Mia Tindall (b.2014)

  Lena Tindall (b.2018).

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LGBT Teaching Row

Posted by Steve at 14:50 on Monday 17th June 2019.

LGBT Teaching Row

Over recent weeks and months, we have seen demonstrations outside of a primary school in Birmingham against the school teaching about LGBT relationships to the children inside the school. These demonstrations have taken place until recently right outside the school gates and have been described by some as intimidating, for the parents, teachers and the young children themselves.

We thought we would take a look at what the issues are and to see if we can understand how these issues are actually being taught to the children.

To begin with this month, we need to explore what LGBT means and stands for. Sometimes LGBT is also known as LGBT+ or LGBTTQQIAAP. These letters and therefore the term stand for:












The use of LGBT has been used since the 1990s, amending the term that was used prior to this, and is used as an umbrella term to label topics pertaining to sexuality and gender identity.

Although this term or initialisation is used to described people’s sexuality and gender identity, not everyone agrees with the use of the term and therefore argues against it. For example, there are some people who argue that transgender and transsexual causes are not the same as that of lesbian, gay and bi causes. The general argument there being that transgender or transsexual is more about a person’s understanding of, or not, being a man or women irrespective of their sexual orientation as being gay, lesbian or bi are.

It has been suggested and trialled over time to change the initialisation or term used to describe this group of people, including rainbow in line with its symbolism of pride and the LGBT community.

So, what is happening in Birmingham?

Since last month, groups of people have been protesting outside of Anderton Park Primary School. One of the protesters doesn’t actually have children attending the school and is on the protest demonstration due to his beliefs as well as in support of parents of children who attend the school, he does however have nieces and nephews who attend the school. These protests have been taking place right outside the school gates and have at times been seen as intimating for parents, who are being told to not take their children in to school, intimidating to the teachers who have turned up to work and the children who are on their way to undertake their learning through their school day. Late last month a court injunction was put into place to ensure that the protests were moved away from the school gates ensuring a safe space for parents, teachers and children to attend school, and on Monday of this week, this has been granted to last by a court until a full trial takes place next month. The case in court will consider if the school is breaking the law in delivering these lessons.

On the 20th of last month it became known that the police were called in to investigate phone calls and emails that were received by the head teacher which were threatening in nature. This clearly is not a conducive way of fairly representing either side of the argument.

The protests are focusing on lessons for which children have been given books featuring cross-dressing children as well as gay families. Most of the protests have come from Muslim protestors. It has been suggested by the leader of the protests that the lessons are leading to ‘social engineering’.

It is important to note that by September 2020 relationships’ education will be compulsory in all schools in England.

We do need to look at the use of the term that the Department for Education is using in draft guidance which is due to come into force in the academic year commencing September next year. The term used for primary schools is relationship education, sex education is not mentioned until secondary education. I feel that this is an important distinction to make! The guidance does say that schools will need to cover puberty in primary education, and it would be for the school to determine if they need to add any additional areas of sex education to meet the needs of their pupils.

The guidance also stresses that where any school goes further into sex education than the guidelines state is necessary, they must have a policy in place, and that they should consult with parents what will be covered. It also stresses that all schools should use teaching materials which are appropriate to the age and religious background of the children they are teaching. Whilst these are draft guidelines for 2020, I would imagine, considering that they are basic good practice principles, the school in Birmingham would have acted on these principles, prior to using the books that depict cross-dressing and gay families, although this is the issue for the parents who believe the teachers have not done so.

The draft guidelines start discussing relationship education by saying:

‘The focus in primary school should be on teaching the fundamental building blocks and characteristics of positive relationships.’

It goes on to say:

‘This starts with pupils being taught about what a relationship is, what friendship is, what family means and who the people are who can support them.’

Reading these few lines of the guidance alone, you can see what the aims of the lessons are, in that it is designed to support children in understanding the relationships that they will develop and go through in their life. I do feel that in the modern world we live in, there is nothing wrong in educating children that same sex relationships can form a family, after all depending on the parent’s music tastes children may come across for instance Elton John, and he has 2 children in a gay married relationship. Obviously, Elton John is not the only person in a married relationship of 2 same sex parents, but with the release of the film around his life last month, he has obviously come back into the prominent limelight.How can children can be encouraged to develop a tolerance of diverse family relationships? Their relationship education should include a basic outline of the possible and diverse family relationships they could encounter in the world around them.

It is true that throughout life children will develop plenty of relationships, and the guidance is designed to ensure that children are prepared to deal with relationships as they develop. Not only are these guidelines dealing with the face-to-face relationships but go further than this and focus on relationships that children will have and face online. As a safeguarding children trainer I would say surely this is a good thing in a world where children are facing grooming, cyberbullying and also accessing information online that could have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

I also worry for the mental health of the youngest of children who attend the Anderton Park Primary School, who were being asked to walk to school through the barrage of noise and protestors. From the pictures that have been seen on the television screens, the environment facing these children appears hostile and threatening. Whether this is actually how it is or how the camera makes it appear could be down to interpretation, but surely the mental health of these children may be affected if only because of the confusion as to why people are protesting outside what is meant to be a safe place for them. I hear the argument from some of these protestors that the lessons are having a negative impact on the child’s mental health, it has been alleged that children have gone home after school, explaining that they no longer know if they are a boy in a girl’s body or vice versa. If this is the case then the lessons would need to be explored to discover how these are being taught, and also discussion would need to be made with the children to see if they are feeling this way or are describing the lessons that they have had, remembering the importance of children discussing what they have learnt at school with their parents.

It can be said that this education of children and the subjects and content covered is an emotive subject. It is important that in a world of free speech that these opinions are discussed and considered by all, however what the education of relationships does not do, and is not designed to do, is to instruct children to become gay or lesbian etc. Moreover, from the guidance I have read it is to help children to be, and become, tolerant and understanding of the differences that exist in what is a very diverse and interesting country like the United Kingdom.

We are living in a country which is diverse culturally, religiously and across genders, and although there are areas still where there appear to be gaps between men and women, for example in the boardroom, and if you look at Parliament as a whole, however the gender gap appears to narrowing. We are lucky enough to live in a country that is welcoming and inclusive to all, even after the referendum in June 2016, which temporarily saw divisions in the wider community, and whilst today not everyone agrees with every other person’s opinions we are tolerant of those views and generally discuss them to move them forward.

I would hope that moving forward, the protestors in Birmingham look at the lessons closely, maybe even get invited into the lessons to observe them themselves, and see whether what they are feeling about the lessons is justified in their mind having seen or whether their reactions were irrational. It is important for the children in the first instance that this issue gets dealt with appropriately in the local area and the country as a whole. I am sure that when the court hears the case next month more facts will emerge and a resolution will be found.

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Shaken Baby Syndrome

Posted by Steve at 15:11 on Wednesday 17th July 2019.

In this month’s article we take a look at the subject of shaken baby syndrome.

Shaken baby syndrome is a serious issue and one that makes the headlines on lots of occasions. Not only can shaking a baby kill a baby it can, at the very least, leave the child with lifelong lasting damage that cannot be repaired.

1 in 4 shaken babies DIE!

So, in this month’s article we thought we would look at what shaken baby syndrome is, and look at a few examples from the headlines.

What is shaken baby syndrome?

Shaken baby syndrome is also referred to as abusive head trauma, shaken impact injury, inflicted head injury or whiplash shake injury. In its simplistic form shaken baby syndrome is a baby or a child being shaken violently, and sometimes repetitively over and over. It is also caused by the child being thrown or slammed against another object; however, the head does not necessarily have to hit an object in order to cause damage, the shaking of the brain inside the skull can be enough.

The damage caused to the child includes, but is not limited to, damage to the brain, bleeding around the surface of the brain, bleeding in the retinas of the eye, and fractures.

As we have already mentioned, shaken baby syndrome can at the very least cause a child to grow up with long-lasting injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives or can cause death.

Children under the age of 1 are most at risk of shaken baby syndrome due to the nature of the age range, and obviously they tend to cry a lot more, however any child of any age is at risk.

The simple truth here is that NO child should be shaken, EVER.

Estimates show that between 14 and 33.8 per 100,000 children suffer ‘non-accidental head injuries’ each year according to the NSPCC, this includes shaken baby syndrome. To give this some context, if you base population on 800,000 children, between 112 and 270 of these children would be suffering from these non-accidental injuries each year.

The cause of shaken baby syndrome

Babies have weak neck muscles which often struggle to support the weight of the child’s head. Therefore, these muscles are not strong enough to prevent the shaking motion when a baby is shaken with force allowing the brain to be shaking inside of the skull.

One of the most common causes of shaken baby syndrome is the adult’s frustration at the child’s crying. This can cause the adult, usually the parent to ‘snap’ if the child’s crying is persistent over a long period, and in a bid to stop the child crying the adult ‘snaps’ and shakes the baby to stop their crying. In that split 3 to 5 seconds a lot of damage can be caused.

This is NOT an acceptable excuse, STOP and think before you act. Have a plan – Take a break!

Other reasons that have been seen over the years is one parent’s jealousy of another, resulting in taking it out on the child or by causing the child an injury the parents have to come together and therefore the guilty party gets the attention from the other parent that they were seeking. We will look at this particular reason in due course when we look at 2 cases from the news headlines.

Jealousy is no reason to harm a child EVER!

Another cause of shaken baby syndrome can actually be a complete accident, where the child has slipped out of the grasp of the parent’s arms and has shaken their head as they fall to the floor, as well as hitting their head potentially on the floor as well as any other hard surface as they fall to the floor from their parent’s grasp or from the nappy changing table, or even bed. Of course, it is perfectly feasible that a parent could fall over accidently while they are walking with their child and this too can cause the child to suffer from shaken baby syndrome.

Some parents/child carers have unrealistic expectations of the child in their care and therefore lash out at the children through frustration because they are not achieving what they feel is achievable for the child. This could be because of the expectations that they had placed on them by their parents, therefore causing a vicious cycle that repeats itself.

Another risk factor of shaken baby symptom is when the parent is a single parent and therefore trying to cope with looking after a child on their own, maybe with little or no support; it may also be that they are coping with the break-up of a relationship as well as having to meet the needs of their baby. It may be the case that the parent of the child is young and may not have the support of others or little life experience and is unsure of how to soothe and meet the child’s needs.

Other situations that could cause a parent to lash out and shake their baby could be that they are in unstable family relationships or are suffering from domestic abuse. It could be the case however that the domestic abuser is shaking the baby in order to punish the victim for something that the abuser has deemed they have done wrong.

Depression can impact on a parent’s treatment of their child and therefore can result in them shaking a baby.

The final common risk factor for shaken baby syndrome is concerned with alcohol and substance abuse. Being under the influence of these substances can impair the parent’s rational thoughts and when the child cries or pushes for something reasonable, the parent who is under the influence can react in ways that are irrational and once they have sobered are likely to realise that they have behaved in a manner that is not how they would have behaved in another situation.

Statistically men are more likely to cause baby shaken syndrome than women

What damage can shaken baby syndrome cause?

Shaking a baby or infant can damage and destroy the brain cells preventing the brain from getting enough oxygen, and, as we all know, oxygen is the fuel for life. Shaken baby syndrome is a type of child abuse resulting in permanent brain damage at the very least and potentially also death.

Signs and Symptoms of shaken baby syndrome:

There are some signs and symptoms that should be looked out for in the instance that you are worried a child has been shaken, they are as follows:

Although these are all signs that can be seen sadly, due to the nature of the injury inflicted to the child, there may be signs that you cannot see. Injuries that may not be immediately obvious to see include bleeding on the brain, or in the eyes, spinal cord damage, fractures to various bones of the child’s body including, the skull, ribs, and legs as well as any of the other bones in their body.

In mild cases, the child may not actually show any of these signs at all, and may also appear perfectly fine, until much later when they may develop physical or behavioural issues.

No Child should be shaken EVER

If you suspect that a child in your care has been injured by being shaken violently you should seek medical advice immediately. Acting fast and immediately may save the child’s life or prevent serious health issues from occurring. It is worth noting that health practitioners do have a legal duty to report any cases of suspected abuse to the police, however, in the interests of the child this should be seen as a positive step and not a negative one.

Shaken baby syndrome IS child abuse

First Aid textbooks say gently shake

Textbooks that are aimed at adult casualties state that the casualty should be gently shaken in order to determine whether they are responsive or otherwise. Whilst this is written in textbooks and is up-to-date advice from the Resuscitation Councils of Europe and the UK, the key word in that sentence is ‘gently’. This is important for many reasons including not causing any further unnecessary injury to the spine of the casualty. Anyone that has attended one of our first aid courses will be aware that we advise first aiders to press on the clavicle (collarbone) to cause a gentle pain to the casualty rather than gently shaking. This gets away from shaking the casualty and causing further spinal damage. However, some first aid textbooks, including the ones that we use on all our first aid courses state that for a child or an infant under the age of 1, you should gently tap the shoulders and depending on the age of the casualty ask loudly ‘are you all right’ or simply shout loudly to try to wake the casualty. Again, there is no sign of the words ‘gently shake’.

However you decide to try to get a response from a child casualty, you should never shake the child in order to get the response.

Shaking a baby is NOT first aid

We thought at this stage of the article we would have a look at some simple tips parents can use to help soothe their child. We have based our top tips on the advice provided by The Canadian Paediatric Society.

How to soothe your child:

These may seem the simplest things but sometimes, it really can be the simplest act that soothes a child the most and quickest; it is always worth checking this specific needs’ list.

Some parents hold a fear that if I ‘give in’ to my child and I hold them too much they might become clingy or spoiled because I gave them too much attention, however, simply holding your child will not spoil them. Although you should be aware that some babies do not like being passed from person to person.

Tightly wrapping your child can soothe them as they feel protected, could provide some pain relief to the child, and can improve sleep, as long as it done safely it can be a good technique to use. The Canadian Paediatric Society has provided the following advice on how to swaddle a child: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/swaddling

Too much stimulation can trigger crying or make it worse.

A top tip that we would suggest and has worked well over the years is the use of low volume panpipe music being played in the background as the child drifts off to sleep.

You could try walking with baby in a sling or in a stroller. Rock or sway with baby in a gentle, rhythmic motion. Or try going for a car ride, many a child has fallen asleep with the gentle motion of the car in transit; some parents however find that this works until the car comes to a halt and the sudden lack of movement and/or engine can cause the child to wake up.

You can provide this by allowing your baby to breastfeed, or by offering a dummy or even a teething ring. Some children will not want any of these things to suck on and may need a reminder that they can suck their thumb which is their natural soother.

The warm water will help to wash over the child, like it does with an adult, it can have a calming effect and then gently aid the child to fall asleep once they are dried.

What can I do if my child keeps crying and it’s getting to me?

If you have checked that your child does not have any specific needs as we discussed earlier, then maybe it is time for you as the childcarer/parent to help yourself feel calmer.

One of the most important things that you can do is to be aware of how you are feeling, whether it be upset, angry or frustrated. In this situation take a moment to relax.

One of the things that parents worry about is leaving their child to cry. If you leave a child in their cot to cry for a few minutes it is not going to do them any harm, and in the meantime you are able to breathe and relax for yourself without snapping and causing further harm to your child. One of the things that you can do is take some slow deep breaths to help you calm and bring your breathing back under control.

If you are feeling emotional and have the urge to cry, then cry. Don’t be afraid to let your emotions out, if you let the tears out it can help you to come back to the child fresh and ready to take the challenge of the child’s needs again.

If you feel that it will help you, you could take a 5 minute shower to let the warm water fall over your body and the sensation of the falling water can actually help you relax and feel calm. Add your favourite body wash scent and a calmer parent should emerge from the shower.

We would always encourage you to talk to someone who you feel that you are able to trust, so that they can potentially support you and your needs, and maybe if you ask them they can look after your child longer than a 5 minute break to help you have some me time and come back all refreshed.

Should you feel that you are at risk of hurting your child the best thing you can do is to place the child safely in their cot, and walk away, calling for help, whether it be a family member, neighbour, support line, social services or the police. The best thing to do is to have a look in your local telephone book for advice lines and local support numbers. We would suggest that you have these in a plan for when these stressful, I can’t cope, I’m going to hurt my child moments occur.

2 Cases from the headlines

To end this month’s article we thought that we would look at 2 cases that have made the news’ headlines in recent years, one of which occurred in the United States and one more recently from the UK. This recent news story was sent to us and is the inspiration for this article.

The Case of Matthew Eappen

In 1997, a British au pair living in the United States of America was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of 8-month-old Matthew Eappen while he was in her care in Newton, Massachusetts.

On February the 4th 1997, Matthew Eappen was admitted to hospital, where he fell into a coma and died 5 days later from a fractured skull and a subdural haematoma. Matthew was found to have other injuries including a fractured wrist and an unidentified, untreated month-old injury. An ophthalmologist at the hospital also noted that Matthew had retinal haemorrhages, which was judged as a major characteristic of shaken baby syndrome.  

In her police statement, 19-year-old British au pair, Louise Woodward stated that she had popped Matthew onto the bed. This became a controversial phrase for her to use as it has double meaning depending on the country you are in. In the UK, popped would suggest that she had placed or put Matthew on the bed, in America the phrase implies violence. In addition to the use of the word popped, police maintained that Louise had also said that she had dropped him on the floor and been a little rough with him. The police officer who interviewed her immediately after the incident is adamant that Louise had not used the word popped but rather dropped.

Louise Woodward was arrested on February the 5th for assault and battery, which was upgraded to murder on the death of Matthew Eappen. A grand jury in the US judiciary decided on a first-degree murder charge and she was refused jail and held at a high security prison until her trial.

Obviously, leading up to and including her trial there was a lot of interest in this case not just in the United States but also in the UK as Louise was one of their own.

During the trial, the prosecution used evidence from 8 physicians including:

All of these physicians testified to their belief that the injuries received by Matthew were as a result of violent shaking and from his head hitting a hard object.

The defence however argued that this cannot be the case; the child in question did not have any neck injuries to him that they would have expected had he received the injuries that the prosecution was alleging. The prosecution initially claimed that the child’s injuries were equivalent to the child having fallen from a 2-storey building however equivocated over this throughout the course of the trial.

The defence also highlighted in their submission that Matthew had some injuries that could have occurred some three weeks earlier than his death, implying that his parents who were both doctors could have been responsible for the injuries to their child. They also said that he had an old wrist injury which could have been caused before Louise even entered the household. She herself under cross-examination stated that she never noticed any slight bumps, marks or any abnormal behaviour prior to his admittance to hospital.

Her defence team even requested that the jury not be given the option of determining manslaughter, but that they should only have the choice of guilty of murder or not guilty. Under direct questioning from the judge, Louise agreed with her defence team; she was found guilty by the jury on October 30th 1997 after 26 hours of deliberation and was sentenced the following day to a minimum of 15 years in prison.

This was not the end of the case!

An appeal hearing commenced on the 4th November 1997, in which her defence team were aware that the original jury were split over the murder charge and the jurors who were convinced of an acquittal were convinced to switch to the murder side. This fact is of no legal consequence, one of the jurors is also quoted as saying that ‘none of the jury thought she had tried to kill him’.

In a post-conviction hearing on the 10th November, Judge Zobel stated, ‘the circumstances in which the defendant acted were characterised by confusion, inexperience, frustration, immaturity and some anger, but not malice in the legal sense supporting a conviction for second-degree murder.’ He added ‘I am morally certain that allowing this defendant on this evidence to remain convicted of second-degree murder would be a miscarriage of justice,’ as he reduced her charge to involuntary manslaughter.

Her sentence was reduced to time served, a total of 279 days and she was freed. There was a prosecution appeal against this which was unsuccessful, and on June 16th 1998, Louise Woodward returned to the UK.

This story does seem to hold questions even today from the evidence that was heard, the question being was the right person in the dock, or had the parents had something to do with the little boy’s death. However, once Woodward was no longer subject to criminal exposure she did admit to ‘lightly shaking the child to revive him’.

Shaking a baby is NOT First aid!

After all these years it is still one of the highest profile shaken baby syndrome cases, and is still talked about in newspapers and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2007, Woodward was described by Boston law magazine, Exhibit A, as the ‘most notorious criminal convicted in Massachusetts’.

Finally, we turn our attention to the article that is the basis for this month’s article; this news story was in the Liverpool Echo and other news’ outlets on June 22nd this year. In the Liverpool Echo the headline read:

Baby robbed of normal life by dad's angry outburst is only the latest in a line of tragedies

This news story revolves around the court case of Mehmet Tufan who left his son permanently brain damaged by shaking him. The child and mother in the case are not able to be named under court rules. The story highlights everything that we have discussed throughout this article and that parents should be aware of the dangers.

The story of this little boy’s injuries starts on a night in April 2018 when Mehmut was jealous that he was left to look after his 5-week-old son alone as the mother had gone on a night out. After an argument over text messages about a lad asking the child’s mother to dance, Mehmut pretended that the child was seriously ill in an effort to make her come home to him and the 5-week-old child.

Mehmut was scolded by his partner and the baby boy’s mother for trying to make her panic and he later inflicted a catastrophic head injury on to the child. The court heard that he had shaken his son for a ‘matter of seconds’ these few seconds were enough to leave the child unable to walk and blind.

The mother told the court that the child nearly died from his injuries which doctors described as ‘an extensive brain injury, blood in his spinal cord and extensive retinal haemorrhages’ which have left the child in a special wheelchair.

Mehmut pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm in what the prosecutors had described as ‘a momentary loss of control’, he was sentenced to 2 years in prison, although the judge added that no sentence whatsoever would help the child to ‘live a life to which he was entitled’. The judge had accepted that Mehmut had suffered from anxiety and nervousness and panicked after the incident.  

In summary of this month’s article:

NO child, of any age, should EVER be shaken,

Shaking a child is NOT First Aid

Jealousy is no reason to harm a child EVER.

Shaken baby Syndrome IS Child Abuse.

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Head Injuries

Posted by Steve at 12:00 on Thursday 15th August  2019.

Mo Salah with a concussed fanOn Saturday afternoon, an 11-year-old boy, called Louis, was waiting outside Melwood, the training ground of his footballing heroes Liverpool Football Club, hoping that he might get a glimpse of one or two of his heroes as they exit the ground from their training session. This boy was in luck! He was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of his hero, Mo Salah. This was the start of a series of events for Louis, one that he would want to avoid and the other that he is happy happened.

On seeing his hero drive out of the training complex he decided to chase the car down the road, colliding with a lamppost in doing so. This knocked him unconscious. The 11-year-old was aided home, not living that far away, and was awaiting the arrival of an ambulance as he had been unconscious with a suspected head injury. However no one expected what arrived before the ambulance….

Mo Salah arrived at the lad’s house to check that he was ok and was then happy to pose for a photograph with him, as well as reminding Louis that he needs to look where he is going when he is running, to avoid causing himself any harm.

The photo has been shared on social media by Louis’ stepdad, Joe Cooper, and we thank him for the photograph used above, and is the basis of this month’s article which focuses on head injuries. Before we get to head injuries themselves, we would just like to reassure you that Louis is perfectly fine, other than having to have his nose reset, during a visit to Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. When asked if the pain was worth it, his very simple one-word reply came – ‘definitely!’

Head Injuries

Head injuries occur more often than a lot of people realise.

A head injury can be potentially serious, with life-threatening injuries. They can lead to damage to the brain due to the lack of oxygen that gets to the brain; this damage can be permanent and severe. There may be other injuries that occur following the event that causes a head injury which can include injuries to the neck and spine, and scalp wounds. For further information on the spine, please ensure that you check out January’s article. Before we explore the 3 different head injuries, we should look at the make-up of the head.

The head itself is made up of 4 major parts, all of which have a major function in the human body:

1: Skin:

The skin is a major organ of the body which, at the thickest part of itself, is only a few millimetres thick, however it has 7 main functions:


The skin protects the body from harmful things in the outside world including the cold, germs and the sun’s rays. This is a pretty remarkable job when you consider how thin, delicate and flexible it really is.


The skin picks up sensations through the network of nerve endings that feed the skin and sends the signals back, The skin is able to pick up how much pain there is at one point, if there is any pressure on it, as well as whether the body is hot or cold, and then send a message back to the brain to get the temperature regulated!

Allows movement

The skin is an amazing organ, as well as being the largest organ that we have. It has evolved over the years to ensure that whilst it is protecting the body it also allows the body to produce a range of movements that are needed to survive, for example, move and eat.


The skin aids the endocrine system by producing the vitamin D that the body needs, in order to rejuvenate and grow cells as well as for the metabolism of the body.


The skin plays a part in the excretion system, through its production of sweat. Sweating is good for the body as it eliminates excess water and salts as well as reducing the amount of urea.


The skin is a natural physical barrier to infections, germs and diseases entering the body. It also carries adaptive immune systems to enable it to actively fight off infections.

Regulate temperature

Effectively your skin is your thermostat, it regulates your body heat by instigating shivering so the blood vessels contract when you’re out in the cold or through the secretion of sweat when you are hot.

2. Skull

The skull is the bony structure that traps your brain inside, it forms the head of vertebrates and its most important job is to provide a protective cavity for your brain, as well as structuring the face. The skull is made up of 2 parts: The cranium and the mandible.

3. Cerebrospinal Fluid

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a colourless clear body fluid that is found in the brain and the spinal cord. It is produced in the specialised ependymal cells of the choroid plexuses of the ventricles of the brain and is absorbed in the arachnoid granulations. CSF has 3 main functions:

Protect the brain and spinal cord from trauma,

Supply nutrients to the nervous system, and

Remove waste products from the cerebral metabolism.

4. The Brain

The brain is one of the most complex and largest of all organs in the human body. It is made up of more than 100 billion nerves that communicate in trillions of connections called synapses. The brain is made of many specialised areas that work together.

It is argued that the brain is the most important organ in the whole of the body. It is the organ that:

Co-ordinates actions and reactions,

Allows us to think and to feel,

Enables us to have memories and feelings.

The above are arguably all the things that make us human, therefore the brain makes us human! Of course, the brain works only by receiving the oxygen and blood that it needs to survive and therefore it is vitally important that these things are preserved to get to it.

From our quick rundown of the 4 important parts of the head, it is clear to see that the head is really important and should be looked after as much as is possible, and of course it can be seen why any head injury can cause such big problems.

Let’s look into head injuries.

There are 3 main head injuries that we will explore in this month’s article, they are:

1. Concussion,

2. Compression,

3. Fractured Skull

1. Concussion

Concussion is often referred to as ‘shaking of the brain’ as this is effectively what concussion is. Because the brain is cushioned by the cerebrospinal fluid, when the head receives a blow the brain can bounce from one side of the head to the other.

The effects of concussion can take up to 24 – 48 hours for them to show themselves, but usually the recovery time is only really a few days with very often little long-term damage.

Should the casualty have concussion you should be on the lookout for:

 Unconscious for a short period of time, where the response levels should improve afterwards,

 The casualty should recover back to themselves completely with no complications,

 Memory loss (of the incident) or confusion is common, as is repetition,

 Unusual behaviour,

 Pale, clammy skin,

 Mild general headache,

 Dizziness and

 Nausea.

Concussion can be harder to spot in children and therefore you should be on the lookout for any changes in their normal pattern of behaviour, for example are they crying a lot more than normal, have their feeding or sleeping patterns changed, have they even lost an interest in objects or people.

2. Compression

Compression is a serious, and can be a life-threatening, injury. It is caused when the casualty has received a heavy blow to their head causing a bleed or swelling inside the skull which is pressing on the brain.

If you are suspecting cerebral compression, your casualty may show these signs and symptoms:

 A recent head injury, which has apparently recovered, but now the casualty is deteriorating,

 Levels of response becoming worse as the conditions develops,

 Confusion and irritability,

 Flushed, dry skin,

 Intense headache (Imagine the worst one you can think of!), and

 Nausea.

3. Fractured Skull

A fractured skull is serious as the damaged part of the bone may cause direct injury to the brain itself, or it can cause bleeding which can cause pressure to build up on the brain.

You should suspect a skull fracture for a casualty who has received a head injury and their levels of response are dropping and lowering.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

 Concussion and/or compressions signs and symptoms may be present,

 Cerebrospinal fluid and blood coming from the ears, nose, mouth or tear ducts,

 Swelling or bruising of the head,

 Swelling or bruising behind one or both ears,

 Swelling or bruising around one or both of the eyes.


It is very important that you remember any blow which is large enough to cause a head injury can also cause a spinal injury, therefore you must treat your casualty with care. For more on spinal injuries see January 2019’s article.

Should your casualty have been unconscious, or their response levels are dropping, or you are suspecting a spinal injury call 999/112 for emergency help straight away.

Remember to maintain their airway and breathing. If you are unsure how to do this, then why not book onto one of our courses?

Is your casualty unconscious but breathing? If the answer to this question is yes, then keep them still and continually monitor their breathing. If they are struggling to maintain their own airway then they will need to be carefully rolled into the recovery position, remember to keep their head, neck and spine in line.

Is your casualty unconscious and not breathing? Then you will now have to proceed with Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in order to help them until the paramedics arrive.

What if your casualty is conscious? In this situation, help the casualty to lie down, keeping their head, neck and spine in line in case there is a spinal injury that you and they are not aware of.

You will need to carefully consider if there are any other injuries that you will need to treat. If they are bleeding then you should try to control it by applying some gentle pressure to the affected area, however, should the blood be coming from the ear, then allow the blood to drain away, do not try to plug the ear.

There are some useful tips that are worth remembering when you are dealing with a suspected head injury as follows:

If you are suspecting that the casualty is suffering from concussion, arrange for them to see a healthcare practitioner as soon as possible. Do not allow them to continue playing sports and remain with them until they have been properly assessed by the trained medical professional.

Always be alert to the casualty’s levels of consciousness, breathing and pulse, and record all of your observations to hand over to the medical staff.

Seek medical advice before allowing the casualty to eat or drink.

Are you ready for the most commonly asked question that we receive about head injuries?

The question is this: Following a head injury is the casualty (usually child instead of casualty) allowed to sleep?

The correct answer to this question is that they are allowed to sleep following a head injury, however you should be able to wake them and get a response. Generally, you should look to get a response every 10 minutes from them.

We would add that even if they have appeared to have recovered sufficiently from their head injury, you should be looking out for subsequent reduction in the levels of their response.

The reason that the advice now allows a casualty to sleep is because it is the body’s natural way of healing. If the casualty wants to go sleep after a head injury at their normal sleep time, then this may be a normal thing as opposed to being a worry, but remember they have just received a head injury and should have their response levels checked. If they would not normally go to sleep at this time, then maybe this is a worry sign, so be extra vigilant and if they are not able to be woken, or they do not respond to your response check then you should call the emergency services for an ambulance.

What should I look out for in the days following a head injury?

Should you see any of these signs and symptoms in your casualty in the days following a head injury, they should go to the hospital immediately:

 Worsening headache,

 Nausea or vomiting,

 Increased drowsiness,

 Weakness in an arm or leg,

 Speech problems,

 Dizziness,

 Bleeding or fluid coming from an ear or the nose,

 Visual problems,

 Seizures, and/or

 Confusion.

If you wish to find out more, why not book onto a First Aid course with us that covers head injuries. All our course information pages detail what is covered on that specific course.

We look forward to welcoming you onto a course in the future.

In the meantime,

enjoy the summer and please do stay safe!

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This month we take a look at the human body and, in particular, the spine. The spine is an important part of the human body and has several functions which we will look at through this blog and, as such, is a vital part of the body to be looked after by its owner!

Location of the spine

It is possible that everyone knows the location of the spine. Just for the avoidance of doubt, the spine is located in the centre of the back and reaches from the base of the skull right down the bum.

Main functions of the spine

The human spine has 3 distinct functions:

1. Protect the spinal cord, nerve roots and several of the body’s vital organs.

2. Provide structural support and balance to maintain an upright posture.

3. Enable flexible movement.

Make-up of the spine

The spine is made of several sections as follows:

 Cervical

 Thoracic

 Lumber

 Sacral

 Caudal.

Cervical Vertebrae

Diagram of the spine

The cervical vertebrae are located in the neck area of the spine. There are 7 vertebrae in this area. They are abbreviated down to C1 through C7 from top to bottom. The role of the cervical vertebrae is to protect the brain stem, support the skull and allow for a wide range of head movements.

If we take a look at the individual vertebra we will see that they are all shaped slightly differently. Vertebra C1 is called the Atlas and is shaped like a ring, supporting the skull. Vertebra C2 is circular in shape, with a blunt tooth type structure which projects upwards to the Atlas, and is known as the Axis. Together the Atlas and Axis allow the skull the full range of movements. Vertebrae C3 through C7 are similar in design, box-shaped with small spinous processes extending from the back of the vertebrae. Spinous processes are finger-like projections; they provide the point of attachment for the ligaments and muscles of the spine.

Thoracic Vertebrae

Beneath vertebrae C7 there are 12 vertebrae collectively known as the thoracic vertebrae. When they are abbreviated by medical staff they are referred to as T1 through T12 from top of the section to the base. Vertebra T1 is the smallest of the thoracic vertebrae with the bottom vertebra T12 being the largest. The thoracic vertebrae are larger than the cervical vertebrae and have longer spinous processes protruding from the back of them.

The thoracic vertebrae are connected to the rib cage which provides strength and stability for the spine, also making this section of the spine one of the strongest and most protected. Not only that, but the rib cage joining on to the spine assists the spine in protecting many of the vital organs contained within this area. Movement in this section is limited due to its restrictions of the rib cage.

Lumber Vertebrae

The lumber vertebrae are the largest of the spinal bones. In this section of the spine you will find 5 vertebrae known collectively as the lumber spine. They are abbreviated by medical staff to L1 through L5 from the top to the bottom. The lumber vertebrae carry most of the body’s weight. They allow a lot of movement but much less than that of the cervical spine. Lumber facet joints enable the lumber area to have significant flexion and extension movement but limit rotation.

What is Flexion and Extension Movements?

Flexion is the bending of a particular joint so that the bones forming the joint are pulled closer together. A visual example of this would be when the elbow bends, it reduces the angle of the ulna and radius bones in the arm.

Extension is the opposite movement to flexion in that it is a straightening movement that increases the angle between body parts.

Sacral Vertebrae

This is the 4th section of the spine vertebrae which is located behind the pelvis. There are 5 bones in this section of the spine and are abbreviated to S1 through S5. The bones are fused together in a triangular shape forming the sacrum. The sacrum fits between the 2 hip bones, connecting the spine securely to the pelvis. The fifth lumber vertebra moves in line with the sacrum.

Caudal Vertebrae

This is the final section of the spine, consisting of 4 bones which are fused together to form the Coccyx.

The spine in its entirety contains 33 of the 206 bones in a human body, that equates to almost 13% of the body’s bones. The other important thing to remember about the spine is that it holds the spinal cord through the middle of it, helping to send your nervous system around your body. Some people want to include the skull and the pelvis into the spine; this is however an incorrect thing to do. However these extra body parts do interrelate with the spinal cord and help to impact balance.

Spine curves

The spine is considered by many people to be straight, this is in fact not the case. The spine, if you look at it from the front, will indeed appear straight, however from the side the spine has 4 distinct curves in it. One of the curves in the spine, around the lumber vertebrae is an important curve as it helps to maintain a person’s centre of gravity. A person’s centre of gravity moves with each load and lift a person takes on before returning to normal. If this particular bend didn’t exist, we as human beings would simply fall over!

The curves in the spine are described as either kyphotic or lordotic. What do these words mean and which section of the spine will we find them in?


Found in: Thoracic and sacral sections of the spine.

Means: it is a convex curve in the spine. The convexity of the curve is towards the back of the spine.


Found in: Cervical and lumber sections of the spine.

Means: it is a concave curve in the spine, with the concavity towards the back of the spine.

In the diagram that we provided earlier the back of the spine is towards the labels of the spine sections. If you feel your own back, you are able to feel the spinous processes that are protruding from the back of the vertebrae.

Intervertebral Discs

Intervertebral discsBetween each of the vertebrae there is a cushion, also known as a disc, spinal disc or intervertebral disc. The purpose of the discs is to absorb the stresses the body endures through movement and also to prevent the vertebrae from grinding against each other, therefore preventing the sound of crepitus (2 bones make this sound when grinding against each other!). These objects are the largest structures in the human body without a vascular supply going to them. Each disc will absorb the nutrients  that it needs through the process of Osmosis. Each disc is

made of 2 key parts:

Illustration from Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site.                                                                                 Annulus Fibrosus and

http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013.                                                                                                  Nucleus Pulposus.

Annulus Fibrosus

The Annulus Fibrosis is a tough tyre-like structure that encases a gel-like centre, the Nucleus Pulposus. The Annulus Fibrosus enhances the spine’s ability to rotate and also helps to resist the compressive stress. It has a layered structure which consists of water and sturdy elastic collagen fibres. The fibres are orientated at different angles horizontally similar to that of a tyre. Collagen consists of fibrous bundles made of protein that are held together by proteoglycan gel.

Nucleus Pulposus

The Nucleus Pulposus is found in the centre of each of the Annulus Fibrosus, and is a gel-like elastic substance. Together with the Annulus Fibrosus, the Nucleus Pulposus distributes stress and weight from vertebra to vertebra. Structurally the Nucleus Pulposus is similar in make-up to that of the Annulus Fibrosus in that it contains, water, collagen and proteoglycans. However the concentration varies between the 2 things, especially as the Nucleus Pulposus has more water in it.

Why is it important to look after your spine?

Your spine, as we have looked at, already does an amazing job of looking after your organs, providing support and flexible movements as well as maintaining an upright posture. In life you are given just the one spine and that will see you through the entirety of your life, or at least that is the plan. The sad thing is however that poor manual handling and lifting practices can cause injury. In the workplace over 8.8 million working days are lost due to musculoskeletal disorders, over 40% of these account for back injury.

Safe moving and handling

Manual handling includes:






Putting Down,

Using Mechanical aids e.g. trucks and trolleys.

In the workplace, there is legislation in place. This piece of legislation is called The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Within this piece of legislation, it says that the employer should identify manual handling risks and, where practical, avoid manual handling risks. If avoidance is not possible the employer should take a risk assessment on the task needing to be done.

A good risk assessment that could be used is the TILE assessment, which we will look at now.

The TILE assessment stands for:





Let’s explore these areas:


You will need to look carefully at the task to be done, things that could be considered include:

 Does it involve handling away from the body?

 Are there movements such as bending, stretching, or twisting?

 Is the movement over a long distance or is it repetitive?

The employer will need to consider whether the task can:

 Be completed by using machinery, or handling aids,

 The task layout be improved,

 The movement of the body be modified,

 The work routine be improved,

 The task be completed in a team.


Once the task has been analysed the individual capability will need to be considered as follows:

 Is the person completing the lift fit and healthy?

 Have they been given training and information? Are they competent to do the task?

 Is suitable supervision provided?

 Are there any unusual circumstances that would cause a risk to certain employees e.g. is she pregnant?

The employer making the risk assessment could consider:

 Pre-employment medical,

 Provision for training and information,

 Ensuring the employee is competent in safe handling techniques,

 Providing supervision.


The load is a really important aspect of the assessment to be carried out. The person who is going to lift it should consider:

 How heavy is the load?

 Is it equally balanced?

 Is it stable?

 Does it have sharp edges?

 Will the contents shift?

If the load really does have to be lifted and moved, then control measures that could be considered are:

 Make the load lighter by splitting it,

 Make the load smaller,

 Provide handles to make it easier to grasp,

 Make the load more stable.


In everyday living we have to consider the environment, and in a moving safely lift this is no exception, you will have to consider the following:

 Is there enough space to carry out the task?

 Is the floor even or slippery?

 Is there good lighting?

In order to maintain safety, you could consider the following things:

 Can the workplace layout be improved?

 Can you improve the floor condition?

 Can we keep the lift to one level?

 Can you improve the environmental conditions?

 Do we have a good housekeeping process in place?

Of course, there are other things that should be taken into account as well the TILE assessment and these things include:

 Is movement hindered by work equipment?

 Is movement being hindered by any Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)?

 Issues that arise from employees identifying a lack of training or communication.

How to lift and move safely

There is a very easy, simple 6-step process to move safely this is:

Step 1: Stop and think.

Step 2: Position your feet.

Step 3: Bend your knees.

Step 4: Get a firm grip and keep the back slightly flexed.

Step 5: Raise with the legs.

Step 6: Keep the load close to your body.

Below image has been used with thanks to https://www.theimagen.eu

How to lift safely diagram

Want to know more about looking after your spine and how to safely move and handle objects? Why not attend one of our courses? For more information visit the Moving and Handling section of our website by clicking here.

The Spine and Safe Moving and Handling

Posted by Steve at 12:45 on Tuesday 15th January 2019.

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Emergency Services’ Telephone Numbers

Posted by Steve at 12:45 on Friday 15th February 2019.

This month we thought we would have a look at the emergency telephone numbers that are used in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Do you know what telephone number to call when you need emergency assistance around the world?

The number used will vary depending on the country; below is a list of numbers that may be useful:

The UK   - 999

Australia  - 000

Barbados  - 911

The Bahamas  - 911 or 919

Brazil (Police)   - 190

Brazil (Ambulance) - 192

Brazil (Fire)  - 193

China (Police)   - 110

China (Ambulance) - 120

China (Fire)  - 119

European Union  - 112

Hong Kong  - 999

India   - 112

Japan (Police)  - 110

Japan (other services)  -  119

New Zealand   - 111

USA and Canada - 911

So that’s made it much more clearer, hasn’t it? Well technically no it hasn’t as there are so many different emergency numbers for the same purpose, and not only that but the list also shows that there are countries who even have different numbers for each of the different services!

So why 999?

999 was the world’s first automated telephone to contact the emergency services. The first call originated in 1936. The idea of the emergency service contact number goes back even further than this, as in 1935 5 women died during a fire in Wimpole Street, London. Neighbours of the women had dialled ‘0’ to get in touch with the emergency services, which connected them to the switchboard, sadly, what these callers found was that the switchboard was jammed full of other calls that were not an emergency. This method of contacting the emergency services had been recommended since 1927.

During the 1920s and 30s police stations were being overrun with visitors alerting them of emergencies as well as having to field calls from the telephone which was a new invention at the time. The other way, during these decades, to contact the emergency services was to ask the operator for Whitehall 1-2-1-2, which was the Information Room set up at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters on Victoria Embankment.

Following on, from the 5 women’s deaths in Wimpole Street the General Post Office, that ran the telephone network, suggested a 3-digit telephone number that could be dialled to trigger a special signal and flashing light at the exchange. This would then signal to the operators to give their attention into this call. In order to find the new emergency number in the dark or smoke it was suggested to use an end number so that it could be easily found by touch.

Many combinations were suggested, ‘111’, was ruled out immediately as it could be triggered by faulty equipment or lines getting crossed. ‘222’ was also ruled out as it would have connected to the Abbey Local Exchange as in those days the number represented the first three letters ‘ABB’. They also looked at using ‘1’ and decided against this as it could be accidentally triggered, and ‘000’ wasn’t used as the first ‘0’ would have connected to the switchboard.

999 was then deemed to be the most reasonable choice of number. The service came into effect on July 1st 1937 and covered a 12-mile radius from London’s Oxford Circus. Several people claimed to have made the first 999 call, however one newspaper claims the first 999 call was made by Mrs Beard of Hampstead, on July 8th 1937. She was reporting a burglar that her husband was chasing, and he was promptly caught.

It is believed that during the first full week of 999, a total of 1,336 calls were made. In the November the Information Room was able to take over the control of the calls, and the system started to get rolled out around the UK, in particular Glasgow, in 1938.

By 1967, 400,000 calls were made to the Police in London, with over a million for all services across the UK.

What happens when you call 999?

When you call 999, the operator will ask which service you require. Here we take a look at the ambulance. Your call will be connected to an Emergency Operations Centre. The person on the other end of the line, known as a call handler, will then ask you a series of questions. It is important to note that these questions will not slow down the ambulance to reach you but will allow the call handler to fully assess the needs of the casualty.

You will need to ensure that you have the following information available for the call handler:

The address of the emergency including postcode:

This is possibly the most important information you can provide to the call handler, as it will help the ambulance to reach the emergency as quickly as possible. Should you be in a rural, countryside location, if you can provide the grid reference that will be a big help. If you are totally unsure you should look for telephone boxes, members of the public who you could ask for your location, motorway marker boards if these are safe for you to view or street signs. All of these things can assist you in providing location information to the call handler.

The telephone number you are calling from:

This is helpful for the call handler should the call get disconnected and they need to call you back to continue getting information from you to help them assess the casualty.

What has happened:

If you are able to, you should provide the call handler with as much information as you can as to the circumstances around the emergency, the state of the casualty’s health and what you are doing in order to support the casualty.

Once you have handed this information to the call handler, they are able to release an ambulance, the call handler will then ask you further questions. These questions will help the call handler to provide you with first aid advice that can help you to look after the casualty until the ambulance staff arrive to take over.

The questions they may ask include:

The casualty’s age, gender and medical history,

Whether the casualty is conscious and breathing or otherwise,

Is the casualty bleeding?

Does the casualty have any chest pain?

Details of the casualty’s injury and how it has happened,

What part of the body is injured?

Is there any serious bleeding?

Depending on the cause of the injury, you may be asked if the attacker is still on scene, so that the crew can be advised, and if necessary held back until the Police are able to attend and assist. Another relevant question may be is there anyone trapped inside a vehicle, this will then help the call handler to arrange other assistance that their crew may need, e.g. the Fire Service.

While you are at the scene of the emergency it is important that you remain as calm as you possibly can and listen carefully to the questions being asked of you, so that you are then able to provide the call handler with the information they require. While you are waiting for the ambulance the call handler will provide you with information you need to be able to assist the casualty, if you are in the street it is important that you stay with the casualty. Should you have put the telephone down and ended the call, you should call the emergency Operations Centre back should the casualty change, or you change location. If you are calling from home or work, it is advisable that you open windows or doors so that you can signal to the ambulance crew, or you could send someone to wait in a visible place for them to guide them into where you and the casualty are waiting. It is always a good idea to lock away animals and pets for the safety of the crew.

Other things you can do to assist the medical staff are to have written down the casualty’s doctor’s details and any information on medication they take, even better collect their medication up and show this to the paramedics on their arrival. Be aware of any allergies the casualty has and ensure that you have told the call handler so they can pass this on to the ambulance crew, you can also reinforce this with the crew when they arrive.

Always try to stay calm, this is harder to achieve than it is to say but it is important so that you are able to take heed of the advice the call handler has given you and then carry it out.

Do NOT hang up the telephone, stay on the line, unless you are told otherwise by the call handler. The ambulance will be sent as soon as you have passed on the location to the call handler.

999 or 112 in the UK?

Where does this question come from, I hear you ask, and the answer to that is simple. In the UK confusion reigns as to the right number to use for the emergency services. The main reason for the confusion is, as far as I can tell, the advent of social media, although I have been made aware of a video on YouTube which backs up the myth that 112 is better than 999.

Firstly, I would ask how the telephone number that is universally known in the UK as the emergency number became inferior to a number of which not everyone is aware. 112 as discussed earlier is the European Union telephone that is live in all current 28-member states of the EU, (Brexit is not discussed further in this article!).

Secondly, we look at social media, sadly in today’s world, if it’s on social media it must be true and vice versa. This is not the case. You can write anything on social media whether there is evidence behind it or not. The myth on social media is that the telephone call will send more information to the call handler and handles the call in a different way if you use 112 over 999. This is in fact incorrect. Another myth is that a mobile phone’s SIM card is specially preprogrammed to dial 112 in an emergency; this is in fact true however it is important to note that the SIM card is also preprogrammed for 999 and some 911 as well.

The video on YouTube, which could be where some of the myth and incorrect detail of 112 comes from, is entitled, ‘Help me’ The secrets of using 112 on a mobile phone in an emergency or accident. I have taken the decision not to link to this video as it contains incorrect and therefore confusing information, but as of Monday the video has received 236,087 views!

The Truth:

In truth, 999 and 112 are the SAME in the United Kingdom! Yes, you read that correctly, the 2 numbers are exactly the same in the United Kingdom. You can use either one and you will get the same service, with the same location information sent to the call handler as each other. Most people will dial 999 as this is the number that we have been brought up with in the UK since we were knee high to a grasshopper and it will continue to be for many years to come having celebrated its 80th birthday in 2017.

REMEMBER: Should your mobile telephone not have a signal BUT has battery, you will be able to contact the emergency services by calling either 999 or 112 as your mobile will recognise both of these as an emergency.

What has changed to 999

During this article we want to look at 2 major evolutions of the emergency number 999 over its 80 years.

The first of these is the opportunity to be able to text 999 and get an emergency response.

The EmergencySMS service was introduced in September 2009, and was developed by:

Action on Hearing Loss,

British Telecom (BT),

Cable and Wireless,

The Department of Communities and Local Government,


The UK Emergency Services, and

All the UK mobile network operators.

The idea behind this service is that if you are unable to make voice calls, you can contact the EmergencySMS from your mobile phone. This is a service which is part of the usual 999 service but designed specifically for people with hearing loss or difficulty with speech.

The service should ONLY be used to send notification of an emergency, test texts should not be sent. An emergency is described as:

 Someone’s life is at risk,

 A crime is happening now,

 Someone is injured or threatened,

 There is a fire, or someone is trapped,

 You need an ambulance urgently,

 Someone is troubled on the cliffs, on the shoreline or is missing at sea.

In order to use the service, the person who may need to use it has to register by sending ‘register’ to 999, and then follow the instructions that are sent back to them. Once registered the user can then text 999 in an emergency but will need to ensure that they have included in their message, which service they require, where the problem is and what the emergency is. The emergency services’ operator will then ask for further information if required or will confirm that help is on the way. The assumption of help being on its way should not be made, and if a reply has not been received, usually after 2 minutes, the user should try to send another message usually after 3 minutes or find another way to summon help.

Another change to the emergency services, is the advent of Silent Solutions; this service has been available on the Emergency Operator line since 2001, although even today is relatively unknown. The idea is that if you are unable to speak or make a sound on an emergency call, due to a terrorist attack or domestic abuse for instance, you will be asked to dial 55 and then be put through to the Police. Although, you are being put through to the Police this can also result in a life being saved. You should remember that the Police are unable to attend to all silent calls and therefore this service seems the obvious answer as they now know you are genuinely trying to contact the 999 operator.

The usual protocol in the UK, is for the operator to ask you a series of questions when you dial 999 in doing so trying to identify if you meant to dial the number in the first place. If they have not had a reply to their first question, which is, Which service do you require? The operator will then ask you to either tap the handset, cough or make a noise, should you not do this the operator will divert your call to a message that encourages you then to dial 55.

One of the myths that goes along with this service is that the Police are able to track your location. The emergency services have an array of methods to track your location, but not because you use the 55 process.

Finally, please remember that you DO NOT NEED a mobile phone signal to contact 999, the mobile phone SIM card will recognise this as an emergency number, and when trying to find a signal, will look for your network first, should this be unsuccessful then it will look for the next available network signal to allow the mobile to connect to the emergency services’ operator!

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Knife Crime in the UK

Posted by Steve at 13:00 on Monday 18th March 2019.

This month we dedicate our monthly blog post to

all the victims of knife crime across the UK.

Over recent weeks and months, we have seen on our TV screens, newspapers, social media feeds and the like, a rise in the number of knife attacks in our capital. More recently the attention has turned to other such attacks in other cities up and down the UK.

We are saddened by the stories that we see on our screens mostly such young lives taken, from what we see in the media, for absolutely no reason at all. If we take the story of Jodie Chesney, who was sitting with her group of friends in a park, listening to music and ‘enjoying life’ when a male came up behind her and stabbed her in the back.

Only on Monday, did we see a news interview for ITV in Liverpool, 2 brothers openly told a reporter that they carry a knife and feel safer for doing so, 1 even took his knife from his jacket and showed it to the camera. Yes, these boys’ faces were hidden, but this is an all too familiar story the media are giving us. The same reporter spoke to the boys’ mother, who in simple terms said that she was ok with her boys carrying knives as it made her feel safe that they felt safe. When asked if she considered that she was encouraging her boys to break the law, she said she didn’t feel that, and that it’s better for her boys to come home of an evening than not.

So, this month we thought we would take a look at the rise of knife crime in the UK and see if the statistics support the media view that the UK is indeed in the middle of a rise in crimes involving knives, as well as what a member of the public can do to help someone who has been stabbed by a sharp object.

Is knife crime on the rise?

To help us explore this very question we have looked at the statistics released by the Office for National Statistics.

The statistics in the year up to September 2018, show a total of 42,957 offences involving a knife or a sharp object in England and Wales, equating to 6% of all offences. If we compare this with the previous year, we see 38,171 offences that involved a knife or a sharp object, in that year this also equates to 6% of all offences in England and Wales.

From these statistics we can see that the overall percentage of knife crime across the UK is staying constant at 6%, however individual cases have risen by 4,786 in one year.

What we thought we would do at this point is to take a look at the area of the country that keeps hitting the news, London, as well as coming closer to home and look at the 2 counties we primarily cover with our courses, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.


October 2016 – September 2017: 13,741

October 2017 – September 2018: 14,847


October 2016 – September 2017: 280

October 2017 – September 2018: 308


October 2016 – September 2017: 295

October 2017 – September 2018: 243

What we can see from the local authority areas is that the national rise is certainly occurring in London and Gloucestershire, but actually decreasing in Wiltshire, with a decrease of 18% from the previous year. Gloucestershire’s knife crime has increased by more than that of London in one year up 10% compared to London’s 8%. It will be very interesting to see the 2018/19 statistics when they are released later this year to see how the statistics have changed.

If we look take a look through the years in the statistics, we do see a rise in knife crime statistics since the low point of 2014, of 23,945.

So far in this blog we have used the word offences to explore what’s happening across the country. It may be worth having a look into the word offences and find out which offences knives are being used for. Here we look at the statistics across the UK, then London, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire ending September 2018.

England and Wales:

Attempted Murder:   356,

Threats to Kill:   3,351,

Assault with injury:  19,761,

Robbery:   18,556,

Rape and Sexual assault: 657,

Homicide:   276.


Attempted Murder:   68,

Threats to Kill:   747,

Assault with injury:  5.360,

Robbery:   8,428,

Rape and Sexual assault: 161,

Homicide:   83.


Attempted Murder:   3,

Threats to Kill:   39,

Assault with injury:  173,

Robbery:   84,

Rape and Sexual assault: 6,

Homicide:   3.


Attempted Murder:   0,

Threats to Kill:   19,

Assault with injury:  164,

Robbery:   57,

Rape and Sexual assault: 3,

Homicide:   0.

As expected, we can see that London has far more incidents of knife crime across all of the areas that the statistics look at, however it would appear that Wiltshire is safer in these areas than London and Gloucestershire.

Why do people carry knives?

There are understandable reasons why some people carry knives; these people do so for their profession, e.g. carpet fitters, plastic cutters etc, but of course these people are not likely to be the ones who are contributing to the statistics above.

The more important question to be asked should be why more and more young people are coming to think that carrying a knife is a good idea. Some suggestions for this include:

For protection, self-defence, in case they are attacked and need to protect themselves.

To make them feel like the ‘top-dog’ on their estate.

To make people respect them.

Feel that they can push themselves up the social ladder.

Being brought up in a house/environment where carrying a knife is acceptable.

They are cheap and easy to get hold of.

They are not able to have a fist fight and therefore need a weapon to back them up.

Their own mental safety, if I carry a knife, I feel safe.

Instil fear in others.

Peer pressure.

Being forced to carry a knife by older gang members, as the police won’t suspect a 7-year-old.

What does the law say about carrying a knife?

Legislation in England and Wales says that carrying a knife can earn an adult 4 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine; should that knife be used to commit a crime the sentences are likely to be a lot higher than this.

What can you do if you know someone carries a knife?

If you know that someone carries a knife, whether this be a friend, brother, father, uncle, son or daughter etc, you should remember that it is a criminal offence. Just because someone else carries a knife does not make it right or okay for another person to do so, even if it is a trusted person, it is still a criminal offence.

If you know someone who carries a knife, we have provided a few tips that you can use to know what you can do:

Never think that you can talk to the person and persuade them to stop carrying.

If possible, you should report this to the police, do not think of this as grassing up a friend or loved one, potentially you are saving theirs or someone else’s life!

If you live with someone who carries a knife, try not to irritate or annoy them as you won’t know what they are capable of.

Do not try to take the knife off a child or young person, as it is likely to anger the person and may escalate the situation out of control.

Should you be in a situation where you feel threatened or at-risk from somebody who is carrying a knife, you should try to walk away, do not run as you may fall over, and try to get to the nearest safest possible place, around other people. Do not think that you will be able to negotiate with the person holding the knife, the best thing to do is to walk away and report the incident as soon as you possibly can. The best piece of advice would be to try to avoid situations and people who scare or bully you and make sure that you report it.

What should I do to help someone who has been stabbed by a sharp object?

The most important thing that a member of the public can do for someone who has been injured by a sharp object is to ensure that they themselves stay safe. If you are unable to approach the casualty as the attacker is still on the scene or likely to be, the best thing that can be done is to call the emergency services and report the incident, not forgetting to mention you believe that there is a sharp object involved.

If you are able to approach the casualty, remember that you may only see a small entry wound, which could have deep internal damage hiding under the skin. This is what you should do for the casualty:

1. Call 999/112 for emergency help and make sure it is safe to approach.

2. Control life-threatening bleeding as a priority:

i. Apply direct pressure to the exact point of bleeding, if needed inside the deep wound,

ii. For life-threatening bleeding to the limbs – consider a tourniquet (see tourniquet section of this blog!).

3. Treat the casualty for hypovolaemic shock – lie them down, elevate their legs.


What is a tourniquet?

A tourniquet is a device that is tightened around a limb to temporarily reduce blood flow. In recent military conflicts tourniquets have saved many lives and have been reintroduced into the European Resuscitation Council First Aid Guidelines as of the 15th October 2015.

Complications can occur should a tourniquet not be applied correctly, therefore training is essential to make sure application is safe and effective. If a tourniquet is not tightened enough, which is usually the case with improvised tourniquets, they can squash the veins not the arteries that feed blood into the limbs, therefore continuing to bleed out, or make it even worse.

A tourniquet should be reserved for life-threatening

bleeding from an arm and leg that cannot be controlled by direct pressure.

How to apply a tourniquet:

1. Apply the tourniquet around the thigh or the upper arm, at least 5cm above the wound, If the injury is below the knee/elbow, apply it just above the knee/elbow joint.

2. Tighten the tourniquet until the bleeding is no longer life-threatening. This is painful for the casualty. Explain that the pain will subside, but it is necessary to save their life!

3. If the bleeding is not fully controlled, consider direct pressure to the point of bleeding or a haemostatic dressing. Sometimes you may even need to apply a second tourniquet.

4. Make sure that 999/112 have been contacted.

5. Note the exact time of application and make sure that you pass this vital information to medical staff. Write the time on the tourniquet if possible.

What if the object is still in the wound?

An embedded object should not be removed, unless it is a splinter, as it may be stemming bleeding or further damage may result.

As a first-aider you should use sterile dressings and bandages to pack around the object. This will apply pressure around the wound and support the object.

Send the casualty to hospital to have the object removed safely.

In summary, yes, the statistics have shown that knife crime has risen since the low in 2014, but the more important message from us in this blog is to remember that the carrying of an offensive weapon is against the law.

For more information on First Aid techniques to help a casualty

who has been injured by a sharp object,

why not join one of our First aid courses?

But most of all stay safe.

Dedicated to all the victims of knife crime across the UK.

Past Blog Posts

Working at Height

Posted by Steve at 14:55 on Tuesday 16th April 2019.

Working at height can be one of the most dangerous activities that can be carried out at work, due to the variations in height involved, accounting for the highest percentage of injuries caused by falls from height.

Prior to 1974, there were no regulations or legislation for activities at work involving height. This changed with the Health and Safety at Work 1974. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states very clearly that:

‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his/her employees.’

The legislation placed the responsibility on the employer to carry out risk assessments as well as to ensure that they provide the tools for their employee to do the required job in the safest possible way. This is a long way from the historical evidence we have of people working at height.

Historic Working at Height

Just taking a look through the history books will show you the sort of work that has been carried out at heights over the years. Even walking around some of the most interesting and beautiful cities and areas of the world you can see evidence of people working at height.

Examples of these structures include:

The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt,

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, France,

Gloucester Cathedral, England,

Salisbury Cathedral, England,

Canterbury Cathedral, England,

The Houses of Parliament, England,

La Sagrada Familia, Spain.

These are possibly all structures that you will be aware of, if not visited and seen. These major structures would have been built by people who were using the most basic of tools and working in environments that modern Health and Safety rules would frown upon and punish. Not only this, but the people building these structures would have been unskilled and not necessary fully suitable to the task they were being asked to complete. But we must not forget that aside of all the issues with their practice, they managed to build structures which have lasted the test of time and are admired by many people every day.

As we move through the years, the industrial revolution made room for steam-powered machinery to assist in the building sector. In the 20th Century the use of elevators and cranes have made it easier for skyscrapers to be built however, working at height, safety equipment was haphazard and lacking in regulations.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

In 1974, The Health and Safety at Work Act came into force to encourage, regulate and enforce workplace Health and Safety. The Act introduced an additional Code of Practice to improve working conditions for employees and provide guidance for employers and employees working at height.

The Act also applied to the self-employed sector as well as those who are working in the employed sector. The legislation also extended to the provision of the maintenance of plant and systems of work, arrangements for the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances, information of safe systems, instruction, training and supervision, and maintenance of any work carried out under the employer’s control.

Want to find out more about Health and Safety at Work?

Why not visit our dedicated Health and Safety at Work page here

 alternatively why not book one of our courses?

According to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) reports of fatal injuries to employees have reduced by 86% as of 2015. This is clearly an indicator of how well the legislation has worked, although in that time additional legislation has come into force which has further affected the Working at Height regulations, as well the invention of new and upgraded technology to aid the workers who are working at height.

In 2005, the Work at Height Regulations came into force. These regulations built on and added rules and regulations to that of the Health and Safety at Work 1974. One of the most important things that the regulations did, was to remove the minimum height for a fall from height to be counted. According to the Work at Height Regulations 2005 there is no definition of a fall from height which means that a fall from height could actually take place below sea level. It is important to remember that a fall from standing can be a fall from height.

The regulations make it clear that they apply to any work at height where there is a risk of fall likely to cause injury regardless of the height, type of work and duration of the task taking place.

Why do injuries and accidents from height take place?

Most injuries caused from a fall from height at work include:

People taking shortcuts,

Equipment is not available or in poor condition,

Wrong choice of equipment for the work being carried out,

Equipment not being used accordingly,


Lack of awareness of the risks of working at height,

Inadequate or a lack of training and supervision.

The regulations provide duties for employers and employees, they state that anyone who contracts others to work at height should ensure that the task:

Should be effectively planned and organised,

Takes into account weather conditions,

Utilises trained and competent persons,

Ensures the venue is safe,

Uses safe and inspected equipment,

Ensures risks from fragile surfaces are properly controlled, and

Ensures risks from falling objects are well managed.

It also adds that employers must also:

Only allow the work at height to be carried out if it could not be reasonably carried out at ground level,

Ensure the work is as safe as practical,

Plan for emergencies, and

Take into account risk assessments.

It is important that the person who is carrying out the task at height is a competent person and that they have ensured, as well as the person asking them for the task to be done, that the equipment being used to complete it is safe and in full working order prior to the task taking place.

So, what happens should it all go wrong?

Should an injury or an accident occur in the workplace, the employer or the person who contracted out the work may:

Receive an unlimited fine,

Be imprisoned for up to 2 years,

Face prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act (2007) which could include:


These can be unlimited, on top of the unlimited fine mentioned above.

Remedial orders,

This will require a company or organisation to take steps to remedy any management failure that led to a death.

Publicity orders.

This is an order that a court can impose which would require the company or organisation to publicise that it has been convicted of the offence.

The order will require the publication of:

The full details of the incident,

The amount of any fine imposed, and

The terms of any remedial order that was made.

The publicity order provisions will not come into force until the Sentencing Guidelines Council has completed its work on the relevant guidance.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 cannot be applied retrospectively, any deaths that occurred before the 6th April 2008 would have been covered and dealt with under the previous corporate manslaughter legislation.

Do you want to learn more about Working at Height?

Why not book onto our new course which we are launching today?

Alternatively, visit the Working at Height dedicated page on our website.

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Posted by Steve at 15:00 on Thurday 19th August 2019.

As schools go back this month, there will have been children up and down this country with mixed emotions about the start of the new academic school year. There will have been the children who were excited, due to starting school for the first time, or to see their friends again after a long summer break, or even because the new school year means a new teacher, new uniform or new experiences ahead. Of course, there are some children who are fully immersed in the school environment and learning and have been longing for the day they can get up and go back to the classroom to see what they might learn in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. There is also the group of children who have been suffering significantly at the hands of their summer caregivers and will simply be relieved to be returning to the classroom, if only for respite from the abuse they have suffered.

Children Not looking forward to September

Of course, there are other children who will not be looking forward to the school year, there are many reasons for this. Some children don’t feel that they are very academic and therefore feel like they tread water in the classroom rather than achieving, maybe because their strengths lie in more active hands-on subjects and not the core subjects. Some children will just dread the idea of putting on their uniform as they are more comfortable in leisure wear and the uniform makes them feel restricted. Unfortunately, there is one major concern for some children and that is the fear of the bully. This month we take a look at bullying, what it is, and how it can be overcome.

The Most Famous School Starter

We thought however, that before we get into the serious business of exploring bullying, we would look at possibly the most famous school starter in this academic year. That child of course is Princess Charlotte, the second born of Prince William and Catherine. She is joining her brother at Thomas’s Battersea, which will cost £6,000 per term for Charlotte, less than that of her older brother Prince George as she is the second sibling attending the school.

We think it is fair to say that both children looked smart and rather cute in their school uniform on the first day of term, as I am sure all parents will be dreading later in the term when they no longer look that smart in the uniform. We wish both Prince George and Princess Charlotte well in their upcoming school year.

School Uniform Policy

One more story that we have been made aware of this last week is the story of a school that has been accused of over enforcing the school uniform policy. Several parents have informed The Chronicle Live that their children have been threatened with isolation for wearing shoes that include bows. Walbottle Campus in Newcastle has a dress code which states ‘shoes with bows or other extraneous adornments’ are prohibited. The secondary school has admitted that names of children have been taken who have fallen foul of the dress code and a text has been sent home to parents to ensure the children attend school in appropriate dress code shoes, ‘maintaining their high standards’.

What difference does a bow on a school shoe make in relation to the child’s learning? We would make the argument that it absolutely makes no difference, some parents have reported that shoes without the extraneous adornments are difficult to find. However, as the school has the policy it should be adhered to, to ensure that all children comply and are therefore not able to become a victim of bullying for having the wrong shoes or even shoes that are seen by some as being different.


So, let’s turn our attention to our main article subject for this month and that is the rather serious subject of bullying. We intend to consider what bullying is, the differing types of bullying, the signs and symptoms of bullying, how bullying can be tackled and the victim supported, as well as how it has changed over the years.

What is bullying?

According to the Oxford dictionary, bullying is:

The repeated use of threats or violence in an attempt to harm or intimidate others.

A bully will identify something in their victim that they can use against them in the first instance and then will use this to intensify their campaign against the victim further and occasionally bring others into their campaign.

The types of bullying:

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is when someone uses insulting or demeaning language in order to mock, degrade, embarrass or insult another person.

Verbal bullying involves name-calling, as well as threatening another person to either do something or to keep something secret.

In many cases, verbal bullying is something which is usually meted out by girls. Although this is not always the case. It is true that girls are seen as being more subtle in their approach and, at times, can be even more devastating because of this subtlety. Girls also use social exclusion techniques to dominate others and to show their superiority and power. It is fair to say though that there are boys who also possess the skills and subtlety to invoke verbal bullying and the social exclusion techniques.

How does verbal bullying affect?

Verbal bullying can affect victims in a wide range of ways. It can:

How to deal with verbal bullying

It is important that verbal bullying is dealt with. There are many ways that it can be dealt with, but it can be difficult for schoolteachers to spot as the bully can be very subtle in their delivery and therefore it can go missed and not stopped for longer than is necessary. Of course the victim will have the worry that should they report the bully for their treatment of them that the bullying may not stop and in actuality get worse.

To stop the verbal bullying the following things should be tried:

These strategies can work very effectively, however they can be hard to action, in particular when it comes to ignoring what the bully is saying as it is always easier to hear a negative and see the negative thing that is being said to them, as opposed to looking into the positives of themselves. This is even harder to do having had the bully weaken their self-esteem and confidence.

Physical Bullying

Physical bullying is a serious issue for all concerned, this includes the bully, victim, others witnessing the episode and the adults involved in dealing with the aftermath.

There are a lot of negative physical interactions between children and young adults, which include:

However, these are not considered physical bullying unless the following occurs:

Physical bullying is in some cases worse than verbal bullying as it involves a level of physical harm being caused to the victim by the bully. Actions that constitute physical bullying include:

Physical bullying can also veer into sexual assault or sexual harassment.

In the reverse of verbal bullying, studies show that in the majority of cases males are the bully as opposed to girls, although some studies show that when a girl physically bullies another, the resulting injuries can be worse than in the male bully circumstance.


Physical bullying is most likely to occur at school, however it can occur on the way to or from school. There are many reasons why the bully picks on a particular individual, it may be so that they have power, or may be in order to fit in. Generally speaking, the bully will have friends who condone the behaviour that the bully is dishing out, and the bully is likely to be stronger and/or bigger than the singled out individual.

How can you identify physical bullying?

Signs of physical bullying include:

It is important that a victim of physical bullying is reassured and told that they are not to blame, and what the bully is doing to them is wrong. It is important that the details of the bullying incidents are discovered including when, where, and who was involved; this will help build up the picture and, where serious assaults are concerned, the police can then take action. The victim should never be advised to fight back, the simplest way to deal with a bully in the short term is to avoid the bully, stay with friends or where there is an adult around supervising the activities taking place.

A bully should be spoken to and explained to that their behaviour is unwanted and not appropriate; they, like all children and young people, should be taught to respect others.

Indirect Bullying,

Indirect bullying is arguably one of the most damaging types of bullying. It is where one person or a group of people undermine or try to damage your reputation by spreading rumours and/or lies behind your back. This is a type of abuse that is prevalent in girls and is usually an indicator of more serious girl-on-girl bullying in times ahead.

It is also one of the harder types of bullying to assist a victim with as it is all verbal and very difficult to prove.

The dangers of indirect bullying should be taking seriously, just because the victim doesn’t have any visible scars, the internal damage to the victim can be very detrimental to their continuing development. It is important at this stage to note that as children are growing up, particularly girls, they care about their reputation.

It is important also to remember that just because someone spreads a lie about you or says something nasty about you behind your back it is not always deemed bullying, and this is because bullying has 3 very important elements to it that defines an action as bullying and these 3 elements are:

Examples of indirect bullying include:

The effects of indirect bullying are closely aligned to verbal bullying, and these concerns should be taken very seriously and supported as much as is possible, bearing in mind that this particular type of bullying is all verbal and therefore very difficult to prove.


This is the type of bullying which has really developed over recent years with the advent of technology being used in the way that it is today. In our day at school, bullying would have taken place in the school playground, or on the way to and from school, whereas in this day and age bullying can now continue into the child’s own home and bedroom.

Cyberbullying is any type of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones, tablets and other internet connected devices.

In a recent national bullying survey:

Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it can go viral very fast.

Types of Cyber Abuse:


This is the act of sending offensive, rude, or insulting messages as well as being abusive. It also includes posting nasty or humiliating comments on posts, photos and chat rooms as well as being explicitly abusive on gaming sites.


This is where someone sends information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. It includes sharing photographs of someone for the purpose of ridicule, spreading fake rumours and gossip. This can be on any social media or app, it has been known of people altering photographs of others and posting them in the interest of bullying.


This is where someone purposely uses really extreme and offensive language and gets into online arguments and fights. This is done in order to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.


This is where someone hacks into another person’s email or social networking account in order to use the person's online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to or about others. This also includes the making of fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online which can be really difficult to get them closed down.

Outing and Trickery

This is where someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.


Cyberstalking is the act of repeatedly sending messages that include:

The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.


This is where others intentionally leave someone out of a group for example group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and is very common.

Effects of Cyberbullying

The effects of cyberbullying include:

So, what can be done about cyberbullying? A lot of people believe that they are safe from being identified in the cyber world as a bully if they use a fake account, and/or name, however this is not the case. The company that hosts the website where the bully is uploading their comments, and other content, onto will keep logs which detail where uploads have been made from, whilst we as the general public are unable to access these, the police are certainly able to.

One way to deal with any comments that are being made to a victim would be to advise them to print out the comments and then hand them to a trusted adult, who can potentially contact the police if the comments are harassing in nature or threatening.

It is important that an adult who a cyberbullying victim turns to assists the victim in the best way they can. Bullying UK suggests that the following strategies are used:

In summary….

Bullying is wrong,

Bullies should be taught to respect others,

The victim has done nothing to justify being treated in this way.

Baby Loss Month

Posted by Steve at 15:00 on Tuesday 15th October 2019.

Today we mark the end of Baby Loss Awareness Week, a week in which all those babies lost, and their parents, are remembered. Tonight, we will be joining in the Wave of Light by lighting a candle in their memory.

‘A person’s a person,

No matter how small’

Dr Seuss

As some of you may be aware, October is the Pregnancy and Baby Loss month. This was first designated by President Ronald Reagan of the United States of America on October 25th, 1988. In doing so President Reagan said:

‘When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan.

When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower.

When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.

This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world.

It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children

due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.

Now, therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America,

 do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

 I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.’

With this one speech, Ronald Reagan has summed up what was clearly an issue before he stepped in. There still isn’t a word to describe a parent who has lost their child, but at least they are now remembered and this is marked each year thanks to a President who saw this as an issue he could help with.

Within the designated Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, one week is dedicated to the cause; this is always from the 9th to the 15th of October. This week provides different opportunities for different groups of people. In regard to bereaved parents, it allows them to come together with others across the globe to commemorate and remember their babies’ lives. It also allows those who have been affected by the loss of a baby, charities and other organisations the opportunity to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. It also allows charities, other supporters and other organisations the opportunity to drive improvements in the bereavement care and support available for those affected by this tragic event in their lives.

In the UK alone, over 60 charities come together and collaborate during baby loss week.

In the UK alone it is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss during pregnancy or birth each year, to give this statistic some context, each year there are around 60,000 babies born. Not only this but also, every day in the UK 9 babies are stillborn.

Even with this level from loss, there is an enormous taboo in openly discussing experiences of baby loss and that of the actual child who has been lost. This National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day why don’t we change that taboo and get openly talking, and supporting those who have lost a loved one too soon.

It is vitally important, not just throughout the month of October, that all parents who have lost a child, baby or infant are remembered and also supported as and when they need someone to be there for them.

There is no greater loss than that of a loved one, especially one so young.

On the 10th of October, The Independent newspaper published an article in which they discussed this subject and also named 20 famous faces who have opened up about their experience. We thank The Independent for this and have replicated their list for you here:

Michelle Obama, Former First Lady of the USA,

Mark Zuckerburg, Founder of Facebook, and his partner Priscilla Chan,

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress,

Beyoncé, Singer and actress,

Hilaria and Alec Baldwin, the latter an actor,

Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness, the former an actor,

Pink, singer,

Lindsay Lohan, actress,

Lily Allen, singer,

Celine Dion, singer,

Nicole Kidman, actress,

Demi Moore, actress,

Kirstie Alley, actress,

Tana and Gordon Ramsay, latter a TV Chef,

Sharon Stone, actress,

Gabrielle Union, actress,

Nicola Sturgeon, current First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the SNP,

Courteney Cox, actress,

Mariah Carey, singer, and finally….

Leandra Medine, fashion blogger.

As you can see, a wide range of famous faces have opened up publicly about their experiences of the loss of a baby/miscarriage on their social media accounts, raising awareness of the issue but still the taboo surrounds discussing experiences. This last week has helped the many charities across the UK to raise the awareness of the subject, as well as The Independent newspaper publishing an article each day dedicated to the subject of the loss of a baby or child.

The grief and pain that comes with the loss of a baby can have long-lasting and damaging effects on the woman, her partner and extended family. It can be helpful for these parents, and the wider family, to realise and to see that they are not alone. That is why the 20 famous faces listed above have helped others by sharing their experiences although it would have been painful for them to do so.

How Is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month marked and celebrated?

There are a number of ways that this important event is marked. One of the easiest ways that the important cause can be marked is by wearing the ribbon or badge. These are available to buy at several of the charities that specialise in the area. The badge consists of 2 different colour ribbons, 1 blue and 1 pink, as shown to the right; this can be bought in either ribbon or metal badge version.

During the designated week, the 9th to the 15th of October, buildings have been lit up in soft pink and baby blue across the UK. Across the week in 2017, 71 buildings lit up in the corresponding colours, this number increased in 2018 to 180 buildings, we wait to see how many buildings in 2019 were lit up. The ideal period of time for the buildings to be lit in the colours is for the whole week, but if this couldn’t be managed then the idea would be for the buildings to light up for the wave of light. Baby Loss Awareness has provided some ideas should you want to light your house up in pink and blue, you can see their video by clicking on the link below:

Lighting your house up in pink and blue

In our local area in recent years, Greenbridge roundabout in Swindon was lit up as was the Civic Centre in Trowbridge. Already publicised as lighting up throughout this last week are several buildings in Bristol which include:

Bristol Magistrates Court,

Arnos Vale Cemetery,

The Bristol Hippodrome,

Luxe Fitness in Bedminster,

The SS Great Britain,

Ashton Gate Stadium,

St Peter’s Church, Portishead, and

St James’ Church, Westerleigh near Yate.

Charlotte Coombes, Chair of Bristol Stillbirth and Neonatal Death charity (SANDS) said:

‘We hope turning some of Bristol’s iconic buildings and landmarks pink and blue

 will spark conversations about baby loss

and give local bereaved parents and families an opportunity to talk about

their precious babies.

The other way that children taken too soon are remembered is the International Wave of Light. The International Wave of Light takes place at 7pm in the local time zone, at this time people light a candle in their homes, organisations or community groups in memory of all the babies, infants and children taken too soon. It usually lasts an hour, but obviously the candle can be burnt longer should you like. It is such a simple idea but can mean so much. It is then asked if a photo of the candle (or any candle picture) can be shared on social media feeds to send the candle burning around the world. The hashtag that should be used so that the candles can be seen is #WaveofLight.

How can you support parents who have lost a baby, infant or child too soon?

We are aware that we have already looked at this in an earlier article this year, back in May. We are including the advice here once again.

The Lullaby Trust has compiled a list that may be helpful, however is not a to-do list, and it is important to remember that each individual situation is different. The Lullaby Trust has put together some guidance on how to support a bereaved parent; we use their guidance with thanks to them:

Allow the bereaved person to express whatever he or she is feeling, even if these feelings seem intense and frightening.

Try not to use any language that may be judgemental.

Be available to listen to the parents talk as much and as often as they wish about the baby or child who died. This can be helpful for them.

It may be difficult for you to hear, so make sure you seek support for yourself if you think this would be helpful.

Bereaved parents often want to talk about their child and be allowed to remember them.

Talk freely about the special qualities of the child and do not avoid mentioning the subject.

Use the child’s name.

Suggest you look together at photographs, if the parent seems comforted by photos and keepsakes.

Try not to offer ‘reassurance’ on things you are not completely certain about, and which may indeed remain uncertain.

Give special attention to any other children in the family, especially if the parents are too distressed themselves to give them comfort or attend to their individual needs.

Offer to help with practical matters: telephoning, shopping, cooking and childminding, but avoid the temptation to take control.

Do not, however, wash any item of clothing or bedding without being asked, as many parents find great comfort from things that still smell like their child. Unless you are asked, do not pack away the child’s belongings.

Never put or throw anything away as this may be regretted later. Usually parents will deal with the child’s belongings when they are ready for them. This can be an important part of coming to terms with the death.

Never tell the grieving person what he or she should do or how they should feel.

Remember everyone reacts differently and it is important to accept the differences.

Do not try to find something positive in the bereavement experience. That is something the parents may or may not want to do themselves at a later stage.

Your offers of support, especially at first, may be received without obvious gratitude, or even ungraciously, but try not to let this lead to an end to your contact or friendship.

Parents are often very distressed at losing a valued relationship because neither side knew how to react to such a tragedy at first. If you can remain sensitive to a family’s changing needs as their bereavement goes on, continue to keep in touch and offer practical help, this will be valuable support.

There is no footprint so small

It doesn’t leave

An imprint on this world.

Author Unknown

Should you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact any of the 60+ charities who come together for this week as follows:

SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death)


The Lullaby Trust

The Miscarriage Association

The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust


For links to the following charities please visit https://babyloss-awareness.org/organisations/

Abbie’s Fund,

Abigail’s Footsteps,

Aching Arms,

Action on Pre-eclampsia,

Aidan’s Elephants,

ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices)

APS Support,

Baby Lifeline,

Beyond Bea,

Birmingham Women’s Hospital,

Cariad Angel Gowns,

Child Bereavement UK,

CMV Action,

Doula UK,

Elsie’s Moon,

Ffion’s Gift,

First Light,

Forever Stars,


Genesis Research Trust,

Group B Strep Support,

ICP Support,

JOEL The Complete Package,

Jude Brady Foundation,

Kicks Count,

Kit Tarka Foundation,

The Last Kiss Foundation,

Life After Loss,

The Lily Foundation,

The Lily Mae Foundation,

The Rose Peters Foundation,

Little Things & Co,

Making Miracles,

MAMA Academy,

The Mariposa Trust,

MISS (Miscarriage Information Support Service),

The Multiple Births Foundation,

National Maternity Support Foundation (Jake’s Charity),

Nova Foundation,

Our Missing Peace,


Philip’s Footprints Charitable Trust,

Pregnancy Counselling & Care (Scotland),

Pregnancy Crisis Care Plymouth,

Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity,


SANDS Lothians,

Scottish Cot Death Trust,

SiMBA (Simpson’s Memory Box Appeal)


Sophia Pregnancy Loss Support,

Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK,

The Twins and Multiple Births Association,

Teddy’s Wish,


Together for Short Lives,

Towards Tomorrow Together,

Upon Butterfly Wings.

There is no greater loss than that of a loved one, especially one so young.

Dedicated to the memory of all those

Taken too soon

And their families.

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Staying Well in the Winter Weather

Posted by Steve at 15:30 on Friday 15th November 2019.

It is that time of year again, when the nights draw in, the days get colder and although there is excitement on the whole for the big celebrations that come at the end of next month, some are dreading the thoughts of yet again being asked to go to the polling box in yet another vote, this time a winter general election.

Winter General Election

As we start this month’s article, we thought we had to mention the elephant in the room and that is, of course, the first winter general election since 1923. The 1923 general election was held in a similar way to the modern day one when then Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, believed that he needed a mandate to get his protectionist agenda through the House of Commons, having come to power when his predecessor became too ill to remain in post and stepped down in the May of 1923. Today’s general election is very similar, as our current Prime Minister feels he needs a mandate from the people to get his agenda through. There was a lot of talk in the lead up to the announcement of the date of the 12th December in that the weather would be against the canvassers, particularly in Scotland, as the snow and ice begins to present themselves, as well as asking the electorate to go to the ballot boxes in the rain, and in some cases the dark after work in the early evening. Of course some electorate are used to voting in the dark as the poll stations are open until 10pm.

Winter Weather

There will be no more reference to the winter general election in this month’s article, but it could not be ignored as we are going to discuss winter.

This is the time of year that the temperatures plummet up and down the country, we know that the scenes of wintery snow make a Christmas card look pretty but, in reality, it can be an horrendous view for many. Some people look at the wintery scenery with dread and horror, some with the thought of how am I going to get the groceries that I need, the thought could be I can’t walk out in this, others will look at it and wonder how vital supplies will get to them, whether it be Meals on Wheels providers, vital health care or simply some company which can make people so much better. The snow is not the only problem at this time of year, we only have to look at the news story coming from the north of the country, with the horrendous pictures of houses being completed flooded with water from the river due to the rain. This causes so many more issues for the people affected, for example will their house be in a liveable state. The floods have the possibility of ruining Christmas for many people.

There are other issues with the cold weather and that is that it can make many existing illnesses and ailments worse. There are vulnerable groups of people, these include:

The NHS would advise that anyone who feels unwell, particularly those that are in the vulnerable and at-risk groups, should seek the advice of a pharmacist as soon as they start to feel unwell, even if it is only a cold or cough. The advantages of a pharmacist are that they can offer treatment advice and, if necessary, can advise on seeing a doctor should they feel that is the necessary treatment. It is true to say that the sooner someone seeks advice and treatment, the sooner you will start to feel better.

Sooner treatment is sought, the sooner you will feel better

The NHS offers additional advice services, which include the use of the ‘111’ number, which is a telephone service that should be used to gain advice or medical treatment quickly if you cannot wait for an appointment to see a GP. However if it is an emergency, then the correct number to use is 999/112. The reassuring thing is that the ‘111’ number is operational at all times of the day and night and therefore is available to support people when they feel ill and unwell.

While we are talking about the NHS, we should add that certain at risk groups are offered a free flu jab. It is advised, if you are offered the free flu jab, that you take it as it will help to keep you well. The jabs are offered for free to the following groups of people:

Some people will consider that the flu jab is not needed as it is only treating flu, and flu isn’t that bad, this thought process is wrong. Flu can contribute to and lead to illnesses such as pneumonia, and bronchitis as well as death in certain circumstances.

How to Help Yourself

There are many things that you can do in order to help keep yourself well throughout the winter months. The NHS lists several things that you can do in order to stay healthy, these are:

Banish winter tiredness

The winter naturally makes people feel tired and sluggish. This is generally due to the dark days, and lack of sunlight, and can really affect the way that someone sleeps as well as the sleep/wake cycle. Just because the winter has arrived, you shouldn’t stop doing the things that you enjoy for example exercise/meditation, going to events whether indoors or outdoors, get as much natural daylight as you possibly can.

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables

These dark, cold, uncomfortable days generally make you reach for the warm comfort foods in order to make you feel better and warm. However this can be the wrong thing to do, and it is as important in these months to keep eating your fresh fruit and vegetables to keep the body working as normal. Try reaching for a sweet piece of fruit rather than a sweet sugary treat. During these months there is a plethora of different fruits and vegetables that can be tried and enjoyed.

Drink more milk

This will automatically seem a little odd as milk is naturally cold, and the thought process here to not do so might be that it will make me feel colder. However, you are going to have to keep your immune system strong during the winter months. Milk is a good source of calcium which will help to maintain strong bones, it also includes vitamin A and B12 as well as protein.

Try new activities for the whole family

As we mentioned earlier, the winter makes you feel sluggish and tired, but don’t allow it. This is the time of year where you and your family can try new experiences, for example ice skating, maybe at one of the pop-up rinks around shopping centres and malls across the country. Why not even try a brisk winter walk, taking into account how natural habitats change at this time of year. If you are active beach goers in the summer, why not visit the beach for a walk in the winter and see how the water, sand and environment changes across season.

Have a hearty breakfast

The NHS would recommend a nice bowl of porridge for breakfast. This will help you take onboard starchy foods as well as fibre. This will also assist you to feel fuller for longer and will enhance your energy levels throughout the day. The thing that the NHS would advise is using semi-skimmed milk to make your porridge and add to it things like sliced banana, blueberries and other fresh fruit.

Heat house to 18˚C

If you are not very mobile, over the age of 65 years old or have a heart condition the advice is to ensure that your home is heated to 18˚C, even through the night, ensuring that the bedroom window is closed during the night. This will help to keep the body warm and at a good operating temperature, obviously if you are leading an active life and under the age of 65 then as long as you are comfortable you do not need to have the house heated to 18˚C, indeed it can be even cooler than this.

This temperature is slap bang in the middle of the guidance given to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the advice is for the child’s room to be between 16˚C and 20˚C.

Other top tips that you should consider include:

There are things that you could consider doing for other people in your community, in particular elderly neighbours, the idea being to make sure that they are safe and well, staying warm particularly at night and that they have enough medications that they are prescribed. The simple act of just popping in to make sure that they are ok could be just enough to stave off the feeling of loneliness that they may experience as the dark days draw in.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very often referred to as winter depression as the symptoms generally appear more apparent and severe during this time of year. It isn’t unheard of that the symptoms are the other way around, but most cases occur during the winter months.

Unfortunately, the exact cause of the disorder is not known and understood. SAD is usually linked to reduced exposure to sunlight through the shorter days of the autumn and winter months. The main theory of the disorder is that the lack of sunlight and the vitamins that this brings stops an area of the brain from working properly; this part of the brain is the hypothalamus.

Should the hypothalamus not work effectively, it can affect the body’s production of melatonin. This hormone can make you feel sleepy and it is thought that in people with SAD the hormone is produced in bigger quantities making the sufferer even more tired.

The hypothalamus also produces serotonin; this is the hormone that affects your mood, appetite, and sleep. A lack of sunlight may lead to less serotonin being made and therefore adding to the effects of depression. The other thing that the hypothalamus controls is the body’s internal body clock. When working effectively, the hypothalamus uses the sunlight to help regulate things like when you wake up. With the lower levels of sunlight in these months it may lead to depression and the signs and symptoms of SAD.

What are the signs and symptoms of SAD?

The main signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

For some sufferers these signs and symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives, and can also result in missing days of work due to the disorder.

What can be done to support people with SAD?

One of the most important things that anyone who believes that they are suffering with the symptoms of SAD should seek is to see their GP as soon as possible, particularly if you are struggling to cope with the symptoms that you have. The GP will then carry out an assessment of your mental health. The GP may ask questions about your mood, lifestyle, sleep pattern and quality of sleep as well as eating habits. They will also look for any seasonal changes in your behaviour and thoughts.

The GP will look to find a treatment that works for the sufferer, this may include:

Lifestyle measures

This will include things like getting as much natural sunlight as is possible, ensuring that exercise is being carried out and that stress is being managed effectively.

Light therapy

This will be carried out by using a special light box that omits artificial sunlight to stimulate the exposure to sunlight.

Talking therapies

This will include counselling, which can be very effective to help to deal with the thought processes of the brain, but it may also include the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Antidepressant medication

This could include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which are usually the first-choice medication of depression as they generally have less side effects than other depression medication.

What about hypothermia, I hear you cry!

Hypothermia is caused when the body’s core temperature falls below 35˚C. |Usually, when a casualty suffers from hypothermia in its mildest form the casualty will make a full recovery, providing they have been treated effectively.

It is likely that if the body’s core temperature drops below 26˚C that the hypothermia in this casualty may be fatal, however there are occasions when casualties have survived even when their core body temperature had dropped to as low as 10˚C. This shows why trying to help a casualty at any temperature is worth attempting.

What causes hypothermia?

The main cause of hypothermia is overexposure to cold temperature. There are, however, different conditions and types of casualties that can increase the risk including:

Signs and symptoms of hypothermia

The signs and symptoms of hypothermia include:

Treatment of hypothermia

The treatment of hypothermia will depend on whether the casualty is conscious or otherwise.

Conscious casualty:

Unconscious casualty:

We hope that you are able to enjoy whatever you decide to do during these dark, cold months,

Stay safe and warm.

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Catherine Silverwood
16/12/2019 13:58

My all-time favourite, the 1984 Band Aid single, still gives me a glow seeing so many of my favourite singers on one track including Bono without his tinted glasses of later years.

Christmas Number 1’s Through the Years

Posted by Steve at 13:45 on Monday 16th December 2019.

At this time of year, we all love spending time with family and loved ones, providing them with presents as well as in some cases our presence. It’s a time filled with love and joy, and a part of this love and joy comes through the music that we hear at this time.

This year for our Christmas article, we thought we would take a trip through history and have a look at the history of the Christmas Number 1. We are going all the way back to the very first Christmas Number 1 right up to the last official Christmas Number 1 and look forward to what could be this year’s success. Maybe you could comment and tell us what the first Christmas Number 1 in your life was, or which Christmas Number 1 means something to you for whatever reason.

To start our look back through the years we go all the way back to the first official recorded Christmas Number 1 which was 1952 this track was called Here in my Heart and performed by Al Martino. This little fact may actually win you a quiz one day! This festive Number 1 isn’t exactly what you would call festive, but it is certainly a tune of its time and has a feel of the great crooners of the era. It stayed at Number 1 for 9 weeks, and is the 7th longest track at Number 1, at the time of writing. You can listen to this Number 1:

Christmas Number 1 - 1952

We move on into 1953 and explore the second official Christmas Number 1, which was performed by Frankie Laine and is entitled Answer Me. This track was originally written in 1952 with German lyrics, before being made into the hit that it became in the UK. It was a controversial song in 1953 as there was a ‘religious’ version which was banned by the BBC, but it managed to hit the top and celebrate Christmas at the top. It is fair to say that the tune is different to that of Al Martino, and it does have a hint of Christmas in the backing track. Want to hear this track?

Christmas Number 1 - 1953

So, we have seen 2 Christmas Number 1s; it is with excitement that we move on to discover what the British people were loving and listening to in 1954. The Christmas Number 1 of 1954 was by Winifred Atwell, who performed the arrangement Let’s Have Another Party. This is a follow-up to Winifred’s Let’s Have A Party of the previous year. It is described as a ragtime composition. It is played by Winifred on the piano, and is made up of a medley of tunes as follows:

Another Little Drink Wouldn't Do Us Any Harm,

Broken Doll,

Bye Bye Blackbird,

Honeysuckle and the Bee,

I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight,

Lily of Laguna,

Nellie Dean,

The Sheik of Araby,

Somebody Stole My Gal,

When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along).

This is the first Christmas Number 1 with no words, and Winifred was the first black person to have a number 1 in the UK.

Christmas Number 1 - 1954

1955 saw Dickie Valentine have the Number 1 spot with the first song about Christmas to get the top spot at this magical time of year. The title of the song is, Christmas Alphabet. This is a very quaint tune, with the spelling of the word CHRISTMAS describing the season, some would describe this as when Christmas was Christmas. Have a listen and see what you think of this Christmas Chart topper:

Christmas Number 1 - 1955

Johnnie Ray took the top spot in the 1956 chart with his tune Just Walkin’ In The Rain. This song was originally disliked by Johnnie Ray, when he finally recorded it, he was accompanied by a whistler and the Ray Conniff Singers. It spent 7 weeks at Number 1 in the UK.

Christmas Number 1 - 1956

Mary’s Boy Child by Harry Belafonte took the coveted spot in 1957. Harry had heard this song sung by a choir and he sought permission to record and release it, whilst he produced 2 versions of the song, the shorter version took the top spot and in doing so became the first Number 1 song to be over 4 minutes long.

The song was then covered in 1978 by Boney M and again got the top spot at Christmas. The Boney M version was a medley with Oh My Lord. You can hear both versions below.

Christmas Number 1 - 1957

Christmas Number 1 - 1978

Onto 1958 we go with the Yuletide top spot sitter that was It’s Only Make Believe by Conway Twitty. This track was Twitty’s only number 1, it’s not a bad Number 1 to achieve as your only ever one is it? Interestingly it is believed that this song was partly written by Twitty on a fire escape outside his hotel room in Ontario trying to escape summer heat!

Christmas Number 1 - 1958

Emile Ford and The Checkmates took the final festive top spot of the ‘50s in 1959 with their track What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For? This doo-wop version was the last Number 1 of the decade and managed to maintain the top spot for the first 3 weeks of the Swinging Sixties.

Christmas Number 1 - 1959

Now ladies and gentlemen, we head into the 1960s and discover the first Christmas Number 1 of the decade. Not only does the person holding this Number 1 get the first festive chart topper of the decade he gets his first of several festive chart-toppers. The man in question off stage is Harry Webb. Have you guessed who this chart topper is yet? Yes, that’s right it’s no other than Cliff Richard with his band, The Shadows, holding the top spot with I Love You. The song stayed at Number 1 for 2 weeks.

Christmas Number 1 - 1960

So, how do you replace Cliff Richard at the top of a Festive chart, well the following year Danny Williams did just that with Moon River. Originally this song was written for Audrey Hepburn to sing in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. The lyrics are reflective of the author, Johnny Mercer’s life in Savannah Georgia, USA, with the waterways and his collecting of huckleberries when he was a child.

Christmas Number 1 - 1961

The King of Rock and Roll took the top spot for Christmas 1962 with his track Return To Sender. This is a song that Elvis sang in the film Girls! Girls! Girls! This song became the first recorded Christmas Number 1 in Ireland as their charts had only begun in the October of 1962.

Christmas Number 1 -1962

The following year saw the first of a consecutive hat-trick for the Fab Four from Liverpool. The lads of course are The Beatles, they secured the top spot at Christmas in 1963, 1964 and 1965 before getting their 4th festive chart topper of the decade, and with it most Number 1s at Christmas of the decade in 1967. I Want To Hold Your Hand was the 1963 chart topper. This track held the top spot for 5 weeks but had 21 weeks inside the UK Top 50 in total. This track however took 2 weeks of entering the charts to hit the summit having to beat the band’s previous single release She Loves You!

Christmas Number 1 - 1963

Of course, you know that the Liverpool Fab 4 had the festive top spot in 1964 and this song was I Feel Fine. The 8th single from the band and their second consecutive festive Number 1, written by John Lennon and credited as a Lennon-McCartney track, another 5-week chart topper for the band.

Christmas Number 1 - 1964

1965 completes the consecutive hat-trick for the Scouse boys, the 3rd festive topper was Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out. As with I Feel Fine it was accredited to Lennon and McCartney, but this time written by McCartney. In a 1980 interview John Lennon recalled, ‘Day trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But [the song] was kind of ... you're just a weekend hippie. Get it?’ The other fact of note for this track is that it was the first double A-side of note in the UK.

Christmas Number 1 – 1965

As we have already mentioned that The Beatles have the Christmas top spot again in 1967, so what is sandwiched in between? It’s that Welsh crooner, Tom Jones, with his track the Green, Green Grass of Home. Tom Jones was on a trip to New York when he visited Colony Records, and asked if they had anything new from Jerry Lee Lewis, and was given a new album with this song on. He was so impressed that he recorded it and secured his Christmas Number 1 with it, maintaining the top spot for a total of 7 weeks.

Christmas Number 1 - 1966

The Beatles return to the festive top spot in 1967 with their rather confusingly named tune Hello, Goodbye. This track fittingly went to the top of the charts, having been the first release since the death of their manager Brian Epstein. It is written by McCartney and released as the A-side of Lennon’s I Am The Walrus, and Lennon remained dismissive of the track.

Christmas Number 1 – 1967

Racing through the 60s we have gone and found ourselves now at the 1968 tune that took the UK by storm to clinch the 1968 Christmas Number 1. This little ditty was performed by The Scaffold, entitled Lily The Pink, we have to say one of the catchiest Christmas Number 1s since the start of the charts. It is not played as much today as it might be. The song is a modernisation of an older folk song titled The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham. Interesting that the song has some now famous performers on the track including:

Elton John (then Reg Dwight),

Graham Nash (of The Hollies),

Tim Rice, and

Jack Bruce (of Cream) played the Bass.

Christmas Number 1 - 1968

So, we now look at the last festive Number 1 of the 1960s, and in today’s world the song will appear controversial, the festive chart topper belongs to Rolf Harris. The song is Two Little Boys. The original track was written in 1902 and was recorded by Harris in 1969 and became a surprise Number 1, securing 6 weeks at the top, making it the first Number 1 of the next decade. The track is now sung by fans of Hartlepool United and Shamrock Rovers.

Christmas Number 1 – 1969

Into the decade that has possibly given us the most recognised and played Christmas songs of all time. We will start however with 1970 where we find I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds at the top of the first 1970s festive chart, it held top spot for 6 weeks in the UK. Edmunds plays all but the bass on his version of the song.

Christmas Number 1 - 1970

1971 saw a comedy record achieve a Christmas Number 1. Benny Hill took his song about the Fastest Milkman in the West, Ernie to the festive top spot. The storyline of the song is based on Benny’s experience as a milkman in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

Christmas Number 1 - 1971

Little Jimmy Osmond secured the coveted Number 1 spot at Christmas 1972 aged 9 years 8 months, becoming the youngest ever person to make it to Number 1. Long Haired Lover From Liverpool spent 5 weeks at Number 1.

Christmas Number 1 - 1972

1973 brings us to a very famous Christmas song, and obviously we have to say the most famous line:

It’s Christmasssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes ladies and gentleman, the song is by Slade and is Merry Xmas Everybody. The song made Christmas last a long time into February the following year having spent 9 weeks in the chart. There isn’t much that can be added to this song other than to say that it beat Wizzard’s I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday to the top spot.

Christmas Number 1 - 1973

Mud gave us another memorable festive ditty and Number 1 in 1974 their festive offering was Lonely This Christmas. It spent 4 weeks at the top and is sung in the style of Elvis Presley’s slower songs at the end of his career.

Christmas Number 1 - 1974

Halfway through the decade and we find the only Christmas Number 1 to have the accolade twice performed by the original artist. The track is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and took the 1975 and 1991 festive spot, the latter following the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury and as a double A-side with These are the Days of our lives. The track is a full 7 minutes long and the meaning behind the song went to the grave with its author, Freddie Mercury.

Christmas Number 1 – 1975 & 1991

Christmas Number 1 – 1991

Leaping into 1976 we find Johnny Mathis at the top of the festive chart with his tune When A Child Is Born. The song makes no actual mention of Christmas, but with the lines in the middle of the song, where Johnny Mathis is waiting for that ‘one special child, black white, yellow, no one knows, but a child that will grow up….’ suggests the baby Jesus’ birth is awaited. The lyrics then discuss a ‘tiny star’ ‘lights up the way up high’ which would suggest watching the star that led the 3 wise men (Magi) to the birthplace of Jesus in the Nativity.

Christmas Number 1 - 1976

Paul McCartney returns to the top of the Christmas charts in 1977 with his band Wings and the tune Mull of Kintyre, it was written by McCartney in tribute to Kintyre and its headland, The Mull of Kintyre. The song was Wings’ biggest release and has become one of the biggest selling records, including becoming the first record to sell over 2 million in the UK.

Christmas Number 1 - 1977

Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall was a 3-part composition on their 1979 rock opera The Wall. Part 2 of the composition became 1979’s Christmas Number 1 and is a song entitled Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2). The song is a protest song against rigid schooling and features a school choir, whose most memorable line is; ‘Hey Teacher, leave those kids alone!’ The song became the band’s only UK number 1 and sold over 4 million copies.

Christmas Number 1 - 1979

We head along now into yet another decade of musical treasure that achieved the one top of the chart spot that every music artist wants to achieve. So what did get the first Christmas Number 1 of 1980, the lucky artist was St. Winifred’s School Choir, with There’s No One Quite Like Grandma. The choir is from a school based in Stockport. In the UK the track demoted John Lennon’s last single, (Just Like) Starting Over, to Number 2. An interesting fact about this tune is that actress Sally Lindsay sang on the original song in 1980.

Christmas Number 1 – 1980

How do you follow a track like There’s No One Quite Like Grandma, well we had to wait 52 weeks to find out the identity of the 1981 Christmas Number 1, with the accolade going to Don’t You Want Me by The Human League. It was number 83 in the overall chart of 1981.

Christmas Number 1 - 1981

Renée and Renato spent 4 weeks at the top of the charts including for 1982’s Christmas Number 1. The song entitled Save Your Love was the first ever totally indie Number 1 and sold in the region of 980,000 copies. The lead female artist didn’t actually feature on the music video of the song, and was instead replaced by a model. The Daily Telegraph has ranked this particular Christmas chart topper as the 5th worst of all time.

Christmas Number 1 -1982

In 1983 The Flying Pickets covered Only You, originally performed and recorded by Yazoo, and The Flying Pickets’ version become more successful than the original. The Flying Pickets performed the song as an a cappella version, and it became the first a cappella song to top the UK charts. It is believed that the song was a favourite of former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Christmas Number 1 - 1983

When we were looking at the 1975 Christmas Number 1, we told you that Bohemian Rhapsody was the only song to be Christmas Number 1 by the original artist twice. There is a song that has however been Christmas Number 1 on 3 separate occasions, but unlike ‘Bo Rap’ it has been reworked with different artists on each occasion.

The song in question is Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid (II and 20), the songs topped the chart at Christmas in 1984, 1989 and 2004. The song was written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in response to the news reports of famine and drought in Ethiopia between 1983 and 1984, and the original version was recorded in just one day. All 3 versions, plus the 2014 version which did not make it to the top at Christmas, are performed by multiple artists coming together for 1 goal. The 2014 version of the song had the Ebola crisis as its main goal of fundraising, the other 3 versions were all intended to help relieve famine.

Christmas Number 1 - 1984

Christmas Number 1 -1989

Christmas Number 1 -2004

The 1985 festive chart topper was meant to have been released the year before, but it was decided to postpone, so as not to clash with the Band Aid track that Shakin’ Stevens was unable to perform on due to touring commitments. He did however manage to secure the top festive spot in 1985 with Merry Christmas Everyone, a very festive tune. The track secured Shakin’ Stevens his fourth Number 1 single on the charts.

Christmas Number 1 - 1985

Jackie Wilson’s first solo hit after he left the Dominoes saw him clinch the big top spot with the ever popular Reet Petite 3 years after his death. The song was original released in 1957 with varied success across the various charts. Although it did earn the writer of the song, Berry Gordy Jr, to launch Motown Records. The song was reissued in 1986 due to a clay animation video that had been shown on BBC Two’s Arena programme.

Christmas Number 1 -1986

The Pet Shop Boys appeared on an ITV programme called Love Me Tender to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley’s, death. They performed a Synthpop version of Always On My Mind, the track was warmly received, and they decided to release it as a single, a decision which secured them their only Christmas Number 1.

Christmas Number 1 - 1987

1988 Saw the return to the top of the charts at Christmas for a certain Harry Webb, better known as Cliff Richard. This Christmas tune of his was Mistletoe and Wine, a suitably Christmas sounding title. Originally the song was written for a play called Scraps set in Victorian London. The version that Cliff Richard sang, changed lyrics to make it reflect a more religious theme with the writer’s agreement, and became Cliff’s ninety-ninth single release. The song achieved 4 weeks at the top of the chart and features a then 10-year-old Myleene Klass in the choir heard performing at the end of the song.

Christmas Number 1 - 1988

Cliff had a festive year off the top of the charts due to Band Aid II, but sure enough in 1990 he secured the top spot again with another Christmassy sounding song Saviour’s Day, and with it achieving the first Christmas Number 1 of the 90s! The song was almost never recorded by Cliff, as the lyricist was told that all of Cliff’s 1990 record releases had been booked in, however on hearing it Cliff loved the track, it beat Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby to Christmas Number 1.

Christmas Number 1 - 1990

The 1992 Christmas Number 1 spent 14 weeks at Number 1 in the UK charts. It is a cover of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston. The song was recorded for the film The Bodyguard, which Whitney also stars in. It holds the record for the best-selling single by a woman in history! The track was rearranged using Linda Ronstadt’s version as a base. On hearing this, Dolly Parton sent over the last verse, which was not included in Linda’s version of the song, as she believed it was important to the song.

Christmas Number 1 - 1992

The 1993 Christmas top spot went to a novelty tune by Mr Blobby, entitled imaginatively enough, Mr Blobby! It topped the charts for a total of 3 weeks. Despite being Christmas Number 1, it is highly regarded by critics as one of the worst songs ever recorded. Surely Christmas is about having fun, and that is what you get with this track.

Christmas Number 1 – 1993

Sanity returned to the Christmas chart in 1994 as East 17, later E17 took top spot with Stay Another Day, it was to be East 17’s only Number 1.It was written by the band’s lead songwriter, Tony Mortimer about his brother who had taken his own life.

Christmas Number 1 - 1994

Halfway through the 90s already, and in 1995 we find Michael Jackson hitting the festive top spot with Earth Song. The song is a ballad that incorporates blues, gospel, and opera styles of music. Earth song deals overtly with the environment and animal welfare, something which the accompanying music video highlights in its imagery.

Christmas Number 1 - 1995

In 1996 The Spice Girls started their assault on the Christmas top spot securing the first of their consecutive hat-trick. 2 Become 1 became their first Christmas top spot filler. You wouldn’t say that the message behind the song is very Christmassy, especially as it is referring to safe sex, however it gave the girls their first ever Christmas Number 1. It was 1996’s 5th best seller, even though it was only released in the final 2 weeks of the year.

Christmas Number 1 -1996

1997 gave The Spice Girls their second of 3 Christmas Number 1s and with it their 6th successive Number 1, becoming the first act to have their debut 6 songs go to Number 1 in the UK. Christmas Number 1 in 1997 belonged to Too Much. The track was written at the same time as the girls were filming their Spice World movie, between takes and at the end of the long day, with exhaustion setting in, it’s easy to see where the title comes from.

Christmas Number 1 - 1997

The third Christmas Number 1 in the hat-trick belongs to Goodbye, which took the chart top in 1998 This was the first release to not include the vocals of ‘Ginger Spice’ Geri Halliwell (Horner) as she had left the band by this time. The pop ballad lyrically says goodbye to a friend, no different to what the band had done in real life. In achieving this accolade of a hat-trick of festive toppers, The Spice Girls became the first to do so since The Beatles way back in 1965.

Christmas Number 1 - 1998

Originally sung by ABBA, Westlife took I have A Dream to the top of the festive charts to achieve the last Christmas Number 1 of the millennium in 1999 The record was a double A side with Seasons in the Sun. The release beat Cliff Richard’s Millennium Prayer to Number 1, for Christmas.

Christmas Number 1 - 1999

Christmas Number 1 - 1999

The first Christmas Number 1 of the new decade is the penultimate novelty tune in the chronology. The 2000 song at the summit of the charts belongs to Bob The Builder, with a song called Can We Fix It? It was the biggest selling single of the year!

Christmas Number 1 - 2000

Amazingly 2001 saw Robbie Williams take his only ever Christmas Number 1 despite being in one of the biggest boybands. Somethin’ Stupid with Nicole Kidman reigned supreme for the Christmas Number 1 of 2001. The track is a cover and was best known prior to this release due to the Frank and Nancy Sinatra version.

Christmas Number 1 - 2001

Reality TV starts to take over the Christmas charts now that we have made it all the way through to 2002. The female winners of Popstars: The Rivals, Girls Aloud went head to head with the male winners One True Voice to become the 2002 Christmas Number 1, the Girls beat their male counterparts to the accolade, with Sound of The Underground.

Christmas Number 1 - 2002

A cover of Tears For Fears’ Mad World made it to the 2003 Christmas top spot being performed by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, which they recorded for the soundtrack to Donnie Darko. The difference between the 2 tracks was that Michael Andrews and Gary Jules performed a stripped back version. The track upset the odds to take the top spot, and although successful in the UK, it couldn’t be matched in the United States.

Christmas Number 1 -2003

The winners of reality television show The X Factor take the next 4 Christmas Number 1 spots, starting in 2005 with Shayne Ward who took to the top of the charts with That’s My Goal. The song stayed at Number 1 for 4 weeks and in the charts for 5 months. The song remains the fastest ever selling X Factor winning song and the third fastest selling song of all time in the UK.

Christmas Number 1 - 2005

Onwards to 2006 where we find Leona Lewis sitting at the top of the tree with A Moment Like This, unusually it was released in physical format on a Wednesday but was available for download almost immediately after her victory on the preceding Saturday night. The song broke a world record, being downloaded 50,000 times in the 30 minutes following release. It remained at the top spot for 4 weeks.

Christmas Number 1 - 2006

Another X Factor winner, Leon Jackson took the 2007 crown with When You Believe. Unlike Cliff Richard some years earlier who amended Mistletoe and Wine to add in the religious references, When You Believe was slightly rewritten in the second verse to remove religious overtones. The song was number 1 for 3 weeks and dropped out the chart after just 7!

Christmas Number 1 - 2007

2008 sees the fourth and last X Factor winner in a row to achieve the top spot, Alexandra Burke won the reality TV series and released a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. This version resurrected interest in earlier versions of the song, including by a fan of Jeff Buckley who had previously covered the song. The fan started a campaign to get Jeff Buckley’s version to get to the top of the tree and deny Alexandra, this however didn’t happen. Alexandra Burke’s version became the fastest selling single released by a woman.

Christmas Number 1 - 2008

In 2009 it was highly tipped that the X Factor winner, Joe McElderry would pick up the Christmas Number 1 with his cover of The Climb, however a campaign was started to get Rage Against the Machine to Number 1 for Christmas with Killing in the Name; this campaign worked. As the X Factor single was donating money to charity, the campaign for Rage encouraged the public to give money to charity whilst buying this single, which was originally released in 1992, where in 1993 it peaked at a lowly 23. The track is a protest song against institutional racism and police brutality.

Christmas Number 1 - 2009

The X Factor winner returned to the top of the Christmas Chart in 2010 when Matt Cardle saw off all others to win the X Factor and the coveted Christmas top spot with When We Collide, a cover of Biffy Clyro’s Many of Horror. Many people felt that they preferred the original version and again a Facebook campaign began to get the original to that top ahead of Matt Cardle, it failed only managing number 8.

Christmas Number 1 -2010

Following a BBC Two television series, The Choir: Military Wives, Wherever You Are was released with a campaign to make it Christmas Number 1. The song is performed by the Military Wives from Chivenor and Plymouth, under the direction of Gareth Malone. The song claimed the status of the biggest week sales since Leona Lewis’ A Moment Like This. It beat another X Factor winner, Little Mix to the festive Number 1 spot!


Christmas Number 1 -2011

Following the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, Everton Football club paid tribute to the families, victims and survivors of the disaster at their ground prior to kick-off in the game between themselves and Newcastle United, remembering the 96 Liverpool FC fans who had died at Hillsborough. The tribute consisted of a young girl wearing the Everton Blue with the number 9 on her back and a young boy in Liverpool red with a 6 on his back, walking out onto the pitch to The Hollies, He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother. It was then decided to rerecord the song as a charity single for Hillsborough charities; it was a multiple artist release under the name The Justice Collective. It achieved the 2012 Christmas Number 1 spot beating X Factor’s winner James Arthur.

Christmas Number 1 - 2012

In 2013 an X Factor Winner returned to the top of the Christmas Tree in the form of Sam Bailey who covered Skyscraper. The song was inspired by an apocalyptic scene where the world was in ruins but what remained was a skyscraper standing. It was originally sung by Demi Lovato in 2011, prior to Sam Bailey releasing it in 2012.

Christmas Number 1 -2013

2014 saw another winner of the X Factor crowned Christmas Number 1, this time Ben Haenow, his song Something I Need secured the top spot. Originally released in 2013 by OneRepublic, Ben Haenow took it to the top of the charts. Certain words of the original had been replaced with less severe words e.g. killing with loving, probably to make the version more palatable to the young viewers of the X Factor. It became 2014’s second biggest selling single behind the Band Aid 20 track.

Christmas Number 1 -2014

Something different achieved the festive top spot of 2015. It was a track performed by The Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir with a song called A Bridge Over You. The song was released independently by the choir, and the track is a mash-up of Simon and Garfunkel’s A Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Coldplay’s Fix You. The single is a charity release. It was recorded in 2013 when the choir finished second on BBC Two’s The Choir: Sing While You Work. A Facebook campaign commenced in 2015 to make this the Christmas Number 1, a period where typically there are more sales of singles than any other of the year, therefore maximising the charitable benefit of the single.

Christmas Number 1 – 2015

Clean Bandit hit the charts’ festive top spot in 2016 with the rather catchy Rockabye. The song is about the hardship felt by mothers and alludes to the popular nursery rhyme, Rock-a-Bye Baby. The song achieved 9 weeks at the summit of the chart. Rockabye had the acclaim of being the first song since 2003 that isn’t a novelty, charity, stunt or X Factor Winner song to take the top spot at Christmas!

Christmas Number 1 - 2016

Ed Sheeran took the Christmas Number 1 in 2017 with a song that he had written about his wife-to-be Cherry Seaborn. He had entitled the song Perfect. The lyrics of the song really do speak for themselves and it is obvious what he thinks and feels about his bride-to-be. The ballad is still being played on radio stations and music video channels a lot to this day.

Christmas Number 1 -2017

And finally, we come to the most recent Christmas Number 1, that is until Friday when this year’s top festive tune will be announced! Last year, 2018, the top of the tree belonged to LadBaby and a take on the hit by Starship, We Built This City, but this version that made it to the top at Christmas pays homage to the humble sausage roll. It is the first real novelty song to have hit the festive top spot since Bob The Builder, however the proceeds of the song were all going to The Trussell Trust. LadBaby is an English blogger.

Christmas Number 1 - 2018

Now that we have come right up to date, we need to consider what may be hitting the top spot this Friday to secure the 2019 Christmas Number 1. There are 15 potential tunes, 3 from days gone by and 12 fresh new releases. They are as follows:

Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas

The Pogues: Fairytale of New York

Wham!: Last Christmas

Bastille: Can’t Fight This Feeling

D Double E: Fresh N Cream (Silence the Critics)

Ellie Goulding: River

Frankie Morland: World in Danger

James Blunt: Monsters

LadBaby: I Love Sausage Rolls

Lewis Capaldi: Before You Go

Little Mix: One I’ve Been Missing

Robbie Williams and Tyson Fury: Bad Sharon

Stormzy: Own it

Tones and I: Dance Monkey

Waltham Forest Youth Choir: Stay Another Day

According to The Official Charts’ website the Official Christmas Number 1 race for 2019 kicked off last Friday with sales and streams counting up until midnight this Thursday. Scott Mills will announce the Official Christmas chart including the Christmas Number 1 from 4pm this Friday on BBC Radio 1.

We have linked to the music discussed in this article to YouTube, we can take no responsibility should the link change or move.

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