The fundraiser event of the summer – Leicester’s One Big Weekend

By Jessica Smith

Leicester’s One Big Weekend, a fundraiser for the Sue Young Cancer Support charity, promises popular headline acts, family fun and delicious treats this summer in Market Harborough.

The event is set to take place from August 14-15, in Leicestershire Show Ground; with adult weekend tickets starting at £35, and all proceeds going to charity.

Event organiser Stacey Coleman, 35, said: “We’ve got Sam Bailey, the ambassador for our centre, Jake Quickenden, who tragically lost his brother and father to cancer, Roman Kemp, and Scouting for Girls and so many more local acts.

“The proceeds are going to a range of charities, Sue Young, LOROS, Macmillan, because we want to bring awareness to all these great causes, of all the services out there that are united in their cause, to support those vulnerable or in need.”

The event celebrates the 40th birthday of Sue Young, with proceeds helping fund the charity in her namesake, which provides emotional and practical support to those affected by cancer in Leicestershire and Rutland.

With services for cancer patients being extremely limited due to COVID-19, Stacey said: “We’re not a massive charity; we’re just trying to give the best possible care with services like person complimentary therapy.

“Because of the pandemic we have had to take on children, and we’re hoping this event helps bring awareness to the services we provide and help provide funding for the services to continue.”

Tara Simms, a local guitarist/vocalist set to perform on the weekend said: “I was absolutely thrilled to be asked to join the line-up – the other artists on the bill are incredible so I’m looking forward to seeing them too.”

Tara will be performing a range of acoustic covers and she added: “I like to go with the feeling of the crowd, I don’t plan sets. I’ll be sure to include some big sing-along numbers, I love audience participation.”

The venue has already reduced tickets from it’s 23,000 capacity to 12,000 over the whole weekend in line with government guidance, but has passed COVID risk assessments, and looks set to offer fun for the whole family this August, with fairground rides from Billy Bates and Sons Funfair, local talent with Tara Simms and Tin Pigeons, and tribute acts Take@That and Little Fix.

Tickets for camping, VIP Golden Circle, and Day/Weekend Tickets are available at leicestersonebigweekend.com, and the latest Tara Simms cover of Creep by Radiohead is available here https://music.apple.com/gb/album/creep-feat-vikki-holland-bowyer-single/1553434908

Leicester united through song: the lockdown choir bringing hope in times of darkness

By Jessica Smith

A Market Harborough opera singer has created an innovative lockdown choir, digitally mixing recordings from 95 members across Leicester for a performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World.’

Olivia Slatter, 22, the choir leader, stated: “I decided to create the choir, as singing has helped me so much through tough times, and I feel that it is important to try and get people young and old to communicate with something that they have in common.”

Prior to lockdown, Olivia undertook an internship, on top of studying at Trinity Laban, a London-based school of music and dance, but with the challenges COVID introduced, her difficulties living with dyslexia and autism were exacerbated, stating: “Lockdown affected my daily routine, as routine is vital for my ASD; I lost a lot of motivation and drive, my anxiety was very heightened, with constant changes and not knowing the future, it was incredibly stressful.

“The choir has been an amazing experience and I’m so pleased I could make a small difference; it’s been a great learning experience for me and ‘Brick Work Studios’, who have helped combine the individual recordings for the track.

“This choir is a non-bullying, no judgement choir, to relieve stress, even if you sing into the shower or sing whilst cleaning up, please join – because this choir is for you!”

Funded by the National Lottery and free to join, the young singer emphasised the choir’s success, as she stated: “The project has done incredibly well, we have certainly hit our targets! With restrictions lifting, and a slow return to normality, we’re keeping an eye out for future performances together, and we’re considering an ‘Olivia’s recovery choir; singing has been a resource helping mental health, and especially with the pandemic and rising suicide figures, this choir is something I felt a responsibility to do for the community.”

An interactive Facebook poll unanimously chose the hit ‘Heal the world’ to perform, a song of positivity and hope at a time when it was much needed. With almost 100 members already, this chorus collaboration looks no signs of slowing down.

To join the choir crew, and for more information, follow the link: https://bit.ly/36idcIK?fbclid=IwAR3hzMl9JwEg-czzz4ZtNpK7tevzxbQPJfKvZjt49ICIvpOIgZp95Z2iSYM

Dog groomer painting puppy portraits during lockdown in Braunstone

By Jessica Smith

A Leicestershire dog groomer has combined passion with art this lockdown, creating personalised key rings to sell alongside her business.

Sarah Streeter, 26, owns Boutique Blues, a successful dog groomer in Braunstone, Leicester, and has began combining a passion for painting with her love of being a groomer, creating personalised dog portraits on keyrings as a side income to her grooming company.

“Personalised paintings are a hobby I hope I can make work, but dog grooming is my passion,” said Essex-born Stacey, who made the move to Leicester two years ago.

“I’ve had a very busy lockdown, recently having a baby, a new puppy, my partner having a serious operation and starting two businesses. But all those things won’t stop you if you’re positive.”

Whilst lockdown delayed the opening of Stacey’s salon much longer than she had planned, so far she has only a tale of success to tell.

She told how: “I love painting and thought the key rings are something safe I can do and still keep making money, as I have a newborn and disabled husband to support.

“A lot of money had to go into making the salon safe for my family and clients. But one thing I’ve learnt is Covid should be everyone’s wakeup call – home is where you should be.”

Boutique Blues is open seven days a week, and appointments can be made via email, or phone, accessible on the Facebook page.

New Leicestershire County Councillor ready to serve the Melton community

By Luke Williamson

Mark Frisby said he will be “fighting the corner of everyone” after he was elected to the Leicestershire County Council for the Melton West Ward.

Conservative Mr Frisby claimed victory with 53.3 percent of the vote, which was 30 percent more than the closest challenger, Labour’s Phillip Allnatt, and was one of 42 victories in the County last Thursday [MAY06].

He said: “I haven’t always had the life ambition of getting into politics, but I have always wanted to serve my community.

The new Melton West representative on the Leicestershire County Council, Mark Frisby. PICTURE: Mark Frisby.

“I don’t have ambitions of getting to Westminster, I am just giving a voice to the people of Melton and making sure we do not get overlooked like most market towns do.

Mr Frisby is a careers guidance specialist, providing training to young people and adults in Melton and decided to enter the world of local politics in 2019, standing as an independent in the Melton Borough Council elections.

“I lost in the Melton Borough Council election by just three votes last time as an independent, but this time was very different,” he said.

“I am not from the typical Tory privilege, I am just a boy from the estate and I want people to come and have a chat with me.

“No issue is too small for me to say ‘I don’t care about that’ and no issue is too big for me to disregard without doing my best at it first.

“Come and speak to me, the kettle is always on – not just as a councillor but as a friend too.”

Several of Mr Frisby’s policies stem from his line of work, including a desire to create more opportunities for young people to remain in the town.

He said: “Melton is a sleeping giant of a town and we need to get the people support that the bigger cities in the area are getting.

“I want us to bring some bigger businesses to Melton and Leicestershire, to make sure our talented young people don’t just leave to go off to university and don’t come back.

“I want people to want to continue their family lines in the town and they need the opportunities here for them to stay.

Mr Frisby wants to see another one or two doctors’ surgeries opening in the town, as there is only one to cover the whole of Melton at the minute.

A large part of the Conservative manifesto for the Leicestershire County Council elections was ‘building a greener future’ and that is something Mr Frisby would also like to achieve in the town.

He added: “Melton has a rich rural food heritage but we wrap it in so much plastic.

“I want Melton to be a trailblazer in plastic-free local produce, which hopefully will also create more jobs in our area.

“Tree planting and additional green space is also really high on my agenda and I have spoken to our Member of Parliament already about that.”

One challenge facing Mr Frisby is proving to the people he is representing that he is the best man for the job, and he says he will not stop trying his hardest for the people of Melton over the next four years.

He said: “If I am taking even a penny of their council tax, I want to give them a pound of value in return.

“People went out on a miserable Thursday and gave me their vote, which meant a lot.

“People tend to feel that they don’t have access to their councillors, but I am 100 per cent committed to bridging the gap between the council and the constituent,” he said.

‘Nuisance’ Braunstone Town councillor Amanda Hack re-elected to county council

By Kira Gibson

A councillor who proudly admits to being a bit of a nuisance has been re-elected to represent Braunstone Town on the county council.

Amanda Hack had already been a county councillor for a term and has now begun her second term within the council.

The Labour representative is only one of a small amount of Labour councillors on the mainly Conservative council.

She said: “There’s only four of us out of 55 councillors. Whilst we poll about 20-23 per cent, actually in terms of percentage of councillors we return less than 10 per cent.”

Although Cllr Hack is located in Thorpe Astley, she said she spends a lot of her time building relations within the community of Braunstone as she is also on the Braunstone Town Council.

Councillor Amanda Hack (Labour) for Braunstone Town

When she is in Braunstone, Cllr Hack said she spends her time getting to know her constituents and talking to them whilst doing other things, such as litter picking.

She said: “I will collect litter off the streets in the division I serve, I have a bit of an area that I will do quite regularly. We have a primary and a secondary school that are right next door to each other, and there’s a walkway between the two so I will probably litter pick that every two or three weeks.

“It’s more than just being a volunteer. I am people’s county councillor and I’m a bit of a nuisance and I will talk to people that I see. When I’m doing these kinds of things I will always chat to individuals within the community.

“I find it really important for people to feel that if they know my face, they know that I’m around.”

Alongside her conversations with others during her volunteering, Cllr Hack said she also talks to people during her time doing door knocks. Although this is mostly done during an election campaign, Councillor Hack said she plans to see people regularly in the time prior to the next election.

“Not everybody would do regular door knocks, and that’s not always a feature of all politicians but it’s something that I will try and get out, and at least knock on everybody’s door in a two-year cycle. Being visible is really important to me.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the way that she works, but that hasn’t stopped the door knocking for the election campaign. However, it did mean there was an increase in the amount of people inviting Councillor Hack in for a cup of tea – something that was caused by the loneliness of isolation and being unable to go out and see friends.

In a way to fix this problem, Cllr Hack has requested to the town council that a bench is installed outside the library in Braunstone, specifically for others to meet up and talk, and potentially make friends.

She says: “One of the things I really really wanted after seeing it was a ‘friendly bench’. That’s where you’ve got a bench that sits either side of each other and it encourages people to meet and make friends. I’m really pleased that we’re looking to install a ‘friendly bench’ outside our library.”

The Labour councillor said she aims to spend the next year bringing people together, to try and alleviate the difficulties that the pandemic has left, and the loneliness that people suffer.