Colors: Yellow Color

More than 800 staff from across 10 schools, five children’s centres and one teaching school, joined British Paralympian, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, TV presenter Ashley John-Baptiste and educationalist Professor Mick Waters at a large-scale conference this week.

Teaching and non-teaching staff from the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP) took part in the respected multi-academy trust’s inaugural training event at the prestigious Solihull National Conference Centre. They were also able to visit a number of exhibitors to find out more about a range of services available to them.

CEO and national leader of education, Richard Gill, introduced the high profile speakers to an audience comprising staff from primary and secondary schools in Birmingham, North Warwickshire and Staffordshire.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is one of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes, having won 11 gold, four silver and a bronze medal during her illustrious 16-year career, before going on to sit in the House of Lords with specialist interest in disability, sport, education, health and welfare.

She gave a memorable talk about overcoming challenges and the value of education and teamwork, before signing complementary copies of her book, ‘Aim High’.

Tanni said: “Education is more important now than it ever was – it gives you choices.

Without the amazing education I had, I would not be able to achieve any of the things I did in my life.

“If you don’t push your boundaries you never know what you might achieve. Never give up, never be afraid to try and always be the very best you can be.”

Ashley John-Baptiste is an inspirational speaker and BBC broadcast journalist who overcame a troubled childhood to study at Cambridge. The 28-year-old spoke passionately about beating tremendous adversity to achieve success. The former X-Factor finalist finished his session by giving an entertaining live performance on stage.

Addressing the audience, he said: “Never ever should we diminish an aspiration of all young people. Educators have such an incredible influence over the lives of so many and we should encourage our young people, believe in them and unlock their potential. It’s the right thing to do.”

Former headteacher and new ATLP Trust Board member, Professor Mick Waters, works with  schools in the West Midlands in raising standards. He works with schools in other parts of the country on innovative approaches to learning and on several other initiatives to push the boundaries for making learning better.

He reminded the team about the importance of providing “joyous and purposeful learning” and the transformative power of education.

He said: “We are trying to make children’s lives better for having met us, making the world in which our children grow up in a better place. Raising aspiration is more than helping children to achieve higher grades; it’s the contribution you make to give them that feeling of worth and inspiration.

“We are part of a really big profession - a noble, global profession and this partnership is built on trust and integrity.”

CEO Richard Gill said: “This conference realised our vision to see all staff together under one roof – what a wonderful start to 2018. It was a real pleasure and a privilege to be part of such a rewarding and uplifting event.

“Tanni, Ashley and Mick gave such motivational talks and we were all inspired and humbled by their incredible stories, which show the possibilities available if you can reach that potential early. They demonstrated the power of teamwork, positive thinking and resilience – all values that we aspire to.

“Our staff can start a new term on such a positive note, taking that group learning back into their schools and ensuring that it improves the lives of the children who remain at the heart of everything we do.”

With 82 days to go until the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in April, Team England has selected its weightlifters and Para-Powerlifters who will compete for ‘Team and Country’ in Australia.

The squad of 18 athletes will compete for Team England in the weightlifting (clean and jerk and snatch) and Para-Powerlifting categories in the Carrara Sports and Leisure Centre from 5 to 10 April.

Nine of the athletes on the team have experienced a Commonwealth Games previously, with five medals between them.

Zoe Smith will be appearing at her third Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. The four-time British record holder became the first ever English woman to win a weightlifting medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010.

Zoe followed this feat with a spectacular gold in Glasgow 2014 and set a new Games record in the process. She said:

“I am so excited to be attending my third Commonwealth Games, with a team of great people. After a tough two years missing out on the 2016 Rio Olympics through injury, I am determined to come back stronger and hopefully retain my title as Commonwealth champion.”

Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist and Team England ambassador, Ali Jawad, will be competing in the Para-Powerlifting discipline. He said:

"After a tough 2017 battling Crohn's Disease, I am delighted that I get to compete on the world stage again. I have some special memories representing Team England and I cannot wait to do it all over again."

Team England will send a team of around 600 athletes and staff in what will be England’s largest ever team to represent the nation in an overseas sporting event. The team will compete in 18 sports, including 38 para medal events.

Sarah Winckless, Chef de Mission for Commonwealth Games England, said:

“I’m really excited to welcome our weightlifting and para-powerlifting athletes to the team today. We have a good mix within the group of 18 with defending Commonwealth Games champions and first timers being selected alongside each other.

“I’m looking forward to seeing them learn and grow from each other in the Games environment on the Gold Coast next April.”

British Weightlifting Chief Executive Officer Ashley Metcalfe said:

“Our squad is a real blend of new and experienced lifters, highlighting the true breadth and depth of talent currently available in England. We are most grateful to both Team England and Sport England for their continued support in providing a great opportunity for all our squad to be well prepared and in great shape for the Games. It is hugely exciting and a great opportunity for all the squad to showcase their talents, all ahead of a home Games in 2022.”

A pioneer for Black footballers in the UK, alongside the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, the trio was nicknamed the ‘Three Degrees’ by their then-West Bromwich Albion manager Ron Atkinson.

Cyrille Regis scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for the Baggies before joining Coventry City for £250,000 in 1984.

Appointed an MBE in 2008, the former England international, who also played for Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, returned to West Brom as a coach before becoming a football agent.

He who won five caps, scored 62 goals in 274 appearances for Coventry and was a crucial part of their FA Cup-winning side in 1987. He retired from football in October 1996.

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand paid tribute to "a great man who helped to set the foundations for others. He will always be remembered."

A gentle man away from football, such was his threat on the field, particularly when subjected to heavy physical attentions from opponents, that opposing managers used to specifically instruct their players not to upset him or annoy him in any way as the results could be devastating. In full flight, Regis was a magnificent sight.

Former Albion player, Jason Roberts, who is Regis’ nephew, once described his uncle as; “twice the player I was, twice better looking, and he always looked half my age.”

I look back at my uncle and have to say that he was lost to the game in terms of coaching, management or administration.”

Laurie Cunningham died in a car crash in Spain in 1989.

Regis, Cunningham and Batson are due to be honoured with a 10ft statue, called ‘The Celebration,’ in West Bromwich. It is set to be unveiled this season, following a delay.

Cyrille was 59

The final selections for the Team England swimming squad for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games have been announced.

Amongst the line-up is double Commonwealth silver medallist Aimee Willmott, Commonwealth champion James Wilby and Paralympic, World, European and Commonwealth champion Ollie Hynd MBE.

This will be Willmott’s third outing for Team England, experiencing her first major international at Delhi 2010, and then claiming two silver medals at Glasgow 2014. The Middlesbrough-born swimmer was selected on the basis of her performance at the Swim England National Winter Championships, where she won 400m IM gold within the selection time.

Commenting on her selection, Willmott said: “My first memories of senior swimming were at the Commonwealth Games. I swam at Deli and I was one of the youngest on the team and this time round I’ll be one of the oldest on the team.

“It’s a great environment for more swimmers from England to make the team and get that experience – that’s one of the great things about the Commonwealths.”

For Wilby, this will be his second Commonwealth Games, having been part of the gold medal winning 4x100m Medley Relay team at Glasgow 2014. The York-born swimmer made two selection times at the Swim England National Winter Championships 2017, as well as securing a hat-trick of gold medals.

Wilby said: “The Commonwealth Games is always an enjoyable experience. Glasgow 2014 was the first international meet that I ever competed in, and it’s always good because it’s known as the friendly games. It’s good to get some experience and race against some great guys.”

Mansfield-born Hynd is no stranger to the senior ranks in swimming, and is one of the few athletes to hold the para-swimming grand slam. The 23-year-old also currently holds World records in the 200m and 400m Freestyle (S8) as well as the SM8 200m Individual Medley. The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealths will be Hynd’s second outing for Team England.

Hynd said: “I am very proud to be selected for my second Commonwealth Games, it’s a great privilege to represent Team England. I can’t wait to get out to Gold Coast and experience the amazing atmosphere of the Games. In the pool I’ve been working very hard to be in the best shape possible to try and defend the title I gained four years ago in Glasgow.”

The swimmers are three of 24 athletes to be announced today, and will be joining the 15 athletes announced following the first phase of selections by Swim England on 4 October 2017.

Also announced today are three additions to the Team England coaching staff, Head Coach at Newcastle SC Ryan Livingstone, Loughborough University Performance Coach Ian Hulme and Millfield School’s Director of Swimming, Euan Dale.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Team Leader Grant Robins said: “The announcement today completes our team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and we’ve got a blend of experienced athletes and some new younger swimmers in our team, this is what the selection policy was designed to achieve.

“We had a great National Winter Championships in Sheffield last month and it’s looking good for the Gold Coast. Hopefully by the end of the six days of competition in Australia this April we will have a few medals in the bag, personal best times achieved and lots of great experiences gained ready for the road ahead.”

The announcement comes just three months before the opening ceremony of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on 4 April 2018.

Team England Chef de Mission Sarah Winckless said: “I’m delighted to welcome the full swimming squad to Team England for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. 

“There are less than 90 days to go to the start of the Opening Ceremony and this announcement is a big milestone for the team. The swimming squad is a great balance of youth and experience and I am sure they will do the nation proud, competing for Team and Country in Australia this April.”

Feeling all at sea about New Year's resolutions? No fear! Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. That's the advice of Gold Coast super fish turned health coach Karla Gilbert. Unrivalled in the surf, Australia's most decorated Ironwoman – holding two world titles, three national championships and seven series crowns, alongside four stand-up paddle (SUP) Australian titles – has always found health, fitness and happiness in her own back yard.

Born and raised on the Gold Coast – a destination famed for 57km of coastline, set to shine this April as the most iconic beach backdrop in Commonwealth Games history – Karla is a believer in the power of the ocean and nature as the ultimate leveler. Swimming in it, she says, might just change your life. Read Karla Gilbert's tips on why ocean swimming is the perfect exercise for body and mind.

New Year. New You? Yo! Kickin' it!

To celebrate summer, join a community of the world's happiest people (yes, studies prove it) by diving into one of the fastest growing recreational sports on the planet: ocean swimming. An activity that can reportedly help you live longer, look younger, burn more calories than running and football and even boost your IQ!

British sprint star Sophie Kamlish will compete for the first time since winning world T44 100m gold when the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow heads to the Emirates Arena on Sunday 25 February 2018.

Ranked as the number one indoor athletics meeting in the world, the Müller Indoor Grand Prix returns to Scotland having been held in Glasgow for the first time in 2016 as the city alternates hosting with Birmingham up to 2020.

Coming off the best year to date following another world record break and a first global title at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, Kamlish will join a host of British stars in competing in Scotland for the very first time when she races over 60m on February 25.

Speaking on competing in Glasgow on Feb 25, Kamlish said:

“It’s hugely exciting to be a part of the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow – racing indoors brings a different dynamic with the crowd so close, and I can’t wait to get out there and compete come February 25.

On her expectation of the event and the race itself, the 21-year-old added:

“The likes of Sammi (Kinghorn) and Maria (Lyle) talk so passionately about Scotland and the athletics fans up there, so to be able to compete at the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow is a great opportunity. Hopefully I can put in a great performance for the crowd at the Emirates Arena.

“I know the field I’ll be up against will be a tough one – domestically Laura Sugar is always a threat and I’ll expect nothing less if she is there, while there are some seriously quick girls from across the world, so it’s sure to be both a fast and entertaining race.

British Athletics’ Major Event Director, Cherry Alexander said:

“To be able to showcase Para athletics stars within our events is hugely important – stretching back to 2012 we know that interest levels from the public are through the roof, and I’m sure the two Para races taking place in Glasgow will contribute to a continuous growth in interest too.

“Sophie was one of several stars on the British team at the World Para Athletics Championships in London. In London she used the home crowd to her advantage, and I imagine we may well see something special when she takes to the start line on February 25.”

The Müller Grand Prix Glasgow is the final of the prestigious IAAF World Indoor Tour, with wildcards for the IAAF World Indoor Championships available to athletes who have not already qualified to compete for their nation.

Olympic and world finalist Andrew Butchart (coach: Terrance Mahon, club: Central AC) has identified the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow as his first major outing of 2018 and is relishing the chance to compete at the Emirates Arena on Sunday 25 February.

Ranked as the number one indoor athletics meeting in the world, the Müller Indoor Grand Prix returns to Scotland having been held in Glasgow for the first time in 2016 as the city alternates hosting with Birmingham up to 2020.

Joining a stellar line-up which includes fellow Scot Eilidh Doyle and three of Britain’s 4x100m world champions, Butchart will race over 3000m at Glasgow’s indoor arena.

Stiff competition to the Olympian will be led by reigning Olympic and world steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto and the USA’s two-time 5000m global medallist Paul Chelimo.

Looking ahead to the Müller Indoor Grand Prix Glasgow, Andrew Butchart said:

“2018 will be yet another huge year for me, and to kick it off at the world’s biggest and best grand prix on February 25 will be incredible, especially with it being on home soil and with the crowd in my corner.”

On memories of competing in Glasgow, Butchart added:

“Having competed at the 2016 Grand Prix in Glasgow I know that the noise made by the fans inside the Arena is incredible. With the field I will be up against they play such an important role for me, and I’m determined to kick off my 2018 with a bang on home soil.”

British Athletics’ Major Event Director, Cherry Alexander said:

“Be it on the track or the mud, the way Andrew attacks races and leads from the front makes him exciting to watch. I’ve no doubts that the home support in the Emirates will galvanise him to fight right to the line in what is sure to be a great race against some of the world’s best athletes.

“There is quite rightly a lot of praise being heaped on Scotland’s emerging talents, and Andrew has been at the forefront of that charge in the past two years. Those who buy tickets to come and watch him compete in Glasgow will not be disappointed.”

The Müller Grand Prix Glasgow is the final of the prestigious IAAF World Indoor Tour, with wildcards for the IAAF World Indoor Championships available to athletes who have not already qualified to compete for their nation.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games have been confirmed as being held in Birmingham.

The Second City was the only bid submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation by the deadline set, and although the bidding process was problematic, with South African city Durban being awarded the games back in 2015 before having it taken away for not meeting criteria, and no further bids were made, the city will now be hosting the most expensive sports event in Britain since the Olympics in London in 2012.

There are plans to build the largest permanent athletics stadium in the UK, as well as purchase land in Perry Barr for the athletes' village.

CGF President Louise Martin CBE said: “We warmly congratulate Birmingham and England on today’s announcement – it is a defining moment for this truly Commonwealth city. With its rich history, cultural diversity, youthful dynamism and ambitious spirit, Birmingham embodies all that we cherish about the Commonwealth, and so the Commonwealth Sports Movement looks forward to collaborating with all the Games partners to showcase the city’s humanity and pride to a global audience over the coming months and years.

“The vast majority of the Games venues are in place, and with extensive experience in the UK of hosting successful major events – including Manchester 2002, London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 – the CGF looks forward to a truly spectacular Games that delivers not only for the 2.4 billion citizens across the Commonwealth but the wider world, too. Today is a fantastic day for Birmingham, global Britain and our resurgent Commonwealth Sports Movement.”

Congratulations to everyone involved in the bid, and congratulations Birmingham! As a proud newspaper of both Birmingham and the Commonwealth, we have been connecting communities and championing the Commonwealth for the last 7 years. We are more than proud that finally the message is loud and clear that we are ONE community under the banner of The Commonwealth, celebrating

British long jumper Greg Rutherford returned to his childhood town of Milton Keynes to judge year four pupils at Summerfield Primary School who took part in a jumping-themed relay competition in their finest winter-woollies in aid of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 15th December.

Ahead of the ‘Jumping in Jumpers’ relay, the Olympic gold-winner took part in the school’s first-ever sports assembly where he awarded eight pupils special sporting awards for their performance during the year. Greg gave an inspiring talk about his journey to becoming an athlete and his experiences along the way before answering questions from the group of young aspiring sportsmen and women.

The MBE-titled British athlete gave his top tips to the eight and nine year olds on how to jump the highest and the longest distances before the whistle blew to commence the ‘Jumping in Jumpers’ competition. The relay saw five teams compete in a special Christmas themed jumping relay which included a sack race, bauble and spoon race, long jump and obstacle course.

Just as the Olympian had swapped his kit for a knit, all the children wore their most festive and best Christmas jumpers to participate in the competition. Greg awarded 3 prizes to the ‘winning team’, ‘best sports personality’ and ‘best jumper’ for the pupil wearing the wackiest woolly.

Greg Rutherford Olympic long jumper said: “I’ve always admired the work Save the Children does around the world so leapt at the chance to support the charity’s Christmas Jumper Day. It’s been an honour to return to my old hometown to talk to aspiring young athletes and judge Summerfield School’s ‘Jumping in Jumpers’ competition. There were some amazing jumpers – both knits and performers – so selecting winners was tough!”

“Like these students, I urge you all to jump into action and take part in Christmas Jumper Day tomorrow. All you have to do is donate £2 to help the world’s most vulnerable children.”

Laura Reynolds, Sports Coordinator at Summerfield Primary School said: “We were absolutely thrilled when we found out that Greg Rutherford, Olympic gold medallist was coming to Summerfield. We are proud of our sporting achievements and to have an Olympian at our first ever sports assembly, presenting our sporting awards and judging the ‘Jumping in Jumpers’ ‘relay, has made it an experience the children will never forget.”

This year, Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day is taking place tomorrow, Friday 15th December. Flashing, festive knits will be sweeping the nation once again as schools, homes and offices across the country will be ditching their day-to-day dress and donning their daftest, most wonderful woollies for the annual fundraiser.

From knits festooned in jingling bells to jumpers covered in lights, shiny neon tinsel and technicoloured baubles, Save the Children is expecting over 5 million people across the UK to take part in the biggest, silliest Christmas Jumper Day ever and it’s not too late to sign up! Whether it’s with Christmassy colleagues, sparkly school friends or just you and your merry mates, by sticking on a fabulously festive knit, signing up and donating £2 to Save the Children (£1 if you’re at school) at christmasjumperday.org, you will be helping the charity do whatever it takes to make sure the world’s forgotten children get the chance to have a brighter future.

Helena Wiltshire, Head of PR at Save the Children said: “All money raised through wacky woolly-wearing could help give a child living in a refugee camp clothes to keep them warm through winter, help us buy nutritious food for their entire family, or set up a safe space to give children the chance to be children again. Together, we’re can make the world better in our Christmas sweaters.”

As well as Greg Rutherford, this year, a range of celebrities have co-knitted to Christmas Jumper Day, including Nick Grimshaw, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Kate Thornton, Michelle Heaton, Peter Andre, Linda Robson, Keith Lemon, Fearne Cotton, Amanda Holden, Myleene Klass, Holly Willoughby, James Blunt, Julie Walters, Jon Snow, Alan Cumming, Ruth & Eamonn and Kate Garraway, who have all popped on a festive pullover to mark their support for the campaign.

To get involved simply pop your sweater on, get everyone together on December 15th head to christmasjumperday.org to sign up for your free fundraising pack.

Commonwealth Games England has today revealed its bespoke kit, designed by Kukri Sports, for the next Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April 2018.

Kukri will be kitting out England’s largest team to ever represent the nation in an overseas sporting event with over 400 athletes and around 200 officials attending the Games.

Team England’s kit design has been given a modern and fresh re-brand since the last Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 with new tones of charcoal grey and neon red added to the traditional red and white of England.

The unique designs were created with the athletes in mind and at the very centre of the process. A number of kit panels were held with representatives and athletes from the 18 different sports that Team England will compete in, sharing their opinions on what they felt would heighten their performance and experience at the Games.

Paul Brown, Team England ambassador and para lawn bowls player, was part of the athlete panel. He said:

“I was sent the colours and designs through and was looking at them picking out the good bits and there were a lot of them. It was a really good process from the start. It’s hard to judge it on paper but when you actually see it in real life it really does look absolutely fantastic as a finished article.

“It’s a lovely kit, I like the colours and it’s really comfortable to wear. If you look good and you feel good then you’re going to be in a good state of mind to head into the Games.”

Over 36,000 items of kit will be produced by the international sportswear brand across 10 manufacturers. An extensive product creation process, has resulted in 259 bespoke product designs, incorporating the unique needs of 18 sports.

Triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Olympic champion in gymnastics, Max Whitlock, said:

“Putting on a kit to represent your country is a huge honour. What I love most about the kit is that you’ve got the big lion representing England in the best way possible.

“When you put on a kit that is so strong and really patriotic and you know that you’re going to go out there feeling like one team, it’s very important. Everyone is going to feel united and part of the team and we will all go out and perform together.”

After extensive planning over a two year period, Kukri has ensured that over 400 elite athletes will be wearing their bespoke sportswear with pride across delegation, competition and ceremonial wear. Team England’s partnership with Kukri clearly underlines their desire to be known as the number one multisport brand.

Sarah Winckless, Chef de Mission at Commonwealth Games England, said:

“The kit creates an identity for the team to draw on - something magical happens when you have over 600 individuals dressed in the same theme, though appropriate for their roles, it joins us and makes us stronger. This is a hugely important and complex project, and I’m very proud to see the hard work that the team has put in coming together in this launch.

“The athletes are always at the heart of what we do at Commonwealth Games England so it has been great to have them as part of the design process through the kit panels. It has been fantastic to be able to take on their feedback so we can produce kit that aligns with what they need in order to perform at their best.”

Andrew Ronnie, Group Executive Chairman of Kukri Sports said:

“Being able to supply bespoke sportswear across multiple sports is an unmissable opportunity for Kukri. Our experience over the last few years in supplying Team England with performance kit and meeting the demands of national athletes has ensured we have a great relationship with them. It’s great to have a shared passion for improving the athlete experience.”

“We pride ourselves on ensuring the Team England athletes look and feel their very best. We feel this will enable them to concentrate on performing to the best of their ability and we can’t wait to see them achieving more gold medals on the podium at the Gold Coast in 2018.”

Specialist swimwear brand Arena Water Instinct designed and produced the aquatics wear for the swimming and diving teams. Representatives from Arena flew over from Italy to be part of the kit panels and to ensure the design was consistent across the whole team.

Arena’s Team England product range blends high quality materials with state-of-the-art technology to maximize performance in both competition and training. Its cutting edge design blends tradition and innovation in a new vision, with a creative fusion of bold colors and touch of gold that catches the eye against the charcoal base.

Team England swimmer and Glasgow 2014 bronze medallist, Ellie Faulkner, said:

“I was lucky enough to see the last Team England kit at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and this is a completely different take on it. It’s so nice and I’m really looking forward to wearing it. We will wear it proud and will be happy to be there and looking to do our best. Wearing the kit is an honour.

“It’s the athletes who are wearing the kit so it’s really important that we’re happy with it. When we’re feeling good we’re going to swim fast and feel the best we can be to do the best we can do.”

47 year old Jamie Weller from Nottingham, who recently brought home four bronze medals from this year’s Invictus Games, is taking on a new challenge. The former Navy Aircraft Engineer trekked for 13 days across Nepal on this extreme and once in a life time challenge to reach the base of Mount Everest. The challenge was organised by and raised money for Help for Heroes (H4H).

When Jamie lost his central vision he lost more than just the majority of his eyesight. He lost the ability to pursue his dream of a life in the military. As Jamie tried to rebuild his life and adjust to his disability anxiety and depression set in. He was determined to not let it beat him though and used his love of sport to regain his positive outlook on life.

Jamie, who competed in running and cycling, said: “At the Invictus Games in Toronto I met lots of athletes with different injuries; some who had lost limbs. It makes you appreciate what you’ve got as I can still run and cycle. I don’t like to use the word ‘disability’ but instead focus on the ability that we have. I always see my sight loss as an inconvenience.  It challenges me to solve the problems and then I get on with my life.  But for me it’s really important to help educate people to see the ability and not the disability in people.

Jamie Weller is a real Force for Good as he continues to empower other wounded, injured and sick veterans to unleash their potential: “I was devastated when I lost my sight but I’ve set out to not let it beat me. I hope that the way I’ve approached the loss of my sight, which is still an everyday challenge, helps inspire others”.

The trek started out from Lukla with the route taking the group to Phakding and Namche where they had their first glimpse of Mount Everest. After a day’s acclimatisation they walked from Dingboche via Tengboche to the base of the world’s highest mountain. After returning to Gorak Shep the group made their way back to Lukla finishing up in Kathmandu. The trek supplied endless epic panoramas.

Jamie said about the trek: “It was one hell of a tough trek, one hell of a life experience. We climbed to over 5500m to the magic of Mount Everest. You should not under estimate the danger of being at altitude. This place is horrid yet so magical. I take my hat off to anyone who climbs to the top. I am so proud that I made it up and back down as the terrain and altitude was so tough for me and I am so exhausted now”.

“As I’m visually impaired my brain and muscles were working extra hard to stop me from falling over.  Having no central vision, I have no perception of depth so I had to feel my way across the tough rocky terrain using my walking sticks, feet and help from friends on the trek with me.  This meant that my level of concentration while trekking was working overtime to make sure I did not fall and injure myself.  This had a cumulative effect and I was exhausted after the trek but I kept pressing on and did not give up”.

He continued: “Everyone around me really helped though; not just guiding me but explaining some of the wonderous sights. Another Band of Brother, Toney Boylce from Durham, was particularly helpful. I really ached and became quite fatigued at one point. The doctor advised me to rest but instead of getting a helicopter out the locals hired a horse for me to use for a few days. I think they were just as determined as I was to complete the trek! I got a little altitude sickness but I was able to control it with painkillers”.

Jamie has set up a Just Giving page and has so far raised £4,257 for H4H. He explained why he wanted to support the Charity: “Help for Heroes has been part of my recovery journey since I joined the Band of Brothers fellowship network in 2014. The opportunities they’ve given me through their sports recovery programme has led to me skiing with the Armed Forces Para Snow Sports Team and representing Great Britain at the Invictus Games. It’s really helped me to regain my confidence and experience the benefits of being around other like-minded people. More important to me though is that I’m hoping that the challenges I have had in dealing with sight loss will benefit them in their personal recovery journeys. I strongly believe that it’s not always about what you have achieved but how you have helped others achieve in life. For me I’m super proud to be part of this trek and raising funds for a great charity that changes people’s lives.

 

Sloe gin makers from across the world gathered at a village pub on the Kent/Sussex border to vie for the 'Sloe Gin World Champion' title on Sunday 10th December.

An annual event, hosted by The George Inn in Frant, near Tunbridge Wells, this was the 9th such competition, it attracted 36 entries from as far afield as Canada, Germany and Scotland, raising over £2,000 for charity. Over 200 people attended, most making a small donation to sample the gins.

Last year's runner-up, London-based Mother's Ruin, scooped the top prize in the commercial category, with local Anno Distillery of Marden in Kent, being awarded the silver medal.

There were also notable entries from The Lakes Sloe Gin in Cumbria, Devine Vineyards in British Columbia in Canada, Raisthorpe Manor Fine Foods of Malton, in North Yorkshire, Addingham Fruit Liqueurs in West Yorkshire, and Demijohn from Edinburgh, who were all Highly Commended.

On the winning sloe gin, judges noted: “intensely flavoured with delicious rich notes of plum and almond, balanced perfectly with the gin botanicals. It is made gin using a recipe handed down from the owner Becky Griffith's own mother. She employs an old school approach of cold infusion over a very long period of time, which is hand-made, hand filtered and hand bottled.

“We cut no corners, our sloe gin takes at least a year to become ready for sipping,” said Becky, adding, “We forage our sloes from all over Essex and the eastern fringes of the City, with the Essex sloes being particularly fine and full of flavour.”

The homemade category, which attracted more than 30 artisan entries, a record number, was won by pub regular George Shaw, a restaurant marketing consultant, who attributed the success of his winning concoction to the use of demerara, sugar, cinnamon, almonds and dried apple, measured in traditional Imperial, rather than metric, units.

“With two German contestants this year, I'm just glad it didn't come down to penalties,” said Shaw.

The runner-up was Liz Rayner from Mark Cross in East Sussex.

The four judges who awarded marks for character, sweetness, clarity and were Michael Voigt, General Manager of L'Oscar Hotel, a 5* boutique hotel opening in London in April, Alan Beauseigneur, a Master Mixologist from the luxury tea and fine food purveyor, The East India Company and Simon Brewster, Senior Private Client Manager, Buyer from Fine & Rare wine merchants and  Henrietta Green, food writer.

Commenting on the awards, judge Henrietta Green said; “It was a great day and fascinating to taste this typically British drink. The standard was interestingly high and a perfect winter's treat.”

All proceeds of the event were donated to the MS Society which supports people with Multiple Sclerosis.  One of the Sloe Gin World Championships founder, 'Merlot' Mike Matthews, who died suddenly in September this year, had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. The 'Merlot' Mike Matthews Memorial Trophy will be now presented each year to the winner of the home-made category.

Eric de Turckheim's French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine is the overall winner of the 2017 RORC Transatlantic Race. Whilst many of the record 23 yacht fleet are still racing, none of them can better Teasing Machine's corrected time under IRC. Teasing Machine is the smallest yacht to win the RORC Transatlantic Trophy which has been previously won by yachts in the Maxi Class.

"To win the RORC Transatlantic Race is just fantastic," commented Eric de Turckheim. "It is not just a personal achievement to win my first ever transatlantic race because it has been such a massive team effort. Teasing Machine was only taking part in its second offshore race and to build a team to that performance level within four months has required a huge commitment from everyone, but especially Laurent Pages."

Teasing Machine tactician Laurent Pagès and Navigator Jean-Luc Nélias form a formidable partnership. The Frenchman took the same roles for skipper Franck Cammas, winning the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, and Nélias won this year's Transat Jacques Vabre on Sodebo Ultim with Thomas Colville, smashing the race record.

"There were three main stories to this book," explained Laurent Pagès. "The start of the course put us in the wind shadow of the Canary Islands which was very difficult, but we had a very good first 24 hours. It was very important to be as early as possible to the ridge of high pressure because the door would close at some stage, and we did a very good job crossing the area of light winds. After that we knew we would have to go south eventually and we tried to remain in the pressure. Teasing Machine is a powerful boat that likes to stay in the wind. It has been a privilege to discuss the strategy of the race with Jean-Luc Nélias. It is another great victory and I hope there will be many more."

RORC Chief Executive Eddie Warden Owen was very pleased with the result and the race: "It has been no easy task for the Teasing Machine team to win this race and they have been pushed hard by a number of very competitive boats. Eric and his team showed their determination and expertise, setting a strong pace from day one and never letting up. This race marks the start of the 2018 RORC Season's Points Championship and Teasing Machine has set the standard required for the rest of the fleet who have their eyes on this prestigious prize."

 

Heritage Golf Club won the title of "Best Indian Ocean Golf Course" for the fourth consecutive year (2014,2015,2016,2017) at the 2017 World Golf Awards. This award highlights the constant efforts and hard work of the teams to stay on top. Whether it's management, course maintenance, Club House or the Academy, Heritage Golf Club is a course that is constantly questioning itself and which seeks to innovate in order to offer an ever improving experience to its clientele.

A pledge of quality and excellence that allows Heritage Resorts to organize and host the third edition of the prestigious AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, the world's first tournament jointly sanctioned by the European, Sunshine and Asian tours, at Heritage Golf Club. Appointment

World Golf Awards, excellence in golf tourism

The World Golf Awards ceremony celebrates and rewards excellence in golf tourism, including international standard courses and golf destinations. The goal is also to help improve and enrich the golfers' experience in order to stimulate the international market. The 2017 World Golf Awards focused on the 130 major countries that are shaping the future of this dynamic industry.

Votes were cast by professionals working in the golf travel and tourism industry, including senior executives, tour operators, travel agencies and media professionals. The public also has the right to vote. Votes are cast on a first past the post system to ensure impartiality and independence and are submitted online on the World Golf Awards website. The winners of each national category face the winners from other countries before the international winners are announced.

Carlisle golfer Mike Kelly put 11 years of frustration behind him to bag his first ace and join his son in the exclusive 'hole-in-one-club' after playing the popular Million Dollar Hole in One (MDHIO) competition in Portugal.

Kelly, 51, who plays off a seven handicap at Carlisle Golf Club, made his mark at Vale do Lobo's Royal Course, in the Algarve – one of MDHIO's 40 associated courses across Europe – to book his place in the grand final where competitors get the chance to shoot for a whopping $1m.

The MDHIO par-three challenge allows competitors to win a selection of golf-related prizes, from balls to pitch-mark repairers, for landing on the green.

If a competitor gets a hole-in-one they win an expenses-paid trip to the USA to play for a $1m prize if they can repeat the feat. And, from 2019, the winner also gets the choice of a trip to either the USA or Europe.

Kelly, a retired police officer who is now a British Red Cross volunteer coordinator, said: “My son Adam is 23 and had a hole-in-one when he was 12, so it's always been a goal of mine to match him. When I messaged him from Portugal, to tell him I had done it, he simply replied 'welcome to the hole-in-one club'.

“When Adam struck his hole-in-one, I was immensely proud but also very envious having never done it myself. It has taken a long time. I have been playing golf for 40 years, so it is fantastic to have finally done it. I was delighted.

“We are a competitive family. Over the years we've competed in our own Kelly Challenge competition, involving brothers and cousins – but not another hole-in-one from any of us. Adam would often remind us of that …”

Kelly was among a group of 24 golfers on the trip to play Vale do Lobo's two courses when he paid just €10 to enter the MDHIO game. His feat took place on the temporarily shortened 105-yard seventh hole on the Royal Course.

He added: “I hit it as sweet as I could; it landed six feet past the hole and slowly spun back. We all watched it go in and jumped for joy. It did cost a few bob as I was part of a large group, so there was a hefty bar bill.

“It was a great weekend, though. I have played MDHIO twice before. It is great fun and €10 well spent. You can also win prizes for landing on the green and I previously won a pair of sunglasses and a towel. I'm so pleased I paid my €10 … I mean why would you not? Imagine if you hadn't paid and you holed it!

“I'm now looking forward to the finals event in Las Vegas; yes, there's a chance to win $1m, but let's be realistic, it's taken me 40 years to get my first hole-in-one,” he smiled.

MDHIO, which has been running since 1990 in the USA and since 2000 in Europe, has steadily grown in popularity over the years with more than 50,000 people each year trying their luck at the various par-three holes at courses across Portugal, mainland Spain, Mallorca and the UK. Almost 50 golfers have achieved their ace while playing MDHIO in Europe, while more than twice that number missed out by not entering and acing the hole.

The annual final is held at a host of top venues in the USA and Europe, where finalists enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip and the chance to shoot for $1m, with this year's showdown held at the prestigious Golf & Spa Resort Grand Tirolia Kitzbühel, in Austria, which was attended by former England and Newcastle United football ace Alan Shearer.

MDHIO also offered golfers another chance to scoop $1m this year, after teaming up with American Golf. The retailer ran a simulator challenge at participating stores across the country with anyone who netted an ace – or the 10 nearest to the pin – going through to a final shootout at the Belfry.

If more proof were needed that the Rockies are in great shape, the Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup reached a positive snow control with FIS confirming the men's downhill and super-G races on November 25 and 26, 2017. The ladies will follow on December 1st.

Early season visitors will also be able to enjoy the Banff Craft Beer Festival which takes place November 23 - 25, 2017 in the Cave & Basin. Visitors to Marmot will have to wait until February 2nd when the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge will host the first ever Craft Beer and Barley Summit.

Jasper in January runs this year from January 13th-28th at which time there are deals on lift tickets and lots of extra activities such as fun races, a Dark Sky snowshoe and live entertainment.