Saturday, 12 July 2014

Woodland Trust offers free tree packs for local schools

Image: The Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is offering over 4,000 free tree packs to give away to schools, community and youth groups in autumn across the UK. Applications for autumn packs are due to remain open until 4th September 2014.

The tree packs have been generously funded by lead partners IKEA FAMILY, Biffa Award and Sainsbury’s, also funded by WHSmith, Wilko and players of People’s Postcode Lottery - and this August to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the Trust wants people to take part in a once-in-a-generation tribute to all those who gave their lives by creating a growing legacy that will stand tall for centuries to come.

Over the next four years they're offering three million free trees to help communities, schools and youth groups remember their local heroes. Register now to receive your free trees and create special, living memorials.

To apply for a free tree pack you must be able to meet the following criteria

  • Your group is not-for-profit 
  • The trees will be planted on a publicly accessible site 
  • You have permission to plant from the legal landowner 
  • Your community has been consulted and is supportive of the project 
  • There will be plenty of community involvement 
  • Packs are appropriate for the area 
  • The intended planting site isn't too close to buildings, power lines, roads or other services 
  • You have identified the grid reference for the planting site

• Full information and application details:

Friday, 11 July 2014

'There's no public support for hospital pharmacy services sell-off' say campaigners

Hot ticket: local Labour parliamentary candidates
Amina Lowe and Cat Smith
join the 'No Health Sell-Off' campaign

Community campaigners 'No Health Selloff at Morecambe Bay' have written to Morecambe Bay NHS Hospitals Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel urging her to recognise the need to keep pharmacy services in house

Signed by Lancaster resident Ronnie Kershaw on behalf of the No Health Selloff at Morecambe Bay group, the letter explained that:

During the last two weeks we have spoken to several thousand members of the public across the Trust area who voiced their strong opposition to this plan, as well as signing our petition to demonstrate their support for our campaign.  We would also suggest that at this critical time for the Trust, you should not be considering actions which risk undermining public confidence in the Trust's services. 

“We strongly believe that there is no support for the outpatients’ pharmacy service being outsourced and call on the Trust to reconsider its plans and to listen to the vehement opposition shown by the people across Morecambe Bay.”

Community campaigners from across Morecambe Bay and Lancaster have joined forces to build a new alliance to oppose the sell-off of NHS services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, the Westmorland General Hospital and Furness General Hospital. The group launched a major campaign at the end of June to  gather support from local people and deliver a stark warning over the future of the NHS in the hands of the current government.

A contract for pharmacy services worth in the region of £25 million is currently up for grabs which could mean a private company, currently tipped as being tax-offshoring Alliance Boots, would be brought in to profit from medication provided by the NHS, not only providing the medication, but also administering it, or some of it, which will need an exceptionally high standard of organisation at ward level.  Campaigners fear this will be just the tip of the iceberg with swathes of other services being taken out of the NHS by stealth.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust rust was recently taken under special measures following repeated failures to meet standards set out by the Care Quality Commission (read previous story here).

Campaigners will be in Lancaster Town Centre at St Nicholas Arcade and Morecambe Arndale Centre between 11am and 1pm on Saturday 12th July collecting more signatures for the group’s petition. You can find out more about the group and see pictures from their many recent campaign appearances in the area on their facebook page at 'No Health Selloff at Morecambe Bay'.

Local photographer Barrie Marshall captures 'Beauty in Decay' at Williamsons

Local photographer, jazz clarinet virtuoso and poet Barrie Marshall has a keen interest in local buildings and heritage architecture, as his friends at the popular 'Lancaster Past & Present' facebook forum can testify. He has recently posted a series of images captured though broken windows at the old Williamson factory on St George's Quay, shortly before it was demolished.

In this series, entitled 'Beauty in Decay', Barrie has experimented in tone mapping.  Tone mapping usually works by merging multiple images with different exposures into one image. Each image contains details not visible in another. However Barrie has worked from single raw images. The result reveals more intensely visible detail. And some interesting colour effects.

Anyone who wants to meet Barrie will find him every Sunday lunchtime from 12.30 - 3pm at the Robert Gillow, playing trad jazz with the Sun Street Stompers, a friendly gig that has been running for around 20 years now.
You can see the original image series on facebook, where they are larger, by clicking here.

For those who would like an idea of what the original factory looked like, you can watch British Film Institute archive footage of workers (many of them children) leaving the factory in 1901 by clicking here.

Shake Rattle and Roll! It’s the ‘Tutti Frutti’ Festival

Get your glad rags on in the last weekend of July and head to the Platform in Morecambe to celebrate the 1950s at this year’s Tutti Frutti Festival.

This year’s hot rockin’ jumpin’, jivin’, rock ‘n’ roll weekender is set for Friday 25 and Saturday 26 July, and for the seventh year running will take Morecambe back to a time when rock and roll icons Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly were in their prime.

There are great acts lined up to perform over the weekend during the day and the evening including Memphis Riders and the Black Cat Trio, The Buddies and The Firebirds plus loads more.

The Saturday afternoon events at the Platform with Wayne Gee are free and open to the public, with live music and entertainment from noon until 4pm.

The evening shows on both Friday and Saturday start at 7pm.  Tickets costing £16 per evening show or £26 for a weekend pass are available from the Visitor Information Centres at the Platform in Morecambe and the Storey in Lancaster.  You can also buy tickets from the Box Office on 01524 582803 and online at    

For more information visit where you can also see trailer video from last year's festival.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

'Be Prepared' for the magnificence of the Lancaster Canal

Ten members of Kendal's Trefoil Guild (Guiding and Scouting for adults) assembled at Crooklands landing stage last Wednesday evening for an interesting evening sail on the Lancaster Canal Trust boat Waterwitch.

The weather was perfect, with the sun picking out the tiny water ripples as the boat slowly passed banks of Meadow Sweet, then on into a bed of water lilies that was spreading across the waterway.

A group of ducks move graciously aside to allow the boat to pass. Water hens go about their business without a care.

As we passed under the bridges, each designed by a famous architect, the reflections and shadows remind us that bats in their roosts will be stirring as the day lengthens into evening.

Turning at the wide 'Winding hole' the solitary Heron takes flight - but only a few yards away up the bank. Cameras click on the boat, and there is hushed conversation as the Trefoil Guild take in each lovely sylvan scene.

Earlier, they had been treated to a short commentary of how gunpowder had been loaded onto barges at Wakefield's wharf at Crooklands. It was opened in or shortly after 1852 by the Wakefield company to serve their nearby gunpowder works at Low Gatebeck and exported around the world until the factory closed in 1936 (not a very longsighted decision, as it turned out). But all that is history and the Trefoil ladies and the commentator could not help but be affected by the glorious, stilled scenery.

Disembarking at the Stables, one lady, recently having had a hip replacement, still stepped sprightly ashore. A tribute to the indomitable spirit of retired Girl Guides.

How fortunate we all are to have the legacy of this lovely facility, created by a level of effort, organisation, and vision unprecedented in our nation's history on our doorstep. It's also a credit to the work of the Lancaster Canal Trust, who organise regular work parties to keep the canal open and in good repair.

The Lancaster Canal Trust extends a cordial invitation to visitors and local residents alike to come aboard their trip boat Waterwitch and enjoy a short cruise along the lovely Northern Reaches of this famous and historic waterway.  Waterwitch is a traditionally designed 28ft narrowboat. She is based at Crooklands bridge 5 miles south of Kendal just off the A65. The boat is crewed by a team of fully trained and certificated volunteers who are all members of the Lancaster Canal Trust.  The trips are entirely free - they ask only  for donations to help further the Trust's work.  

The 2014 trip boat season is now in full swing  until September, with trips every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday plus Saturdays in August from  11am - 4pm, approximately every 40 minutes.
There's no need to book. It's just first come, first served. Weather Permitting!   If you're making a special journey you can check if the boat is operating - or you can book a special cruise for your group -  by calling  07504 710 351. You can find out more by clicking here.

The Lancaster Canal Trust also runs regular Work Parties and Work Camps and you are welcome to volunteer. It's a tidy and resourceful gang with some interesting kit on loan at times.

Our thanks goes to Frank Sanderson for keeping us up to date on the Trust's acivities.
You can find out more about the Lancaster Canal Trust at 

Regular canal cruises are also available at a modest ticket price from Lancaster Canal Boats, in the comfort of canal trip boat Kingfisher, winners of last year's Small Visitor Attraction Award from Lancashire Tourism. They start from many points along the canal reaches are you can find out more at the  Lancaster Canal Boats website.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 9th to 17th July by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

This period sees the formal release of the Dreamworks animation How to Train Your Dragon 2 (PG) and on the 17th July we have the release of the science fiction prequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12A).

We have lost the epic X-Men: Days of Future Past. Also it is likely that we will soon loose Chef, Maleficent, Edge of Tomorrow and 22 Jump Street. However to compensate there is the return to the screens of The LEGO Movie and The Love Punch.

For fans of the band Pulp there is a documentary following their comeback tour of 2012 with Pulp. Also the Dukes are screening Jersey Boys which is Clint Eastwoods musical re-telling of the story of 'The Four Seasons'.

High culture is represented with the Dukes and the Vue cinemas showing NT Live: Skylight. Also the 13 July sees the monthly Film Quiz at the Dukes.


22 Jump Street
Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jonah Hill, Peter Stormare, Channing Tatum, Amber Stevens, Ice Cube
The movie finds Police officers Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum) working undercover at a local college to investigate supply of an illegal drug. Actually the movie is a deliberate re-hash of the earlier '21 Jump Street', but this still makes it a zany comedy with humour ranging from slapstick thought parody to the surreal. Well rated and very enjoyable.

Director: Amma Asante
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emily Watson. Sarah Gadon, Matthew Goode, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid
Inspired by a painting and set in England in the eighteenth century, Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), an illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral John Lindsay (Goode), She and her cousin are raised by Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and his wife (Watson) where both girls are groomed for marriage. Lord Mansfield comes to finds himself presiding over a slavery case whereas Belle becomes attracted to the aspiring lawyer John Davinier (Reid) who awakens her social conscience. The movie benefits from a very strong performance from Mbatha-Raw and it addresses issues of slavery and social inequality via the medium of a period romance. A fine, enjoyable and serious film.

Edge of Tomorrow
Director: Doug Liman
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Jonas Armstrong, Bill Paxton
In the near future aliens attack the earth and Major Cage (Cruise) is killed in battle. However he becomes enveloped in a time loop in which he repeatedly re-lives the combat and his death. However he learns more with each incarnation and increasingly becomes a more formidable solider. The film is based on the novel 'All you Need is Kill' by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and it is difficult to write a review that does not refer to 'Groundhog Day'. However the movie in not without moments of dark comedy that adds to the entertainment.

Jersey Boys
Director: Clint Eastwood
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda, John Lloyd Young, Christopher Walken, Vincent Piazza
A film version of an award winning musical telling the story of the formation of the rock group 'The Four Seasons'. This in an entertaining movie that succeeds in recreating the rock and roll era. The highs and lows of the working class band members are explored against a backdrop of fine musical accompaniments.

Director: Robert Stromberg
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Angelina Jolie, Miranda Richardson, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley
In part a re-telling of the tale of sleeping beauty but from the point of view of the villain of the story, Maleficent (Jolie). Maleficent was driven to evil following an act of betrayal which cost her the ability to fly. She battles to save her shadowy forest kingdom and plots revenge by placing a curse on the infant Aurora (Fanning), daughter to the king. Aurora herself becomes caught in the conflict between forest and human kingdoms. This is a rather dark fantasy for a Disney film, but a great tale with powerful characters and impressive special effect.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
Director: Ben Kellett
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Brendan O'Carroll
Agnes Brown (O'Carroll) is a market trader who finds her livelihood under threat from a property developer. Supported by her family she embarks on a crusade to save her stall. This is a movie adaption of the well known and much loved BBC comedy and the film was extremely successful in its opening weekend. This is a very capable comedy that captures the spirit of the TV series.

Director: Ben Falcone
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Dan Aykroyd
In one awful day Tammy (McCarthy) has been fired from her job, crashed her car and discovered her husbands fondness for a neighbour. She needs to escape and thus joins her grandmother Pearl (Sarandon) in a trip to see the Niagara Falls. McCarthy plays the working class slob Tammy to perfection and her grandmother lusts after men and drink. Hence the film is a road movie with all the ingredients of a first class comedy. However the elements do not quite come together and the film does not achieve its full potential.

The Fault in our Stars
Director: Josh Boone
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Nat Wolff, Mike Birbiglia, Willem Dafoe
A romance between Hazel (Woodley) and Gus (Elgort), teenagers who have just months to live when they meet at a cancer support group. The movie is based on the best selling novel by John Green and it is predominantly aimed at a young adult audience. With an excellent dialogue the film is a very moving love story that could easily leave you in tears.

The Love Punch
Director: Joel Hopkins
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Pierce Brosnan, Emma Thompson, Tuppence Middleton, Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie
Richard and Kate (Brosnan and Thompson) are a divorced couple who hit financial hard times as Richard is facing bankruptcy as a result of a corporation wiping out his company's pension fund. Vincent, the villainous boss of the corporation, has used these proceeds to buy a diamond necklace for his own bride. Richard and Kate, along with friends Jerry and Penelope (Spall and Imrie) decide to get revenge by stealing the necklace and using this to replenish the retirement fund. This is a comedy with big name stars set in an exotic location. The humour seems a little contrived at times but in all it works well to make a genuinely funny and entertaining movie.