Colors: Blue Color

It’s no secret that the nation’s selfie obsession has become all-consuming, and a new consumer poll commissioned by The Open University (OU) unveils that over two thirds (67%) of Brummies indulge in taking selfies every week. On the other hand, almost half (45%) of them haven’t looked at their inner selves and thought about their life goals in over six months, which is why the OU is encouraging the people of Birmingham to self-reflect with the launch of a huge, mirrored, infinity Reflection Cube at the Bullring this Saturday 17th June.

The findings indicate that people may be consumed by surface level beauty and are neglecting to focus on their inner selves and personal ambitions. Nearly a fifth (19%) of people surveyed in Birmingham, confess to never setting aside any time to self-reflect, yet over two thirds (76%) agreed some time out to consider their lives would be beneficial.

One of the key perceived barriers preventing Birmingham residents from taking time out for themselves is guilt, with over half (54%) feeling riddled with remorse whenever they do. This is followed closely by work (53%) and house chores (45%).

In response to the findings, the OU is giving members of the public the chance to enjoy some much needed self-reflection time in the cube. The 3x3 metre squaredCube is mirrored inside and out and will be open at the Birmingham Bullring for the day. It will also be visiting a number of other locations this summer*, following its launch in London last month.

The experience inside the cube includes a 360° infinity mirror, a striking light installation and zen-like soundscape**, as well as questions to help people begin to self-reflect. The OU’s expert student services team will be on-hand to talk to visitors who may conclude that studying could help them achieve their ambitions or enable them to follow their dreams.

Of those surveyed in the OU poll, nearly three fifths of people from Birmingham (51%) professed that they were unsure of how to self-reflect and over half (55%) agreed that some tips on how to do so effectively would be useful.

Martha Lane Fox, Chancellor of the OU and founder of Doteveryone, comments: “Taking time out to reflect on what you’ve achieved so far and where you’d like to get to is vital for progression, both in your personal and work life. It can be tough at first, particularly when life is so hectic, but if you don’t take time to look at the bigger picture you could end up getting stuck in a routine that may not be working for you.

"Self-reflection is all about questioning what you do and why you do it, determining your passions and ambitions and creating a plan for the future. Don't be afraid to think big. Once you've defined your goals, it's key to think practically and logically about how you are going to get there. You will find that it becomes easier with practice and the end result is likely to be a happier and more competent you.”

Clare Riding, Heads of Careers and Employability Services at The Open University, concludes: “We’re already half way through 2017. June provides the perfect time to review what you’ve achieved so far in terms of your life goals and career progression and really think about whether you are going in the right direction.

“Ask yourself questions to help you work out whether what you are doing and how you are progressing in your career is really what you want. Is it truly fulfilling? Are you making the most of your own skills and the opportunities that are out there? Are you pursuing your passions?”

The Co-op Foundation is inviting youth charities in disadvantaged areas of England to apply for the first round of its #iwill fund.  

Last month, the Foundation announced a new £2 million partnership to help young people take action to tackle loneliness – a key issue the Co-op has been campaigning on for the past two years.  The first £400,000 of this funding will be awarded in 2017, through nine regional grants and one larger national project.

The #iwill fund is made possible thanks to a £40 million joint funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund, and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. £1 million from the #iwill fund will be matched pound-for-pound by the Co-op Foundation, who will use the combined pot to grow their national network of partners tackling youth loneliness.

Funds will be targeted at disadvantaged areas where there are currently fewer opportunities for youth social action – activities which make a positive difference to communities, while developing young people’s skills.

Jim Cooke, Co-op Foundation Manager, explains: “The challenges of growing up today, from the impact of social media to the ‘gig’ economy, mean that loneliness is a significant issue for young people.

“By creating more opportunities to take part in meaningful social action, we hope to strengthen young people’s sense of belonging and help develop a generation of confident, connected young citizens.”

Organisations awarded grants through the new fund will join an existing network of Co-op Foundation partners, who are addressing different aspects of youth loneliness and working together to share learnings about the issue.

One of these partners is Youth Focus: North East, who have worked with a group of young people to develop a grassroots peer-to-peer approach to tackling loneliness, called ‘Fast Friends’. Using photography as a way of exploring experiences of loneliness, the Fast Friends group are encouraging other young people to open up about this issue and take positive actions to support each other.

Fast Friends member Adam Cowley (21) said: "I think the loneliness project is important because a lot of young people suffer from isolation and we can all help to do something about it."

The #iwill fund supports the aims of the UK-wide #iwill campaign, co-ordinated by the charity Step Up To Serve, to increase the number of young people taking part in social action.

Charlotte Hill, CEO of Step Up To Serve, said: “Social action builds vital skills whilst also enabling young people to contribute to their communities.  Young people should ALL have access to these opportunities to make a difference, regardless of their background.

“This exciting new partnership is all about enabling young people to understand the challenges of loneliness and consider how they can help others to cope with them. I look forward to hearing about the great new youth-led projects this funding will support.”

The deadline for expressions of interest in applying to the fund is 7 July. To find out more, including full details of eligible areas and how to apply, visit coop.co.uk/foundation

Since the start of the year, Bertrams Guldsmeden Hotel in Copenhagen has been implementing changes to their water management strategies to reduce overall water consumption.

Nikolas Hall, Host and Hotelier said, “As part of our constant efforts to improve, and contribute to a sustainable operation, we have chosen to install the ecoBETA water saving flush system in all our toilets. This system replaces the existing dual flush set-ups previously in place which while conserving water, were not as effective as the ecoBETA solution.”

The ecoBETA single button dual flush inserts can be fitted in most toilet makes and models to reduce water usage. This system uses one lever or button in place of conventional dual flush valves with two buttons and saves water by minimizing the risk of user error. Too often people will press a large flush button when only the half flush is required resulting in overuse, breakages and possible water leakages leading to increased maintenance costs.

The ecoBeta dual flush system is easy to use. For a half flush, guests simply press and release the lever or button. For a large flush, the lever is held down for 3-4 seconds. The large flush can also be interrupted, saving even more water.

“The ecoBETA dual flush solution constitutes a feasible option that effectively manages the balance between water supply and demand in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This water efficient measure can be combined with other water saving products to raise awareness regarding water conservation,” added Mr. Hall.

In addition, all faucets in sinks and showers at the hotel are being changed from dual handles to single handle faucets manufactured by Hans Grohe. These faucets are EcoSmart certified – using 60% less water than traditional faucets.

“We look forward to seeing notable results in 2017,” concluded Mr. Hall.

A rare and highly valuable 19th century work of Russian literature dating back to before the reign of the last Tsar will be on sale this week, when a Birmingham City University collection goes to auction.

The 28 lots of some 200 books, mostly published in the 19th and early 20th century, includes a copy of the illustrated ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’, edited by a Russian Count and issued in four volumes in 1892.

They are expected to raise over £50,000 when made available by Dominic Winter Auctioneers in South Cerney, Gloucestershire on Wednesday 14 June. Proceeds from the sale will be reinvested in to new learning resources for students at the University.

The collection was developed from the mid Victorian period to support art and design education provided by Birmingham City University in its various incorporations, notably Birmingham College of Art. The books are now being sold because they no longer have relevance to current learning, teaching or research at the University.

Chris Albury, Auctioneer and Senior Valuer for Dominic Winter Auctioneers said:

“We’re delighted to be able to handle this prestigious sale. It’s a very interesting and varied collection which includes a number of rarities – the undoubted highlight being the sumptuously illustrated ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’, discovered in the collection, which we estimate will fetch £30,000 or more.

“This monumental, rare and influential work on Russian style contains over 500 large and vibrant chromolithographed plates of Russian artefacts including icons, crowns, costume, weapons and jewellery.”

The work was edited by Count Sergei Stroganov and the plates were made from drawings prepared by Fedor Solntsev, after he was sent to Moscow in 1830 to see the collections there and make the illustrations. Solntsev later went on to design the ‘Kremlin Service’ for the Imperial Porcelain Factory.

Steve Rose, Deputy Director, Library and Learning Resources at Birmingham City University, said:

“The ‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’ is a stunning collection of books. I will be sad to see the books leave the University, but it means we can place a greater emphasis on our extensive archives, photography and rare books that have direct relevance to the University’s research activity, as well as reinvest the funds from the sale into enhancing our student experience.

The set of six books was published with the Russian title ‘Drevnosti Rossiiskago Gosudarstva’ (‘Antiquities of the Russian Empire’) in Moscow between 1849 and 1853, with a smaller seventh volume of text appearing in Russian and French.

Chris Albury added:

“What is remarkable and seemingly unique about the Birmingham City University copy is that it appears to have been issued in four volumes in 1892, using the 508 plates from the 1849-53 edition and incorporating an English title-page and English descriptions of the artefacts for the first time.

“Fortunately, the work has escaped unscathed from the potential damage of over 100 years of library usage and is in good condition. Bound in Victorian half-leather bindings this treasure-house of Russian art and design will be highly desirable on the open market.

“Only a modest 600 sets were published and even odd volumes and loose collections of plates from the work create considerable interest so we expect huge transatlantic international interest for this complete and unique ‘English language’ set.”

“Birmingham City University is a name that only dates back to 2007 and the original ownership of most of the varied books on art and design being sold here were no doubt acquired by one of the University’s original colleges, the Birmingham College of Art, which took its name in 1884.

“Birmingham has a world-famous and rich tradition in art and design, and it is wonderful to see so many beautifully illustrated books and portfolios of designs – from Dürer to Arts and Crafts – in one sale. It’s a testament to the richness of design worldwide and the incredible development of colour printing and book production that many of the books in this archive can still offer something tangible and rewarding that cannot be easily gleaned from the Internet.”

At the end of July, ‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will gather together the greatest Phantoms from the last 92 years in Mayfair, London. The Exhibition will also welcome the next generation of this most celebrated luxury item, the new eighth generation Phantom. In the lead up to the opening of the Exhibition, Rolls-Royce is announcing which Great Phantoms will journey to London from around the world, telling the stories of these motor cars, their fabled owners and the historical events they witnessed. It is with great pleasure that the marque announces today that the Rolls-Royce Phantom III of British Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein will join the Exhibition.

Monty’s Triple

Although Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein was nicknamed the Spartan General due to his ascetic lifestyle, there was one area in which he demanded the very best – his personal transport. And his preference was for Rolls-Royce.

During World War Two, the Field Marshal had the use of three Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs.

The first of the Phantoms, a 1936 model coachbuilt by Freestone & Webb, was owned by the head of English Talbot Motor Company, Frederick Wilcock, before being requisitioned by the Ministry of War Transport Section. Montgomery used it as his personal transport in the run up to D-Day, and ferried Winston Churchill, General Eisenhower and King George VI to D-Day planning sessions at his base in Southwick House, Hampshire.

A keen believer in the power of the image, Montgomery used his Rolls-Royce Phantom to communicate permanence, solidity and reliability – a signal to his men that he was there to stay.

But it is the ‘Butler’ Phantom III, which will be present at the Exhibition in London, which proved to be Montgomery’s favourite. This particular Phantom was commissioned for Alan Samuel Butler, Chairman of the De Havilland Aircraft Company, with bodywork by HJ Mulliner of Chiswick. Its most striking feature was a front-sloping windscreen that made the car 15 per cent more aerodynamically efficient than the standard configuration. The motor car’s slippery nature was also helped by the enclosed spare tyre and swept tail.

The ‘Butler’ Phantom III was Montgomery’s main official mode of transport for many years visiting such eminent addresses as 10 Downing Street, the War Office on Whitehall, the British Prime Minister’s country residence Chequers, and military operations centres such as Northwood in Hertfordshire and the NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers-Europe in Rocquencourt, near Versailles, France.

The Field Marshal kept the 'Butler' Phantom until 1962, by which time it had also carried the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as well as taking Monty around the UK to historic meetings, inspections and celebrations.

The ‘Butler’ Phantom III has recently undergone extensive refurbishment at Rolls-Royce specialist P&A Wood in Essex, England.

‘The Great Eight Phantoms’ Exhibition will be the first and only opportunity for members of the public to see this amazing Rolls-Royce before it attends the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the United States in August, after which it will return to its current owner’s private collection.

‘The Great Eight Phantoms’, a Rolls-Royce Exhibition, will take place in Mayfair, London, at the end of July this year.

You may have your phones at the ready for National Selfie Day on 21st June, but gap year travel operators Oyster Worldwide claim it is time for us to #DitchTheSelfie.

The responsible travel specialists say that the urge to take travel selfies is taking over from the true enjoyment and appreciation of the moment.

Harriet Wray, Travel Adviser for Oyster Worldwide, says:

“We are seeing a trend for people wanting to take as many selfies in as many places as possible. People are rushing from one spot to another trying to pack in as many selfies as they can, rather than taking the time to stop and look around.

Real travel moments are experienced in those moments when we pause to take in a view, listen to the sound of the waves or have a conversation with an interesting local.

We think it's time to ditch the travel selfie and get back to enjoying real travel experiences off-camera, which is why we've launched our campaign to ditch the selfie.”

The travel company have conducted a global survey of over 1000 respondents to gather more information on travel selfie habits.

The survey found that 51% of respondents take 1-10 selfies during a 1-week holiday, with 45% sharing up to 5 of their selfies on social media.

Almost half of respondents claim that they share their travel selfies because their family and friends want to see them, while 10% admit they want to show off to their social media friends.

34% of those surveyed feel it is at least somewhat important for people to engage with their travel selfies on social media, with 35% saying they feel happy when someone likes their holiday selfie and 7% admitting it makes them feel validated.

The younger respondents placed prominence on social media interaction, with 53% of respondents aged 18-25 saying it was important or somewhat important that people liked their selfies on social media.

On top of this, 21% of all respondents say they feel disappointed or embarrassed if their travel selfie doesn't get any likes, while the number was again higher among the 18-25-year-old group, with 39% of these respondents saying they would feel disappointed or embarrassed.

With such emotions attached to travel selfies, it's not surprising to see that a quarter of respondents feel pressure to obtain a good selfie while on holiday, and 15% said they would be disappointed or upset if they didn't manage to obtain a good selfie while on holiday or travelling.

Birmingham Airport has announced that Paul Kehoe has decided to step down as Chief Executive effective from 12 July 2017.

Paul has led a substantial transformation at Birmingham Airport since he joined the business in October 2008, with passenger numbers growing from 9.5m to 12m in the year to March 2017.

More recently, Paul has been increasingly involved in successfully promoting the West Midlands Region as Chairman of Marketing Birmingham, President of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and in a new capacity as Chairman of the West Midlands Growth Company.  With the recently formed Combined Authority and the appointment of a West Midlands Mayor, by stepping down from the Airport, Paul will be able to focus on his regional commitments.

Since his appointment, Paul’s key achievements include:

·           Appointing and leading a strong and experienced management team to continue to develop the Airport.

·           Expansion of the route network and the number of airlines operating at Birmingham including daily services to Delhi with Air India, A380 services to Dubai with Emirates, and the introduction of 18 new airlines including Qatar Airways, Jet2 and the return of British Airways.

·           Key developments which have significantly improved the Airport include a new International Pier, extension of the runway to facilitate new long haul services, creation of a single Terminal and centralised security area, construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower and the establishment of a major engineering facility within the Monarch Airlines Engineering Hangar, the in-sourcing of Air Traffic Control and the Airport Fire Service, a complete overhaul and introduction of new retail brands including Marks & Spencer, Next, Superdry, All Bar One, Hugo Boss and operating the most successful Airport Wetherspoons in the country.

·    In addition, under Paul’s leadership the Airport has been awarded

o   World’s Most Punctual Airport in 2016

o   Star Airport of the Year Award 2014, 2015 and 2016

o   2017 Routes Europe Award for Marketing for 4-20m passengers Airport

John Hudson, Chairman of Birmingham Airport, said “On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our grateful thanks to Paul for the tremendous contribution he has made to Birmingham Airport during the last nine years.  Under his leadership, the Airport has built relationships with new carriers, grown passenger numbers to more than 12m, and delivered significant economic value to the region.  His connections with the local community set Paul apart as a true industry leader.  He leaves with our strong support and the highest admiration for his commitment to Birmingham Airport and the West Midlands.”

Paul Kehoe said: “It has been a privilege to serve the people of the West Midlands by leading their Airport at this exceptional time.  I planned originally to stay only for five years, but the challenge became so exciting that I stayed for another four.  In every role there is a natural business cycle, and after delivering significant airline and passenger growth, completing all the major development projects which resulted in a doubling of the profit, generating significant dividends for shareholders and the region, I feel it is time for the next generation to take the business forward.”

Celebrities, advertisers and the public must stop normalising flat-faced dogs’ health problems for the sake of animal welfare, said British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Gudrun Ravetz on BBC Radio 4’s Today.

Talking on the programme about the health and welfare issues faced by flat-faced or brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, French bulldogs and British bulldogs, the BVA President made it clear that what is seen as “normal” and cute for these dogs, such as snorting and snuffling, is in reality a result of debilitating respiratory problems due to the squashed faces that have made them the dogs du jour. The problems are so severe that many of these dogs suffer breathing difficulties even when doing day-to-day activities like walking or eating.

Today also outlined a recent Kennel Club report showed that all flat-faced breeds have experienced a huge boom in popularity recently, with the French bulldog soon set to be the most popular breed in the UK. They also highlighted that media, advertising and celebrity owners have helped drive the appeal of, and increase the demand for these breeds.

Following the interview Gudrun said:

“We shouldn’t be buying and breeding dogs on the way we want them to look - it should always be about prioritising welfare above appearance. These are breeds that can suffer just by walking around or eating, which is why we’re calling on the media and advertisers to stop using them in their adverts. It is also difficult to turn on the TV, check Instagram or see a celebrity photo without also seeing a brachycephalic breed so it’s not surprising that demand for these dogs is rising.

“And we would also encourage anyone considering getting a brachycephalic breed to speak to their local vet and think about choosing a healthier breed or crossbreed instead.”

Good Neighbour is part of Provident’s company value of lending a helping hand to those who need it. This year, the programme has awarded funding to projects including assistance dogs charities, vocational training projects, youth clubs and autism communication groups.

Projects nominate themselves by visiting https://www.providentgoodneighbour.co.uk/submissions. A panel of judges will then select three finalists which are then subject to a public vote. The winner will receive £2000. There is also funding of £750 and £500 for the first and second runners up respectively.

Provident’s Home Credit Director, Andy Parkinson, said of the campaign:

“Our Good Neighbour Programme is all about recognising projects and organisations, no matter how small, which bring about positive changes in their communities. Provident agents have always worked closely within the communities in which we operate, and we see first-hand the importance of community spirit.”

Nominations can be submitted by anyone, whether they are part of the charity or an outside supporter.

With Father’s Day fast approaching why not treat your dad to a gift that he wasn’t expecting?

PLAYMOBIL have the perfect gift that will not only bring delight to petrol-heads, but also transport dads back to their youth.

The new Porsche 911 Targa 4S is the sporty must have car featuring working headlights, rear lights plus a light-up dashboard. The car is customisable, just take it to the showroom and decide what you’d like to have done. And if Father’s Day on June 18 is a warm one this year, then you can go for a cruise with the roof off as the car is perfect for some open air driving.

For all those dads who enjoy re-living their youth, then why not treat them to a gift that will ignite their inner child – the new PLAYMOBIL Ecto-1 from the recently released Ghostbusters range. With space for up to four Ghostbusters figures, their proton packs, ghost traps and other ghost equipment there are hours of entertainment to be had. You can guarantee there will be no trouble in your neighbourhood this Father’s Day.

These fantastic gifts also work for those dads with little ones who want a piece of the present action. This is because the PLAYMOBIL sets provide perfect bonding time between dads and their little angels.

Jamie Dickinson, Marketing Manager from PLAYMOBIL, said: “The joy of PLAYMOBIL sets is the fact they can be enjoyed by people both young and old. Many dads up and down the country will delight in the nostalgia presented with these two fantastic products – and of course these are toys that all car lovers will enjoy.”

The Porsche 911 Targa 4S and Ecto-1, along with all other PLAYMOBIL sets can be purchased both in store and online. For more information visit playmobil.co.uk.

Back by popular demand, Romans’ annual Local Picture Competition – entries open on 12th June.

To enter, send in a photograph showcasing your hometown in the best possible light, demonstrating why it’s a great place to live. Those who accomplish this in a single photo can win up to £500 in vouchers as well as a £1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

“We want to know what makes your hometown unique! Whether it’s a historic landmark, a breath taking view or a busy high street, we want to see why you love to live there” explains Romans Sales Director Antony Gibson.

In addition to winning shopping vouchers, the lucky winners and runners up can select a charity of their choice for a donation of up to £1,000 to be made by Romans. We have four prizes up for grabs, a winner selected by the public and a winner and two runners up chosen by our panel of independent judges.

The judges are looking for a photograph that…

  • Captures your home town
  • Demonstrates why it’s such a great place to live
  • Could be used on a postcard
Last years’ winners were Alice McCarthy and Amanda Smith whose stunning photos of their local woodland made us see just how peaceful and tranquil their home towns are.

The competition is open to anyone aged 18 or over. Voting commences immediately once the competition begins, and anyone can vote - even those who don’t enter the competition.

The rules are simple; the photographs must be taken within an area Romans estate and letting agencies operate, this includes; Reading, Wokingham, Basingstoke, Farnborough, Henley-on-Thames, Maidenhead, Winchester, Sunningdale and Farnham and everywhere in between. If you’re not sure where your nearest Romans branch is, simply visit romans.co.uk.

It is the show that has been in the making for years – 67 million years to be exact – as Dinosaurs in the Wild, a new immersive live action dinosaur experience of unparalleled reality, comes roaring into the NEC.

Combining theatre, theme park fun and the very latest scientific research, Dinosaurs in the Wild will not only be the first event of its kind to be hosted in the UK, but heralds the dawn of a new era for the NEC as it will be the first long-stay show the venue has hosted.

Created by award-winning producers with a track record on some of the most successful dinosaur productions of all time, the multi-million-pound attraction will take up residence in the UK’s No.1 venue for over nine weeks this summer.

“We were keen to create something new that raised the bar for live action experiences. We are confident Dinosaurs in the Wild will do just that and we are equally confident that the NEC will be a fantastic launch venue,” explains Producer Jill Bryant, who also headed up the development and launch of the arena show Walking with Dinosaurs, which has attracted 8-million visitors worldwide.

“We chose Birmingham for Dinosaurs in the Wild partly because we felt it was the perfect location in the middle of the country, but also because of the great expertise and facilities the venue offered”.

She added, “We encourage everyone in this wonderful city and its surrounding regions to come to the NEC to enjoy a dinosaur experience of unparalleled reality and truly encounter these animals in ways they have never seen before.”

A global first, Dinosaurs in the Wild cleverly weaves together live sets, cutting-edge computer-generated imagery and animatronics to create a believable prehistoric world. Visitors will be able to see – and feel – for themselves what the world was like millions of years ago under the realm of the dinosaurs.

It is designed to make visitors feel as if they really are there with living dinosaurs, at that time in their world.

The show itself will be spectacular as stunning technology recreates the late Cretaceous period in all its primeval glory. The 70-minute adventure will transport visitors, who will be guided throughout the tour, back 67 million years by time machine to the scientific research station TimeBase 67 run by Chronotex Enterprises, the UK’s pioneering time travel company.

Nine incredible dinosaurs will feature in the experience, including the terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex, the iconic Triceratops, the gigantic Alamosaurus and the club-tailed Ankylosaurus.

The immersive experience uses the latest scientific research to truly reflect how these majestic animals looked.

Creative Director Tim Haines, who also produced the landmark BBC TV series Walking with Dinosaurs which was seen by 800 million globally, said, “Dinosaurs were not as lizard like as once thought. Following the latest scientific research revelations, it is believed they would have would have sported everything from spines, quills and even elegant flight feathers. Even Tyrannosaurus could have had a shaggy mane!”

Tim added, “Dinosaurs in the Wild will be the first time the public has seen realistic representations of these animals since these discoveries were made, so it really is a world first opportunity.”

Kathryn James, Managing Director of the NEC Group Conventions and Exhibitions can’t wait for Dinosaurs in the Wild to start, “We are thrilled to be hosting this incredible show and we are really excited that the NEC was chosen as its global launch venue. It is brilliant for the people of the West Midlands to be able to experience Dinosaurs in the Wild before anyone else in the world and the thought of stepping out into a land of virtual reality is certainly an exciting one - I can’t wait!

“We are making the NEC campus a 24/7 destination, and this is one of the next steps to bringing even more long-stay leisure content to our venue. We hope people will come, enjoy the show and explore the shops, bars, restaurants and other activities available at Resorts World which opened on site in 2015.”

A new play which explores how social media, peer pressure, advertising and fashion magazines impact on how young people view themselves premieres this weekend in Birmingham (Friday 9 – Sunday 11 June).

Performed at mac birmingham, ‘Do You See What I See?’ is a cabaret show devised from research and improvisation, and is aimed at young people aged 11 to 14 and their families.

Featuring original songs and music, the show has been devised and performed by first year students on the Applied Performance undergraduate course at Birmingham School of Acting, part of Birmingham City University.

Working with a team of professional practitioners, including directors Gillian Adamson and Terina Talbot, the cast have called upon their own struggles with body image to ensure the play can tackle what pressures young people are experiencing today. In researching for the show, they also spoke with young people and distributed a survey on various social media platforms about body image. 

Birmingham School of Acting’s Applied Performance course seeks to prepare passionate and skilled theatre-makers, who want to make a real difference through drama, singing, dancing, spoken word, a documentary or digital art. The focus is on creating new performances and projects with a purpose.

In ‘Do You See What I See?’ 12-year-old Molly struggles with the way she looks and, affected by society around her, she desires to have the ‘perfect body’. Through social media, catwalks, makeup and fairy tales, the audience is taken on a journey through a day in Molly’s life. A cabaret company assists this journey and tries to answers questions of why she feels the way she does, through music and fun.

Birmingham School of Acting student Samuel Speed from Rotherham, South Yorkshire is one the cast members of ‘Do You See What I See?’ He said:  

“Body image should not be ignored. It is one the main factors which affect younger people like myself today. The fact that we have to change something about ourselves every second of the day just to have that sense of fitting in and belonging is upsetting and growing worse.

“The subject matter which we are tackling here is not to give a right or wrong answer to an audience, neither is it to solve the problem. But we are at least standing up to the reason and saying that there is help out there and no one has to or should feel alone.

“Each day at Birmingham City University I learn something new, which I feel is shaping me in all different kinds of ways and is opening my eyes up to the world in a bigger picture than before. I may not be ready to face what's beyond the doors just yet, but I know I am being equipped for whatever comes my way.”

As a cabaret show, music plays an integral role to ‘Do You See What I See?’ and the students worked with the Musical Director, Gladstone Wilson, to compose original songs that help propel the story forward.

The play opens with the sentimental ‘Lost and Found’, which establishes the cabaret company as there to ‘help fix what’s broken’, while the play is peppered with a lullaby called ‘Molly’s Theme’.

The cabaret show also includes pop music parodies of Beyoncé’s ‘Pretty Hurts’ and Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, which further highlight the play’s central themes.

Hundreds of pupils from across Wolverhampton are tuning up for a spectacular musical performance in Queen Square next week.

Around 520 children from 18 primary and special schools in the City will be taking part in a free concert on Tuesday 13 June from 11.30am-12.30pm, performing songs in a wide range of styles and traditions led by Paul Wilcox from Wolverhampton Music Education Hub.

Tuesday’s performance marks the culmination of a six-month project organised and delivered by Wolverhampton Music Service. Teachers from schools around Wolverhampton took part in regular workshops, learning songs which they could subsequently teach in their own schools in preparation for next week's performance.

Sarah Tulley, Wolverhampton Music Service Assistant Headteacher, said: "School staff have met together on a monthly basis to develop their musical skills so that they can then go on to teach the songs to the children in their schools. We have really enjoyed the opportunity to sing together and are hugely looking forward to next week's performance."

Bill Hague, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Head of School Planning and Resources, said: “Music is an important part of a young person's education, and our Music Service provides quality teaching for children and young people across Wolverhampton.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the pupils to show off their talents, and I am sure they will put on a fantastic show which will make their parents and teachers incredibly proud. I’d encourage as many people as possible to come along on Tuesday to cheer them on.”

Wolverhampton Music Service provides tuition and musical opportunities for youngsters from schools across the city, including the chance to perform with its flagship groups, Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra and Wolverhampton Youth Wind Orchestra. To find out more, please visit www.wmsonline.org.uk.

When Kiran Seeley steps over the edge of Birmingham’s Park Regis Hotel to join John Taylor Hospice’s first abseil, she’ll be remembering her very special grandmother.

“She was always happy – just an absolute joy to be around,” says Kiran when asked to describe her grandmother Enid. “She was so supportive, loved to hear what I was up to and took a great interest in her grandchildren. I remember when I was younger and she’d come to our house to visit. When I’d go to bed that night I’d find £10 stuffed under my pillow. I’d call her up to thank her and she would say ‘don’t tell your mom and dad’! I have so many special memories of her.”

When grandmother-of-two Enid Seeley was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, Kiran and her family were devastated. “She was told that the cancer was too close to her brain so they couldn’t operate,” explains 27-year-old Kiran.

“Chemotherapy and radiotherapy weren’t an option so as a family we pulled together, helping her to still do the things she loved and making sure she was as comfortable as she could be.”

In the spring of 2010, Enid moved from her home in Fillongley, Warwickshire, to live with her son and daughter-in-law, Kiran’s parents, in Erdington.

“I was at university in Liverpool at the time but I came home early that summer to spend time with Granny and help Mom and Dad the best I could,” said Kiran. “She started to become frailer and that’s when John Taylor’s Hospice at Home Team came to support us.

“From my grandmother’s perspective she loved their company. She’d tell the nurses about her life and the little things they did meant so much – like switching on her favourite radio station Classic FM. From our family’s perspective, their support was a big relief.

“My grandmother passed away peacefully at home in August of that year. It was a bit of a blur for me at the time but now I look back I appreciate just how gentle and compassionate the hospice staff were and my grandmother needed that.”

A committed fundraiser, each year Kiran pledges to raise money for a good cause. She was en route to her job as a buyer for Marston’s Brewery in Wolverhampton when she spotted her next charitable challenge – John Taylor Hospice’s abseil.

She explains: “The last two years I’ve been baking to raise money and whilst this is both fun and tasty it is a hobby I am very much comfortable doing. This year I wanted to set myself a true challenge.

“I was on the train to work when I spotted an advert for John Taylor’s sponsored abseil and I thought ‘that’s it!’. The hospice provided specialist and considerate palliative care for my grandmother so now’s the time for me to do something for them.”

Kiran, who hopes to raise as much money as possible when she takes the 170ft plunge, is encouraging others to join her on 8 July. “It’s a great way to raise money for hospice care and will be an amazing thrill! You can even share the experience with a friend or family member as you can abseil down the building at the same time. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me - by donating to a very worthy cause you’re helping give me the confidence to jump down!”

Head of fundraising Katie Mitchell, who is also part of the abseil team, said: “Kiran and all of our abseilers are doing something wonderful to support John Taylor Hospice. Throughout the past year, hundreds of people like Kiran have helped us provide essential care for local families by fundraising for us. Whether it’s by taking on a challenge, hosting an event or attending one of our events, we’d like to say a huge thank you to each and every one of our supporters. Together we’re making a massive difference for hundreds of patients and their families.”