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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 27 March 2006

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PENS AT THE READY – AWARD FOR BUDDING YOUNG WRITERS

YOUNG people across the country are encouraged to have their pens at the ready as environmental charity Earthwatch and BBC Wildlife Magazine announce the launch of the prestigious Young Environmental Journalist of the Year Award 2006.  The award will see one young writer from the UK scoop the opportunity to undertake a life changing experience on an Earthwatch research expedition and have their work featured in BBC Wildlife Magazine. Anyone between the ages of 16 and 25 is eligible to apply regardless of their academic background.

Participants will be asked to interview somebody who they consider to be an environmental hero and write a 500 word profile of the person, assessing what they have achieved and what motivates them, while also demonstrating their own personal knowledgeable and passion for the environment. The writer should be objective and accurate in their research; and creative enough to capture and hold the interest of the reader. The winning article will be published in BBC Wildlife Magazine.

As part of the prize, the award winner will spend up to 2 weeks on an international Earthwatch research expedition, working alongside leading scientists in a remote and exciting location. The winner will have three expeditions to choose from and they could find themselves tracking elephants in Sri Lanka's national parks, monitoring dolphins in the Mediterranean or identifying tropical orchids in the foothills of the Himalayas.

“This is an incredible award.  Not only was it amazing to see my work in print in such a well known magazine, but I also had a life changing experience working with Earthwatch in Botswana on a crocodile conservation project. Winning this award gave me the courage to be ambitious, both with my writing and with my commitment to the environment.” said Lucie Evans, winner in 2005.

Nigel Winser, Chief Executive of Earthwatch (Europe) further added:- “This award is designed to inspire the next generation of environmental writers at a time when the world really needs excellent journalism to raise awareness of important environmental issues and to demonstrate how relevant they are to everyone’s lives,”

This award is kindly funded by the Max Nicholson Fund, named after the late conservationist, ornithologist, writer and civil servant, Max Nicholson who in his lifetime helped found Earthwatch Institute (Europe) and WWF, and inspired nature reserves and ecological research around the world.

Among the judges will be Richard Donkin of the Financial Times, Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist, as well as James Fair, environment editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

The deadline for submissions is May 30, 2006. For more information about the award and conditions of entry, pick up a copy of BBC Wildlife Magazine, call Earthwatch on 01865 318 820, or visit earthwatch.org.

Arena Residents Help Special Care Babies

THE purchase of a life saving incubator is one step closer thanks to a donation made by residents of Arena Housing Association’s Hollingsworth Court sheltered housing scheme in St Helens.

Whiston Hospital’s children’s ward is running an appeal headed by Chris Knights, director of service development, at the Trust to raise £10,000 to buy an incubator, in which very sick babies would be placed during transfer to another hospital for treatment. The older residents at Hollingsworth Court raised £160 towards the total by organising a raffle amongst friends and family.

Chris is in training to run the London Marathon in April, he is hoping to raise the money through the support of sponsorship when he completes the marathon as well as donations to the appeal.

Jeanie Hignett, Arena’s healthy living activity co-ordinator, worked with residents to organise the raffle, she said:- “When the residents heard about the appeal, they wanted to help and this is what they came up with. One of the partially sighted-residents also made a blanket for the special care baby unit.”

Chris add:- “I am absolutely thrilled at the very generous donation that the residents of Hollingsworth Court have made to this valuable appeal with the money they have raised from their raffle. The money will help enormously towards the target of £10,000 giving us the ability to purchase the transfer incubator that will benefit very unwell babies when they need to be transferred to specialised units at other hospitals. I am extremely grateful to everybody who has helped raise the money.”

The Arena Housing Group currently manages over 13,000 houses and flats in the North West, predominantly in Chester, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan and Wirral, as well as its head office city of Liverpool. The Arena Group also operates specialist divisions, including Supported Care, which provides services to Supported Housing residents including Foyers and homeless hostels, and Extra Care, which provides homes and services for older residents, as well as specific services for non-Arena residents in the wider community. The Group also operates two retirement villages in Warrington and St Helens, with a third currently being built in Sheffield.

SPAGHETTI TREES VOTED THE GREATEST APRIL FOOL OF ALL TIME

68% OF BRITS to play a prank this year / top 5 domestic April Fools revealed.  The BBC’s legendary Spaghetti Harvest hoax has been voted the greatest April Fool of all time in a poll for the comedy channel UKTV G2. The spoof which fooled thousands of gullible Brits in 1957 was awarded pole position for being the funniest and most innovative April fool amongst a shortlist of 50 classic hoaxes.

The comedy channel polled 3000 TV viewers to find the definitive top 20 April Fools of all time to celebrate the launch of Spoof Night, an evening of programming dedicated to April Fools on the 1 April. The Spaghetti Harvest was closely followed by Burger King’s ingenious Left Handed Whopper and the M3 Zebra Crossing prank of 2003. Tesco’s Whistling Carrots, Guinness Mean Time and the relocation of the Eiffel Tower also made the top 10!

The sheer quality of April fools stunts over the last 100 years led to a series of fondly remembered stunts narrowly missing the top 10, including the supposed landing of the space shuttle Discovery in San Diego, the invention of Smellovision (TV you can smell) and the discovery of the Asterix Village in 1993.

The poll also revealed the most popular and enduring domestic April fools that Brits love to play on each other come the morning of April 1. A staggering 68% of Brits responded that they are likely to play a prank on someone close to them this year and exchanging the sugar for salt topped the list of likely activities! Sticking a ‘kick me’ sign on someone’s back, gluing money to the floor, putting cling film over the loo seat and making prank telephone calls completed the list of the UK’s domestic top 5 fools!

April Fools obsessive and UKTV G2 presenter Jon Holmes who presents a rundown of the top 20 as part of Spoof Night on UKTV G2 on Saturday 1 April at 8pm comments:- “The Spaghetti Trees hoax was simply brilliant and the fact that it was first seen on Panorama fooled millions into thinking that this was serious news. However, it’s not just the Brits that get caught out year after year. In 1998 thousands of gullible Americans were left red faced after asking for left-handed burgers and in 1992 the country was told that Richard Nixon would be running for the Presidency again with the slogan “I didn’t do anything wrong and I won’t do it again.  April Fools has been going since 1564 when France’s Charles IX brought in the new Gregorian calendar, changing New Year from April 1 to January 1. Those people who continued with the old date were called ‘April fools.”

The Top 10 Apirl 1st  Jokes

1) The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest – In 1957 Panorama fooled millions of Brits into believing that spaghetti grows on trees! The show announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop.

2) The Left Handed Whopper – In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of the Left Handed Whopper for the 32 million left-handed Americans. Outlets throughout the USA received millions of requests for the new burger.

3) M3 Zebra Crossing – In 2003 early morning commuters travelling on the M3 in Hampshire encountered a full pedestrian zebra crossing painted across the motorway. The perpetrator of the prank remains unknown.

4) Whistling Carrots – In 2002 Tesco published an advertisement announcing the successful development of a genetically modified whistling carrot with tapered air holes in their side. The extraordinary carrots would start to whistle once fully cooked!

5) Internet Spring Cleaning - In 1997 an email message spread throughout the world announcing that the internet would be shut down for cleaning for 24 hours from April 1. The cleaning was said to be necessary to clear out the "electronic flotsam and jetsam" that had accumulated in the network. The message noted that "5 very powerful Japanese-built multi-lingual Internet-crawling robots situated around the world” would take care of the cleaning and thousands of users were fooled and disconnected their computers from the internet to avoid interfering with the process.

6) Thomas Edison Invents Food Machine - After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Americans firmly believed that there were no limits to his genius. Therefore, when the New York Graphic announced in 1878 that Edison had invented a machine that could transform soil directly into cereal and water directly into wine, thereby ending the problem of world hunger, it found no shortage of willing believers.  Newspapers throughout America copied the article, heaping lavish praise on Edison for his brilliant invention

7) Guinness Mean Time – In 1998 Guinness announced that it would be the official beer sponsor of the Greenwich Observatory’s millennium celebration. According to this agreement, Greenwich Mean Time would be renamed Guinness Mean Time until the end of 1999.

8) Big Ben Goes Digital - In 1980 the BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going to be given a digital readout. It received a huge response from listeners protesting the change. The BBC Japanese service also announced that the clock hands would be sold to the first 4 listeners to contact them, and one Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.

9) The Euro Anthem – In 1999 the Today programme announced that the British National Anthem was to be replaced by a Euro anthem sung in German fooling thousands of listeners who jammed the BBC switchboards in protest.

10) Eiffel Tower Moves – The Parisien stunned French citizens in 1986, when it was reported that an agreement had been signed to dismantle the Eiffel Tower and reconstruct it at Euro Disney!

Brits Top 5 Domestic April Fools

1) Exchanging the sugar for salt
2) Putting a Kick Me sign on someone’s back
3) Gluing a pound coin to the floor
4) Putting cling film over the loo seat
5) Prank telephone calls

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