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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 200

Date:- 09 May 2005

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Last chance to take part in life-changing PDSA challenges 2005

TIME and places are running out fast for animal lovers keen to raise funds for leading veterinary charity, PDSA, by taking part in 1 of 5 international PDSA challenges this year.

The challenges include 10 day treks along the Great Wall of China and the Peru Inca trail. There's also an opportunity to get up close to big cats during an 11 day visit to South Africa. 

Lee Grant, PDSA Challenges Organiser, said:- "The challenges are totally life-changing experiences. There are only limited places remaining, especially for the South Africa trip, so if you are interested please get in touch straight away."

PDSA is also organising a London to Paris cycle ride from 22 June to 26 June and a walk along Hadrian's Wall from 22 to 24 July, when participants are welcome to bring their dogs.

PDSA provides participants with all the support they need, including an A to Z list of fundraising ideas to help raise the sponsorship money required.

The China challenge takes place from 8 to 17 September 2005 , with a deadline of 12 May to register. The minimum sponsorship is £1,935 to be paid by 25 August, plus a registration fee of £200 to be paid immediately.

The Peru Inca Trail takes place from 12 to 21September 2005, with a deadline of 13 May to register. The minimum sponsorship is £2,150 to be paid by 26 August, plus a registration fee of £200 to be paid immediately. 

The visit to South Africa takes place from 15 to 25 September 2005, with a deadline of 20 May to register. The minimum sponsorship is £3,599 to be paid by 2 September, plus a registration fee of £200 to be paid immediately.

For further information about any of the 2005 PDSA Challenges, please call freephone number 0800 917 2509 or visit the PDSA website on 


2 talented amateur singers from Liverpool have made it into the regional final of a top talent contest. Crooners John Carney and Roger Rhodes brought the house down at the Neptune Theatre in Liverpool in the Liverpool heat of the Silver Stars talent contest.

The event gives people aged over 60 a chance to show off hidden talents on the stage.   A panel including Radio Merseyside presenter Maureen Walsh judged the event, which also included performances from talented over 60's. 

63 year old John, from Prescot, was named the winner with his rendition of 2 Tony Bennett songs. John said he was bowled over when he found out he'd won:- "I have never ever been on stage before and was extremely nervous. But it was a fantastic opportunity, particularly at my age, and so I gave it my best shot." His cousin, who was impressed after she heard him sing karaoke, entered the Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones fan into the contest! 

Roger Rhodes from Halewood, 68, who was named runner up, will also be entered for the regional final. 

Councillor Warren Bradley, executive member for leisure, said:- "Congratulations to John and Roger and all the other performers who put on such a high quality show at the Neptune Theatre. They have shown that the city has a wealth of undiscovered entertainment talent, and I know they will impress the judges at the regional final." 

The regional final takes place at the Floral Hall in Southport on June 1. Tickets cost £4 and are available by calling (01704) 540454.

New arson educational initiative launched as the cost of fires in schools increases by 13% to £83 million

NEW figures released today by Zurich Municipal, the UK's leading education insurer and risk management provider, show that the number of fires in schools in the North West decreased by 1% in 2004 compared to the previous year. Related costs incurred as a result of school fires across the UK increased by 13% costing £83 million last year and have increased by more than 137% over the last 10 years. 

Statistics show that a staggering 3 schools suffer from arson attacks every day largely caused by pupils and ex-pupils. To try and stamp out the problem Zurich Municipal has developed The Arson Combated Together (ACT) Fire Service Tool Kit, a practical educational aid designed to raise awareness amongst pupils and teachers. It is now being provided free of charge to Fire Services throughout the UK and Zurich Municipal has reported a 50% increase in the amount of requests for the toolkit in the last month. School interested in running the initiative should contact their local Fire Service. 

Zurich Municipal warns that although the number of fires decreased in the North West last year, statistics are still fluctuating from year to year and need to be stabilised, which is where the toolkit will help. It is designed to combat deliberate fire setting in schools by changing behaviours and will provide Fire Services with a unique and comprehensive resource to teach children about the danger and risk of arson attacks. The free kit will enable Fire Services to implement the programme with schools in their local community.

The ACT Fire Service Tool Kit is supported by the Arson Prevention Bureau (APB), the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA), the ODPM-led Arson Control Forum and the National Community Fire Safety Centre (part of ODPM), and contains a range of resources, each of which can be used on their own or combined, including:- Fire Service guidance notes, Teachers' resource pack, Copy of play script with drama procedure, Story cassette, Cassette notes, CD Rom, with leaflet and press release templates and packaged in a safe storage container 

Larry Stokes, Underwriting Manager at Zurich Municipal and Chair of the Arson Prevention Bureau's Schools Working Group commented:- "School arson is a complex, serious crime with widespread effects. This new toolkit will assist Fire Services and schools in encouraging pupils to think about the many implications of arson. This programme also fits in with many curriculum topics including peer pressure, relationships, consequences and responsibility, how to be 'risk aware' and be good citizens. Fire Services are the ideal partners to implement the programme as they have in-depth knowledge and practical experience of arson in schools." 

Post-pilot research of the ACT illustrated that students had heightened awareness of the risks of arson. This led to a marked significant decrease in property losses from schools in the pilot area compared to a control study. The toolkit has been designed in consultation with fire services, teachers and psychologists.

Vanessa Edwards, a Clinical Psychologist at Kneesworth House Hospital who specialises in arson related illnesses remarked:- "The tool kit is an excellent resource for schools. The research clearly shows the effectiveness of this initiative, and as we know, prevention is better than cure."

A regional breakdown of the number of fires across the UK for 2004 had the Midlands as the hightst amont of fires with Wales & South West as the lowest.
Commenting on the new resource available to the Fire Service, Tom Carroll, President of Chief Fire Officers Association said:- "The ACT Tool Kit is a well researched resource that fire services should be using to help clamp down on arson. This grass roots approach has proven results and we have the opportunity to save schools and communities from suffering the far reaching impact of arson."

This is a view endorsed by Kate Warren, Arson Task Force Manager for London Fire Brigade who said:- "We welcome the ACT Tool Kit and will be looking at how it could support the arson reduction initiatives which we run in London. Raising greater awareness of the consequences of arson, especially among young people as part of their secondary school education is very important."

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