Central College Closure

Central College might just live up to its name as it’s confirmed that it will be centralising services into the City Centre. Plans recently confirmed suggest that the college building on Beeston High Road will close to free up resources to create a “super college” in the city. The Beeston campus will be decommissioned and sold of by 2020.

The Beeston Campus also houses a commercial salon, containing 40 hair-dressing stations and 32 beauty treatment beds, as well as a construction centre. It also provides courses in IT, health and social care, business and science. It currently teaches around 500 students.

Speaking on the plans, the Chief Executive detailed that some of the older buildings are being sold off to help fund the expansion, investment of a skill hub in the city centre. They believe this will allow them to offer the best vocational opportunities to students across the city and the surrounding area.
Hidden under the public statement there’s a lot of business language of fit for purpose, rationalisation and modernisation reflecting a decision more fit for a company that a school. Indeed the recently mooted merger included a lot of discussion of competition and efficiency.

This, sadly, is endemic in further education, FE, currently. There’s been a large amount of financial pressure on FE colleges to reduce spending whilst increasing results. The college where your author previously worked has seen cuts of up to 20% of its budget and has taken to renting out sections of the building to other schools.

The current pressure is to switch to apprenticeships, which go down well with nostalgic voters, but the funding has been found by cutting vocational courses. Staff morale across the sector is very low and those I spoke to seemed anxious about what the closure might mean for redundancies. Although some seem more enthusiastic. Speaking to the Nottingham Post Shaf Hussain, a member of the international department, accepted that there might be some closures but in the long run these would be better for local education.

Current students had a mixed reaction. Those I spoke to were largely unconcerned as most would have left by the time the changes occur. However, some expressed concerns about damage to the community around the college, feeling worried that a loss of local provision would hurt vocational courses in the long run. Others were sad to see the Beeston Campus go, saying they enjoyed studying close to home and might not have been able to afford the travel.

Older students and local businesses seemed more anxious, they were worried about the long term implications for such a loss to the high road. With the delays in the town centre development they seemed worried that this was yet another loss of investment in Beeston.

Local MP, Anna Soubry, was appalled by the closure and said she intends to fight to keep it open. She also raised concerns about poor planning, with the tram route having been selected to allow students to easily reach the college.

This feeling seems universal across local politics with the Labour groups at both County and Borough level speaking to the University and College Union, UCU, about campaigning against the closure and what it represents for Beeston. Both Labour and the Union were dedicated to securing a future for staff, students and the local businesses.

Councillor Greg Marshall warned that the writing has long been on the wall due to chronic underfunding reflecting a shortsighted approach to education. The 4million FE students have not been protected and Central College is just the latest casualty in the battle over education. With more real terms costs to come he thinks it’s important to fight for our children’s future. Greg is the Councillor for Beeston West which includes the school.
Local figures seem keen to fight it and hopefully they’ll find a suitable use. There is current speculation that the universities might be interested and Nottingham Trent have hinted previously at expansion plans. Former Cllr Steve Barber points to the success of NTU which built out of buildings left behind by the University of Nottingham. Sadly this is all speculation.
Regardless the closure of the Central College Campus is undoubtedly a loss for Beeston. The College has received good Ofsted ratings and has had a positive effect on the local economy. Like most schools it forms a sense of community and many will be sad to see it go. We can only hope, given the investment in the buildings, that it presents an opportunity for our wonderful town.

Tom Roberts

Memories Of Beeston Zoo

Regular readers to the Beestonian will remember that a few years ago we did a article on the Beeston Zoo which brought back a lot of memories for readers. Just to remind readers who missed the article, the zoo in question was located at the Victoria Hotel in Beeston.

Built around 1839, named after Queen Victoria (1819- 1901) – a popular monarch who is often featured on pub signboards. The Victoria Hotel is situated next door to Beeston Train station and like so many Victorian establishments was built to serve the passengers who used the station.

In 1971 an eccentric landlord use to keep a small zoo at the rear end of the pub, as well as a python inside. The collection included a puma, a lion, a leopard and a baboon. A number of incidents occurred involving these animals- the puma bounded into the public bar and frightened regulars and the leopard bit the landlord. Often he would be seen around Beeston, taking the bear for a walk at the end of a rope.

The ‘zoo’ was eventually closed when a terrified elderly couple complained to the police after the baboon escaped, shinned up a drainpipe and tried to break into their bedroom window.

A while back we were contacted by the Landlord’s Granddaughter who shared a few family stories and photos with us relating to the zoo. Out of respect the Landlord’s Granddaughter and the family wish to remain anonymous so their names will not be used here. Rather than trying to rewrite the memories, we have put them into some sort of  clear order below.

“The previous Landlord of the pub, who kept a mini zoo in the back yard was my Granddad and I recall the zoo and all of the animals. I can recall some fond memories and some not so fond memories of the zoo. I fondly remember in particular the snake he kept and the famous Ben, the beautiful bear.  My Granddad was in the Navy during the war and had quite a war in the South Pacific. Mum said that my Granddad was very business minded and used to charge for the workers to leave their bikes at the Vic. I forgot to ask where they worked but it was a regular thing and her and my Uncle used to collect the money from them.

My Granddad was always fond of animals and always wanted to collect the more exotic type. At the Victoria Hotel he use to have Piranhas on the bar, which he kept for entertainment. He use to feed them mice, for the entertainment of the customers. He used to love sitting with the old guys and playing dominoes too.

He also had a cage full of Monkeys which all died in a fire. It was apparently an electrical fault but I have heard rumours over the years that it was arson but that is only hearsay and as it was many years ago, we will never know the truth of the matter. It is very, very sad, whatever the cause. Monkeys were my favourite, apart from Ben the Bear. He was the most adorable animal you could wish to meet. Can’t say the same for the Baboon. As a child, I recall hating him, as he was pretty aggressive.

My Aunt recalls that Ben was eventually put into a cage as he became around 6ft in size, which is how I remember him. Also that the Baboon was kept indoors with them and slept in her dolls cot in her room when he was a baby. I really wish there were pictures of that. Again he grew and was caged. He was apparently quite aggressive with most people, except my granddad’s wife, who he took a liking too.

My Aunt also contracted TB back then and it was said that they thought it had been contracted from the baboon, she tells me.

The story of the Baboon escaping and banging on a neighbours upstairs window is true I am afraid. The lady and her husband were said to be terrified, especially as the husband was ill. The story says that Kenneth Clarke MP, was trying to have the law changed in regard to keeping wild animals and that he took this matter to parliament. There is a story about this too, separate to the baboon story. It says that Beeston constituents were in fear of the animals and many had applied for gun licences. The article names the neighbour and speaks of her having lodgers who were also woken up by the baboon banging on the window. Also, that she called the police more than once.

The other story I have heard  tells of the Leopard, biting my Grandfather. The Leopard was male and was 18 months old and on my Grandfathers shoulder, when a train passed by and hooted. This scared the animal, which nipped him and caused him to need hospital treatment. My grandfather was quoted as saying that he planned to buy a female companion for the leopard. The leopard had come from a zoo, in the south of England.

Apparently all of the animals were moved on to a ‘official zoo’ following a complaint by a lady, when the Baboon escaped. His name was Joey, if I recall correctly. I do know my Granddad was on ATV on more than one occasion, due to the antics. My Mum relayed to me that when he was asked what he had to say about the Baboon escaping and going into the neighbours bathroom.

He replied in his usual flippant manner, that she was only bothered because the baboon wasn’t a male one. I don’t know how he got away with it sometimes, but he did”.

Joe Earp


Yes, somehow the year has hurtled us back into that time again where we think of the important things in life; namely high-end Mince pies and it being socially ok to be rancidly drunk in the afternoon.

In Beeston, the first frosts have prettified the place, the pied wagtails are in full mischief and the lights are on. The Coca Cola truck might have jacknifed on Priory Island, but we’re feeling very festive here at the log-fire warmed Beestonian Towers.

As it’s the time of year for giving, we’ve decided to be dead generous to you, handsome reader. Yes, you’re holding in your hands our LARGEST EDITION EVER, weighing in at a chunky 20 pages, each jam packed with so much good stuff we needed a crowbar and a tub of swarfega to get it all in.

We have our usual award winning roster of writers giving you their hap’enth worth on issues, as well as a splendiferous quiz to ascertain exactly How Beeston You Really Are. We have tales of erstwhile zoos, Beeston illuminations, CAKE, hair-chopping, Oxjam (how ace was it?!), an investigation of the closure of Central College and even a cameo from a certain orange-faced, bizarre baneted megalomaniac eejit from across the pond (the USA, not Clifton).

All in all, it’s our biggest, best issue yet. And if you don’t like it – weirdo – then it now burns 20% longer. Keep cosy, Beestonians!

The Dancing Dentist

We take a trip to the dentist…

There can’t be that many people who enjoy going to the dentist. I had an appointment with local dentist Jordan Singh, one of the partners of the Beeston Dental Practice on Devonshire Avenue. But fortunately not for a filling or extraction, but to chat with him about his family’s devotion to bhangra dancing.

Jordan’s father, uncles and cousins all belong to the Sheerer Punjab Bhangra Dance Troup, which began in 1977 by Jordan’s Uncle Narinder. Last year the group made world headlines by dancing with Prince Charles at the annual International Music Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales.

The 1980s was a particular heady time for the troupe; as they won at the Welsh talent contest in 1982 and 83, and went on to perform in America, in such places as North Carolina and Texas. Although they came third in last year’s event, in the Traditional Folk Dance Group section, they are now highly thought of by the people who organise the annual talent contest.

I asked Jordan why he does it. “Well it’s a great opportunity to keep fit and meet up with family members. For the Eisteddfod we would train on Mondays and Fridays for three months. We just went for fun, so it was great that we did so well. Especially as the group that came second were professionals”.

Being a dentist is more hands on (or hands in), and it’s great to see what difference I can make to a patient’s life

The dance itself originates from the Punjab region of North West India. It’s a celebratory dance for the harvest. Jordan added that another reason for doing it is that it’s a strong part of Sikh culture and history, and it’s important to keep this alive for the future. “It was difficult to keep it secret from the other dentists and staff, but when they found out they were excited and impressed. And when word got out, our website got 4000 extra hits, as people wanted to know more. My grandfather came to Britain in 1947, so I am the third generation Singh. Singh means lion in Punjabi. The ‘shee’ in Sheerer also means lion. We are a family of lions!”

You can sense how strongly Jordan feels about the love and friendship of his family. And how close they all are. He has another uncle who is a pharmacist on Glasshouse Street. He makes the colourful costumes, acts as a stand in dancer and works out the choreography. Most of the Singhs appear to be pharmacists, so naturally I wanted to find out why Jordan chose dentistry for a profession.  “Well it meant being at university for another year”, he replied with the typical look of a student who enjoyed being a student and what student life entailed. “Also the way pharmacists’ work is changing. This is down to the influence of doctors. Whereas being a dentist is more hands on (or hands in), and it’s great to see what difference I can make to a patient’s life. To take away their pain. You also get to know the patients well”. Jordan has only been qualified a year, but clearly enjoys his job and the interaction with his patients.

I asked Jordan if he lived in Beeston. “No, I currently live with my parents in Redhill. It’s a 45 minute commute twice a day. An hour and a half wasted every day”. I pointed out that if he lived in Beeston, his travelling maybe could be only four to five minutes. “True. Beeston’s a great place. And such a good selection of places to eat and drink. I’ve enjoyed the food at such places as the Korea House. I may move here one day”.

One subject that Jordan was keen to mention is the fact that he and 8 others of the Singh family will be climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro in January next year. “We are doing it for the ‘When you Wish Upon a Star’ charity. We hope to raise £1500”.  For those that don’t know, the Nottingham based charity was set up in 1990 to grant the wishes of children who were suffering with life threatening illnesses. An inspiring thing to do for such a worthwhile cause.

2017 sees the 40th anniversary of the group and I wondered whether they would be all entering the Eisteddfod next year? “Yes, that’s the plan. It’s a bit like a family outing when we all get together. It will be good to get back into it, even though it can be a bit hard on the knees. I keep fit by playing golf and football. I’m looking forward to it. And they really look after you.  We were all put up in a dormitory and fed lamb curry.”

Next year’s event takes place between the 4th & 12th of August in Anglesey, and I’m sure all of Beeston would want to wish them luck, and in the words of Jordan’s grandfather; “Work hard, enjoy life”.

If anyone wants to sponsor Jordan, he has a Just Giving page. Here’s the web link for it: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Jordan-Singh1


Norse Goods

Our thoughts on Odin’s Table…

We all know that Beeston is a cosmopolitan place, but I was surprised to find out how many nationalities are represented among the people living/working/studying here. The most reliable indicator to date comes from an ever-growing list compiled by the owners of Odin’s Table, the relatively new Scandinavian restaurant/cafe/deli situated where Chambers Pet Shop used to be. As well as folk from all the Nordic lands, customers from nearly 40 other countries have graced this smart eatery.

The menu is constantly evolving and includes cakes and pastries, sandwiches, salads, fish dishes, hot and cold drinks, with vegetarian and vegan options

It’s easy to see why the place appeals to people from all four corners of the globe (if that is actually possible – spheres had no corners last time I looked). For example, if you’ve ever been to the food bit in Ikea, you’ll almost surely have tried the meatballs, which are curiously addictive. The Ikea ones however are like a wobbly chipboard flat pack bedside table compared to OT’s bespoke hardwood bureau. Packed full of meaty flavour, they are simply delicious. It might sound weird, but I’m actually looking forward to the upcoming chilly months so that I can eat some in the cold. My favourite way to eat them is with gravy in a roll, but they are great with pasta too.

Meatballs aren’t all that are on offer though. The menu is constantly evolving and includes cakes and pastries, sandwiches, salads, fish dishes, hot and cold drinks, with vegetarian and vegan options. Well stocked shelving and fridges are full of fresh and intriguing delicacies too. The decor is clean, bright and minimal, you will get a warm and friendly welcome, and everything is very reasonably priced.

Beeston has never hosted so many places to eat before, with a huge variety of cuisines on offer. Having to make a decision about where to eat is a nice problem to have, but I’m pretty sure that if you try Odin’s Table then you’ll definitely want to go back.


Frustrated No More

During early April, potential diners walking along Chilwell High Road were encouraged by the emergence of the latest outlet – welcoming leaflets on the table outside, exciting social media promises and beautiful smells coming out of the kitchen.

The Library restaurant on Wollaton Road, which closed a few years ago, gained an excellent reputation and has been much missed – so the news that the same highly experienced and skilled chef who cooked there (and previously at La Toque), Mattias Karlsson, was coming back to cook in Beeston. He has now set up an establishment along with Patrick De Souza, a local talented home chef and this has been greeted with much excitement.

The Frustrated Chef has been pretty much packed out since its opening on 14th April. Since then many people have had excellent experiences and have been pleased to share the news on Facebook, and across the garden fence. It has now extended opening hours to include lunchtimes and will start a special Sunday service on 19th June.

The Frustrated Chef’s offer is World Tapas and the ever changing menu features a diverse range of dishes with multi-national inspiration from nibbles such as delicious hummus with smoked paprika and fried broad beans, goat cheese parcels with sweet chilli, piquillo peppers with feta, olives and orange to more substantial meat and fish dishes such as Swedish meatballs and mussels with white wine and harissa, alongside salads and breads and specials every night. The desserts were also highly enjoyable – pistachio shortbread with rum and cinnamon chocolate sauce was yummy. It is fantastic to go around the world from Chilwell High Road!

For every morsel consumed and cocktail drunk I think we should spare a thought for the team behind Relish. Their vision to make a café out of three rather unloved shop units and hard work to establish it lies beneath this exciting new restaurant.

I hope Mattias and Patrick are frustrated no more!

Karen Allwood

I Am Beeston

I was away, swanning around on a Greek island, when the Referendum result came in. Typical, I thought, I leave the country for a few days and you go and break it. Well, next time I’m away you can all stay at your grans.

Returning to the UK, I heard stories of a rise in hate-crime due to the Brexit result. Surely not in Beeston, though?

Sadly, yes. I was told of a story of an Indian guy, who being both an Anglophile and a football fan was off to watch England play Iceland in a pub, and was racially abused on the street and told to go home. I received emails and messages from people, generally from Eastern Europe, saying how they now felt scared.

This isn’t the Beeston I know. This isn’t the Beeston we want to have represent us. This is a small band of bigots, emboldened by the result, and whipped up by the awfulness of the whole Referendum campaign. Yet however small this smattering of racism is, hate shouts loud. But love shouts louder.

The editorial of this magazine discussed how we could demonstrate this, and a startlingly obvious idea came to us. Beeston works so well because of the rich, vibrant diversity that keeps the place fascinating. International students from the Uni, the most incredible amount of quality restaurants and food shops, the workers who keep the QMC, Boots and many other places thriving. Wherever people are from, they are Beeston. A town is its people. More than its businesses, more than its buildings, people make a town. We’d celebrate that.

We arranged to meet people, or simply stopped them on the street. We’d have them tell us about themselves, just a few words on who they were and why they liked living in Beeston, then put it up on our Facebook site. We’d show that a town is not ‘owned’ by one set of people, but is shared by all. We are all Beeston.

The response to our pieces was phenomenal. Each new post garnered huge amounts of interests. We found a diversity of people that surprised us: from a tiny toddler to an octogenarian, from people born on the same street that they still live on to globetrotters who have found themselves in our town: the sheer range was astonishing. The stories people would tell us as we met them made us both laugh and cry. It was perhaps the most fulfilling project I’ve ever been involved with.

One thing shone out more than anything, and one thing that I urge everyone reading this to take to heart. Just about every respondent we talked to, irrespective of their age, background or nationality, said the same thing when asked why they liked Beeston: the sense of community. That’s you they’re talking about. We might disagree on many things in life, we might clash on occasion. But one thing binds us, and one turns an average town into a great town: the sense of community. Together, we’re better. #iamBeeston #weareBeeston.

Lord Beestonia


Summer Lovin? – Not for this guy

We are now in full summer mode and although I can’t argue against the benefits of the much welcomed injection of vitamin D into my pasty white carcass, I must admit I’m not a fan of the summer months. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy the longer nights, a beer in the garden (but that’s mainly because of the beer) a chance to give friends and family food poisoning at my own BBQ and that mood of optimism in the air; but despite that I don’t think the summer agrees with me.

In the UK we seem to have extremes when it comes to the weather. It’s always so unexpected, it catches us off guard. Snow that comes so heavy that everything grinds to a halt, floods that border on the biblical and days so hot and humid you feel like you’ve been parachuted into an oil field in Iraq. I find it hard to even think when temperatures creep into the thirties, small tasks seem as daunting as an expedition to Everest. On the hottest day of the year my wife and I had to change the bed, a task that makes me want to weep at the best of times.

After the first pillow case I was already wet through, the sweat was pouring down my back and running in between my butt cheeks like a river and I had so much sweat in my eyes I couldn’t see the buttons on the duvet cover.

The thing the summer does though is give us Brits something to talk about, our favorite subject; the weather. As the temperature increases our ways of describing it becomes more and more bizarre. “Ohh isn’t it muggy out there!” No, unless you’ve just being mugged, that makes no sense. “The problem is, it’s just too close” well yes it will be close, it’s the weather and it’s all around you. In Yorkshire they used to say “eeee its crackin’ flags out there!” meaning it’s so hot it’s capable of causing fracture to your patio slabs, quite poetic, but still sounds like utter bollocks. “It’s warm we can’t work; pass me a beer” that’s all the words you need.

Everyone has their own methods for coping with the heat; particularly at night. I’m almost used to falling asleep now to the gentle white noise of a humming desk fan. There is always that moment when you forget where the fan is and proceed to trip yourself up over the cable on the way to your 4th pee of the night.

I don’t wear my bed clothes in a heatwave, but I like a single sheet on me, there has to be a small amount of weight there. I can’t do totally naked, laid out like a human sacrifice, I feel far too vulnerable. Also the hot weather brings with it the increase in midges and blood sucking insects and the last thing I want is to offer myself up like some sort of human all you can eat buffet.

It’s normally the early hours of the morning when the heat subsides enough to allow you to drift off. You’ve then got at least 4 hours of fidgety, sweat soaked sleep before you are rudely awaken by that “summer soundtrack”. The buzz of a Strimmer, a lawnmower, the neighbour building yet another outdoor “project” that just seems to be him hammering the same nail in again and again for three straight hours, or a determined mosquito who proceeds to fly back and forth past your ear until you eventually declare war, put the light on and chase him round the room with a rolled up newspaper.

The daytimes are easier; you can always find relief in an air conditioned shop or supermarket. If you’re crafty you can spend twenty minutes in the frozen food isle leaning over some Aunt Bessies roast potatoes, wearing nothing but your underwear. It’s heaven and really reduces your core body temperature; the hour interview in the manager’s office and the subsequent court appearance is a small price to pay.

As a blonde haired white man, I burn like kindling in the most moderate of heat. I think we underestimate the weather in the UK, like the sun is somehow a different one to the one that you lie back and bask in on a foreign holiday. We seem to think nothing of doing a full day’s work in the garden, bear chested, without sun cream and with only the one cup of tea to hydrate us. “Its fine love, we are in Wigan on a Wednesday, it’s not going to burn me, this is British sun; best in the world!” the day after we are in agony, peeling sheets of skin of our bodies so large you could wrap presents with them.

In the summer months my hay fever condition announces itself with a new found anger and aggression, like a pit-bull on steroids. With eyes streaming like I’ve just been tear gassed, a nose itchier than that of a supermodel with a grand a day coke habit, hives and bumps on my skin a blind man could read as brail and body riddled with so many antihistamines I can barely stay conscious.  All in all it’s not a good “look.” They always warn you about not operating heavy machinery when you take antihistamines, which makes me feel sad, how many forklift truck drivers and welders are struggling out there? Unable to work because they have to walk that fine line between sleeping and sneezing.

Summer attire is also stressful. I am completely lost with the sock, sandal, plimsoll, deck shoe or moccasin etiquette. There are normal length socks, sometimes worn with leather sandals, which only geography teachers and bible salesmen are allowed to wear. There are trainer socks, which seem more socially acceptable, white socks though, never black, particularly if you are wearing shorts. Black socks with trainers and shorts looks like you’ve been doing P.E at school and forgotten your kit and had to rummage around in the lost property box. I find picking clothes for a heatwave is difficult. I never go commando though, I don’t care how hot it is, I still need some organization down there.

When it’s warm my testicles seem to be constantly in love with my inner thighs, I often have to peel them away from each other like I’m removing a sticker from a windscreen. It’s like a battle down there most days and both parties need to be segregated for their own good.

I can’t and won’t wear a vest and going topless isn’t something I feel comfortable with. The other day I saw a man with his top off, riding a ladies bike with a basket on the front. In the basket of the bike there was a pack of lager and a small dog keeping looking out; it was like a low budget version of the film E.T. It was 24 degrees and we were in a car park outside Lidl, it’s not the Algarve. Put your top back on.

It’s quite late now and the heat has subsided, I’m going to attempt to turn in for the night, or maybe the whole season? I might find the coolest spot in the house; black out the windows, fill my socks with ice, and survive on nothing but a freezer full of Magnum Classics.

See you in October

Scott Bennett

Robin Hood And Maid Marry-On

By the time the next issue comes out I’ll be married. That may not impress some people (especially the already married) but while I’m not turning into GroomZilla yet it’s definitely a Big Deal for me.

I’ll be *married*.

Yes I know, people get married all the time. Not the same people obviously (unless they’re Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) but as I’ve never been married before it’s all a bit of an adventure.

I’m quite used to adventures though, I’ve done any number of weird and amazing things as Robin Hood but that all seems rather tame compared to getting married and I guess that’s how it should be.

Sal’s just as excited. She’s making her wedding dress herself (no, it’s not going to be a Robin Hood wedding) and even our daughter Scarlett is looking forward being a bridesmaid. Everyone we know is gearing up. Great friends are travelling from the UK, the US and Europe to celebrate with us. It’s all *perfect*.

Except… Sal has cancer.

Just over a year ago she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. It’s already too late to cure, having spread from her breast to her liver, pelvis and spine. As you can imagine, we were devastated. It was close to being the worst possible news we could have, and as Sal teaches genetics at Nottingham University there wasn’t much she didn’t know. It’s fair to say we were broken, for any number of reasons (us, our future, watching Scarlett grow up). All of it potentially ripped away in a single diagnosis.

But here’s the thing – Sal is a truly amazing woman. I love her without limits and for some reason she feels the same about me. So we wept, second-guessed, swore and wished. And then she decided to just get on with life. She started chemo and radiotherapy and after each treatment was back at work in days. I was – am – utterly in awe of her.

Her decision to live with cancer rather than giving in to it was inspirational, and not just to me. Sal took part in the University’s Impact campaign which aims to make a real difference in the lives of breast cancer sufferers. And because she was in a unique position (involved in research and a patient) the organisers asked her to give a presentation at their Open Day.

A year ago she couldn’t have done it. But a few weeks ago she gave a presentation so powerful it touched everyone there. And because the university press release mentioned that ‘Dr Sally Chappell, Nottingham’s official Maid Marian’ was speaking about having cancer local media found out too. We’d not told anyone (not because having cancer is anything to hide, far from it) but suddenly it was out in the open.

So when local media contacted her Sal could have ignored them. Instead she decided people should know that all this could happen to anyone. If any good can come of this she needed to convey a message. So she went on Radio Nottingham for a couple of really sensitively conducted interviews, she talked to the Post, raised over £2.5k for charity by doing a 5k run, and even did an interview for ‘Candis’ magazine (published later this year). And the message Sal really wants you to get is this:

Check your boobs. Check your partner’s boobs (male or female). Probably don’t check strangers’ boobs (that’s wrong and creepy) but if I can say it again one more time: CHECK YOUR BOOBS regularly. Sal didn’t have any of the ‘classic’ signs (lumps, orange peel skin, puckering) just a general thickening of the whole breast tissue that even her GP wasn’t initially worried about because breasts change after childbirth.

As I write, Sal is on round 2 of chemo and it’s dreadful to see her knocked sideways by it. Scarlett keeps us going, she’s an utter joy and gives us both love and smiles and we have a brilliant support network of incredible family and friends who help with babysitting, shopping, lending ears for us to bend, shoulders to cry on. We couldn’t do it without them. We’re really blessed, the bloody cancer withstanding.

And we’re grateful to everyone who asks how Sal is. Knowing that people care is very helpful, especially in the long dark, scary hours of night. Now even when I’m out Robin Hood-ing people I’ve never met before come up to me and ask in a very genuine and concerned way “How’s your wife?” as a lot of people think we’re married already.

I thank them for asking and don’t tell them we’re not married yet because the really great thing is we soon will be. After all of the fun we’ve had as Robin and Marian this is real, a proper grown-up adventure. There’ll be laughter and tears, love and sadness. It’s life. And it’ll be fun so wish us luck.

Oh and please remember: CHECK YOUR BOOBS

Beeston Beats

After five weeks of a whopping 50 percent deafness in the wake of Download, I pioneer on like the trooper I am, in the quest for all things different, carrying the flag for the good ship Beestonia…

Firstly, the Ryland’s suffered a blow as legendary venue the Plessey closed its doors after an almighty send off – which I attended – and can report that the nostalgia was running high. Regulars joined forces with curious passersby to celebrate this historic focal point and its rich background. Many a family party had graced the function room with entertainment ranging from live acts to bingo, Northern Soul or blues nights to name a few.  After moving to the Beeston area I have spent many a night putting the world to rights or enjoying a cold one at ‘ode ‘Plessah’: a sad time indeed.

Quickly regaining my composure, I took a change of scenery to the Froth Cafe over at the Creative Quarter.  Fear not those with an aversion to non alcoholic drinks, as the night hosted a gorgeous cocktail menu for a cracking 2 for £8 washed down with a side of Live Music of course.

The night in question classical music masterminds The Warp Trio made their debut in the tiny space usually allocated for Mish Mash gallery. Surrounded by stunning realistic portraits, and abstract canvases adorning the walls the mood was set by flickering candles and the gentle hum of chatter.

Formed back in 2014 the highly talented musicians splice together familiar popular classical music with an edgy twist. Josh Henderson introduces his two accomplices as pianist Mikael Darmaine and Ju Young Lee handling the cello.

Within a few bars of their opening piece, the sheer expertise was immediately apparent as the three musicians masterfully flirted between styles from subtle jazz influences to aspects of funk with an enviable ease. Throughout the evening, passion and energy exuded from the artists, during either their renditions of Chopin or original compositions – the experience was completely rewarding even for classical music novices such as me.

That’s it for another issue. I shall keep my eyes extra peeled for musical gems lurking in our vicinity, (that is not a euphemism for Pokémon Go!). Till next time….

Lulu Davenport