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Childline Counsellor raises more than £1,000 completing:- 'rollercoaster' 50 mile challenge

A Childline Counsellor has raised more than £1,000 for the service by completing a 50km run up and down the peaks of the Lake District. Gemma Larkin, 42, toiled for more than 13 hours as she ran the Lakeland 50 to raise vital funds for the NSPCC, and said while the 50 mile trek, on Saturday, 30 July 2022, was challenging, she ultimately found it:- "brilliant and beautiful." The Mum of 2 said:- "What a rollercoaster! There were points when it was brutal and I wanted to throw the towel in, but I loved it."

In preparation for the challenge, Gemma clocked up more than 420 miles in training to ensure she was ready for the Lakeland 50, which runs from the northern end of Ullswater, within the Dalemain Estate, before following the eastern shoreline towards Howtown. The challenge is so difficult, that nearly 50% of those taking part fail to complete it. Gemma crossed the finish line after 13 hours and 6 minutes and said 1 of the biggest challenges was battling the elements, as heavy rain in the days before the challenge had caused paths to:- "turn into streams."

She said:- "Bear in mind, by this point we were running in the dark with headtorches and it's really dark up on the mountain sides, so there was no light pollution at all. It quickly became very treacherous, and I saw several people fall. We were a real Lakeland family up there and looked out for each other. This was the biggest adventure I have ever taken on and I couldn't have been more proud to do it wearing a NSPCC vest."

Gemma has been a Counsellor with the NSPCC run Childline service for 16 years and said in recent years she has seen how badly the Pandemic has hit some young people. She added:- "I have spoken to thousands of young people in my time at Childline. During the Pandemic, risk increased significantly. Childline continued to be there for young people during the Pandemic. The ripple effect from Covid19 is going to be far reaching and I'm still regularly speaking to struggling children who are looking for a reason to live."

Gemma is originally from Liverpool and now lives in Manchester. She has raised £1025 (at time of writing) more than 5 times her original £200 target. Her JustGiving Page is still open for donations. She said:- "Please sponsor me. My feet are going to need something positive to focus on over the next few days. Thank you to each and everyone who has been kind enough to believe in me and send some sponsorship my way. It really does mean the world."

To support Gemma, go to her Just Giving page. To find out how you can support the NSPCC and Childline through fundraising, challenges, volunteering or sharing the charity's messages, go to:- NSPCC.Org.UK.


Liverpool City Region to welcome giant bamboo installations as part of 2023 cultural programme

GIANT animated artworks made entirely of sustainable bamboo will take Centre stage during the Liverpool City Region's packed cultural events programme in 2023. Local artists have begun work with communities across the City Region to design and build 6 life sized structures as part of a public art exhibition that will be displayed in all the Region's boroughs. The Imagine Bamboo installation aims to raise awareness of the environmental benefits of using bamboo as a sustainable building material. Stronger and cheaper than steel, bamboo has a long tradition of being used as a structural material for scaffolding, bridges, housing, and buildings in areas of Asia, Africa and South America, with environmentalists now encouraging Western countries to adopt the practice in a bid to help the planet. Imagine Bamboo started earlier this year with the 1st stage of the project Taking Root, which saw 24 baby Borinda bamboo plants taken home and raised by their:- 'parents' who logged their changes via a web portal as they cared for them over the Spring and early Summer. They have now been transferred to Court Hey Park, Knowsley, to become a future sustainable building material for the planet. It takes 7 years' growth for the bamboo to be ready to use as a building material.

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:- "Communities are the beating heart of our Region and that's why it's important that we involve local residents in these celebrations; after all, they are the ones who enrich our culture. Events like this are not only great for our visitor economy, but there's also a much deeper, underlying message that I hope people take away from it. It's about encouraging people to consider the role that we all have to play in protecting the future of our planet and thinking of better, more sustainable ways to live. This is an issue that's very close to many people's hearts in our area; we were the 1st City Region in the country to declare a climate emergency and our ultimate goal is to reach net zero by 2040; at least a decade before national Government. Only by working together can we achieve these ambitious targets and, hopefully, the more awareness we can raise about the issue, the faster we can start to make a difference to the health of our planet. We're already the UK's cultural capital, but I want to go further, and claim our stake as the UK's greenest, cleanest and healthiest Region too."

Imagine Bamboo follows on from the Lost Castles and Constellations projects that were held in the City Region in 2018 and 2019. It is being delivered by Imagineer Productions and Artistic Director Orit Azaz, the group behind last year's bamboo Bridge project in Liverpool and will see communities from across the City Region design and build giant temporary structures out of bamboo.

In the next stage of the project, 14 artists who live or work in the Liverpool City Region will lead a collaborative project to explore design and construction techniques with community groups in each of the 6 boroughs. Bamboo specialists and artist makers from Bali, Ghana and India have been teaching the artists.

Cllr Mike Wharton Portfolio Holder for Culture Tourism and the Visitor Economy said:- "This is a really unusual project for communities to be involved in and a once in a lifetime experience to engineer such a structure. Imagine Bamboo is a unique project which will create amazing outdoor architecture and I'm looking forward to seeing what people come up with."

Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council said:- "The recent bamboo planting in Knowsley was a great success and the plants will be part of the Knowsley Flower Show this weekend. It's been fascinating to follow the process of growing the baby bamboo and the length of time it takes before it becomes a sustainable building material. This project can certainly play a part in setting the green agenda."

Next year sees the final phase of Imagine Bamboo culminating in a festival of engagement, participation, and spectacle with 6 large scale bamboo constructions in each of the City Region boroughs. For more information go to:- Imagineer-Productions.Co.UK.


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