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Gold award salutes Council's Armed Forces commitment

LIVERPOOL City Council has once again been given the gold seal of approval for its continuing support of the Armed Forces. The Council successfully retained its gold award in the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme which it was 1st awarded in 2017.

The scheme was launched in 2014 and is part of the national Armed Forces Covenant. It has bronze, silver and gold levels and the Council was 1 of the 1st 10 Local Authorities to achieve the gold award. Organisations must reapply for every 5 years to retain their award. There are now 643 gold award holders nationally.

The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme reflects the Council's commitment to the Armed Forces community, whether currently serving in the regular or reserve forces or veterans. The Council offers a guaranteed job interview scheme for service leaver applicants who meet a post's essential criteria and staff who are reservists receive 10 additional days of paid leave for training and unlimited unpaid leave if they are mobilised. The additional paid leave entitlement was also extended to staff who volunteer with the cadets.

The gold award also acknowledges the work the Council does supporting the wider Armed Forces community and their families in Liverpool.

Activity in the City is co-ordinated by a strategic group, featuring a wide range of partners, co-chaired by the Liverpool's Armed Forces Champion Lord Mayor Cllr Roy Gladden and representatives from Veterans HQ. The strategic group also arranges regular Armed Forces Forum meetings for providers and other organisations which work with veterans and their families. Both these groups continued online during the Covid19 Pandemic.

The strategic group also developed Service Leavers Liverpool, a website featuring advice and guidance for people leaving the Armed Forces.

In 2017 the Council was a key partner when Liverpool was the national host City for Armed Forces Day.

Liverpool's Armed Forces Champion Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Roy Gladden said:- "Retaining the gold award is a welcome endorsement of the hard work of many partners across Liverpool in embracing the skills and the talents of the Armed Forces family. Leaving the Armed Forces for a new life on Civvy Street can be a huge step but at the Council and in Liverpool as a City we do everything we can to make sure it's as smooth as possible. Our strategic group has been a great example of partnership working. We've been able to share expertise and bring together many organisations so that we're offering the best support to the veterans who have chosen to call Liverpool home."

Minister for Defence People Leo Docherty said:- "Regardless of size, location or sector, employing members of the Armed Forces community is good for businesses. These awards recognise the outstanding support for our Armed Forces from employers across the UK and I would like to thank and congratulate each and every 1."


Solo exhibition of artwork by Angela Birchall:- 'I'm not a 1 trick pony!'

'A 1 trick pony!' is certainly not an epithet that can be applied to Southport professional artist and mentor, Angela Birchall, who has more strings to her bow; or brushes to her palette; to exhaust the most fervent practitioner.

"I paint in acrylics, watercolours, oils, tinted charcoal paint, metallic watercolours and Brusho, while I draw in pencil, charcoal, soft pastel and oil pastel and even burn my designs on wood with pyrography. Each of these media has its own qualities and will create effects that you can't get in another medium."

Not content with her regular commissioned artwork, she also offers face-to-face classes in painting and drawing as well as currently providing two online teaching programmes:- 'Landscape painting in acrylics' and 'The Art of Stress busting.'

The success of Angela's broad portfolio is the result of carefully pre-selecting the best media to best benefit the finished artwork: "Because the subjects I create vary from landscapes, portraits, birds, animals, flowers and still life, I need to be able to use whichever medium best suits the subject. I usually draw pet portraits in pastel, but prefer to paint people portraits in acrylics. With watercolours you can get a wonderful translucent quality while oils have a jewel like richness of colour as well as the thick, impasto texture that is so tactile. Acrylics is the most versatile, it can be used to mimic both watercolours and oils and is my most 'goto' medium for landscapes."

Although currently living only 4 roads away from where she was born in Southport, from the ages of 3 to 18 she grew up in Africa:- "Growing up in southern and central Africa was absolutely amazing and gave me my love of landscape painting; the vast open landscapes, the incredible African sunsets, the amazing wildlife and the opportunities that you had. I played with more big cats than I did little domesticated cats!"

Angela has lasting memories of her formative years of art training in Rhodesia:- "I was so lucky as a teenager to get a place at art School. I went to Salisbury School of Art, which was run by Peter Birch who was Royal Academy trained and THE most inspirational teacher 1 could ever ask for. He gave us all the confidence to know that we could draw or paint anything and we loved it. 46 years later, I'm still drawing and painting, and still loving it. I still use his techniques today both in my own work and in my own teaching methods to help my students to realise that they, too, really CAN draw and paint."

Another important influence on Angelas's own work has been the work of the French Impressionists, in particular, Claude Monet, who's last home in Giverny was only a few hours drive away when she lived in the Normandy Region of France from 2014-19: "I always say that I understood more about what Monet was seeking to achieve from 40 minutes sat in front of his water lily ponds than I did from 40 years study of history of art books."

Although art has always been a life long passion, Angela's career path has taken her on a roundabout route, not only across continents, but through a portfolio of jobs that put her own practice on the back burner:- "I did teach art in secondary Schools for a while after graduating with my 1st degree but then became a journalist and editor, then went on to teach journalism, during which time art was my passion, my hobby and my relaxation. When we went to France I went back to art full time and we ran a holiday business where artists could come out on tutored painting holidays. I also taught weekly art lessons to local artists plus started doing my own work and commissions."

Gregarious by nature, it seems that there is nothing that intimidates Angela's talent:- "I will happily do commissions on any subject, my most unusual to date was creating 1 image that summed up all the aspects of Peruvian Shamanism."

For her exhibition at The ArtHouse, Angela has divided the work into 5 thematic stories:-

(1) Landscapes and Seascapes built around the large canvas:- 'Adios Armada.'

(2) Birds and Flowers linked to the ArtHouse window painting of swans.

(3) Nightime and Sunset scenes.

(4) Panoramic canvases.

(5) Portraits, usually commissions, ranging from pets to people.

This latest showing by Angela Birchall is certainly not 1 to be missed. Catch it while you can. 'I'm not a 1 trick pony!' will be on display at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from 2 August to 13 August 2022. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 10.00 to 15.00. Saturday 11.00 to 16.00.


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