Saturday, 13 September 2014

Police appeal after city centre collision

Police are appealing for information after a 63-year-old man received serious injuries when involved in a collision with a motorcycle last night.

The incident happened at around 6.55pm on Friday 12th September when the man was crossing the road outside the Ring o' Bells Public House, King Street, Lancaster City Centre. 

The blue Triumph motorcycle then collided with a wall opposite the pub, and the rider sustained a suspected broken arm.

The 63 year old pedestrian was taken to Royal Preston Hospital with suspected head, chest, shoulder and leg injuries.

The road was closed for three hours following the incident.  

Sergeant Claire Pearson of the Road Policing Unit said: “We are trying to establish how this collision occurred – we know there were several people in the area at the time, both on foot and in vehicles, so I would ask anyone who witnessed the collision to contact us.”

Anyone with any information about this incident should contact PC 4157 Gorst at Lancashire Police on 101 quoting log number LC-20140912-1299.

Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Users invited to advise Mental Health Service research

Do you have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? Do you support or care for someone who does? Get involved in new research on mental health services. Payment, training and support will be available.

Many people diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder only use GP services for their mental health support. In future this pattern of use may be on the increase as secondary services are streamlined or centralised to more remote locations. Some GPs are very good at supporting people with mental illnesses but others are less so. Some people under GP-led mental health care don’t get good support, or make much progress with either their mental or physical health problems.

The NHS' National Institute for Health Research has funded a research programme called PARTNERS2 that aims to develop better ways of supporting people with severe mental illness within GP practices. Click here to find out more about this project.

It's hoped that a better system could be devised to enable people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia to lead longer, healthier and more satisfying lives. Researchers based in 5 Universities, including Lancaster, are working on this.

The McPin foundation is recruiting people who have personal experience of living with diagnoses of bipolar or schizophrenia (as service users or carers), and are interested in how mental health research is done, to form a Lived Experience Advisory Panel in Lancashire. The Panel will work with University and service user researchers in Lancashire over the next four years to develop and test a better way of supporting people with severe mental illness. Panel members will share their experience and understanding to make the research more useful for people who need support to live with these diagnoses. Payment, training and support will be available.

If you want to find out more about joining the Panel or what the work would involve, Ruth Sayers (Public Involvement in Research  Coordinator for Pzrtners2) would like to hear from you. Please email for further information and about how to apply.
Closing date: applications by 9th October for selection on 21st October.

'Making it as an author' - industry event to reveal the path to celebrity

Lancaster author Carol Birch and her Booker shortlisted novel

Would-be writers are invited to hear authors, a publisher, a national newspaper editor, a translator and a literary festival organiser share their experiences at a Lancaster-based event.

‘Making it as an author’, an industry-led round table discussion, will take place at Lancaster House Hotel, Lancaster, on September 19 from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. This event is free and open to the public (but please pre-book).

Speakers will include Katy Guest (literary editor, The Independent on Sunday), Carol Birch (author), Jenn Ashworth (author and lecturer in creative writing), Andy Darby (former artistic director of Lancaster Litfest), Jim Hinks (editor, Comma Press), Karen Leeder (translator, poet, and Professor in German Literature).

They will also debate the nature of industry processes that lie behind the discovery and promotion of new literary talent.

Throughout the event, audience participants are encouraged to ‘have their say’ and work with the speakers to reflect on what ‘making it’ and ‘being an author’ mean in different media and institutional contexts.

Organiser Dr Rebecca Braun, a senior lecturer at Lancaster University’s Department of European Languages and Cultures said: “This is going to be an exciting and interactive event and we want people to come along, join in, and test assumptions. This is genuinely about audience participation. It reflects on different ways of being an author and making a living from writing and brings together English-language writers and writers in translation.”

The free event is part of a wider project, Authors and the World (, a research hub which includes both academics and industry. The first strand of the project, running through 2014-15 as part of Lancaster University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, looks at literary celebrity. The event on September 19 is part of a weekend conference called 'Embodying Literary Celebrity in Multiple Media'. It is the official launch of both the project and the hub.

Dr Braun added: “Throughout our first year we’re looking at the idea of fame and writing from lots of different angles: how are certain images of writers created in the media, and how well do these images travel from one culture to another – for example, when a prize-winning German or Brazilian author is translated into English, does this turn them into a ‘world author’, and at what point does it make sense to talk of an author as a global brand? 

"We’re working with local publishers, translators and writers to see what uncovering the paths of different kinds of authors through a global, multilingual creative industry can tell us about the world we live in today. If you’re interested in writers and writing, come along and get involved!”

To book your place or find out more, please contact Emily Spiers at Places are on a first come, first served basis.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 10th to 18th September 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.

Only one new release during this period with the spy thriller A Most Wanted Man (15). However we see the return of three films with Earth to Echo, House of Magic and Walking on Sunshine.

Unfortunately four films have been lost viz Into the Storm, What If, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and The Expendables 3.

This is a good period for comedy with Pride, Sex Tape, The Hundred Foot Journey, Lets be Cops and The Inbetweeners 2 all on offer. For high culture we have the excellent NT Live: A Streetcar Named Desire, and NT Encore: Media.

The Dukes is holding the next installment of The Film Quiz on the 14th September.


A Most Wanted Man
Director: Anton Corbijn
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Rachel McAdams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, Grigoriy Dabrygin
The film is an adaptation of John le Carre's novel of the same name and is also the last role of the late Philip Hoffman. Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) is an intelligence officer working in Hamburg who becomes aware of a tortured half Chechen half Russian immigrant Issar Karpov (Dabrygin) who has arrived in Hamburg to claim asylum and seek his fathers fortune. However is the immigrant a victim or is he a terrorist? If the latter could he be played to lead the security forces to others higher in the terrorist chain? Hoffman steals much of the film with his world weary character and the movie unfolds by covert meetings and dark conversations. This is an intricate, well directed, gripping espionage film.

As Above/ So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Edwin Hodger, Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks
A low budget horror film set in the Catacombs under Paris. Scarlet (Weeks) continues her dead fathers quest to find the Philosophers Stone and to this end she assembles a small team to explore the Parisian catacombs. The action unfolds by the medium of rather shaky film footage from a hand held camera. The claustrophobic setting makes for electric visual effects as the characters face their own fears along with visions of their past. The film itself never feels particularly credible and the explorers never really develop into convincing characters. However the setting makes up for these deficiencies to make an above average horror movie.

Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, Mark Strong
A movie based on the best selling 2011 book by S J Watson. Christine Lucas (Kidman) suffered a head trauma thirteen years ago, with the consequence that she starts each day with no memories of the past thirteen years. She does not recognise her husband, her doctor nor even her own face. To try make sense of her world, she starts to keep a video diary and in this way can begin to get some continuity in her thoughts. However this reveals that her husband Ben (Firth) and her doctor (Strong) are concealing something from her. This film is a psychological thriller which successfully builds suspense with twists to the plot and some false trails. An enjoyable thriller.

Earth to Echo
Director: Dave Green
Certificate: PG
Cast includes: Teo Halm, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese C. Hartwig, Jason Gray-Stanford
A construction project is destroying a neighbourhood when a group of friends start to receive strange signals on their phones. They search for the origin of the signals and discover an alien who has become trapped on earth. The film tells the story of the youngsters as they battle the government and help the alien return to his home. It is hard not to compare this film with 'E.T.' However the movie is really about the youthful friendships rather than an extra-terrestrial. A entertaining if rather average family film.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artifact which is wanted by the villain Ronan (Pace) who wishes to use it to destroy the planet of Xandar. This forces Quill into a truce with a group of misfits (including Rocket a talking raccoon and groot a walking tree) who find they must make a stand to determine the fate of the galaxy. This is a very 'busy' film with lots of spectacular action, plenty of great characters, great one liners and lots of jokes. The plot seemed a little convoluted, but just go with it and enjoy the action. The movie does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and adults alike.

Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is beyond human.

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.

Director: Matthew Warchus
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Bill Nighty, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton Joe Gilgun, Ben Schnetzer
The film is based on a true story and is set in the summer of 1984 during the miners strike. Mark Ashton, a member of a London based gay and lesbian group organises a collection for the miners. However when the group came to offer the donation, they were rebuffed due to prejudice (the AIDs epidemic is one of the backdrops to the film). The group therefore decide to bus to a mining village in the Welsh Dulais Valley to make the donation personally. This movie is played for laughs. It is an excellent comedy supported by an excellent cast and it explores the clash of two very different cultures.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen
It has been nine years since the initial Sin City was released, based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller. This film has the same spirit (and some of the same characters) as the original and again is shot in black and white (relieved with effective splashes of colour). It is shot in a style half way between live action and animation. The film comprises a couple of interlocking narratives. There is the return of Senator Roark (Boothe) which gives some of the characters motive for revenge. Also there is the relationship between Dwight McCarthy (Owen) and his ex Ava (Green) who gets him to commit murder. The film has an impressive cast, nudity and stylised violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions. Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.

The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Lancashire residents urged to get free health checks

Lancashire residents are being urged to go for free NHS health checks at their local GP surgery.

Lancashire County Council is launching a campaign to encourage more people aged between 40 and 74 to take up the free checks, which can help identify and prevent the most common causes of early death.

The checks, which are offered by 90% of GPs, target the top seven causes of preventable death: high blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.

Previous campaigns have resulted in a 22% increase in the number of people going for checks between January and March this year and campaigners are hoping to see another increase this time.

County Councillor Azhar Ali, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "In Lancashire, as in the rest of the country, many people are dying earlier than they should or suffering from years of poor health which could be avoided.

"The checks are about preventing problems such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease. These are all potentially life-threatening, but treatable if caught early, so it's important you are checked out by your doctor – if not for yourself, do it for those you love who rely on you.

"We're pleased that 74% of people who were invited for a health check took up the offer, but we want to encourage even more people to get the checks from their GP.

"In Lancashire, there will be about 6,200 additional years of good quality life over the lifetimes of those who receive a check.

"Nearly all GPs are offering these checks but we are working hard to ensure that they will be available! to everyone who is eligible across the county."

Doctors will write to their patients inviting them for a free health check as part of the ongoing programme over the next five years.

• For more information about the health checks, visit

Monday, 8 September 2014

Celebrating 50 years of Higher Education in Lancaster - Behind the scenes art tour

Image courtesy University of Cumbria

Lancaster’s University of Cumbria campus is celebrating its 50th anniversary year with a host of fun activities and events. Originally established as St Martin’s College, a teacher training facility, the Bowerham Road campus first opened its doors to its first intake of students 50 years ago this month.

To celebrate the half century milestone, staff and students of the university have planned a series of events, including reunions, tours, exhibitions, talks, arts events and community activities.

This Saturday (13th September), the university will open its doors to reveal some extraordinary artwork seldom seen by members of the public, with a Hidden Arts tour. The first principal of St Martin’s College, in the 1960s, Dr Hugh Pollard, was an avid collector of contemporary paintings and sculptures, and left a lasting legacy in the form of the many pieces which remain on the site to this day. On Saturday, as part of the national heritage open days programme, a free tour will give visitors a glimpse of a number of these paintings and sculptures, including a maquette of ‘Winged Figure’ by Barbara Hepworth, created in 1962, and ‘Golgotha’, a controversial large scale painting by acclaimed British ‘kitchen sink’ artist John Bratby. The tour, led by local artist Iain Sloan, formerly an art lecturer at St Martin’s College, will take visitors behind the scenes to see the pieces, and discover the fascinating stories behind them.

The first tour will begin at 12 noon and last for approximately an hour, and will be repeated at 2pm. Tours are free of charge. Meet at the University of Cumbria’s Bowerham Road campus, outside the chapel, opposite reception.

• To find out more about this event, and other events as part of University of Cumbria’s 50th anniversary celebrations, visit