Hollyoaks stars kick off the 120 mile race for Freshfields

Freshfields Animal Rescue will launch their Rescue to Rescue Cycle Challenge on January 27th with soap-star style.

The yearlong campaign, that aims to raise much needed funds for the Merseyside rescue centre, sees teams join together to complete the 120 mile distance, between the Liverpool Rescue centre and their other branch in Caernarfon, Wales.

One of the four teams kicking off the event will be the Hollyoaks Team.

Daisy Wood-Davis, star of Hollyoaks and a Freshfields Ambassador, said: “I have very little experience in long haul cycle rides but I jumped at the chance to help Freshfields raise money for their wonderful rescue centre.

“This is a real rescue centre, who truly care and fall in love with all of their animals no matter how they got there or what they are.”

Some of the Hollyoaks cast are about to cycle 150 miles for the animal rescue charity Picture © Freshfields Animal Rescue Centre

Joining Daisy in Liverpool ONE shopping centre to complete this challenge are some of her Hollyoaks co-stars; Jessica Ellis, Duayne Boachie, Luke Jerdy and Parry Glasspool.

Fundraising Manager, John Rullo said “The Cycle Challenge is symbolic of the link that connects our centres. The distance of 120 miles may be great, but with teamwork nothing is insurmountable.”

Fans of the Channel 4 soap can show their support by visiting on the day and leave a donation for the animals at the Ince Blundell-based shelter waiting for the right home.

If the event inspires you to help raise funds then Freshfields are eager to help anyone set up their own teams and host these kinds of events at their local workplace, supermarkets and other busy locations throughout the year.

For more information please contact John Rullo on john@freshfields.org.uk or 07577 464820.

REVIEW: Aladdin spreads a certain Scouse sparkle over the Liverpool ECHO Arena this Christmas

This years festive offering of Aladdin at the Echo Arena’s Auditorium was a performance not to be missed.

Friday’s opening night saw a near-sell out venue follow Aladdin – played by Britain’s Got Talent star Michael Auger – on his adventure to win the heart of Princess Jasmine (Jessica Johann) and stop the evil Abanazar (Dean Sullivan – Brookside’s Jimmy Corkhill) from world domination.

The stars of the show had plenty of opportunities to showcase their vocal talents, with the Slave of the Ring – brought to life by Radio City’s Leanne Campbell – having some as well as great on-stage banter with other cast members that had people in stitches at times.

Despite the Eastern setting of Aladdin, the cast made sure to bring us right back to the North-West with well placed references to Liverpool that cracked a few laughs.

Children’s entertainer Mark Jones’ was in his natural habitat on the pantomime stage – which made his clumsy character all the more likeable with the audience.

Whether Wishee Washee was swimming through cream cakes or just failing to know what was going on at all, his antics had the audience howling in laughter.

Another stand out performance came from Ruby Murry – who dominated the stage as the larger than life Widow Twankey, with various outfits that were just as funny as the one-liners and innuendo-riddled humour.

All photos © Liverpool Echo Arena

Tonight wasn’t the standard Christmas pantomime but overall, audiences left the arena looking pleased. With all the vital cliches we’ve all come to know and love (oh yes there was!), it had something to get everyone smiling and clapping along.

It was announced tonight that tickets are on sale for 2018’s Christmas pantomime, which was revealed to be Peter Pan.

Until then, Aladdin runs until Christmas Eve, with tickets still available from as little as £12.50.


4 stars



YouTube: Liverpool Echo Arena


BSL Choir bring Christmas cheer to Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Hundreds of winter holiday-goers stopped in their tracks as a choir with a difference spread some festive cheer at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

The choir performed some Christmas classics using British Sign Language (BSL).

Choir leader Helen Andrews, said: “It’s fabulous to see everyone engaging in BSL and even trying to copy along with us when they hear the songs.

It’s all about raising awareness for what we are aiming to do for the BSL community.”

YouTube: Andrew Nuttall

BSL For You (formerly Woolston Signing Choir) was formed in 2009 by Helen as an intergenerational community choir.

There are 125,000 deaf adults in the UK who use BSL to communicate, which is what makes the inclusive nature of the choir so appealing.

Co-leader David Lawton said: “It’s been great fun coming to the airport tonight and raising some much-needed awareness for what we do.”

With well over 100 public performances under their belt, the choir were raising money tonight to help fund their project, Deaf Nepal Expedition 2018, where both Helen and David will be working with Deaf children in Nepalese Deaf schools and repairing those with significant damage.

BSL Choir at Liverpool John Lennon Airport
BSL Choir ladies at Liverpool John Lennon Airport © Andrew Nuttall

Ranging from very young to the young at heart, choir members regularly meet up and learn how to communicate with their deaf friends and family through the use of BSL in general and then by performing well-known songs that those of us who can hear often take for granted.

If you would like to join the choir or help with the Deaf Nepal Expedition fundraising, then contact the choir on their Facebook page.



‘Psychic’ pig’s Liverpool derby win prediction falls flat

thumbnail_Jurgen reading sports pages
Jurgen Kloppig reading the sports page © Freshfields Animal Rescue

A ‘psychic’ pig living on Merseyside is looking a bit red-faced this morning, after he failed to predict the 1-1 outcome of Sunday’s Merseyside derby clash.

Quite how the pig in question, named Jurgen Kloppig, came to be wandering around the streets of Anfield remain a mystery to those at Freshfields Animal Rescue, near Crosby, where he now lives and his special psychic abilities have been brought into doubt.

John Rullo, Fundraising Manager at Freshfields, said: “Jurgen was quite upset after the match, he thought there was only one team in it and those were the vibes he was getting before the kick off.

“Perhaps in the cup, when he gets it right, people will see that he is a psychic pig after all.”

The prediction process involves putting some of the swine’s favourite foods inside blue, red and white boxes, to represent an Everton victory, a Liverpool win, or a draw respectively.

Quite simply, whatever box he eats from is his chosen outcome!

The rescued pig has made these ‘psychic’ predictions ahead of the last two Merseyside derby clashes, and has failed to get his hat-trick by guessing that Liverpool would continue with their back-to-back wins for a third year.

John added: “He did have a bit of controversy before the prediction, with our chickens getting in his way of his psychic powers.”

“He had a good sniff around all the boxes but went with Liverpool in the end. In a way, he knew they both had a good chance of scoring then.”

With threats to retire from psychic pig activity, only time will tell if Jurgen will make his predictions for the next derby clash.

YouTube: Andrew Nuttall

Runcorn Linnets superfan flies 6,000 miles from China to visit dream team

A Chinese football fan has made a staggering 6,000-mile journey to visit his favourite English football team.

Huang Wenbin, from Xiaman, was not heading to the North West for a Premier League giant – like Liverpool or Everton – but to see the Runcorn Linnets.

His love of Runcorn stems back to the Championship Manager 2001/02 computer game, where Webin took the team from non-league to Premier League victory.

In an interview with the Runcorn Weekly News, Huang said: “The first time I made the decision to find Runcorn FC was in 2015.

“I went to Liverpool by train to watch Steven Gerrard’s last match at Anfield. When the train was parking, I saw a sign for Runcorn.

“I told my friend I will be there again to find my club.”

Playing as manager of Runcorn FC in the game, Huang took the club from obscurity to Premier League victory, signing David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Steven Gerrard and Roy Keane.

The 37-year-old flew to Liverpool with his wife Lin Xiaoru and their children, Yandao and Geshu, this week to finally see the local club in person.

After spending a total of 27 hours travelling to the Cheshire town, his family were greeted by club chairman Mark Buckley and were given a tour of the infamous Millbank Stadium.

Mark said: “The Linnets have a Swedish and a Norweigan fan group, but China is a little bit special.

“I don’t think Huang realised that we were as glad to see him as he was glad to see us.”

Gallery Photos © Twitter / Huang Wenbin

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Read all about it! Garston pupils join in mass reading event

Liverpool school children have dropped what they’re doing this week to show how much they enjoy reading.

Pupils at Garston C of E School stopped their lessons on Friday afternoon (this afternoon) for a mass reading as part of the city-wide Liverpool Readathon.

Lead English teacher, Sarah Keiley said: “The kids have all really enjoyed doing something new like this. Staff have been really good at helping to include this focus on reading into their already busy lessons.”

The children took part in a variety of fun activities focused on reading and writing such as Harry Potter-themed phonetic potion making, visiting the local library and a few guests too.

Visitors to the school included local author Jude Lennon and children’s poet Craig Bradley.

Younger pupils looked at the popular book series ‘The Gruffalo’ with a set of exciting activities planned, such as role playing the story and creative writing to promote reading as a fun thing to do, even out of school!

Mrs Keiley added: “This is the first time that we have took part in the Liverpool Readathon event and I’m sure the kids are looking forward to the next one already.

“It’s been a great way to push the kids to be reading more at home, it really is a wonderful feeling when a child comes into class and tells me all about what they read last night.”

The event culminated on Friday afternoon with every class meeting in the school assembly hall for a massive group reading session for 20 minutes.

Jennifer Holder, the Reading Coordinator for Liverpool Learning Partnership, said: “It has been brilliant to come along to the school this afternoon to see what Garston C of E have been doing.

“They have really embraced the event and it’s great to see all the kids, and even the staff getting stuck into a good book!”


Check out a few photos that were taken during the week © Twitter: Garston C of E

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Wirral woman devastated and feels her family isn’t welcome in Britain anymore after Brexit result announced

The shock result of the referendum vote in June 2016, which now places the country on the road to leaving the European Union, and brought about fierce debates and, for some, forced about some life-changing decisions.

Originally from Nuremburg in Germany, Wirral resident Wibke Hott came to the UK almost 20 years ago as a student and has lived in Merseyside ever since.

After the result was announced, she and her husband Graham, who is British, decided to leave. In the summer, they will pack up their life in Wallasey and take their six-year-old daughter, Josie, and three cats to Germany.

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 19.45.41
Wibke Hott and her family, who are leaving the UK after the Brexit result © Wibke Hott

She said: “When the result to leave came in, I cried.

“All of a sudden there was this feeling of ‘oh my gosh, I really cannot stay here’.”

In the referendum last summer, Liverpool was one of the minority of cities across the UK that voted in favour of staying in the European Union, with 58% of local voters backing the ‘Remain’ campaign. 51% of Wirral residents shared this view.

The qualified psychotherapist took the opportunity to voice her opinions on the matter when BBC Question Time arrived in Wallasey prior to the public taking to the polls.

An infuriated Wibke found herself regularly shouting at the television in the lead-up to the Brexit vote and to have the opportunity to voice these opinions to the political world after the vote was not one she was willing to pass over.

Her husband, Graham, said: “She’s watching the programme most times anyway and you can see how it gets her in such a state of rage.

“With it being held just round the corner from the house there was no way she wasn’t going to be in that audience.”

YouTube: Andrew Nuttall (Video Extract © BBC Question Time)

Following her appearance on the programme, the mother-of-one received almost 200 social media messages from complete strangers about the issue and its implications for the future.

These came from Brits living abroad or fellow EU citizens, who praised the German national for voicing what so many of them were struggling to come to terms with.

Despite her pleas, a nation had spoken.

With a majority of 52% of voters supported the campaign for the country to end its 43-year-long relationship with the EU.

Wallasey MP, and leading Labour Remain campaigner, Angela Eagle said: “I was devastated by the result of the EU referendum.

Wallasey MP Angela Eagle expressed her views on Brexit after the ‘Remain’ campaign failed © Angela Eagle / Twitter

“Too many of our supporters were taken in by right-wing arguments and the case to remain in the EU was made with half-hearted ambivalene rather than full-throated clarity.”

The move for the family across the English Channel will no doubt be an emotional one, filled with tears for all involved.

The mother-of-one said: “The move will really affect our daughter most of all, and for her to have to leave behind her British grandmother and cousins is going to absolute crush her.”

The family recently spent time in Germany over the Christmas period, where the idea of moving there was first introduced to Josie.

The six-year-old, who is currently being home educated, was introduced to other children at a German school where the move was planned.

Wibke said: “Once we took Josie to that school her whole attitude about the move changed. She loved the attention of being ‘the foreigner’ and all the questions that the children had about England.

She also expressed how their window of opportunity was small, but convenient, as German children typically start school at around six to seven-years-old.

Wibke said that the familiy’s story is not really interesting and that they decided to leave before anything really happened with regard to Brexit, it was the decision of the public which made up her mind.

She said: “Some people who are EU nationals may feel completely trapped as a result of this decision. For us, we are fortunate that this window of opportunity presented itself.

“It saddens me to leave, but in my heart I know that I simply cannot stay any longer.”

Doors open at new Bootle cookery school

A Bootle-based cookery school has opened and is ready to teach the next generation of caterers.

StedyChefs has been in the process of building their business targeted at students with disabilities and learning difficulties.

The doors officially opened on Friday with help from the Mayor of Sefton, Councillor Iain Brodie-Browne.

The new StedyChefs in training with Head Chef, Lisa Jamieson [2nd from right]. Pic © Andrew Nuttall
He said: “It’s been great to come down here and officially open up the school. A big congratulations is in order to all involved for a successful open day too.”

The food continued to flow from the ovens in the newly-opened outlet, as the new students were providing guests with all the refreshments including sandwiches, chips and cakes.

Stephen Bygrave and Sean Ellis, who each have over 30 years’ combined catering experience and met whilst working at the city’s Alma De Cuba bar, founded StedyChefs and have now set up the kitchen to educate people.

Mr Ellis, Co-Director of StedyChefs, said: “Today has been a great success, we’ve had a fantastic response and a lot of interest from the students and we’re very excited to officially start the programme now.”

Mr Bygrave said that the company decided to include an additional communal area so that parents are able to stay and watch their children flourish in their new career path, sampling their dishes and providing an element of comfort for those who find the experience unnerving.

The Mayor of Sefton unveils the golden plaque, officially opening the school.  Pic © Andrew Nuttall

Head Chef Lisa Jamieson has over eight years of experience working in the culinary trade and is now passing on those skills to the new generation of Stedy-Chefs.

It wasn’t all fun and games, as chefs worked hard behind the scenes in the new kitchen area cooking up a storm.

The qualified sports therapist said: “The students have been great today and really took everything on board. We’ve had a good time in the kitchen and they’ve all learnt something new, I’m sure they’ll be great chefs one day.”

The courses run at varied lengths, depending on the needs of the student. They can range from small, attentive sessions or full, year-long courses.

Students who attended the open day said they were happy with the outcome and felt confident to return on Monday morning for the start of their development with the company.

YouTube: StedyChefs

Football rivals walk stadium to stadium for charity

It’s not often Manchester United and Liverpool FC fans share the same common goal, but best friends Scott Baron and Craig Holland enjoyed a winning result together – raising hundreds of pounds for two causes close to their hearts.

Scott, 31, from Grapenhall in Warrington, has started his charitable quest by putting football rivalries aside to walk from Anfield to Old Trafford, accompanied by his childhood friend and Liverpool FC supporter Craig, 32, from Great Sankey.

The men completed the 34 mile walk from Anfield to Old Trafford, kicking off a year of charity fundraising © Scott Baron

The former British Army soldier has devised ‘Scott’s Dirty Dozen’, a series of 12 challenges, such as cycling around Anglesey; a 10km army obstacle course, and completing the Three Peaks mountain adventure challenge to support the ‘Blue Apple Heroes’ war veterans’ charity and ‘Beating Bowel Cancer’.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to do something for charity and I’m not one to do things by half. So, this year I’m going to push myself and lots of different friends to their limits.

“Walking from Anfield to Old Trafford is just the start.”

The Warrington duo set off from Anfield at 6am and reached their destination of Old Trafford 11 hours later, raising £340 for their chosen charities.

The father-of-two said: “This challenge goes to show that Manchester United and Liverpool fans can come together in a very powerful and productive way.”

To support Scott in his charitable quest, visit https://scottsdirtydozen.wordpress.com/.

Liverpool Pyjama party to help homeless children as winter draws closer

The number of children who are left homeless this Christmas is set to reach an eight-year year high with more than 120,000 on the streets across the UK, according to analysis by leading housing charity Shelter.

In a bid to help, Pyjama Party Liverpool was set up in response to the growing number.

A spokesperson for Pyjama Party Liverpool said: “From the outset, we only anticipated that we would collect pyjamas between family and friends and donate to our local family shelter or hostel.

A recent haul of warm pyjamas for homeless children in Liverpool. Photo © Pyjama Party Liverpool

“However, the project grew really quickly and we were receiving messages of support and donations from Italy, Portugal, America as well as other counties in the UK, it was totally unexpected but once we saw the response we knew we had to continue and we are now in our fourth year.”

Homelessness charity Shelter estimates that more than 125,000 homeless children are living in the UK today, many of whom are on Merseyside. Some of whom will be spending Christmas living in a hostel or other temporary accommodation.

As temperatures have recently dropped across Merseyside, it is more important than ever to contribute to this cause.

“Even one homeless child, in our city or anywhere in fact is one too many. Children should not be homeless at any time of year, especially at Christmas, when everything is centred around the home and family.”

With just under three weeks to go until the festive season, the charity are urging people to think about those who are in desperate need this winter and what their donations mean to them.

YouTube: Jack Maguire, JMU Journalism

“Pyjamas are only a small thing, but they represent warmth and comfort and show let the children know that someone is thinking of them. Buying a pair of pyjamas for a child doesn’t seem like enough but they mean so much to the children, families and projects we work with. Having new pyjamas on Christmas Eve is kind of a tradition isn’t it?”

The charity received over 2,000 pairs of pyjamas in 2015 from across Merseyside and, with drop off points across the region, it couldn’t be easier to help Pyjama Party Liverpool spread a bit of warmth across the city this Christmas.

Some of the Liverpool drop-off points are J B Leitch Solicitors Limited (by L1 John Lewis), Waterstones in Liverpool ONE and all branches of the Co-Op Food and Co-Op Funeralcare across the Merseyside region. Collections close on December 16th 2016.