Birstall Post december 2020 (449)

Birstall actor’s starring role

MILLIONS OF people have watched Birstall’s Jack Chadwick running through the snow chased by hungry cats.

Actor Jack (12) stars in the Christmas TV advert for Dreamies cat treats, where he can be seen running through streets lit with Christmas lights in his pyjamas and dressing gown, pursued by cats looking for a treat from the box he is carrying.

Jack, a student at the Cedars Academy, has been performing since the age of three.

Pics: Actor Jack Chadwick & (above) performing in the Dreamies’ advert

The TV advert was filmed in Slovenia in the summer of 2019– several roads were closed and fully decorated to look like Christmas, with lights and fake snow. The advert is being shown worldwide, including in the UK, USA, Australia, France, Germany and Russia.

Jack, an actor, singer and dancer, trains at The Ann Oliver stage school in Leicester and has performed in local musicals, pantomimes and shows.

He has had roles in two feature films, ‘The Last Tree’ and ‘Flowers and Rain’, and two TV commercials.

His ambition is to pursue a career in films, TV and musicals.

Pensioner kills man

A PENSIONER who inadvertently reversed out of a petrol station onto a main road and killed 72-year-old John Jenkins from Birstall has been sentenced.

Pic: John Jenkins

Stephen Titmarsh (72) drove to the BP garage on the A47 near Wansford, Cambridgeshire at about 4pm on April 21 to fill up with fuel.

After pulling onto the forecourt he realised he needed to get out of the Renault Clio he was driving to check which side of the car the fuel cap was located. In doing so, he mistakenly selected reverse gear and failed to apply the handbrake or switch off the engine.

As he got back into the car, it began to slowly reverse back towards the carriageway. Titmarsh attempted to apply the brake but instead pressed the accelerator. This caused the car to re-join the A47 at speed and career into the path of an oncoming Mazda 3, driven by John Jenkins of Loughborough Road, Birstall.

The impact of the collision caused the Mazda to hit a Fiat 4x4.

Emergency services attended, but Mr Jenkins died at the scene.

A woman in her 60s, who was a passenger in the Mazda, was taken to hospital with a severe head injury and continues to receive treatment. A man in his 30s who was driving the Fiat suffered minor injuries.

A witness described how the Renault came “flying out” of the entrance to the petrol station and that it was driving “very fast”.

On November 13 at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court Titmarsh of Thackers Close, Wansford, pleaded guilty to causing death by driving without due care and attention.

At the same hearing he was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and disqualified for two years.

Sergeant Mark Dollard said: “This case surrounds a momentary error, leading to devastating consequences. Mr Titmarsh accidentally selected reverse and the accelerator pedal, causing his vehicle to speed into the carriageway colliding with Mr Jenkins’ vehicle.

“This is a reminder of the importance of careful driving and the responsibility of all motorists to concentrate at all times when behind the wheel. It can only take a second to ruin lives forever.”

Support for gym

A FUNDRAISING drive to secure the future of Carl Gunns’ gym on Birstall road has reached £10,000.

“That’s an amazing total to have reached in just five weeks,” said Carl.

“I’m very grateful to anyone who has donated anything, there are some wonderful people about,” he added.

Support has come through a gofundme page, cheques in the post, cash and sponsored events.

Three girls, Isla, Ruby and Georgia, did a sponsored walk around Bradgate Park raising £600.

Harrison, Ellis, Nancy, Rowan, Jesnsen, Laydon and Mason, all young members of the gym, completed a sponsored bike ride around Watermead Country Park.

Carl said: “The kids and the parents have really gone out of their way to keep the gym going.”

To donate, go to gofundme.com and search for gunns gym.

Birstall Remembrance

BIRSTALL'SREMEMBRANCE event was a scaled back occasion this year.

A service was led by Kerry Emmett and wreaths were laid by the Chair of Birstall Parish Council, Ann Marshall (pictured), and two representatives from the Birstall Royal British Legion.

Food bank help

IF YOU are on benefits or low wages and are struggling to put food on the table, you can contact Birstall Food Hub on 07305 093791 for help.

Food Hub spokeswoman Gill Chester said: “A further lockdown means that people in certain jobs are again no longer able to work. Just imagine if your income suddenly dropped to less than half. Just imagine that you have to wait some weeks before you can receive the benefits you are entitled to. Would you still be able to pay your bills? Just imagine if your Child Tax Credits were halved with no notice and the HMRC phone number you’ve been given is always engaged so you can’t sort it out for eight weeks. Would you still be able to buy food?

“That’s why food banks exist – to help out when the unexpected happens, to help out when people have been on low incomes for such a long time, when they just don’t have the resources to withstand financial fluctuations any more. To help when people just don’t have enough money to go round.”

Birstall Food Hub currently delivers food parcels to those who need them as they are unable to open up in any venue at the moment.

Gill said: “As usual we are incredibly grateful for all the donations of food and toiletries that we receive. This month that includes, in particular, those from three brownies whose sponsorship money bought a very full carload of produce, a group of colleagues from Gully Garms, someone who has donated some baby toys that can be given as Christmas presents, parents at Highcliffe Primary School who are filling boxes at the entrances to the school, the customers of the One Stop Shop on Hallam Fields who fill the tub and put money in a collecting box, and of course the customers at the Co-op who are continuously filling the trolleys at the car park door.”

She added: "We are looking forward to donations of Christmas food and treats, with best before dates into 2021 please, to add to food parcels over the festive season!”

Birstall Food Hub can be contacted on birstallfoodhub@gmail.com or or 07305 093791 and someone will get back to you.

Birstall Guides fundraise for Pudsey

MEMBERS OF 1st Birstall Guides & Rangers took part in a socially distanced sponsored walk to raise funds for BBC Children in Need.

Pics: Eeshani Mistry doing lunges; (below) Ella Thakrar & Eshani Narandoing jumping jacks

This year Girlguiding was an official partner of the charity and all members were challenged to ‘Act Your Age’ and gain sponsorship for a chosen activity. As Girlguiding Birstall is 90 years old this year, the girls decided they wanted to use this number as the focus of their fundraising. Initially, the plan was to do a group sponsored walk of a collective 90 miles (walking about four each) and 90 cake bake sale with a target of raising £300, but the new lockdown measures put a stop to this.

Pic: Jackie & Charlotte Abelaout on their walk

Instead, the girls completed the route, shaped like Pudsey’s head, around the village in their family units and were given challenges to do at various points along the way, such as doing 40 jumping jacks, find something yellow, and complete your age in lunges.

“We really enjoyed taking part in the walk,” said Guide Charlotte Abela (10).

“It was fun doing the challenges as we went round and following the directions to make sure we correctly drew out Pudsey on the map!”

Pics: Emily & Poppy Bartlett enjoying a Pudsey cookie; (below) Emilia Dundas finding something yellow

Mum Jackie said: “We felt proud to be contributing to the Guides’ fundraising and had a lovely time going for walk, just mother and daughter.”

Young Leader and Ranger Shannon Riley (15) decided to single-handily take on the 90 cake bake challenge, and in the weeks leading up to the walk baked and sold 90 sweet treats raising just over £100. She provided a Pudsey themed refreshment stop outside her house for those taking part in the walk.

Pics: a Zoom call during the walk; (below) Shannon’s baking

She said: “I’ve always really enjoyed baking, and friends have commented before on how much they enjoy what I make so it seemed like the best way to try to raise some money. Everyone was really supportive of my challenge. I even got an order to make a birthday cake for a friend, and it was nice seeing the Guides enjoy my Pudsey cookies on their walk.”

By the end of the evening, the group had doubled their target, raising just over £600 and subsequent donations takes the final total raised to £738.

“We want to say a huge thank you to all our supporters and are incredibly proud of the girls’ efforts in the current circumstances,” said Ranger Leader Sarah Sheppard. “A lot of the ways we typically do our fundraising have not been possible due to Covid-19 but we were impressed by how easily the Guides and Rangers, and their families, adapted to the last-minute change in plan and just got on with the challenge, resulting in an amazing final total.”

All proceeded raised by Girlguiding members will be split between the two charities. 50% of the total funds raised will support BBC Children in Need’s projects and 25% will support Girlguiding’s national projects. The final 25% of the funds raised by this appeal will support grants for Girlguiding units.

To get involved with Girlguiding please visit www.girlguiding.org.uk/interested

Popular café keeps going

A BIRSTALL café has battled through the ups and downs of the pandemic thanks to the determination of its owner to “throw everything I have at building my beautiful café back up.”

Pic: Ruth Senescall (left) & Racheal Ward in the Lambourne Café

Ruth Senescall took on the Lambourne Café on Lambourne Road four years ago and had built a successful business: the café, a catering business and a meals-on-wheels service.

Ruth said: “Then Corona hit and almost overnight the life left my beautiful café and it has been a massive struggle ever since.”

Describing herself as stubborn and strong-willed, Ruth was determined to keep going.

She said: “We closed the doors and concentrated on only doing our dinner delivery service for the elderly and vulnerable to keep them protected and fed. We eventually were able to open up again and it was great to see everyone, although it has been short-lived again. We are now operating as a takeaway/delivery service seven days a week and I hope this will keep us going until we can open properly again."

In October Ruth redecorated the café. She said: “I like to think it’s a cosy little homely place for people to come to with friends, or comfortable enough a place to come on their own, for a quiet coffee and a bite to eat or a chinwag with us. I have to credit my success in the café to the great team I have always had working with me. My staff past and present have always known I wanted to create a café that would be about the people that used it more than the profit it would make, which probably sounds mad, but the greatest quality I can say it’s taken to make the café a success is the people that use it.

“I absolutely love coming to work every day and seeing all the people that come into the café or popping in to bring dinners to the lovely locals that use our dinner service. I think the most rewarding part of having the café is all the lovely people that use it and I now like to consider them all an extension to my own family.”

At the time of going to press it’s not known if the café will be allowed to open in Birstall this December, but the Lambourne Café's delivery service will still be operating. It offers a hot meal and a pudding delivered to your door for £7. Call the café on 0116 2919765 for details or look at the cafés Facebook page.

County’s new test kits

LEICESTERSHIRE WILL be included in a trial of lateral flow test kits for Covid-19.

Test kits will be sent to Leicestershire after the county was added to the list of trial areas.

The move follows productive discussions between Leicestershire County Council and the Department of Health and Social Care.

It means that the Government will send the council up to 80,000 kits a week as part of its plan to expand asymptomatic testing across the country.

Council Leader Nick Rushton said: “This is good news. We’ve had a productive conversation with Government leads and are pleased to be included on the list. I’m grateful to those MPs who supported our case.

“Like other areas, we want to try every means possible to defeat the virus and enable life to become more normal.

“Given our early application and rates, it was surprising we weren’t named initially, but this is a helpful outcome and means we can roll out the tests in hot spot areas."

The council can draw down from the national supply as needed but is looking to have a stock of 10,000 kits at any one time to deploy rapidly.

Lateral flow tests are being piloted to rapidly test people for coronavirus.

A lateral flow test involves the use of a handheld kit, which can give a coronavirus test result in about 20 minutes.

The tests do not need to be sent to the lab for testing, and it uses saliva or fluid from a nasal swab.

Mass vaccination centre

A MASS vaccination centre will open in Loughborough’s council offices in mid-December, one of 40 that are planned in England.

The plan is to hand over part of the borough council’s Southfields office building to the Ministry of Defence for at least nine months, to vaccinate around 185,000 people in the area against Covid-19.

Council leader Jonathan Morgan told Sky News: “We feel very excited to be at the forefront of this, and as soon as the vaccine is ready, this site will be ready to go.”

Collecting plastic from the River Soar

A ‘SEABIN’, one of only 900 worldwide, is helping to collect plastic from the River Soar.

Pics: (above) A Seabin ready for installation; (below) in place in the River Soar at Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre

Located at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre (LOPC) near Red Hill island, the Seabin was installed in the river in August 2020, as part of the centre’s sustainability strategy.

The Seabin moves up and down with the movement of the water, collecting debris. Water is sucked in from the surface with a submersible water pump and passes through a catch bag inside the Seabin. The unit is plugged directly into an electrical outlet. The water is then pumped back into the river, leaving debris trapped inside the catch bag to be either recycled or sent to a waste management facility.

Pic: some of the rubbish collected at the LOPC

A spokesperson said: “Here at the LOPC our Seabin gets emptied several times a day. Often there are tiny bits of polystyrene and microplastics that can be very harmful to our river wildlife. Some days we pick out drinks cans, crisp packets and even a rubber frog that was so lifelike it was frightening!

“Our Seabin requires emptying several times per day. We have volunteers who come down to the centre to help empty it on a regular basis. If you would like to get involved simply email seabin@lopc.co.uk”

Delicious cupcakes raise charity cash

A FIVE-year-old Birstall girl baked cupcakes for her neighbours to raise money for Children In Need.

Pic: Liliana with some of the cupcakes she baked & sold for Children in Need

When Liliana Clark-Monks, a pupil at Riverside School, learned about the charity she wanted to take food to families who were struggling, but then decided to raise money by baking cupcakes.

Liliana baked and decorated 35 cupcakes, delivered them to her customers herself and raised a total of £13.05.

Liliana said: “My favourite thing about the day was decorating the cakes and counting the coins to give to charity. It was fun using the googly eyes too because I could make faces.”

Oil in river a hazard

VEGETABLE OIL dumped in the River Soar has been harming wildlife.


A two-mile stretch of the river between Leicester and Birstall has been affected, with the RSPCA saying it has rescued multiple animals from this area.

Staff at the Leicester Outdoor Pursuit Centre have found more than one dead bird in the river.

Three swans affected by oil were rescued by the RSPCA on November 3.

The environment agency is investigating the incident. An earlier incident, in July, also involved the dumping of cooking oil. Several cygnets died as a result.

Crafting skills on display

BIRSTALL’S HELPING Our Community and NHS Scrubs Group have been making Remembrance poppies, quilts and knitted toys.

Group co-founder Rosie Rollings reports:

The community and scrubs group have had a busy time making and selling poppies. We estimate over 500 were made and sold locally. Many shops in the village sold them and residents took over the challenge selling when some of the shops were forced to close. We have raised £1959 so far! It far exceeded what we had expected to raise. This will be given to the Birstall branch of the Royal British Legion to be added to the funds they have raised for the Poppy Appeal. It is great that the community came together to support the local branch at this difficult time.

Scrubs Group

The scrubs group have been busy making a variety of items. Trauma teddies are ongoing and have been gifted to various settings, including the Ambulance Emergency cars. We were contacted by another group for Teds, to assist in child therapy. They expressed a wish to have a Ted in a wheelchair for therapy sessions with children. Paul Clarke took on the challenge and made amazing crocheted wheelchairs which were gratefully received.

The group has also made twiddle muffs and dementia quilts. These have been offered to members of the community and also a care home. We are also making knitted lap blankets that will go to a local home for dementia patients.

“Wiggly bags” for child cancer patients continue to be made along with quilts for the NICU and Children’s HDU.

The group are making Christmas decorations - these will be sold and any monies raised will go to Jade's Retreat, a local charity. Jade's retreat has a caravan on the coast that they offer free of charge for families to make memories or as a quiet place following a loss.

Christmas ear saving headbands are being made for the Haematology and Oncology departments.


The making of Christmas quilts and knitted toys are underway. These will initially go to the maternity units to be gifted to children born over the Christmas period. If anyone would like to be involved we supply all materials we just need your skills.

We are a community group and would like to help locally. If you think you have a need that we can fulfil, please get in touch.

Thanks go to everyone that made and sold poppies and to Elaine Jones for suggesting it, also to Andrea McDonald of Shepshed sewing, who has rallied her group members to support us. Also to the community for donating to enable us to buy the wadding for quilts.

Pics: (above) some of the handmade items local people have made for Jade’s Retreat

Parish Council notes

A FULL meeting of Birstall Parish Council was held on November 11.

It was reported that the council had received comments from residents about the Leicester City Local Plan proposals for 660 homes of Greengate Lane.

Concerned residents should direct their comments directly to the city council through its consultation process.

Councillor Tony Abbey will collate the responses from individual parish councillors and submit them to the city council.

Comment was made about the impact the development would have on vehicle numbers on Greengate Lane and the subsequent air pollution.

Councillors considered the formation of a Councillors’ Forum for the informal discussion of ideas and suggestions, to improve effectiveness and communication.

It was agreed that the forum meets monthly, either before or after a full council meeting, and that it be topic lead. The meetings are not council meetings, cannot make decisions, and are not open to the press and public.

Load of bullocks

BULLOCKS ESCAPED from a farmer’s field into Watermead Country Park on November 15.

Reader Steve Hill sent us these pictures of the animals, which were returned to their enclosure with the help of police and council staff.


A Christmas Message from your Parish Council.

This has been a very difficult and challenging year for us all.

The Parish Councillors and Council staff want to acknowledge and express their heartfelt thanks to all those who stepped up to become Birstall’s ‘COVID HEROES’

It would be impossible to name all those groups and individuals who contributed, but once again Birstall’s community spirit came to the fore. People gave their time and help willingly in such a wonderfully unselfish manner to those who needed it.

To coin a famous quote from John F Kennedy, it was very much the case of ‘not what Birstall can do for me but what I can do for Birstall’.

It is a matter of great pride to us all that Birstall residents have stepped up and coped during this trying time. We hope and pray that a vaccine becomes available in the very near future and that we all get safely through the winter.

As the Christmas season approaches it is very sad that Birstall Parish Council cannot stage the usual popular switch-on event. However, the main Christmas tree and those over the shops will be installed as usual and we hope that these decorations will lift your spirits. Councillors will also be delivering hampers to those elderly folks nominated by parishioners.

Our very best wishes to you all. We hope that you all enjoy the Christmas period despite the restrictions. Take care and stay safe.

Birstall Parish Council

* * *

I read the report in the Birstall Post, of yet another swan's death. It was most upsetting to hear of another beautiful swan that suffered what must have been a slow painful death.

I witnessed the incident of the swan that had died in the same manner in 2018. Julie, the wonderful defender and carer of these beautiful birds, was trying to release the body of the swan while two Leicester City Council guys stood watching while Julie struggled to free the body. They did not offer any assistance apart from providing a bin liner for the swan's body.

It was obvious at that time that the rocks that had been placed along the bank had gaps, which the birds were able to get their heads between and would get wedged when trying to reach food.

Why has it taken two years for the City Council to decide to make further improvement? Improvements that were clearly needed in 2018.

Mrs S Brewin

* * *

The national problem of pouring money into ‘cycling facilities which are poorly thought out and just concentrating on the ‘here and now’ by assuming everyone will have the time to cycle to work in the pouring rain and then trying to find drying and changing facilities when they get there or even going to the local (or otherwise) shops to actually buy something and then trying to get it home only to have to go through the same process again for the next item (repeat as required) in the rain and/or wind without a trailer or large fixed basket does need some imagination. I’m lucky since due to a stroke and cancer, I have to use a tricycle (now you know who the prate is!) with a large basket on the back to make a journey to Birstall for day to day items (when not raining or a gale blowing), which works well and is very practical.

Of course, many of the ‘cycle tracks’ are blocked to me as they are fitted with narrow pinch points and the broken glass doesn’t help.

On a more practical note, this money could be better spent providing, for example, bus services that do not go simply to and from Leicester city centre – not even to Glenfield or Leicester hospital

(I bet I’m not the only one who ends up at Loughborough whenever possible). Don’t even think about going to Sainsbury’s, Fosse Park or Beaumont Leys.

Yes, encourage cycling by all means (you do have your handy cycling track map, don’t you) but with electric buses becoming more practical, I’m sure many would make use of a clean, regular and reliable local bus service that actually goes where people want to go rather than bus companies convince the ‘local authorities’ think would be the least drain on the public purse.

Lateral thinking is required rather than no thinking at all!

Norman Cutting

* * *

In response to Julie Kempton's letter (October), I too am very much in favour of the cycle lanes and 30mph speed limits which are now in force along the A6 through Birstall.

We should be doing all that we can to calm traffic, reduce car use and promote the benefits of cycling and walking on health, well-being and climate grounds.

I would also like to see all other roads in Birstall be limited to 20mph. So many other towns & villages already have adopted this lower speed limit - why can't Birstall follow suit?

Pat Dobson

* * *

I would like to present a rebuttal to Mrs Julie Kempton's letter regarding the pop-up A6 cycle lanes. While she is correct that we should keep an open mind and a generally positive attitude to things, bad decisions absolutely do deserve criticism, and in this case a lot of it.

Case in point; I was driving home from work through Birstall the other week. As I passed Elmfield Avenue, I saw a woman struggling to cross the road. Since there was a fair amount of traffic and all the crossing places have been removed between School Lane and Greengate Lane, she found this difficult. Further up, I got to around the playing field traffic lights, where I hit a queue because a van was blocking traffic trying to turn right. As I reached the top of the hill I hit another queue where the traffic was backed up due to an entire lane being removed from the downhill stretch towards Red Hill Circle.

While the cycle lanes have made things easier for cyclists (I know because I've used them), things are now worse in all other respects for the 99.99% of road users who aren't cyclists. In one stroke, the council has made it harder for drivers (extra queuing and harder navigation from all the right turns that are now banned), more dangerous for pedestrians (who can no longer cross the road as easily) and worse for people living there (because they can no longer turn right into their houses without blocking the road, and the extra emissions from all the cars now sitting in queues). Not to mention the sheer genius of building thousands of extra houses north of Leicester and then reducing the traffic capacity of the main northern route into Leicester. It's quite an achievement when you think about it.

Her claim that it will encourage more cycling in Birstall is dubious, since the cycle lanes don't go anywhere near the shops or Watermead, and there is a stonking great hill in the way so I very much doubt they are being used by anyone who wasn't already cycling before they were put in.The benefits of the 30 mph speed limit are irrelevant since the other changes make the road so congested that it is impossible to go faster than that most of the time anyway.

The best possible modification to the temporary works is to remove them entirely and do the job properly - e.g. using the enormously wide pavement to create an off-road cycle lane. The only remaining question for this whole debacle is what type of paint was being sniffed when the original decision was made?

Nick Goffin

* * *

The Local Plan for Leicester shows that the vast majority of land between Birstall and the Beaumont Business Park is earmarked as strategic development land. If we are not careful, we will lose it to suburban sprawl.

While it is important that we build new homes, doing so in a manner that could completely remove green, open spaces and natural environments, cannot be taken lightly.

The proposed developments could almost merge Beaumont, Glebelands, Rothley and Birstall into one.

Now more than ever we understand the importance of open spaces for us and wildlife. We need the Council to listen and ensure a balanced approach is taken to future development.

Rob Hewson

* * *

I notice the yearly birthday wishes to Rex Brisland in the Birstall Post, put in by Shelagh, and it always makes me smile. I used to work as a shop assistant on Saturdays at Boots in Birstall, and Rex was one of my favourite customers. He would come every fortnight, usually in the afternoon, and chat about his music, his life experiences and the people he had met. I always found him a real joy to talk with, and now I am much older I have much more curiosity and appreciation for the stories he told me over a decade ago. I just wanted to say to Shelagh that although I didn't know Rex, as such, I remember him fondly, and I remember his cough getting worse before his visits to the pharmacy stopped. I had told him to get that checked out. As a teenage shop assistant, I didn't know what happened to him but raised my concerns at the time. It was a while later that I decided to do an internet search, and I was able to find out he had passed away. I notice your message of love in the paper every single year, and I always think back to how Rex's visit used to break up a long afternoon. The last time I spoke to him was before Christmas, and he talked with me while I put Christmas stock out on a little shelf next to the dispensing counter. I think of you at this time of the year, too, as your message is always so warm and loving, and I always read it with you, a person I have never met, in my mind. I hope you are happy, in good health, and just wanted you to know that your messages in the paper are observed with kindness. I wish you all the very best, Shelagh.

Mrs Alex Hilton, Birstall.

* * *

Kingsgate Pharmacy: a big thank you to Saj who is doing a great job delivering prescriptions to those who can't collect their own. I guess there will be others doing similar things at other pharmacies in Birstall.

Thank you!

A ‘Gates’ resident

* * *

As many of you know, there has been a lot of debate about feeding swans and other waterfowl bread. We have always maintained that feeding them bread is fine, and today we received this statement from The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, MVO, endorsed by Professor Christopher Perrins of the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at Oxford University.

“There has been a great deal of press coverage in recent months regarding the ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign, which is confusing many members of the public who like to feed swans. Supporters of the campaign claim that bread should not be fed to swans on the grounds that it is bad for them. This is not correct. Swans have been fed bread for many hundreds of years without causing any ill effects. While bread may not be the best dietary option for swans compared to their natural food, such as river weed, it has become a very important source of energy for them, supplementing their natural diet and helping them to survive the cold winter months when vegetation is very scarce.

There is no good reason not to feed bread to swans, provided it is not mouldy. Most households have surplus bread and children have always enjoyed feeding swans with their parents. The ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign is already having a deleterious impact upon the swan population; I am receiving reports of underweight cygnets and adult birds, and a number of swans from large flocks have begun to wander into roads in search of food. This poses the further risk of swans being hit by vehicles. Malnutrition also increases their vulnerability to fatal diseases like avian-flu which has caused the deaths of many mute swans and other waterfowl in the past.

Furthermore, there have been statements made in the media claiming that feeding bread causes angel-wing in swans. Angel-wing is a condition where a cygnet develops a deformed wing. Professor Christopher Perrins, LVO, FRS of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University stated, ‘There is no evidence of a connection between feeding bread and angel-wing; at least some cygnets develop this condition without ever having seen any bread’.

I therefore encourage members of the public to continue feeding swans to help improve their chances of survival, especially through the winter.”

I warmly welcome this statement from Her Majesty’s Official Swan people backed by Swan Sanctuary.

This issue of not feeding bread has been causing so many problems for the swans.

I cover a very large area doing rescues, welfare and study work so I see what exactly what goes on and the problems and harm this wrong advice has been causing. It’s written by people that have never actually come out to test their hypothesis out and see what happens and the problems they cause. A lot is passed from person to person without any scientific research to back it up.

I would hate to go back to the days when the swans were fed loads of bread and even worse the mouldy bread they were given. Royal Swans confirm they should not be fed mouldy bread. They acknowledge bread is not the best dietary option compared to weed, but it’s a good source of energy, so they need it.

A lot of areas are treated for weed. The swans are supposed to get out of the water to eat grass. It’s impossible for them when every few minutes they are being chased back in the water by dogs.

I’ve seen a vast improvement in the nutritious food people are now bringing for them. Two of my favourites are Swan and Duck Food and Wild Bird Seed. Food specially designed to give them what they need. Enjoy feeding them. We are so lucky to have this fantastic area. Please only give them what they will eat there and then.

Food left lying on the floor attracts rats and food left floating on the water pollutes it

Swans will make it very clear to you if they are hungry. You will find they will swim over to you and start eating. Our swans have grown up from little cygnets that are used to your company. They are a lot happier when they are fed. The swans will clearly tell you how much food they can eat.

I look at Watermead South’s feeding board in disbelief when they tell you bread is bad for them and it causes Angel Wing. One day they will realize!

If we get a really cold winter they end up really thin and weak. Not always visible until you pick them up to help them because they puff their feathers out to keep warm. A vet has said they are too weak to fight anything off. If they catch anything they will just die. They need food which includes bread to survive and be happy.

Julie, Watermead Swans

* * *

I think it's great that our local takeaways are providing not only a wide range of delicious food but also some valuable social interaction with staff, deliverers and other customers.

However, I am disappointed to see that there are some which are not minimising the risks, especially when we know that Birstall has so many elderly residents.

There are still takeaways that don't require masks, don't accept card payments, and don't deliver - all of which protect our villagers.

I would urge them to consider these measures, and for customers to support those takeaways that do show this level of concern for our people’s health.

Name & address supplied

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I hope there can be room in your issue for me to send my warmest thanks to a mother and daughter who stopped to help me after I fell off my bike last Wednesday (October 28, I think). I was a bit distracted at the time, but I believe the mother's name was Victoria. She very kindly stopped when I was on the verge of passing out, and then she phoned my husband to explain what had happened, waiting with me until he arrived in the car. My very big thanks for this.

Tracy Twell, Cliffe Road

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In the October issue of the Birstall Post, there was published a diagram of the proposed development on the hitherto green wedge area between the city part of Greengate Lane and the western bypass. This site earmarked for development by Leicester City Council is part of its Draft Local Plan. I expect a lot of people were surprised and disappointed to see that the shaded part covers the whole area apart from the already established travellers' camp. This indicates that the wooded area which is about 450–500 yards in length and running approximately parallel to Ashton Green Road is to be destroyed so that the area it covers can be used as part of the development.

I have written to the planning department to ask if the wood is to be destroyed but after three weeks I have not received a reply. I am not against the building of new accommodation as people need houses and children need schools but the wooded area is an established part of the environment. It has probably been in existence for at least a century, perhaps two or three centuries although maybe not able to be classed as ancient woodland. It has many mature trees and is a haven for wildlife – many birds roost and nest there and there are animals such as foxes and badgers. In the Birstall Post, Sir Peter Soulsby was quoted as saying: “we know that we have a number of challenges ahead – not least the climate emergency and our responsibility is to protect our environment for future generations."

So let us hope that Leicester City Council carries out those responsibilities in a serious and meaningful way.

However, we should not and need not regard that wooded area as irreplaceable. If it is considered necessary to use it as part of the development a length of woodland say 25 to 30 yards in width, running from Ashton Green Road to a point next to the railway and adjacent to the bypass could be created. The planting of many trees and bushes would become a replacement haven for wildlife after a few years. Obviously using that part of the site for woodland would decrease the number of houses to be built but it should still be possible to build over 600 homes. Anyway who really wants to live right next to a very busy, noisy bypass. The woodland might lessen the traffic noise from the bypass. Incidentally, how much of the housing is going to be so-called affordable housing, how much will be bungalows and perhaps blocks of flats for elderly residents in Leicester in family homes who would like to downsize? Will the housing have solar panels on the roof? We need more and more electricity as more houses are built and more electric cars are used so why aren’t all the new houses on the Ashton Green development being built with solar panels? The city council seems to be half-hearted already in trying to deal with the challenges of climate change. Will the new development have a few shops and other facilities for the community?

Another anxiety which will be caused by the development is the large increase in vehicles using Ashton Green Road and Greengate Lane to enter and exit the site. As residents know, Greengate Lane is already heavily used by vehicles not just in the morning rush-hour but throughout the day. In the city part, children walking from Leicester and nearby villages to school in Birstall are having to use the fragmented footpath system. This means having to cross the road twice, dodging through traffic and breathing in pollution with danger to their future health. I pointed all this out in my letter published about three years ago. The city council have done nothing to make things better for children while spending millions on roads in the city centre. What really needs to be done as a priority is for the isolated stretch of footpath and cycle path on the golf course side of Greengate Lane to be extended at one end to Ashton Green Road and the other end extended to the bridge. If a footpath/cycle path bridge were to be built over the railway next to the present bridge that route could run down to the cemetery entrance – the grass verge outside the cemetery is crying out to be turned into a footpath/cycle path. This would mean pedestrians and cyclists using that side of Greengate Lane would be safer by not having to traverse the present bridge and sharing it with vehicles.

Jex Woods

NHW news

Dangerous Presents

Christmas shopping has always been an ordeal for many of us but the growth of the online marketplace had already reduced the need to trudge around busy shops before Covid-19 struck.

It allows us to shop safely in the comfort of our own home at any time of the day or night and, of course, scammers are out there trying to steal our money.

That risk is widely known but there is an associated one that it is even more serious. Online shopping also carries possibly serious physical risks to the people most important to us. Those who received nothing and lose their money could have less to regret than those who received something.

Last year, the consumer watchdog Which? investigated products sold by online marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, as well as smaller less well-known ones.

It set up as a seller and was able to list a number of products that had already been recalled for safety reasons. One was a toy that had been recalled because of a risk to children of choking or suffocating. Another was a car seat made from a fabric that it was illegal to use in the UK. It also found that many of the electrical and electronic items listed for sale were poorly made ‘rip off’ imitations of genuine products that posed a serious risk of fire or electrocution.

Unscrupulous sellers also employed underhand methods to promote their dodgy products by faking large numbers of positive five-star reviews.

Well-known high street stores sell their own products online and are responsible for ensuring that they meet the required compliance checks and regulations. Online e-commerce platforms, on the other hand, let individuals and third-party companies sell directly to customers. They do not own or supply the products themselves and do not have the same responsibilities. They remain with the seller.

If you buy directly from a UK or (at the moment) an EU company you can be confident that the product complies with the regulations. If you buy through an e-commerce platform you cannot be certain who the sellers or manufacturers are or where they are based; it could be anywhere in the world.

Price is not always the best guide and you might pay as much for a fake as for the real thing but, if you see a listing that is considerably cheaper than something similar from a reputable retailer, you should be extremely careful. The low price will most likely reflect the low quality.

Do your research and, please, always consider the risk to your family members and friends for whom you are buying presents.

From Ed Chambers, Birstall & Wanlip NHW

Crime Report

Crime Update

During November the beat team will be paying particular attention to the area around Hallam Fields Primary School as we have had some complaints in recent weeks about Anti-Social Behaviour occurring in the car park during the evenings. If you have any idea who is responsible for this or have any information which may assist us in identifying the people involved, please let us know.

We have also had some complaints about large groups of young people gathering on School Lane park, contravening social distancing rules, so we will be conducting extra patrols in this area to prevent this from happening.

In October we only had 16 recordable crimes reported to us, which is considerably less than September when we had 41.

We had 5 thefts from vehicles, 4 ’other thefts’ (3 of which related to fuel thefts from the petrol station), 3 reports of assault, 1 report of criminal damage, 1 burglary dwelling, 1 non-dwelling burglary and 1 report of a robbery.

Aside from this, there are no other crime trends to report.

For further crime information please visit: www.police.uk/leicestershire/NL60/

Crime Prevention Advice

In recent weeks have seen an increase in ‘courier fraud’ offences. This is when the victim is contacted (usually by phone) & told there is a problem with their bank account and that they need to withdraw a large amount of money so that it can be ‘checked’. The caller will often say they are from the Police and will give false details, and may give the victim a number to call in order to check they are genuine. They will then ‘end’ the call but will not put the phone down so if the victim calls back it re-connects to the same person. Once the cash has been withdrawn a ‘courier’ will visit the victim & take the money saying that they will be in touch, and needless to say, the money is never seen again.

Please contact us immediately on 101 or 999 if you think you have been a victim of this offence.


Beat surgeries - these will be held at the Birstall Beat office on Sibson Rd on the following dates: Please keep an eye on our Twitter site @CharnwoodPolice for further details.

Thursday 3rd December. 5pm—7pm. Birstall Beat Office, Robert Dickinson Building, 10 Sibson Rd

Friday 18th December. 10am—12midday. Birstall Beat Office.

Remember, you can also stay in touch with your beat team by contacting us via phone, email or through the Leicestershire Police website. Neighbourhood Link is also a free and easy way of finding out what is happening on the beat and what the Police are doing in your area. It is free and only takes a few minutes to sign up.

Sign up now at:www.neighbourhoodlink.co.uk

A message from Sgt Mistry & Pc Jaeckels.

My name is Rakhi Mistry and I am the new beat Sgt for Birstall. I look forward to meeting local residents and tackling any concerns /issues to keep Birstall a safe place, along with the dedicated beat officers that have been working hard to resolve any local issues.

Please feel free to contact me directly and also follow us on social media: @CharnwoodPolice

This month the beat team have been out patrolling around the local schools concerning complaints about anti-social parking at drop-off and pick-up times. We have also been conducting patrols around Meadow Lane concerning complaints about drug use in the area and noisy vehicles.

We have also been out delivering leaflets and conducting house to house enquiries concerning a spate of thefts from vehicles that happened around the middle of the month, although I am pleased to report that this appears to have now subsided.

Please remember that we are also now being much more robust about reports of people breaching coronavirus regulations and will be issuing fixed penalty notices to people found breaking the rules. Please ensure you are aware of the current guidance so that you do not fall foul of the law.

PC 1759 Jaeckels, PCSO 6611 Butler, PCSO 6128 Taylor

Musician’s lockdown book

A BIRSTALL musician has turned her hand to writing during the lockdown.

With a year of planned performances, concerts, opera, and West End shows wiped from the diary at the start of lockdown in March 2020, musician Kathleen Shanks took a break from her life as a professional performer and composer and became a writer.

Her first book, A ‘Gnome Is Just For Christmas’, has just been published. It tells the story of a bunch of disgruntled garden gnomes and a Christmas miracle that changed their lives forever.

The book is suitable for children aged 9 to 13. When bought from the Capital Arts website proceeds will go to ‘The Show Must Go On’ a charity supporting theatres throughout the country and all who work in the performing arts.


Rider falls from bike

POLICE ARE appealing for witnesses to an incident on Loughborough Road when a 19-year-old was seriously injured after falling from his motorbike.

He was taken to hospital with what police described as “potentially life-changing injuries”.

The incident took place at 5.45pm on Sunday, November 15.

A police spokesman said: “Officers from the forces tactical roads policing team are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident.

“As part of our investigation, we are asking for anyone to come forward who saw the motorcyclist prior to him falling, or who saw what happened. We are trying to ascertain the circumstances that led to this incident occurring. I am particularly keen to speak to anyone with a dashcam in their vehicle, as well as anyone who saw what happened. Any information you have could help us.”

The police can be contacted on 101.

Girls walk for Birstall Food Hub

THREE BIRSTALL Brownies completed a sponsored walk and donated £320 worth of groceries to Birstall Food Hub.

Pics: Elsa, Olivia & Gracie with the shopping they donated, & walking in Bradgate Park

Elsa Warrington (10), Olivia Sharp (10), and Gracie Edge (9) were all sponsored to walk a jamboree at Bradgate Park on November 1, walking 6.5 miles or 14,000 steps.

They chose Birstall Food Hub as their charity and bought food at the supermarket with their sponsorship money, choosing things that would last, such as rice, pasta, tinned fruit, cereals and biscuits.

The girls said the best part was helping others and finding out how much money they had raised, and the worst was walking the last mile, as they were so tired.

Gill Chester, chair of Birstall food hub, said: “We are absolutely amazed at the quantity of food – another huge thank you from personal food hub, part of the sore Valley community food project. I know the people we support will be really grateful.”

Molly a finalist

A 17-year-old from Birstall was a category finalist in the Leicestershire Lord Lieutenant’s Award Scheme.

Pic: volunteer Molly Cooper

The awards aim to recognise the efforts and successes of 13–19-year-olds in the county.

Molly Cooper was a finalist in the young volunteer of the year category.

She volunteered at University Hospitals Leicester on a 12-week project, impressing her colleagues with her energy and commitment. When her 12-week placement ended, she continued as a ‘Forget-me-not’ volunteer, working with patients with dementia using crafts and games.

A spokesperson said: “Molly is a kind and caring volunteer who has had a significant impact on patients she has worked with, and she is a wonderful example for young volunteers in our county.”

Katie’s characters

A CHILDREN’S entertainer has had to adapt in the pandemic.

Pic: Katie in costume

Katie Bateman (27), from Birstall, started her business ‘Katie’s Characters’ after a career in dance and performance that has seen her working on Disney cruise ships, at Butlins and Harrod’s Christmas grotto.

Before the pandemic, she was organising children’s parties and is now finding new ways to deliver magical experiences with doorstep visits.

“Seeing children’s faces light up is simply amazing,” says Katie, who studied dance at Longslade College and went on to achieve a Masters degree in performance.

“I want to create magical moments for families – just like the ones I had from growing up going to local community events in the village.”

At Halloween, Katie transformed into Maleficent and visited local children, playing spooky games and handing out treats.

Katie said: “For Christmas, I am in touch with some cheeky elves who can come to play in your garden and a life-size Elf on the Shelf who will help me deliver the ultimate prank!”

Find Katie on her Facebook page, Katie‘s Characters.

Unique musical union

A BIRSTALL singer-songwriter has released a new album of songs produced alongside musicians from the other side of the world.

Pic: musician Louise Steele

Louise Steel (35), released her new album ‘Sideshow’ on October 30. It contains eight songs, the music for which was recorded by musicians in a studio in Malaysia

The title track, ‘Sideshow’, has already won praise from BBC Music Introducing East Midlands, which named it their ‘Track of the Week’ upon release, with words like ‘sassy’, ‘powerful’ and ‘empowering’ used to describe it.

“Since the track’s release, the song has had so much praise, and I’m really happy because it’s a song which means a lot to me lyrically,” said Louise.

“It’s all about realising your own worth and refusing to be undervalued and it’s quite personal because I’ve always felt like a little bit of a sideshow myself. However, I am learning to be more comfortable with who I am and what I stand for,” she added.

“I actually went to school at De-Lisle and people would know me as this shy, very timid girl who was content to just hide away in the corner, but you wouldn’t believe it after listening to this song! It’s very feisty and empowering. I’d love to know what people think! I hope people will listen and be inspired.”

The album ‘Sideshow’ is the follow up to 2017’s ‘Heartstorm’, with Louise recording her vocals at home and musicians from Malaysia recording their parts over in their home country, thousands of miles away. Files and communication were bounced back and forth via email for two years during the album’s production.

The unique musical union began after one of the band members saw Louise’s music online and contacted her to initiate a collaboration, which she describes as a ‘stroke of luck’ and an ‘amazing success.’

She said: “We did a song together and haven’t looked back since! It just works. During lockdown, it seems a lot of musicians are working this way due to the circumstances, but we were ahead of the curve in a way without even knowing it! I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.”

To listen to ‘Sideshow’, watch the official music video on Youtube.

WI gift goody bags

BIRSTALL & Wanlip WI should have held their AGM on November 2.

As we could not physically meet up we held a Zoom session and hopefully this will be a regular event until we can gather again. Our Facebook and WhatsApp groups are still very active and this helps to keep most ladies in touch.

Funding from the Edith Murphy Foundation from the cancelled Birstall Gala enabled Maxilyn and Beverly to provide goody bags for all our members. We thank them for both for the mammoth task in assembling and delivering them. Now those ladies not in touch by phone or computer know that they are not forgotten. The bags included a homemade scone, butter, jam and tea bag, bulbs, a windowsill plant, a quiz, a recipe and craft items. The bags are reusable so that we can provide a Secret Santa gift for a named member.

Now the poppies have been made our ladies have turned their skills to making Christmas decorations that they hope to sell to raise money for the charity Jade’s Retreat.

From Birstall & Wanlip WI

Book sold

PROCEEDS FROM the sale of a book about old Birstall have been donated to the Leicestershire Air Ambulance.

The entire print run of 250 copies of ‘A Walk Around Birstall’ by John Kilby, published by Birstall & District Local History Society, has been sold.

The amount raised was £500.

Santa’s exciting adventure

‘SANTA AND the Baby Jesus’ is the first book from Birstall author Hazel J Wilcox in conjunction with illustrator Carol M Weir.

“We hope that Santa’s exciting adventure will captivate children’s imaginations and present them with the real meaning behind our Christmas festivities - just how much God loves them,” said Hazel.

In the story, Santa is going about his usual Christmas Eve activities, but he is in for a big surprise, one that will change his life forever. One by one, a heavenly visitor introduces Santa to the characters of the first Christmas and explains the real meaning behind it all.

Available now on Amazon.

Facebook Page: WW Children’s Books

Email: wwchildrensbooks@gmail.com

City’s local plan

660 NEW homes on a site off Greengate Lane are a part of Leicester City Council’s Draft Local Plan.

A consultation on the plan opened on September 14 and closes on December 7. It is available online at consultations.leicester.gov.uk

City mayor Peter Soulsby said: “A Local Plan is something every local authority has to have in place, by law. It covers the way we propose to develop the city over the next 15 years. Without such a plan, it would be harder for us to protect wildlife and our built heritage, make plans for a greener and healthier city, or effectively accommodate the growing needs of our city.

“The contents of the draft plan are very much initial proposals for consideration and are in no way fixed at this stage. This draft will be followed by a more developed ‘Submission Draft’ plan, which will also be consulted upon, and then by a public examination which will give further opportunities for people to comment on the emerging proposals.”

To take part in the consultation, visit consultations.leicester.gov.uk

News from the churches

LOCKED UP /locked down / locked in! We are at a standstill again, with our churches in Wanlip and Birstall closed for worship. BUT – rather like the proverbial swan, all serene on top, we are paddling like mad below – there are plans being actioned.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we were unable to hold our usual All Souls service this year, but our loved ones were still remembered, and their lives celebrate through a “Tree of Remembrance” placed in St James, with names of loved ones decorating the tree.

Photographs of the tree have been made available to relatives of those recalled.

Remembrance Sunday usually sees our churches packed with people, and our streets with parades, when we all come together to remember those lost in wars. This year was very different with a few representatives from the Royal British Legion, the Parish Council and the Church, gathered at the War Memorial in St James’ churchyard on the eleventh day. However few, or however many gather, they will still be remembered by us all.

We are still without a Rector, and this month the Parochial Church Council will be meeting with the Archdeacon of Leicester, and the Area Dean to progress to the point of advertising the position.

We have welcomed the Rev. Rosie Homer, a curate on placement with Birstall and Wanlip for the months of November and December. Her energy is very encouraging, and she is proving to be very helpful, not least in making services from our two churches available on the internet, the link to access these services is available on the church web site.

As you can imagine we have been unable to plan our Christmas celebrations in the usual way. The Nine Lessons and Carols at Wanlip will be missed, but there will still be candles and decorated trees, music and readings presented in a “deconstructed” way! On Sunday, December 20, from 3.30pm to 5.30pm the candlelit church at Wanlip will be open with decorations and festive music playing. Flow through the church will need to be controlled to comply with social distancing rules. This will be followed by the regular service of at 6pm Evening Prayer, for which it will be necessary to book a place through the church web site.

The Crib Service at Birstall and the Carols for All will be casualties of Covid-19. However on Monday, December 21, between 1pm-3pm at St James Birstall we invite you and your family to drop in and Follow the Star to find Jesus, Mary and Joseph, journeying along a trail of interactive 'stations' outside and inside Church, telling the story of the first Christmas.

In the week leading up to Christmas, both our churches will be open to drop in for individual prayer & reflection, where you can listen to carols being played and enjoy a peaceful, festive atmosphere. On each day of Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd, Wednesday 23rd and Thursday 24th: Birstall St James is open 10am-12noon, and Wanlip Our Lady & St Nicholas is open 3pm-5pm. Whether this is your first or 101st Christmas, and whatever your faith, you are welcome to come and receive the gift of peace at our churches this Christmas.

Please keep an eye on our website for regular updates www.birstall.org

Or contact a churchwarden on 07570 198810.

And in these unusual times, we wish everyone a joyous Christmas.

From the Anglican churches in Birstall and Wanlip

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Birstall Methodist Services Now On The Net

In view of all the Covid-19 difficulties, Charles Hilton has managed to record our weekly Sunday services and put them onto the internet. They are open to all to watch. When we were allowed to open the church, the service was recorded there, but several of the recordings were made in private houses or the Methodist Manse. The services that are recorded last between 30 and 40 minutes. In addition to the recorded service, there is a simple ‘click’ to bring up the words used in the service. The full link is https:/www.leicestertrinitycircuit.org.uk/churches/circuit-churches/Birstall/service-video-recordings.html.

Methodist Sunday Club Whatsapp Group

Throughout the Lockdown period, the Sunday Club has also been “Working from Home” focusing on a weekly bible story on YouTube. They make appropriate crafts, pictures, cooking etc. and then share with each other by WhatsApp. At Harvest time, they made Harvest Cards which were delivered to all the friends in the Church.

Methodist Luncheon Club

Although we are unable to meet up, we are very much in touch. Volunteers are ‘phoning the members regularly for a chat and to offer a helping hand if needed. The members look forward to receiving the monthly newsletter with bits of gossip, jokes and a quiz. Although there won’t be the traditional roast turkey and Christmas pudding this year, Santa will be delivering a small Christmas box to all 33 of our members.

Birstall Methodist “Virtual” Christmas Festival

For the past 20 years, there has been a Christmas Festival at our church. Sadly not so this year: no displays in the church, no soups and puddings, no hot-dogs or pancakes BUT there has been a lot of activity via on-line shopping; Christmas hampers, Christmas door swags and decorations, cakes & mince pies to order, preserves, plus hand-crafted rustic Santas & mini-reindeer. All of these were available via home-delivery or Click’n’Collect and there is now no stock left.

Fun For All The Family – Nativity Trail

There will be a Nativity Trail organised by the Methodist Church and St James' around the village with pictures to find in various places together with a competition for those who can tell us what is in each place! Trail sheets and information of the route will be available soon at www.birstallchristmastrail2020.wordpress.com and on the Birstall Methodist Family Activities Facebook page. There will be a prize for one of the correctly drawn ones. We are grateful for the many businesses who have agreed to display things in their windows

From Birstall Methodist Church

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It seems clear that many aspects of our traditional Christmas celebrations will be different (or missing) this year, but the events which we commemorate are still true. The amazing, stupendous fact of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ (recorded in Luke 1-2, Matthew 1-2, John 1) is clearly stated in two hymns (carols) written by Charles Wesley, which form the focus of this month’s review of some of our famous hymns and hymn writers. These two pieces are: ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ and ‘Let earth and heaven combine.’ The first refers to: ‘Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail the incarnate Deity!’ and the second contains the lines: ‘… The incarnate Deity, Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensively made man.’ ‘Hark the herald angels sing’ also gives the reason for this incarnation: ‘God and sinners reconciled … Born to give them second birth’. If you would like to know more about Jesus’s rescue mission, then please get in contact with us.

The author of these carols was Charles Wesley (1707-1788), who composed over 6,000 hymns, many of which are still sung today all over the world. Charles was born in Lincolnshire, the eighteenth child of his parents. He was educated at Oxford and ordained in the Church of England before accompanying his elder brother, John, as a missionary in 1735 to the new colony of Georgia in North America, despite the fact that neither brother was truly converted at this time. The mission was not successful and they returned after two years. The brothers then became acquainted with a Moravian missionary and Charles, leaving the methods of self-righteousness and finding justification by faith, became a Christian on Whit Sunday 1738, with John following three days later. They both devoted their lives to evangelism. Charles preached to many thousands and travelled many hundreds of miles on horseback around England, Wales and Ireland. He remained in the Anglican Church but was a founder of what became Methodism.

All at BIBC would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a happy, blessed and peaceful Christmas.

It is still not clear when we will be able to resume Sunday services at The Cedars, so please check with our website (http://www.birstallbaptistchurch.org.uk) or phone us on 0116 2214883 for up-to-date information.

From Birstall Independent Baptist Church

* * *

AS 2020 enters its final month, the battle against Covid-19 continues.

There have recently been hopeful signs emerging regarding the results vaccine trials which we pray will soon result in the production of a safe and effective vaccine. But for now, we continue to follow the guidance from the government with regard to churches being open for congregational worship.

Having been able to attend Mass over the summer and early autumn months (albeit masked, gelled and socially distanced!), this, of course, was curtailed when further restrictions were reintroduced on November 5. Our two churches were open each day for short periods of private prayer and this time Fr Tom set-up the live streaming of daily Mass via YouTube - on Sundays, this was with the accompaniment of music provided by the choir who had pre-recorded the hymns and Mass parts. Feedback from parishioners was very appreciative. Thank you to all those who provided the technical assistance.

So many parish activities have had to be curtailed this year, but the draw for a charity raffle was held recently for a hand-made patchwork quilt, the proceeds of which have been given to the local Salvation Army who do such great work supporting those in need in the community.

By the time you are reading this, “Lockdown II” should be under review and there could well be further changes as the Christmas season approaches. This year has certainly taught us to be flexible in our worship. Advent is underway and people everywhere are possibly wondering and worrying about how they might be able to celebrate Christmas. Whether we come together at church or attend Mass or other services via the wonder of the internet, the same Nativity Story, the birth of a baby who brought light into a world of darkness, will be told and retold throughout the world.

We wish everyone in our community the peace, joy and hope of Christmas-time.

From St Theresa’s, Birstall & Sacred Heart, Rothley

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LIKE SO many of us we love Christmas. On our street in Birstall a few houses have huge, brilliant displays and when they appear it is always a sign that joy is ahead.

Christmas is nearly here and a time for family, food, decorations, presents and memories is coming.

We have been proud to watch the level of care from so many people in Birstall this year. A pandemic brought out the best in many of us. Generosity to give to others, applause on the streets for our amazing NHS and kindness was everywhere. At Open Hands, our Compassion Charity, we benefited from much of this kindness shown in Birstall and your help along with others has enabled us to provide tens of thousands of meals for those in need in Leicester. People of Birstall, THANK YOU.

And yet we all know as we approach Christmas that this has been a very challenging year and many of us have faced real sadness, fear and loneliness. Does God have anything to say to us today?

We love the words of the angel to the shepherds in Luke's gospel - “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people”. In the middle of Coronavirus, here in Birstall, in your home, Jesus is still Good News bringing joy to all people. With all our heart we say to everyone, Jesus, the Son of God is here for you this Christmas, pouring out His love and inviting you not to religion, but rather to a real and living relationship with him.

He is what you have been looking for this year and He is only a prayer away.

Christmas Services

At the time of writing all our services are back online on the TLCLeicester YouTube page, in real time and available for catch up afterwards:

6th/13th Dec, 10.30am - All age Celebration

20th - 6pm - The TLC Christmas Production

24th - 6pm - The TLC Christmas ServiceIf we can help you, serve you or if you need practical help please contact us:

TLC Office- 0116 2558672

Email - admin@trinitylifechurch.org.uk

Be blessed and have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year,

From David and Susan Hind

Leaders of Trinity Life Church, Leicester


Birstall BAG’s cancer corner

How new cancer drugs are made available in the NHS

Doctors and scientists are always looking for better ways to care for people with cancer. To do this, they create and study new drugs. They also look for new ways to use drugs that are already available. New treatments offer hope and opportunities for cancer patients and getting involved in their development is an option most cancer patients can consider. Birstall BAGs would like to provide some background into how drugs are developed and how trials are conducted so that patients feel more confident to ask about clinical trial options and consider taking part.

A drug goes from being an idea in the lab to something that a doctor prescribes. To do this, it must go through a long development and approval process. During this process, researchers make sure the drug is safe for people to take and effectively treats cancer. This process often takes many years and significant resources.

The discovery of new cancer drugs can happen in different ways:

Accidental discovery

In the early 1940s, an explosion exposed sailors to poisonous mustard gas. Doctors found that these sailors had low white blood cell counts. So they began using nitrogen mustard, or mechlorethamine (Mustargen) to treat lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Nitrogen mustard is still a cancer treatment used today. But accidental discoveries such as this are rare.

Testing plants, fungi, and animals

Paclitaxel (Taxol) treats several types of cancer. This was found first in the bark of the Pacific yew tree. More recently, a primitive animal called a sea sponge was used to create the drug eribulin (Halaven).

Studying the biology of cancer cells

Most cancer researchers start by comparing both the genes found in DNA and growth patterns of cancer cells to healthy cells. This identifies important steps in the cancer growth process that a drug could block or interrupt.

Understanding the chemical structure of a drug target

Scientists may use computers to mimic how a potential drug interacts with its target. This is similar to fitting two puzzle pieces together. Researchers can then make chemical compounds that interact with the specific drug target.

After drugs are created, researchers test them on human tumour cells in the laboratory. They see if the drugs stop the growth of cancer cells. Next, they test the drug in animals to find out if it is still effective at treating cancer. They learn how the body uses the new drug. They also learn what side effects the drug may cause and what dose of the drug to test in people.

Clinical Trials

The next stage in a drug's development is to test it in clinical trials. There are four phases to testing a drug in clinical trials.

Phase I – tests the drug in humans to try and establish the most effective and safe dose. Usually, only 15-30 patients are needed for this phase of the trial.

Phase II - Phase II trials further assess safety as well as if a drug works. The drug is often tested among patients with a specific type of cancer. Phase II trials are done in larger groups of patients compared to Phase I trials

Phase III- compare a new drug to the standard-of-care drug. These trials assess the side effects of each drug and which drug works better. Phase III trials enrol 100 or more patients.

Phase IV- trials test newly approved drugs. The drug is tested in several hundred or thousands of patients. This allows for better research on short-lived and long-lasting side effects and safety.

Clinical trials a have different entry criteria for volunteers, cancer patients medical teams should be able to advise individuals of what trials are available, where they can be accessed and if they might meet the entry criteria.

Once the trials are completed and the drug has achieved a favourable outcome the next stage in eventually having the drug available in the NHS is to seek a license for the drug and then approval.


For a drug to be licensed the manufacturers must prove that it is safe for use, it is effective and any side-effects are outweighed by the benefits. At the moment, new drugs are issued with a Europe-wide license by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Even though the UK has now left the European Union, this will be the case until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.


Once a drug has its licence the next step is for it to be approved for use in the NHS. This is done by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) or the Scottish Medicines Consortia (SMC). NICE's decisions are also followed in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Both NICE and the SMC conduct a technical appraisal to assess the clinical and the cost (how much it is) effectiveness of new treatments and drugs. Relevant evidence is sourced from several places. The drug company submits the principal evidence. The evidence review group (ERG), an external academic organisation independent of NICE or the SMC, produces a review of the evidence submission. Consultees provide information and selected clinical experts, NHS commissioning experts and patient experts also give evidence. The technical appraisal committee considers the evidence and decides whether or not the medicine should be recommended as clinically effective and cost-effective use of NHS resources, or whether it should only be recommended for specific groups of people. The appraisal committee then provides its recommendations to NICE/SMC. They make their decisions based on evidence supplied by health professionals, patients and carers and drug companies. The SMC will either decide to approve or not approve a treatment. In England NICE has three options: approve, not approve or recommend for the Cancer Drugs Fund.

The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) is for drugs that have promising trial results but there is currently not enough clinical evidence for NICE to decide if they are cost-effective. Drugs made available on the CDF are available for up to two years to allow more time for evidence to be gathered. After the two years, NICE will then reconsider if the drug should be routinely commissioned or not.

The CDF is only applicable in England. However, Wales has now introduced the New Treatment Fund which offers access to those drugs approved for use on the CDF, and Northern Ireland has also recently announced a similar early access scheme.

If you are a cancer patient, and you would like to explore groundbreaking treatments or clinical trials, ask a member of your clinical team or contact a charity related to the cancer you have.

For local support and information about cancer services, please contact:-

University Hospitals of Leicester Cancer Information Centre on 0116 258 6189

For more information on the funds Birstall BAGs have raised, the projects we support and forthcoming events see www.birstallbags.co.uk or look us up on Facebook or email birstallbags@hotmail.co.uk