Leicester City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby backs Watermead Park ‘pandemic memorial walk’ crowdfunding campaign

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

A crowdfunding campaign backed by Sir Peter Soulsby is aiming to raise enough money to build a pandemic ‘memorial walk’ in Watermead Park to provide a space for reflection and remembrance of the year we did everything possible to protect family and friends.

The Watermead Memorial Walk is a joint venture from Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council and was announced yesterday (DEC2).

The county and city councils are now asking for help from the public to raise the £61,133 needed to fund the project, having each put up £17,500 and £11,500 respectively to cover maintenance costs.

CrowdFund Leicester, an initiative launched by City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, is hosting the campaign.

The proposed walk would include 58 new trees creating a linear path from the north to the south of the Charnwood Park in Birstall, with benches placed at regular intervals allowing people to sit and reflect on the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

The proposed walk site would provide a space for visitors to remember the difficulties of 2020

In a statement Mayor Soulsby said: “2020 will be remembered as a year of dreadful loss and suffering, but it should also be remembered as the year when people pulled together in extraordinary ways – protecting their communities and helping each other through the difficult times.

“The Watermead Memorial Walk is a project that has my full support. Let’s create it together – and let people in Leicester and Leicestershire enjoy it together.”

The Leicester Mayor publicly backed the project on Twitter

As of November 20, 5,001 people had died from COVID-19 in the East Midlands, with Leicester and the surrounding areas having suffered through ongoing lockdowns since mid-March.

It is hoped the walk will provide a place to commemorate those lost, but also to remember the strength of front-line workers, health care providers and countless others during such a difficult year.

Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “This project aims to create an environmentally-conscious space that will continue to bring people together. In doing so, we will not only look back on 2020 as a difficult year, but as a year we pulled through by working together and supporting our communities.”

The first tree is hoped to be planted in the coming days as part of National Tree Week (NOV28-DEC6).

A phased roadmap for the project would see its completion in March next year with the potential to expand the idea to include features such as sculptures and plaques.

People are encouraged to pledge their donations now, with no money being taken until February 2021 if the project hits its target.

Nottingham-based graphics business The Art Department has already generously pledged £3,528.

“If we are to complete the first phase of our proposals by the end of January 2021, we need to call on our communities and businesses to help make this plan a reality. All pledges no matter how large or small will be gratefully received,” said Cllr Rushton.

More information about the project and how to donate can be found on its fundraising page, with the minimum pledge being £2.

International students forced to miss classes to spend Christmas with their families

By Beatriz Abreu Ferreira

Many international students fear they will be forced to miss face-to-face classes as they will be quarantined on their return to university after visiting their families over the holidays.

While De Montfort University students in Leicester were given a student travel window to go home for Christmas, during which all classes will be online, with the start of the new semester and the return of face-to-face classes, many international students are expecting to miss their lectures due to being quarantined after returning from their home countries. 

As things stand, people arriving in the UK from most countries are required to self-isolate for 14 days, only being exempt when traveling from the Common Travel Area (Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man) or countries in travel corridors with the UK. 

International students will face several difficulties if they spend the holiday period with their families 

Cristina Gonçalves, second-year Journalism and International Relations student, will be travelling to Spain tomorrow (FRI,DEC4), on the third flight she booked to go home.

Her first flight was supposed to be on the 19th, but she changed it to fit the student travel window. This second flight was then cancelled by the airline which made her book a new one during the weekend. 

She said: “The main problem was the airlines cancelling flights during the week and compressing all those passengers in weekend flights, which also doesn’t sit well with Government guidelines.

“Also, with the (very late) announcement of the student travel window, many people including myself had booked their flights before. I lost a lot of money changing flights and train tickets.”

Cristina will be forced to miss her face-to-face lectures during the three initial weeks of classes. “I will have to self-isolate because Spain is a high-risk area, and as I only manage to get back on the 15th due to flight availability, that means I will miss three weeks,” she added.

Morgana Ribeiro, another second-year Journalism and International Relations student, is traveling to Portugal but admitted ‘feeling a little anxious’.

“After I booked my flight I received several reminders to follow the GOV guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus. I have, however, decided to get tested to make sure it was safe for me to travel,” she said.

Although she is aware of the requirement to self-isolate, Morgana is still hopeful that it changes over the next month.  

Julia Wójcik, in the second-year of her International Marketing and Business with Spanish course, has already travelled back to Poland.

“I was supposed to be coming home on 15th of December but I was felling homesick and scared of possible travel restrictions so I informed my tutors and left on the 17th of November,” she said.

“I have been getting extra materials from seminars I missed, but as from this week there’s no more face-to-face classes, so it ends up I only missed two of them.”

Julia is planning to return on December 29, missing New Year’s Eve with her family, but making sure she can go back to classes at the beginning of the semester.

Anastazja Zielinska, who is doing a foundation year in Business and Management, will not be able to visit her family, because of the quarantine requirements which will not allow her to work.

“I’ve got four flatmates and all of them are in a similar situation. So I’m going to spend Christmas with them,” Anastazja explained.

However, she admitted it was ‘a very hard decision’ and very disappointing to her family. “It will be the first time I’m not home for Christmas,” she said.

Leicester City sign former West Brom striker Jake Wakeling from non-league Alvechurch

By Luke Pawley

Leicester City have signed former West Bromwich Albion forward Jake Wakeling. 

The 19-year-old has joined the club from non-league side Alvechurch after a successful trial period which saw him score two goals in two games. 

Wakeling continued his fine form after signing his contract with a goal in a 5-1 victory against Tottenham Hotspur on November 30. 

The young forward joined Alvechurch last summer after being released by West Bromwich Albion and he quickly became a fan favourite at the West Midlands non-league outfit. 

Leicester are understood to have offered an undisclosed compensation fee to Alvechurch despite being under no obligation to do so. Alvechurch are said to be “extremely grateful” for the gesture. 

Wakeling wrote on Twitter: “Proud to have signed my first professional contract with @LCFC. Looking forward to the next chapter.” 

DMU Testing Centre to remain open as travel window begins for students

By Samuel Gill

De Montfort University’s COVID-19 testing centre at the Watershed which offers same day tests with results back within 30 minutes to one hour will remain open as the travel window begins.

Beginning today (THUR,DEC3), depending on arrangements within their faculty, students can arrange to travel home for Christmas early to continue studies online, with the staggered departures helping to space out use of public transport.

Students since the pilot began have been urged to take part in regular testing including to go home to see their loved ones over Christmas.

The testing centre will now open until December 9, which is the end of the travel window, with the centre which usually doesn’t open on weekends also having slots this Saturday and Sunday (5/6DEC).

This is to enable those who travel home in and around those dates to have a negative test before they travel home.

News will be released soon on testing and a January travel window for when students return after Christmas. Leicester currently inhabits Tier 3 in the new system which means that there is a potential risk when students do return in January that a sharp increase of students returning with no testing could see a rise in cases.

Tom Dews ,who studies third year media production, admitted that while it appears good on the surface, there are still issues with this travel window.

“I think it’s a good idea, but they have no way on tracking when people are going home and personally I am unsure on the situation as there are deadlines to complete after we all go home during this period,” he said.

These tests have been well utilised though. This includes not only staff and students with the extension of the testing centre seemingly done due to the demand and the concerns of students who may leave later in the travel window but would have to receive an earlier test.

Review: Northern Film School’s Shattered is the perfect short piece to be built upon for the silver screen

By Luke Pawley

Leicester-born film producer Oliver Duffy has, alongside colleague Nicholas Teslich, brought to life a spectacular yet horrifying story of the effect the Holocaust had on a young Jewish woman and her family in 1940s Netherlands. 

Northern Film School’s ‘Shattered’ is a film worthy of extrapolation to the big screen.

Ilse (portrayed by Ebony Hiley) is worried about Hitler’s regime when a Nazi officer approaches her on the street and confiscates her bike. What does this mean for her and her brother? 

There is a flow of underlying tension throughout the piece, which is not lost by the short, intricate scenes of dialogue sprinkled either side Ilse and her brother’s bloody, horrific train journey to Auschwitz. 

Duffy and his colleagues – including writer Brogan Waller-Parkinson, director Teresa Moorhead and co-producer Nicholas Teslich – have negotiated the challenges of short film masterfully. 

Once hooked by the neatly told story of the piece, it is hard to believe that the production only runs for 11 minutes. The team behind this film have paid close attention to details, including hair, makeup and costume, which ensure that viewer attention remains unbroken for its duration. 

After bravely surviving the concentration camp for several years, Ilse returns home to have her heart shattered by the revelation that her close friend’s mother betrayed her. 

The final scene is beautifully written and, coupled with a powerful message which appears on screen at the end of the film, provokes a period of thought and reflection for its viewers. 

The final message reads: “This film is dedicated to all those whose lives were shattered during the Holocaust and all genocides since. 

“For those who continue to make a stand against intolerance, bigotry and hate. 

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. 

“Evil does not die.” 

Shattered is an exemplary short film which left a burning desire to see Ilse’s story played out over two hours. This production is the perfect story to be extrapolated onto the silver screen.