Colors: Blue Color

You would be hard pressed to find someone who didn't know the name 'Christian Dior' or the fact that he was French, but did you know that the fashion legend was born and raised in Normandy? To celebrate the Dior fashion house's seventieth anniversary this year, the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, the very house in which Dior grew up, is hosting a new exhibition called Christian Dior and Granville: Roots of a Legend, which opened on 8 April will run until 24 September 2017.

On 12 February 1947, Christian Dior gave his first show. It was an unprecedented success in the history of fashion design, instantly making the fashion house the epitome of French haute couture. As part of the 70th anniversary of the Dior fashion house, the Christian Dior Museum is offering visitors a new perspective on Dior's formative years in his home town of Granville.

The exhibition sheds new light on the great fashion designer's life and how his family home in Granville played a key role in inspiring his work. Dior's attachment to his Normandy roots is evoked in the exhibition, and visitors are taken on a historical and stylistic journey. Rekindling the memory of the designer's childhood paradise, the exhibition features around 60 haute couture dresses dating back as far as 1947; both the artistic licence of Dior himself and subsequent directors, who have all remained faithful to Dior's vision, maintaining a connection to his preferred themes and colours.

Salem, Massachusetts may be known globally as the home of the notorious witch trials in the 17th century; however Scotland has had its own share of stories of witchcraft.

This year marks the 420th anniversary of the Great Witch Hunt of Scotland, which took place between March and October 1597 and was instigated by James VI. According to the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, more than 3,800 people, both men and women, were accused of witchcraft in Scotland during the period 1563 to 1736, which is when the Witchcraft Act was enforced in Scotland*. It is believed that two-thirds of those accused were executed.

Records of Scotland's witch trials shed light on a dark period in Scottish history, exposing a culture of fear and panic that cast a cloud over much of Scotland and Europe.

Many of Scotland's regions have links to this time with fascinating stories and places to explore during the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017. Visitors to Scotland can pay homage to the many locations which are linked to witchcraft, as well as some tours that are taking place this year.

Dog owners are being warned to keep chocolate treats away from their pets this Easter as new figures from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal two in three vets treated at least one case of chocolate poisoning last Easter.

BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, which polled over 1,600 UK vets, shows a marked increase in the number of vets seeing at least one dog with chocolate poisoning compared to the same period in 2015, with the highest number of incidences happening in the south of England.

Chocolate can be highly poisonous to pets as it contains theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa beans, which, while fine for humans, is harmful to dogs and other animals. 

British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said:

“Easter is great fun for the whole family, but unfortunately dogs like to join in too. With their keen sense of smell, they will easily win Easter egg hunts so wherever chocolate is being stored – inside or outside – make sure it is pet proof and out of reach of inquisitive noses to avoid an emergency trip to the vet. Also remind any visitors over the Easter holidays to keep their chocolate out of the dog’s reach too.

“Over the bank holiday weekend veterinary practice opening hours may vary, so make sure you know how to contact your local vet during Easter. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate we’d advise contacting your local vet immediately.”

BVA's survey also highlighted that many pet owners are having to make urgent yet preventable trips to the vets over the Easter holidays, with 11% of vets who saw dogs with chocolate poisoning treating five or more cases.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs, which are most commonly affected amongst pets, usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. First signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These symptoms can then develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases, dogs can experience fits and heartbeat irregularities and some cases can result in coma or death. If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, please contact your local vet immediately.


It marks the beginning of the end of 52 years of hurt, as The Stag Company has announced plans to host the first Bubble Football World Cup in London in May 2018, with the final set to take place on Wembley's hallowed turf.

The hunt is now on to find the first English national team, with applications open for the qualification tournament which will be held in London on 25 June.

The sport, which sees footballers don inflated zorb-style body suits, originated in 2011 on Norwegian television show Golden Goal. In 2013 ex-professional footballer Dan Chillingworth saw its potential for the UK market and set-up Xtreme Events to bring Bubble Football to the nation.

Rob Hill, The Stag Company CEO & Founder of the Bubble Football World Cup said: “In the last few years, Bubble football has captured the imaginations of thousands of people. It's seriously fun to play, a great test of skill and hilarious to watch.

“With the English national team being rolled out of major tournaments on a regular basis, the Bubble Football World Cup could be the thing to end all those years of hurt next May. Every five-a-side team or bunch of mates should think about entering for the chance to represent their country.”

With 12 international teams already signed up, including Brazil, South Africa, Finland, Germany, Scotland and Republic of Ireland, organisers hope to attract even more international talent to take on the new England team come May 2018.

Neville Nania, Head of Business Development from event partners Xtreme Events, the UK's leading Bubble Football hosts, added: “Over 55,000 people are expected to play Bubble Football up and down the UK this year. Our team have hosted and refereed thousands of matches and can testify that there is some genuine sporting talent out there just waiting to be unearthed.”

The USA currently ranks as the biggest proponents of Bubble Football with the National Association of Bubble Soccer boasting 39 leagues, each with 8-12 teams competing.

The Bubble Football World Cup tournament is set to take place throughout the weekend of 19 May 2018, where the final will be hosted at Wembley on Sunday 20 May.

Young architects, city planners and engineers are showcasing their dynamic artwork as part of a schools’ art showcase at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Students from the innovative West Midlands Construction University College (MCUTC), a new school specialising in construction and the Application of IT in the Built Environment, are exhibiting etchings, pen and ink drawings and photography at the Lichfield Street gallery.

Among images on show are two copies of pen and ink drawings of the college’s Springfield Brewery site campus created by Year 10 students. The detailed drawings were presented to the HRH Duke of Gloucester and Lord Baker at the campus’ recent opening.

Other pieces include highly detailed and photorealistic hand drawn pencil portraits and a large photography pieces on display, the work of Year 10 photography students, records the sense of place with shots of at the listed Springfield Brewery Campus.

The exhibition is part of the gallery’s Young Artists programme, which celebrates the work of students from various schools across the city.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “The standard of work in this showcase is extremely high and well worth celebrating. Well done to all the students taking part and good luck in their future endeavours.”

The runs until May 23 in the Sense and Sculpture gallery located on the first floor of the gallery.

WMCUTC is a new school, which specialises in Construction and the Application of IT in the Built Environment providing a high quality technical education for 14-19 year olds.

Students can follow three pathways in the school comprising Design, Build and Innovate. Design strand students look to careers such as architecture, interior design, town planning and landscape design, although all students, whether aiming to become civil engineers or software developers study a core curriculum including a design element.

Green Lane Masjid, a mosque and community centre in Birmingham, has donated £1.2million to Human Appeal, a leading humanitarian aid charity in the UK. The money will go to providing flour for starving people inside Syria and to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon during the winter.

Human Appeal’s flour distribution project is renowned throughout the international aid community as one of the best in the world, it feeds 200,000 Syrians a month. Intentional organisations like the UN have worked with Human Appeal on this project.

The total donated is £1,234,000, mainly by members of Birmingham’s Muslim community, this was raised through regular collections in the mosque, through fundraising dinners, organised street collections and many other methods of raising money.

Othman Moqbel, Human Appeal’s Chief Executive, says of Green Lane Masjid’s support for Human Appeal “We are very grateful for Green Lane Mosque’s support. £1.2million is the equivalent of 4,113 tonnes of flour, which could feed up to 832,000 Syrians.

“This week has seen the plight of Syrians recapture international attention, so money to alleviate their suffering is needed more than ever – especially such a staggering amount”.

“We can’t emphasis enough on the importance of distributing flour to the bakeries of Syria. 9.8 million Syrians are classed as food insecure, with 6.8 million severely food insecure. Food production in Syria has also hit a record low with the 2015/2016 cropping season at the lowest ever. The wheat harvest estimate is approximately 1.5 million tonnes which, 55% lower than the pre-conflict average.

“Bread constitutes a major part of the Syrian diet, however, poor harvest, price hikes in agricultural inputs and loss of agricultural infrastructure has increased the price of bread by 87% in public bakeries. Shares of household expenditure on food has increased tremendously with families spending more than half of their incomes on food.

“Human Appeal began delivering flour to hard-to-reach and besieged areas of Syrian from 2011, today we have reached 3.7million people with our flour and the feedback we get is always positive and they are grateful to receive the food because most of them don’t have the 300 Syrian Pounds needed to buy a bag of bread. Human Appeal currently provides the bread for about 208,000 beneficiaries every month. For an average of 17 bakeries each month, we provide the flour to keep them in operation, giving their staff a regular income and liberating them from being dependant on humanitarian aid.”

Meet four of the runners proudly representing their home nations as part of this year’s Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K featuring the Commonwealth Run.

Organisers of the Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10k have created a distinctly Commonwealth theme at the event to raise the profile of the city’s bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games.

And runners representing Canada, Jamaica, England and Wales, gathered at Birmingham’s Council House in Victoria Square to meet each other for the first time.

Taking place on Sunday, 30th April, the popular city centre run is now less than a month away and will feature elite teams from as many Commonwealth nations as possible, with 20 countries now signed up.

Meeting for the first time were runners Alison Fox (Canada), from Nottingham, Thomas Glave (Jamaica), from Birmingham, Graham Williams (Wales), from Smethwick and Adam Guy (England), from Birmingham.

They were joined by Birmingham-born Ian Stewart, one of the world’s leading distance runners between the late 1960s and mid-1970s, who flew the flag for Scotland.

Admin worker Alison, who hails from Ontario but now lives in Nottingham, has lost a remarkable 11 stone in weight since she started running following a family bereavement.

Alison’s grandfather was born in Scotland and after completing a study-abroad year in Leeds in 2011 she applied for a UK ancestry visa to allow her to live and work in the UK.

“I only started running two years ago when I was trying to lose weight,” said the 29-year-old. “I discovered I really enjoyed it. Before, I couldn’t run five-feet, let alone 10K!

“I’ve now lost just under 11 stone and I recently completed my first marathon.

“I’m really excited to be representing Canada at the Great Birmingham 10K,” she added.

“One of my running heroes is the Canadian marathon record holder Lanni Marchant and I asked her for some advice before my first full marathon and she even congratulated me after I finished it.”

Liz McColgan, one of Britain's most distinguished athletes, will be jetting into Birmingham from her Qatar base to take part in the Commonwealth Run as she captains the Scotland team.

A two-time gold medallist over 10,000 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh in 1986 and Auckland in 1990, as well as winning the 1991 World Championships and silver at the 1988 Olympic Games, she achieved further gold medal glory at the 1992 World Half Marathon Championships, 1991 New York City Marathon, 1992 Tokyo Marathon and 1996 London Marathon.

Liz will be among the 7,000 people running, jogging or walking this year’s Simplyhealth Great Birmingham 10K on Sunday, April 30.

“With a population of over a million people in the city and an array of Commonwealth nationalities, we’re looking forward to a spectacular day in Birmingham,” said Great Run Communications Director, David Hart.

After 18 months of conservation and structural repair works, Guernsey's 'Little Chapel' is fully open to the public as of Saturday 8 April 2017.

Thought to be the smallest chapel in the world and one of Guernsey's key tourist attractions, the Little Chapel has been hiding behind scaffolding since October 2015 while it has undergone re-stabilisation works, reinforcement of retaining walls, and roof and spire repairs.  The work has included using historic photographs from Guernsey archives to re-apply original decoration, repair damaged crosses, and restore the chapel's eminent mosaic finish.

The chapel, which measures just nine feet long by five feet wide, can only accommodate a few people at a time and its walls are unusually made up of thousands of fragments of china, seashells and pebbles. Nestled in Guernsey's inland parish of St. Andrews, the current chapel is over 90 years old, built by Brother Deodat, an exiled French monk, to emulate the sacred grotto at Lourdes. It had survived 90 years with virtually no damage, even during the WWII German occupation.

The project has so far cost £180,000, while the overall anticipated investment will be around half a million pounds once new flooring and lighting have been installed. A re-ordering of the beautiful landscape around the chapel will also take place to provide better access and viewpoints, as well as more extensive planting of trees and shrubs. A small interpretation building set within the landscaping will tell the story of the Little Chapel, its construction and restoration, and provide toilets for visitors. Guernsey's CCD Chartered Architects and Interior Design donated their time and expertise for the repair and restoration of the Little Chapel at no charge.

The full opening of the chapel aptly coincides with the first day of the Channel Islands Heritage Festival, which celebrates the history of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm with a series of events, activities, tours and exclusive openings over five weeks from 8 April 2017. The chapel is free to visit, however donations are essential for its continued repairs and horticultural enhancement.

Faculty of Science & Engineering students at the University of Wolverhampton have joined forces to raise money for charity after attending a teambuilding residential recently.

The fifteen students, studying for a range of courses including Quantity Surveying, Building Surveying, Construction, Civil Engineering, Genetics and Molecular Biology and Biomedical Science, attended a three day teambuilding residential at Open-door Adventure at Dolben Hall, St. Asaph in North Wales as part of the University’s successful Career Development Week and decided that collectively they wanted to make a difference.

The students, who call themselves ‘Selfless Spirits’ have raised nearly £700 for the YMCA Sleep Easy fundraising initiative that was held at the University recently.  Sleep Easy raises money to help change the lives of vulnerable young people.  The ‘Selfless Spirits’ spent the night sleeping rough in the grounds of the University to highlight the plight of the homeless.

Angela Nash, Senior Lecturer in Architecture and the Built Environment in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, said:  “Following a very impactful teambuilding trip which included night-time caving, raft building, assault courses and a campfire for some social and team-bonding activities this fairly disparate group ranging from first year degree students through to PhD students have taken their teambuilding further than we could have imagined.”

Hannah Wildwood, one of the students, said:  “We were really impressed with the residential during Career Development Week and were inspired to create a group which focuses on raising money for the YMCA.  So far we have held an end of event party, have taken a hottest curry challenge and are planning more group events.”

Anyone wanting to donate to the ‘Selfless Spirits’ can find their fundraising page here.

Walsall College Construction student, Grace Morgan has been shortlisted for a national 2017 BTEC Award.

The BTEC Awards, now in their seventh year, aim to recognise individuals for exceptional achievements while working towards their BTEC qualifications.

BTECs are career-based qualifications designed to give students the skills they need to move on to higher education or go straight into employment.

Grace is in the second year of her BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and The Built Environment and has been offered a scholarship by Northumbria University to study a degree in Building Surveying.

Construction Lecturer at Walsall College, Andrew Stubbs, said: “From day one Grace has shown a real passion for learning and a clear desire to develop her skills and knowledge of the sector.

“She completed her work experience placement with Turner and Townsend, an international project management firm based in Birmingham and received excellent feedback from a senior quantity surveyor.

“She is also keen to promote the sector and has volunteered her time at school career days to talk to youngsters considering following the same path as her.

“We are delighted that she has been shortlisted as it is testament to the dedication she has displayed as well as her hard work and efforts on all her assignments.”

Curriculum Manager for Construction at Walsall College, Barry Hill said: “We have some exceptionally talented students at Walsall College so we are very proud when they receive external recognition. Grace has worked hard and I’m confident she will be successful in her chosen career path when she completes her studies.”

Studying BTEC qualifications help students to develop a range of practical knowledge and skills to prepare for and progress in their chosen career.

Classroom style teaching combined with project work and practical, work-related activities help to develop students' behavioural skills, which can include teamwork, creative thinking and presentation skills.

More employers and Higher Education institutions than ever before are choosing BTEC-qualified candidates for their academic and practical knowledge and skills.

A major new study published by the Carnegie UK Trust revealing trends in library use across the UK and Ireland is challenging stereotypes about who uses public libraries in England.

The research, which compares library use between 2011 and 2016, has revealed that young people aged 15-24 years are the most likely age group to use libraries in England (51%), whilst those over 55 are the least likely to use a library (43%). Meanwhile almost half (46%) of 25-34 year olds are also now using public libraries, a rise of 2 percentage points since 2011.

As well as reaching more young people, many public libraries in England are also now serving many more people who don’t read books. Libraries across the UK have begun providing a much wider range services and activities in recent years. More than a third of people (37%) in England who read only one book a year now say that they use their local library. Forty percent (+5 percentage points from 2011) of people who only read one book every six months also now identify themselves library users. 

These trends are good news for English public libraries as they seek to attract new customers and protect their funding. However, the Carnegie UK Trust’s research also confirms that libraries across the UK and Ireland face a number of significant challenges. Overall library use in England has seen a decline of 4 percentage points from 50% to 46% since 2011 and all UK nations have experienced seen a steady decline in the number of  people using the library ‘frequently’.

Martyn Evans, Chief Executive of Carnegie UK Trust says that libraries must make a persuasive case for continued investment in staff and services if they are to continue to meet the needs of local communities.

He said: “Public libraries remain an immensely popular civic resource, both in England and across the rest of the UK and it’s extremely promising that there’s been a rise in library use in England amongst those aged 25-34 and amongst non-readers.

“However, we know that the future success of public libraries depends on how effectively they respond to the changing needs of their communities. Local authority budgets are under severe pressure. All of us who value libraries’ rich and varied contribution to our wellbeing must provide clear and compelling evidence of their impact if future investment is to be secured.

“We also know that the public want libraries to do even more. People in England told us that they would be more likely to use the library if they had better information about the activities on offer, if they could access more Council services there, if the library held more events or had a café or coffee shop on site.”

Neil MacInnes, President of the Society of Chief Librarians said: “The Carnegie UK Trust’s unique report is the only report that enables us to look across the UK and Ireland at how public libraries are used and what people think about them. It depicts the state of play, challenges and the opportunities ahead for public libraries in England.

“It is clear from the research that public libraries in England have an enduring place in people’s hearts and that they are highly valued services. We need to ensure that libraries continue to prosper and deliver against key policy goals and wellbeing. The Trust’s recommendations set out a way in which we can all work towards a thriving future public library service.”

The ‘Shining a Light’ report   is the result of a unique five year study by the Carnegie UK Trust and IPSOS Mori into public library use in the UK and Ireland The report is the only one of its kind, enabling data on changing use and attitudes towards library services to be compared across the individual jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland. Around 10,000 face-to-face and telephone interviews were involved in total in 2011 and 2016 combined.

West Midlands youngsters can take advantage of a unique and free development programme to grow their employability skills and provide at least 90 hours targeted work experience within some of the city's top creative organisations.

‘Foot in the Door’ has 60 places available for young creative types aged 16-23 and no qualifications or experience are necessary - just an open mind and a willingness to get stuck in.

Applications are especially encouraged from those from a diverse background, whose perceptions may have led them to believe they couldn’t even contemplate a career in the creative sector.

This exciting new scheme is being run by Custard Factory-based Creative Alliance (the leading training provider within the creative and cultural sector in the Midlands) in partnership with 10 organisations keen to help future industry talent get a foot in the door of the city's burgeoning creative and cultural sector – Bareface, Beatfreeks, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Blue Whale Training, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, DanceXchange, Desi Blitz, mac Birmingham and The Old Rep.

Noel Dunne, Creative Alliance Director, explains: “Foot in the Door is structured around a series of bespoke training courses, specifically designed and delivered by the 10 partner organisations and focusing on the skills that employers in this sector require.  Together we’re looking to build a legacy and help future-proof Birmingham’s young creative sector.

It’s not a fast track to performance success and becoming famous, however, rather about gaining insight and access to the myriad of other industry roles in front of house, backstage, technical, event management, design, production, marketing, administration, plus learning and participation, etc.

Project Coordinator Jodie Mason (a recent beneficiary of a similar scheme) adds: “The only cost to the lucky 60 is their time and commitment and in return Foot in the Door will open their eyes to the vast range of creative organisations available and the variety of quality roles they might not have been aware of.

There’s a lot of untapped creative potential out there and disadvantaged youngsters who think this sector just isn’t a viable option, but I know otherwise so why not give it a go?”

Creative Alliance will be undertaking a series of outreach sessions and targeting schools, colleges, youth groups and job centres, alongside ongoing social media campaigns using young creative industry ambassadors who have recently managed to get their foot in the door for that crucial first break.

A series of 90-minute briefing sessions will commence on April 27 and 28 and conclude on May 4 and 5, with at least two of the partner organisations presenting at each one. The final deadline for applications is May 15 and the lucky 60 will then attend a launch event in early June where they will meet all the partner organisations and declare their favourite three to work with. The actual skills courses commence end June to December ’17.

For Foot in the Door application details visit where you can ‘nominate a mate’ too.

A delegation of UK Islamic Mission visited Alkhidmat Child Protection Centre Green Town. Dr. Arif, Incharge UKIM Relief Program and Mr. Riaz Ahmad, Secretary General UKIM led the delegation. They distributed School Bags and Toys among more than 50 Street Children of the Centre. The delegation expressed its satisfaction after visiting the centre. They also asked for the feedback of enrolled children and appreciated the work done by Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan.

Birmingham’s Broadway Casino have announced that they will be sponsorship one of the UK’s best-loved boxers when, on Saturday April 22, Birmingham-based Tommy Langford enter the ring at Leicester Arena to face Avtandil Khurtsidze for the WBO World middleweight title.

Just three years after turning professional, Langford claimed his first regional championship, (the WBO Middleweight title), which led seamlessly into a stellar 2016 which saw him claim the British strap in and reclaim his Commonwealth title.

On the sponsorship, Broadway Casino’s Managing Director, Denis Dowling, said; “We are sure that our sponsorship of Tommy will see avid fans flock to the casino. He has bags of talent and we are honoured to be able to associate our brand with him.”

The Leicester Arena will be filled with BT Sport cameras documenting the monumental fight between the pair.

Two London-based clubs - Croydon Domino Club and Cosmopolitan Sports & Social Club – have announced their support for a major blood donation drive, in association with Kiwanis Brixton, a children's charity raising money, through raffles and events, to fund a children's hospital, Saturday Supplementary School, contributing to schools in Africa. As well as hands-on projects at community centres for adults and children alike.

#EveryCaribbeanDonorMatters, a collaboration between RAFFA International Development Agency, Blood4Life and NHS Blood & Transplant, with support from UK Caribbean High Commissioners and MCW Ltd. are working together to raise awareness and improve Caribbean Diaspora communities understanding about blood donation and it’s life saving contribution to helping people of all ages lead healthier lives.

The overall goal is to increase the number of people from the Caribbean population group to register to donate blood and get involved in health promotion and self-care activities.

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has announced a new partnership with Park Regis Hotel. The four star hotel in Five Ways will be a corporate partner of the Birmingham-based hospice and will be holding exclusive fundraising events throughout the year.

The partnership follows on from the ‘ Fright or Flight’ challenge, a breath-taking corporate event which saw members of the local business community abseil down the front of the prestigious hotel, and race back up 17 flights of stairs in November last year.

The Hospice, which is based on Raddlebarn Road , needs to raise £8 million each year to provide vital care and support to individuals and families in Birmingham and Sandwell who are living with terminal illness.

Charlotte Anson, Corporate Partnerships Manager commented:

‘We are thrilled to be working  in partnership with the  team at Park Regis. Their support will help us reach even more people who need end of life care and support.  Last year’s Fright or Flight event was made a great success by the Park Regis team’s generosity and we can’t wait to build on this success. Thank you to all involved in helping us to showcase our local Hospice in a fantastic venue with great hospitality’.

Robin Ford, General Manager said ‘It is an honour to be supporting Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice this year. I know what a difference their services make to people in Birmingham and Sandwell so we’re delighted to have them as our chosen partner this year. We’re looking forward to hosting some great events at the Hotel this year to support all the work the hospice does. “