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Issue:- 8 March  2012

University literary competition offers chance to train as an astronaut with NASA

THE University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is giving children around the country the chance to train as an astronaut for a week with NASA.

UCLan is inviting primary school children to enter its Wish Upon a Star competition by creating their very own ‘wish for the world’ in a poem, short story or illustration on a star template provided by the University.

The 10 most original and thought provoking entries will feature in a book due to be published by UCLan at the end of the year. One overall winner will take the trip of a lifetime to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida to spend a week training to be an astronaut where they will experience weightlessness, eat space food and meet working astronauts.

The competition’s judging panel will be led by the author of children’s book Giraffes Can’t Dance and creator of the Purple Ronnie character, Giles Andreae. Giles’ children’s books have sold more than 2 million copies to date, making him one of the most successful children’s authors working today.

Giles commented:- "This is a wonderful chance for children to get creative and tell us what their wish for the world is. If they are budding writers or illustrators and want to get published like me this is their chance. There are also some fantastic prizes; a chance to visit the Kennedy space centre in Florida for 1 lucky winner and a super star gazing session for the winning school. I can’t wait to see what the children create and I wish them lots of luck."

Debbie Williams, Manager of UCLan Publishing and Tutor on the MA Publishing and MA Writing for Children courses, has organised the competition.

Debbie said that:- "The idea of the project is to get children thinking about their impact on the wider world and to look at global issues from climate change to cultural differences, so their wish for the world can be as big as they want it to be. The top prize is absolutely fantastic. To spend a week at NASA training with real life astronauts is a once in a life time opportunity and I think we’ll be inundated with entries. 1 lucky runner up will receive a stargazing evening for their school with not for profit educational organisation, Beauty In The Universe. The competition is part of a wider venture involving Indian school children from Bengaluru and Mysore in an exchange program with North West schoolchildren that will link them together through constellations. The pupils in Bengaluru and Mysore will also be given star templates to write their own 'wish for the world'."

The entire project will culminate in a book and e-Book to be published later this year. The printed book will contain selected UK and Indian children’s star templates and UCLan students studying writing for children, children’s illustration, linguistics and astrophysics courses will provide short fictional pieces, myths and legends, facts about the night sky and illustrations.

The Wish Upon a Star competition is open to all UK primary school pupils aged 7 to 11. Closing date for entry is Friday, 16 March 2012 and the star template can be downloaded from the Wish Upon a Star blog website.

Entries should be posted to:- Debbie Williams, School of Journalism, Media and Communication, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, PR1 2HE.

UCLan Publishing has prior form in running such large programmes with schools and has successfully project-managed
Letters to Africa and the Jacqueline Wilson Festival, which saw over 9000 entries to three competitions.

Growing farmers’ market replanted...

MERE Brow Farmers’ Market is re-launching on Saturday, 10 March 2012, with a move to a new home.

The market had been held at the Legh Arms pub in Mere Brow but has outgrown this venue and so has been replanted some 400 yards away to the Mere Brow Village Hall rear car park.

Organiser Kelvin Pye, who also runs the successful Southport Country Fairs, stated:- "After successful markets at the end last year we found we could not fit in any more producers. So rather than have a waiting list, we have moved the market across the road to a bigger site where we have more room to grow."

He added that the new venue also offered three times as much car parking for the public in addition expanding the market itself.  "Mr Ged Consett, landlord of the Legh Arms, was always extremely supportive and accommodating we are very grateful to him, but you can't hold back progress and demand."

The market will be held on the second Saturday of each month from 10.00am to 2.30pm and the Village Hall will also be open for teas, coffees, real ales and soft drinks. The farmers’ market will include fresh meats, poultry and game, fruit & vegetables, cheeses, seafood, cakes, plants, pies and much more.

Award-winning Bowland Pork, from the Forest of Bowland, will be operating a BBQ selling free-range pork sausages, bacon and crackling hog roast. 2, tasty, food-hampers will be given away each day and the farmers’ market has both free admission and car parking. While Mum shop, attractions for families include Fab Fun Faces face painting, donkey rides by Halsall's Donkeys and a children’s play area with slides and rides.  For further information visit:-

Clean sweep for city

NEW machines are being brought in to help keep Liverpool cleaner and litter-free. The city council has now brought in 3 ride on street cleaning machines which can be used on pavements and footways. And it is also calling on the public to play their part, especially by not dropping chewing gum on the pavements. The new machines, provided by Hako industries, are narrow so as well as being used to sweep roads and gutters can also be driven on pavements and manoeuvre between parked cars. They are also much more flexible and can tip rubbish into large waste bins rather than having to return to council depots as frequently so spending more time on the streets cleaning. The machines can also be adapted for grass cutting, weed removal and gritting. The Council is looking to use them extensively in residential areas and district shopping centres where litter problems are greatest.

"We are investing in new machinery to make Liverpool cleaner and tidier. Litter is a persistent problem and one that the public is rightly concerned about. But while we are making efforts to improve the situation, at a difficult economic time, everybody has to play their part and show pride in the city. As well as not dropping litter we also have a major problem with chewing gum which gets deposited on pavements. You can see its effects most obviously in areas like Dale Street and Castle Street where considerable amounts were spent on high quality pavement and yet within a matter of days they were covered in gum. While we do try and clean the pavements it is a never-ending battle and all that is needed is for people to put the gum in bins."
said Council leader, Councillor Joe Anderson

Council officers will be distributing gum wraps packs of papers for people to wrap their discarded gum in.

Councillor Tim Moore, cabinet member for the environment and climate change, said:- "Litter and chewing gum are 2 of the biggest concerns of the public. We have trialled a number of machines to find the most appropriate and one that gives the most flexibility. We think that these can make a real difference in improving the cleanliness of the city and tackle areas which other machines cannot reach. We are also urging people not to drop litter or chewing gum. They need to be aware that as well as the environmental problems this causes we will have no hesitation in issuing penalties for those who are found to be doing this."

Ged Gibbons, Chief Executive of City Central BID, the UK’s only private sector ambassador of Keep Britain Tidy’s 'Love Where You Live Campaign', said:- "Liverpool city centre has gone through a huge transformation over the past decade and now attracts record numbers of visitors and shoppers; but this creates its own set of challenges. The city centre has a good record for cleanliness but there is always room for improvement. I applaud the council for this investment as cleanliness plays a critical role in how the city is perceived as a destination and so has a huge impact on our economy. City Central BID takes this issue very seriously which is why we’ll also be launching an anti-cigarette litter campaign in May with Keep Britain Tidy to encourage workers and visitors who smoke to love Liverpool."

Merseytravel cash grant extends cycle training

MERSEYSIDE is to benefit from up to £1.3million of Government funding to continue cycle training in primary and secondary schools. Merseytravel’s bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) for the continuation of the Merseyside Transport Partnership’s (MTP) Bikeability scheme was successful after the partnership demonstrated its commitment to delivering cycling initiatives.

It means Merseyside continues to be home to the biggest cycle training scheme in the country.

The new tranche of funding; provided by the DfT for the Bikeability training scheme; this means that schools across the region will be able to offer cycle training to a further 10,800 pupils in school years 5 to 9 this year, with 23,400 receiving training in the following two years.

The initiative, run by the MTP’s TravelWise campaign, will see children given the chance to take part in training sessions to suit their ability, starting with basic cycling and balancing skills and progressing to on-road training.

Research into the long term effects of cycle training programmes for young people and adults, commissioned by the MTP, showed that nine in every ten children who have completed the course now cycle at least once a week, and according to parents and guardians; the children are also safer and better able to deal with roads and other hazards.

Jim Barclay, Interim Chief Executive of Merseytravel said:- "This award from DfT is reward for the Merseyside Transport Partnership’s long standing commitment to developing our young cyclists. These courses give a real boost to cycling in the region, which has already seen a 25% increase in cycling since 2006. The training offered to school pupils increases skills and confidence and in turn leads to many becoming regular cyclists."

The initial bid will see Merseytravel awarded £432,000 for MTP for 2012/13, with further bids of £456,000 for year 2 (2013/2014) and £480,000 for the third year (2014/2015).

Jim Barclay added:- "Cycling can help create a healthy, low carbon city for the future. TravelWise and its partner organisations are working hard to promote cycling in Merseyside, resulting in real and tangible benefits for the city region. Our research showed 73% of parents thought that cycle training had improved their child’s enjoyment of cycling and more than half reported that the sessions had encouraged other members of the family to get on their bikes."

For more information on cycling in Merseyside, please visit:- .

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