Shrewsbury and Telford

Category Archives: General

Local charity Omushana launches crowdfunder

Last year I went on an amazing trip to Uganda with Gillian Castle. While there, I saw for myself how Gill’s charity Omushana, Sunshine for Children is helping provide books and support for schools in the rural areas around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and I really wanted to help. We’ve set up a #crowdfunder to raise money for a new library – a much needed project in an area where even the teachers don’t have books, let alone the children. Please take a look, pledge if you can, and PLEASE PLEASE SHARE with as many of your friends as possible so we can make this a success. Thank you so much!

Visit the Crowdfunder page

For more info about Omushana’s projects please visit












  • With under three weeks to go until Christmas, Royal Mail is reminding children to post their letter to Santa by no later than Friday 9 December 2016
  • For 53 years, Royal Mail has had the special privilege of managing Santa’s mailbag and seeing what children really want for Christmas
  • Santa asked Royal Mail to help him make children’s Christmas wishes come true by delivering their letters to him at the North Pole.
  • Children shouldn’t forget to tell him their full name and address, so Santa can write back to them

With just under three weeks to go until Christmas, Royal Mail is reminding children to post their letter to Santa by no later than Friday 9 December 2016.


For 53 years, Royal Mail has been helping to make Christmas wishes come true by sending children’s letters to the North Pole. Don’t forget to tell him your full name and address.


Santa’s team of helpers at Royal Mail help deliver many thousands of letters sent to him by children from all across the UK to one of their most special customers, Father Christmas.


Alex McConnell, Royal Mail Chief Elf, who ensures children’s letters reach Reindeerland at the North Pole, said:  “Royal Mail plays a special part at Christmas. We are proud that for over 50 years, Santa has allowed us to help manage the hundreds of thousands of special letters he receives from boys and girls across the country.


“Santa is happy to receive your cards and letters now but because of the very busy Christmas ahead children should post their letters no later than 9 December 2016.


“Remember to include your full name and address on your letter so Santa can reply to you!”

To ensure Santa receives your letter on time, please make sure you write to him, using the correct address, on a stamped envelope.

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa’s Grotto,

Don’t forget Santa needs to know your full name and address to reply.

Royal Mail and Christmas

Royal Mail is synonymous with Christmas. Since 1963, Royal Mail has had the special privilege of delivering all the letters to Santa and his elves. We have also been helping him reply to the girls and boys each Christmas.


For 53 years, Father Christmas’ team of Royal Mail elves have found that along with toys, children still ask for range of funny, touching and heart-warming requests.

Zac from Northampton said:” Dear Santa, For Christmas please could I have a moustache, another moustache and a tiny moustache and a toy puppy with glasses, a moustache and a red t-shirt.”

Louie and Charlie from Essex said: “Our daddy is a fireman and sadly has to work on Christmas day so we were wondering if you and the reindeers would be able to deliver our presents a day earlier so that we can have our Christmas Day on Christmas Eve instead.”


Royal Mail has revealed this year’s top ten most wanted presents, according to children in their special letters to Santa.


Traditional toys hold the top three spots for the second year in a row. The results show that the most popular toy is Lego, which has retained its top spot from last year. It has also remained in the top three since 2013. Scooters have made a new entry as the second most popular Christmas wish in 2016. This is followed by bikes, which have dropped down into third position.


Santa Mail postbox


Royal Mail has also installed its first-ever special Santa Mail postbox in London, at Westfield Stratford City. It will be in place for children to post their letters to Santa from Friday 2 December 2016 until Friday 9 December 2016.


The postbox will be manned by some of Santa’s special elves and can be found between Boots and Lloyds Bank, near the Stratford International train station entrance.


Letters to Santa can be posted in the special post box between 10:00am and 8:00pm Monday to Saturday, and 10:00am to 6:00pm on Sundays, until 9December 2016.  Children and adults are encouraged to take photos at the postbox with the elves and tweet them using #RMLetterToSanta

Christmas is a very busy time of year and Santa will respond to as many letters as possible, in between getting the sleigh ready for the long journey on Christmas Eve.

Intrepid cadet returns from South African summer expedition

Intrepid Oswestry School Lower Sixth pupil Lucy Lowry has returned from an amazing National Army Expedition in South Africa.

18 months ago Lucy, a CCF cadet in Oswestry School’s regiment, embarked upon a rigorous selection process along with army cadets from across the country to secure a place on the trip.  Since then she has attended several training sessions in the Lake District.

Lucy boarded a plane to Durban ready to spend 4 weeks learning bushcraft skills and how to trek at high altitude while living in Zulu villages and gaining work experience on Zingala Game Reserve with the resident vet.

This opportunity afforded Lucy the chance to work and care for children in the Zulu villages, but the high-point of the trip was reaching the summit of Devil’s Knuckles mountain, part of the Drakensburg range, after 5 hard days of climbing.

TCAT engineers a great career for talented teenager

Being a woman in a man’s world is nothing new to teenager HarleyJayne Tisdale.

The 17-year-old was the only female on her engineering course at Telford College of Arts and Technology.

And now, the City and Guilds Diploma she gained at TCAT has helped her to secure a job in another male-dominated environment at Telford-based civil engineering company Freyssinet Limited.

HarleyJayne, from Dawley, said her interest in engineering and manufacturing began could be traced back to when she was around 12 years old.

The former Phoenix School student completed ‘gifted and talented’ awards in recognition of her natural ability in areas such as robotics, machining, and aerodynamics of wind turbine components.

And she has not been the least bit concerned at being the only female on her level three Manufacturing Engineering course at TCAT.

“I have healthy banter with the lads on the course, but at the end of the day they know how good I am so don’t bother me too much.

“It’s easier to concentrate being in a class with a load of lads – they are a great group of people and we always help each other out”.

“I especially love using the lathes, making things with my own hands and then quality-checking the tolerance myself. The practical work is great – I don’t mind getting greasy and dirty.”

HarleyJayne says she chose TCAT because she believes the facilities are the best in Shropshire for manufacturing and engineering courses.

“The staff here are industry experts; they have all spent years in the trade and I love learning from them. They are inspiring and supportive”.

“My time at TCAT has helped me develop my passion for manufacturing and engineering. I have learnt a lot about the sector and also expanded my physics and maths skills. To be a great engineer you need to be good at maths and TCAT has helped me improve.”

She said she owed a big thanks to her teacher at Phoenix School, Rebecca Phillips, for inspiring her to follow her dreams.

HarleyJayne’s tutor at TCAT, Mark Underwood, said: “She is a very talented, confident and intelligent young lady who has a great future in engineering.

“The aim of this course is to prepare students for a higher modern apprenticeship with a reputable employer – we have so many industry links here at TCAT that we knew HarleyJayne would have lots of positive opportunities coming her way.”

And the last word goes to HarleyJayne, who adds: “To anyone considering a career in engineering, come to TCAT – the facilities here are some of the best, and once you step a foot through the door you won’t be disappointed.”

Please visit for more information.

Shrewsbury Winter Festival

Attracting over 10,000 visitors in 2015 this event promises to be even bigger and better this year.

Bought to you by the Shropshire Festivals the team behind Shrewsbury Food Festival, Shropshire Kids Festival and Telfood. Shrewsbury Winter, which takes place in the quarry on 10 and 11 December has already attracted more than 19,000 people on its Facebook events page and sold over 2000 tickets.  The event promises to be the perfect start to the festive season with a great mix of food and drink, crafts and seasonal cheer.
The event which has a capacity of 8,000 each day will bring together more than 150 food, drink and craft exhibitors selling their festive wares, mulled wines, hot chocolate, toasting marshmallows while local choirs will be getting us all in the festive mood with the best Christmas carols and a big singalong each day at 3pm. Elf Workshops will be making and creating with the kids for FREE and there will also be free circus workshops, shows and a big top to enjoy. Our very own Shropshire nativity scene will have Shropshire lambs, donkeys and even alpacas to meet and there will be also be seasonal workshops for the adults and kid’s cookery too.
Organisers haven’t forgotten about the true meaning of Christmas either teaming up with The Ark in Shrewsbury to raise money for those in need across the town. Donations and also a scheme in conjunction with Monks Estates Agents in town will raise awareness of those less fortunate through the winter months. Shrewsbury College will also be running a soup kitchen at the event, with the money from every bowl of delicious soup sold going straight back into Festival Charity, The Shrewsbury Ark.
For more details about Shrewsbury Christmas and to buy advance tickets
Family tickets are just £12, adults £6 and kids just £1…. book NOW and save money!
School Visits to the Dana Jail in Shrewsbury – ‘This Life is Not for Me’

Jailhouse Tours has developed an educational programme specially designed for Schools, called ‘this life is not for me’. Schools or educational groups can visit the prison to take part in this programme, which lasts 2 or 3 hours and can be tailored to meet specific requirements.

The day involves a tour of the establishment, the aim of which is to show students first-hand what life inside a prison is like, the sites history and prisons through the ages. In addition to this students will be given information regarding prison life and a workshop suited to their learning requirements is provided for those doing the 3 hour session. The workshops will look at areas such as how people end up in prison, what they can expect from their time there and the impact of offending on victims, families, communities and themselves.

Students will have the opportunity to partake in a ‘closed cell’ experience, which involves entering cells and having the doors closed behind them, to fully experience what it would have been like for a prisoner.

Very few people get the opportunity to experience a prison until they are sent there for committing offences. Running educational days like this, gives students an insight and education into an area they otherwise would not be able to see first-hand. The programmes and visits will also work towards reducing numbers of first time offenders and reduce escalating re-offending.

All workshops and tours will take place on site at the prison. One class to an entire year group can take part in the day. Want something different from your visit? No problem please email us and we will be happy to discuss customising your school trip.

Celebration of Dance

On Saturday July 2nd 2016 at 6 pm the Diana Griffiths School of Dance will be holding their eighth ‘Celebration of Dance’ at Concord College Acton Burnell.

It is an evening of dance, music and drama performed by 70 children and as in previous years all monies raised at the performance will go to Hope House Children’s Hospices.

The theme this year is ‘A Tapestry of Colours’ and all the children and their dedicated teachers are working hard towards what we hope will be a magical and colourful evening.

Ticket prices are £6 for adults and £3 for children. Doors open at 5 pm for drinks.

Local Children’s Nursery Creates Unconventional Wildlife Pond


Local children, inspired by nature, have created their own ‘Wildlife Sanctuary’. To celebrate the launch of a dedicated Lego classroom opening up to the pre-school – the first in the UK – the students at Birchfield Prepcare Day Nursery today unveil a truly unique wildlife pond.

The reserve will be home to over fifty individual ducks. What’s so special? The entire pond and its wildlife are made purely by the nursery and infant children using only Lego.

Manager of Birchfield Prepcare Day Nursery, Penny Sheyvn has helped the children develop the sanctuary and sees it as an ongoing project. “We are lucky enough that the nursery children can now have access to enjoy the UKs first dedicated ‘More2Maths’ classroom for Lego, that has been hugely successful with the older children at Birchfield School. At the nursery we wanted to find a way to engage the children using this teaching technique – discussing the great outdoors and the importance wildlife plays in maintaining a healthy countryside, the wildlife sanctuary seemed an obvious way to bring the topic to life. As the children move up the school the wildlife sanctuary will grow, supporting environmental learning topics along the way.”

In conjunction with Lego Education, the school opened the Lego Innovation Studio during this academic year – a dedicated room equipped with Lego resources, aimed at teaching children throughout the school and encouraging collaborative, creative and active learning whether inside or outside the classroom. From engineers to scientists to environmentalists, it is proving to be a fantastic way to inspire children whatever their interests. This latest launch opens up the facility to the pre-school students.

Birchfield Prepcare Day Nursery is located at the charming Birchfield School, making it an ideal environment for little people. Enjoying the wonderful grounds and facilities of the school, Birchfield Prepcare Day Nursery looks after pre-school children from six weeks to five years, all year round.  Headed up by Penny Shevyn, the team of highly qualified staff are friendly, efficient and expert in creating that special home from home environment.

For further information on Birchfield Prepcare Day Nursery please call Penny Sheyvn on 01902 375611 or visit:

The Benefits of Reading

Benefits of reading and how to encourage your child to love it – Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning

Recent research by Explore Learning revealed that one in three people in the UK read every day for pleasure. The research showed 39% read once a week and just 8% say they never do at all. Reading is a huge part of many people’s lives across the UK, but for some children a little encouragement is needed to help them discover the benefits of reading a good book.

By helping your child to develop a passion for reading, you are granting them access to worlds far, far away from their own. You are helping them to build imagination and empathy, as well as linguistic skills.

Here are a few tips on how parents, siblings, friends and relatives can help children to embrace the wonderful world of reading:

  • Commit to the character. Enthusiasm and energy whilst reading to children helps to bring the characters to life. If the child sees you having fun reading – they will learn to associate reading with enjoyment. Drama tuition can be very effective at helping to develop children’s confidence in this area.
  • It’s never too early. Even children that are too young to read by themselves will benefit from being read to, from as early an age as possible. A bed time story is a perfect way to introduce reading to a child – and is a good habit to get in to.
  • Read as a family. As children grow and learn to read independently, it is a good idea to set aside around half an hour each day where EVERYONE in the family sits and reads, without any technological distractions. This displays your love for reading as well as producing a period of calm and quiet in the household. Discuss your book with the children, by making your passion for the story clear, you will make them curious and encourage the same passion in their own reading.
  • Read any place, any time. In a park, during a journey, on the beach, after school, before school, before bed – virtually any time is a good time to read.
  • Join the club. There are often book clubs in your local area your child may wish to be involved with. Look out at your local library, or your local Explore Learning centre for a book club. These are great for getting a group of children together to discuss their thoughts and interest in books.
  • Books as rewards. Different families will use different incentives for their children as a way of rewarding good behaviour. If you use books as rewards this will encourage children to see books as exciting and something they should feel proud to have.

These tips are simple and easy to integrate in to everyday life. Reading is something that kids should feel hugely proud of doing and the numerous benefits of it will hold them in good stead throughout their education.

For any help supporting your child to read contact us at

Big Friendly Read

bfr src logo

This year’s Big Friendly Read Summer Reading Challenge  (2016) which will run across the school summer holidays, is linking up with the global year-long Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, honouring the world’s No.1 storyteller.

The Big Friendly Read will feature some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved characters and the amazing artwork of his principal illustrator, Sir Quentin Blake. It will encourage reading on a giant scale and will feature themes such as invention, mischief and friendship as explored in Roald Dahl’s books.

Children can sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge (the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge in Scotland) at their local library as the school summer term ends and the holidays begin — there’s no charge to participate so why not pop down to your library?

The Big Friendly Read will encourage children to expand their own reading by exploring similar themes across the best contemporary children’s writing.