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Issue Date:- 24 December 2007


A total of 53,600 gift-filled shoeboxes donated by people from across Merseyside are now on their way to reach children in Belarus, Bosnia, Hungary, Kosova, Romania, Serbia, Swaziland and Ukraine thanks to Operation Christmas Child.

Communities in Wirral, Wallasey, St.-Helens, Southport, Liverpool, Formby, Bootle and Birkenhead contributed to this impressive figure. Volunteers collected the shoeboxes at drop-off points across the region before they were checked and packed for transportation at warehouses in Liverpool and Wrexham prior to shipment to their final destinations.

Originating in 1990, Operation Christmas Child is one of the UK’s biggest annual charity programmes and wants to say an ‘official thank you’ to all those who have helped make this year’s appeal such a success. Regional Manager Ian Taylor said:- “We’ve been extremely pleased with how the campaign has gone this year and we have been overwhelmed by the number of people from Merseyside who have participated. It’s a massive operation but it all comes down to one simple act of kindness – filling a shoebox with gifts for a child who has little at Christmas. We’ve collected over 1.25M boxes nationally this year, which means there are many needy children who will see that there is someone who is thinking of them this Christmas.

The impact that a shoebox containing some simple gifts has upon a child with nothing - and their family - cannot be over emphasised. Many experience challenges most of us would find hard to imagine, and the toys and other gifts brighten difficult lives, particularly at this time of year. The thought that goes into each shoebox is special, because it is one person choosing gifts for a child who is living a very different life from that which we enjoy in this country. These are gifts from someone in Britain direct to a child who greatly appreciates what he or she receives.”


A local bus passenger has just won a big bottle of bubbly, simply for telling bus company Arriva what she does with all the time she saves by travelling on the bus.

Julie Kenny of Liverpool was one of ten winners nationally in bus company Arriva’s Me-Time competition. Entrants were asked to tell Arriva what they did with the time they regained for themselves by using the bus instead of driving themselves in the car.

Arriva marketing manager David Shadbolt explained:- “When you’re on the bus your time is your own again – there’s no need to concentrate on the road, worry about where you’re going or waste time trying to hunt down a parking place. You’re free to do just what you like, whether it be something really productive or simply relaxing, looking out of the window and watching the world go by, while the bus driver does all the work for you.

We asked bus passengers to let us know what they do with the ‘Me-Time’ they regained and have awarded bottles of champagne to the ten best answers. In Julie’s case, she used the free time the bus gave her to daydream about spending time with Doctor Who star, David Tennant”

Other winning entries included daydreaming about a glass of red wine and a candlelit, scented bath, studying for a degree in Business Studies and completing competition entries. One lady from Doncaster wrote short stories based on all the characters and situations around her, while another used the time to finish reading a book, text her friends or catch up on some sleep. A Birmingham man relished the time to clear his head of the day’s problems, chill out to his iPod before arriving home refreshed and raring to go!

David Shadbolt commented:- “We had a huge number of entries to the competition and all underlined the flexibility won back by bus passengers when freed of the responsibilities of driving their car. Whether the time is used to do a specific task or is simply an opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy a few minutes peace and quiet, our passengers are most appreciative of the ‘Me-Time the bus gives them.”


ON 16 December 2007, Liverpool 08 crossed the finish line in Fremantle at 0643 local time (2143 GMT) making it a disappointing ninth place for the north-east team in the race from Durban to Western Australia. Despite this the team were in high spirits as they came alongside the pontoon at Fremantle Sailing Club, their home over the festive period. Fellow Clipper crew who were just beginning a day of cleaning and maintenance gathered to welcome the team to Fremantle along with sailing club members, media, friends and family.

Skipper Ben Galloway said on arrival:- “We’re all really pleased to get to Fremantle and it was wonderful to see so many of the crew’s friends and family there to welcome us in. The result has certainly been a disappointing one but we’re looking forward to a great stopover in Western Australia to enjoy Christmas in the Australian sunshine.”

The race across the Southern Ocean did not deliver the strong downwind surfing conditions that the teams were expecting due to a lack of the prevailing winds and big seas that the region south of 40 degrees, the Roaring Forties, is renowned for. However, the teams made excellent progress due to the consist wind conditions and calmer seas created by a region of high pressure that tracked ahead of the fleet.

The crew of Liverpool 08 will spend the next couple of days cleaning and carrying out maintenance on the boat. During this time the entire fleet will be lifted for a routine service and inspection of their hulls, keels, propellers and rudders.

Clipper Race Director Joff Bailey, explained the reason for choosing the Fremantle stopover as the port to lift the boats out of the water. “The hauling of the boats at this stage is a standard procedure and takes place once during every Clipper Race. We chose the Australian stopover due to the excellent facilities at Fremantle Sailing Club. It also gives the crew a longer stopover for Christmas and provides them with the opportunity to explore the wonderful sites of Western Australia.”

The Western Australian Tourism Minister Sheila McHale welcomed the skippers and crews to Western Australia for the two-week festive season stopover. “I know all Western Australians will join me in extending a warm welcome to the 200 international crew members, their families and friends. I can only be in awe at the skills and tenacity required to take part in such an amazing ten month adventure.” said Ms McHale.

The Race 5 restart of the Clipper 07-08 Race will take place at 1400 local time (0500 GMT) on New Year’s Day 2008.

An exciting race start course through Fremantle’s Inner Harbour and along Perth’s city beaches will make it a wonderful spectator event and promises to attract thousands of people down to watch as the ten teams continue on their 35,000-mile race around the world.

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