NATIONAL BLOOD WEEK: NHS encourages blood donors to come forward


As National Blood Week (19-25 June 2017) reaches its end, the U.K National Health Service is encouraging people to come forward and donate blood to help those who need it most, with an online strategy covering websites and social media such as Facebook, HEM News Agency exclusively reports.

The NHS Blood and Transplant division launched National Blood Week with a campaign to get more people visiting their local blood donation centre with a series of advertisements and even a hashtag #ImThere. The campaign was set up to celebrating new and existing blood donors making a difference and helping save people’s lives, according to the NHSBT website.



Blood donors are being encouraged to proudly announce they have donated via social media to help overcome the reluctance of other members of the public to donate and to solve shortages of certain blood groups, particularly those associated with ethnic minorities.

The NHSBT is particularly keen to get on board more donors of black African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, who are currently vastly underrepresented in the blood donation pool. An appeal was launched to increase the number of black British donors by 40,000, to help fight the effects of sickle cell anaemia among the African and Afro-Caribbean communities. The agency has received support from television presenter Scarlette Douglas, whose brother was a blood transfusion recipient. She spoke with sickle cell sufferer Aaron Thomas on the BBC One Show about the condition and the need for more donors from this community.

Donors are being encouraged to add frames to their Facebook profile photos and special ‘Twibbons’ to their Twitter pages. They can also take a selfie at the blood donation centre and use the #ImThere tag, to get their friends and family to join in and donate too.

NHSBT is also keen to reach out to more people with blood group O- as stocks of this blood type are running very low. The agency runs twenty three permanent centres and visits thousands of venues across England.


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“Give blood” – NHS Blood and Transplant

“National Blood Week 2017” – NHS Blood and Transplant


NEW ENGLAND MANAGER?: Gareth Southgate to interview for top national football job this Monday


VIJAY SHAH via PA Sports and ESPN FC

Current caretaker England football team manager and former international star Gareth Southgate has said he will undergo an interview for the manager’s job this Monday, ESPN FC reported via PA Sports yesterday.

Southgate has been the interim manager after previous incumbent Sam Allardyce was expelled from the role last September after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal concerning players, their agents and FIFA. According to the FA (Football Association, the governing body of English football) chief executive Martin Glenn, Southgate has said he wants to make the role permanent and the two will hold further talks on the matter at the start of next week, ESPN reports.



Before taking over from the disgraced Allardyce, Southgate was head of the England under-21s side. He quickly assumed managerial position after Allardyce was caught on camera telling an undercover reporter from the Daily Telegraph newspaper ‘controversial comments’ about overriding FIFA rules concerning player purchases.

So far, Southgate has shown some promise in the role. In addition to his many years of experience at the top end of English football, Southgate has now overseen two wins and two draws of the four matches under his guidance.

It is not known if anyone else is also been interviewed for the manager’s post. Glenn refused to be drawn into naming other candidates, citing confidentiality in the FA’s interviewing processes. He only went as far as saying that Southgate was one of their stronger choices.

He added: “Not just [because] the facts of the last four games have shown a lot of signs of encouragement but the fact he’s worked in the FA for the last couple of years.

”He’s run the Under-21s well, he understands how the international set-up works so we’re going to be having discussions with him in the coming weeks to really understand what his learnings are, what his ambition for the England team is and really, really understand that well and then we’ll take a considered view.”

Gareth Southgate was born in Watford, a commuter town north of London in 1970 and began his playing career at London side Crystal Palace as a central midfielder. His prowess on the pitch soon led him to captain the side and saw them win the 1993/1994 First Division cup. He later transferred to Aston Villa before eventually becoming manager of Middlesbrough in 2006, after joining them five years earlier. He also made appearances internationally starting with Euro 1996, the 1998 World Cup and then again at Euro 2000. In 2013 he began his first national position as head of the youth side for England.

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“Gareth Southgate’s interview for England job set for Monday – reports” – PA Sport via ESPN FC Global (18 November 2016)
“Gareth Southgate” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
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ASHES 2015: England and Australia to clash again from today

One of the most intense rivalries in the world of cricket is set to resume today as England face the Aussies for the Ashes. The Test series begins today (July 8) and will run until the 12th. The matches take place at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Wales – neutral territory for these two intense rivals and cricketing champions. Australia is the 2013-14 champion of the tournament, which began in 1883, and where these two teams vie to take the Ashes, a small urn from the 19th century said to contain the ashes of a wicket.

The Australia team, captained by Michael Clarke, is eager to reverse a bad run of fortune in the last few Test matches, and call a halt to a long 14-year stretch without a series win in England, while the home team have their sights set on taking back the prized urn and restoring English cricketing, and national, pride.

Australia won 5-0 at home in the last ashes two years previously. However, the Aussies’ series tally has been less impressive on UK soil. It won its last series in 2001, more than a decade ago, and crashed out of the record in 2005, 2009 and 2013, according to the International Cricket Council (ICC), making the 2015 series a highly anticipated and even contest.

(c) Alastair Cook/Facebook

The Australian captain Clarke was part of those three defeats and is eager to save face both for himself and the Aussies by securing the Ashes this time round. He has already a very established and successful leadership career, the ICC states.

England will be headed by accomplished captain Alastair Cook and will also be managed by new coach Trevor Bayliss. England made an exceptional performance in recent One-Day International and Test games against New Zealand, playing an aggressive brand of cricket that promised results and entertainment. Andrew Strauss, a former England captain and current director of cricket, was positive that England would be no pushover. “I think if Australia do win, they’ll have to play some outstanding cricket to do so,” he said.

The last Ashes to be held in England was a positive one for the Three Lions, who secured a comfortable 3-0 victory, although close performances on both sides made this a far from easy victory. Australia soon acquired a new leader, Darren Lehmann, who inspired the team from Down Under to a stirring victory against the motherland of cricket, and earned that spectacular 5-0 usurping that brought smiles on faces from Perth to Sydney and a drubbing for the beleaguered England outfit. Things have changed for the Aussies since that glorious match in 2013-2014. The team will be missing their sting in the attack. Ryan Harris recently retired from the international game, after wowing audiences with his ingenious bowling in the England series of 2013, as well as the return leg in Australia in that season’s Ashes. Australia’s pace attack now will be mainly reliant on remaining international team members Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who performed well in a series win against the West Indies. Starc, the Man of the Tournament during Australia’s ICC World Cup 2015 win, has been helping demolish wickets with that famed hard red ball, and he says that it was his consistency in play that helped him to that glory. “I have worked a long time for my stock delivery being at a left-hander,” said Starc. “The consistency is getting to where it needs to be and I’m starting to see results.”

England’s counter attack against a notoriously challenging team could well rest with County Durham ‘pacer’ Mark Wood. Fresh to the international pitches, Wood has already done well for himself and justified the selector’s pick for England. He recently picked up nine wickets in the two Tests against New Zealand in his debut series. The spinning contingent will be supported by Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, both very meticulous in their department, and will be useful tools in England’s pace attack assault against Australia.

In other Ashes news, former captain of England, Kevin Pietersen has urged his old team to be like the Australians and go for more sledging, writing in The Telegraph that “this is sporting war” and that he did not want to see “people laughing and joking with each other”. England has won the toss to bat first today. Meanwhile, media giants Sky Sports are already offering up their predictions for the outcome of this year’s Ashes.

With both sides keyed up to win a series that has held a special place in the hearts of players and fans for more than a century, the action promises to be enthralling from start to finish.

Teams (from):

England: Alastair Cook (Captain), Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wicket keeper), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Mark Wood, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Adil Rashid.

Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke (Captain), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wicket keeper), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Fawad Ahmed, Peter Nevill.

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“England, Australia set for Ashes battle” – International Cricket Council/ICC Development (International) Limited (7 July 2015)
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EAST DEVON ROMAN HOARD: Builder uncovers 20,000 ancient coins in field

A semi-retired builder searching for treasure in the east of the English county of Devon struck historical gold after recently uncovering a hidden hoard of around 20,000 coins dating from the Roman occupation of Britain, national newspaper the Daily Mail reports. The collection of coins, believed to be in the value of £100,000 (US $162,440) was chanced upon by builder and amateur metal detecting enthusiast Laurence Egerton in east Devon, an area in south-western England famed for its picturesque moors and fields.

The hoard of Roman money is believed to be one of the largest hauls of historical coinage ever discovered in the U.K. Egerton, aged 51, was in a local field searching for finds with his metal detector when he stumbled across the hoard of copper-alloy coins, possibly low-denomination coinage issued by the Roman Empire for use by their colonists in their northern most province. The Daily Mail reported that Egerton was so concerned about the possibility of his hoard being stolen that he camped out in the field for three nights, guarding the discovery site while archaeologists arrived to explore the site in more detail.

Dubbed the Seaton Down Hoard, the assortment of 22,000 copper-alloy coins may have been the accumulated savings of a private individual keeping the money safe for a ‘rainy day’ or an informal and well-hidden bank of wages perhaps left by a Roman soldier. It is likely the hoarder died or lost track of the burial site leaving the coins to lay unseen for nearly two thousand years. A picture supplied to the Daily Mail by the British Museum and picture agency Apex shows the Seaton Down Hoard contained in a heavy duty plastic box. The coins appear in still good condition despite being buried for two millennia, but all show signs of corrosion, namely a green rust called verdigris, caused by the copper in the coins reacting with moisture and acids from their surroundings. Many of the coins bear the usual emperor’s profile of Roman coinage and some show two standing figures which possibly have allegorical origins. An analysis by local historian Bill Horner determined that the coins dated back to between 260-348 AD and bear portraits of the Roman emperor Constantine, other emperors ruling alongside him, members of his family. Emperors that ruled either side of Constantine’s reign also make an appearance. According to Horner, Britain at that time was in a prosperous financial state with many Romans and natives flush with money. As one of the outermost provinces of the Roman Empire, Britannia, as the Romans knew it, was a relatively safe area at a time when rebellions on the European mainland against Roman colonial rule made matters unstable there. The Roman colonists in Britain escaped the worst of the tensions and maintained their high standards of living, building many luxurious villas in the south of England. However, freedom struggles and numerous invasions and episodes of infighting in the Empire soon brought financial uncertainty to the rich Romans and Romanised Britons of east Devon, who started hoarding as a security measure.

Romanised farms, or Villas including several in East Devon, were at their richest.

‘But the province was ultimately drawn into Imperial power struggles that, along with increasing attacks from Germanic, Irish and Caledonian tribes, resulted in the rapid decline and end of Roman rule.

‘Coastal areas such as East Devon were on the front-line, and this may be the context for the coin hoard.

‘There were no high street banks, so a good, deep hole in the ground was as secure a place as any to hide your savings in times of trouble, or if you were going away on a long journey.

‘But whoever made this particular deposit never came back to retrieve it” Horner explained.

(c) British Museum via Joanne Bailey.

Believed to have been buried in the 4th century AD, the Seaton Down Hoard is only the third largest such discovery in recent times. In 2010, the Frome Hoard made headlines with its total of 52,503 coins. The second largest was the Nether Compton hoard of 22,703 found in the neighbouring county of Dorset in 1989. Laurence Egerton’s find has been declared ‘treasure trove’ under a Crown law for the protection of British antiquities. A Devon Coroner’s inquest held earlier this month saw the coins donated to the British Museum who are now holding the Seaton Down collection in storage.

A video shot by Egerton shows him wearing gloves and extracting the dirt covered coins from a pit in a muddy field. Despite the muck, archaeologists reckon that his find is one of the best preserved findings of coinage from the last centuries of the Roman Empire in Britain they have ever witnessed. The video later shows archaeologists working on site removing clumps of coins heavily concentrated in a non-descript part of the field.

Interest in the Seaton Down coins, which do not contain any gold or silver, have nevertheless soared between the many museums in Britain concerned with Roman antiquities. The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter, the county town (capital) of Devon already houses a formidable collection of Romano-British artefacts from the local area and is eager to acquire the coins, and is running a fundraising campaign to purchase the coins outright from the British Museum to display for the benefit of local historians, researchers and students.

Although only reported this month, Laurence Egerton made the initial discovery in November 2013 after obtaining permission from the landowner of the field in Honeyditches, eastern Devon, where previously the remains of a Roman villa, or country home had been noted. The find was then reported to the landowner, a privately-owned company named Clinton Devon Estates, in accordance with the Treasure Act 1996, a parliamentary legal instrument aimed at safeguarding artefacts of national and historical value.

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, Mr Egerton said: “It’s by far the biggest find I’ve ever had. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

‘Between finding the hoard and the archaeologists excavating the site, I slept in my car alongside it for three nights to guard it.

‘On this occasion, the ground where I was working was quite flinty and I found what I thought were two Roman coins which is actually quite unusual in Devon.

‘As I began working in a grid formation in the surrounding area I had a signal on the metal detector which means that there is probably iron involved.

‘Most detectors are set up to ignore iron but I decided to dig the earth at that spot and immediately reached some iron ingots which were laid directly on top of the coins’

‘The next shovel was full of coins – they just spilled out over the field.

The coins may have originally being held in a cloth bag at the time of their deposition, but that the ravages of time and chemicals from the nearby soil might have caused the bag to rot away leaving the coins to scatter underground. The find is said to be unusual for the region as the county’s acidic soils would normally decompose any metal left in it, yet the coins are in a remarkable state of preservation.

The United Kingdom, with the exception of Scotland, became part of the Roman Empire in a 55 BC invasion of the area by renowned emperor Julius Caesar, who wrested control from the numerous Celtic tribes previously settled there. Many of the conquered Celts were permitted to continue striking their own coins, which were often modelled on imported Greek coins but made more simplified by the native minters. The Romans began importing their own coinage, mainly to pay Roman soldiers and imperial mercenaries stationed in the UK, and also began minting coins locally and to celebrate their victories in Britain. The gold aureus was used for large payments, but not much for day-to-day transactions. It had a fixed value of 25 denarii until at least 200 AD. The silver denarius was the main coin of value in general circulation. The low value coinage of sestertii, dupondii, and asses was struck variously in bronze, orichalcum and copper. Denarii were paid to soldiers at a rate of one a day, while asses, or aes, were believed to have been used to pay for supplies obtained from local traders by the Romans. However by the time of the Seaton Down Hoard, Roman British coinage had become almost worthless owing to imperial financial mismanagement and debasing of the hard currency.

“Builder unearths vast treasure trove of 22,000 Roman coins worth up to £100,000 – then spends three nights sleeping on site to guard his hoard” – Victoria Woollaston, Mail Online – Science & Tech/Associated Newspapers Ltd (26 September 2014)
“Coinage In Roman Britain The Coinage Of Britain During The Roman Occupation” – Peter R Thompson, The Ormskirk and West Lancashire Numismatic Society
Joanne Bailey, Twitter
“Seaton Down Hoard – 22,000 Roman Coins unearthed in Devon” – ClintonDevonEstates, YouTube GB (26 September 2014)


LADBROKES: Cheshire student nets over £1 million in betting shop lottery

A student in Chester, Cheshire, can finally wave goodbye to Pot Noodles and baked beans after she recently won just over £1 million on a lottery run by a local betting shop. Jirtchaya Klongjarn, 34 years, visited a town centre branch of the betting shop chain Ladbrokes, where she placed two £1 bets for the Friday draw of the ‘49’s ‘ lottery. She successfully chose all six winning numbers and netted herself a cool £1,000,990.

It was a case of ‘second time lucky’ for Klongjarn, who only began playing the 49’s lottery just four months ago. She first won £601 in June 2014 and narrowly missed out on a £200,000 windfall after selecting a different draw for her numbers mistakenly earlier in the summer. Among her lucky numbers, the Thai student picked 8 and 12 based on her birthday of 12th August, while the rest of the lucky digits were picked at random.

I’m over the moon and I still can’t believe it,” Ms Klongjarn said in an interview after the big win. “I told my friends I had won the 49’s and that I might have a chance to win a million, then when I finally found out I was so excited. It still doesn’t feel real and I’ve barely slept. I had some bad luck earlier on in the year but this has made up for it. My friends all play the 49’s and they now say I’m the luckiest in the whole group.

Ladbrokes’ spokesperson Alex Donohue said in an interview with betting website that the company was just as happy for their lucky punter, notwithstanding the huge payout. He commented “We couldn’t be happier for our history-making millionaire,

She’s defied the odds in style.

While not as popular as the Lotto (National Lottery) – which draws the lion’s share of non-professional gamblers in the UK, the 49’s lottery is very popular among the hundreds of thousands of customers that visit Ladbrokes’ branches every week. Just like its popular rivals, punters chose a set of numbers and hope to match all the numbers to get the top prize. The maximum cash giveaway is £1,000,000 if a 49’s player successfully matches all six numbers in one of the twice-daily draws held.

Jirtchaya’s windfall is the second million pound pay-out for Ladbrokes in the past 12 months, after another customer in Bournemouth scooped a seven-figure sum after placing a £4 stake in December 2013.

The wins at opposite ends of the country has certainly stunned Ladbrokes just as much as the lucky winners, Donohue added: “These jackpots are won once in a blue moon so the odds of two coming along in under a year are very long

We’re not expecting any sympathy though and we’re paying out with a smile.

Ms. Klongjarn plans to visit Chester Racecourse with her friends to repeat her success at the races as well as celebrate her win. She also plans to share her fortune with her mother, who is living back in Thailand.

“ player wins a million pounds” {press release} – via (10 September 2014)
“Ladbrokes Player Wins A Million Pounds” – (9 September 2014)
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BANK HOLIDAY WASHOUT: Bad weather expected for southern Britain

Holidaymakers planning to visit beaches and festivals in the south of the United Kingdom this August Bank Holiday weekend have been warned by weather forecasters that unseasonably bad weather could ruin their plans and cause travel chaos on English and Welsh motorways, according to a new report out today by The Guardian newspaper.

The Meteorological Office (Met Office), the U.K.’s national weather institute, is predicting cold and damp weather to cover most of southern Britain, possibly impacting visitors to the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, as well as sunseekers traditionally heading out to popular beaches like BrightonGreat Yarmouth and Shoeburyness. The Met Office has also issued a ‘yellow’ weather warning for southern England on Monday. The rest of the British Isles will escape the worst of the rainy weather, but will still feel cold despite spells of sunshine. On Monday itself, Scotland and northern England will feel cold to start off with, but average midday temperatures are predicted to reach 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Ironically the Bank Holiday for August is only marked in England and Wales and is not being observed in Scotland. The precipitation and likelihood of ruined holidays and unsafe driving conditions could temporarily dent the British tourism industry, which usually sees record numbers of ‘staycation’  tourists taking advantage of an extra day off work and the long weekend to go on short breaks to the seaside and other places of interest. The tourism body Visit England is expecting five million Britons to plan an overnight holiday trip this weekend.

English: Rain Swept Beach - Skegness Looking n...
English: Rain Swept Beach – Skegness Looking north from about level with the seal sanctuary. It was an awful day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A short spell of heavy rain was reported yesterday in the east London area at around 6:00 pm and lasted for approximately twenty minutes according to one observer, despite much of the day having fine and sunny weather. The Met Office expects heavy rain and winds to roll in across the south on Monday, ruining the last long Bank Holiday weekend of 2014. Their yellow weather alert could spell disaster for people using motorways as they return from weekend breaks as surface water on the tarmac will make driving conditions more hazardous. Overnight temperatures, which are already considerably low for this time of year, will plummet to freezing point during this weekend with the first frosts appearing in the north of the UK since the summer weather dissipated. Monday’s weather warning will apply to parts of Wales, London, south-east England, as well as the south-west and East Anglia regions, where temperatures will be at an unseasonal average of 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Met Office said: “Heavy rain is expected to affect many southern areas of Britain at times during bank holiday Monday, with strong winds a possible additional factor close to southern coasts. The public should be aware that there may be some impacts to holiday traffic and other outdoor activities.

A complex area of low pressure looks like bringing an unpleasant day’s weather to much of the south on Monday. Rainfall amounts look like exceeding 20mm quite widely, while a few places might see around 40mm, so there will be a lot of surface water and spray on roads.

The spray will probably be made worse by strong winds across some southern areas; gusts to around 40mph may occur at some coastal locations although this will depend on the exact track of the low pressure.

The Met Office uses a weather warning system consisting of colours, rather like traffic signals. There are three colours used for what the Office terms as ‘severe weather’ and five in use for instances of ‘extreme weather’. The basic colour scheme used by the Met for communications with the public and media outlets consists of light green for ‘no severe weather’ (normal meteorological conditions); yellow for ‘be aware’ (some unusual and impacting weather to be expected); orange for ‘be prepared’ (bad weather expected, people are advised to be vigilant and check weather forecasts) and red for ‘take action’. Red warnings are the most severe and the public are advised to be extra vigilant, to follow orders from authorities and to be prepared for ‘extraordinary measures’. Orange alerts are usually in place for localised flooding, while red alerts are actioned during periods of intense flooding and extreme weather such as hurricanes.

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“Bank holiday weather set to be cold and damp in southern Britain” – Press Association via The Guardian – News – UK news – Weather/Guardian News and Media Limited (24 August 2014)
“Key to warning colours” – Meteorological Office
“File:Rain Swept Beach – Skegness – – 779989.jpg” – Colin Babb, via Wikimedia Commons (24 April 2008)

FRANK LAMPARD: Ex-Chelsea footballer to sign short-term contract with Man. City

The English and ex-Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard has announced this past Friday that he is planning to sign up with rivals Manchester City in a short-term contract, reports the Guardian newspaper. The ‘shock’ move could occur within the next week or so and will mean that Lampard could end facing the Blues (Chelsea, his old team) twice while playing in City’s kit. Lampard will then switch nations to play for an American team being developed by the Mancunians. City will be squaring off against Chelsea, and Lampard’s former teammates, at their Etihad Stadium on the 21st September, which he may well feature in if his contract is signed and stamped.

Manchester City currently has an investment in the US soccer leagues, running a team, New York City, who will appear for fixtures in the new Major League Soccer tournaments. However the New Yorker eleven, which will begin kicking about in March next year, may well have Lampard back on their team sheet once his temporary contract with owners City is rolled-up, meaning they can transfer him to their MLS franchise. Lampard signed a two-year contract previously with NYC FC, after vacating Chelsea and English football earlier this year. The former Chelsea midfielder had previously turned down an opportunity to appear in Melbourne, Australia for another of City’s international club ventures, while also becoming a signing priority for Queen’s Park Rangers, who he also declined. The 36-year-old has now made it clear that he favours a spell with Manuel Pellegrini’s side. According to Metro, Lampard has rejected the prospect of playing football in Australia as he had expressed a desire to remain in England,which will seem confusing for many as Lampard will be flying across the Atlantic once his stint in Manchester has run its course. He had also previously stated that he would not want to appear for any other Premier League team apart from the Blues after leaving Stamford Bridge.

The move to New York will see Lampard keeping his levels of fitness up as he nears the end of his active career and will also benefit Manchester City in making him free and available for their Premier League and Champions League squads. He is likely to sign a six-month contract which will run until he begins pre-season training with New York. The Lampard signing also means that City can increase the number of English players on their teams to counteract criticism that English clubs are too reliant on foreign players and not making enough use of home-grown talent. For Lampard, who is only a handful of years from making his retirement from the game, it will also keep him fresh in the eyes of England national team manager Roy Hodgson, who has considered him one of his star players. City hopes to have Lampard on the training field with them before their Community Shield clash against Arsenal, on Sunday 10th August.

Frank Lampard recently spoke about the importance of keeping fit ahead of making his debut in MLS, scheduled for March 2015 at the earliest.

I will have to keep fit. I’ll have to train at the very top level, whether that’s on my own or with a club somewhere, I’ll have to see,’ he said at his New York City unveiling.

‘Of course I’ll keep fit and make sure my levels don’t drop too much. When we come here for pre-season I want to be ready to go. I want to fly out of the blocks. I don’t want to come out sluggish.

The ‘shock move’ by Lampard is bound to raise eyebrows among many in the Premier League, especially at his old side Chelsea, where he became a legend of the team affectionately known as ‘Chelski‘ after thirteen trophy-packed years with them. The move may well be even more of a shock for Chelsea’s fans, who worshipped him in his days playing for the south London side at their hallowed home in Stamford Bridge. Many may well see his joining of one of their biggest Premiership rivals as a Judas move and a betrayal, while others have described it as a chance for Lampard to make his last few years playing professionally a success and an guiding inspiration for the young and fresh-faced American footballers he will encounter in the ‘Big Apple’.

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“Frank Lampard set for shock short-term move to Manchester City” – Steve Brenner, The Guardian – Sport/Guardian News and Media Limited (1 August 2014)
“Frank Lampard to make shock loan move to Manchester City to maintain fitness ahead of MLS debut” – Vaishali Bhardwaj, Metro – Sport/Associated Newspapers Limited (1 August 2014)
“Frank Lampard Close to Shock Move to Manchester City” – Chris Deeley, FTB PRO (1 August 2014)
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HOUSE PRICES: 20 per cent higher near a racecourse

An article published by the U.K. newspaper The Independent today claims that houses located in the vicinity of a racecourse can cost up to twenty per cent more than those situated further away. In one cited example, houses located near Wetherby Racecourse are 119% higher than the average property price for the entire county of West Yorkshire.

New research suggests that houses located in the same postcode district as a racecourse are 19.6 per cent higher than the average for other houses in the same county as a whole. The study on house prices and areas was conducted by Chestertons Research using data from property prices website Zoopla.

According to the research and Zoopla’s figures, houses in the same postcode area as a ‘mixed racecourse’ command a 25 per cent price premium. Move near a national hunt course and you will pay 18.5 per cent above average prices. if you decide to put roots down in the vicinity of a traditional flat-racing venue then you will likely pay the smallest increase – at 15 per cent, the figures claim. In London and surrounding areas, which has several mixed racecourse locations, the average house price asked for by sellers and agents is £346,355. The average for postcodes with a flat racing course stands at £276,497 and £258,813 for national hunt racing venues.

The five highest average prices are all located in the south-east of England, in areas traditionally frequented by the upper and upper-middle classes. Sandown Park (KT10) in Surrey has the highest average house price of all racecourses in England at £905,635, followed by Ascot (SL5) with £694,391, Epsom (KT18) at £494,341, then Goodwood (PO18, £484,676) and Windsor (SL4, £457,630). All of these racecourses are located in the Home Counties region, a high-price area surrounding England’s capital city, the area of choice for commuters in high pay careers.


Goodwood Racecourse, West Sussex, England
Goodwood Racecourse, West Sussex, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


House prices in the LS22 postcode region, home to Wetherby racecourse in West Yorkshire, average out at £348,967 which represents a 119 per cent premium over the West Yorkshire average. House prices within the same postcode area as Southwell (NG25) racecourse in Nottinghamshire county are slightly over 111 per cent more than the county’s pricing average, marginally higher than Ascot race course (SL5) in Berkshire.

In recent years horse racing has become increasingly popular and events such as Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the Epsom Derby are key dates on the social calendar for hundreds of thousands of people across the country,” said Nick Barnes, the head of research at Chestertons, in an interview with The Independent explaining the findings.

For those living close to race courses our research shows that the disruption caused by big racing events is worth the hassle. The staging of big events pumps money into local economies and house prices close to countries throughout the country are benefitting from this, with certain locations achieving substantial price increases since the downturn in 2008.“.

The higher house prices around racing venues can be attributed to the prestige the locations have among horseracing clientele, who generally have high disposable incomes and are advanced in age. Many are retirees or people in their late working lives who have a preference for traditional racing sports. In addition to the presence of racecourses, these areas also attract people for the higher standard of living and amenities to be found, as the racecourses inject a large financial boost to the local areas they operate in.

Some courses, such as Royal Ascot, have long been substantial bit players popular culture due to the events they host, which draw thousands of punters and fans, and horse racing in particular is a significant component of the UK’s betting industry.


Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter
Chestertons Research, Twitter
“House prices near racecourses nearly 20 per cent higher” – Alex Johnson, The Independent – Property (25 June 2014)
“File:GoodwoodRaceCourse2.JPG” – Ben Shade, Wikimedia Commons (18 June 2006)




TUSC: Alternative political party makes presence felt in Newham

The London Borough of Newham is situated in London’s eastern flanks and is well known for its ethnically and cultural diverse population, its collection of close-knit communities, vibrant workforce and more controversially, for its reputation as one of the poorest of Greater London’s 32 boroughs. Once home to part of the old east London dockyards and the crossroads between the East End and the county of Essex, Newham now has a population of over 310,500, according to the last national Census of 2011.

Traditionally, Newham was a working-class area, home to factory workers and dockers. Though demographics have changed a lot since the last century, the borough has largely remained true to its working-class roots. Politically, the borough’s working class profile and traditional ‘East End values’ of community and family has kept it a Labour stronghold, although the Conservatives and various smaller parties including the Greens, the Christian People’s Alliance and a mix of socialists and independents now also have wide support among some of the borough’s residents.

Logo on the roadside at sunset
Logo on the roadside at sunset (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The current Mayor of Newham is Sir Robin Wales, who represents Labour. Born in 1955 in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, Scotland, Sir Wales was elected in 2002 and was the borough’s first directly elected Labour mayor at the time of his appointment. Wales also made another first as England’s first directed mayor from the party after mayoral reformations instigated in 2002, enabled Newham residents to have a direct say in who governs them. He has led Newham Council as a councillor since 1995. Sir Wales was elected twice more in 2006 and 2010.

While the Mayor has been lauded for his efforts in raising the borough’s profile, including new opportunities in education and training for Newham’s unemployed residents, helping the borough secure holding rights for most of the 2012 Olympics events and sites; and establishing reading, sports and musical programmes for the borough’s schoolchildren; he has also come under controversy. He tangled with traders in the Queen’s Market in Upton Park who protested against the demolition of their businesses for a housing development project and has come under fire for awarding himself a 4 per cent pay rise at a time when Newham Council has lost a significant amount of central government funding and has been financially pressured into forcing through devastating cutbacks in council services. The Mayor has also affected his political standing and overall popularity slightly with Newham’s ethnic minorities while realising his vision of ethnic cohesion. His bid to promote greater integration between Newham’s many peoples has seen council premises been closed to events celebrating individual ethnic groups and the removal of foreign language newspapers from all of the borough’s libraries in a bid to pressure immigrants into acquiring English skills. Funding for the borough’s highly regarded translation services has been slashed and Sir Robin Wales has been accused of veering to the right and suppressing diversity to attract white middle-class voters, while the Mayor’s office claims he is putting an end to ethnic ‘apartheid’ and has helped non-white residents and recent immigrants by tackling poor housing conditions for example. Recently, the Mayor has come out in support of working people, supporting residents’ desires to improve their lives and being accessible to locals in listening to their views and concerns. He aims to give people a better standard of living and spending appropriately council money on services people need, according to a statement published on the council’s website.

Newham Town Hall in East Ham (E6)
Newham Town Hall in East Ham (E6) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newham’s next mayoral elections are scheduled for 22 May 2014. As many people grow increasingly weary of government cutbacks in services and financial support and the disillusionment among Newham’s working poor and unemployed remains as strong as ever, a new political party has began making its presence felt in the borough, while other mayoral candidates from parties big and small begin canvassing voters to appoint the possible successor to Robin Wales.

The Newham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition is an alternative newcomer to the borough’s political scene – it is a local branch of the countrywide socialist political activism group of the same name, as is the norm with the mainstream ‘big three’ parties. Their website and blog only began operations in February this year, and were formed as a political reaction to the government’s austerity cuts, including the benefits cap which has become hated by many Newham residents struggling with rising rents and prices and declining income, as Westminster tries to cut expenditure in public spending and the billion-pound strong welfare bill. The party made up of a coalition of locally based trade unionists and left-wing politicians who have united to fight via the ballot box what they call “the 100% New Labour council that has carried through the Con-Dems’ cuts”.

The TUSC have put forward Lois Austin as their candidate to usurp Sir Wales at the May local elections. A dyed-in-the-wool trade unionist and activist, she has supported working people’s rights since her teenage years and participated in protests against the despised Poll Tax instituted by the late Margaret Thatcher as prime minister in the Eighties. She has also being involved in anti-racism campaigns after the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence, a Caribbean-British teenager in 1993 and was a member of the Stop The War Coalition protesting against British involvement in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan at the turn of the 21st century. Just before joining the TUSC and throwing her hat into the Mayoral candidate race, Austin was working in a trade union campaigning against privatisation of government services and job cuts, while also a housing activist defending the need for social housing, ironically a policy established all over the country by the current Mayor’s ‘Old Labour’ predecessors.

Austin has been billed as the ‘Worker’s Mayor’. While Sir Robin Wales has awarded himself a pay rise that has pushed up his yearly mayor’s salary to £80,029, the TUSC candidate for Newham’s highest political prize promises to only award herself the salary of an average working Londoner which is around £24,000 as of 2012 levels. Both her and her party have championed themselves for the causes and representation of working people’s rights, which could well see her donning the Mayor’s robe and chains as mainstream politicians still reel from the recent expenses scandal and frequent accusations of wasteful spending. The TUSC condemns Newham Council for allegedly calling out bailiffs on almost fifty per cent of its properties to chase council tenants for rent arrears while at the same time spending £111 million of taxpayer-sourced funds on the modern Building 1000 office complex which aims to centralise Newham Council’s various services, which are currently dispersed across the borough. The Labour-led council has also been slammed by the TUSC for pushing forward the benefits and council funding cuts ordered by the Cameron-Clegg administration despite having a reserve funds kitty of £185 million, according to Austin.

Pamphlet distributed by activists of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition outside Plaistow Tube Station in March 2014. (c) V. Shah/HEM
TUSC logo
TUSC logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While taking an average worker’s salary in solidarity with struggling average and low-income Newhamers, Austin will donate the rest of the mayoral salary to charity, especially campaigns for social justice for working families,  and additionally has pledged to only claim the bare minimum in expenses needed to do her job as Mayor if she is elected in less than two months’ time. Her election manifesto for Newham includes a cap on private rents rather than benefits and a complete reversal of the Cameron austerity cuts alongside a war on rogue ‘rip-off’ landlords who charge above-market rents to desperate homeseekers. Austin also proposes to bring private rents in line with the council’s social housing rents. She wants to make housing more affordable and more available by building extra council housing stock on unused brownfield sites in Newham as well as acquire empty properties to house the borough’s rapidly growing population.

In a direct challenge to the Government’s programme of austerity cuts, Austin also plans to abolish the council’s policy of imposing the widely derided ‘ bedroom tax’  – where people with spare bedrooms and who claim housing benefits are forced to take a cut in their welfare payments – as well as the new council tax payments that Newham’s current adminstration have imposed  on benefits claimants due to Whitehall’s decision to no longer fund Newham’s welfare bill – the same claimants who were previously exempt from paying any council tax pre-recession. She also plans to write off council arrears caused by austerity and to shield Newham’s NHS medical trusts from the government’s bid to outsource their services to private companies to save money. Her manifesto is also good news to the homeless and people trapped in ‘zero-hours’ contracts – jobs where only the minimum wage is usually paid and hours are arbitrary and given at short notice – who have particularly felt the post-recession austerity impact while their numbers have increased. Her manifesto proposes the introduction of a borough-wide minimum wage of £10 an hour, somewhat higher than the current London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour and resurrect the Educational Maintenance Allowance supplement for college students from poorer backgrounds, another victim of costcutting decisions from central government.

Lois Austin has already proved an obstacle for the current mayor, who may well seek a fourth term. Last week, at the Manor Park Library, she and a group of mothers from Focus E15, a Stratford-based charity for single parents and teenagers from deprived backgrounds, confronted Sir Robin Wales at a ‘Meet the Mayor’ event. In a blog post she is shown confronting the mayor with a group of mothers from Focus E15, who have allegedly been threatened with eviction while the Mayor, wearing a suit and his regalia, is seen in a photo discussing the council’s position. Activists from the TUSC have also commenced canvassing potential voters with brightly coloured leaflets. One was seen distributing the A4 sized pamphlets to commuters returning home at the exit of Plaistow tube station this past week and the TUSC are organising a meeting at the Katherine Road Community Centre in Forest Gate. The meeting is scheduled to take place on the 5th of April where Austin will be in attendance with other party candidates, which will also mark TUSC’s official election launch.

The official position of the Mayor’s Office on the new socialist challenge from Lois and the Newham TUSC is not clear, but the Socialist Party claimed on its website that the Mayor was seen behaving dismissively towards campaigners in a 2011 protest against the Labour-led cabinet at Newham Town Hall in East Ham. 150 trade unionists and local residents had assembled in front of the large redbrick Victorian complex and were petitioning the cabinet against the first wave of post-recession cuts  – which included the loss of 200 council jobs and a seven per cent rise in council tax bills. Sir Wales was said to appeared on the town hall steps ‘smirking’ and was then alleged to have made ‘provocative gestures’  towards the protesters before ‘retreating behind police lines’.


DISCLAIMER: The Half-Eaten Mind is a news blog. It is not affiliated with any political party, politician or political movement or ideology and is independent of the author or site owner’s own political views and opinions, unless otherwise stated in the article or in a disclaimer like this one.



“London Borough of Newham” – Wikipedia,  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“Robin Wales” – Wikipedia,  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. LINK
“Newham mayor accused of attack on immigrants after launching ethnic integration plan” – Joseph Watts, London Evening Standard/Evening Standard Limited (19 September 2013) LINK
“Elections – voting” – Newham London/Newham Council LINK
“About” – Newham TUSC Against Cuts/Newham TUSC LINK
“New UK Living Wage £7.65 New London rate £8.80” – Living Wage Foundation/Citizens UK (4 November 2013) LINK 
“Newham TUSC mayoral candidate joins Focus E15 mums to confront austerity mayor” –  Newham TUSC Against Cuts/Newham TUSC (22 March 2014) LINK
“Mayor’s priorities” – Sir Robin Wales, Newham London/Newham Council LINK
” ‘One-party state’ Labour regime in Newham imposes cuts” – Socialist Party (2 March 2011) LINK
“Where’s our recovery? – FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE CUTS ” – Bob Severn & Lois Austin, Newham Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (leaflet)
“File:London Borough of Newham.jpg” – Atelier Joly, Wikimedia Commons (14 November 2004) LINK
“tmp_20140329_1149491578539522” – Vijay Shah/The Half-Eaten Mind, Flickr (29 March 2014) LINK
“File:Newham Town Hall.jpg” – Piolinfax, Wikimedia Commons (16 February 2005) LINK
“File:TUSC transparency.png” – Ben Robinson/TUSC, Wikimedia Commons (2 February 2010) LINK




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SRI VENKATESWARA BALAJI TEMPLE: Dudley to welcome Europe’s largest Hindu temple

The city of Dudley, in the former industrial heartlands of England‘s West Midlands, will become the home of Europe’s largest Hindu temple (mandir) this Sunday. The Sri Venkateswara Balaji temple, built and consecrated on land purchased from the local district council, is expected to attract 10,000 devotees and visitors per day for its special inauguration festival which ends after five days of celebrations this Sunday (2 February 2014). While the temple has been in existence for some years, the festival will celebrate its expansion which includes a £500,000 building opened in April 2013 for the blessing of babies in the ‘yagashala’ ceremony.

The mandir, located in Tividale, a town near Dudley, cost £6.5 million to construct on 12.5 acres of former wasteland in an industrial area adjacent to the M5 motorway, a major traffic route running through the West Midlands. As is standard with major Hindu temples in the British Isles, the temple is based on traditional Vedic architectural designs and was built with the help of Indian artisans. Its style is reminiscent of the glorious and ancient Sri Venkateswara mandir located in the sacred city of Tirupati in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. It can accommodate 400 worshippers for arati and prayers at any one time. In addition, visitors seeking solace or a place for holy contemplation and meditation will be able to make use of an artistically-landscaped Indian-style garden in the mandir’s grounds, which will consist of a meadow with shrubs and woodland, sourced with trees and shrubs endemic to the local area. Inspired by the seven hills of the temple’s spiritual progenitor in south India, there are seven ‘faith hills’. One is dedicated to Buddhism, with a murti of Lord Buddha carved from wood by a local artist already installed there. Another hill has been set aside for Britain’s largest faith community, the Christians belonging to the Church of England, with former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams visiting the smaller predecessor temple in 2008 where he laid a plaque with quotes from his religion’s holy scripture, the Bible. The reaching out to other faith communities by the Balaji Temple’s trust was intended to provide greater multi-faith understanding of Hinduism. Both the mandir and its community centre will be open to all, regardless of religion, ethnicity or place of origin.

English: The Tividale Tirupathy Balaji Temple ...
English: The Tividale Tirupathy Balaji Temple in Tividale, West Midlands, England. Photographed by me 28 June 2007. Oosoom

The current temple buildings of the Sri Venkateswara mandir in Tividale. The place of worship is undergoing a massive expansion including new buildings and an adjacent garden and nature reserve with seven religiously themed hills.

In addition to donations from Telugus living in Europe, the mandir authority also received a £3.3 million grant of lottery money to aid construction costs. The money, awarded by the Millennium Commission, helped put to an end a three-decade long search by local worshippers for a large enough temple to serve their spiritual and cultural needs. Since 1974, Hindu West Midlanders have struggled to find a suitable location as their numbers grew. The vast majority of British Hindus live in the south of the country which has a few notable temples suitable for community-wide worship. One of the most well-known are the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, north-east London, which mainly serves Gujaratis of the Swaminarayan sect, and the sprawling old English country house and farms of Bhaktivedanta Manor in Watford, Hertfordshire, an important pilgrimage place for Vaishnavas (devotees of Lord Vishnu as Krishna). Until recently though, there was no comparable Hindu place of worship for the central parts of England. While the organisers and supporters behind Europe’s newest and largest temple has previously worshipped at another temple, a growing congregation and lack of space, as well as internal conflicts, prompted them to seek out spiritual space of their own.

By 1994, the land was set aside by the then Black Country Development Corporation who assured the local community that the land would be donated to them for a nominal fee. Fundraising began in earnest and by 1996, lottery funding and planning permission were both guaranteed for the Venkateswara temple. With the temple’s existence now a certainty, work began on the foundations in 1999 and by the end of that year the first of three shrines were completed by a team of 600 builders.

The concrete, granite and class structure was built in stages in the subcontinent before being shipped to Britain to be put together on site. A team of 30 highly-skilled craftsmen and stonemasons travelled over from India to work on the intricate carvings of Hindu deities that now adorn the mahogany doors, stone pillars, walls and ceilings inside the temple.

Lord Venkateshwara
Lord Venkateshwara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A murti, or statue, of the presiding main deity at the newly-expanded Tividale temple. Lord Venkateswara is a rebirth of the senior deity Vishnu, popular in southern India.

Two days ago, as part of the marking of establishment of Lord Venkateswara Balaji’s new larger residence in the centre of England, a festival was already well under way with tents erected and Indian dance programmes in full swing. Visitors were also treated to Andhra renditions of religious songs. Priests were specially flown in from India, Mauritius and the United States to officiate over the religious ceremonies. A group of fifteen pandits will invite God into the new temple with special invocation before a twelve-foot murti (idol) of Lord Krishna is installed to finalise the consecration of the Balaji mandir. The priests will also pour sanctified water over the entirety of the mandir premises as part of the consecration.

According to the Daily Mail newspaper, Britain is home to 600,000 Hindus but the temple is expected to attract worshippers from across Europe and the rest of the world. The Hindu section of British society is growing steadily as more people from countries such as Mauritius and India arrive here and as more indigenous Britons are attracted to Hinduism. Results from the last UK Census in 2011 state that the West Midlands county is home to about 72,000 Hindus out of a total population of 5.6 million residents.

Lord Venkateswara (also known as Sri Venkateshwar in northern India) is a reincarnation (avatar) of Lord Vishnu, who is one of the main deities of the Trimurti (a Hindu version of the Trinity) – one of the most popular and important aspects of Hindu divinity. The Lord’s name comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit and consists of the words “vem”  (sin), “kata” (destruction) and “ishwara” (divine or supreme lord). Put together, Lord Venkateswara’s name translates as the God who destroys sinful deeds. He is analogous with Lord Krishna, also an avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Forum for Hindu Awakening on Facebook LINK
“Europe’s largest Hindu temple opens its doors in the Midlands” – via Daily Mail/Forum for Hindu Awakening, Forum for Hindu Awakening Inc. (30 January 2014) LINK
“Census gives insights into characteristics of the West Midlands’ population” – Office for National Statistics (11 December 2012) LINK
“HISTORY OF THE TEMPLE” – Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple of U.K. LINK
“Europe’s largest Hindu temple in Tividale will expand” – Express & Star (17 April 2013) LINK
“Europe’s largest Hindu temple opens its doors in the Midlands” – Mail Online News, Associated Newspapers Ltd. LINK


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