East & South Notts and Nottingham

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Save the pennies and entertain everyone this summer at part of the world-exclusive Dinosaurs of China exhibition, which stomps into Nottingham in July.


The University of Nottingham’s public arts centre Nottingham Lakeside Arts will be hosting a completely free exhibition exploring how dinosaurs may have looked in the past. Featuring two exciting 3D mounted skeletons – the Alxasaurus and the Dilophosaurus – together with the University’s own Life Science collection, the exhibition is also supported on specific days by a number of free and low-cost workshops and events.


These include Bring Your Dino Toy Day, Dino Design, where children can bring to life their own dinosaur drawings using a virtual design app and Raiders of the Lost Park, an adventurous nature trail with unexpected twists, challenges and riddles.


For older dinosaur fans, there are a series of free hour-long ‘Palaeo Talks’ led by recognised experts in palaeontology from across the country.


Dr Adam Smith, Exhibition Curator said: “The exclusive Dinosaurs of China exhibition is set to be the must-see exhibition of the summer, with specimens travelling thousands of miles from China to be displayed.


“Many have never been outside of Asia before and the free exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside Arts means families can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience and the chance to learn all about these fascinating dinosaurs without it costing a penny!”


After exploring the dino events, there’s plenty more to do at Lakeside including a play area and boating lake situated in the beautiful setting of Highfields Park.


Or for more dinosaur fun, head up to Wollaton Hall and find the free Dino Explorer Zone, providing a range of themed activities and puzzles for all.


The 500-acre Wollaton Park is home to spectacular gardens and beautiful parkland with free roaming deer, a large adventure playground and an array of wildlife. Wollaton Hall itself is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in the region as was used as the setting for Wayne Manor in the 2012 Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.


The Nottingham Natural History Museum at Wollaton Hall is also hosting the remainder of the Dinosaurs of China exhibits – 24 of the best-preserved dinosaur fossils and skeletons from anywhere in the world. Highlights will include the show-stopping Mamenchisaurus – a dinosaur the same height as three double decker buses and the amazing Gigantoraptor, the largest feathered dinosaur in the world.


Entry to the Wollaton Hall exhibition is by ticket only, available at the affordable price of £7.70 for adults and £5.50 for children. Family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) £22.00. Under-fives go free and the event welcomes school parties at a reduced price.


For more information, please visit www.dinosaursofchina.co.uk

Libraries set for celebration with National Bookstart Week

Inspire libraries across Nottinghamshire will be celebrating National Bookstart Week with fun activities especially for under 5’s, to encourage families to have fun reading together, anywhere and anytime.

National Bookstart Week 2017 takes place from June 5 to 11 and this year has an ‘Explore Outdoors’ theme. 

There will be special Rattle, Rhyme and Roll and Storyhullabaloo sessions at 44 libraries across the county.  This year’s theme provides the perfect opportunity to share and enjoy rhymes, books and stories about the outdoors and playing outside.

The Bookstart Bear will also be popping in at selected sessions during the week.  Little ones will have the chance to meet the loveable blue bear at events at Bingham, Carlton, Cotgrave, Hucknall, Mansfield Central, Misterton, Retford and Worksop libraries.  The Bear will also pay a visit to Kingsmill hospital during the week.

Children who attend any of the events will receive a free copy of the picture book Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall. Children’s reading charity BookTrust, supported by Hodder Children’s Books, has more than 450,000 copies to give away.

National Bookstart Week is an annual celebration of BookTrust’s flagship reading programme, Bookstart, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Bookstart gives every child in England and Wales a free reading pack in the first year of their life and again when they are 3-4 years old. BookTrust works to remind families of the importance of reading for pleasure – even if it’s just for ten minutes a day.   In Nottinghamshire, last year more than 15,000 Bookstart packs were gifted to children.

Councillor John Cottee, Committee Chairman for Communities and Place at Nottinghamshire County Council, said:

“This scheme is a hugely valuable part of the library service for children and families.

“National Bookstart Week is one of the many ways we are supporting children to develop the reading habit as introducing books at an early age helps develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime.”

National Bookstart Week events featuring a visit from the Bookstart Bear

Carlton Library

Manor Road

Monday 5 June 10 – 11am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Hucknall Library

South Street
NG15 7BS

Tuesday 6 June 10.30-11am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Cotgrave Library

Cotgrave Shopping Centre
NG12 3JQ

Tuesday 6 June 2.30-3pm Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Retford Library

DN22 6PE

Wednesday 7 June 10– 10.30am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Mansfield Central Library

Four Seasons Centre
West Gate
NG18 1NH

Thursday 8 June 10-10.30am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Worksop Library

Memorial Avenue
S80 2BP

Thursday 8 June 2– 2.30pm Rattle Rhyme and Roll
Bingham Library

Eaton Place
NG13 8BE

Friday 9 June 10.30-11.00am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll
Misterton Community Partnership Library

High Street
S Yorkshire
DN10 4BU

Saturday 10 June 11.20 – 11.50am Rattle, Rhyme and Roll


The Bookstart Bear will also be popping up the following week at these libraries

East Leake Library

Gotham Road
East Leake
LE12 6JG

Monday 12 June 2.30 – 3pm Story Hullabaloo
Keyworth Library

Church Drive
NG12 5FF

Tuesday 13 June 2.30 – 3pm Rattle, Rhyme and Roll


There is more under 5s fun happening in Mansfield Market Place on Friday 16 June with an extra special Rattle, Rhyme and Roll taking place during Inspire’s Be Curious, Be Inspired event which is part of Sinfonia Viva’s Cabinet of Curiosity Tour, in an eye catching purple dome.  More information available here

There are lots more events happening in libraries, which are now run by Inspire on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council.  Ask in your local library for more information.

School’s Out Holiday Activities – 30 May-2 June

Nottingham City Council’s fantastic holiday offer:  School’s Out, gives young people all-day sessions at some of Nottingham’s Leisure Centres for just £1 per day this half term

Running at Clifton Leisure Centre, John Carroll Leisure Centre, and Southglade Leisure Centre along with Portland Centre and Minver Crescent Sports Hall from 9am to 4pm.

Activities include football, hockey, tennis, basketball, cricket, rounders, table tennis, dodgeball as well as arts and crafts and much more.

Children will need to bring comfortable clothing including a jacket and sensible shoes (trainers are preferred), a packed lunch, plenty of refreshments and a water bottle.

There is an additional charge of £2.25 for swimming (£2.10 at Portland).

For more information and to book click here

BBQ for Heroes! 15-30 July

When you BBQ, BBQ for Heroes! BBQ for Heroes is a great excuse to get friends over for lovely food, good company and a worthy cause! Just ask everyone to make a donation in exchange for some food – it couldn’t be simpler. Register to receive a free fundraising pack. visit bbqforheroes.org.uk or call 01980 846459

Animal Agents: the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge is on its way!

Libraries across the UK are getting ready to introduce children to new worlds of facts and fiction through Animal Agents, the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge™, run by independent charity The Reading Agency.

Across the school summer holidays, Animal Agents will introduce young readers to a variety of clever creatures, specially trained to use their skills and natural instincts to unravel mysteries. Animal Agents is illustrated by Tony Ross, illustrator of the hugely popular Horrid Henry series. He is published all over the world; his awards and nominations include the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, Kate Greenaway Medal, and the Smarties Prize.

Each year the Summer Reading Challenge to children is simple. They’re encouraged to read six or more books of their choice – fact books, joke books, picture books, audio books just as long as they are borrowed from the library – during the holidays. There are collectable incentives and rewards, plus a certificate for every child who completes the Challenge. Children can sign up at their local library from the end of June onwards and all materials are absolutely free. (NB: exact start dates for the Summer Reading Challenge can vary around the UK, as do schools‘ breaking up dates for the summer holidays: please check with your local library.)

The Summer Reading Challenge is open to all primary school children and is designed for all reading abilities. Schools work with local libraries and give out information to encourage children to take part, and most libraries run Summer Reading Challenge linked early years activity for pre-schoolers.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Head to your local library during the summer holidays and enrol. It’s completely free and any child can take part.
  • If you’re a teacher, our online resources to help you support children’s reading for pleasure will be available shortly (please email if you would like to be sent the link.)   
    • Teachers, parents and children can also gain Animal Agents-related reading inspiration from the Summer Reading Challenge 2017 book collection. It comprises 70 must-have reads for children aged 4-11, with something to suit every young reader. Many of the books in the collection are new titles which will be published this summer, and will be displayed in libraries during the Challenge. There are two lists – one for younger children and one for older children – representing the best in contemporary children’s fiction, fact and puzzle books, poetry, picture books and graphic novels.

Anne Sarrag, Summer Reading Challenge director for The Reading Agency, says:  “Animal Agents is all free fun, which is top news for parents. So mums, dads and carers, pop down to your local library and find out more about what’s happening locally, and help your children discover a love of stories this summer whilst they maintain and develop their reading skills over the summer holidays. ”

Once again this year, children’s publishers are supporting the Summer Reading Challenge, and there are also large print Summer Reading Challenge materials available for visually impaired children, or visually impaired parents/carers, thanks to the support of the RNIB National Library Service

Photo:© Dale Cherry for The Reading Agency with thanks to Newham Council and Calverton Primary School.

Summer Reading Challenge volunteers – Your library needs you!

Inspire’s libraries are looking for people who have an enthusiasm for reading, love working with children and are interested in learning new skills to become a volunteer for the forthcoming Summer Reading Challenge.

The Summer Reading Challenge, produced by The Reading Agency and delivered by libraries runs in all Nottinghamshire libraries.  Children are encouraged to read up to six books of their choice, earning rewards along the way.  It’s a great way to boost children’s literacy skills and enthusiasm for reading during the holidays.


Last summer was the most successful challenge in the county with over 10,600 children taking part and more than 70 volunteers giving up some of their spare time – a total of 1282 hours – to support the campaign and help children discover the pleasure of reading.

Inspire has now formally launched its volunteer search for this coming summer. People have until 19 May to register their interest.  They are looking for people aged 14 upwards, to be able to commit around 12 – 15 hours (averaging 2 – 3 hours a week) between 26 July and 6 September.

The following libraries are recruiting for Summer Reading Challenge volunteers:

Arnold Library, Beeston Library [from August], Bingham Library, Carlton Library, Eastwood Library, Forest Town Library, Hucknall Library, Kirkby-in-Ashfield Library, Mansfield Library, Mapperley Library, Newark Library, Retford Library, Southwell Library, Stapleford Library, Sutton-in-Ashfield Library, West Bridgford Library and Worksop Library

Trainee teachers, young people seeking to develop their CV and employability skills and many book lovers within local communities have benefited from the volunteering opportunities in recent years.

The tasks involved are:

  • Sharing enthusiasm for reading by listening and chatting with children about books they read during the challenge
  • Explaining to children and their parents/carer how the challenge works
  • Helping register children for the challenge and handing out stickers and rewards when they complete various progression stages
  • Keeping challenge records up to date by completing and filing registration cards.

Those who are selected to take part will receive full training before starting and colleagues will also be on hand to answer questions.

Benefits include

  • gaining new skills and confidence and experience of working with children,
  • meeting new people and working as part of a team.

Volunteers will also be able to claim for reasonable travel costs to and from the library and will receive a certificate for taking part which will be useful to add to their CV.

Peter Gaw, Chief Executive of Inspire commentred ; “Our Summer Reading Challenge volunteers  work with library staff to help run and promote the Summer Reading Challenge, their enthusiasm and dedication plays a significant role in its ongoing success”.

To find out more or to apply online visit www.inspireculture.org.uk/volunteers .

Alternatively contact Steve Powell

E: volunteers@inspireculture.org.uk

T: 07944 428 951 or 0115 8044418

Closing date for application – Friday 19 May 2017

Tennis Centre events – April – August

Nottingham Tennis Centre’s Summer Friday Family Smash Ups will return every month from April to August, with the first session taking place indoors and later ones outside as the weather improves.

They give families the chance to play together, with loads of sports to try, including uni-hockey, football, archery, table tennis, badminton, swingball, tennis and mini tennis.

The Friday Smash Ups will take place from 5 to 7pm on the last Friday of every month, from 28 April to 25 August.  They’re free for anyone enrolled on the centre’s coaching programme or cost just £5 for the whole family for everyone else.

If you want to find out more about what goes on at Nottingham Tennis Centre, get along to the Active Communities Open Day on Tuesday 25 April from 10am until noon and have a go at tennis and table tennis for free.

Who let the dads out!

Who let the dads out! – on the 2nd Saturday morning of every month at St. Mary’s Church Family Centre, Arnold from 10.00 am to 11.30 am . For children from 0-5 years with their dads for fun, toys and refreshments. Info at www.stmarysarnold.org.uk

Our next dates are:

Saturday, 8th April

Saturday, 13th May

Saturday, 10th June

Saturday, 8th July

No Saturday session in August

Saturday, 9th September
Saturday, 14th October

Netherfield Nets New Play Area

A new £86,000 play area in Netherfield to get children more active will open this week.


The Ley Street Play area in Netherfield will be opened at a special ribbon cutting event on Wednesday 29 March where local school children will be invited to test out the new equipment.


The park, which includes an assorted array of play equipment for 4-9 year olds and a trim trail, is part of the council’s plans to encourage more children to exercise and to get outdoors. It also boasts a toddler multi-unit, springers, spinning round-a-bout, junior climbing unit, swings, slides and more.


The park has been welcomed by the nearby primary schools who worked with the council’s locality co-ordinator and Gedling Homes as part of the consultation process.


The play area and trim trail have been funded jointly by WREN who provided £45,738 and Nottinghamshire County Council who provided £32,736.


Cheryl Raynor, WREN’s grant manager for Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire said:


“It’s wonderful to see something we have funded finally open and ready to make such a difference to children in the local area. WREN is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that benefit local communities and this is a great example of what can be achieved


Kevin Sharman, Team Manager Transport Planning and Programme Development Team of Nottinghamshire County Council said:


“This is a great example of how supporting local communities fund is helping make a real difference in the community.


“This new play area has helped create a new ‘trim trail’ climbing area for local children. Being close by to Netherfield primary school, it’s a wonderful addition to local facilities and will help encourage more exercise in a fun, exciting setting”


Lance Juby, Gedling Borough Council’s Community Relations Manager, said;


“We’re very pleased that the children from the nearby primary schools now have somewhere close to school to play, the new facilities are fantastic. The children were involved in the planning for the play area from the start and it’s really great to see it up and running. This is a great example of councils working together, using their shared skills and knowledge to gain funding and improving the lives of the young people of Netherfield.”