Colors: Blue Color

As the statement issued by Buckingham Palace announced the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh tributes continued to poor in from well-wishers around the world, the Royal Family asked people to consider making a donation to a charity instead of leaving flowers in memory of him, with an online book of condolence being launched on the official royal website for those who wish to send messages.

Announcing his death, a statement read: "It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband.

The Royal Family joined with people around the world in mourning his loss." The Queen spoke of her deep sorrow following her husband’s death at Windsor Castle. In his tribute, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that the Prince Philip inspired countless young people.

“The duke had earned the affection of generations here in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, and around the world," he said. The government, however, did urge the public at large not to gather or leave tributes at royal residences amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A Statement from the Leaders of Birmingham’s Faith Communities on the occasion of the death of His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip said: "Our thoughts and condolences are with Her Majesty the Queen and all the Royal Family, and with the family of the Commonwealth and the wider world, which the Duke sought to serve with such distinction.

"We join with communities in this city and across the nation in mourning and in recognition of a long life of service. Our various faith communities will wish, in due course, to pay their respects to a man who, throughout his life championed faith co-operation, but for today we mourn with the sadness of the nation.

A message on the website of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Archewell charity paid tribute to the memory of the Duke of Edinburgh, saying: "Thank you for your service... you will be greatly missed," whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “He "consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service."

As the flag at Buckingham Palace was lowered to half-mast and a notice was posted on the gates to mark the duke's death, in their tribute to the duke, Westminster Abbey tolled its tenor bell once every 60 seconds for 99 times to honour each year of his life. People placed floral tributes outside the central London landmark, while hundreds visited Windsor Castle to pay their respects.

A strong-willed and independent man who found himself at the centre of British society, the longest-serving royal consort in British history – Greek-born of Danish blood (his parents were Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg - Queen Victoria's great-granddaughter) Prince Philip, who was born Philippos Andreou (Philip Andrew) of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderberg-Glücksburg, Prince of Greece and Denmark, and whose family had a seafaring tradition saw him became a cadet at the Britannia Royal Naval College, in Dartmouth. It was whilst there that he escort the two young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, while King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the college.

Beginning his education in France, at the age of seven, he lived with his Mountbatten relatives in England, where he attended a prep school in Surrey. By this time, though, his mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was placed in an asylum. The young prince would have little contact with her.

In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, which was run by educational pioneer Kurt Hahn. But within months, Hahn, who was Jewish, was forced to flee Nazi persecution.

Passing out at the top of his class before seeing military action in the Indian Ocean, on the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet, he was mentioned for his part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941. He was one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, serving on board the destroyer HMS Wallace.

As the officer in charge of the ship's searchlights, he played a crucial role in this decisive night action.

"I found another ship and it lit up the middle part of it,” he said, “whereupon it practically disappeared instantly under a salvo of 15in shells at point-blank range,"

Renouncing his Greek title, to become a British citizen, Philip – who was born on the island of Corfu - took his mother's anglicised name of Mountbatten before his engagement to the young Elizabeth was announced.

The day before their marriage ceremony, King George VI bestowed the title of His Royal Highness on him and on the morning of their wedding - in Westminster Abbey in 1947 - he was created Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth and Baron Greenwich. “In the first years of the Queen's reign,” he once said, “the level of adulation - you wouldn't believe it. You really wouldn't.

Their son, Prince Charles, was born at Buckingham Palace in 1948, and a daughter, Princess Anne, arrived in 1950, before later being joined by Prince Andrew (1960) and Prince Edward (1964).

Widely praised for his commitment to preserving the world's forests and campaigning against overfishing in the oceans, Prince Philip also took a keen interest in industry, visiting factories and becoming patron of the Industrial Society, now known as the Work Foundation.

In 1956 he founded ‘The Duke of Edinburgh's Award’ - a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom - designed to attract boys who had not been interested in joining one of the main British youth movements, such as the Scout Association. It was not necessary to 'join' any organisation, or wear a uniform to participate.

In November 1957 it was announced that girls would be invited to participate. On 19 June 1958 the Award was extended to girls, with the first girls allowed to join in 1958. The programme for girls was not the same as that for boys, and was for ages 14 to 20.

The first girls received their Gold Awards on 3 November 1959 at Buckingham Palace. From January 1965, the Gold Award for boys and girls was made more similar. The first Gold Awards were achieved in 1958, and the charity was established in 1959. A single programme for young people aged 14 to 21 was launched in 1969, and extended to those up to 25 years of age in 1980.

In 2013, the Duke presented Awards at St James's Palace which included his 500th Gold Award Presentation. His greatest achievement, it was said, was undoubtedly the constancy and strength of his support for the Queen in the long years of her reign. He believed his job was, as he told his biographer, "to ensure the Queen can reign."

All UK government buildings were told to fly official flags at half-mast in tribute to the Duke until 08:00 BST on the day after the duke's funeral.

From midday, a 41-gun salute will take place for Prince Philip in cities including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as in Gibraltar and at sea from Royal Navy warships, the Ministry of Defence said. They will be broadcast online and on television for the public to watch from home.

He was 99.

A school crossing patrol officer is retiring after two decades of helping school children safely across the road.

Val Davies began her career as a lollipop lady on the 30 March 2001, after previously working as a lunchtime supervisor at Elston Hall Primary School and Northwood Park Primary School. The 66-year-old is hanging up her lollipop stick this Easter so she can spend some time with her grandchildren.

She said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a school crossing patrol officer, helping the parents and children of St Anthony’s Catholic Primary Academy safely cross the road.

“I’ve been with the council for 26 years and just felt now was the right time to retire – it’s time to put my feet up, try some new hobbies and spend some time with my family and grandchildren. It’s been great to see the children as they grow up – I now see children who I helped cross the road years ago, walking their children to school.

“I will miss all of my colleagues and in particular my partner Donna who I have worked alongside for the past five years. I’ll also miss seeing and chatting to the parents and children.

“However, the one thing I won’t miss is standing outside when we have bad weather. When we next have rain or snow, it will be a good feeling being able to stay warm and cosy inside!”

Whilst Val will be leaving the school crossing life behind, she will be continuing with her lunchtime supervision duties at St Anthony’s – so she hasn’t fully retired just yet. She added: “I had to make a decision between the two jobs but always knew I’d keep one. I’d be bored if I retired from both jobs.”

Karen Till, Senior School Crossing Patrol Officer, said: “Val is a valued member of our team and will be missed by all, including the parents of the children she helps safely cross the Stafford Road.

“During our team meetings, she always shares her experiences and stories with new and old members of the school crossing patrol service. Val has worked throughout the pandemic, serving families of key workers and vulnerable children; we will all miss her and hope she enjoys her retirement.”

Headteacher at St Anthony's Catholic Primary Academy, Tasmin Davis, said: “Val Davies has been dedicated to keeping the children and families of St Anthony's Catholic Primary for 26 years. She has been reliable, caring and friendly and has also put herself into danger to protect children and families on many occasions.

“Val is determined to do all that she can to challenge situations that are not safe for our children. She will certainly be very missed, and we would like to thank her for all that she has done.”

TRIBUTE FROM THE LORD-LIEUTENANT FOR THE WEST MIDLANDS ON BEHALF OF THE WEST MIDLANDS FOLLOWING DEATH OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH

 

The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, John Crabtree, OBE, has sent a letter of sympathy to The Queen following the announcement of the death of her consort which says:

“On behalf of the County of West Midlands we send our deepest sympathy to Her Majesty The Queen. There is great sadness across the West Midlands at the death of His Royal Highness.  Our thoughts are with Her Majesty and the Royal family at this time.

“As an expression of our sadness, flags are flying at half-mast throughout the County.”

Mr Crabtree paid tribute to The Duke of Edinburgh and his lifetime of dedication to public service.

“His Royal Highness was a frequent visitor to the West Midlands and the people of this County welcomed him with great warmth. He had a wide variety of interests and supported many sporting events held here in the West Midlands, as well as business and arts projects.

“His contribution to the well-being and motivation of young people of this county through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has been terrific.   He has been a dynamic and highly motivating influence throughout his long years of service to this country, and as consort to The Queen.  I am sure I speak for all of the citizens of the West Midlands when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty at this very sad time.”

Further information is being made available on the website of the West Midlands’ Lieutenancy including links to each of the seven Council websites in the West Midlands. Council websites are also being updated to show a message from the Lord Mayor / Mayor and information about the where to locate a Book of Condolence: www.wmlieutenancy.org

As nation celebrates Pakistan Day and good wishes continue from heads of various states amid spectacular events, various prominent characters were found, including from political fraternity and armed forces while exploring post-independence history on this day. But when history is searched with fine-teeth combs, some charismatic persons were found, who did not even ‘belong,’ but they served the Pakistanis till their last breathe out of their love for the country came into existence on August 14, 1947, around seven years after Lahore Resolution was passed on March 23, 1940.

Amid such persons, Dr Ruth Katharina Martha Pfau will be on top of the list as she devoted more than 55 years of her life to fighting leprosy, an infectious disease that causes severe, disfiguring skin sores and nerve damage in the arms and other parts, in Pakistan. A symbol of selflessness Dr. Ruth Pfau had been hailed as Pakistan’s ‘Mother Teresa’. Dr. Pfau first went to Pakistan when she was 29 years old in 1960.

As a part of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary, her devotion to doing something in and for Pakistan took her to become Pakistan’s leprosy fighter. She witnessed leprosy in Pakistan for the first time in 1960 and returned from Germany to set up clinics across the country in 1961.

Dr Pfau, who was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1929, contributed to the establishment of 157 leprosy clinics across Pakistan that treated over 56,780 patients. Due to her continued efforts, in 1996 the World Health Organisation declared Pakistan one of the first countries in Asia to have controlled leprosy.

She died on August 10, 2017 at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi after being admitted there due to respiratory problems on 4 August 2017. The state funeral for her was held at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, in front of which the flags of Pakistan and Vatican City were flown at half-mast. Her coffin was wrapped in the Pakistani flag while a 19-gun salute was offered by contingents of all three wings of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

In recognition of her services, Fazaia Ruth Pfau Medical College and Dr. Ruth Pfau Hospital are named after her in Karachi. Among other awards and honours, Pfau received Hilal-i-Pakistan on March 23, 1989.

On January 29 2021, Cauda Equina Champions Charity launched their first ever fundraising campaign called ‘1 Million Steps for CES’, but just over eight weeks later and the team have walked over 23 million steps and raised a staggering £5,181.

  

The UK’s official Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) charity asked people to step into the New Year and help raise awareness of the condition by getting out there, walking for a better mental health and supporting those people that they may know, or loved ones that have permanent disabilities resulting from the syndrome. With the news of Storm Keating’s Cauda Equina Syndrome diagnosis post birth breaking the news over the last few days, the charity want to continue to raise awareness with just over 40 days to go with their ‘1 Million Steps’ fundraising campaign.  

Claire Thornber, Founder of the charity commented: “It has been extremely successful and we want to continue to raise vital funds to support members of our charity, and health practitioners with training to prevent late diagnosis of the syndrome.

  

“Through our work on the Helpline it has become apparent services accessible to patients with CES are being withdrawn, due to the impact of COVID therefore, it is more important than ever to offer any support we can in these difficult times and reach as many unsupported patients as possible.” 

The launch of the campaign received the continuing support and contribution of Sean Ash, a London emergency call handler, who recently has had emergency surgery and raised significant funds for London Ambulance Service, plus the voice of their charity ambassador Duncan James who was diagnosed with Cauda Equina Syndrome several years ago.

  

‘1 Million Steps’ allows everyone to get involved and be part of the campaign, even those chronically affected by the condition. Every single step counts towards the collective goal of raising vital awareness of the syndrome. To get involved and to start fundraising join the Just Giving campaign at: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/1millionstepsforces.

Actress and long-time campaigner for the UK’s Nepalese community, Joanna Lumley OBE, FRGS, has been helping a Nepalese restaurateur deliver his 100,000th free meal since the pandemic began.

Restaurant owner, Sujan Katuwal, has been donating dinners and meals to NHS workers, homeless shelters and community centres after being forced to shut last the very start of the coronavirus lockdown last March. In his drive to help others he was joined by the actress as he continued to take meals to the Royal Artillery barracks in Greenwich, in London.

“To help people who are terribly busy and won’t have time to prepare food is such a generous and open-hearted thing to do,” advocate and human rights activist Joanna said recently. “They’ve looked after care workers, the homeless community – and to crack through the 100,000-meal barrier is simply sensational. It should inspire us all and it’s so heart-warming to hear of something so special.”

The Panas Gurkha restaurant, in Lewisham, has spent tens of thousands of pounds on the Panas Helping Hands project and this year set up a crowdfunding page to keep the campaign going.

Sujan said: “Although it’s been hard for restaurants too it’s always so important to remember those who are less fortunate than you and I know Joanna shares this sense of community spirit too. To have her with us handing out food to the people who really need it right now is really special. Her help has been invaluable.”

In 2008, Lumley became the public face of a campaign to provide all Nepalese origin Gurkha veterans who served in the British Army before 1997 the right to settle in Britain. Those serving after 1997 had already been granted permission, but the UK Government has not extended the offer to all of the Gurkhas, who are natives of Nepal. On 20 November 2008, Lumley led a large all-party group including Gurkhas starting from Parliament Square to 10 Downing Street with a petition signed by 250,000 people. She supports the Gurkha Justice Campaign.

Inspired by the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, Sujan has been happily helping feed their local NHS workers in South London since early 2020 from his restaurant by delivering thousands of meals to NHS staff working at Lewisham Hospital and local hospices.