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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 13 March 2006

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Wimbledon legends set for Liverpool...

THE world's most famous off court tennis star is to officiate at the 06 Liverpool International Tennis Tournament.

Alan Mills, the last word on rain, light, pigeons and crowd noise at Wimbledon for 23 years, is set to run his eyes over the fast growing tennis tournament as Official Referee.

Tournament organisers Northern Vision also announced on Tuesday, 7 March 06 that Goran Ivanisevic, who came out of retirement to help Croatia win the 2005 Davis Cup against Slovakia, will headline the 06 tournament at Calderstones Park.

Ivanisevic, a four time Wimbledon finalist and 2001 Champion, is not the only famous face from SW19 in Liverpool this June.

Pat Cash, '87 Wimbledon champ and a crowd favourite last year, is set to return to compete in the Legends singles event against Ivanisevic and local hero Barry Cowan.

Due to the increasing popularity of the tournament following Martina Navratilova's 2005 appearance, organisers Northern Vision will also incorporate a Ladies event this year.

The addition means the Liverpool International is now the first tennis tournament in the UK with both an ATP and WTA tournament, alongside a Legends singles and doubles event as well as exhibition matches.

America's Ashley Harkleroad will lead the way in the women's event, Xavier Malisse of Belgium and American's Vince Spadea, Robert Kendrick and Bobby Reynolds are the first of the ATP players to be announced.

Crowd entertainers Mansour Bahrami, Ilie Nastase, Henri Leconte and Pete McNamara will return for the 6 day event to show off their well polished ball skills!

Due to an outstanding 2005 the tournament has now been extended to 6 days, taking place between the 13 June to 18 June 06.

As well as the increase in days the Centre Court stadium has been increased in capacity to 3,000 to cope with demand and tickets sales are already 30% up on this time last year.

Tournament Director, Anders Borg comments:- "We are delighted to have Alan Mills on board; his experience will be invaluable to the tournament's development.

We are now the largest exhibition event in Europe and are delighted to host an event that brings world class ATP and WTA players and the very best tennis Legends to a public park in Liverpool"

The event is held annually at Calderstones Park by Northern Vision in conjunction with Liverpool City Council and the Liverpool Culture Company.

Now in its fifth year, the Liverpool International has received a record £160,000 from the City Council and Culture Company as part of a sports strategy to celebrate the Capital of Culture themed year, Liverpool Performs.

Councillor Warren Bradley, Leader of the City Council, said:- "The Liverpool International is one of the great sporting success stories of the decade and is now one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.

It has bounced back from setbacks and like a true winner has its sights set firmly on the world's best players.

The tournament's coaching programme is also a massive hit and we want to help that to grow. To see the stars teach our youngsters gives us hope that we are inspiring a generation that will one day play at the highest level."

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YOUNG people in Liverpool are being asked to become part of a new Youth Advisory Group.

An application form is now available for young people to say why they want to have their say about Liverpool and the city's Capital of Culture status. The forms will be sifted and a top team of youngsters will be chosen to consult on the important issues of the day with the Culture Company.

Liverpool City Council Leader, Councillor Warren Bradley, said:- "We're always keen to hear what young people have to say, but this way, we know that we can call on a dedicated group of opinionated youngsters who will not be backward in coming forward to make 2008 fantastic for every age group."

Application forms will be available from the 08 Place (Whitechapel), Millennium House One Stop Shop (Victoria Street) from the Culture Company's website as well as many youth organisations across the city. The advisory group will be able to help decide on what they investigate, how the Culture Company communicates with young people and what they want to see in 2008 and beyond.

Creative Neighbourhoods Manager, Alicia Smith is overseeing the setting up of the group. She said:- "We want this group to be really active, not just a talking shop. Young people are pivotal to the success of our European Capital of Culture year, so we wanted to formalise the way we talk to them to make sure that they have the opportunity to be heard. Many young people have been involved in the programme but it is vital we have a voice around the table when it comes to making decisions on the whole of Capital of Culture.”

To help launch the process, Youth Parliament Culture Minister Callum Forbes and Chair of the Liverpool Young Culture Action Group, La'tasha Mulrooney, will be encouraging youngsters at Calderstones school to pick up their pens and fill in a form. The Young Culture Action Group and the Youth Parliament will play an integral role in the group moving forward. It will build on their successes but open the consultations out to all young people who want to have a say in the Capital of Culture programme. The Youth advisory group will be supported by the Liverpool Culture Company and will have close links with the Cultures of Childhood Group, an inter-agency group which discusses the most effective way for children and young people to participate in European Capital of Culture.

Merseyside Local Authority honoured by the Royal Horticultural Society

THE awards ceremony will be held in the morning of Tuesday 14 March 06 at the March RHS London Flower Show at the Horticultural Halls in Westminster.

St. Helens Council in Merseyside has been awarded The Wigan Cup for their National Flowerbed Competition entry displayed at the Tatton Park Flower Show in 2005. The competition attracted 26 Local Authorities and communities, and St Helens Council was awarded a coveted RHS Gold Medal for their flowerbed ‘Reflecting the Spirit of St Helens’. The Wigan Cup is awarded annually by the Horticultural Board for the best exhibit shown to the Society during the year by a Local Authority.

RHS President Sir Richard Carew Pole will present the 20 awards and commented:- “The RHS has been recognising horticultural excellence since its foundation over 200 years ago and the dedication and commitment shown by these award winners, to their particular areas of horticulture, is truly inspirational. They demonstrate the very best in their field, whether through their flower show exhibits, or their research into the cultivation, hybridisation or development of specific plant groups and help to expand and develop the world of horticulture for all gardeners.”

In July the RHS will announce and award its Victoria Medal of Honour in Horticulture (VMH), Associate of Honour, Veitch Memorial, and Harlow Carr medals. These will be presented at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

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