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The Training Fox Flag

Review of 2016

Posted by Steve at 14:10 on Saturday, 31st December 2016.

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Review of 2017

Posted by Steve at 18:05 on Sunday, 31st December 2017.

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Months:   January         February          March          April         May          June

July          August          September          October          November          December          And Finally

And so, another year has come to pass, where did it go, well who knows! It’s been a year of highs and lows and we thought we would look back at the major stories of the year, including the biggest story of the year, the Curse of 2016!

How many of us can remember the very start of the year? Do you remember where you were when the celebrations of frivolity and fireworks were in full flow?

As always at the stroke of midnight the London Eye became the centre point of the UK’s celebrations of the start of 2016 following in the footsteps of Sydney Opera House, Marina Bay and L’Arc de Triomphe who had celebrated the arrival of 2016 in the hours before the UK did. As always, the crowds stared in awe and wonder of the fireworks and in that moment, took stock of the previous year and all they had to look forward to in the coming year. As we look back today, we wonder how many New Year’s Resolutions were kept, who even remembers theirs?!


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‘There's a starman waiting in the sky

He'd like to come and meet us

But he thinks he'd blow our minds.’

David Bowie

10 days into the year and what became known as the Curse of 2016 here at The Training Fox started with the sad and early death of a rock legend, David Bowie, 2 days after his 69th birthday and the release of his Blackstar album, which subsequently went to number 1 in the album sales’ charts. In tribute to this legend we temporarily changed our logo to a special David Bowie tribute logo depicting his trademark Aladdin Sane. Little did the world know that this was just the start of a horrible year for celebrity deaths.

Whilst there was sadness in the air at the death of the rock legend, orbiting 400km above the Earth, Major Tim Peake was living and working on the International Space Station, on a mission that had commenced in 2015. On January, the 15th Tim took part in an Extravehicular activity (EVA) which lasted 4 hours 43 minutes along with Tim Kopra. Major Tim Peake became the first British astronaut to carry out an EVA. Although British-American Michael Foale carried out an EVA in 1995 he was flying under the NASA program as an American astronaut, therefore flew under the Stars and Stripes as opposed to the Union Jack. Whilst Tim Peake would go on to complete other tasks and responsibilities on the mission, the EVA must be one of the most exciting and interesting images of any space flight.

Of his EVA Tim tweeted:

‘Today’s exhilarating #spacewalk will be etched in my memory

forever – quite an incredible feeling!

Clearly, showing that he had the most exciting experience and one that obviously, he would never forget as we mere mortals can only imagine. Of course, the EVA should have been longer except for the fact that Tim Kopra had an emergency with water building up in his helmet and had to return to the safety net of the International Space Station earlier than planned.

Unfortunately, January didn’t end on a happy note. Once again, the Curse of 2016 returned and delivered the world the sad news that Sir Terry Wogan had passed away at the age of 77. Terry, as we know, was one of the country’s most renowned entertainers. Terry Wogan had spent 1 night every November from 1980 presenting BBC Children in Need to much success (we will review this year’s appeal night later in this blog), as well as spending 1 night a year from 1980 until he hung up his microphone in 2008 commentating and hosting the UK hosted versions of the Eurovision Song Contest. His commentaries became notorious for his quick-witted and sometimes sarcastic undertones, never taking himself or the song contest too seriously.

On his last radio broadcast Terry signed off, with the emotional line:

‘Thank you. Thank you for being my friend.’


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‘I'll find some peace tonight

In the arms of the angel.’

Sarah McLachlan

February as it panned out was quite a quiet month with very few things happening. The one story that stands out in our minds epitomises the key event that occurs every February 14th. Although the story we discuss is not a love story it does show how the love of one human being to another can take many forms.

Of course we are thinking of the story of 10-year-old Kiera Larsen. Possibly a name that you are not too familiar with, however on the 22nd Kiera become known as a hero and Guardian Angel.

Kiera was given this ‘honour’ because of her quick-thinking and selfless act which ultimately cost her her own life. Whilst in Lakeside, San Diego County a runaway SUV was rolling towards her 2 next-door neighbours Adison (1) and Emma (2) Jenkins. As the car was getting close to these little girls, Kiera pushed them out of the way, getting hit by the SUV herself.

It was the girls’ mother who then described Kiera as a hero and her little girls’ Guardian Angel forever. It is thought that the SUV was put into reverse by accident by another child.

Here at The Training Fox we admire and respect this little girl’s extreme bravery and selflessness, seldom is this seen in today’s world.

RIP Little Angel Kiera.


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‘Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot,

and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.’

Ronnie Corbett

March saw the meteorological start of spring, thus the dreams and hopes of new life began. Sadly, March saw the death of 3 true legends of the entertainment world. True legends in their own rights:

8th          George Martin

17th         Paul Daniels

31st         Ronnie Corbett.

All three of these legends brought different aspects to the entertainment world, magic, comedy and of course music. The world will miss these three, but their legacy will continue to go on and soar as we enjoy the endless repeats and replays of the entertainment that they created. Whilst we were sad as a nation at the loss of these greats we marked their passing by remembering the talent that they had and that is no greater way to be remembered.

Sadly, March also saw another terror attack on the European mainland. Just 4 months after the atrocity of Paris in November, terrorists attacked Brussels. 3 different sites were attacked killing 35 including the 3 terrorists and left over 300 injured. Brussels declared 3 days of mourning in the aftermath of the attacks.

On a much nicer and ‘sweeter’ note the end of March marked Easter and many people up and down the country ended their Lent period and celebrated by gorging on chocolate egg after chocolate egg. The Christians amongst us mark the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem over some 2000 years ago, and together we all celebrated the new life to come, new life that comes in the shape of baby lambs, cows and donkeys etc.


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‘All my friends started getting boyfriends,

But I didn’t want a boyfriend,

I wanted a thirteen-colour biro.’

Victoria Wood

April comes with April showers and the Curse of 2016 continued!

April saw the sad loss of everyone’s favourite daytime TV agony aunt, Denise Robertson. Over many years on ITV’s This Morning, Denise had advised, cried with and listened to many, many telephone calls from viewers and guests needing her help and advice, some of which that has made a massive impact on these peoples’ lives. Also, this month a great comedian and a singer were also victims of the Curse of 2016 and we think taken too soon. Of course in this month we are referring to:

20th        Victoria Wood

21st         Prince (Artist formerly known as)

Prince will always be remembered fondly for his impressive back catalogue of songs including ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Little Red Corvette’ Whereas Victoria Wood will be remembered for her comedic timing in shows such as ‘Acorn Antiques’ and ‘Dinnerladies’ where she played characters in her unique way. But not only was Victoria Wood an acting comedienne, she was also a stand up comedienne in her own right and one sketch that stands out for us here at The Training Fox is her ‘Ballad of Barry and Freda’ on which she not only sang but played the piano. Their legacies live on.

Also through April, the United Kingdom had something to celebrate, which seemed a welcome break from all the bad news of the Curse of 2016.

The United Kingdom, celebrated Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday. Although there were many events throughout the year to mark this momentous event the date of Her Majesty’s birthday is 21st. Most events happened a few weeks later, but we feel that it is right to mention Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday in the right month of her birthday in our blog.

Long Live Our Noble Queen!

And then for a comment to an event that happened in April, if you will forgive us. April the 15th in the year 1989, a football match took place in Sheffield. During this match a crush occurred and 96 lives were lost. Each year on the 15th at 15:06pm (the time the original inquests put as a cut off point for survivors) we remember those who died and were injured at Hillsborough, this year was no different, with us standing on the Kop at Anfield to remember them.

However, this year a fresh inquest was concluded with the verdicts being announced on the 26th of April. These inquests overturned the original inquests and found the deaths of the 96 were unlawfully killed. A relief after 27 years of fighting for the truth by their families and friends.

You’ll Never Walk Alone


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‘Frozen in the morning light

An image I don't recognise

The mirror shows me broke and bound

But I will learn to run again.’

Gareth Malone

Back to our review of the year and we find ourselves in the month of May.

May began in positive ways for many. In particular for the people of Leicester. Of course I am referring to the new Champions of England, Leicester City Football Club, who beat the odds to win the title after a long fought season. Leicester City had gone from almost being relegated from the Premier League a year earlier to the Champions in this month. Every football fan in the land was pleased for Leicester, with many saying, “if my club can’t win it then I’d like Leicester to do so”.

We congratulate Leicester City FC on their achievement.

On the 18th of this month, here at Fox Towers, we sat down to watch the second part of a documentary about Gareth Malone and a choir.

What’s so interesting about this? I hear you cry.

The choir were an amazing bunch of ex-service men and women who had served their country and all had their own issues after active service. The issues ranged from physical impairment through to mental health issues caused by the horror witnessed in the war field.

This band of men and women became known as the Invictus Choir, mostly because they were put together to perform at the Invictus Games being held in the USA.

The song they performed they had written themselves and had us reaching for the tissues! It was called ‘Flesh and Blood’. We have a link to this on our Facebook and Twitter pages which can be accessed directly from the Home Page of our website.

A truly warm-hearted documentary that highlighted a lot of things including the plight of our service men and women after active service as well as good conquers all.


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‘Float like a butterfly,

Sting like a bee.’

Mohammed Ali

June saw a momentous event in British Politics, the event resulted in a new word being added to the English dictionary. The word of course is Brexit. 52% of the people decided to exit the European Union on June the 23rd. In the lead up to this referendum we heard all sorts of stories and lines from each side of the argument. To this day we still hear the phrase ‘Take back Control’ this is a message that obviously resonated with the 52% of the country that voted.

It really doesn’t matter which side of the argument you are on, together as a nation now we need to move on and come together for the best interests of all when leaving the EU over the coming months, with Article 50 supposedly being triggered in March next year.

However, there is no excuse for the events that occurred in the days after the referendum, when racist language was scrawled on Polish Community Centres across the country.

We obviously also need to mention in the run up to the referendum the despicable murder of MP Jo Cox, by an individual who had links to far-right groups in the United States.

RIP Jo Cox MP.

It wouldn’t have been a month in the year 2016 if the Curse didn’t rear its ugly head, this time claiming the life of boxing legend, Mohammed Ali, born Cassius Clay. During his career Mohammed Ali won 56 of his 61 professional bouts and also won the 1960 Olympic Gold Medal in Rome.

A true Sporting legend lost during 2016.

While on the sporting theme, June had 2 major sporting events begin that ended in July with varying levels of success for Great British competitors. I am of course referring to the Football European Championships in France and the annual tennis tournament held at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, SW19, Wimbledon.

Due to the success of competitors in these tournaments we will return to them, However, on the 27th the England Football Team was knocked out of the Euros by Iceland in a 2-1 defeat. In the preceding 2 days, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were knocked out of the competition by Wales and France respectively, leaving Wales as the only home nation team in the competition.


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In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

John McCrae

As we head into July, both Wimbledon and Euro 2016 were both fully in swing progressing fast towards the final games of the tournaments.

We return to the Euros to check in on the progress that Wales made. As the last remaining home nation in the tournament most of the home nation football fans got behind the Welsh Team, as they entered into a semi-final against the eventual tournament winners Portugal. We ourselves here at Fox Towers flew the flag and also posted onto our Facebook and Twitter feeds the National Anthem lyrics of Wales. In homage to their success, here are those lyrics:

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,

Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;

Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,

Dros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.


Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.

Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,

O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,

Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd;

Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si

Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.


Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,

Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed,

Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,

Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.

Sadly, Portugal beat Wales in the semi-final and went on to win the title, but for Wales Euro 2016 was their most successful tournament and we send them VERY big congratulations.

Over at Wimbledon the British players were having a fantastic tournament winning 4 separate titles as follows:

Men’s Singles Title:             Andy Murray

Mixed Doubles:                   Heather Watson (GBR) and Henri Kontinen (FIN)

Men’s Wheelchair Singles:    Gordon Reid

Ladies’ Wheelchair Doubles: Jordanne Whiley (GBR) and Yui Kamiji (Jap)

Congratulations to all our winners at Wimbledon.

July again saw the re-emergence of the 2016 Curse, taking the life of Caroline Aherne. Caroline will forever be remembered as the enigmatic Mrs Merton and the ever slobbish Denise Royle of The Royle Family. Whilst playing Mrs Merton, Caroline asked her chat show guests questions that other chat show hosts would never ask. It was an irreverent style that won Mrs Merton an army of fans. Caroline Aherne was one of those comediennes who not only starred in comedy but wrote comedy. One of her last roles on this world was as a voiceover artist on Channel 4’s Googlebox.

The last word on July this year belongs to the Battle of the Somme and the servicemen and women who served during the Battle of the Somme.

July the 1st saw the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, a major battle that took place during World War 1. The Battle of the Somme lasted a grand total of 141 days or a massive 12,182,400 seconds. It caused 620,000 British and French casualties and losses and between 434,000 and 500,000 German casualties and losses. As is the way with the British public, a minute’s silence was held perfectly to mark the anniversary. As the famous poem says:

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.’

Robert Laurence Binyon


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‘Come with me and you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see

Into your imagination’

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

August, as it turned out, was a month of celebration, sporting achievement and the re-emergence of the Curse of 2016.

The first of the celebrity deaths in this month, which went widely unreported and was only really revealed in December, is the death of David Huddleston. To a lot of people, I believe, his name will not automatically be recognisable. However, when I go on to describe his most famous role, it will become clear. In every generation of film and life everyone has the one actor who plays their ‘Father Christmas’ and for me David Huddleston was my Santa Claus. He is of course the actor who played the lead role in Santa Claus the Movie alongside Judy Cornwell’s (of Keeping Up Appearance fame) Mrs Claus, and Dudley Moore’s Patch the Elf. On hearing the news of his death, a little bit of Christmas died with him. December will be the month when I will watch the movie YET AGAIN, and get the Christmas vibe on.

And whilst childhood memories are dying, the 29th of the month saw the death of the original, and in my view, the best Big Screen Willy Wonka. Yes indeed, Gene Wilder died on this day. He will of course always be remembered for his role as the slightly barmy and wacky chocolatier in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, although the film which Roald Dahl himself was fully involved in was called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Willy Wonka was brought alive to many children for the first time in this film and Gene Wilder played him to perfection achieving many accolades from the movie industry.

August was a month of celebration for us here at The Training Fox as we reached our first anniversary and we were pleased to have taught so many happy customers during our first year of life. We look forward to assisting many more learners in the years to come.

And of course in this year of sporting excellence we could not possible review the year without mentioning and celebrating the achievements of each and every one of our Olympic heroes. For 16 days Rio de Janeiro became home to many Olympians from many a country. Great Britain sent a grand total of 366 athletes to compete in the 31st Olympiad. This Olympiad was Great Britain’s most successful foreign Olympiad and also beat London 2012’s extremely high achievement.

We watched in awe of the achievements of each of the Olympians regardless of whether they won a medal or not. Special mentions must go to the Ladies Hockey Team in particular as they had millions of Britons watching their gold medal match at home on a Friday evening, which they went on to win. Other mentions must go to all the Team who defended their titles from London, Laura Trott, Mo Farrah, Jade Jones and Nicola Adams to name but a few. We are incredibly proud of the whole Team and hope that they get suitably recognised for their achievements wherever they go.

The final medal tally for Team GB was:

Gold:             27

Silver:            23

Bronze:          17

Total:             67

Big congratulations to all Team GB’s Olympic Team!


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God save our gracious Queen! 

Long live our noble Queen! 

God save the Queen! 

Send her victorious, 

Happy and glorious, 

Long to reign over us, 

God save the Queen’


September was quite a quiet month all told and the curse stayed away.

For 11 days in September, Rio de Janeiro become the host city of the 15th Paralympiad. Like the Olympics before it, The Paralympics was Paralympics GB’s most successful ever, and surpassed the achievement of London 2012. Many Paralympic stars of 4 years ago shone again, for example Sarah Storey who became Britain’s most decorated Paralympian in Rio. Ellie Simmonds kept on her Paralympic charge since she burst onto the scene in Beijing in 2008, although she had to share the pool with her new GB challenger Ellie Robinson, who at the age of 15 will surely be challenging and taking over from the other Ellie in no time.

Whilst we obviously celebrate the achievements of our homegrown talent, we also watched in awe of the Paralympians who had overcome many trials and tribulations in their lives to be at the Rio Paralympics. We especially marvelled at the one-legged high jump, which impressed us immensely.

The final medal tally for Paralympics GB was:

Gold:               64

Silver:              39

Bronze:            44

Total:               147

Big congratulations to all Paralympians in GB’s Paralympic Team!

Not to be forgotten and overshadowed by the Rio Paralympics, one of our Olympians hit the news again, for his act of brotherly love. Of course, I am referring to Alistair Brownlee.

On the 19th, Jonny Brownlee was leading the Mexico triathlon, when exhaustion took over and he looked like he was going to fail to finish the Triathlon, when Alistair Brownlee came round the corner, saw his brother and gave up the chance to win the event to help his brother across the finishing line.

We salute Alistair for his selflessness towards his brother.


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‘Will you start the fans please’

Richard O’Brien

The biggest event that we picked out for October this year was the one-off revival of The Crystal Maze for Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer. It was really good to be taken back to our youth and see a classic gameshow remade; Stephen Merchant as host did a really good job and even shaved his head to look like the original host Richard O’Brien.

Channel 4 has announced that there will be a new series in 2017, which we look forward to, although they have also said that the host will not be Stephen Merchant. Eyes peeled folks for the new series.


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‘Oh, say! can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?’


You may be familiar with the phrase, Remember, Remember the 5th of November’ this year however, the phrase will be ‘Remember, Remember the charge of Ed Balls and Honey G!’ For this was the month that Honey G on the X Factor and Ed Balls on Strictly Come Dancing came to the fore and the public were either behind them or loathed them on their respective shows.

The Curse of 2016 struck again, taking the life of Andrew Sachs, or as he will be eternally known as Manuel from Fawlty Towers. Although he had other roles in his career, Manuel was his most famous role and the one that his legacy will carry on from, by watching the repeats of the 12 episodes that were made.

There was more celebration in the sporting world for British athletes as Andrew (Andy) Murray became World Tennis Number 1. The first British World Number 1 since Fred Perry in 1941.

On November the 8th the United States of America public went to the ballot boxes to elect the 45th and next President. The electorate had the choice of Senator Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump. By the morning of the 9th November, media outlets had Trump as President with 279 electoral votes when he only needed 270 in order to take the White House. President Elect Donald Trump will take his Presidential Oath on January 20th 2017.

As we mentioned earlier, this November was the first BBC Children in Need without Sir Terry Wogan being alive, he didn’t present last year’s appeal night either but everyone believed that he would be back this year to take his rightful place at the helm. Sadly, he passed away in January, this year’s appeal night went on without Sir Terry, and made a record £46,624,259 on the night. This figure alone would have made Sir Terry very proud to have made this amount on BBC Children in Need.

No review of the year by The Training Fox would not be complete with mentioning a landmark birthday this year. Victoria Climbié would have celebrated her 25th birthday on the 2nd had she not been killed by her Great Aunt and her partner. Victoria Climbié will forever live on in our memory and the subsequent changes that have been made in England and Wales by the Government in recent years to try and prevent any further children being abused.

Victoria Climbié 02/11/1991 – 25/02/2000


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Does your granny always tell ya
That the old songs are the best?
Then she's up and rock and rollin' with the rest’

Noddy Holder

December is traditionally the season of goodwill, family and watching lots of different things on the television.

So this year, the Early Years part of us was pleased Channel 4 showed an animated version of a favourite book of ours, ’We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ Although the creators had amended the story to meet the demands of television it was amazing to see Helen Oxenbury’s original designs turned into a children’s programme especially for Christmas. A warm-hearted treat for all the children and big children in the country.

In more sombre news, just days before Christmas the sad news of the demise of Dr Henry Heimlich broke. Dr Heimlich was the man in 1974 behind the Abdominal Thrust manoeuvre when trying to help someone who is choking, when the back slaps have failed to work following 5 attempts. Dr Heimlich himself used his manoeuvre in May this year for the first time and he told the BBC ‘I didn’t know I really could do it’ after he had successfully removed a piece of meat with a bone from the airway of an 87 year old woman, who lived in the same care home. It is thought that in Dr Heimlich’s home country his manoeuvre has saved more than 100,000 people since 1974.

Dr Heimlich lives on with his life-saving technique.

In addition to Dr Heimlich’s sad death, Curse of 2016 took other notable famous faces during the month. In some respects, the saddest of the deaths was the death of mother and daughter a day apart. Firstly, Carrie Fisher of Star Wars fame died on the 27th and a day later her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away, with her daughter’s death reportedly having being partially responsible for her stroke.

Other deaths during the month of December saw 2 musicians die too soon. Status Quo singer, songwriter and rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt sadly passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 68, having achieved during his career numerous hits including ‘Rocking All Over The World’ and ‘Whatever You Want ’amongst others. Sadly, as the festivities of Christmas Eve came to a close the news broke that George Michael of ‘Wham!’ and solo artist fame had passed away at the young age of just 53 years old. He achieved many hits with ‘Wham!’ including ‘Wake Me Up Before You GoGo’ and the festive hit ‘Last Christmas’ before going on to have solo hits such as ‘Careless Whisper’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Praying for Time’.

The Royle family have had a particularly hard year, with the death of Denise (Caroline Aherne earlier in the year), on Christmas Eve, Liz Smith who played Nana Royle sadly passed away at the age of 95 years old. Liz played many roles over the years. Some of her most notable roles alongside that of Nana Royle include Letitia Cropley from The Vicar of Dibley, Bette and Belle in the comedy ‘2 Point 4 Children’ and Mrs White in the TV adaptation of the board game ‘Cluedo’.

The literary world also lost another author of a classic novel in this month, Richard Adams, his most famous novel being ‘Watership Down’.

As December is the month of festivities and positivity on the whole we want to end this month of the blog on a happy note, of which we have 2 to share.

Firstly, in good news, the numbers of pandas living in the wild have risen in the last 10 years by 16.8% making a total of 1,864 pandas now alive in the wild around the world. This statistic proves that conservation efforts in the world are working to improve the prospects of endangered animals.

December is the time of year when the music charts get a little exciting as everyone looks towards them in expectation of who will get the coveted Christmas Number 1 spot. This year that accolade went to Clean Bandit featuring Sean Paul and Anne-Marie with their song Rockabye.

Now she got a six-year-old
Trying to keep him warm
Trying to keep out the cold
When he looks in her eyes
He don't know he is safe.

Congratulations to Clean Bandit on being Christmas Number 1 2016.

Not only do they get the coveted Christmas Number 1 spot, as the Music Charts have been moved to a Friday, they have also managed to secure the last number 1 of the year, admittedly this is not the most exciting accolade ever but we think is an interesting fact as until last Summer, the charts were announced on Sunday and therefore the Christmas Number 1 would have been the last Number 1 song of the year.

December is the month of Family, Fun, Music, and spending time with the people that we love. It is a time for giving and receiving, as well as personal reflection on the year that has passed and the new year that is coming, in this case 2017.

And Finally…

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‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.’

Robert Burns

2016 has been the longest year for 4 years, and is set to be even longer with the last minute of this year containing a leap second; this second is being added on New Year’s Eve at 23:59:60. A leap second occurs due to the Earth’s rotation variation of speed in relation to climatic and geological events. As you can see in our blog a lot has happened during the year, with a lot of well renowned people having died, as well as a lot of things to celebrate having occurred. We have obviously just scratched the surface of what 2016 had to give.

We would like to take a second to remember all those that have passed away this year whom we have not mentioned in this blog.

As we conclude this blog, we would like to wish:


To all our Customers, Friends and Family

May 2017 be everything that you hope it to be.

Top:   January         February          March          April         May          June

July          August          September          October          November          December          And Finally

It’s that time again, another year comes to an end and a new one is about to begin. We take a look back on this the last day of 2017 to review the events of the year, hopefully remind you of some good things in the year as well as mark some major news events that have occurred.

As always at the stroke of midnight the London Eye became the centre point of the UK’s celebrations of the start of 2017 following in the footsteps of Sydney Opera House, Marina Bay and L’Arc de Triomphe who had celebrated the arrival of 2017 in the hours before the UK did, just as New York’s Times Square will in the hours ahead. As always, the crowds stared in awe and wonder of the fireworks and, in that moment, took stock of the previous year and all they had to look forward to in the coming year.

As the year began, it began with trepidation, what with the way that the previous year had gone with a famous faces being taken from the Earth what seemed like every other day.


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I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that

I will faithfully execute the Office of

President of the United States,

and will to the best of my Ability,

preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

US Presidential Oath of Office

In the music charts the year started in exactly the same way as it had ended, with Clean Bandit taking the number 1 spot for the first 2 weeks of the year. Not only that but the Christmas music ceased to be played for yet another year, particularly in the shops, who replaced the Christmas music with the Easter eggs and chocolates. Admittedly on our part, this had happened on Boxing Day last year as has become a tradition in recent years!

The first big household name of the year was taken from the world on the 12th, this man was Men’s England Football Manager from 1990 to 1993, even being referred to by one national newspaper as the turnip. Of course, the man to whom I refer is Graham Taylor. Graham died at the grand age of 72 and is sadly missed by the Football Community. He led England to the quarter finals of the 1992 European Championships and failed to qualify for the World Cup in the USA in 1994. Graham did however have a varied career as a club manager leading several teams through the football season; he is the only manager to have amassed over 70 points in a season twice under the old point scoring system, where a win was worth just 2 points.

On the 20th the world’s attention returned to the United States of America to witness the swearing in of the 45th President, Donald J Trump, led by Chief Justice of The United States of America, John Roberts. It is estimated that 300,000 to 600,000 people turned out to witness the event at the West Front of the US Capitol Hill Building. This was the 58th time that a President had been sworn into Office, at noon, when his time in office officially commences. Donald J Trump is the first US President who has no prior military experience nor governmental service experience, he is however the wealthiest and oldest person to hold the position, President of the United States of America. In the preceding moments of Trump’s inauguration, his Vice-President Mike Pence was officially sworn into his position.

The story of the inauguration, or the controversy of, does not end on inauguration day. The following day, 21st January 2017, saw The Women’s March, which was a worldwide protest to advocate legislation and policies aimed at human rights and other issues, including LGBT and women’s rights. The Marches in the USA were aimed directly at Trump due to the positions and stances that he had taken on the presidential election trail, which were seen as being very anti-women and otherwise offensive. Prior to his inauguration there was a view that Trump was going to be divisive, time will tell if this is how his Presidency is remembered.

The month ended with the sad news of the deaths of 2 household actors.

Firstly, on the 23rd Gordon Kaye of ‘Allo ‘Allo fame passed away at the age of 75. He will long be remembered as René Artois in what is a classic sitcom, ‘Allo ‘Allo, the series, is replayed on the many different channels. We thought that we would mark Gordon Kaye’s passing with a link to a clip of him in action:


The second actor to die in this month was Sir John Hurt CBE who was 77, his career spanned some 50 years, covering television, film, stage and voice-over artistry. He is probably most famous for his role in his later career as Mr Ollivander in Harry Potter. Sir John was knighted in the 2015 New Year’s Honours and attended his investiture ceremony on July 17th 2015 at Windsor Castle, where he collected the title from the Queen.


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And the winner is….

February started in the UK with Parliament voting in favour of the European Union Bill which allowed the Government to start the process of Brexit, following last year’s vote on exiting the European Union on June 23rd in which 51.89% of the people who voted, decided to leave the EU. This decision by Parliament was the catalyst that put other moves through the year into motion, we will refer back to the 1st February later in this review of the year.

On the 5th of February, the band Black Sabbath led by Ozzy Osbourne played their last ever concert in their home city, Birmingham. According to a 2013 poll by Rolling Stone magazine the greatest Black Sabbath song of all time is ‘Warpigs’. Aside from the band, Ozzy Osbourne is famous for his activities outside of the band, for instance his appearance in years gone by on the documentary, The Osbournes.

One of the household names to die this month was socialite, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, or TPT as she was known. Most famously, Tara finished second in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here in 2002, before presenting the companion show, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now!

On the 11th North Korea test fired a ballistic missile across the Sea of Japan, prompting world-wide condemnation of the act. The view from the world’s media, was that it wouldn’t be too long before the North Koreans could hit the US mainland with a ballistic missile. A statement which sends shivers down the spine and thoughts turning towards another war.

Over the night of the 26th February, the Oscars took place in Hollywood. During the ceremony Best Actress went to Emma Stone with Best Actor going to Casey Affleck. For a period of 2 and a half minutes the Best Picture Award was in the wrong hands having been wrongly announced as ‘La La Land’ when actually the correct winner was ‘Moonlight’. Shock ensued around the arena.


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Dr. Laura Hobson, pathologist: [Meeting Morse for the first time]

Do you know where I might find a Detective Chief Inspector... looks like "Mouse"?
Chief Inspector Morse: Morse. Detective Chief Inspector Morse.’

Colin Dexter ‘Inspector Morse’ 1995

March started off as a quiet month, the calmness was broken by ITV’s This Morning launching their Be Kind campaign. The Be Kind campaign started aims to rid bullying from children’s lives, having earlier on in the year held interviews with parents of children who had killed themselves having suffered from bullying. On the 9th, they launched their Be Kind pledge, encouraging teachers and parents across the country to pledge to show the powerful interviews to their children or in school assemblies to try to stop bullying.

The 10th saw the death of John Surtees CBE, at the age of 83. John Surtees CBE is the only man to have won both World Championships on 2 and 4 wheels. He was a 4-time 500cc Motorcycle World champion in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 and Formula 1 World Champion in 1964. He was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire(MBE) in 1959, then further recognised with an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 2008 and again in 2016 when he was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to motorsport. There is some indignation to the fact that he was never awarded a knighthood.

On the 18th Chuck Berry departed this Earth, at the age of 90 years old. Chuck Berry was famous as an American singer, songwriter, musician and one of the pioneers of Rock ‘n’ Roll. He will probably be most fondly remembered for songs like Johnny B. Goode, as well as being remembered for refining and developing Rhythm and Blues into the major elements that made Rock ‘n’ Roll so distinctive.

And, March hadn’t finished taking household names off this Earth, as on the 21st two people died. Firstly, politician Martin McGuinness passed away at the age of 66. Martin McGuinness was Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland for 10 years from 2007 until earlier this year. He was a member of the Sinn Fein Party, and like his fellow party members practised Westminster absenteeism, meaning not taking up their elected seat in the Houses of Parliament. Martin was an Irish Republican and had been a Provisional Irish Republican Army Leader. His legacy however has to go to his part in the Good Friday Agreement which formally cemented the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

Also taken on the 21st was Author Colin Dexter OBE. He was most commonly known as the author of the Inspector Morse novels between 1975 and 1999. His work has been popularly dramatised into an ITV drama series, which has since spawned the spin-off series, Lewis and Endeavour. Just as Alfred Hitchcock did in his career, Colin Dexter made a cameo appearance in most of the Inspector Morse episodes. He was awarded his OBE in 2000 and this was followed the year after with the freedom of Oxford, where he based Inspector Morse. Colin Dexter OBE died at the age of 86 years old.

On the 22nd March 2017, 5 people tragically lost their lives in a terrorist attack that took place at the Palace of Westminster. At approximately 14:40 a grey Hyundai Tucson was driven down the pavement of the southern side of Westminster Bridge at up to speeds of 76mph, causing many injuries and several deaths. The second stage of this attack occurred once the terrorist had crashed the car into the perimeter wall of the Houses of Parliament, before running through the open Carriage Gates, where PC Keith Palmer was stabbed to death by the terrorist before being shot. The whole attack lasted 82 seconds. We have written a more in-depth blog on recent terror attacks which you can view here. We have also got a dedicated page of our website where we remember all the victims, however not naming the terrorist in each attack, which you can view here.

Nine months after the Brexit vote, and following on from Parliament’s agreement on February the 1st, the UK triggered a piece of European law known as Article 50.

What is Article 50?

Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon gives any of the current 28 EU States the right to quit unilaterally. Article 50 provides the process to be followed, giving the leaving state a period of 2 years to negotiate their exit with the remaining 27-member states. Once the Article 50 process commences, it cannot be stopped without express unanimous consent from the remaining member states. No member of the EU has left before; the UK will become the first member state to do so. The Treaty of Lisbon came into law in 2009, and prior to this there was no way of a member state leaving the European Union. With the evocation of Article 50 with a letter sent by Prime Minister Theresa May, the United Kingdom will leave the EU on March 29th 2019.


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If you want your children to be


Read them fairy tales.

If you want them to be

More intelligent

Read them more fairy tales.

Albert Einstein

April started with an updated Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) for our Early Years customers. Although there were only a few minor changes in the document, it clarifies which provisions are mandatory indicated by the word must and provisions where providers should have regard for other provisions, which are indicated by should. There were 2 minor changes to the Learning and Development section of the document both amending the footnotes. The major changes come in the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements. It added in the Prevent Strategy which was published since the 2014 framework. It also tightens up the First Aid training requirements of all staff new to the sector, as well as tightening up the provisions of prescription medication, only to be administered if prescribed by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist. The EYFS came into effect on April 3rd.

On the 7th, Tim Piggott-Smith OBE passed away at the age of 70 years old. He was best known as a British film and television actor as well as an author. He is probably best known for his role of Ronald Merrick in the drama series The Jewel in the crown, a role that won him 4 BAFTA awards in 1985. He has also starred in many films including Johnny English, and V is for Vendetta. He wrote Out of India, while he was filming The Jewel in the Crown; the book is his interpretations of India in diary form along with an anthology of prose and poetry. He also wrote 2 children’s books in the series The Baker Street Mysteries which featured the exploits of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars entitled, The Dragon Tattoo and Shadow of Evil.

Also taken in April was Ugo Ehiogu an English footballer playing in centre back; he died at the age of 44 years old. Ugo played in the English Premier League from 1989 until 2009, and was Tottenham Hotspur Under-23 coach from 2014 until his untimely death from a cardiac arrest. He played for teams such as Rangers and Aston Villa although I believe he will be most remembered for his time at Middlesbrough. In his international days, Ugo was the first black player to captain an England side in a competitive game, albeit in an Under-21s game.


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So one last time
I need to be the one who takes you home
One more time
I promise after that, I'll let you go
Baby I don't care if you got her in your heart
All I really care is you wake up in my arms
One last time
I need to be the one who takes you home

Ariana Grande

On May the 4th, Buckingham Palace announced that at the end of the summer Prince Philip would be retiring from public life. We will reflect on his public career in the month of his retirement.

During the afternoon of the 9th we were saddened to hear of an accident that had happened at Drayton Manor Park. It was later revealed that 11-year-old Evha Janneth had died having fallen into the water on one of the rides. The post-mortem identifies that she tragically died from chest injuries. Sadly, her death came 4 days after her 11th birthday whilst on a trip with her school.

The 9th also delivered more sad news at the loss of Robert Miles, a Swiss born Italian record producer, composer, musician and DJ, he is most famous for the 1990s hit Children. Robert Miles, or more accurately to his birth name Roberto Concina died at the age of just 47 years.

May the 12th saw a large-scale ransomware attack which affected 150 countries; it is commonly known as WannaCry. The ransomware attacked computers running the Microsoft Windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding ransom payments in the Bitcoin Cryptocurrency. Although Microsoft had released patches prior to the attack, they were either not installed on the computers or the companies affected were running old systems, sometimes referred to as end of life. In the UK the attack affected companies such as the NHS, Nissan and Honda. Within a few days of the attack it was stopped, as Microsoft released emergency patches and a kill switch was discovered.

Terror once again raised its ugly head on the 22nd. At a little after half past 10, at the end of a concert by Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena, a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, packed full of nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel which got embedded into the bodies of the innocent victims. 22 innocent people were killed in the blast including the youngest, Saffie Rose Roussos aged just 8 years old, along with 250 injured people. Over the coming days the city of Manchester and the UK as a whole came together as one to stand against terrorism. As we referred to earlier we have a dedicated page on our website and blog around this subject. We will also come back to this terror attack shortly.

The month ended with the sad news of the death of Sir Roger Moore CBE, KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Order) on the 23rd. Sir Roger Moore is most famous for playing the MI6 spy James Bond, I bet you now have the Bond theme tune going round in your head! Sir Roger Moore played the spy in 7 movies:

Live and Let Die (1973)

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Moonraker (1979)

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Octopussy (1983)

A View to a Kill (1985).

During his own National Service Sir Roger made it all the way up to rank of Captain, commanding a small depot in West Germany, and later looked after entertainers for the armed services passing through Hamburg.


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Please look after this bear,

Thank you

Michael Bond

On the 1st of June, President Donald J Trump announced that he had pulled the USA out of the Paris Climate Agreement, something that the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May committed the UK to. The Paris Climate Agreement is an agreement, within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which deals with greenhouse gas mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in 2020. The earliest that the USA can withdraw is November 2020. The requirement of the Agreement is for countries to determine, plan and report its own contribution to mitigate global warming; there is however no mechanism to force countries to set a specific target by a specific date, but each target should be greater than their previous target.

June the 2nd saw the death of Peter Sallis OBE at the age of 96. Peter Sallis was awarded his OBE in the 2007 birthday honours’ list. He went onto Desert Island Discs and selected his favourite as Sibelius’ Symphony number 5 in E-Flat Major. Peter Sallis OBE, in honesty, will be remembered best for his 2 most famous roles. His first most successful role began in 1973 when he took on the role of Norman ‘Cleggy’ Clegg in Last of the Summer Wine, which he played right up until the final episode in 2010. This span makes Peter Sallis the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes. His other role that he will be remembered for is as the voice of Wallace in the Wallace and Gromit films.

June certainly was a particularly busy month, as the 3rd of June saw the return again of terror to the streets of the UK for 8 long minutes. This attack took place around London Bridge in London. At 10:05pm a white van was driven down London Bridge’s South pavement killing 3 and injuring many. Once the van crashed, the attack continued on foot into Borough Market where members of the public tried to defend themselves by throwing crates, bottles, chairs and other projectiles at the attackers to try to ward them off, however the terrorists still managed to stab and kill 5 people whilst injuring many more. On arrival the police shot the 3 attackers dead and identified that they were wearing fake suicide vests. As we have already discussed our dedicated page in memory of terror attacks and victims and our blog can be accessed on our website.

In the aftermath of the London Bridge attack, the very next day was due to be a concert held in Manchester, hosted by Ariana Grande following the terror attack at her concert a few weeks previous. Due to the attack in London there was some discussion in the media as to whether or not the concert would go ahead, and go ahead it did. Ariana Grande organised, headlined and arranged the whole thing. The concert was held at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground on the 4th of June, it was broadcast live across the world. Ariana had offered free tickets to everyone who had tickets to the affected concert at the Manchester Arena and all other tickets were charged at £40.00 per ticket which sold out in 6 minutes. Stars who performed at the concert gave their time for free and the proceeds of the concert went to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. We thank Ariana Grande for organising the concert and visiting the victims in the hospital.

On the 5th of June, more sad news reached us with the very untimely death of footballer Cheick Tioté at the age of just 30. The Ivorian Defensive Midfielder represented his country at 2 FIFA World Cups and 4 CAF African Cup of Nations, winning the 2015 tournament. In total he played a total of 52 times for his country. He also played his club football in the Premier League notably at Newcastle United who he represented 156 times over 6 and a half seasons.

June the 8th saw a General Election, as we were told in 2016 would not happen. In the run up to the General Election we explored and examined the key areas of the political parties’ manifestos. The outcome of the election was not as strong and decisive as most of the commentators thought that it would be. In fact it turned out that the Conservatives would ‘win’ Downing Street but only with a minority Government. Over the next few days a deal was done with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland). Seats won by each of the parties for Westminster are as follows:

Conservatives 318
Labour 262
Scottish Nationalist Party 35
Liberal Democrats 12
Democratic Unionists Party 10
Sinn Fein 7
Plaid Cymru 4
Green Party 1
Independent 1

We then have the good news story of the summer which started a golden spell for England football teams. On June the 11th the Under-20s Football Team won the FIFA Under-20s World Cup. This was the first World Cup that England had won since 1966, therefore ending 51 years of hurt, even if they are 2 different World Cups, as the 1966 win was by the Senior Men’s Team.

Sadly though, the good times didn’t last too long. On the evening of the 14th of June, a fire broke out in the Grenfell Tower block of flats, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. The fire caused 71 deaths including 1 stillbirth; from 23 of the 129 flats, 223 people escaped the blaze with 70 of them injured. Emergency Services first had the call at approximately 00:54, the blaze burned for some 60 hours. It took more than 250 London Fire Brigade firefighters and 70 fire engines along with over 100 London Ambulance Service crews, in about 20 ambulances, the Hazardous Area Response Team, London Metropolitan Police Service and the London Air Ambulance. On June the 21st a charity single was released under the artist title, Artists for Grenfell. It sold 120,000 in the first day of sales, the most for any track in the 2010s. It is believed that the fire was caused by a faulty refrigerator, but the spread of the fire is believed to be the external cladding attached to the façade of the building.

On the 19th of the month, another lone terrorist struck again, unusually however this person is now in police custody and is due to stand trial in January 2018. By driving a van into pedestrians outside Finsbury Park Mosque in London, 8 people were killed and a man who had earlier dropped to the floor and was receiving First Aid died. The motive for this attack at the time of writing is still being investigated.

On the 21st the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul was destroyed amidst the battle of Mosul, between Iraqi Government forces allied with the Kurdistan Regional Government, and international forces and Islamic State (IS.) The battle was for the allied forces to retake the city of Mosul from IS. The Iraqi forces have attributed the destruction of the Great Mosque to IS in a bid to prevent it from being taken back from them with the city. The Grand Mosque was destroyed along with its leaning Minaret. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared the destruction as a declaration of defeat by ISIS/IS.

The last notable event in an action-packed month of June was the sad news of the death of Michael Bond CBE, at the age of 91. Michael was awarded his CBE in the 2015 Birthday Honours’ List having already been awarded the OBE in the 1997 Birthday Honours’ list in recognition for his services to Children’s Literature. If you were still working out who he was there was the clue, of course Michael Bond is the author of the Paddington Bear Books. Paddington Bear appears in 28 books written by Michael Bond, including one to be published next year. The man behind the bear from deepest darkest Peru, lived not that far away from Paddington Train Station, where the bear gets his name from. Sadly, next year will be the Bear’s 60th anniversary, and Michael Bond isn’t around to see his creation hit that milestone.


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I saw that the look in your eyes was calling me

Show me the path that I will take (Oh)

You, you’re the magnet and I’m the metal

I am getting closer and making a plan

Simply thinking about it makes my heart race (Oh yeah)


There was some green news that came through in this month on the 5th when car making giant Volvo announced that they would make all their models either hybrid or electrical by 2019. This was the first time an automotive company made such a bold statement, ending the reliance on petrol and diesel. This was followed by an announcement by France that by 2040 they would ban all petrol and diesel cars.

July the 9th saw the city of Mosul in Iraq be declared as totally liberated from Islamic State, just 19 days after the destruction of the Great Mosque of Al Nuri.

NASA’s spacecraft Juno made its closest pass to Jupiter’s great red spot at just 9,000 km overhead. Juno is a space probe whose mission is to orbit Jupiter; the mission began on 5th August 2011 when it launched from Cape Canaveral with a mission due to last 7 years.

July the 15th marked a potential new era in women’s tennis as the 124th Women’s Wimbledon title went to Garbine Muguruza, who beat Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0.

How do you follow the Women’s Wimbledon winner? Well, if you are the BBC, you follow it on the 16th by announcing the name of the next Doctor Who and for the first time in its history, the role will be played by a woman, Jodie Whittaker; this will be the 13th incarnation of the Timelord since its television debut in 1963.

While we are discussing popular culture, on the 19th of July 2017 Despacito by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee became the most streamed song of all time.

Now, let’s turn our attention to sporting achievements for British athletes during the month of July. 2 major events happened on the 23rd. Firstly, England’s Women’s Cricket Team beat India by 9 runs in the final of the World Cup held at Lords Cricket Ground, London, winning the Women’s World Cup. Congratulations to them on this achievement. The second achievement for a Brit on the 23rd was the win of Le Tour de France for a 4th time by Chris Froome.

July however, will be remembered in the sporting world this year for the excellent World Para Athletics Championships. The tournament was held at the Olympic Stadium and ran from the 14th to the 23rd. Again, the capital and the people of Great Britain came out and proved themselves to be athletics’ fans, making this championship one of the most successful ever. Team GB and NI ended in third in the table having won 13 Gold, 8 Silver and 13 Bronze medals, a total of 39. Our most successful athletes were Hannah Cockcroft and Samantha (Sammy) Kinghorn. Hannah won 3 golds in 3 different distances in the T34 class: 100m, 400m and 800m. Sammy won 2 golds and a bronze in the T53 class: 100m, 200m and 400m respectively. We absolutely congratulate all the Para athletes who represented Team GB and NI.


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It was nice to see him,

To see him……


Sir Bruce Forsyth

As we mentioned back in May, Prince Philip retired from public life this year and the date of this event was the 2nd August. He has retired at the age of 96, having faithfully been there supporting the Queen on her royal engagements, and fulfilling his own engagements since 1952. During his active service, Prince Philip had attended 22,219 different engagements. His final engagement was meeting the Royal Marines. Over the years Prince Philip has courted controversy with some of his comments that he has made on his engagements, in honesty though it just shows that he has a human side, which is often forgotten as he is a member of the Royal Family. During his active working life, Prince Philip has been patron to nearly 800 organisations, who have all received his time and energy; gradually over time these patronages will be passed on to other members of the Royal Family. Prince Philip holds many titles, honours and arms; his most prominent role was, and is, as Consort to Her Majesty The Queen. His official title is His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh or His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh. We thank His Royal Highness for his service and wish him a very happy retirement, looking forward to seeing him on the few public appearances that he will make alongside his wife and Queen, Elizabeth II. We will yet return to this happy love story later in the year review.

On the 3rd of this month, we officially celebrated our second birthday. This is a milestone that any small business looks forward to meeting, and we are looking forward to many more birthdays meeting our customers’ training needs using our FIRST Principles and having that sense of humour on the courses as we go.

August is predominately a month which is dominated by sport and, again, this year was no different. Great British sportsmen and women had a mixed month. We start with England’s Women’s Football Team who were having a good end of July in the Women’s European Championships, sadly on the 3rd August they came up against the hosts and eventual winners of the tournament, the Netherlands, getting knocked out in a 3-0 defeat at the semi-final stage. On the whole, it was a good tournament for the lionesses and we wish them further success in the upcoming World Cup 2019 and the qualifiers for this tournament.

Continuing with sport we turn our attention to the World Athletics Championships that were held at the Olympic Stadium, looking to replicate the success of last month’s Para Athletics championships. Saturday the 4th saw Mohammed (Mo) Farah take to the track looking to continue a wonderful gold winning run in the 10,000 m. This is an event where, since 2012, in major tournaments nobody has been able to beat Mo Farah, and again at the end of his race, Mo Farah was collecting another Gold to add to his collection. This is added to his Olympic golds from London (2012) and Rio (2016) and his World Titles in Moscow (2013) and Beijing (2015).

We move away from sport temporarily and note that the 8th of August gave us the news of the death of Glenn Campbell at the age of 81. Glenn Campbell will always be remembered for his huge hit ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ from 1975. Although he has had many other hits in the UK this is the one song that embodies most people’s memories of Glenn Campbell.

Back to the Olympic Stadium we go, and again the attention on the 12th goes back to Mohammed (Mo) Farah as he once again took to the track to run in the 5,000m, again a discipline that he has held at World and Olympic level for 6 years. The race seemed to be going to plan, but sadly in his last World Championship race, he could only finish 2nd and collect the silver medal to add to his Olympic golds from London (2012) and Rio (2016) as well as his World Titles from Daegu (2011), Moscow (2013), and Beijing (2015). An illustrious long-distance career came to an end as he now heads off to try his hand at the marathon.

Team GB and NI did however pick up 2 additional medals on this evening, a silver for the women in the 4x100m, who then stood in the interview area of the stadium to watch their male counterparts go and win gold in their version of the event. There was a tinge of sadness in this race even though gold came home, in that the Jamaican challenge ended early as the short distance running legend, Usain Bolt pulled up with what looked a hamstring injury, which ended his career on a low note. But looking back over his career Usain Bolt has quite a record at Olympic and World Championship level. Although, the Jamaicans’ had a bad result, it has to be said that the GB quartet were ahead of the field, by a whisker, heading into the home straight.

Having recovered from the action of the night before, again sat in front of the television screen we were to see how the men in the 4x400m relay could get on, and the answer was silver. A great return from the World Athletics Championship, the whole team ended in 6th place in the table, amassing a total of 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze a total of 6 medals equalling the target the performance at UK Athletics had set the team. Attention turns now to the Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast next year.

Throughout the World Athletics Championships which were held between the 4th and 13th, there is one ‘man’ who stands out for a special mention in our review. That one ‘man’ goes by the name of ‘Hero the Hedgehog’ the official mascot of the Championships. Hero was designed by a 9-year-old called Ellie who lives in the West Midlands, when she entered a competition on Blue Peter. So entertaining was Hero that we honour him in our review of the year with an image and a link to some of his highlights:



Alas, the sporting achievements to one side, we again lost a true legend and entertainment great in the form of Sir Bruce Forsyth CBE. Sir Bruce died at the grand age of 89 having had a spell of illness last year and the worry that the curse of 2016 was going to strike him down, that luckily didn’t happen. Sir Bruce had an illustrious career in entertainment for 7 decades. He is famous for his catchphrases, as well as his gameshows such as The Generation Game, Brucie’s Price is Right and Play Your Cards Right. His last television show was as part of the presenting duet on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. He was awarded his OBE in 1998 and then his CBE in the 2006 New Year’s Honours’ list. It was announced that he was to become Sir Bruce in the 2011 Birthday Honours’ list and his investiture was carried out by Her Majesty the Queen on the 12th October 2011.

Sir Bruce Forsyth will be missed by television viewers far and wide.

To end the month, we look towards the skies of our close friends, the United States of America. The 21st August saw a total solar eclipse visible within a band across the contiguous United States (48 adjoining states plus Washington DC), the first total solar eclipse since June the 8th 1918. Totality affected 14 states directly covering about 16% of the area of the United States. This was the first eclipse in America in the smartphone and social media era and therefore access to photographs and videos were easier to lay hands on, and needless to say the obligatory marriage proposals under the totality were many. It is thought that one wedding was planned to actually take place under the conditions of totality. The next solar eclipse is predicted to affect just 10 states in April 2024.


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Olympian flame immortal

Whose beacon lights our way

Emblaze our hearts with the fires of hope

On this momentous day

International Olympic Committee’s Anthem

In comparison to recent months, September had a quiet month with very few noteworthy events. On the 13th the International Olympic Committee announced the host cities for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games. The cities awarded the games were Paris and Los Angeles respectively. This will be the 3rd time that Paris has hosted the games, the first time since 1924, as it will also be Los Angeles’ third occasion and their first time since 1984. Both of these host cities will now be tied with London with the number of times that they have hosted the prestigious games, we look forward to their games after the Tokyo games in 2020.

At around 8:20am on the morning of the 15th an explosion occurred on the District Line of London’s Underground line at Parsons Green. This explosion injured 30 people going about their day commuting to work and school, the explosion came from a botched crude bucket bomb with a timer containing Triacetone Triperoxide(TATP,) which is an explosive chemical. The Metropolitan Police treated the incident as a terror attack, with the Press Association reporting it has being linked to attacks by Islamic Extremists. The main suspect was arrested the following day at the departures lounge at the Port of Dover, the Police then subsequently raided several houses in Sunbury on Thames, where the attacker is said to have lived. As with all of our discussions around the terror attacks in our country we have again decided not to name the attacker nor any of his accomplices. Amaq News Agency reported that a unit of IS had claimed responsibility for this attack, however, the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in a statement on the 17th that there was no evidence to back this up, but added that the intelligence services and police would identify if and how the attacker was radicalised. 7 men have been arrested in connection with this attack, with 6 of them being released without charge.

September has 2 notable household names’ deaths to report, the first occurred on the 21st namely William G Stewart who is probably best known as being the host of the quiz show 15 to 1. However, William was not just an in front of the camera personality in the fact that he was also a producer, and director. He produced the gameshow that he hosted. He courted criticism, along with Channel 4 in 2001, when he was left with just a few contestants making it through round 1 and so to fill time he then gave a lengthy presentation on returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece, a subject that he was passionate about. The marbles in question are currently owned by the British Museum.

The second household name to have demised in this month is the businessman, magazine publisher and playboy, Hugh Hefner who died at the age of 91 on the 27th. Most famously Hugh Hefner is known for his publication Playboy as well as his Playboy Mansion and the Playboy Bunnies.


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The barnacle is found in salty seas,
Clinging to rocks in crusty colonies;
And salt, which chemists call NaCl,
Is found inside the barnacle as well.

Richard Wilbur

October began with a mass shooting in the USA. The attack took place on the 1st and the attacked venue was the Route 91 Music Festival which was taking place in Las Vegas. The gunman had booked a hotel suite in the Mandalay Bay Hotel which overlooked the festival, he was in a suite on the 32nd floor of the 43-storey hotel. Between 22:05 and 22:15 local time the gunman opened fire onto the festival and killed 58 people leaving 546 people injured, in a firing rampage of 1,100 shots into the crowd. An hour after the final shot the gunman was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound by the police, his motive is unknown. This incident has the unwanted record in the United States as the deadliest mass shooting committed by one single gunman. It has also served to reignite the long-running discussions the Americans have about their gun laws, as well as starting the debate on bump fire stocks. Bump fire stocks are devices which allow semi-automatic weapons to mimic the firing speed of automatic weapons, firing some weapons between 400 and 800 rounds per minute. It is believed that this was not the original target of the gunman as he is believed to have booked a hotel room overlooking an earlier festival, namely the August music festival Lollapalooza, as well as staying in the Las Vegas area between September 22nd and 24th staying in a hotel overlooking yet another music festival, Life is Beautiful. Could one of these festivals have been the original target for this gunman?

The 8th of October saw the launch of ITV’s Be kind parent/teacher support pack. The support pack has been designed to help parents and teachers to spread the word of the campaign, and has been designed with the Diana Award Anti Bullying Campaign. The pack itself contains a variety of resources and activities that can be used in primary and secondary schools, including posters, activity ideas, and advice sheets to help raise students’ awareness of the Be Kind campaign. We are fully behind the Be Kind campaign and you can download the support pack by clicking here.

As we have referred to on many occasions throughout this review of this year, it has been a good year for the England football set-up, and the 8th was no different as the senior men’s side confirmed their appearance at the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia, next summer. England confirmed their attendance with a 1 nil win over Lithuania. As the games kicked off there was a chance that Scotland could follow England into the World Cup by claiming a play-off spot, sadly this did not happen, by the end of the play-off rounds, England is the last home nation standing in qualification for the World Cup. We wish the England Team all the best at the World Cup in the summer.

The twice winner of the Pulitzer prize for poetry (1957 and 1989) literary translator and poet, Richard Wilbur died on the 14th at the age of 96. He was known as one of the foremost poets of his generation, composing work mostly in a traditional form, whilst being marked in wit, gentlemanly elegance and charm. In 1987 he was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Some of his famous works include the translation of the play ‘Tartuffe’ which has become the standard English version of the play, which has been presented on the television twice, with the 1978 version available on DVD. His other work includes a series of prose entitled Responses: Prose Pieces (1953-1976) and an anthology of poetry for example, Things of This World.

On the 16th, again this year, First Aid trainers up and down the country taught school children how to restart a heart with lifesaving Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation training. Although this year we weren’t able to take part due to other training commitments we are looking forward to working with schoolchildren on Restart a Heart Day in 2018 to teach life-saving skills. During this year’s Restart a heart Day which is a European wide initiative, 195,000 children in the UK were trained, which is up from the 116,734 in 2016. We are hopeful that we can add to this number in 2018. In the meantime, don’t forget that we run courses for schoolchildren with exact course details being added to our website early in the new year, keep your eyes peeled.

Following an independence referendum on the 1st , the Catalonian Parliament declared the region of Catalonia as independent from Spain on the 27th. However, 53 opposition MPs refused to be present at the vote, after the legal services of the Catalan Parliament advised that the voting could not take place as the law which it had been based on had been suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. A few hours later, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dismissed the Catalan Parliament and called for fresh elections to be held on the 21st December.

And now for 2 happy tales of sporting achievement for our British sportsmen, and what a weekend the 28th and 29th was. Firstly, we look at the Saturday where we saw the England Under-17s take to the football pitch in Kolkata, India in the World Cup. Following on from the success of the Under-20s winning their World Cup, optimism was high. Steve Cooper had selected the 11 players that he believed could bring the cup home. Well, what can we say, 10 minutes in and the Spanish score with a goal from Sergio Gomez. This was the worst possible start for the England lads. And with just twenty-one minutes gone, the Spanish had scored again, through the same player, collecting his brace of goals. The hearts and heads of the England fans dropped, how was the team going to recover from being 2-0 down? Thankfully with one minute to go to the half-time whistle Rhian Brewster netted the ball to make it 2-1, with no more goals before half-time.

Steve Cooper before the Brewster goal would have been thinking, what on Earth am I going to say to the lads to turn the game around? The goal made his half-time talk a little easier. What I haven’t told you already is that the boys had already beaten big hitters in the footballing world including, Brazil and the USA.

Into the second half we went, 2-1 down. 13 minutes into the second half, 58 minutes on the clock, Gibbs White netted the ball for England tying the game at 2-2. The game was now on with England in the ascendency. 2 goals from Foden in the 69th and 88th minute and one from Guéhi secured an amazing 5-2 victory for England. The second English football team to win a World Cup in 2017, with attention now turning to the men’s team as they go to the World cup in Russia in 2018.

We now turn our attention to motorsport and the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City, the scene of the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton knew with 2 races to go should he outscore his nearest championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, by ten points he would be World Champion for a fourth time. After a first lap incident where Lewis and Sebastian touched, the race was on. Lewis finished the race in ninth place collecting 2 points. Vettel managed to come back from the first lap incident to finish in 4th collecting twelve points, which meant that mathematically, Lewis Hamilton could not be caught, and therefore was effectively World Champion for 2017 and a 4th time, becoming the most successful Brit in Formula 1 and 1 more time than his racing hero, the late, great Ayrton Senna.


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If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, In Remembrance

Picking up on a theme that has run through this year’s review, we return again to ITV’s This Morning’s Be Kind campaign as on the evening of the 8th famous monuments including Gateshead Millennium Bridge, London Eye, Blackpool Tower lit up in the colours of the campaign. This coincided with the launch of the Be Kind wristbands which were available in Smiggle stores for free. There was only a supply of 150,000 and sadly we were unable to lay our hands on one, however, if you were lucky enough to, don’t forget that This Morning would love to see you wearing yours using the hashtag #BeKind. Tag us into your pictures in Twitter using @TrainingFoxEyHS or on Facebook TheTrainingFox, we would love to see your pictures.

As always in November, our thoughts and attention turn to the memory of all those men, women and children who have served our great nation in the many wars over the years, and this the 100th anniversary of the start of the last year of The Great War World War I.

The 11th day of the month fell on a Saturday, and the minute’s silence fell within our scheduled coffee break on a course, which is great timing to allow us to remember. We of course then joined the nation in remembrance on the Sunday by following the pictures from the Cenotaph in London where Prince Charles laid a wreath on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, as she watched the events from a balcony in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office standing beside her husband Prince Philip. Her Majesty was seen wiping a tear away as she remembered all the service personnel. Up until last year, Her Majesty would lead the tributes by laying her wreath first, the role that Prince Charles took on this year before then laying his wreat. The Queen has led the tributes every year of her reign other than on 6 other separate occasions:

1959 Laid by Duke of Edinburgh as The Queen was heavily pregnant with Prince Andrew.

1961 Laid by another member of the Royal Family, The Queen was on a Royal visit to Ghana.

1963 Laid by Duke of Edinburgh as The Queen was heavily pregnant with Prince Edward.

1968 Laid by another member of the Royal Family, The Queen was on a Royal visit to Brazil.

1983 Laid by Prince Charles, The Queen was on a Royal visit to Kenya.

1999 Laid by Prince Charles, The Queen was on a Royal visit to South Africa.

A Buckingham Palace source said, ‘Her Majesty The Queen, wishes to be at the side of her husband this Remembrance Day’. It was the first service at the Cenotaph that the Queen watched from the balcony with other members of the family including the Duchess of Cambridge, and didn’t take an active part in.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon

Lest we forget

Words by Rudyard kipling

We now turn our attention to Zimbabwe, for the 15th saw the President Robert Mugabe placed under house arrest by Zimbabwe’s National Army, as part of action against ‘criminals’ in Mugabe’s circle. This action appears to have been in response to moves that Robert Mugabe had made on the 6th of this month, when he sacked his First Vice President Emerson Mnangagwa, fuelling speculation that he intended to promote to this position his wife Grace Mugabe. The 19th of the month saw him sacked by his own political party, Zanu-PF, and replaced by the man he had sacked earlier in the month, Mnangagwa. The party gave Mugabe an ultimatum which was, resign by noon tomorrow or impeachment action would take place. That night Mugabe on national television stated that he refused to resign. On the 21st, Zanu-PF deputies introduced an impeachment resolution against him which was seconded by MDC-T. With all the constituent parts of the Government in agreement it looked likely that his impeachment was guaranteed without needing the two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly and Senate in a joint sitting. As per the constitution the 2 houses met. Hours into the debate the speaker of the assembly read a letter from Mugabe which announced his resignation with immediate effect. He has managed to negotiate a deal whereby he and his kin are exempt from prosecution, his business interests continue and he will walk away with somewhere in the region of $10,000,000!

With all of that excitement happening in Zimbabwe, our attention in the UK turned to children who are in need, as the 18th saw the BBC’s annual telethon take place. This was the second BBC Children in Need without the much loved and face of the show, Sir Terry Wogan, however his presence somehow was still felt. Of course, the video appeals in the show were as always hard hitting to watch and often you have to wonder how we manage to sit through them without becoming super depressed that these situations are happening in our country. As it has been for many years previously, many famous faces and television shows gave their time for free to entertain the viewing public in an effort to raise money for the good causes the charity supports. Alongside the main appeal show, many other shows across the BBC held events to help bolster the grand total in the week leading up to appeal night, regardless of whether they were on TV or radio. At the end of the evening the final total for the night was announced, the result was better than any previous year and would have made Sir Terry Wogan very proud at the total of £50,168,562.

Sadly, 3 household names died in November just a few days apart, these are Keith Barron on the 15th, Jana Novotná on the 19th and David Cassidy on the 21st. Keith Barron died at the age of 83 years old, he has starred in many TV programmes including most notably, Upstairs Downstairs as the character Gregory Wilmot, he has also starred in Doctors, Benidorm, Clocking Off, and Midsummer Murders. Keith’s last appearance on the television will be in the Christmas episode of Not Going Out where he will play the role of a toy shop assistant.

Jana Novotná the Czech tennis player died at the age of 49. Jana Novotná, through her illustrious playing career, won a total of 71.73% of all her games played, winning 24 WTA and 2I TF titles and rising up the world rankings to Number 2 in the world in 1997. She will be remembered for winning Wimbledon in 1998, and two silver and one bronze medal in the Summer Olympics of 1988, and 1996 respectively.

David Cassidy was famous for many entertainment disciplines including actor, singer, songwriter and guitarist. His acting will probably be best remembered for his role as Keith Partridge in the Partridges which he played between 1970 and 1974. His music career spanned several decades and the biggest selling song in 1970 was I think I Love You by the Partridge Family with David on lead vocals; this is probably his most well-known hit. In 1973, as a solo artist, he managed to sell out Wembley Stadium 6 times over one weekend, not an easy feat. In the Eighties, he performed alongside George Michael on the hit The Last Kiss and George Michael referred to David Cassidy as one of his major influences.

On the 20th the nation celebrated with Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh as they celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. The Queen married Prince Philip on 20th November 1947, when back then a Royal Wedding would have been a welcome distraction for the public, in the aftermath of the second World War. Interestingly, her Uncle, His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor Edward, formerly King Edward VIII was not in attendance as he was not invited to the wedding. This anniversary is the Queen’s platinum anniversary, and her husband is the longest living consort in history.

On the 27th of the month we heard the happy news of the engagement of Prince Henry ‘Harry’ Wales and Rachel ‘Meghan’ Markle, their wedding date was later announced to be the same day as that of the FA Cup Final in May on the 19th next year.

Our last event of this month, starts off in years gone by. It stems from the Croat-Bosniak war, which took place between October 1992 and February 1994. However, we bring the story closer up-to-date to the 5th April 2005, when Slobodan Praljak surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in relation to the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, when he was one of 6 people to be accused by the Tribunal. On the 6th of April 2005, he appeared before the tribunal and pleaded not guilty, and chose to represent himself. Slobodan was charged with:

4 counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention,

6 counts of the violation of the laws and customs of war,

5 counts of crimes against humanity.

The trial began on 26th April 2006, with the trial chamber judgement sentencing him to 20 years’ imprisonment on the 29th May 2013, however the story clearly doesn’t end there! On the 28th June 2013, Slobodan filed an appeal against the judgement. This brings the story slap-bang up-to-date. On the 29th of November this year the ICTY trial concluded the appeal hearing, whilst they overturned some parts of the original judgement, most were upheld. With the changes in the ruling, as he had served more than 2/3 of the sentence, he was probably likely to be released any time soon, However, this story has yet another twist. As the judges were delivering their judgement over him, Slobodan Praljak addressed the judges directly, stating, ‘Judges, Slobodan Praljak is not a war criminal. With disdain, I reject your verdict!’ what he did next surprised everyone, taking a bottle from his person and continuing to drink from the bottle. What was in the bottle I hear you cry, well the answer is: poison. Slobodan Praljak died later that day from the drinking of said poison.


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I found a love for me
Darling just dive right in
And follow my lead
Well I found a girl beautiful and sweet 
I never knew you were the someone waiting for me
'Cause we were just kids when we fell in love

Ed Sheeran

December started with Cirencester’s annual Christmas Light Switch On, this year the button was pressed by BBC comedy This Country stars Daisy May and Charlie Cooper. Usually, in our review of the year we wouldn’t mention the light switch on, but this year was a little special, thanks to the Barn Theatre. During November and December, The Barn Theatre had been working with Cirencester Town Council to raise awareness of Mental Health Charities in the local community. It has been proven that singing and performing arts can help someone’s mental health. During the 2 months, 25 workshops have been held by The Barn Theatre as well as the crowd at the Advent Switch On (this includes us and the family), and the end result is a charity single, A Song for Cirencester, with the proceeds going to Cotswold Counselling and MIND. This song is available for download and streaming on the following links (don’t worry our singing voices are not audible!):


Google Play



YouTube (Official Music Video)

On the 5th the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that, as they have done before with the Summer Games, they will again ban the Russian Olympic Association from PyeongChang for the Winter Games, following the doping scandal involving Russian athletes a few years ago. The IOC will however permit athletes from Russia who are proven to be clean of any doping allegations to compete under a neutral flag at the Games, this was the precedent that they set at the Rio Games in 2016.

As we have come to learn through the review of the year, President Donald J Trump is no stranger to controversial decisions and this again came to fruition on the 6th as he announced that the United States of America would recognise Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, replacing in the view of the US Tel-Aviv. His announcement looked set to potentially cause damage to the peace process in the region, and was met with condemnation from the US allies, Palestinian leaders and the Muslim World. Within minutes of the announcement, US Embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Germany and Great Britain issued security alerts, stating that Americans should exercise caution. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their own future state, in fairness on this point to Donald Trump, he did not specify how much of the city should be the Capital of Israel, and hasn’t ruled out further divisions of the city in the future.

On the 14th, Rupert Murdoch announced that he was looking to do a $60billion (£45billion) deal to sell some of his assets to Disney. The deal looks to include a 39% stake in Sky, and a Hollywood studio. It is thought that after the deal has gone through, Rupert’s son James, who currently holds the Fox Chief Executive role, would move to a senior position with Disney, or move to start his own ventures. Also, included in the deal will be Fox’s deal to buy the outstanding 61% of Sky that it doesn’t own, leaving Fox with their Fox News Channel, which is their biggest profit driver, Fox Sports channel and the associated sport rights, Fox Business and its broadcast TV network of 28 channels in the US. The move will ensure a strategic legacy for the Murdoch family as the family trust is likely to receive a 5% stake in Disney who will become the biggest movie market in the world, controlling 40% of the $11billion US box office. The move should also allow the 69% purchase of Sky, as the current issues of Murdoch’s power in owning Sky News and Newspapers will be eradicated. The deal will be scrutinised by the UK and US regulatory authorities to ensure fair play, before the deal would actually go through.

The 17th arrived with sports fans looking to review the sporting year with the help of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Throughout the show many of the sporting highlights that we have discussed were picked up on, and reviewed in the positive manner that we have done. As is customary at this event, towards the end of the show the public are asked to vote for their personality of the year from a panel selected shortlist. This year the award went to Mohammed (Mo) Farah.

The public vote went as follows:

Sir Mo Farah   83,524

Jonathan Rea   80,567

Jonnie Peacock   73,429

Anthony Joshua  73,411

Adam Peaty   63,739

Lewis Hamilton   60,627

Chris Froome   47,683

Harry Kane   18,759

Anya Shrubsole   15,237

Bianca Walkden  13,962

Johanna Konta     7,591

Elise Christie     6,504

We were surprised to see that the 4 female nominees ended the evening occupying the bottom 4 spaces. This is a disappointing statistic for us, and we hope that in next year’s event the women nominated are able to do better.

The highlight for us was seeing the family of Bradley Lowery collect the Helen Rollason Award. Bradley sadly passed away this year at the age of 6, however his plight through his illness and his relentless smile throughout shone so bright. Bradley was a huge football fan, and mascot for Sunderland AFC, and was ‘best mates’ with Jermain Defoe, not only this but he was given an honorary 41st race seat in this Grand National. RIP Bradley Lowery.

We return to an earlier story from this month, relating to the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. On the 19th the United Nation’s Security Council met and debated a resolution which called for the withdrawal of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel. The resulting vote was a 14 to 1 defeat for Trump. Although the Egyptian put forward resolution didn’t mention the US or Trump by name, but expressed ‘deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem’. The resolution was renounced in furious language by the US Ambassador who said, ‘The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy’ adding:

‘It’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts,

the fact that this veto is being done in defence of American

sovereignty and in defence of America’s role in the

Middle East peace process is not a source of

embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment

to the remainder of the Security Council.’

The Ambassador summed up the resolution as an insult that wouldn’t be forgotten by the United States.

If we cast our minds back to the Catalan Independence debacle in October, the elections for the Regional Parliament took place on the 21st; the result did not give any party an overall majority in the Parliament, however the largest party is now the Citizens(C). This is hugely significant as this party are overtly and directly opposed to the independence of the region, however, they are some 31 seats short of a majority, so should the independence question arise again, the biggest party in the Parliament could be defeated by other parties voting in the opposite way to the Citizens. The previous party with the most seats now sits in second place in number of seats, but could look to form allegiances to get their agenda through the Catalan Parliament.

Sadly, the 14th saw the death of Bob Givens, I heard the cry of who is Bob Givens? Well although you may not know Bob himself you certainly know his creations and animations over the years. One of his most famous characters is Bugs Bunny, a character that Bob refined in the early days. He also helped to create Elmer Fudd. Other notable characters animated by Bob include, Donald Duck, Snow White, Tom & Jerry, The Looney Tunes, Daffy Duck, Popeye and Alvin and the Chipmunks; his creations will live on.

On the penultimate Friday of the year, the Official UK Christmas Number 1 was announced, and this year’s accolade went to Ed Sheeran, who had updated a hit he had earlier in the year as a duet with Beyoncé. The song is Perfect, which is a beautifully lyrical song, but we do feel however that the original version of just Ed is the better version, what do you think? Do let us know in the comments section below. There was a big campaign on social media to get Wham!’s Last Christmas to the number 1 spot for Christmas, an accolade that it had never had in its 31-year history and of course had it done it this it would have been particularly apt as Christmas Day marks a year since the death of Wham! Singer George Michael.

On Christmas Eve, the 3rd eldest member of the Von Trapp family passed away, following the death of the eldest Child, Liesl, last year. The third eldest child, Louisa, played by Heather Menzies, died at the age of 68. Of course, the film starring the Von Trapps is The Sound of Music.

The televisual highlight of the year this Christmas looked set to be another television adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s The Highway Rat. This adaptation will follow in the footsteps of:

The Gruffalo  (2009)

The Gruffalo’s Child (2011)

Room on the Broom (2012)

Stickman  (2015).

These stories are loved by children and parents up and down the country, and this year’s version of The Highway Rat lived up to the expectation and hype around these enchanting stories written originally by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. The production company have kept as close to the original as possible. The story is about a rat bandit who craves sweet cakes, chocolates and treats demanding creatures passing by give him their treats. How close to the book is the TV adaption I hear you ask? Spoiler Alert, the TV adaptation is as close to the book as it can be, obviously the TV company have made amendments to the book in order to make it flow for television purposes, an added ‘Stand and deliver!’ here and there, but the roots of the book return. The ending of the book is illustrated differently by Axel Scheffler and the TV company, namely the lack of seeing The Highway Rat eating cake crumbs off the floor of the bakery, which obviously would have been an interesting way of the TV ending. Julia Donaldson, always seem to have some kind of message hidden behind the stories, whether she intended them to have or not, as for the message in this story, we shall let you identify. Finally, I have to say I love Axel’s homage to the most well-known of Julia’s books, The Gruffalo, with the special ‘gingerbread gruffaloes’ on sale in the bakery. We say congratulation to all involved in this TV spectacle, and are looking forward to seeing the next instalment, whether that be in 2018 or ’19.

2 days after Christmas, we saw snow again; this time it was just a dusting however, 2 weeks earlier, the snow had settled and had caused its normal chaos as schools and roads around the county closed and failed to cope with the snow that had fallen. Social media was full of videos of cars trying to get up Blunsdon Hill or the hill up to the Hot Air Balloon pub, just outside of Gloucester. Not only did the roads suffer, some electricity supplies were affected, being reconnected just a few hours later.

And Finally….

As 2017 comes to a close, we would like to:

Wish all our

Customers, friends and families

A VERY safe and Happy New Year


Comment box

Review of 2018

Posted by Steve at 13:30 on Monday, 31st December 2018.

Top:   January         February          March          April         May          June

July          August          September          October          November          December          And Finally

IAnd so, the end of another year has arrived, where are the years going? It feels a bit blink and you missed it, especially this last one. As we head fast into a new year, full of promise and new exciting experiences on the horizon, we thought that we would once again take you on a review of the last year we have just had.

The year 2018 was overtaken in the news by lots of talk of Brexit, a subject that we will obviously refer to later in this review of the year. As we started the year, we were 452 days away from Brexit day in March next year, by today we are down to only 88 days from the big day. Before we look forward to next year, let’s review the last one.

The year began in the usual way with Big Ben chiming his bongs, closely followed by the usual New Year celebration fireworks live from the River Thames, all of which were in the shadow of the celebrations that had already occurred in the time zones to the east, for example at L’Arc de Triomphe, and before that in Marina Bay, Dubai and even earlier at the Sydney Opera House. With many more firework celebrations to occur in the western time zones namely Times Square.

Here in the UK many television sets were playing the tunes of Nile Rogers and Chic live from their concert in London to mark the start of another new year, this must surely go down as one of the last live performances of 2017 as well as one of the first live performances to take place in 2018.


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Blue moon you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for.

Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart

As soon as the clock struck over into a new year in California, USA a new law came into force, which legalised the recreational use of cannabis in the state. California is the largest state in the USA to legalise the drug. The new law allows citizens of California over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce (28g) of the drug and grow up to 6 marijuana plants in their own home. There were opponents to the law that argued there would be more driving under the influence cases as well as introducing young people to drug use. It is worth noting that California had legalised the drug for medical use in 1996. In making the recreational use of this drug legal in the state, California became the 8th state of the US to legalise it for recreational and medical use.

Barely a week into the new year and the keepers at Longleat received the very sad news that their 56-year-old, 32-stone gorilla, Nico had sadly passed away in his sleep during the Nico the Longleat Gorillanight of the 6th. Nico was a much-loved gorilla at the safari park, not just with his keepers but also the many visitors who visited the park over the years. Nico was the 3rd eldest captive gorilla in the world, although there is no actual record of his birth, therefore he could have been older. Nico lived on his very own island on Half Mile Lake which he had shared with his partner Samba, until her sad demise some 10 years earlier. Nico had arrived at Longleat in 1986 from Switzerland and his species is critically endangered. Nico is renowned as middle-aged and grumpy, but that just seemed to enamour him more to the keepers and general public. He is said to have had a love of jam sandwiches and enjoyed watching satellite television in his house. Head of animal operations at Longleat, Darren Beasley said, ‘Everyone here has been truly saddened by the death of Nico. His main keeper has been working with Nico virtually on a daily basis since 1989 and has forged an extraordinarily close bond with him. It goes without saying that he is particularly devastated by the loss.’ Nico will be sadly missed by all.

The evening of the 7th saw the annual Golden Globes award ceremony in America, this year the award ceremony was more famous for events around the ceremony than the winners of the awards themselves. I am sure you are aware of the Harvey Weinstein accusations around Hollywood and the resulting MeToo movement. Many of the attendees at this award ceremony wore black and wore corresponding #MeToo badges. This clearly was a big focus of the attendees and successfully highlighted the movement.

It was this year that football fans up and down the country got their first view of the VAR system. VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee, and it debuted on UK soil on the 8th of January this year at a game between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace in the FA Cup. Sadly however, VAR was not called upon as the circumstances that it could have been used did not arise in this game. However, there were more occasions when this was used throughout the month of January. 2 occasions of note were the first goal to be awarded by VAR which was scored by Kelechi Iheanacho in an FA Cup 3rd round replay match against Fleetwood Town, who were beaten 2 – 0 by Iheanacho’s Leicester City team. The other occasion of note for VAR came at Anfield, Liverpool, when referee Craig Pawson, watched a video recording at the sidelines of the pitch, causing a delay of nearly 3 minutes, after which he awarded a penalty to the home side, Liverpool FC.

While on the subject of changes in sport, the 26th saw the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) decide to ban walk-on girls, the girls slammed this decision and a petition of 3000 names led by Raymond Van Barneveld called for the girls to be reintroduced. Whereas there was also support for this move from other dart players including Michael Van Gerwen who in an interview given to AD Sportwereld said ‘The PDC wants more people to see it as a sport. It does not interest me (walk-on girls). It is just a sport.’

It was just 4 days after the original PDC decision that Formula 1 Management (FOM), Liberty Media, made an announcement which said they were banning the use of grid girls starting this season. The ex-owner of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone said ‘I can’t see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula 1 car can be offensive to anyone.’ In contrast the current Managing Director of commercial operations, Shaun Bratches said, the change would be made ‘so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport’.

The last day of January saw a total lunar eclipse. This is an eclipse of note as it was the second full moon of the month, therefore making it a super blue blood moon. The last time that we had one of these was way back on December the 30th 1982 in the Eastern Hemisphere. Sadly, here in the UK we were unable to witness this phenomenon, however the next one is due on January 31st 2037. So what makes it a super blue blood moon? The Moon was at its perigee, the point at which the Moon was nearest to the Earth in its orbit, and therefore is referred to as a supermoon, and is called a blue moon as it was the second full moon of the month. The blood refers to the red colour of the Moon in a lunar eclipse. We are looking forward to the next Super Blue Blood Moon in 2037!


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I can't believe the stuff that is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

And I can't believe that both I Can't Believe It's Not Butter

and the stuff that I can't believe is not I Can't Believe It's Not Butter are both,

in fact,

not butter.

And I believe...

they both might be butter...

in a cunning disguise.

And, in fact, there's a lot more butter around than we all thought there was.

Alice Tinker, The Vicar of Dibley

February saw the resurrection of the Team GB uniforms again, however this time in the winter style for the 2018 Winter Olympics, held in PyeongChang, South Korea. The Winter Olympics took place from February 4th through to the 20th. It is probably fair to say that Team GB does not actually have that much success in the winter version of the multi-sports competition. If we look back in history we have names that live on due to their various levels of success, including Torvill and Dean and Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards. The class of 2018 however will live long in the memory as they came home from the games with 5 medals, one of which was gold and the others bronze.

Here we take a look at Team GB’s PyeongChang history makers:

Lizzy Yarnold – Skeleton Gold

Obviously we have to start with the 1 gold medal won during these games. This went to Lizzy Yarnold, who successfully defended her title in the Skeleton from the 2014 games in Sochi.

Team GB Winter Olympic medalistsDespite battling a chest infection, Lizzy put down the track record in her first run down the track, after her second run and at the end of the 16th Lizzy was sitting in 3rd place. Over the course of her 3rd and 4th runs on the 17th Lizzy managed to do what no Briton had ever done before her and win back-to-back gold medals at the Winter Olympics. This victory also made Lizzy Team GB’s most successful Winter Olympian of all time.

Laura Deas – Skeleton Bronze

Laura Deas joined her friend and fellow countrywomen, Lizzy Yarnold on the podium to collect her bronze medal. Throughout the 2 days of competition, Laura had been there or thereabouts on the timings screen. But finally, when run 3 leader, Janine Flock, was unable to maintain her speed, Laura saw her bronze medal confirmed. A good return for a Winter Olympic debut for Laura.

Coming into the PyeongChang games, Great Britain had won medals at each of the last 4 games in the Women’s Skeleton, after this year’s games that tally is now 7 medals from 5 games.

Dominic Parsons – Skeleton Bronze

The day before Lizzy and Laura won their medals on the Skeleton Track, Dominic Parsons had successfully secured a bronze medal for his efforts. Dominic had been impressive in training all week, but looked to have missed out on a medal, but thankfully for him World Champion Martins Dukurs made uncharacteristic mistakes on his last run and that allowed Dominic to hold on for bronze, not bad for someone who was 10th in the Sochi event 4 years earlier. He got Team GB off the mark in the medal table and became the first British man to win a medal in the Skeleton since 1948.

Izzy Atkin – Slopestyle Bronze

On the same day that Lizzy Yarnold and Laura Deas won gold and bronze in the Skeleton, Izzy Atkin won a bronze in the Slopestyle event. Izzy was Team GB’s youngest member of the team representing GB at the Winter Olympics, and she will forever have a place in British folklore as the first competitor to win a medal on skis. Her final run score of 84.60 placed her into 3rd place with 3 competitors to try and beat her, happily they failed to do so and Izzy left PyeongChang with a bronze medal for her efforts.

Billy Morgan – Snowboard Big Air Bronze

It was a whole extra week before TeamGB won their next medal at the games, this time the bronze to Billy Morgan in the Snowboard Big Air. Like Izzy, Billy will go down in history as the first man to win a medal on the snow for GB. To secure his bronze medal, Billy pulled off a trick which he had not completed before in competition, a front side 14 triple with mute and tail grab.

Finally, on the Winter Olympics, it is a Winter Olympics that will stay long in the memory as North and South Korea joined together and sent a delegation of athletes to the games in a unified team. This team entered the arena of the Opening Ceremony under the Unified Korea flag. One sport in particular where this team were entered was Ice Hockey, where it was agreed that 3 North Korean players would be chosen for each match.

On the 14th of the month, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma resigned from his post after days of defying orders from the ruling party African National Congress (ANC) to stand down. On the eve of a no-confidence vote, Zuma said he was a disciplined member of the ANC to which he had dedicated his life and that ‘I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment’. Zuma’s resignation ended an extraordinary day in South African politics which had begun with dawn raids on a business address of a family at the centre of recent corruption allegations levelled at Zuma. At noon, ANC officials announced they would vote for an opposition party’s no-confidence vote on the Thursday. Late in the afternoon he gave an angry and rambling TV interview to justify his refusal to step down. His speech however was more confident and warm. Zuma’s resignation left the path clear for deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa who had already taken over the leadership of the ANC in December.

On the 20th, Her Majesty The Queen made a surprise visit to London Fashion Week. This was Her Majesty’s first visit to London Fashion Week, a visit which fell on the last day of the event. Her Majesty sat in the front row of designer Richard Quinn’s show. Quinn paid tribute to Her Majesty with a collection of full swing coats, silk headscarves and vibrant floral patterns in what he described as ‘a tongue in cheek take on Balmoral, done my way’.

Sadly, the month came to an end with the sad news of the death of actress Emma Chambers. Emma was only 53 at her death. Whilst she had many roles across British TV and Film, she was probably best known for her role as Alice Tinker in The Vicar of Dibley, thus adding to the great reunion in the sky following the deaths of her co-stars in 2016. The other piece of work that Emma was famous for was Notting Hill. Emma’s masterpieces will keep her memory alive.


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Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess
I thank the Lord I've been blessed
With more than my share of happiness.

Ken Dodd – Happiness

On the 3rd of March, a legend in the world of athletics passed away. The person in question was the first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Of course, that man’s name is Sir Roger Bannister CBE. Sir Roger made the dramatic feat of the sub-4-minute mile in 1954. Not only was he an athlete he was also a neurologist. During the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki, Roger set a British record in the 1500 metres in which he finished 4th. This achievement strengthened his resolve to complete a mile in under 4 minutes. The announcer at the time of Sir Roger’s achievement only got as far as ‘the time is 3 minutes…’ as the crowd began to cheer, his exact time however was 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. His record lasted just 46 days. Bannister achieved the time with minimal training at the same time as practising as a junior doctor.

March was an interesting time in Cirencester town, it started in the snow and the mysterious case of the missing Lego Man head. On the morning of the 3rd of March, the toy shop Crocodile, located in the town had posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone had seen their Lego Man head which had gone missing overnight. The significance of this is that the Crocodile Lego Man is well known throughout the town, and many an adult and child have ‘had’ a conversation with this creation. There were many comments on this post to say how awful it was and how sad the people of Cirencester were that such a thing could have happened to the Lego Man, some comments came from far and wide of people saying how they loved to see this creation on their visit to the town. We are glad to say that the head was returned to the Lego Man on the 7th of the month with a note anonymously apologising for taking the head, which had happened on a drunken night out. Although the owners of Crocodile had to make a few repairs, the Lego Man continues to stand in pride of place at the entrance to Woolmarket shopping area in which Crocodile Toy Shop can be found.

In the midst of Cirencester hunting the Lego head, a much more serious event was taking place just a mere 50 miles away in Salisbury. An ex-Russian spy and his daughter had been poisoned in the town, with the poison later identified as Novichok. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had been poisoned by the substance being placed on their door handle, later affecting Wiltshire Police Officer Det. Sgt. Nick Bailey, who went to the house in the line of enquiries. Thankfully all three people affected were later discharged from hospital. The UK Government soon identified the Russian state through their GRU as the suspects in the poisoning and in retaliation sent home 23 Russian diplomats. By the end of March some 100 Russian diplomats had been sent back to Russia from other countries in the world in support of the UK’s response to this attack. The Russian Government, namely Vladimir Putin, denies any involvement in this attack. The suspects were later identified and named by the UK Government. We took a closer look at this story at the time and our take on it is available to read on our 2018 blog page.

While discussing Russia, it is worth noting that the Salisbury Novichok attack took place in the middle of a presidential election in Russia. This was actually used in a defence of their country with some people asking why Vladimir Putin, President of Russia would sanction such an attack while looking to get re-elected as Russian President. Other media commenters expressed their concern that this would be a perfect occasion for him to do so to show his political might and power. Some even saw the Novichok attack as Russia showing that they could attack anyone who goes against the regime in any country at any time. With the votes of the election counted and verified the world heard on the 18th that Vladimir Putin would indeed serve another term as the President of Russia.

We move on to the sad news that March brought, and by the end of the month we were beginning to think that 2016’s curse for taking famous people had become the curse of 2018.

The first famous person of note for us taken in the month of March was Sir Ken Dodd, a charismatic character who was born and died in the same house in Knotty Ash, Liverpool. A personal reflection for me would be that until my first visit to the city of Liverpool, and accidently taking a wrong turn, therefore driving through Knotty Ash, I believed that it was a place that Ken Dodd had made up for his comedy performances. My apologies for this to the people of Knotty Ash! So, who was Ken Dodd? Sir Ken Dodd was probably most famous for his Diddy Men and his tickling stick which was accompanied by the catchphrase ‘How tickled I am’. Ken Dodd had many talents which include, comedy performances, ventriloquism and singing. Whenever we think of Ken Dodd one of the first things that comes to mind is of him singing ‘Happiness’ which from an outsider looking into the character of Ken Dodd, feels like it sums him up, in honour of this legend of entertainment who was active from 1954 until 2017 we have included a link to this song from YouTube:

Ken Dodd performs Happiness

The 14th saw the death of Sir Stephen Hawking. Sir Stephen died at the age of 76, he was famous for his works of science theory with possibly his most famous work entitled A Brief History of Time. In 1963 he was diagnosed at the age of 21 with a rare early-onset slow progressing form of motor neurone disease, of which doctors told him he had 2 years to live. By 1970, his speech had deteriorated so much that he could only be understood by his family and friends. By 1986, he was using the voice technology that he would continue to use until his death. Sir Stephen Hawking went on to live a full life, achieving many things, as well as being able to appear in comedy sketches and show that life with a disability can be a full and meaningful life. He appeared in several Comic Relief sketches, one of which we will always remember and have included a link to here. . He has also written a series of children’s books with his daughter Lucy, as well as having a film made about his life.

On the same day as the death of Sir Stephen Hawking, Bullseye presenter and comedian Jim Bowen died, Jim presented the darts-based quiz show from 1981 until the end of the original run in 1995. He was inspired by Ken Dodd in his early years to take up full-time comedy. In the words of Jim Bowen, ‘You can’t beat a bit of bully’. We are sure that Jim will always be remembered for his deep gravelly voice and his entertaining style on the gameshow.

The other person to have died in this month that we want to make reference to is Bill Maynard whose most famous acting role was that of Claude Jeremiah Greengrass in ITV’s Sunday evening drama, Heartbeat. Many a Sunday evening has gone by watching his performances as the ducking and diving Greengrass in Aidensfield, Yorkshire. However, this is not the only role that Bill will be remembered for, as fans of the Carry On series of films will see him in his earlier years starring in these comedic, some would say risqué for their time, films including:

Carry On Loving,

Carry On Henry,

Carry On at Your Convenience,

Carry On Matron,

Carry On Dick.

Luckily fans of these famous people will always have their work to remind them of how great they were.

The 21st of the month however brought some really sad news that for the most part got hidden under lots of other news. This was the news that the last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan had been euthanised after suffering from age-related complications, he leaves behind just 2 other animals in this sub-species, both of whom are female. This was a sad day in the history of the Northern White Rhino.


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‘Next time you’re at the checkout and you hear the beeps…

Beep beep,

Think of the fun you could be having

On Supermarket Sweep!’

Dale Winton

April began with the sad news of 2 famous sports stars from different sports leaving the Earth.

On the 4th, football star Ray Wilkins died at the age of 61. During his footballing career Ray had played in the midfield position for several clubs at home including, Chelsea, Manchester United, QPR and Crystal Palace as well as Rangers in Scotland and other teams in Europe including AC Milan and Paris Saint Germain; he was also good enough to get a place in the England national side earning 84 caps scoring 4 goals. He then went into management taking charge of 3 teams, Queens Park Rangers, Fulham and Jordan as well as becoming Assistant Manager at many others but most notably Chelsea. As a player and manager, he won the FA Cup 4 times, the FA Community Shield twice and the Premier League once along with a range of other accolades along the way. Once he hung up his boots and retired from management, he became a well-respected pundit on the game particularly for Sky Sports. The world of football will greatly miss Ray Wilkins.

The following day the Darts legend that is Eric Bristow MBE passed away at the age of 60. During his career Eric Bristow was ranked World Number 1 by the World Darts Federation a record 6 times, was a 5-times World Champion, a 5-times World Masters Champion, and a 4 times World Cup Singles Champion. During his career he achieved 70 career titles. During the 1980s his personality helped to turn darts into a worldwide spectator sport. Along with 15 other players, Eric Bristow broke away from the British Darts Corporation and formed the Professional Darts Corporation, retiring from the sport in 2007, taking his reputation to behind the mic as a commentator for Sky Sports.

April wasn’t all bad for sport fans. In fact, during April the focus was on the Commonwealth Games; for some athletes this is the multi-sport games they look forward to particularly in the United Kingdom as they get to wear their individual country’s colours instead of Team GB’s colours. The Welsh participants in particular comment how much they enjoy wearing the Welsh Dragon on their chest. The 21st Commonwealth Games were held in the Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th to the 15th of the month. This was the 5th time Australia had the honour of hosting the event and for the first time the games achieved gender equality due to having an equal number of events for men and women, which the Olympic Games have not yet achieved. More than 4,400 athletes, including 300 para-athletes from across the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations, took part in what are known as the friendly games. Like the Olympics, the Commonwealths are held every 4 years and Birmingham is due to host the event in 2022. Australia topped the medal table, closely followed by England and India in second and third respectively. The result that will probably live long in the memory is from the netball court, where England beat the Australians in the dying seconds to win gold, a match which had a nail-biting ending, with the winning goal being scored in the last throw of the game by Helen Housby. The first time that Jerusalem had rung out in victory for England Netball at the Commonwealths.

Four more people of note died during the month of April.

Over in the United States of America it was announced on the 17th that former First Lady Barbara Bush, wife of the 41st President of the United States, George H W Bush had passed away at the age of 92. Barbara served as First Lady from 1989 until 1993, she left her husband, George and 6 children.

Back in the UK, the news of the 18th was that television entertainer Dale Winton had died. At his death Dale Winton was only 62 years of age. Dale presented many game shows, for example, Hole In The Wall, Pets Win Prizes and In It to Win It. But he is probably most well-known for his television show, Supermarket Sweep, where he invited members of the public to go ‘wild in the aisles’. He was a charismatic character, and the world of television is surely going to miss him.

The 20th of April arrived with more sad news, and this time it was Swedish musician, DJ, remixer, and record producer, Avicii. Avicii was just 26 years old when he took his own life. A life that continued to promise so much, but sadly Avicii was suffering from mental health issues and stress. He is probably best remembered in the UK for his tune, Wake Me Up, which was covered a few years ago and released as a Children in Need official single by a group of celebrities led by Gareth Malone. Whilst the cover version is good, Avicii’s original will live on as the better version.

The very next day, the world woke up to the news that Verne Troyer had passed away. Verne Troyer was 49 years old, and was probably most famous for his role of Mini-Me in the Austin Powers’ films. Notably, Verne was only 2ft 81in or 81cm tall, this made him one of the smallest men in the world. His size was as a result of cartilage-hair hypoplasia, which is a rare genetic disorder. Although he is best remembered as Mini-Me Verne made many movies and television appearances, and different people will remember him for different things.

April also threw up some nice happy news and events as well as the sad death news that we have looked at. No review of the year currently is complete without mentioning, Her Majesty The Queen celebrating a birthday; this year she celebrated her 92nd birthday, may we wish her belated happy birthday wishes, and wish her many happy returns to come. Long may she reign over us!

While discussing the Royals, many of you will be wondering where the latest addition to the Royal Family is and of course it was April that this addition arrived….


Yes, on April the 23rd Prince William and Catherine welcomed their third child to the world, and the 5th in line to the throne is a boy. After days of guessing, the royal couple put the UK out of their misery and announced the child shall be called:

Prince Louis Arthur Charles Cambridge and his official title is Prince Louis of Cambridge.

Like his sister, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis made history as he is the first male royal to be born that doesn’t displace his female sibling in the line to the throne thanks to the Perth Agreement made in October 2011. Princess Charlotte made history on this day by keeping her place in the succession line to the throne. Prior to the Perth Agreement Princess Charlotte would have been the 5th in line with her brother Prince Louis taking her 4th in line position as son and heir to Prince William, but this old rule no longer exists.

The month ended with an historic moment on the 27th when the Leader of North Korea stepped into the South Korean zone of the Joint Security Area of the Korean peninsula for a meeting with the South Korean leader. In doing this, Kim Jong-un became the first North Korean Leader to set foot into South Korean territory since the Korean War. During this meeting, also known as a summit, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in (South Korean Leader) pledged to declare the official end of the Korean war within a year, as well as denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. As part of the Panmunjom declaration, both leaders called for an end to the long-standing military action in the region of the border, and the reunification of Korea.


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Our language and literature are without a doubt

Britain's greatest contribution

to the cultural heritage

of the world.

Tessa Jowell

Following on from the Korean border summit, on May 5th North Korea adjusted its time zone to match that of the South, and throughout the month South Korea began removing propaganda loudspeakers from the border area. These actions show that potentially the Korean peninsula could one day once again live together in peace and harmony.

On the 10th May, we read an article on comments made by ‘sexuality expert’ Deanne Carson, on ABC News. According to the article Deanne was talking about teaching consent to children and she says to set up a culture of consent, parents should ask their children for permission before proceeding to change their nappies. She went on to say that she appreciates that children will not be able to verbally confirm consent, but the parent should ask and then leave a space in time for the child to make eye contact and use body language thus showing the child that their response matters. Deanne says that she works with children from 3-years-old. On social media, her comments however received criticism. One such criticism says that if a child has a soiled nappy then the parent should change it as that is part of the parent’s role to properly care for their child. Another comment discussed having to turn up to the doctors with the child having a skin problem, because they didn’t give consent, so the child couldn’t be changed. The segment even led to Sky News Australia commenter to label the notion ‘Left lunacy’. Deanne Carson has since retaliated with a lengthy comeback on her Facebook page. In her comeback she quoted the child sexual abuse statistics, even this comeback has led to many comments of ridicule to the idea.

We think it is safe to say that the thinking behind what she is saying is solid, i.e. children should be taught that they have a right to say no, and that their body is theirs, but at the same time does the commenter not have a point about the parent having a responsibility to look after their child effectively?

2 more notable deaths occurred in May; one of these is for the good things they achieved in their life and the other for the exact opposite reasons, and both these deaths occurred on the 12th. We will start with the negative.

Serial killer and necrophile, Dennis Nilsen died at the age of 72. Dennis Nilson was famous for his killing spree in London from 1978 until 1983, during this time he killed at least 12 young men. He was convicted of 6 counts of murder and 2 attempted murder charges and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 25 years. Nilsen was never released and died in prison. The murders were committed at 2 North London addresses, which he had lured his victims to; he killed them by strangulation, sometimes accompanied with drowning. Following the murders, he followed a ritual where he would bathe and dress the victims’ bodies, keeping them for extended periods of time before dissecting and disposing of the bodies either by burning on a bonfire or by flushing down the lavatory.

The nicer person who died on the 12th was Member of Parliament Tessa Jowell, later in life known as Baroness Jowell. During her time in the House of Commons Tessa was a Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, previously Dulwich which was her first elected seat in 1992. She stood down from the House of Commons in 2015. During her time in the house, Tessa held several roles both in opposition and in Government. Most notably she was Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport after the 2001 General Election. It was whilst in this role that she had the idea of London hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics and she was in charge of the bid to have London named as the host city for a third time. On London being awarded the Olympics, Tessa was also given the role as Minister for the Olympics. When the Labour Government lost power in 2010, Tessa became Shadow Minister for the Olympics and remained on the London Olympic Organising Committee with Lord Coe and Jeremy Hunt. In 2012 she resigned her role as Shadow Olympics Minister and returned to the backbenches. In 2015 she launched her bid to become the next Mayor of London, coming second in the battle to be Labour’s candidate to eventual Mayor Sadiq Khan. On the 27th October 2015 she was raised up to a lifelong peerage and became Baroness Jowell of Brixton in the London Borough of Lambeth. In January this year Dame Tessa got a standing ovation for a speech she gave. She began the speech by talking about how she had been diagnosed with an extremely lethal form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme. She went on to advocate making more cancer treatments available on the NHS saying:

‘In the end,

what gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived,

but how it draws to a close.

I hope that this debate will give hope to other cancer patients,

 like me,

 so that we can live well together with cancer,

 not just dying of it.

All of us,

for longer.’

Sadly, she suffered a brain haemorrhage on the 11th May and fell into a coma which she remained in until her death on the 12th.

The same day as Dame Tessa’s death saw the annual music competition final that is the Eurovision Song Contest, as usual the evening was a mix of colour, music and voting conspiracy. This year the contest was held in Portugal for the first time following on from their win in 2017. This year the United Kingdom was represented by SuRie with a song entitled Storm, finishing on the right-hand side of the board in 24th place collecting just 48 points. This year’s winners were from Israel. Their song was called Toy and performed by Netta who picked up 529 points.

On the 15th of the month, a mini celebration took place for Mickey Mouse, who made his first appearance 90 years earlier in cinema screens in a silent film which was given a test screening to an audience. This silent movie was called Plane Crazy, it was released fully as a sound cartoon in 1929, which became Mickey’s 4th film release. Sadly, the test screening carried out on May 15th 1928 wasn’t picked up by a distributor. Mickey’s first full released debut came later in the year.

How could we review this year without taking a look at the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. This event took place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor on the 19th May. Hours before the ceremony, Buckingham Palace announced the titles that Prince Harry would receive, these were:

Duke of Sussex,

Earl of Dumbarton, and

Baron of Kilkeel.

Upon marriage Meghan would take the title, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. The wedding was watched on the television in the UK by 18 million people and 29 million Americans, up from the 23 million that watched older brother William marry Catherine. Prince Charles accompanied his future daughter-in-law down the aisle as her father could not make the ceremony due to recent heart surgery. Ms Markle travelled to the chapel with her mother. The wedding was based on the traditional Christian marriage service as well as royal tradition, with a few tweaks in to make it more personal to the bride and groom, including a Gospel choir. Meghan’s dress was embroidered with 55 flowers that represented the 53 countries of the Commonwealth, as well as Wintersweet which grows in the grounds of Nottingham Cottage where she and Harry lived and the 55th flower was the Californian Poppy, where Meghan is from. She was wearing a tiara loaned to her by Her Majesty The Queen. Following the service, the crowds got the kiss on the steps of the chapel they had longed to see before the couple left the chapel for a Horse Carriage procession round Windsor before heading back to the wedding reception hosted by Her Majesty The Queen. In the evening a second reception was held at Frogmore House for family and close friends and was hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and father of the groom, Prince Charles. Prince Harry drove himself and his new bride to the reception at Frogmore House in a Silver Jaguar E-Type Concept Zero.  


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Anyone can fall in love
That's the easy part you must keep it going
Anyone can fall in love
Over the years it has to keep growing
Sun and rain
Joy and pain
There's highs - there's lows
We've no way of knowing.

Anyone Can Fall in love – Based on EastEnders’ theme written by Simon May

Into the summer months we go, and June is where it begins! Little did we know what a lovely summer we were going to have. The weather turned out nice over the next 3 and a half months, and some events as we will see brought the country together behind common goals.

One such event that brought the nation together was on the 10th of June when His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip celebrated his 97th birthday. Although he took his leave of public engagements last year, on the few occasions he has been seen since, he is looking his normal happy, healthy self, and at 97 it has to be said he is doing well for his age. We wish him many more happy returns and long may he support Her Majesty The Queen as she reigns.

The 12th was an historic day as Donald Trump, President of The United States of America became the first ever President to meet the Supreme Leader of North Korea, on this occasion Kim Jong-un. The meeting took place at the Capella Hotel, in Singapore. During the meeting both men signed a joint statement in which they agreed security guarantees for North Korea, new peaceful relations, the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, which as we know Kim Jong-un had already discussed and agreed this with the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in. The agreement between Jong-un and Trump also said the recovery of soldiers’ remains had been agreed and that there would be follow-up discussions between the countries’ high-ranking officials. In the lead up to this meeting, there were significant doubts that it would go ahead as both leaders had spent time calling the other names, with Trump at one point calling Jong-un Rocketman following the nuclear tests that the latter had been carrying out in his country. The summit consisted of a one-to-one meeting, once they had met and exchanged a 12 second handshake in front of the world’s media, followed by a working meeting and lunch together. Publicly the 2 leaders appeared to get on well, with both talking positively for future relations between the countries and leaders.

On the 15th EastEnders legend and actor Leslie Grantham passed away at the age of 71. Leslie will always be fondly remembered for playing the role of ‘Dirty’ Den Watts in the London-based soap, with his most fondly remembered scene coming at Christmas time when he famously handed his ‘wife’ Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) their divorce papers. Leslie Grantham also appeared in many other television shows with cameo roles here and there for example in The Bill and Heartbeat, as well as being famous for playing the role of Boyard in Channel 5’s Fort Boyard game show as well as famously playing Colonel Mustard in Cluedo.

At the age of 46, the Western Lowland Gorilla known as Koko, full name Hanabiko sadly died. Koko had become known for learning a large number of hand signs from a modified version of American Sign Language. She had spent her life living at Woodside California’s Gorilla Foundation. Her name meant fireworks’ child which was Japanese in origin and is a reference to her birthdate of the 4th July. It is believed that Koko had learned over 1,000 signs which her keeper called Gorilla Sign Language (GSL). Rest in Peace Koko.

June became known as the month for historic dates, and no truer day is this than the 24th which saw Saudi Arabia allow women to drive for the first time. Until this date Saudi Arabia was the last country in the world to allow women to drive. Let’s not forget however that there was no actual ban on women driving, however the law did not permit them licences and therefore, women could drive just not legally. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia said it was the right move and the right time.

On the 30th and last day of June, sadly the world’s attention again returned to the Salisbury area. 2 innocent members of the public were admitted to hospital, where police determined that they had been poisoned by the same Novichok nerve agent that had been used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal just 3 months earlier, in Salisbury, just 8 miles away from Amesbury where these 2 new victims were from. According to the press reports from the Metropolitan Police Service, the Ambulance Service was called to an address in Amesbury at 10:15 after Dawn Sturgess had collapsed. The Ambulance Service were called back to the same address at 15:30 when Dawn’s partner Charlie Rowley had fallen unwell. They remained in hospital through into July, when sadly Dawn became the first victim of the nerve agent to die on the 8th of July. Charlie regained consciousness on the 10th and was released from hospital on the 20th of July. In an interview with ITV, Charlie Rowley said that he had found a sealed box of a recognisable brand of perfume and had given it to his partner, she then sprayed it onto herself (assuming that it was indeed perfume) and fell ill within 15 minutes. He described the liquid as an oily substance. He also said that he had got some onto him as he attached the plastic spray dispenser to the bottle, but he washed this off immediately. He also confirmed that they had used a knife to open the sealed box.

The other major event that spreads over June and July this year was the FIFA World Cup held in Russia. This was the 21st holding of the event in men’s football, and the first to be held in Eastern Europe although the 11th time a European country had hosted the event. This year’s World Cup would also make history as the first of these competitions to use VAR technology. Of the 4 Home Nations only England had qualified to get to Russia and in the draw were drawn in Group G with, Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. Unusually for a World Cup, the hype and expectation on the England Team was mute at best and certainly not as expectant and widely advertised with merchandise in stores as usual; it was wondered if this would benefit the lads in Russia. There was also a lot of talk of how the England Team should qualify out of the group, but as any football fan will tell you, you have to beat the team in front of you.

England won their first 2 group games which meant they had qualified into the second round of the finals, meaning the third group game would decide who would qualify top of the group or second. England went into the third group game against Belgium knowing a win would top the group, but regardless they had qualified. The fans at home were hopeful of an England win, sadly this did not happen and England lost the game 1 – 0. Into the second round we went to face a strong Colombia side, who had had a really good group for them. England took the lead after a 57-minute penalty and the celebrations were rife both back here and with the fans in the stadium, sadly the joy didn’t last long as the Colombians equalised in the 3rd minute of injury time, meaning the game went into the 30-minute extra time period in which no-one scored. England now faced their nemesis – Penalties! England has a terrible record of penalties including at World Cups, 3 defeats from 3 shootouts. The tension was unbearable. Each of the first 4 penalties were scored, 2-2, then Henderson missed for England, and Muriel scored for Colombia 2 – 3. Trippier scored 3 – 3, meaning that it was up to Colombia to keep the pressure on, Uribe missed! Dier stepped up, and scored 4 – 3 now we waited for Colombia, Bacca missed. England had won their first World Cup penalty shootout and the hoodoo was over!

England with a penalty shootout win behind, marched on to the quarter-finals where they met Sweden and, in comparison to the last round, the result was a formality with a 2 – 0 win for the 3 Lions. By this time at home, there was a lot of talk of Football Coming Home, Baddiel and Skinner’s 3 Lions’ tune of the 90s had re-entered the chart and finally the country came together and believed that the lads in Russia could actually bring home the trophy and title for a second time ending the 52 years of hurt. Into the semi-finals we go, England get off to a flyer against Croatia, with Trippier scoring in the 5th minute of the match, the excitement, the nerves all rolled into one etched on the fans’ faces. The game got to half-time and England still lead! Out for the second half the words of the managers’ ringing in the players’ heads, 22 minutes into the half and England concede to Croatia, its 1 – 1. Again the game goes on, no more goals in regulation time so on to the dreaded extra time, fearing the return of the penalties should nobody score, the trepidation beginning to show as faces of fans are shown on the television. Half way through the extra-time, nope no goals, on we went with hope of an England goal, and then…Heartache, Croatia scored 4 minutes into the second half of extra time with just 11 to play.

Croatia knocked England out of the tournament and went on to meet France the eventual winners in the final. And as for England, well it wasn’t totally over, they still had the 3rd place play-off game to play against group rivals, Belgium. Sadly Belgium went on to win this game as well with a 2 – 0 win, still we look for the positives of the summer of football and there are plenty. Gareth Southgate looks like the man that might actually get England long overdue success, the country are once again behind the team and there are some really good young lads coming through the ranks; we move on to see what the next tournament will mean for England football.


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Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear the NHS,

Happy Birthday to you.

During July this year the National Health Service (NHS) celebrated its 70th Birthday. There were television specials across the BBC and ITV to mark the historic occasion. We got in on the act and posted an article on the origins of the NHS and the challenges that face the NHS ahead, this is accessible on our 2018 blog page. The NHS as we all know is a fantastic British institution, and we hope that it continues long into the future, we hope to be fondly celebrating its 100th birthday in 30 years time.

On the 6th Teresa May and Cabinet met at Chequers to discuss the Brexit Plan. The Cabinet came out of the meeting agreeing the plan, although this happy consensus didn’t last long.

8th of July saw the resignation of the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis. He gave his reasoning for this as that he did not believe in the Prime Minister’s plan for Brexit. This resignation then saw the resignation of a junior minister in the Department for Exiting the European Union, Stephen Baker and that of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the latter resigning on the 9th.

Following the meeting, a white paper was published on the 12th to provide details of the plan that Teresa May wanted the Government to achieve. Dominic Rabb, the latest Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, stated that the plan ‘proposes a free trade area for goods to maintain frictionless trade, supported by a common rulebook and a new facilitated customs arrangement, but only for the rules that are necessary to provide frictionless trade at the border.’ The plan however went on to get rejected by the European Union in September 2018.

Brexit throughout this year has been a non-stop discussion on all the news channels, the 1st of July marked just 271 days from Brexit day of March the 29th 2019.

In much happier news, the 10th of July saw all 12 of the young footballers and their 25-year-old assistant coach being rescued from Tham Luang Nang Non caves in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand, which they had entered on the 23rd of June after football practice. Shortly after they had entered the cave, heavy rains partially flooded the cave trapping the group inside. The boys were all part of a football club called Wild Boars and were aged between 11 and 17-years-old. At 7pm on the 23rd June, Head Coach Nopparat Khanthawong checked his telephone and saw that he had 20 missed calls from parents who were concerned their children had not returned from the football practice, he then rang his assistant, Ekkaphon Chanthawong, unsuccessfully and several of the boys, until he reached Songpon Kanthawong who is a 13-year-old member of the team. He told the coach that he was picked up after practice, and the rest of the boys had gone exploring in the Tham Luang caves. Nopparat raced up to the caves finding abandoned bicycles and bags near the entrance, with water seeping out of the muddy pathway. He alerted authorities to the missing group after seeing their unclaimed belongings. Contact had been made with the group on the 2nd of July, with a rescue mission starting on the 8th, until all members of the group had been rescued on the 10th. Sadly, there was one fatality during this rescue. Saman Kunan died on the 6th July from asphyxiation while returning to a base camp in the cave having delivered oxygen supplies to the trapped group.

The annual Wimbledon Championships took place during the first fortnight in July, with Novak Djokovic winning the men’s title and Angelique Kerber taking the women’s titles this year at the All England Tennis Club.

It was announced on the 16th that Britain would be getting its first spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland with the first launches potentially taking place in the early 2020s. While on the subject of Space, on the 17th 10 new moons were discovered orbiting Jupiter, this takes Jupiter’s moons up to a staggering 79 confirmed moons. One of the new 10 moons named S/2016 J 2, nicknamed Valetudo, is notable because it is orbiting backwards in relation to the other moons and it is thought that it may collide with another moon in the future.


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Chucklevision Theme Tune

Wasn’t August just a really pleasant weather month, nice warm days, lots of sunshine, and enjoyment in the parks and fields of the UK? Sadly the month took some famous faces away off the Earth.

The first face that we will start with was the sad news of the death of Barry Elliott, more famously known as Barry Chuckle, one half of the Chuckle Brothers, I’m sure like us you had spent many hours of your childhood sat in front of the television, watching the antics of Barry and his brother Paul in their programme Chucklevision. I am sure that you have also gone to move an object in your adult life and have used their catchphrase ‘To me…To you’. Barry died at the age of 71 and along with his brother Paul was a lifelong fan of Rotherham United Football Club. It was heartbreaking to see Paul carry out some TV interviews about his brother, it was clear that they had a really good relationship between them, although Paul revealed that Barry had hidden from his brother and manager that he had been diagnosed with cancer. On the 11th of August Rotherham United had a match against Ipswich Town, when the Club held a minute’s applause in Barry’s honour. However, the memorial didn’t end there, enter the 73rd minute, the home fans started to chant, ‘There’s only one Barry Chuckle, to me’ to which the Ipswich fans chanted back ‘To you’ well done to both sets of fans.

On the 7th American actress Charlotte Rae, full name Charlotte Rae Lubotsky, passed away. We are familiar with one of Charlotte’s roles being Diff’rent Strokes. In case you aren’t familiar with this show we have a link to the Diff’rent Strokes opening and closing titles. . Charlotte played the housekeeper Edna Garrett. Charlotte has been reunited in the big reunion in the sky with her co-star and probably the most recognised co-star Gary Coleman.

The Queen of Soul passed away on the 16th August, of course we are referring to Aretha Franklin. Aretha had a long career, during which time she had performed duets with many legends of music including George Michael, Elton John, Whitney Houston, James Brown and Luther Vandross both on stage and in the studio, among many others. She was recording and performing music from 1956 right the way through to last year, she was prolific in making music and will long be remembered for such classics as A Natural Woman, Respect, and You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman). Here is a YouTube link to a video showcasing 10 of her songs:

Aretha Franklin songs

This month also saw the sad death of the 7th Secretary-General of The United Nations, Kofi Annan at the age of 80 on the 18th. Kofi served as Secretary-General from January the 1st 1997 until the 31st December 2006 and was succeeded by Ban-Ki Moon. Kofi was born in Kumasi, Gold Coast now called Ghana. After his tenure at the UN, Kofi Annan went on to be the UN and Arab League Envoy to Syria between the 23rd February 2102 and the 31st August 2012. During his lifetime Kofi received many honours, most notably from the United Kingdom the Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He was also awarded the Nobel Peace prize along with the UN in 2001.

Front view of Gromit dressed as CubbyFrom July the 2nd through to the 2nd September, Nick Park’s Academy Award-winning character Gromit took over Bristol, in Gromit Unleashed 2, thisRear view of Gromit dressed as Cubby time joined by his pal Wallace and arch nemesis Feathers McGraw. Gromit Unleashed 2 was a trail around Bristol and the surrounding areas of 67 giant sculptures which were designed by high-profile artists and local talent. The trail was in aid of the Grand Appeal. We took a few rest days to go and have a wander round the trails taking in many sights and sounds of Bristol as we went. On the 29th of August via our Facebook and Twitter feeds we introduced our followers to one of our new friends, Cubby. Cubby was designed by Peskimo a husband and wife design duo, and was located on the trail at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park. Cubby saw Gromit masquerading as his distant cousin, the cunning fox, complete with a giant bushy, fluffy tail.

Sadly, August wasn’t all fun. The 14th saw a suspected terror attack on The Houses of Parliament. The events took place at 7:37am. CCTV operators caught a silver Ford Focus make a sharp left turn and head the wrong way up St Margaret Street, crossing a pedestrian island, hitting cyclists and pedestrians in doing so, injuring 3 people. The car then carried on into Abingdon Street and branched left into an access road to the Palace of Westminster, crashing into a closed barrier and finally coming to a stop near the House of Lords. The whole event took just 15 seconds. 1 of the 3 injured people sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. This is being treated by police as a deliberate act, and that of terror. The Independent newspaper reported friends of the driver saying that the crash may have been accidental.


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Rosie and Jim

Rosie and Jim

Chugging along on the old Ragdoll

Rosie and Jim

Rosie and Jim

And John he steers the boat

We go to play and have a look

With Rosie's bag, Jim's drawing book

The world drifts by the window frame

And Rosie and Jim will play our games


Rosie and Jim Theme Tune Lyrics

September was a varied month of events occurring, some famous faces died, as well as some very different sports’ stories, we will even reflect on another of our down days!

The 7th saw the death of Burt Reynolds, Burt was an American movie star, director and producer, having starred in 145 feature films! Not a minor achievement at all. Burt Reynolds’ career was probably at its height as he was appearing in Smoky and the Bandit in 1977, which spawned a single for him as well as a lesser-known sequel Smoky and the Bandit II in 1980. After a period of box office failures during the 1980s, Burt returned to television and appeared in the sitcom Evening Shade through 1990 to 1994. Burt Reynolds was 82 at his death.

The 7th also saw the early death of Mac Miller, also known as Malcolm James McCormick. Mac Miller was an American rapper, singer and record producer, he also starred in Scary Movie 5 and on television in the US in Loiter Squad. Mac’s career however is more commonly recognised for his 5 studio albums that he had recorded. Not only that but Mac Miller entered the psyche of some people last year in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terror attack where he was supporting Ariana Grande on her return to the US as her boyfriend. He has recorded music with her and came over to the UK with her to perform at One Love Manchester where they performed The Way together. Sadly, the couple split up earlier this year. Mac was found dead in his Studio City apartment following a suspected overdose at the age of 26.

On the 9th of September, Sir Mo Farrah won the Great North Run for a record 5th successive time. Mo Farrah completed this year’s Great North Run in a time of 59 minutes and 27 seconds. The Great North Run is an annual event run in the North East of England from Newcastle Upon Tyne and ends in South Shields, the distance equates to a half marathon. It was devised and first run in 1981 by former Olympic Bronze Medallist Brendan Foster. This year’s winner, Sir Mo Farrah was only half a minute outside the course record. Well done to Mo for his 5th consecutive win in the race.

Mo’s achievement shows the good side of sport, however the following day we got to see the scary side of sport, in a MotoGP2 race in San Marino. During the race, Romano Fenati having just come out of a corner, pulled alongside his fellow countryman and racer, Stefano Manzi, and reached across and pulled the front brake of Manzi’s brake. As they raced down the straight the bikes were achieving speeds of about 130mph. Manzi’s bike wobbled and swerved beneath him, causing him to lose the grip of the bike with his leg momentarily. Subsequently, Fenati was banned for the following 2 races by the sport’s governing body, however days later he was sacked by the team for this dangerous move.

Adelaide the Hot Air balloonWe had another day of relaxation on the 14th, when we visited Longleat Safari Park for their annual SkySafari event. This event combines the Safari Park attractions with a hot-air balloon event. We went on the Friday and arrived for about a quarter past seven, where we were hoping to witness the morning mass balloon ascent, sadly however, this was unable to happen due to the weather conditions, which we were made aware of during the hour journey to Longleat via Social Media. However, this wasn’t a problem as the balloonists were still carrying out an inflation of the balloons on the floor. The sight was amazing, and we were pleased to be able to meet what was then the unnamed new animal shape balloon, by the Sunday this balloon was named Adelaide, she marked the soon arrival of Longleat’s newest residents. Although the day was a little on the cool side, it wasn’t cold and was a very enjoyable day, culminating in the Night Glow, an event where a series of balloons are lit up in time to music. Longleat House was also given a basket with a burner on its roof to be lit in time to the music adding to the whole event. Of course, while at Longleat we had to go and meet the animals and we were pleased to at least get a glimpse of baby Xena, a baby Cheetah whose story we had heard on BBC’s Animal Park. Should you be looking for a fun day out, then Longleat is a place to go and we would recommend taking the safari bus, the driver can give you lots of additional information on the animals that you would not get if you drove yourself round the safari, of course you could always do both.

The 27th saw the death of John Cunliffe, his name may not automatically come to mind, but his characters and stories will. John introduced children throughout the UK to Postman Pat and Rosie and Jim. In the latter he also had a spell on the boat, so his face was then known as well as his name. John sadly died at the age of 85.


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Up above the streets and houses

Rainbow climbing high

Everyone can see it smiling over the sky.

Fill the whole world with a


Rainbow Lyrics

In the space of 4 days, many children’s childhoods had been rocked by the death of 2 children’s television people, the first one was John Cunliffe, and then on the 1st of October we had to say goodbye to Geoffrey Hayes. Zippy, Bungle and George are now missing their friend Geoffrey forever. I’m sure you are all following now who Geoffrey was, of course he was the human presenter of Rainbow. Following his role in Rainbow, he found it hard to find another television role, as he once said television producers ‘can only see me as Rainbow’s Geoffrey’. He had a spell as a shelf stacker in a supermarket local to his home as well as a taxi driver. Geoffrey also appeared in several music videos, including Peter Kay’s Is this the Way (to Amarillo?). as well as a few minor appearances on other television programmes. Geoffrey died at the age of 76 from pneumonia.

One name that you probably hadn’t heard of before his assassination on the 2nd is Jamal Khashoggi. Mr Khashoggi was a Saudi dissident and a journalist for the Washington Post. He was seen entering the Turkish consulate building, it is believed he was collecting papers for a wedding he and his fiancé were planning, but he has never been seen since. Many countries believe that he had been murdered inside, however no body has been found. Later in November 11 Saudi nationals were indicted and charged with murdering Khashoggi, and 5 of them have been told that they would face the death penalty as it had been determined that they had been directly involved in ordering and executing the crime.

As you may remember during the summer, Bristol had been taken over by 67 sculptures in the shape of Gromit, Feathers and Wallace, on the 3rd an auction took place at Aerospace Bristol, of 64 of the sculptures, as 3 had been sold prior to the auction. All proceeds from the auction went to the Grand Appeal, the auction was hosted by Dawn French. The evening raised £1,321,500.00 for the charity. With the addition of the Greatest Dog Show on Earth, a display of all the sculptures under one roof, app downloads and private donations, the total raised for the charity stands at £1,621,500.00.

On the 6th, Montserrat Caballé died at the age of 85 in Barcelona. Montserrat was an opera singer who was really introduced to wider music style fans when she collaborated with the late, great Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury. The collaboration came about after Barcelona had won the 1992 Olympic Games, Freddie was approached to write a song as a theme for the event with the idea of duetting with Montserrat who was from Barcelona. Freddie had been a long-standing admirer of Montserrat and she grew to admire him, and the idea to produce an album was born. The album was released in 1988 and was actually recorded in separate locations due to their schedules. In the UK the album reached 25 in the charts but on its reissue following Freddie’s death it reached number 15 in 1992. The song Barcelona was used as the theme for the 1992 Olympics.

In some really happy news, the 12th saw Longleat’s new residents arrive following a long arduous journey all the way from Australia. The new residents are, of course, a group of Koala Bears and a pair of Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombats. When they arrived, and even to this day, they are being given time to acclimatise to their new surroundings and the UK weather before being introduced to the general public in Spring 2019, in what Longleat are calling Koala Creek. We look forward to meeting them.

While on an official tour to Australia, on the 15th, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry and Meghan are expecting their 1st baby. On its birth the chid will become the 7th in line to the throne. The next royal baby is due in Spring 2019.

On the 16th the annual Restart a Heart Day took place however, unlike previous years, the event went global under the guidance of ILCOR. Countries who took part this year included America (both North and South), Canada, South Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, as well as across Europe. This year, 238,793 children were taught vital CPR skills across the world, the majority of which in the UK.

Now we turn our attention to 2 sports-related stories that occurred during the same weekend. Firstly, we focus on the 27th when an AgustaWestland AW169 helicopter crashed shortly after take-off from the King Power Stadium in Leicester. The crash killed all 5 people on board including Leicester City Football Club owner and chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. The helicopter was seen taking off from the pitch on BT Sport, as it began what was its usual route to Luton Airport, sadly, moments later the helicopter crashed. Leicester Goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel, is said to have been held back from heading straight into the inferno.

Earlier in the day Glenn Hoddle had just filmed a programme for BT Sport when he suffered a heart attack, which sparked a panic among his co-stars, a quick thinking First Aid-trained sound technician rushed to his side and contributed to saving the life of Glenn Hoddle. The 27th of October will go down as a sad day for football.

The following day saw the Mexico Grand Prix, a race which saw Briton Lewis Hamilton head into the race needing to score 5 points to beat his nearest rival, Sebastian Vettel. By the end of 71 laps at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez Lewis finished in 4th place with Sebastian in second place. Lewis therefore scored 12 points and had secured his 5th World Drivers Championship, although it would not be officially confirmed until the end of the season. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on his 5th title which moves him equal on the all-time list with Juan Manuel Fangio and 2 behind Michael Schumacher.


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Now, God be thanked Who has watched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Peace by Rupert Brooke

November started with some exciting news for children and adults as the BBC announced that this year’s animated programme based on the books of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler would be Zog, and it would be shown over Christmas. It was later announced that the time of the showing of this would be Christmas Day at 4:50.

No review of this year would be complete without discussing the major anniversary that occurred. On the 11th the world came together to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. The UK was led as ever by Her Majesty The Queen at the Cenotaph, although like last year she was on a balcony of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, along with members of the Royal Family with one obvious missing member, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. At the time there were concerns for his health, but it was later thought that his absence was purely due to his retirement from public duty. As with last year, Her Majesty had asked her son and heir to lay her wreath on her behalf. Here, in Cirencester the minute’s silence was impeccably observed as usual, and then later in the day, the people of Cirencester got together and dressed in ponchos of the colour of the remembrance poppy, to make a human poppy in the town centre, a photo of which is available within our In Remembrance blog. The idea was for the people of Cirencester to break a record, at the time it was thought that 3,300 people had made up the human poppy beating the previous 3,000 record, it was later revealed that the record had been broken by Cirencester!

The 12th saw the death of Stan Lee. Stan was an American comic book writer, editor and publisher. He rose through the ranks of a family run business to become Marvel comics’ primary creative leader for 2 decades. Along with other story writers and artists he co-created characters including Spiderman, the X-Men, Iron Man, the Hulk and Ant-Man amongst others. He retired from Marvel in the 90s but remained a public figurehead for the company and made cameo performances in films based on Marvel characters. He also made cameo appearances in his television show starring James Nesbitt, Lucky Man made by Sky 1 and Carnival films.

November 14th is His Royal Highness Prince Charles’ birthday, this year he turned 70. Prince Charles is the longest serving heir apparent to the throne having had that role since he was 3 years and 2 months. He is also the longest serving Prince of Wales having had that title since 1958.

The annual fundraiser that is BBC Children in Need took place on the 14th, and on the evening they managed to raise £50,595,093. The final grand total hasn’t as yet been announced.

On the 17th, another member of the Vicar of Dibley cast sadly died, this time Frank Pickle. This is the character that Polish born John Bluthal would be best known as having. Frank was the likable but boring pedantic secretary to the Parish Council, and once had his face plastered across newspapers with the headline question ‘Is this the most boring person in Britain?’ John as an actor however has had many roles over his career and different people are likely to remember him in different roles, he even had a voice role in Labyrinth with David Bowie which he was uncredited for.

71 years ago, on the 20th Her Majesty the Queen (as she is now) and Prince Philip got married. They marked the landmark event in a private and low-key fashion. This is the longest lasting marriage of any serving British monarch. Back in 1947, Princess Elizabeth was just 21 years and married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten at Westminster Abbey. It is thought that it was 1939 when Elizabeth first fell for Philip as a teenager. Through their 71-year marriage, they have taken on the role of Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, have had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren with another one on the way.

As we referred to earlier, this is the year that Mickey Mouse celebrated his 90th anniversary of his first appearance, although as we said back in our review of May his unofficial first appearance was in Plane Crazy, however on the 18th of November 1928 Mickey Mouse had his first official appearance in Steamboat Willie. The film however was the third Mickey Mouse film to be produced but was the first to be distributed. Since its first appearance it has been voted 13th out of the top 50 Greatest Cartoons as well as being selected for national preservation in the United States by the National Film Registry for it being deemed culturally, historically and aesthetically significant, and since this appearance, the rest as they say for Mickey Mouse is history.

The 18th of the month will also go down as a rememberable day in the motor sport world. During a Formula 3 race being held in Macau, 17-year-old Sophia Floersch was lucky to survive a high-speed crash. After losing control of her car at speeds of about 170mph, Floersch fractured her spine, when her car collided with another racer’s car and then crashed into a photographer’s pit at the side of the track. The Japanese driver, Sho Tsuboi, whom Floersch crashed into was taken to hospital with back pain. The whole incident ended up injuring 2 drivers, 2 photographers and a marshal of the race luckily, and you might say amazingly, no one died in this accident. Below we have included a link to a YouTube video which shows the accident from all angles.

Sophia Floersch crashes in the F3 Macau Grand Prix

The month ended with the sad news that the 41st President of the United States of America, George H W Bush had died at the age of 94 years of age. As you will recall, his wife, Barbara had died in April this year. The H W in his name stands for Herbert Walker. George Bush Snr was inaugurated on January 20th 1989, and early on in his Presidential career he saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990. During his election campaign he stated that there would be no tax increases, a pledge that he had to renege on during his spell as President, and this would have contributed to his election loss in 1992 when he lost to Bill Clinton, who took over at the White House on January 20th 1993. Also, during his spell as President, George W H Bush went to war in the Gulf, taking part in what would become known as the first Gulf War. George leaves behind his 6 children, one of whom followed him into the White House as president in 2001 namely George and another of his sons, Jeb, ran to be President against Donald Trump in the Primaries for the 2016 Presidential election.


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In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,

earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;

snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,

in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Christina G. Rosetti and Gustav Holst

The month started in Cirencester with the annual season cheer day, when the Christmas lights were switched on. As usual the day was taken over by a range of acts on the stage made up by local artists. The lights this year were switched on by Nell Gifford, from Gifford’s Circus. Prior to Nell pushing the button to switch the lights on, Gifford’s Circus held a pop-up circus on the stage. The performance consisted of a stilt walker juggling and performing some hula-hooping skills whilst the hoop was surrounded by live fire. Our personal highlight of the pop-up circus was one of the ‘cast’ performing In the Bleak Midwinter whilst rolling around the stage inside a hoop, at one point she had rolled the hoop almost flat on the floor while balancing the hoop and herself and holding a high musical note. We watched on in awe, maybe next year we will have to visit the Circus when it returns to Cirencester. Once Nell had pressed the button to illuminate Cirencester in the Christmas cheer lights, the now annual event of fireworks took place from the Parish Church, a truly colourful display as always.

Brexit has been a reoccurring theme through this year and therefore our review of the year. December in the midst of the lead up to the Christmas cheer, I’m afraid is no different. Towards the end of November, Prime Minister, Theresa May had signed off a deal with the European Union for our exit of the EU, she then brought the deal back to the UK and Parliament, it become obvious very early on that the deal was not going to be agreed by Parliament, or even in her party. On the 11th it was announced by Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative’s 1922 Committee, that the required number of letters of no confidence had been received and therefore the leader of the Conservatives, Theresa May would face a no-confidence vote in her leadership. The Prime Minister emerged early that morning from Number 10 and publicly made a statement in which she said she would fight ‘with everything I’ve got’ to win the vote. The vote was held that evening between 18:00 and 20:00, following a meeting that she had had with all her MPs. At 21:00 it was announced by Graham Brady that Theresa May had won the vote with 200 of her 317 MPs voting that they had confidence in her. She can now not face another no-confidence vote until December next year under Party rules.

As usual, this year the BBC held their annual Sports Personality of the Year programme, this year keeping the 6 sports persons nominated to win the big prize a secret until the evening. The 6 people nominated for the award were:

Lewis Hamilton,

Lizzy Yarnold,

Geraint Thomas,

Dina Asha-Smith,

Jimmy Anderson,

Harry Kane.

The public voted that the 2018 Sports Personality Of The Year was, Geraint Thomas with Lewis Hamilton and Harry Kane finishing in second and third respectively. For the first time ever the BBC had decided to not publish the exact results with number of votes for each nominated person, they say that this brings the programme in line with their other shows, however cynically we wonder whether this has got to do with last year where the criticisms were loud as the female nominees were seemingly snubbed.

However, other awards were handed out on the night, which included an award for Gareth Southgate who won Coach Of The Year for his exploits as England Football Manager in the summer. Team and Moment Of The Year went to the Women’s Netball Team, with the moment being the Commonwealth Gold winning moment. The emotional award of the night as always is the Helen Rollason award which this year went to Billy Monger. Last year Billy had an horrific crash, when he crashed into the back of another race car, causing him to lose both of his legs. Earlier this year he returned to the race track and is looking to carry on his racing career.

It's a Wonderful Life stillAccording to a recent poll conducted by Radio Times, It's A Wonderful Life has been voted the nation's favourite Christmas film, narrowly beating the modern classic starring Will Farrell, Elf. The 1946 classic, which starred James Stewart and Donna Reed topped the poll which was carried out on RadioTimes.com. The poll received 7,000 votes. The post-war film tells the story of George Bailey, a man who has devoted his life to helping others and is shown the value of his own life by a guardian angel, to stop him killing himself. It’s a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Oscars and has become a seasonal staple around the world. In the poll Elf came second with The Muppets' Christmas Carol third. A controversial film on the list according to RadioTimes.com was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, despite the series featuring Christmas in every film, rather than being Christmas films. The full top 20 list included:

1. It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

2. Elf (2003)

3. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

4. Love Actually (2003)

5. Home Alone (1990)

6. Die Hard (1988)

7. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)

8. The Polar Express (2004)

9. White Christmas (1954)

10. Scrooge (1951)

11. A Christmas Carol (1984)

12. The Snowman (1982)

13. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)

14. Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

15. The Holiday (2006)

16. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

17. The Grinch (2000)

18. Scrooged (1988)

19. Nativity! (2009)

20. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

The poll will be controversial to many as well as debatable because everyone has their own idea as to what the best Christmas film of all time is. We wonder whether your favourite made the list.

No Christmas cheer was had at Gatwick over the few days beginning the 19th of the month when the runway was closed for some 30 hours following reports and sightings of a drone being flown over the airfield. This is an irresponsible and illegal act as it endangers the lives of so many people should a plane hit the drone. At the time of writing it is not known what the reason was behind this act. Not only were the police involved in trying to identify the culprits and prevent any more drone sightings, the army were drafted in to use their expertise and technology to block the drone signals to make it safe for the planes to fly again. The police have interviewed a couple who they believed were suspects, but on Sunday 23rd announced these were no longer suspects in the case. Other than a small window on the Friday, planes have been able to continue to fly since, just a shame someone saw fit to try to ruin many thousands of people’s Christmas including children who were due to fly to Lapland to meet Father Christmas.

On the 21st the annual who will be Christmas Number 1 was announced. This year’s Christmas number 1 is a song sung by a YouTuber called LadBaby. The song is a cover of Starship’s We Built This City, this version is an ode to Sausage Rolls, and all proceeds from the song are going to the foodbank charity, The Trussell Trust.

On the 22nd came the sad news of the death of ex-Liberal Democrat Leader, Lord Paddy Ashdown. Paddy Ashdown was Liberal Democrat Leader from 1988 until he resigned in 1999. In the 1997 election, he oversaw an increase in the Party’s representation in the House of Commons, even though they received less votes than in the 1992 election. The representation went from 18 up to 46 Liberal Democrat MPs.

Zig-Zag Zog! As has become an annual tradition these days, at 4:50 on Christmas Day many families with children and some with just adult ‘children’ gathered around the television set to watch this year’s Magic Light Pictures’ adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s book, this year Zog, basing the animation on Axel Scheffler’s original illustrations. The television company gave the production company creative licence with the story, and in places it was able to explain how Princess Pearl was able to be in the right place of the story at the right time, which the book was never able to explain fully. The programme of Zog gives a nice little reference to other books in the Julia Donaldson repertoire namely, Stickman. We fully enjoyed this year’s Christmas Day highlight and look forward to the next one Magic Light Pictures selects to turn into 2019’s Christmas Day!

On the 28th of the month, this year’s New Year’s Honours list was announced by Buckingham Palace. As usual the list was littered with famous faces being awarded the various awards, as well as members of the public who will be able to add these titles to the end of their name. In the world of sport, ex Question of Sport Captain and England Rugby Lock and Captain Bill Beaumont has been handed a knighthood, along with England Cricketer Alistair Cook. Also in the field of sport England Football Manager, Gareth Southgate and the Tour de France and BBC Sports Personality of the Year Winner Geraint Thomas become an OBE, while England Football Captain at this year’s World Cup, Harry Kane becomes an MBE. In the world of entertainment, Michael Palin becomes a Sir, while famous model Twiggy receives a damehood, and Julia Donaldson, writer of The Gruffalo and Zog among others, receives a CBE. Also in the writing world, Philip Pullman has been knighted and naturalist presenter Chris Packham has a CBE. Away from the glitz and glam of showbiz, the UK’s longest serving lollipop lady has been awarded an OBE; 82-year-old Beryl Quantrill has 54 years of service, spending most of her career helping the children of Queen Mary Avenue Primary School in Cleethorpes cross the road to and from school. It has been reported that Ariana Grande was offered a damehood in this year’s New Year’s Honours list following her response to the 2017 Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack. The reports say that Ariana politely declined the damehood stating that it is too soon, she is still grieving as are many families, and she feared that some would see it as insensitive. It is reported that she is flattered and honoured to be offered the award but didn’t feel it was the right time to accept this. Of the attack, Ariana in November this year stated that, it ‘seems impossible to fully recover from’.

The sad news was announced on the 29th that actress June Whitfield had passed away. June had been in the entertainment business since 1953. She was awarded a damehood in 2017 New Year’s Honours list as well as already holding the OBE and the CBE from previous Honours lists. Over the years June has played many roles, and will probably be best remembered for her roles in Terry and June, Absolutely Fabulous and in the Carry On series of films. June dies at the age of 93 years and will be missed by all who worked with her as well as those of us who have fond memories of her TV and film career.

And Finally….

So as 2018 draws to a close we ask what does next year bring and that is a difficult question beyond the anticipated Brexit which under Article 50 is due to take place on March the 29th.


We would like to take this opportunity to

Wish all our family, friends and customers


VERY Happy New Year.

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Review of 2019

Posted by Steve at 14:20 on Tuesday, 31st December 2019.

Top:   January         February          March          April         May          June

July          August          September          October          November          December          And Finally

Here we are at the end of yet another year, each year just seems to go by faster and faster, and how will 2019 be remembered. Well we fear that the only thing that will be remembered in 2019 is the nightmare that was the wranglings in the House of Commons over Brexit; Brexit day came and went several times. Here at Fox Towers, we don’t get involved in I’m a Remainer or I’m a Brexiteer talk, we just like to look at the facts as they happened and that is how we will take this year’s review when we discuss the ups and downs of the subject.

The year began in the usual way with Big Ben chiming his bongs, closely followed by the usual New Year celebration fireworks live from the River Thames, all of which were in the shadow of the celebrations that had already occurred in the time zones to the east, for example at L’Arc de Triomphe, an hour earlier and before that in Marina Bay, Dubai and even earlier at the Sydney Opera House. With many more firework celebrations to occur in the western time zones namely Times Square.

Here in the UK many television sets were playing the tunes of Madness live from their concert in London to mark the start of another new year; this must surely go down as one of the last live performances of 2018 as well as one of the first live performances to take place in 2019, especially as it spanned across the midnight hour.

2019 however had so many other things going on; we had births, deaths, personal and sporting achievements and not to forget 2 Prime Ministers and 2 Speakers of the House of Commons. An eventful year we have just lived through, sit back with a cup of tea and remind yourself of the weird and wonderful year it was!


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Pot the reds then, screw back
For the yellow green brown blue pink and black
Snooker loopy nuts are we
We're all snooker loopy

Chas and Dave, Snooker Loopy

We start our review of the year right at the beginning on the first of January, when all 593 public telephones rang at 11AM across Liverpool and St Helens as an act of remembrance to all those lost due to suicide according to Official National Statistics in 2016. At 11AM on New Year’s Day more people die from suicide than any other day of the year. The ringing of telephones was organised by ZU-UK, a theatre and digital art company. The Project is called Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) and was aimed to encourage people to think about our ability to listen in a world that is becoming ever noisier. The area was chosen due to the high level of suicide deaths around Liverpool and St Helens.

The Government announced on the 3rd that it was going to introduce CPR training into the secondary school curriculum as of 2020.The plans mean that young people will leave their secondary education with the skill of CPR, the knowledge of the importance and use of an Automated External Defibrillator and basic first aid knowledge of minor first aid injuries. This is an important step forward, as countries that already teach first aid in schools see cardiac arrest survival rates almost double that of the United Kingdom!

The 3rd also saw everyone’s favourite bakery chain, Greggs launch their meat-free sausage roll!

We move on into the world of entertainment and find the 76th Golden Globe awards on the 6th of January. The awards saw Green Book as the most successful film winning 3 of the 5 awards that it was nominated for, whereas Bohemian Rhapsody won both of the awards that it was up for including Best Actor for Remi Malik. Glenn Close walked away with the Best Actress award for her role in The Wife, beating Lady Gaga to the accolade.

Swiftly through January and we find the first of the Brexit roller coasters that are entwined through this year. On the 15th, Prime Minster Theresa May lost a vote on her Brexit withdrawal deal. The vote was the biggest defeat of any Prime Minister in the House of Commons, with 432 against the motion to that of 202 who agreed to the deal; this included 118 of her own Conservatives rebelling! The Leader of the Opposition tables a vote of no confidence in the Government, which the Prime Minister wins the following day by just 19 votes. Theresa May then says that she will meet with the leaders of other parties to find a way through, and Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, declines the invite until No Deal has been taken off the table.

The Duke Of Edinburgh, Prince Philip hit the news on the 17th after he had a car accident, on the A4149 near Sandringham; he was unhurt but shocked and shaken. The occupants of the other car involved included a 9mth-old, its mother and her friend. The only injuries sustained included an arm injury and cuts, all involved survived the accident.

On the same day as the accident, the first celebrity death that we have focussed on occurred and that was actor Windsor Davies. Windsor was born on the 28th August 1930 and was 88 when he died. He had an instantly recognisable Welsh voice, and had been in many films and voice-overs for advertising campaigns, but he is probably best known for his role in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

The first major snooker tournament of the year was won on the 20th by Judd Trump, who became the 2019 Snooker Masters Champion.

Just 2 days later, David Gilbert made snooker’s 147th professional maximum 147 break. That very evening saw the National Television Awards take place. The one winner that stands out is local lad James Moore from Cheltenham, who plays Ryan Stocks in Yorkshire soap, Emmerdale. James secured the award for Best Newcomer. He also, with the rest of the cast, picked up Best Serial Drama for Emmerdale.

On the 26th Dam I at Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine, suffered a catastrophic failure, which released a mudflow which flowed through the mine’s offices and canteen, at lunchtime, and then on through houses, farms, inns and roads downstream. The failure and resulting mudflow caused 256 officially confirmed deaths and a further 14 still missing with no body found.

The 29th saw bit of snow at Fox Towers, and when we say a bit it was very much a case of blink and you missed it! However, the day will go down in history for its events over in London at the House of Commons. There were 7 amendments to the motion put forward by the Government concerning the Withdrawal Bill, and only 2 amendments were carried, but left behind confusion as to what the House would actually agree to. The 2 confirmed amendments that were agreed were that MPs agreed the UK will not be allowed to leave the EU with no deal, a non-binding result and that the House would support the Bill if the backstop was replaced by an amendment. More Brexit madness later in the year!


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Cheer up sleepy Jean

Oh, what can it mean to a

Daydream believer and a

Homecoming queen?

Daydream Believer, The Monkees

To start the month of February we have the sad news of the death of Clive Swift, he is probably best known for his role as the long-suffering husband to Hyacinth Bucket, (pronounced Bouquet!) Clive was born on the 9th of February 1936 and was therefore 82 years old at his death. It is fair to say however that throughout his working career, Clive was much more than just Richard Bucket and his record shows an impressive number of films and programmes including 2 separate appearances in Doctor Who.

In a landmark case on the 1st of February, a 37-year-old Ugandan woman was found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) the first successful case of its type in the UK. The Ugandan woman and a 43-year-old Ghanaian man both from Walthamstow, London were accused of having cut their daughter on the Summer Bank Holiday in 2017. Although the Ugandan woman was found guilty, her partner was cleared of all charges. FGM was made illegal in the UK, more than 3 decades ago, but this case was the first one to end with a successful prosecution!

On the 6th a body was recovered from a plane which had vanished over the English Channel, it was identified the following day to be that of footballer Emiliano Sala. The plane went missing on the 21st of January, as it was transporting Emiliano from Nantes to Cardiff City, where he was due to meet up with his new teammates for training the following day having signed a contract to play for them in the English Premier League. He sadly never arrived.

The 10th saw 2 award ceremonies held: the BAFTAs and the Grammys. The highlights of the 72nd BAFTAs awarded on the evening saw Bohemian Rhapsody’s Remi Malik win Best Actor with the Best Actress award going to Olivia Coleman for her role in The Favourite. The Favourite scooped 7 of the 12 awards that it was nominated for, this also includes best British Film. The 61st Grammys were held on the same day; the Grammys award a wide range of awards across the full range and spectrum of music genres.

The 12th saw former England Goalkeeper Gordon Banks OBE die. Gordon started for England in goal for the successful 1966 World Cup winning campaign. Gordon won 73 caps for England having played with Chesterfield, Leicester City, Stoke City and Fort Lauderdale Strikers in America. He died at the age of 81.

On the same day was the news of the sad death of Shouri the tiger at Longleat. It appears that Shouri died after a fight with Red and Yana, 2 of Longleat’s other tigers. Shouri gained access to an adjacent paddock, where Red and Yana were waiting to be let into the main enclosure. It would appear that during the process of moving the tigers between paddocks, a connecting door was left open leaving Shouri access to Yana and Red. Longleat launched an investigation into the circumstances that led up to the death of Shouri. Shouri was an Amur Tiger which is classed as endangered in the wild with as few as 500 remaining in their natural habitat. There is a belief that in the past numbers have been as little as 20 – 30 Amur tigers in their natural habitat, luckily conservation efforts have raised this number back up.

St Valentine’s Day is seen as a romantic day by many. Prime Minister, Theresa May, however will most likely remember this one as a day that she was yet again defeated in a vote in the House of Commons on her Brexit strategy. The number of MPs who voted for her deal was 258 with 303 MPs against the strategy. 67 of her own Party MPs abstained from the vote.

More political unrest occurred on the 18th when 7 labour MPs quit their party to start The Independent Group. These Labour MPs were:

Chuka Umunna,

Luciana Berger,

Chris Leslie,

Angela Smith,

Mike Gapes,

Gavin Shuker, and

Ann Coffey.

They were joined on the 20th by:

Joan Ryan, (Formerly Labour),

Heidi Allen (Formerly Conservative),

Sarah Wollaston (Formerly Conservative), and

Anna Soubry (Formerly Conservative).

Also in politics, on the 20th Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Shamima Begum, a teenager who left the UK to join Islamic State, of her UK citizenship.

On the evening of the 20th, the annual BRIT Awards’ ceremony took place. The ceremony saw 2 awards given to The 1975 and Calvin Harris, the most given to any artist, both of these artists secured 100% of their nominations.

On the 21st we marked the death of The Monkees’ star Peter Tork, real name Peter Halsten Thorkelson. Peter was the keyboardist and bass guitarist of The Monkees. The band are probably most well-known for Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer and The Monkees. Peter was 77 when he died.

The second meeting between Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of North Korea and President of the USA Donald Trump took place on February the 27th and 28th. The White House announced that the summit had been cut short with no agreement. The President later explained it was because North Korea wanted an end to all sanctions. Ri Yong-Ho, North Korean Foreign Minister asserted that the country only sought a partial lifting of 5 sanctions placed on North Korea between 2016 and 2017 by the United Nations.

André Previn KBE died on the 28th of the month. André is best known as a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He died at the age of 89.


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I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You're a firestarter, twisted Firestarter

Firestarter, The Prodigy

We move on swiftly into the 3rd month of the year, March. The 4th was a sad day as it saw 2 famous people pass away, the first being Keith Flint of the Prodigy; the band are probably best known for their track Firestarter. Keith died at the age of 49. The second famous person to die on the 4th was Luke Perry aged 52. Luke was best known for his role as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210. He also starred in other TV shows and films, including the Buffy the Vampire Slayer precursor film, which was not that well received by film critics.

On the 10th of March, Snooker’s Ronnie O’ Sullivan won the Snooker Players Championship scoring his 1000th professional century break in the final to do it, the most of any player in the game ever. His closest competitor at the time of writing is on 750 professional century breaks.

On the 11th, a woman had to apologise to officials at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, as she had climbed a safety fence trying to take a photograph of a jaguar. The female jaguar attacked the woman in her 30s, emergency responders found her with lacerations on her arms where the jaguar had dug its claws in. The Zoo then publicly stated that the jaguar in question would come to no harm having attacked the visitor as she should not have crossed the safety barriers!

Another vote took place on the Prime Minister’s deal on the withdrawal from the European Union, again the Prime Minister lost the vote 391 to 242 a majority of 149 against the deal. The 13th saw MPs agree to reject the UK leaving the EU without a deal by a majority of 4 votes, 312 to 308 in a non-binding vote. The next day of votes in the House of Commons saw MPs vote to ask the European Union for an extension to Article 50 beyond March 29th.

Also, on the 14th of March, the UK woke up to the news that FIA Formula 1 Race Director, Charlie Whiting had died overnight on the eve of the new Formula 1 season. Charlie will be remembered in the racing community for the safety improvements he oversaw. These include the introduction of what some call unsightly, the halo, the headrest, safety survival cell, front and side impact structures and high cockpit sides.

Overnight, into the 15th, 2 consecutive terrorist shootings took place at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attacks took place during Friday prayers starting at Al Noor Mosque at 1:40pm local time and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre at 1:55pm. The gunman live streamed the first attack on Facebook! The attacks killed 51 people and injured 49 others.

In the UK we ended the 15th with BBC Comic Relief, the fundraiser on the night raised £63,548,668.

On the 18th the Speaker of the House of Commons announced that Meaningful Vote 3 as it became known could not take place, in doing so he was quoting a parliamentary rule that dates back to 1604. He said the only way that it could be debated is if it is substantially different to the first 2. In doing so, he received calls from MPs saying that a constitutional crisis would ensue, with just 11 days to Brexit day.

The Prime Minister sent a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on the 20th asking for an extension to Article 50, as she was required to do by law to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Later that day she gave a speech inside no 10 where she stated that she was on the side of the public.

On the 21st a 7-week hunt for missing student Libby Squire came to an end as Humberside Police found the Buckingham student’s body the day before, and had it formally identified as that of Libby.

The European Union offered the UK a new Brexit date of April the 12th should the UK Parliament pass the Withdrawal Agreement, or the 22nd May should the deal not get through the House of Commons. This new offer was presented on the 21st of March.

The 22nd of the month saw safety advice being given to people who wear lanyards when driving. The warning was given in case the car airbag goes off. The warning came after an NHS worker suffered a perforated bowel from keys that were attached to her lanyard. Another worker had suffered from a punctured lung when the lanyard was pushed into her chest. Although these types of accidents are rare, they can happen, and obviously the types of injuries caused can be severe.

On the 25th in the process to find a way through the Brexit block of Parliament, a vote on an amendment by Oliver Letwin was passed which gave Parliament the option to hold indicative votes, it was passed by 329 to 302. The indicative votes took place on the 27th, with none of the 8 proposals winning a majority in Parliament. There was however a successful vote to change in statute Brexit day. 441 yay votes against 105 nos meant it was passed by a 336 majority. The 29th was the first Brexit date of the year, this day came and went, the UK remaining in the EU, moving towards another Brexit day deadline.


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Morning in Paris, the city awakes,

To the bells of Notre Dame,

The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes,

To the bells of Notre Dame

The Bells of Notre Dame, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Onwards the year went, with further indicative votes taking place in the House of Commons on the 1st, with none of the votes getting a majority, further proof that the House of Commons couldn’t find something that they could agree on around the complex subject of Brexit. Immediately after the votes, Nick Boles MP quit the Conservative Party; in a speech he criticises his former colleagues for not compromising on the possible options.

The following day, in her quest to get her Brexit deal through, Theresa May offers to meet with the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn on a plan to go forward with, but would keep her deal as her part of the plan. She also announced that she intended to again ask for an extension to the deadline. A vote on a bill by Labour MP Yvette Cooper forces the Prime Minister to go through with her intention to extend Brexit by 313 votes to 312.

Away from the Houses of Parliament we found our attention facing the courts, where prosecutors sought a retrial of Hillsborough Match Commander David Duckenfield after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his trial. We shall come back to this story later in the year.

To end the first week of April, Theresa May wrote a letter to the EU to ask for the extension, she wanted to extend until June the 30th. EU ministers responded that the letter was too vague to justify an extension.

On the 6th of April, we turned our attention to Aintree, where the annual Grand National was being held, like most people, wondering which of the horses would make it over the 40 fences and who would be in first place. The other thought and hope was that all the horses would make it around the course safely. This year, as it was last year, a horse called Tiger Roll won the iconic race. Sadly, Up For Review did not make it safely around the track and died at Aintree.

On the 8th awareness around Silent Solutions, a police system to filter out large amounts of accidental emergency calls, began. We polled our Facebook followers and found that 80% of them knew about Silent Solutions. Silent Solutions works by leading callers through a system of prompts to receive some communication from the caller, should they be unable to talk or make sound in the environment that they are in. The final prompt being to press ‘55’ to indicate that it is a real emergency. This is a system that can save lives if only people know about it and use it effectively.

Back to Brexit on the 10th, where the UK and the EU agreed to an extension of Article 50 up to the 31st October 2019. There would be no allowance of the opening of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations, and the UK had to hold EU elections on May 23rd or we would have been forced to leave the EU on June 1st.

April the 12th, a Brexit day came, and passed by with the UK still a member state of the EU, on the day that Nigel Farage formed his new political party, The Brexit Party.

As we reach the 14th we can celebrate the achievements of Tiger Woods. Tiger won the Masters Championship, his first major win in 11 years on the golf circuit.

Just before 18:20 on the 15th a structure fire broke out beneath the roof of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris. By the time that the fire had been extinguished, sadly the famous spire and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls severely damaged. Due to the stone vaulted ceiling, much more damage was avoided. During the early stages of the emergency, many pieces of art and religious relics were moved to safety, whereas others suffered some smoke damage. Some exterior artwork was also damaged, or destroyed. The altar, 2 pipe organs, and its 3 13th century rose windows suffered little to no damage at all. 3 emergency workers were injured and contamination of the site and the surrounding areas resulted.

On the 18th during a riot, journalist Lyra McKee was shot and killed in the Creggan area of Derry. She had written several articles on the Troubles in Northern Ireland during her career. She has also served as an editor for Mediagazer which is a news aggregator website. The Prime Minister remarked on her death that ‘Lyra died doing her job with great courage.’

24th saw further developments in the Conservative Party and the move towards the UK’s exit from the EU, when the 1922 Committee of the Conservative Party voted against changing the rules of the Party in regards to having leadership challenges, something that Theresa May was immune from under the current rules of the Party due to the leadership challenge she won last year. The 1922 Committee did however ask for clarifying on when she would leave office.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met on the 26th when they discussed and subsequently released a joint statement which set out plans for a new process of talks designed to restore devolution to Northern Ireland. The talks were due to start on the 7th May.

The last event that we will mention in April was the release of the new Sonic The Hedgehog movie trailer. The trailer was met with much criticism of the way that the film version of Sonic looked. It was later announced that Sonic would be reworked following the criticism prior to the movie being released, the film would therefore not be released this year as planned and has been put back to a release date of February the 14th 2020.


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 Once there was a little girl called Sophie,

and she was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen.

Suddenly there was a ring at the door.

Sophie’s mummy said,

 “I wonder who that can be. It can’t be the milkman because he came this morning.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith Kerr

More political unrest arrived in the country on the 2nd with the hosting of the local elections. The results saw a dramatic loss of seats and vote share for the 2 major parties, although the Conservatives fared much worse. The results saw:

Conservatives  won 93 Councils down 44 with 3564 Councillors down 1330,

Labour   Won 60 Councils down 6 with 2021 Councillors down 84,

Liberal Democrats won 18 Councils up 10 with 1352 Councillors up 706,

Residents Association won 2 Councils up 1 with 119 Councillors up 49,

Green Party   won no Councils, no change with 265 Councillors up 194,

UKIP   Won no Councils, no change with 31 Councillors down 145.

Other independents and parties picked up and dropped councillors, but we have only focussed here on what many people would consider the big parties. You can find the full result with breakdowns of who holds which Council on the BBC website.

In amongst all of the political nonsense, there was some good news for the country in May, when His Royal Highness Prince Harry and his wife Meghan gave birth to a new baby boy on the 6th. The child was not seen until the 8th, nor was his name announced until after his first public appearance. The new royal baby is to be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. To read more on this story, visit our May article, where we discuss this little boy and whether he has a royal title or not.

Sadly. the happy news cannot continue as we look back at the day the death of comedian Freddie Starr was announced. The day was the 9th. Over the years Freddie was a comedian, impressionist, singer and an actor. He is well known across society and was the subject of a very famous headline through his career.

The 11th saw the 2018/19 football Premier League end in what was one of the tightest standings of time. The title was won by Manchester City with 98 points with their closest rivals, Liverpool FC on 97. Both teams had gone on an unbeaten run since the turn of the year, and the pundits remarked that either club would have been worthy winners of the trophy this season. We send our congratulations to both clubs on this feat, but obviously to Manchester City for winning the title.

On the 13th of the month, more than 2 years since it went missing, an Automated External Defibrillator was handed back into the NHS. The defibrillator had been stolen from Haylands Primary School on the Isle of Wight. The badly damaged defibrillator was found by some children under a bush as they were playing football. This device has gone under maintenance to see if it can be put back into service. Head of the Ambulance Training and Community Response Services for the Isle of Wight Louise Walker said:

‘Stealing or vandalising a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD)

can mean that someone dies. When someone goes into cardiac arrest

(this means they are unconscious and not breathing normally)

their survival rate without a defibrillator is likely to be less than 7%

 however this can increase up to 74% with early defibrillation.

Every minute you delay defibrillation to someone who needs it,

 their chance of survival decreases by 10%.

The first three minutes of a cardiac arrest are the most crucial;

when someone rings 999 for the Ambulance their system

automatically flags up the nearest defibrillator within a 200-metre radius.’

The 13th was also the day that the death of Doris Day was announced. Doris is renowned around the world for her musical talent. Not only was she a singer, she was an actress and an animal rights activist. As of 2012, Doris Day was one of only 8 performers to have been the top box office earner 4 times in the United States. Through her work, she will live on.

On the 18th Ofsted announced the New Education Inspection Framework that they would use to inspect all education settings that came under its jurisdiction from September. The guidance came with mixed opinions of the sector, although a lot had said that it was better than the consultation paper that had been previously released and consulted on.

The 18th was also the night of the annual music ‘extravaganza’ which is the Eurovision Song Contest. This year the winning country was The Netherlands with Arcade by Duncan Laurence. This was the Netherlands’ 5th victory in the competition. As for the United Kingdom, well what can we say other than it was as usual a disappointing night as we finished in last place with 11 points for our entrant Michael Rice who performed Bigger Than Us.

On the 19th at Euroformula Open Pau Grand Prix Billy Monger won his first race. This is even more remarkable when you remember that Billy suffered an horrific accident in April 2017 where he had both of his legs amputated.

Staying with motor racing for the 21st of the month, which was the day that Formula One legend, Niki Lauda died. Niki had died peacefully in his sleep in hospital, following a period of ill health, he was at this time the Non-Executive Chairman of the Mercedes Petronas Formula 1 Team. Niki had several rat-based nicknames over his career due to his buck teeth, and was the Formula 1 World Drivers Champion on 3 occasions in 1975, 1977 and 1984. His famous battle with James Hunt was immortalised into film in 2013. Niki died at the age of 70.

The same day, 93-year-old Nancy Wiggington died. Nancy, who was professionally known as Nan Winton, was famous for being the first woman newsreader to read the national news on BBC Television on the 20th June 1960.

As has already been mentioned with regard to the European Union, the 22nd May which was meant to be Brexit day came and went, meaning that the UK would now hold the EU elections later this month.

Sadly on the 23rd, children’s author Judith Kerr OBE died. Judith was probably best known for her children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a television adaption of this book was shown over Christmas. She is also known as writing the novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, which gave a child’s eye view of the Second World War. Judith will be cherished for her novels by many children in years to come. She died at the age of 95 in London.

On the 24th Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a tearful announcement on the steps of Number 10, when she declared that she would be resigning as the Conservative Leader on the 7th June, with a Leadership campaign from the 10th. During the leader’s campaign Theresa May would stay on as Acting Party Leader and Prime Minister.

On the 26th, the UK’s European Union Election results were announced as follows:

Brexit Party  29 seats 31.6% vote share  31.6% up on previous election

Lib Dem 16 seats 20.3% vote share 13.4% up on previous election

Labour  10 seats 14.1% vote share 11.3% down on previous election

Greens  7 seats  12.1% vote share 4.2% up on previous election

Tory  4 seats  9.1% vote share  14.8% down on previous election

SNP  3 seats  3.6% vote share  1.1% up on previous election

Plaid Cymru 1 seats  1% vote share  0.3% up on previous election

Change UK 0 seats  3.4% vote share  3.4% up on previous election

UKIP  0 seats  3.3% vote share  24.2% down on previous election

The turnout of the UK voters was up 2% to 36.7% from 2014.


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Ce sont les meilleures équipes

Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften

The main event

Die Meister

Die Besten

Les grandes équipes

The champions

The Champions League Anthem, Tony Britten

In the 1st all English club UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool FC beat Tottenham Hotspur by 2 goals to nil, winning their 6th European Cup trophy in their history, This probably makes up a little bit for missing out on the Premier League title by 1 point just a few weeks earlier.

On the 4th, 6 of the MPs that had joined the Change UK (The Independent Group) only a few months ago, quit. These members were:

Luciana Berger,

Gavin Shuker,

Angela Smith,

Chuka Umunna,

Sarah Wollaston and

Heidi Allen.

This meant that Anna Soubry became the leader of Change UK.

On the 7th day of the month, as announced by her 2 weeks previously, Prime Minister Theresa May officially stood down as leader of the Conservative Party but remained as the Acting Leader until a new one was elected by the members. Her resignation meant that the party launched a Leadership campaign on the following Monday morning.

The BBC made the announcement on the 10th, to some major political and public outcry, that they would stop providing free TV Licences to the over 75s who do not receive Pension Credit.

Labour tried to take control of the Parliamentary timetable on the 12th by tabling a motion that was defeated 309 to 298. Labour had planned to put a motion thorough the timetable to legally prevent a no-deal Brexit on October the 31st had they got their timetable motion passed in the House.

The Conservative Leadership race heated up on the 13th with the first round of voting for the potential leader by their House of Commons colleagues. In the first round Boris Johnson took a lead over the other candidates, and 3 left the challenge altogether, they were, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Esther McVey. The full results were:

Boris Johnson  114

Jeremy Hunt   43

Michael Gove  37

Dominic Raab  27

Sajid Javid  23

Matt Hancock  20

Rory Stewart  19

Andrea Leadsom 11

Mark Harper  10

Esther McVey  9

We continue with the Leadership campaign and find that on the 14th, Matt Hancock withdrew from the competition, leaving 6 in the race to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister of the UK. The front runner of the candidates decided to boycott the debate that was held on the 16th by Channel 4 as well as the press hustings at the Houses of Parliament on the 17th, going into the second round of voting.

At 6pm on the 18th, just 2 hours before a debate on the BBC the second round of votes were in and this time Boris Johnson had a huge majority of his rivals. Dominic Raab was knocked out at this stage of the contest, leaving 5 to face the cameras in a BBC studio for the live debate that evening. The full results of Round 2 were:

Michael Gove  41

Jeremy Hunt  46

Sajid Javid  33

Boris Johnson  126

Dominic Raab  30

Rory Stewart  37

Breaking away from the Leadership contest in the Conservatives, although only briefly, on the 19th Tendai Muswere was the first person to be convicted in the UK of making a firearm on a 3D Printer.

Back we go to the Conservative Party’s Leadership contest for Round 3 which took place on the 19th. Again Boris Johnson received the lion share of the Parliamentary Conservative’s vote, seeing Rory Stewart knocked out at this stage leaving just 4 contestants to go through to the following day’s double vote!

Michael Gove  51

Jeremy Hunt  54

Sajid Javid  38

Boris Johnson  143

Rory Stewart  27

As promised the 20th was a double vote for the contenders to deal with. At 1pm the first result of the day was made public, again with Boris Johnson storming his way to a healthy lead, and the assumption being that now it was just a case of who will join him in the wider party members’ vote. At this stage of the competition Sajid Javid was knocked out, leaving just 3 standing in the battle to get to the wider members’ vote!

Michael Gove  61

Jeremy Hunt  59

Sajid Javid  34

Boris Johnson  157

Onwards at full speed to the 5pm vote. Boris Johnson won the vote, although was last to be announced as a Leadership contender to go to the vote of the members due to his surname being alphabetically last in the list of names. Michael Gove was the one who missed out.

Michael Gove  75

Jeremy Hunt  77

Boris Johnson  160

Interestingly, in this ballot of Conservative MPs, there was the first paper to be rejected in all the competition! Just goes to show that even MPs can’t always fill in the simple paper properly!

On the 29th of the month, the Met Office recorded some of the hottest June temperatures in 40 years with Heathrow and Northolt hitting 34˚C (93.2˚F).


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God Save the Queen

God save our gracious Queen,

Long live our noble Queen,

God save the Queen;

Send her victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

God save the Queen.

The National Anthem

We start our review of July, in the same vein as we did in June, discussing the magical sport that is football, only this time we are focussed on the Women’s game. The 1st of July saw England Women in the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup, at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. The game was watched in England by 11.7 million people, sadly witnessing a close 2-1 defeat to the United States of America. The England Women finished the tournament after the 3rd/4th place play-off game in 4th place.

The death of John McCririck was announced on the 5th of the month. John was famous for his punditry of horse racing on Channel 4 as well as his time in the Celebrity Big Brother House in 2005. John leaves behind his wife Jennifer neé Barnes who he referred to as ‘His Booby’.

On the 11th of July, it was announced that a parole board had decided that nursery worker abuser, Vanessa George, would be released from prison later this year, under strict conditions as she no longer posed a significant risk. The conditions that she would have to abide by included, not returning to Devon and Cornwall, as well as restrictions on her movement and contacts. Vanessa George was convicted in 2009 having pleaded guilty to 7 sexual assaults of children and making 124 indecent images of children. She was released from prison in September.

The 14th was to go down in history as Super Sunday in sport, firstly the England cricketers won the Cricket World Cup on home soil at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The game was won on a tense Super Over. Earlier that afternoon, British Formula 1 racing driver, Lewis Hamilton had won a record 6th British Grand Prix at Silverstone. While all this was happening, over at SW19, the Wimbledon’s Mens’ Final turned out to be a record breaker. The match lasted a record 4 hours and 57 minutes and was won by Novak Djokovic who beat Roger Federer.

On the 16th on social media a warning appeared that the temperature of water that has sat in a garden hose in sun can reach temperatures of 140 degrees. The advice is to let water run through the hose before spraying it another person, or filling pools etc. with it to allow the water to be at a comfortable temperature and therefore not burn. See a video about this here.

On the evening of the 18th a car cruise was taking place in Stevenage. Unfortunately, on this evening 2 of the cars taking part crashed and collided with spectators standing by the roadside. The accident left 17 people injured, some seriously. A group called Cruise-Herts, have said on Facebook that they were holding a car meet on the Thursday night to raise money for bereaved parents.

We move on to some justice news on 19th where we see that Lucy McHugh’s murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment. Lucy was 13 at the time of her death and had been sexually abused by her murderer for a year prior to him taking her life. It is believed that he had killed her to keep her from revealing the sexual abuse.

Also, on the 19th, The Iranian Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps captured a British Tanker, The Stena Impero, They also briefly seized a British operated and Liberian flagged tanker Mesdar. The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt warns that there will be serious consequences if Iran does not release the tanker. The Stena Impero was released in September.

We have good news to deliver on 20th, where we hear the happy news of the birth of Amur Tiger cubs born at Longleat. The cubs are the first tiger cubs to be born at the park in 20 years and are the young of Yana and Red. At birth the tiny bundles of fur and joy weighed just a kilogram and were born with their eyes closed. It is believed that the current population of Amur tigers is 540 animals, a higher number than there has been for more than a century. There were once 9 species of tiger, but 3 have become extinct, the Bali, Caspian and the Javan. These new little bundles of joy are sure to keep their species around for years to come. The keepers at Longleat have named them Rusty and Yuki.

We have more sporting success to share that happened at the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool, The England Roses won Bronze in Head Coach, Tracy Neville’s, final game on the 21st; the previous day saw the girls fail to make the final by just 2 points.

Back to politics for the announcement of the leaders of the 2 party leadership campaigns, the first to declare its new leader was the Liberal Democrats who elected Jo Swinson to the role with 47,997 votes to 28,021 for Ed Davey. The following day on the 23rd we saw the Conservatives announce that Boris Johnson would become leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister of the country having beaten Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656. This result pre-empted Theresa May’s last Prime Minister’s Questions on the 24th, where she swiftly left the Commons and Number 10 to go to see the Queen, as constitution dictates, to formerly resign as Prime Minister. Shortly after, Boris Johnson headed to the Palace to ask for Her Majesty’s permission to form a Government. Wasting no time, Boris Johnson makes Sajid Javid his Chancellor of the Exchequer and Gavin Williamson becomes Education Secretary. It was announced on the 30th that Kemi Badenoch would be the new Children’s Minister in Gavin Williamson’s Education Department.


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Nightswimming, remembering that night

September's coming soon

I'm pining for the moon

And what if there were two

Side by side in orbit

Around the fairest sun?

That bright, tight forever drum

Could not describe nightswimming

NightSwimming, REM

On the 1st of August we celebrated our 4th birthday, 4 years of the Fox flying high, and helping to keep people safe in their workplaces; here’s to the next 4 years of the Fox flying high. It was also the day that the Government set aside an extra £2.1bn of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, doubling what had been set aside in 2019 and making the figure £6.3bn in total.

On the 9th of the month, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the UK economy had shrunk by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2019, its first contraction since 2012.

As we arrived at the 13th we, The Training Fox, announce our sponsorship of Swindon Wildcats Ice Hockey Club. We have become sponsors of their number 18, Loris Taylor, as well as having a presence in the rink in the form of an upper rink advertising board. The Swindon Wildcats, finished last season as the champions of the NIHLS1. We are ‘foxcited’ for this collaboration, and warmly welcomed the Wildcat family into our Fox family. Watch out for our updates on our social media platforms, and the hashtag #FoxWildcatFamily.


Also on the13th the body of 15-year-old Nora Quoirin was discovered. Nora had gone missing from a resort in Malaysia. She had been missing since the 4th of the month. Nora was born with the neurological disorder, holoprosencephaly, and her parents had described her as vulnerable. 2 days later it was discovered that Nora had died 2 to 3 days before she was found unclothed down a steep ravine, which police believe had been previously searched. The cause of her death was intestinal rupture and starvation.

On the 22nd New Prime Minister, Boris Johnson met with the French President Emmanuel Macron, and insists that the Brexit impasse can be broken with ‘energy and creativity’. Emmanuel Macron reiterates that the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland backstop plan is indispensable to preserving political stability and the single currency.

The following day, both Boris and Jeremy Corbyn express their concerns over the fires that are engulfing the Amazon rainforest. These types of fires, whilst mainly illegal, are commonplace in the region, particularly as the enforcement can be lax. The idea behind enforced fires is to clear the way for things such as agriculture, livestock and mining. The UK pledged its commitment to protecting the rainforest and that it would be raised with Brazil at the G7 summit.

Prince Andrew had to defend his relationship with disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein on the 24th, when a video emerged of him at the apartment of Epstein. In the defence he says that he ‘did not see or suspect any criminal activity at any time.’

On the 27th for some light relief we tuned into Channel 4 for a programme called Sink or Swim which was in aid of Stand Up 4 Cancer. The idea of the show was for 11 celebrities who have never been taught how to swim, to be taught, or for those with a fear of open water to overcome the fear and then to swim, as a team, The English Channel. The 11 celebrities who started out the process were:

Rachel Adedeji,

James ‘Arg’ Argent,

Alex Brooker,

Linford Christie,

Diane Louise Jordan,

Sair Khan,

Georgia Kousoulou,

Wes Nelson,

Greg Rutherford,

Tessa Sanderson, and

Simon Webbe.

Sadly, on the 27th Bury F.C were expelled from the football league as a takeover bid collapses.

On the 28th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asks Her Majesty the Queen to suspend Parliament from early September until 14th October, following protocol she agrees, thus, proroguing Parliament. Brexit supporters welcomed the move whereas Remain supporters were widespread in their condemnation of this course of action and this triggers protests across the country on the 31st.

Boris Johnson loses the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson on the 29th. On stepping down she cited several personal and political reasons for doing so.

Also, on the 29th saw Virgil Van Dijk beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the PFA Player of the Year award, whilst on the female side, England’s Lucy Bronze beats Amandine Henry and Ada Hegerburg to the PFA Women’s Player of the Year; the first English woman to win the accolade!

Sadly the 29th has some bad news in the tiger world. Soundari became the 2nd tiger to die at Longleat this year following the death of her sister. Soundari died from cancer. Soundari was described as a ‘spectacular individual’ and a ‘magnificent friend’ by the keepers at the park. She was the park’s oldest female.

We end the month of August with the sad news of the death of Formula 2 Racing Driver, Anthoine Hubert who died in an F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps. Anthoine had a glittering potential career ahead of him in the world of motor racing, but sadly was taken too soon at just the age of 22.


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Politics is more dangerous than war,

 for in war you are only killed once.

Sir Winston Churchill

We started September by attending the Wildcats Ice Hockey season launch on the 1st. This gave us an opportunity to meet with our number 18, Loris Taylor, as well as with the other players of the team, as well as to see our new upper rink advertising board.

Before making only his second appearance at the dispatch box on the 3rd, Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Number 10 on the 2nd and stated his opposition to calling a General Election. He also urges MPs, in his words to not vote for ‘another pointless delay to Brexit’.

On the 3rd Prime Minister Boris Johnson loses his working majority as Phillip Lee crosses the floor of the House. In a vote in the House, MPs who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit take control of the business of the House in a vote result of 328 to 301. Having lost the vote, Boris Johnson then withdraws the whip from 21 MPs who voted against the Government for the Bill, key names include:

Kenneth Clarke, Father of the House,

Sir Nicholas Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s Grandson.

As the day rolls into the 4th, another vote goes against Boris Johnson, this one intending to block the passing of a no-deal Brexit which passes and defeats the Prime Minister by 329 votes to 300. Boris Johnson then tables a motion for a snap General Election, he needs a 2/3s majority to win the vote. MPs voting for the General Election equalled 298 and against 56, the Labour party abstained the vote and it did not pass, the 3rd vote Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, had lost in 3 days.

In another blow to Boris Johnson, his own brother, Jo Johnson resigns as an MP and a minister, stating that he is ‘torn between family and the national interest’.

Moving away from UK politics, on the 6th we heard of the death of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s former President at the age of 95. It is probably fair to say that Robert Mugabe will not be missed too much by the people of Zimbabwe.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd stood down and resigned the Conservative Party whip on the 7th saying that she could not ‘Stand by and watch loyal moderate conservatives being expelled’. Yet another blow to the new Prime Minister’s plan to get Brexit over the line.

It was confirmed on the 8th that Australia would retain the Ashes following the first drawn series since 1972.

In an emotional speech on the afternoon of the 9th John Bercow, Speaker of the House, announced that he would resign either at announcement of a General Election or 31st of October whichever came first. The Benn Act which was intended to prevent the UK from leaving with a no deal received royal assent

On the 13th of the month we once again gave ourselves some downtime and went to Longleat for the annual Sky Safari. As usual we enjoyed the day of animals, hot air balloons and nightglow. One of our highlights this year, and why it makes it into our review of the year, was the Fox balloon that we met. Just looking at the sky in that picture, as we sit here today writing this article looking at the cloudy gloomy sky reminds us that the warmer weather is soon on its way again.

On the 17th a 3-day Supreme Court Case took place, to hear the Prorogation of Parliament appeal. The Court had to decide if firstly, it was justiciable and then whether the prorogation was lawful. The hearing ended on the 19th with the verdict given later in the month.

It was the 19th of the month by the time that we were able to watch the last episode on the series of Channel 4’s Stand Up 2 Cancer’s Sink or Swim. In this episode the members of the team who had qualified for the swim, had to try to swim the width of the English Channel. The team comprised of:

Rachel Adedeji,

James ‘Arg’ Argent,

Alex Brooker,

Linford Christie,

Sair Khan,

Wes Nelson,

Greg Rutherford, and

Simon Webbe.

We were gutted for the team when the decision was made that they had to call off the swim due to the weather, but we have to say that each and every one of the team worked so hard to get as far as they did, and they should be proud of themselves.

It was the 20th when Prince Andrew entered the news again when he was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old by the now woman in question who also claims that she was trafficked to him. Prince Andrew has denied having ‘any form of sexual contact or relationship with her’.

Sadly, the 23rd saw the collapse of travel company, Thomas Cook after 178 years of service. The collapse saw the biggest ever peacetime repatriation as 150,000 holidaymakers were left stranded.

On the 24th the Supreme Court judgement was announced by the 11 Supreme Judges, and that ruled unanimously that the prorogation of Parliament was both justiciable and unlawful and therefore it was null and void, allowing the MPs to return to the Houses of Parliament as if they had not been prorogued in the first place.

We end September with sporting good news and that is the Silver that Dina Asher-Smith won in the Athletics World Championship 100m.


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Land of hope and glory, mother of the free

How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?

Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set

God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet

God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet

Land of Hope and Glory

Let’s follow up the end of September and start October in a similar vein, and mark Dina Asher-Smith’s achievements in the Athletics World Championships. On the 2nd Dina Asher-Smith became the first British woman to win Gold in a sprint event. Dina secured this achievement by winning the 200m at the Championships.

Back in the world of politics, Boris Johnson published his Brexit plan, which included replacing the backstop. His plan would create an all-island regulatory zone, meaning that Northern Ireland would stay in the European single market for agriculture and industrial goods. The Government also announced plans to prorogue Parliament again from the 8th to the 14th to allow for a Queen’s Speech.

On the 3rd we head back to the World Athletics Championships and mark a Gold medal for Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the Heptathlon.

On the 8th again the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gets his wish and prorogues Parliament.

On the 11th Jamie Theakston completed a 650-mile bike ride, where he visited 8 cities in 8 days all in the aid of charity. The charity in question was Global’s Make Some Noise.

Having been prorogued since the 8th, MPs returned to Westminster for the State opening of Parliament, with all the pomp and pageantry that goes along with it, including the attendance of Her Majesty to read the Queen’s Speech. In the speech there are 26 bills, including some directly relating to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

It is with a heavy heart that we have to discuss the events of the evening of the 14th on a football pitch in Bulgaria. England was taking on Bulgaria in a qualification game for the UEFA European Championships to be held next year, when some racial abuse was heard being hurled towards the English black players. The reassuring thing of the evening is that UEFA are willing to put into practice the protocol that had been discussed before, sadly though if someone wishes to racially abuse a player then there is very little that can stop them. Currently fines for countries whose fans behave in this manner are not strong enough.

Every 16th is Restart a Heart day. On this day every year, first aid trainers and NHS Ambulance staff give up their time for free to educate people, usually school children, in the life-saving skill of CPR. This year it was announced some weeks later that the total number taught the skill this Restart a Heart Day was 291,645!

On the 17th the UK managed to get an amended deal with the EU for Brexit, The DUP however said that they would not support the deal through its passage through the Houses of Parliament.

On the 18th, and in another first for the UK, Sainsbury’s became the first supermarket to stop selling fireworks in all of their stores.

On the 19th Brexit just got even weirder. It was a special sitting of Parliament on a Saturday, and in a vote on the new deal, MPs pass an amendment that withholds Parliament’s approval until legislation implementing the deal has been passed. This forces the Government to seek an extension to the 31st January. Number 10 confirms that Boris Johnson will write the letter for an extension, but will not sign it! Donald Tusk confirms receipt of the letter, in addition Prime Minister Boris Johnson sends a second letter in which he says that any further delay to Brexit is a mistake.

Another supermarket first occurs on the 20th when 2 supermarkets announce that they will not sell Christmas Crackers containing plastic toys as of 2020. These 2 stores were Waitrose and John Lewis.

The Speaker of the House refuses to allow another debate on the latest Brexit deal on the 20th saying that it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.

A landmark day in Northern Ireland occurred on the 22nd as abortion was decriminalised in the country. Back in Westminster however, and Boris Johnson secured a victory and a defeat. His victory was that his new Withdrawal Bill should pass to the next stage of the Parliamentary process by a vote of 329 to 299, however his timetable for this process to take place got defeated by 322 to 308. The timetable was for the bill to be scrutinised in just 3 days.

On the 23rd, a lorry container was found to have the bodies of 38 adults and teenagers inside in Essex. A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Over at the Rugby World Cup, England beat New Zealand on the 26th in the semi-final by 19 to 7 setting up a World Cup Final between themselves and South Africa, the following week. Sadly, England lost the final.

EU leaders agree on the 28th in principle to a January 31st Brexit deadline. While in Westminster, only 299 MPs voted for a December the 12th General Election, 135 votes short of the total that Boris Johnson needed to trigger the vote, 70 MPs voted against the motion. Immediately after losing the motion, Boris Johnson stated that he would table another motion.

With Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, now publicly saying that he and his party will support a General Election, the Prime Minister tabled another motion on the 29th which was passed by 438 votes to 20 a majority of 418 votes. The date of the General Election was set for December the 12th.

We end the month with another Brexit date in 2019 that came and went. It was also the day that Speaker of the House, John Bercow stepped down, vacating the role of Speaker.


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Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother

You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive

Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'

And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive

Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive

Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees

November started in jubilant mood in the UK as Britain’s Lewis Hamilton was confirmed on the 3rd as a 6-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion with 2 races left to go in the Championship. The accolade puts Lewis 1 championship behind the German legend, Michael Schumacher.

Keeping the happy news coming, the UK’s terror threat warning level was reduced on the 4th from severe to substantial for the first time since 2014. The new Speaker of the House was elected on the same day, and that person was Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

On the 5th it was revealed that Police had been called to Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay back in July following claims of sexual assault at the nursery. The Police have since said that they have identified several children as ‘potential victims of contact offences’. Ofsted had suspended the setting’s licence to operate until Christmas Eve. The sole member of staff who was arrested in July has been bailed and moved out of the area while police enquiries continued.

At 00:01 on the 6th, Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the General Election.

Following the critics’ view of the Sonic The Hedgehog trailer back in April, the film-makers released a second trailer on the 12th. The reviews of this trailer are much more favourable than the previous one, some people are even commenting that this trailer makes the film look even funnier than the first one did. There have a been lot of comments from film-goers who have said respect to the studio who actually listens!

Pudsey had his annual outing on the 15th for this year’s BBC Children in Need. The night of the show raised a total of £47,887,382, with the final total still to be announced.

The evening of the 16th was a pretty special evening for us and our Principal/Trainer, Steve, who was presented on the ice with our official shirt as a sponsor of the Swindon Wildcat’s number 18, Loris Taylor, who handed the shirt over to Steve on the evening along with Willie Wildcat. The shirt is the exact replica of the one that Loris wears on the ice during a game.

Away from the ice on the 16th was what has now become known as THAT Prince Andrew Interview! The interview is led by Emily Maitlis and in it, Prince Andrew denies once again having sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager; he also declares his regret at having met Jeffrey Epstein in 2010. The interview is panned by critics and The Prince is widely criticised for it.

On the 19th The Swindon Wildcats published an interview that we had done with them which focusses on the 10 things you didn’t know about us. You can view this article on their website. Staying with the Swindon Wildcats, who then published the video of us training our number 18, Loris Taylor how to do CPR, you can view this on their or our social media. Alternatively click here.

Also on the 20th, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, announces that he is stepping down from royal duty for the foreseeable future as he has become embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein affair and it has become a major disruption to the Royal Family.

On the 23rd 5 teenagers, including a 13-year-old girl, are arrested following a brawl at the Vue Cinema, Star Complex Birmingham, prior to a screening of Blue Story. The film powerfully shows the futility of gang culture in the current cultural environment. It was reported that the Police had to draw tasers on the group as they were carrying machetes. Amid lots of controversy, Vue Cinemas pulled the film from all of their 91 cinemas, as did Showcase Cinemas (UK), however, Showcase later reversed the decision.

As we near the end of the month we have sadly 2 deaths to discuss. The first is that of Gary Rhodes OBE. Gary was over in Dubai filming for a new television series when he died on a break from filming, he was 59-years-old. Gary will be remembered fondly for his distinctive spiky hair and for his Rhodes Across… series of television cookery shows, as well as for his appearances on the Tate and Lyle’s adverts. The second person for us to discuss who died on this day is Clive James who died at the age of 80. Clive will be remembered for his wry, deadpan humour on shows like Clive James on Television. Racing fans will remember him for his reviews of Formula 1 seasons that he had done in the 80s.

The 28th saw the end of a trial of former South Yorkshire Police Officer David Duckenfield. At the end of the trial he was found not guilty of the death of 95 Liverpool fans in the Hillsborough disaster of the 15th April 1989.

On the 29th, terror returned to our streets once again, and once more at Westminster Bridge. On this occasion 5 people were stabbed, 2 fatally and the terrorist was shot dead by the Police, as he was wearing what looked to be a bomb vest; it was later found to be fake. The terrorist had been released from prison in 2018 having served time for terrorist activities. Members of the public fought back during this attack, using a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk, as well as pinning him down on the street before the Police arrived. The people of London that day were brave in the face of adversity.

The last day of the month saw Cirencester come together to mark the start of advent with the annual switch on of the Christmas Lights, this year the ‘plunger’ was pressed by Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison. This year the fireworks that went off the top of the church were silent fireworks, accompanied by a samba band playing as the fireworks went off and thereafter. There was a worry from one or two that the silent fireworks may be a bit of a let-down, however in reality the way that it was done was really ingenious and a nice twist on the classic. We aren’t totally sure that all silent fireworks will take off but for the novelty of this event they were a success.


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Lay a whisper on my pillow
Leave the winter on the ground
I wake up lonely, this air of silence
In the bedroom and all around

Touch me now
I close my eyes
And dream away

It Must Have Been Love, Roxette

Sadly we start the month marking some deaths. On the 8th we heard of the death of Carrol Spinney. At first his name probably doesn’t mean anything to our readers, but we can tell you that Carrol Spinney played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in Sesame Street. Carroll died aged 85.

On the 9th the volcanic island of Whakaari/White Island erupted explosively. It is reported that there were 47 people on the island at the time, 19 were killed, including 2 who are still classed as missing and presumed dead. Ongoing seismic activity halted recovery work for a week thereafter the incident. Whakaari is situated 30 miles northeast of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty.

It is sad that we have to mark the passing of 2 people on the 10th. The first to mention is Marie Fredriksson, lead singer of Roxette. Marie died at the age of 61 from the recurrence of a brain tumour. She has had hits in the UK such as It Must Have Been Love, Joy Ride, The Big L and Fading Like a Flower. In her music with Roxette, Marie will live on.

The second person to have died on the 10th is former football manager Jim Smith. Jim was affectionately known as the Bald Eagle and is in the League Managers’ Association Hall of Fame having managed over 1000 games. Jim will forever be missed in the footballing community having died at the age of 79.

David Bellamy passed away on the 11th. He died at the age of 86, having had a successful career as a botanist, television presenter, author and environmental campaigner. He will probably be best remembered for his show Bellamy’s Backyard Safari.

On the 12th of December, we again found ourselves at the ballot box, the 3rd time in 5 years to elect a Government. It took until the 13th for the results of the first Winter General Election in nearly 100 years to be revealed in their entirety. The results of the election were:

Conservative Party  365

Labour Party   203

Scottish Nationalist Party 48

Liberal Democrats  11

Democratic Unionist Party 8

Sinn Fein   7

Plaid Cymru   4

Social Democratic Labour Party 2

Alliance Party   1

Brexit Party   0

Following the results, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn announced he will stand down after a period of reflection for the Labour Party, meaning he will remain the leader into the start of the next year, before triggering a leadership campaign.

In news from the Liberal Democrats, newly elected leader, Jo Swinson lost her seat and immediately stood down as leader of the Party therefore starting a leadership campaign immediately.

As is now customary, the 13th of December was Christmas Jumper Day, as always organised in aid of Save the Children. Up and down the country people were donning their Christmas jumpers and donating £2 to the charity. Save the Children exists to help all children reach their full potential.

Sadly, the 13th saw the announcement of the death of ex Emmerdale actress Sheila Mercier, probably more commonly known by her character Annie Sugden. Sheila was 100 years old at the time of her death. She was also rewarded with an episode of This is Your Life, during which she was presented with her red book on the 1000 episode of the soap.

On the 14th we had the evening off and went to support our Swindon Wildcats at the Better Link Ice Rink. Our healthy elf friend, Helfy Elfred came with us and used the opportunity to promote the importance of staying warm by wearing his warm winter coat and boots. The game was the annual Teddy Toss, which has become a big event in the ice hockey community. During the evening 344 teddies were thrown onto the ice after player/coach Aaron Nell had scored the Wildcat’s first goal of the evening. All the teddies donated by the fans were then being donated to Barnado’s to help vulnerable children.

Every year we sit down to watch the BBC’s ode to sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. This year there were 6 athletes up to win the big prize, these were:

1. Ben Stokes,

2. Lewis Hamilton,

3. Dina Asher-Smith

Raheem Stirling,

Alun Wyn Jones and

Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

As you can see the winner was Ben Stokes, with Lewis Hamilton and Dina Asher-Smith in second and third place respectively. It was a joy to see Dina Asher-Smith awarded a prize in the final 3 following her efforts through the year, particularly at the World Championships where she became the first British woman to win Gold in a sprint event. Other awards of the evening were given also, with the England Cricketers collecting the Team of the Year award, John Blackie Coach of the Year and Kipchoge the World Sports Person of the Year. 2 awards of note that were awarded on the night went to Tanni Grey-Thompson who won the Lifetime Achievement Award and Doddie Weir who won the Helen Rollason Award. The Helen Rollason Award recognises outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. Doddie won this prize having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2016. In 2017 he set up his charity, My Name Doddie’5 Foundation, which seeks to aid research into the disease and improve the lives of those with MND. Doddie was handed his prize by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

We were pleased to launch our Christmas article, in which we focussed on Christmas number ones through the years since records began. You can view our Christmas Number 1 article by clicking here, alternatively you can play our Christmas Number 1 playlist on our YouTube Channel. This year’s Christmas Number 1 was announced on the 20th and once again belongs to YouTuber ‘LadBaby’ with his version of I love Rock ‘N’ Roll only entitled I Love Sausage Rolls. This is only the 3rd act to have 2 consecutive festive chart toppers, along with The Beatles and The Spice Girls; will LadBaby exceed these 2 achievements and claim next year’s Number 1?

In another Brexit update, the House of Commons MPs voted in favour of the Withdrawal from the EU Agreement by 358 to 234 votes, paving the way for the UK to exit the EU on the 31st January 2020. The agreement will now enter the committee stage to be fully scrutinised by the MPs.

It was reported on the 21st that another member of the historic England Football World Cup winning side had passed away. This man in question is one of only 2 English men who know what it feels like to score for your country in a World Cup final as only he and Geoff Hurst scored in the 4-2 defeat of 1966. The man we talk of is obviously Martin Peters. Across his career Peters played for West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Sheffield United, before briefly managing Sheffield United. Martin Peters died at the of 76.

Also, on the 21st of December, Liverpool FC followed up what can only be described as an excellent last half of the year by becoming FIFA Club World Cup Champions, by beating CR Flamengo in the final, 1 – 0 after extra time. The Liverpool Reds are the only side to have completed the continental treble, having won the UEFA Champions League on the 1st June, The UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on August 14th and now the FIFA Club World Cup.

Christmas Eve this year saw one of the first adaptations of a children’s book onto television, some would say a fitting tribute to Judith Kerr who as we know died earlier this year, of her children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea. The television programme kept truthful to the original illustrations of the book, with some slight adaptions to the story, which didn’t alter the story too much. The adaptation was produced with input from the author, prior to her death, including with requests to change the lyrics of the song ‘Hey Tiger’ as performed by Robbie Williams. In reviews by TV critics the show was received positively, and we are sure that it went down well with the viewing families up and down the country.

On to Christmas Day we go and see what 2 eagerly anticipated programmes in the schedule were. The first was an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s A Snail and A Whale, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. As is usual with the adaptations made by Magic Light productions, the animation stays true to the original illustrations of Axel, and although a few tweaks have been made to the story by Julia, the essence of the story is there and as always a real Christmas treat to see these excellent books come to life. We will, like everyone else, look forward to the announcement of the next of these books to be adapted for the television following on from the previous ones.

The second programme that was eagerly anticipated for Christmas this year was the Christmas special of Gavin and Stacey. The festive episode was the first one in nearly 10 years and saw how the main characters have developed over that time, and also saw Uncle Bryn cooking the Christmas dinner for both families. This has to be one of the funniest moments of the programme. The special was received in a mix of reviews by fans, some who said it was as good as the original series, others saying that they shouldn’t have made this episode. The other controversy that surrounds this episode is the song choice for Uncle Bryn and Vanessa to sing on Christmas Eve, the song was Fairytale of New York. The controversy comes from them choosing to include the word f****t from the original 80s lyrics, taken from the line, ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t’, which in today’s world is seen as a slur on someone’s sexual orientation and many felt that this should have been changed, or removed.

Onto the 27th of the month where we go and find an event that left no Christmas cheer, when a Bek Air plane crashed in Kazakhstan, which has killed 12 people and left dozens of people injured. The plane was travelling from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, to the capital Nur-Sultan. The plane crashed into a building just after it had taken off. There was however no fire on impact with the building. One survivor has told the BBC that the plane had begun to shake violently, and that on impact part of the plane had crushed like an aluminium can! Investigations into the crash will continue into the new year.

Also, on the 27th the annual New Year’s Honours list was released. In a Government gaff, more than 1,000 addresses of the homes and workplaces of the recipients was published on the Government website on Friday night and were not removed until the following morning! It has sparked fears of terror incidents against this year’s recipients.

So who has been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours list?

Firstly, we will take a look at the youngest and oldest recipients. The youngest this year was a teenage charity fundraiser, named Ibrahim Yousaf who is 13 from Oldham who has received a BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to the community. The eldest recipient this year was veteran Wilf Oldham aged 99 who has become an MBE.

Now let’s have a look at some famous recipients on the list that includes Sir Elton John who has received the highest award available, the Companion of Honour. Other musicians who have been rewarded include Queen star Roger Taylor who was given an OBE and Olivia Newton-John who is now a Dame. We look into television where we see 3 chefs awarded: these are Ainsley Harriot (MBE), Nadiya Hussain (MBE) and Nigel Slater (OBE), as well as Gabby Logan who got the MBE for services to sports’ broadcasting and promoting women’s sports. Speaking of sports, we see England cricketers Ben Stokes (OBE) and Eoin Morgan (CBE), with MBEs going to other England Cricketers, Joss Butler and Joe Root, and an OBE to coach Trevor Bayliss. An OBE has been awarded to Jade Jones, and MBEs to Serena Guthrie, Joanne Harten, Jill Scott and Loren Dykes. There are 2 new Sirs in politics, Iain Duncan-Smith and Robert Neil and a Damehood for Diana Johnson for her charitable and political service.

The New Year’s Honours were drawn up and signed off during the Prime Ministership of Theresa May. Our review of the list is just the tip of the 1,097 awards given out this year, you can see the full list on the Government’s website.

New Year’s Honours in Numbers:

New Year’s Honours 2020 awarded:  1,097,

Percentage given for work in the community: 72%,

Women awarded:    556 (51%),

BAME background awarded:   9.1%,

OBEs, MBEs, BEMs:    941,

Sirs, Dames, CBEs, Companions of Honours: 156.

Source: The Cabinet Office.

And Finally….

So as 2019  draws to a close, we hope that you have enjoyed our review of the year.

We are sure you will agree a lot has happened in 2019, and we look forward to seeing what may happen in 2020.

In the meantime….

We would like to wish

All our customers, suppliers, family and friends,

A VERY Happy New Year!

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Year Reviews


Christmas Number 1's Through the Years




European Resuscitation Guidelines 2015


Staying Well in the Winter Weather

In Remembrance


Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month


Bonfire Night

Plug Socket Covers


The Heart

Triduum of Allhallowtide


Head Injuries


European Restart a Heart Day

Silent Solutions

Shaken Baby Syndrome

Happy 70th Birthday, the NHS


Olympics and Injuries

LGBT Teaching Row


The Origins of First Aid


Covid 19 (Coronavirus)

Royal (or not) Baby

The Summer and the Human Body

Review of Recent Extreme Situations

Working at Height


General Election Manifestos 2017

Safeguarding Children in the UK

Knife Crime in the UK





New Years Resolutions

Emergency Services' Telephone Numbers


The History of the EYFS

The Spine and Safe Moving and Handling


Automated External Defibrillator