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Monday, 13 October 2008

5-nil at home... but Shirehampton F.Cs got potential for more...

This is the house that Jack built.

Well, not Jack. And it's not a house. It's the Shire F.C clubhouse. And Jack didn't build it. Pete McCall did, ( pictured, on the right) with some help from others in the club, ( Like Mark Stockham, on my left) and some friends who helped provide the decking, and wives who helped advise on what nice ladies toilets look like!

It would have taken a council many fathoms of paper-work and planning to build something like this. Members of Shire F.C did it in a fraction of the time, for a fraction of the cost, with no payment, in their own time. Impressive and really quite humbling that people should give up so much of their time and resources to build facilities for the younger generation. It really sets the standard for the rest of us.

When I went to see the club play at home, it was a lovely autumn day ( one of the ones we should have had in August) and Shire F.C annihilated the opposition 5-nil. We celebrated with BBQ-ed burgers ( left over from the dismal summer) and a beer on the decking outside the club in the late autumn sun.

The club has got so much going for it - a dynamic welcoming group of club-members supporting it, superb club-house and facilities, lovely grounds, and it's one of the few community amenities still left to Shirehampton now. But as the chairman Pete, Mark and Kelvin, the club president told me, they want to take the club to the next level. Floodlights, for example would enable them to compete on a different level all together.

This is a group with ambition, a vision for Shire and its youth, who deserve masses of support.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

One of life's little luxuries

There was a significant moment during one university vacation when I made the decision to pack away the SNES. ('Super Nintendo Entertainment System'.) It was a choice between doing ok in my looming exams, or battling my way through three more Labyrinths in the SNES version of the classic game 'The Legend of Zelda' before I went back. I like to think I did the right thing and removed the offending console to its box, where it stayed more or less ever since.

But thanks to a friend's recommendation, I recently stumbled upon this 80s gaming website - a feast of early console games for the gaming glutton. Life's more demanding outside university and time wasting really isn't an option. But it does provide, I find at least, an occasional dose of one of life's little luxuries every now and again...! Happy gaming for anyone who shares the same memories!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Lockleaze Primary - bringing Lockleaze together

One of the memories that sticks out for me as a child was being taken to what was then called a "Rumpus Room". I faintly recall the one my parents took me to was somewhere in Bristol and was called "Mr. B's". Does this ring any bells with readers?

It was amazing. You could throw yourself about all over the place and jump around a padded room a lot with a load of padded big objects. Which, for some reason when you're anywhere between 3 and 8 years old, is virtually heaven. I remember pestering incessantly to go to Mr.B's which attained almost mythological status in my 5-year old eyes.

So it was with those memories in mind, that I visited Lockleaze Primary School and their new soft-play area. They described how successful the soft-play area has been and told me of their ambitious, but hugely exciting plans to create a soft-play cafe, in the school grounds.

The whole idea of the cafe would be to provide somewhere for children and young parents to come and have fun and socialise - whether by jumping around in a padded environment with colourful toys, ( the children) or having a nice cup of coffee and a chat while the children let off steam. It would continue the work (already successfully underway) by the school to become a real heart of the community, instead of simply a school building open from 9am-4pm. And it would also become a base for other services to come and meet parents ( eg. advisory services, support services etc) instead of parents having to go to find them.

The Head teacher, Gareth Simons, has already begun transforming the school. I look forward to watching progress and supporting wherever I can in the future!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

From Girders to Gym.. continued....

And here's where it all begins to look like something recognisable. I'll try to keep you posted with progress right up until the new gym's opening... well done to Garry Cave and the team.

From girders to great stuff- Boxing Gym Progress

This is the next stage what happened to the girders below ( see previous blog post...) as the new Avonmouth National Smelting Boxing Club gradually takes shape. For a full photo gallery of the progress, have a look at their website.
The whole thing has been erected by Garry Cave, and parents of children at the club. Very impressive. I offered a helping hand with the girders, but given my incompetence at things like this, it’s probably a very good thing that Garry and his team politely declined!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Boxer Nathan's high hopes

Nathan Snow, his dad Kelvin and I went on BBC Radio Bristol this morning to talk about the new gym that Avonmouth National Smelting Boxing Club is opening in Patchway.

Although Patchway is not quite in my patch ( no pun intended, if that can be called a pun) I was really pleased that the brilliant work that coach Garry Cave and his team do at the National Smelting club in Avonmouth can be spread further afield to adults and children at Patchway and Patchway School.

Talking about the benefits of boxing with me this morning was Nathan Snow. Nathan is one of the National Smelting Club's rising stars. He coaches at the new Patchway boxing club and has already represented the West of England.

For anyone who still doubts the benefits of amateur boxing, I recommend they talk to someone like Nathan. Nathan epitomises the good manners, self-control and inspiring ambition that is found in amateur boxing clubs all over the city and all over the country.

Nathan has his own website, and is looking for sponsorship for his very promising career. If you would like to get involved in helping Nathan make it to the very top, go to his website:

BBC Radio Bristol presenter Richard Wyatt gets very excitied about his guests - Nathan and Kelvin Snow...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Prince's Trust 25 Years Celebration

This evening I went to a celebration of 25 years of The Prince's Trust Business Programme, hosted by ITV West's Lisa Aziz.

It was a remarkable evening. I had not realised just how much work the Prince's Trust does in launching young people with talent and ideas, but without financial or personal backing, into the world to fulful their potential.

One of the most impressive things about the programme is that it does not patronise young people, but asks them to pay the Trust back as they earn their money and get on in the world.

Not only does the scheme make social and moral sense, it also makes financial sense. We were told how one estimate puts the cost of socially excluded young people at £4m per week, just for this area. Many socially excluded young people may have found it hard to excel in the restrictive environment of school, but are natural entrepreneurs in the tough world outside the school gates.

We met several young people whose lives had been turned around by the Prince's Trust business programme - Celestine Walcott-Gordon started the evening off with a rendition of 'feeling good' that could have been sung by Nina Simone herself.

Then we heard from Paul Bradley who suffered from mental illness after a time serving in the forces in Afghanistan, Macedonia and Northern Ireland, and who wasn't sure how to make his way in the world, but now is forging a name for himself as a successful entertainer under "Ginger Enterprises".

We met Rob Law, a dragons den reject who, thanks to a Prince's Trust grant, went on to found 'Trunki', and JoeBurke who runs "Thirst Solution" . Best known product: a backpack which carries 21litres of liquid - ideal for a party, or for distributing drink, tea, coffee etc at big events. He now has international contracts.

I also talked to Lorna Knapman, (in the photo) who is filling the market gap for healthy food for children, 'Bitesize' and runs the new 'Love Food' Festival. As more evidence sugguests that diet may be partially responsible for rising levels of ADHD, not to mention obesity, Lorna has really hit on something big.

These are people who didn't give up, had a lot to give, but needed an initial helping hand financially, and moral support from The Prince's Trust mentors. All I met were so grateful to the trust and committed to helping others like them forge a path to fulfillment and success.

But ... they still have a £500,000 funding gap. If you feel you can help, you can make a donation at - You can be certain it will be money multiplied, not wasted.