Colors: Blue Color

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.

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.”

Roving Chef for charity Vegetarian for Life, Alex Connell, has completed an epic running challenge, journeying ‘virtually' from Lands' End to John O'Groats, a journey of 875 miles.

Starting in Cornwall, Alex ran (and walked) the length of the country, briefly crossing the border into Wales then back to England, before crossing the Scotland border and venturing on to the final destination at the very top of Great Britain.

Alex said: "I wasn't actually in either Lands' End or John O'Groats - this was a virtual run. I certainly ran and walked the 875 miles, but only close to my home in Manchester."

"Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual running events have become popular. The basic idea is that you run or walk whatever the specified distance, time, or even elevation is. Distances are measured by apps on a phone or sports watch."

With running events all over the world cancelled this past year, including the 2020 Manchester Marathon, Alex was undeterred and decided to run his own marathon in his own garden. Seven hundred laps and 5 ½ hours later, Alex crossed the toilet roll finish line in first place.

As well as for the personal challenge, Alex undertook the run to raise awareness of the charity and how it is reaching out to those in isolation or who are feeling lonely due to the pandemic.

He said: "We have a number of great schemes at VfL that can help those who are feeling a little lonely during these strange times. We have a Veggie Pen- and Phone-Pals Scheme, a new care home card-writing campaign, and can offer small grants to assist independent living. We're here for anyone that needs us."

 

Although Vegetarian for Life chefs like Alex are not able to visit people personally at the moment, they can tailor a cookery demonstration or a cook-along specifically for groups online. Like virtual running, virtual demos also come with added benefits, including the fact that you don't have to leave your own home to participate.