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REVIEW | Cinderella

A good Cinderella story needs a few basic things: a handsome prince, wicked stepmother (complete with an aesthetically challenged stepsister or two), a fabulous fairy godmother and, of course, a beautiful and downtrodden heroine. It’s all very lovely and twinkly and magical – and we’ve all heard, or seen, one version or another. It’s all very samey.

Until it falls into the creative little mitts of Lyndsey Maples and Estelle Van Warmelo; and their super skilled team of designers, choreographers, musicians and technicians. The classic tale is brought bang up to date by the Courtyard’s Panto pair and, although it sticks to the general story for tradition’s sake, the social and environmental messages embedded within it are particularly relevant for 2019.

Orphaned Cinders (Isabella Rubin) lives with her wildly jealous botox-addicted stepmother (Melanie Stevens) and not-very-ladylike stepsisters Fousty (James Witt) and Fidge (Ellis Kerkhoven). She enjoys a simple, if slightly exploited, life on the banks of the River Wye – feeding the hedgehogs and quietly saving the world one furry creature at a time with her bouncy Bristolian best friend Buttons (Mikey Wooster) – until the ever-so-sweet (but slightly accident prone) Earth mother Eridani (Emily Louise Connor) gets involved. Cue handsome Prince (Rory McCollum). More interested in the comparative stellar mass of Ursua Major than finding a suitable bride, the Prince is shoehorned into holding a party to find the woman of his dreams.

Obviously many things stand in the way of true-love; even after liposuction the Uglies present a rather large leopard print covered obstacle, and that obsessive Stepmother isn’t giving in easily either. A glass slipper that isn’t really glass, a very helpful “Amazin” delivery driver and a whole host of random and entertaining goings-on occur along the path to Happily Ever After.

Rubin’s performance has gone from strength to strength since I saw her last as Wendy in Peter Pan, and she makes a beautiful and headstrong heroine. The love/hate chemistry between Witt and Kerkhoven is pure comedy gold throughout, although the pairs bathroom scene left me wincing in sympathy. Ouch!

Special mentions to the four especially lovely and talented dancers Chloe Jane Nestor, Honey Joseph, Herbie Kinsey and Luke Canavan; all absolute stars both vocally and visually. And of course no Panto would be Panto without a cast of exceptional local children.

As always, the super sparkly set and stunning costume really delivers that Panto magic, and the orchestra of 3 (yes there’s only 3 of them making all that noise!) fills the auditorium all the way to the rafters with both original music and recognisable reworks. The choreography and slapstick stage combat scenes are just spectacular too, exactly what you expect from a Pantomime from this seasoned creative team.

Perfect for a festive family evening, with something for everyone, the Courtyard Pantomime Cinderella runs until Saturday 11th January.

The run includes special Audio Described, British Sign Language, Relaxed and Dementia Friendly performances as well as the now infamous Adult nights.
Get in touch with Box Office for more information.
01432 340555 www.courtyard.org.uk

NEWS | Funding for Marlbrook Primary School’s new facilities given the go-ahead

Budget approved for Marlbrook Primary School expansion

Plans to expand Marlbrook Primary School at Green Croft, have taken a big step forward as the council approved the capital funding to enable the project to move from the design stage to construction.

Cabinet approved just over £6 million investment to provide new facilities at the school site.

Rated outstanding by Ofsted, the popular school has seen a significant increase in pupil intake over the past few years resulting in the need to expand and improve the existing facilities. The school is also a teaching school and offers support and training to other schools regionally.

The investment programme will see 6 new state of the art classrooms, a new hall, a special hygiene and physio room to make the school fully accessible to all learners.  The project will also include new netball courts and improvement works to the car parking area.

Completion of the new buildings will mean that the school can remove the current temporary classrooms from the site and pupils will be taught in permanent purpose built modern facilities.

Contractors will start work at the school after Christmas with the aim of opening the new facilities to the pupils and teaching staff by spring 2021.

Chris Baird, Herefordshire Council’s Director of Children and Families, said:

“Our priority is to give Herefordshire children and young people a great start in life and we believe that we can build strong foundations for this by providing every child with a solid education in modern purpose built facilities, in line with our capital investment strategy.

“This latest announcement for Marlbrook is a continuation of a schools improvements programme that has gathered speed throughout the summer and has included maintenance projects at 13 schools and £1.32m of investment, with many more improvement projects planned for next year.

“We look forward to the new facilities opening in early 2021 for pupils and teaching staff to use and enjoy.”

NEWS | Herefordshire Council backs call for public to Be Winter Ready

Being prepared can reduce the community impact of a power cut or gas emergency

Herefordshire Council is supporting a new campaign that urges people to be prepared for bad weather this winter and know what to do if they have a power cut or gas emergency.

The Be Winter Ready campaign has been launched by the UK’s gas and electricity networks. Since 1990, the networks have invested over £100bn to make the UK’s gas and electricity supply more reliable than ever before. However, storms, floods and other extreme conditions can sometimes cause significant damage and disruption.

To Be Winter Ready, the public are being urged to:

  • Know the free emergency numbers – in a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111999.
  • Prepare your home – keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Vulnerable households can get extra support by signing up to the Priority Services Register. Contact your gas or electricity network to find out more. Visit the Energy Networks Association website to find out who your network operator is.
  • Keep your eyes open – keep an eye on the weather forecast and, if you have a power cut or a gas emergency, check on your neighbours.

More information about the campaign can be found on the Energy Networks Association website.

NEWS | Applications open soon for funding & training support for local athletes


Halo Leisure are continuing to show their commitment to developing sporting talent, by calling for applications to its Halo Sport Foundation scheme. The Foundation (run in conjunction with the national GLL Sport Foundation and supported by Sports Aid) gives ambitious sportsmen, women and children in the Herefordshire, crucial support for their future. It offers thousands of pounds worth of funding and free training opportunities to local people (of all ages). It is all about investing in local talent; supporting local athletes and inspiring local communities. 

“As a not for profit organisation and registered charity whose primary aim is to provide the local community with active leisure facilities, we are delighted to be able to offer support through the Sport Foundation for another year,” said Alex Haines, Partnership Manager. “We see it as an opportunity to put something back into the community that has supported us so well.”

Research shows 80% of these aspiring sports men and women have little funding to support their ambitions. “Many of the county’s most talented sports people struggle to meet the rising costs of competition”, said Alex. “The Foundation will assist local talented athletes towards achieving their full sporting potential by helping to reduce some of the financial burden of sporting costs.”

Since the scheme launched, over 120 athletes (able bodied and disabled) representing over 30 sports have benefited from over £60,000 worth of Foundation backing – triathlon, swimming, gymnastics, sailing, judo, rowing, water polo, badminton, hockey, bowls, athletics, equestrian, kayaking, fencing and disability football. They use our gyms, group exercise classes, pools, racket sports courts and indoor and outdoor sports pitches to keep fit and prepare for their next competitive event.

FEATURED | Rural grant help available at Growth Hub workshops

Eligible businesses are being urged to sign up to workshops which could help them get their hands on special funding to boost rural enterprise across the Marches. 

The events will provide advice and guidance to any business which meets the criteria to bid for funding from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) growth programme. 

Herefordshire Growth Hub Manager Lyndsay Francis said two workshops were being staged on December 10 and January 13 at the Marches Growth Hub Herefordshire’s base on Skylon Park in Hereford, with another event in Shrewsbury for Shropshire businesses on December 13. 

“The RDPE programme provides grants for rural business development, food processing businesses and those involved in rural tourism infrastructure,” Lyndsay said. 

“The grants, which are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, start at £20,000 and applicants can apply for up to 40 per cent of eligible costs. The maximum grant for business development and tourism projects is limited to £175,000, whilst the maximum grant for food processing projects is £750,000.” 

The workshops will provide in-depth detail of the scheme and help eligible businesses navigate the two-part application process – for which the first deadline is February 16. 

To be eligible, your business must be based in Herefordshire, Shropshire or Telford & Wrekin and fall into the following categories: 

  • · Food Processing Priority – can support businesses of any size in rural or urban areas across the Marches and has a maximum grant of £750k  
  • · Business Development/Tourism Priority – if you are a micro (0-9) or small (10-50) business, located within the rural Marches you may be eligible to apply – maximum grant £175,000  

The two-hour December 10 workshop gets under way at 10am and more details and booking information can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/round-3-rural-development-programme-for-england-rdpe-rural-funding-workshop-tickets-81971710593

Details for the January 13 workshop, which starts at 2pm, are available here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/round-3-rural-development-programme-for-england-rdpe-rural-funding-workshop-tickets-81973776773

Details of the Shropshire workshop – at the University Centre Shrewsbury’s Guildhall base – are available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/rural-funding-workshop-how-to-complete-your-growth-programme-application-tickets-80830037819?aff=ebapi 

GIVEAWAY | Enchanted Kingdom Competition

Enchanted Kingdom Hereford Frozen Spectacular – Family Ticket & Photography Package Competition

This is your chance to WIN a family ticket comprising of x2 adult tickets and x2 child tickets and a top photography package all worth £64.

To enter, please like the Enchanted Kingdom Hereford Facebook page, and tag 5 friends.

Step into the unknown and prepare to let it go, with a live 30 minute musical celebration of songs from Frozen 1 & 2. Brought to life by your favourite characters in a truly magical performance.

After the show it’s time for your own private meet and greet with the Ice Queen and the Snow Princess, every child will receive a personally signed keepsake from the frozen sisters. Professional photos will also be taken which can be purchased at your own discretion.

Performance duration: 30 Minutes
Meet & Greet duration: Up to 30 Minutes

🔹Book Tickets: www.enchantedkingdomhereford.co.uk
🔹Phone: 01432 806007
🔹Email: info@enchantedkingdomhereford.co.uk
🔹Venue: Enchanted Kingdom, First Floor, Maylord Shopping Centre, Maylord Street, Hereford, HR1 2DT

Winner announced tomorrow evening.

FOOTBALL | Black Friday Deals at Hereford FC

Celebrate Black Friday in style by purchasing a number of bargains at the Hereford FC Club Shop!
The following products have been reduced online and in the Club Shop (Friday 10am-4pm) for one day only!

Towels £20 £15 
Single Duvet £20 £15
Backpack £15 £10
Laptop Bag £15 £10
Bootbag £10 £5
Kids Scarf £10 £5
Dressing Gown £30 £15
Cushion £12 £5

NEWS | Re appeal and new CCTV image following distraction thefts in Herefordshire

Police are warning members of the public to be wary of donating cash to street charity collectors without checking they are genuine.

Officers have received reports of ‘distraction’ type thefts following incidents where cash has been stolen from people who have stopped and spoken to a woman who said she was from a charity.

On Friday November 1 at around 12.30pm a man was in West Croft, Leominster, when he was approached by a woman who said she was seeking sponsorship. The man stopped and spoke to the woman and then later noticed his wallet was missing.

At around the same time on the same day a second man was approached by a woman in the High Street, Leominster, who was again seeking sponsorship. The man later noticed that cash had been stolen from his wallet.

Similar incident’s happened in Ledbury one on  Friday 18 October on Church Lane, at around midday a lady was approached by a woman claiming to be from  a charity. The lady has given over a small donation to the collector and on being asked to show her ID to support her donation, further money has been stolen from her purse.

The second on Thursday 24 October on the High Street, another lady was approached by a woman asking for a donation to a charity, before she handed the money over she became suspicious of the woman and declined to donate.

PC Liam Green, of Ross on Wye said: “We are still keen to talk to the lady in the CCTV image as we believe she may have information regarding the incidents. We have released a second image in the hope of someone recognising her.

 “Genuine charity collectors will carry identification, charity collecting tins and will not ask the person donating for ID. I’d like to urge people to be vigilant if they are approached and asked to donate money.”

Anyone who may have information on these distraction thefts is asked to call West Mercia Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

NEWS | Hereford makes among the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the UK

Everyone knows that if you really want to get to know a city well, you should explore it on foot. This is the best way for visitors to get to know the most beautiful corners, the most secret side streets, the local flair and the real way of life. The pedestrian zones in particular are at the heart of a city with numerous cafés, boutiques and markets found there. The United Kingdom is not known to be a particularly pedestrian-friendly nation, but it’s still worth asking where in Britian comes out on top? Holidu, the search engine for holiday homes, has completed a study to reveal the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the UK. In the current ranking, the percentage of pedestrian zones in relation to the total kilometres of roads was determined.

● Londonderry, Exeter and Gloucester in top 3
● Massive 8.30% difference between top city and bottom
● St Albans at the bottom of the ranking with 0.10%

The data was collected in November 2019 using the Open Street Maps database. The percentage of pedestrian zones from the total length of the pedestrian zones was compared to the total length of the streets. The pedestrian zones were defined with the Open Street Maps tag ‘highway=pedestrian’, while the total length of the streets was selected with the sum of the tags ‘highway=residential’ and ‘highway=pedestrian’

FOOTBALL | Bulls bow out of Trophy after home defeat

Hereford FC’s poor run of form continued this evening with a 3-0 home defeat against Kings Lynn in the FA Trophy.

The Bulls found themselves 2-0 down within 8 minutes thanks to goals from McAuley & Barrows.

Despite being outplayed for large periods of the first half, the Bulls were given a fantastic opportunity to get back into the game when Vincenti was fouled in the area. A penalty was awarded and Vincenti himself stepped up but his spot kick was saved.

Kings Lynn then wrapped up the win with a late goal from Carey, who fired in from close range after reacting quickest to a save from Brandon Hall.

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