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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 23 January 2006

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8 PROMISING film writers from the Northwest have been selected to attend an intensive scriptwriting workshop where they will develop and strengthen their skills to help them become accomplished feature film writers.  Run by established feature film writer Simon Van Der Borgh and organised by North West Vision (the film and TV agency for England’s Northwest) the writers were selected through an intense ‘X Factor’ style process.

In early 2004 over 80 applications were received for the New Film Writer’s Development Scheme and thirty were selected to attend the first round of training in Liverpool.  8 budding film writers from the initial 30 have now been selected to go through to the final stage where they will be given 4 intensive days of writing workshops, tutorials and analysis. This will provide them with the knowledge and confidence to develop their feature film proposals into first stage drafts.

Commenting on this pioneering course, Alice Morrison from North West Vision, said:- “There are many training courses for scriptwriters, but this course has an extremely rigorous selection and training process. We gave intensive training to thirty writers who were all in various stages of their writing careers. We hope our final eight will cease this opportunity and come away with a strong first draft in which they can present to agents who will help them carve out a successful careers as feature film writers”.

Middleton Lodge in Yorkshire (near Darlington) has been chosen as the final location for the 4-day training this week, as it was deemed to be the perfect retreat to inspire creativity.  Simon Van Der Bourgh (writer on feature Al-Ghazali: The Alchemist of Happiness) has developed the course for North West Vision and will provide advice, guidance and mentoring throughout the scheme.

Aspiring writers were initially invited to apply for stage 1 of the scheme by submitting submit a sample of their writing. The original 30 selected for the first round received 5 days of training in developing script structure and a attended a series of inspirational sessions focussing on practical exercises to generate characters and story outlines. 8 writers were then selected to go on to the final stage.

This innovative scheme is being financed by North West Vision though its lottery funding. North West Vision hopes to run this course again in early 2007.

The final 8 writers are:
1. Christine Entwistle from Cartmell Fell, Cumbria.  Works as an actress in theatre, TV and Film as well as a writer.

2. Darren Doherty from Reddish, Stockport.  He has an MA in Screenwriting from the London College of Communication.

3. Aubrey Reynolds, Garston, Liverpool.  Has his own production company and is currently making low budget short films and writing treatments for feature films.

4. Amanda Murphy, Manchester.  Has written 3 novels (2 which have been published) and radio shows for Radio 4.

5. Ann Monks Litherland Liverpool.  Published over 100 stories and articles in UK national women’s mags. Written for radio, TV, and theatre and short listed for feature film competitions. 

6. Punam Ranchurn from Prestwich in Manchester.  Graduated from an MA Screenwriting course at John Moores University, currently writing a play for the Liverpool Everyman theatre entitled Chocolate Pudding and Jesus Christ.

7. Phil Charles written for Doctors, Eastenders and Murphy’s Law and in 2004 had his first single drama commissioned for Channel 4 and a docudrama commissioned for ITV.

8. Andrew Oldham Mossley Ashton Under Lyne.

Hillside Hairdressers are robbed

MERSEYSIDE Police are now appealing for information following a robbery in Hillside.

At 6pm on Wednesday 4 January 2006, two members of staff at a hairdressers in Hillside Road were threatened by a man who entered the shop and demanded the contents of the safe. The victims locked themselves in a back room and the offender left with a small amount of cash from the till.

The victims who are both local ladies aged 18 years and 21 years were left shaken but unhurt by the incident.

The offender was described as wearing a 'Cloth Mask', was white, in his late 30's to early 40's, 6'2" tall and of medium build. The male, who spoke with a strong Liverpool accent, wore a black duffel coat and dark gloves.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

BBC gardening star calls on Britain to 'grab a grant'

BBC GROUND Force presenter Kirsty King is calling for people across the country to help themselves and the environment by signing up as volunteers for Environment Agency Action Earth, and take advantage of a £50 grant to help get their project started.

Projects registered so far include efforts to control an invasive giant weed and the creation of habitats to help save rare butterflies. Last year more than 15,000 volunteers took part in over 800 projects for Environment Agency Action Earth 2005. The campaign, supported by the Environment Agency and run by the UK's largest volunteering charity, CSV (Community Service Volunteers) was launched last December by Kirsty and Environment Agency Chairman Sir John Harman.

Kirsty says:- "It is important for everyone to fully understand their relationship with the environment and consider their impact on it. Volunteers that create an urban community allotment to give children a chance to learn about healthy food or start a rural conservation projects to protect endangered butterflies, are showing how people can get involved in activities that are not only good for themselves but for the environment too."

Environment Agency Action Earth is CSV's national environmental campaign that supports people across England and Wales to become volunteers and improve the environment they live and work in. It runs until 30 June 2006. Over the six months, community groups registering an environmental project will receive a £50 grant from the Environment Agency to help buy tools for their project. There is also an opportunity to win one of five award categories and receive a further £300 cash prize to be invested in their project.

Sir John Harman said:- "Environment Agency Action Earth helps communities to get involved in looking after their environment, and it's a great opportunity for people to work together, have some fun and make a difference."

During Action Earth 2005, more than 18,000 trees were planted, over 15,000 tonnes of cans and paper were recycled, around 9,000 bags of litter were collected and 900 bird and bat boxes were built.

Examples of projects already registered for this year's campaign include:-

* The clearance of Himalayan Balsam, an invasive weed that can grow up to 2-metres high, by volunteers in Salford.

* A drive to protect the endangered Pearl Bordered Fritillary butterfly by volunteers in Worcestershire who will create a suitable environment by cutting back trees and undergrowth.

* The creation of a community allotment to allow disadvantaged groups a chance to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

To register a project or get more information, call CSV Environment on Tel: 0121 328 7455 or go to the website:-

To find out more about how you can Promise the earth for World Environment Day and make a difference to your world visit:-


THE North West Air Ambulance (NWAA), the only regional medical air emergency service which covers the whole of the North West, recently joined forces with coast and countryside rangers from Sefton Council's Coast and Countryside Service, for a training day to familiarise rangers with the NWAA and its operation.

Landing on Ainsdale Beach near Southport, the NWAA helicopter and paramedics were invited along by Coast and Countryside Officer Gordon White to highlight to a team of rangers the benefits of using the fastest emergency service.

Ainsdale Beach and Nature Reserve is overseen by Sefton's coast and countryside rangers, whose responsibilities include managing and maintaining the area and patrolling the entire 23 miles of Sefton coastline. Listed as one of the top 10 beaches in the UK, and one of the largest areas of wild duneland left in Britain, it is extremely popular with people taking part in a range of outdoor activities including parakarting and horse riding.

Gordon White, coast and countryside officer for Ainsdale Beach comments:- "If an accident occurs on Ainsdale Beach or elsewhere on the Sefton coastline, the location is often quite isolated. We use 4x4 vehicles to cross the sands to reach incidents, but the journey for casualties back across the uneven sands to a land ambulance can be extremely uncomfortable and potentially worsen their condition.

We invited the North West Air Ambulance to visit, so as to get an insight into the work and service it offers. It's an extra resource, which is versatile enough to land in close vicinity to the scene of an incident on the beach, and transport the patient to hospital smoothly and quickly. Rangers will be sure to advise emergency service operators in the future when the North West Air Ambulance is required, as it's efficiency and smooth ride could minimise further injury and discomfort to the patient."
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