Leamore residents group are clean and green!

Leamore councilors and residents tackling anti-social behaviour and lettering (pic: Walsall Council Labour Group).
Leamore councilors and residents tackling anti-social behaviour and lettering (pic: Walsall Council Labour Group).

A new community group has been set up in Leamore to improve community safety and the environment.  The Leamore Community Group covers the whole of Leamore and meets regularly  at the community room of the  Leamore  tenant management organisation (TMO)  in Pembroke House, Comwall Close.

The group has only been running a couple of months but has already run a successful speed campaign in Somerfield Road, working with local businesses to ease traffic problems and lobbying Walsall council on the sale of alcohol when licensing shops in the area. 

Chris Jones, Councillor for Birchills-Leamore, said:  “We helped to set up this group in response to the many enquiries received by my colleagues, Cllrs Tina Jukes and Lee Jeavons.  Anti-social behaviour and littering are problems within the Leamore area so we decided to replicate the success of a similar group that I have helped run in the Birchills area for many years.”

“By coordinating the services of the council, police and the residents committee at the TMO we hope to make real improvements for the residents and businesses of Leamore. But any group is only as good as the people that are involved so we are asking people to join up and help us deliver a better Leamore for all.”

Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month and organisers can be contacted on 07713 669706.

Walsall FC gets new footie song thanks to local band!

The Assist (courtesy of the band)
The Assist (courtesy of the band)

It may not have escaped our readers’ notice that Walsall Football Club are shortly going to be playing at Wembley Stadium for the first time in their entire history!

Now there’s even more great news for music-loving Walsall footie fans –  Walsall’s very own Indie/Alternative band THE ASSIST have specially written and produced a timely musical tribute to The Saddlers – and their great new single ‘Walsall FC Go To Wembley’ is now available to pre-order from iTunes!

All profits made from the sale of this song will be donated to The Brain Tumour Charity and the Walsall FC Youth Development Programme.

You can listen to a preview of the song on the Walsall Football Supporters’ Trust website.  To pre-order the single, CLICK HERE and follow the links to the Itunes store.

Collectors item

Not only but also, the song will also be released on a CD single format at a cost of £5, each one signed by the band and limited to 127 copies only, one to mark each year of the clubs history.  This is bound to become a sought-after collector’s item!

Walsall Football Supporters’ Trust have given special thanks to The Assist, Trust Member Adam Paget for making all of this possible, and also to Eddie Thomas at Dovecote Studio for donating all the studio time for free meaning more funds can be raised for these more than worthy causes.

Success

The Assist has achieved relative success in a short time, their debut single was released in October last year and broke into the iTunes alternative album chart peaking at #116. they’ve performed headline gigs at 02 Academy’s in Birmingham and Manchester, as well as support slots with happy Mondays, Reverend and the Makers and also legendary bass player of The Jam Bruce Foxton.

A recent highlight for the band was playing the Blackpool Rocks Festival, sharing the stage with The 1975, Disclosure and Swim Deep.

To find out more about The Assist, check out their Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TheAssistBand  and their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/theassistband

Beechdale boy sez cum on feel the noize!

Noddy Holder at Walsall Town Hall
Noddy Holder at Walsall Town Hall

Noddy Holder is hosting an evening of 60s Mania at Walsall Town Hall in support of the Mayor’s Charity Appeal later this month.

Freeman of the Borough of Walsall, Noddy Holder, returns to his home town on Friday 27 March 2015 as compere for this charity concert.  The evening will feature two 60s tribute acts, The Born Again Beatles and a ‘British Invasion’ tribute act, with support from Q4, Regale, and as seen on The Voice, Misternothing with Mitchel Elms and The Rooz with Louis Coupe.

Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, said: “We hope this concert will be a sell-out. Tickets cost just £10 each and for this there will be a terrific host for the evening, Noddy Holder, and over four hours of musical entertainment.

“All the supporting acts will perform at least one well known song from the 60s which will make 60s Mania a night to remember.

“Noddy will also be running the draw for a really impressive raffle on the evening.”

All proceeds after costs will go to the Mayor’s Charity Appeal beneficiaries MS (Black Country branch), Macmillan (Walsall Branch), Walsall Heartcare and Bloxwich Community Partnership.

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

Doors open at 6.30pm, as will the bar, with the concert’s first act going on stage at 7.30pm with The Born Again Beatles appearing  later in the evening.

Tickets are now on sale from Walsall Town Hall Box Office and can be purchased by calling 0845 111 2900 (Option1) or visiting the Council House on Lichfield Street from 10am-12noon and 2-4pm.

If any business or organisation would like to sponsor the event or donate an item for the Charity Concert raffle, please contact the Mayor’s Office on 01922 652072.

After the Oscars – here come the Doras!

Sister Dora looks humbly down on the town she made her own (pic: Stuart Williams)
Sister Dora looks humbly down on the town she made her own (pic: Stuart Williams)

Preparations are under way for the eleventh annual Mayor of Walsall’s Civic Awards which is being held at Walsall Town Hall on Friday 20 March 2015.

Walsall-born TV presenter Bob Warman returns as the celebrity compere since his last appearance in 2013. Mr Warman started his career as a journalist with the Walsall Observer and is now the senior presenter of ITV Central which broadcasts nightly to over a million viewers in the Midlands.

The awards, which are known as the Doras after nursing heroine Sister Dora, aim to recognise unsung heroes who work tirelessly to help others who are working to improve the lives of others in the borough and make people proud of Walsall.

Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)
Walsall Council House (pic: Stuart Williams)

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, said: “I am delighted that Bob has agreed to host this year’s awards as he is the most instantly recognised media face in Central England.

“He has hosted the awards in 2008, 2009 and in 2013 and is always brilliant on the night so we are delighted that he has agreed to host the awards again.

“We are really excited for the big night and I’m really looking forward to our unsung heroes getting the recognition they so richly deserve, hosted by one of the borough’s own success stories.”

The awards are sponsored by APCOA Parking, Barhale Construction plc, DWF LLP, The Mid Counties Co-operative and whg. They judged the entries and chose the finalists in January. The finalists, who have all been notified, will be announced soon.

Votes in for Walsall members of youth parliament

Walsall Youth Parliament on stage in Walsall Town Hall (pic: Walsall Council)
Walsall Youth Parliament on stage in Walsall Town Hall (pic: Walsall Council)

Walsall’s young people have had their say as two new members of youth parliament and two deputy members of youth parliament were elected.

The ‘Big Announcement’ was made on Friday night (27 February) in a ceremony at Walsall Town Hall attended by young people, their family and friends and local councillors.

Over 9,000 votes were collected through web, ballot and text over two weeks from 2 – 13 February.

Young people elected Joscel Manirambona, aged 16, and seventeen year old Namir Chowdhury as their Members of Youth Parliament.

Ben Sharpe, aged 13, and Balraj Jhooty, aged 16, are the new deputy members of youth parliament.

They will represent the young people of Walsall both locally and nationally over the next two years.

Run by young people, the UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change.

Before the announcement was made, attendees were treated to performances from a range of talented young people including Arctic Monkeys tribute band Frozen Chimpanzees (including Luke Downes, Ryan Ruddell, Jack Pierce, Nathan Boot).

Singers Laura Brown, Kayleigh Hudson and Nadekka Simmonds also wowed the crowd along with Extreme Illusion street dance troupe (including Nahjjah Simmonds-Wilson, Brandon Williams, Sharna Townsend, Shannon Gray, Reece Edwards, Cane Jeffery).

All of the candidates were presented with certificates acknowledging their hard work throughout the campaign.

Outgoing MYPs Jade Spruce-Powers and Omo Agboaye, both 16, and outgoing DMYPs Jack Brazier, aged 18, and Lydia McGann, aged 16, were also thanked for their hard work while in office.

Councillor Barbara Cassidy, portfolio holder for children’s services at Walsall Council, said: “It is important that young people’s voices are heard and that they are encouraged to participate in the democratic process and local government.

“This is why the involvement of local young people in the UK Youth Parliament is so important.

“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the four young people who were elected but would also say that I was delighted and astonished by the standard of the campaign materials from all candidates, so well done to them too.

“Thank you as well to the outgoing MYPs and DMYPs and those that support the youth of Walsall for all of your hard work.

“The event was incredibly entertaining and I was encouraged to see the range of talented, hard working young people we have in Walsall.

“I wish you all the very best of luck and I look forward to working with you in the future.”

WW2 Arctic Convoy veterans honoured by Russia

Veterans, dignitaries and guests at the presentation of the Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Veterans, dignitaries and guests at the presentation of the Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Local World War Two veterans were awarded Russia’s Medal of Ushakov at Walsall Town Hall on Wednesday 25 February 2015.

The Embassy of the Russian Federation hosted a ceremony to award the Ushakov Medal to twenty-two local veterans involved in the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War.

The veterans were accompanied by family and friends at this moving event where they were greeted by the Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Pete Smith, and presented with their medals by Sergey Fedichkin, from the Russian Federation’s Embassy.

The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Pete Smith, welcomes the assembly (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
The Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Pete Smith, welcomes the assembly (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Councillor Pete Smith said: “This was a proud day for Walsall to see their veterans awarded Russia’s Medal of Ushakov in recognition of their brave exploits during the Arctic Convoys.

“The Arctic Convoys were very dangerous and conditions were among the worst faced by any Allied sailors.

“Over four million tons of essential supplies were delivered to the Russians between 1941 and 1945 and it is truly noble of the Russians to continue to recognise these veterans who risked their lives to help them.”

Third Secretary Sergey Fedichkin from the Embassy of the Russian Federation presented the medals (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Third Secretary Sergey Fedichkin from the Embassy of the Russian Federation presented the medals (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Third Secretary of the Russian Embassy, Sergey Fedichkin, said, “This ceremony is done for the Arctic Convoy veterans to recognise their invaluable contribution.

“Their heroism will always be remembered both in Russia and in the UK and this will continue to serve as a supreme expression of bravery and kindred spirits.

“I am confident it was not by accident that our nations found ourselves on the right side of history.  This truly critical point of history will forever remain an important part of European spiritual heritage including the ties between our two navies.”

Veterans and guests await the presentation (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
Veterans and guests await the presentation (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

Of the twenty-two veterans honoured, some posthumously, seven hail from the borough of Walsall.

Kenneth Taylor, aged 88, from Beechdale served on an Arctic Convoy in February 1945 when he was aged just 18.  His was a hectic journey as they were constantly under attack by enemy aircraft and Kenneth manned gun number two in defence.

Kenneth recalled that their route would be dictated by information received from Bletchley Park whose staff worked out where U-boats were likely to be through the interception of their radio messages.

Eventually his ship was sunk by a U-boat in a strait near Murmansk. They were picked up by HMS Bluebell and taken to harbour. HMS Bluebell later suffered a torpedo attack and was sunk in the same strait with only one survivor.

When asked how he had enjoyed the day’s medal ceremony, he said, “It was alright,” and then with a smile added, “I’m still alive!”

Ivor Oldbury, aged 89, is from High Heath Pelsall and was accompanied by four generations of his family; daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and great great grandsons.  He too was only 18 when he served as a stoker with the Royal Navy.

His ship left Liverpool in November 1944 as escort to one of the convoys and luckily avoided being gunned or torpedoed.

When asked what it felt like to have the Ushakov medal handed over by the Russian Federation, Ivor simply replied, “Smashing!”

John Kinsella, from Aldridge and aged 91, enlisted with the Royal Navy in December 1941 serving in the Mediterranean at first. He was in the Y Service working for Bletchley Park intercepting enemy radio transmissions from the German U-boats.

John explained, “Whatever duty they wanted us on, they would tell us where we would pick up the ship and that’s what we did, either as escort duty or shooting up enemy ships along the Norwegian coast.”

He did three trips to Spitsbergen taking Norwegian troops and their ammunition on board HMS Belfast.  John once met Randolph Churchill who sat next to him on an RAF plane.  John was with nine others and Churchill remarked, “Bloody hell, flying sailors!”

When asked how he felt about the day’s medal ceremony, John said, “I enjoyed it – I had to get up early to pin all my medals on and now I have the Medal of Ushakov to join them.”

A proud veteran shows off his Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)
A proud veteran shows off his Ushakov Medal (pic courtesy Ed Bagnall)

The Medal of Ushakov was created in 1944 and is named in honour of the Russian Admiral Fyodor Ushakov who never lost a battle and was proclaimed patron saint of the Russian Navy.  The medal was awarded to their navy’s service personnel.

The medal was subsequently retained by the Russian Federation who reached an agreement whereby the Ushakov medal can be awarded to any Allied service personnel involved in the Arctic Convoys.

Photos from the ceremony at Walsall Town Hall, courtesy of Ed Bagnall, can be viewed via this link: http://edbagnall.dphoto.com/album/d96b9w

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