WEEK OF FIRSTS! BOUNCING BACK TO THE NEW NORMAL – FU LOVES THE MIDLANDS #19
In light of the new Spanish quarantine, last week’s newsletter intro seems prophetic! No wonder I’ve been called a witch before… thankfully, I have avoided the ducking stool although I do feel gutted for friends about to travel to their holiday homes for the first time this year, only to be thwarted once more at the eleventh hour. Yes, it’s disheartening, but why stress about what we cannot control? Time for deep breaths and a rethink – we’ve all been doing a lot of that lately I know, but we’re plucky in the Midlands, let’s remember that!
We live outside the lockdown zone so last week was a week of firsts for us – first haircut, first meal out, first takeout coffee – Starbucks oh how we missed you- and everything we have experienced so far has been really well organised, felt safe and still a fun thing to do.
Life might be a little different for a while but we’ll get used to it and appreciate the simple things even more. We’re keeping everything crossed for tomorrow’s announcement and hoping for good news and Leicester’s lockdown to be over. Stay positive!
So, keep smiling underneath that mask. Until next time, stay safe, stay positive
Jon, Kevin and the #FUFighters
OBLIGATORY BAD JOKE
What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?
BIRMINGHAM LAW SOCIETY MAKES HISTORY AS IT SWEARS-IN FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT IN 2020 YEAR HISTORY
The largest Society outside of London has sworn in its first-ever Black President, Inez Brown.
Succeeding the Presidency of Linden Thomas – 2019-20 – Inez Brown, who is a partner of the law firm, Harrison Clark Rickerbys, is excited to be taking the helm at this period of huge change.
“The world is in a period of huge re-adjustment; economically, politically and socially. I’m excited to be taking over the Presidency and supporting the continued growth and development of the Birmingham Law Society at this time. I’m also supremely proud to be the first black woman in this esteemed position in its 202-year history”.
Beginning her career as a legal secretary, whilst working full time she made the decision to study law on a part time basis in 1994 and then went on to study LPC at Wolverhampton.
Specialising in clinical negligence, Inez now has a 25-strong team operating nationally under her leadership.
Watch Inez Brown’s interview with ITV Central here.
BELGRADE THEATRE GETS WRAPPED UP IN A MESSAGE OF HOPE
Forming part of the Scene Change campaign, Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre has been wrapped in a message of hope by local designer and Talking Birds Co-Artistic Director Janet Vaughan, using specially made barrier tape printed with the words “Missing Live Theatre”.
The project was started by members of the theatre design community, who have been uncomfortably aware of the sadness of the visual imagery surrounding theatre buildings while they remain unable to open for performances.
As lockdown restrictions have begun to ease, the Belgrade has been able to open up its foyers to cafe patrons, and is planning to start its first in-person drama workshops next month. So, along with the news of a government support package for the arts, there are now more reasons than ever to be optimistic about the future of live theatre in Coventry.
However, the crisis is far from over, particularly for smaller companies and freelancers who remain at risk as long as performances cannot take place – which in turn has a knock-on effect on the ability of big theatres to create and programme work once restrictions ease.
Janet Vaughan said: “Theatre is as much about the freelancers, artists, audiences and communities who make it happen, as it is about buildings. Coventry is incredibly lucky to have a wealth of fantastic independent artists and theatre-makers, as well as a great range of performing arts venues, including Shop Front Theatre, the Albany and Warwick Arts Centre as well as the Belgrade. Every one of us is facing the same threat of extinction, and if one fails, all of us suffer because we are all connected.”
NEW MD FOR EAST MIDLANDS AIRPORT
Clare James has taken over from Karen Smart as Managing Director of East Midlands Airport (EMA). Clare has many years of experience in aviation and, like her predecessor, started her career in the RAF, where she served for 26 years, resulting in the rank of Group Captain.
For the past year she has held the position of Operational Excellence director at MAG, where she led the group’s restart and recovery programme in response to COVID-19. Her immediate focus will be to help the airport bounce back from this crisis.
HALF PRICE TABLE ORDER SOFTWARE FOR LEICESTER BUSINESSES
Leicester based electronic point of sale company – and friend of FU – EatPOS, is offering their Order at Table software for half price to help Leicester businesses bounce back from the extended lockdown.
The software allows restaurant and bar customers to place orders quickly and easily, via the order at table solution. This frees up staff from focusing on taking orders, helping both staff and customers feel safe and in turn maximising revenue.
The software also includes the required COVID-19 Track and Trace requirements to minimise admin. Prices start at just £35 per month. Find out more by emailing them at email@example.com – and don’t forget to mention FU.
THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR MICHAEL KIWANUKA AT DMH
NOT QUTE FINISHED THAT LOCKDOWN NOVEL? MANUSCRIPT MASTERCLASS LAUNCHED TO HELP WRITERS BEAT THE BLOCK
It’s said that everyone has a novel in them and with many of us using free time in lockdown trying to locate it, L’atelier des écrivains – The Writers’ Workshop, France, is excited to host ‘The Final Chapter’: an online writing event featuring two days of online masterclasses, writing exercises and creative stimulation.
Participants will learn writing skills from award-winning novelist, Helen Cross; meet author Catherine Cooper who will be joining them to discuss her new book and share her tips and advice on writing murder mystery; and will have plenty of opportunities to share their work and receive valuable feedback.
The programme contains writing exercises designed to help participants flex those creative muscles as well as that valuable commodity: lots of free time for people to write to their heart’s content. At the end of each masterclass, Helen will give writers an exercise that can be completed before the next session, which can either relate to a piece of new work, or to hone and focus an existing project. The weekend will be rounded off with a celebratory evening of readings (with optional wine drinking).
Everything kicks off at 9am BST on Saturday 5 September and finishes at 9pm on Sunday 6 September. Participants can join in as many or as little of the two days’ activities as they want. The course costs just £99. People wishing to book should contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BROMSGROVE BUTCHERS CELEBRATES SECOND ANNIVERSARY BY SUPPORTING LOCAL CHARITIES
The team behind independent, female-ran butchers, Butcher’s Block of Bromsgrove, will be celebrating its second anniversary this Saturday (1st August) and are running a charity event to mark the occasion and raise funds for local good causes.
Due to the recent pandemic, Lil’s Baps (made to Lilith’s own special recipe and deliciously moreish) has been unable to trade on Bromsgrove Market, however on their anniversary Lil will be serving her Baps for a charitable donation. There will also be a raffle, with a chance for one lucky person to win a hamper from Butcher’s Block worth £50.
The family-owned business, run by wife and wife team, Michelle and Lilith Holsey-Sheppard, has become one of Bromsgrove High Street’s best-loved businesses, and it’s easy to see why. Their attention to detail, exceptional service and wide range of products have created a loyal customer base – something which has proved invaluable throughout the last few months.
Commenting on the charity drive, Lilith says: “We are firm believers in giving back and are passionate about supporting those who may be going through a difficult time, for one reason or another. This is our way of showing support and giving back to our community. The two charities we have chosen to benefit from this are local and close to our hearts – Primrose Hospice and SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide.) We hope customers both old and new will be able to join us and celebrate on the day, whilst also raising vital funds for these two charities.”
To find out more, visit the Butcher’s Block Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ButchersBlockBromsgrove/
THE REP ANNOUNCES SOCIALLY DISTANCED SUMMER SCHOOL FOR 7-18 YEAR OLDS
Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced that they will be hosting two Summer Schools this August: Theatre Making (3-7 Aug) for those aged 13-18 and Spy School (10-14 Aug) for ages 7-12. Both sets of five-day workshops have the option for in-person tuition and interaction in The REP’s rehearsal rooms under COVID-safe conditions or online digital classes.
Both programmes of online classes have also been made available to West Midlands Virtual Schools’ Connect & Create programme featuring specially selected arts and cultural activity for children and young people in care. A limited number of bursary places for the in-person sessions have been made available to support access for people facing financial barriers for both Theatre Making and Spy School. These bursaries have been made possible thanks to generous individual donations to The REP.
Each Summer School will have a strictly limited number of participants for the workshops held within The REP’s rehearsal rooms. Each participant will be assigned a marked 4m² space, and extra elements such as hotspot cleaning, PPE for First aiders and coordinated drop off and collections times will be employed.
Both Summer Schools can be booked online at birmingham-rep.co.uk.
COOP SAYS THANK YOU TO MASK WEARERS ON FIRST WEEKEND
‘Thank you, but keep on helping us keep our communities safe’ was the message from Central England Co-op after a successful first weekend of customers having to wear face coverings in its food stores. The retailer reported compliance levels by shoppers of upwards of 90-95% and had no incidents of staff being confronted or challenged in relation to the new Government guidance.
VARIETY LAUNCH CHARITY MASKS WITH CELEBRITY BACKING
Comedy legend, Keith Lemon, has launched the ‘I Love Variety’ face mask for children’s charity Variety and has put his face on his very own personalised mask, as well as agreeing to promote the charity’s own-branded ones.
From today, the public can buy the ‘I Love Variety’ face masks from https://www.masksuk.com/variety-charity-masks/.
The aim is to raise funds to help thousands of sick, disabled and disadvantaged children across the UK who are supported by Variety. The masks, which are available for £12.49 come in a range of sizes with £5 from each sale going towards the charity. Look out for more famous faces modelling the masks soon!
SINGER SAM RAISES MONEY AND MORALE WITH ONLINE CUPPA CREW
Born out of a bid to help mental health during lockdown, X Factor’s Sam Bailey has been boosting lockdown morale with her own fan-based interactive video group online.
Sam explained the origins of Bailey’s Cuppa Crew: “Like a lot of people, I was finding that I needed a bit of a boost in the mornings. I started doing these live videos really as a space to chat to my fans, but what I’ve found is that there is a real positive community spirit going on, with everyone helping each other to battle through these weird times.”
The Cuppa Crew has grown quickly with over 5,000 members interacting with the singer and its own community in daily discussions. The week kicks off with a Monday giveaway, with Sam having already donated prizes and on Friday’s, Sam hosts a live gig from her home, with song requests forming a virtual tip jar, which goes into the Monday giveaways, merchandise and the day to day running of the group.
To follow Sam and to join the Cuppa Crew, click here.
TRAMPOLINE PARKS BOUNCE BACK OPEN IN BIRMINGHAM
Birmingham’s Rush Trampoline Park is set to reopen on Saturday 1st August with Commonwealth gymnast Dominic Cunningham leading the virtual re-opening ceremony and gymnasts’ display on Friday 31st July on Rush’s Facebook page.
Rush will be introducing a huge number of new safety measures to keep customers and staff safe, but still able to visit and have fun at the parks including a reduced capacity per jump session, new socially distanced route through the park and temperature checks. There will be a contactless sales and drive-thru ‘checking in’ process with online booking only and an intense ‘always on’ cleaning schedule that will see a 30-minute-deep clean between each closed jump session.
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ONE IN TEN EAST MIDLANDS RESIDENTS WAIT OVER HALF AN HOUR FOR WEB PAGE TO LOAD
12 percent of people living in the East Midlands are waiting more than thirty minutes every time they load a web page, whilst one in 20 are left buffering for up to two and a half hours, according to new research into UK broadband speeds. This equates to an incredible three and a half days of waiting per month for the average East Midlands resident.
The study, commissioned by ultrafast rural broadband provider, Gigaclear, found that 65 percent of residents in the East Midlands regularly have problems with their internet, with a quarter losing connection entirely several times a week, and more than one in twenty losing access every single day.
This is having significant consequences given so many of the population are having to work from home currently, with poor internet signal having a significant impact on people’s mental wellbeing. One in ten UK adults admit to feeling very stressed every single time they use their internet.
The study shows 27 percent of UK households have a minimum of three people using the internet at any one time, which is only antagonising the problem, causing stress levels to rise further. Adding to this pressure is the fact that, on average, Brits have six different smart devices connected to their internet at any one-time including laptops, lawnmowers, kettles and doorbells!
THE HUMAN LEAGUE ‘DARE 40’ COME TO BIRMINGHAM
Celebrating forty years since the release of DARE, The Human League will be performing this classic album in its entirety, as well as other hits from their extensive back catalogue, on Saturday 4th December, at Utilita Arena in Birmingham.
Originals of the British New Wave/Synth scene, The Human League dominated the airwaves and charts throughout the 80’s with their dark yet stylish post punk electronica, which remains as fresh, current and highly influential today as it did with the release of DARE on the 16th October 1981. DARE contained four hit singles, including the No 1 ‘Don’t You Want Me’, staying in the charts for five weeks and making the 1981 Xmas No.1 slot.
The Human League’s ‘Dare 40 Tour’ also features The Thompson Twins, Tom Bailey and Altered Images. Tickets go on sale 10am on 31st July via www.theticketfactory.com
BUILDING SOCIETY DONATES CASH FOR VOTES AT AGM
Two charities local to Earl Shilton Building Society, are benefitting from donations made from votes cast for its recent AGM. For each valid AGM vote, 40p was donated. The two charities chosen were Action Homeless and the Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Local Air Ambulance with Action Homeless receiving £135, and £365 going to the Air Ambulance.
LIVE THEATRE FOR KIDS ZOOMS DIRECT INTO YOUR HOME
Written and created especially for Zoom during Nottingham Playhouse’s temporary closure due to the pandemic, Noah and the Peacock is a brand-new form of live, at-home theatre. Having received rave reviews the first-time round, the production is back for two weeks from Wednesday 12 to Sunday 23 August.
Aimed at primary school aged children and their families, Noah and the Peacock is a funny and charming tale of hope, friendship and overcoming the odds. The story tells of Peacock and Peahen. Peacock is extremely pompous and all he can talk about is his beautiful feathers. Peahen, on the other hand, is much more modest and longs to make friends with the other animals. When the pair hear news that a huge flood is on the way, Peacock refuses to leave the roost and risk ruining his perfect plumage in the rain. So, with no other choice, Peahen sets off on a journey through the dark forest and along the great blue river. As all the animals must go two-by-two, will Peahen make it onto the ark alone? Can stubborn Peacock change his mind before it’s too late?
Tickets cost £10 and give access to the Zoom link for each household along with a show activity pack. There will also be a Pay What You Can performance on Sunday 16 August at 10.30am, a BSL interpreted performance on Saturday 15 August at 2.00pm and captioned performances on Sunday 16 August at 10.30am and 2.00pm. The show is recommended for children aged 5 – 9 and their grown-ups. Tickets are available online at nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk.
SUPPORT OFFERED FOR LEICESTERSHIRE JOB SEEKERS
A Leicester based video production agency has recently pledged its support to those looking for work by offering free headshots at their City based studio.
Based at the LCB Depot in Leicester, the team at Incite Video have decided to pledge their support and help people to find their next role by enhancing their online CVs.
Anyone interested in having a free professional headshot to enhance their online CV are encouraged to contact Incite Video directly via their website. www.incite.video or send an email to email@example.com
WAITRESS COMES TO CURVE – 24 – 29 JAN 2022
The first ever UK tour of hit musical, Waitress, will visit Leicester’s Curve from Mon 24 – Sat 29 Jan 2022 after being rescheduled due to COVID-19.
Based on the 2007 movie. Waitress tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker in a small town, who dreams of a way out of her loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a new life, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes to happiness. But Jenna must find the courage and strength within herself to rebuild her life. This beautiful musical celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the magic of a well-made pie.
Book tickets and find out more at www.curveonline.co.uk
WAITRESS AND LEGALLY BLONDE STAR RELEASES DEBUT ALBUM
Musical theatre sensation, Lucie Jones, star of hit musical Waitress and the Made at Curve production of Legally Blonde has rapidly become one of the West End’s most acclaimed performers and is about to release her debut album.
Pre lockdown, Lucie performed a one-off concert at London’s Adelphi Theatre, accompanied by a 22-piece orchestra – and it is this performance that is to be released. The album is available as a deluxe 2CD package that includes the full concert alongside a bonus interview with Lucie, post-show thoughts and candid rehearsal recordings. A standard CD is also available.
Over the last few years, Lucie has played Elle in Legally Blonde, Holly in The Wedding Singer, Maureen in Rent, Molly in Ghost and Cosette in Les Misérables, before landing the much-coveted lead role of Jenna in Waitress, which she played at the Adelphi Theatre up until the Coronavirus pandemic. An absolute star, Lucie is as lovely as she is talented.
Pre order the album here.
WEST MIDLANDER’S STYLE INFLEUNCED BY WHERE THEY LIVE
Nearly half of the British population (43%) say that where they live impacts the styling choices they make and fashion trends they follow, with as many as a third of young people (18-24) confident they could pinpoint where someone is from, based solely on their wardrobe choices.
It seems that your typical West Midlands man will want to make a statement with his fashion choices and will typically opt for pastel chino shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and a pair a suede trainers. Meanwhile, the women are also keen to stand out with a floral wrap dress and white trainers.
Revealed by online personalised styling service, Stitch Fix, to determine whether style preferences vary between counties throughout the UK, the fashion-tech company has partnered with YouGov to survey the nation, discovering some key stats on the influences of the way Brits dress. Regarding those living in the West Midlands, the survey found:
60% feel their friends have a huge impact on the fashion trends they follow, with 42% stating newspapers and magazines also impact the garments they purchase
Two fifths (41%) of Brits in the West Midlands believe Londoners have the most easily identifiable style when it comes to their fashion choices
53% confirm that the wardrobes of people in reality TV series such as Made In Chelsea, The Only Way Is Essex and Geordie Shore impacts their perception of how people in those areas dress
Almost half (43%) of those living in the West Midlands state where they live impacts the fashion trends they follow
Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.