Celebrate:MK February/March 2021

Page 1

February/March 2021. Issue 49


Because Milton Keynes is worth celebrating

CELEBRATE: lifestyle magazine lity T he qua e magazin for MK

Award-winning Milton Keynes car repair company rebrands to ‘VCR - Vehicle Crash Repairs’

INSIDE! gail emms

sammy jones

ed coats


See centre pages for more on the stylish rebrand of Scuff N Scratch Solutions Ltd


Email jon@celebratemk.co.uk to book your advertising

5 LEE HAILS TEST & TRACE Bletchley-based Covid victim says the much-maligned NHS service was ‘brilliant’ in supporting him

Contents 22

6 NADIYA TALKS FOOD Local celebrity chef opens up about her past in an interview for a new Waitrose podcast

9 ED’S INFERTILITY ROLE South Pole adventurer Ed Coats is helping couples overcome infertility in MK in his new job


10 GINGER MUM COLUMN Our resident lifestyle blogger picks out some tasty takeaway treats to try during lockdown




The Olympic badminton silver medallist joins Celebrate:MK as our new health and wellbeing columnist

20 VEHICLE CRASH REPAIRS Award-winning MK car repair company rebrands from Scuff N Scratch Solutions



Vicki McCarthy interviews Sammy Jones about her MK music book

24 ART IN ISOLATION Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture brings local communities together in a pandemic art project

34 2021 THEATRE SHOWS Cara Lee previews the best shows scheduled to come to MK


Plus! Cool Events (13), Food Scene (16), Creative Culture (25), Murphy Runs (27), Quinton Milese (28), Dad’s The Word (33) and Reel Reviewer (37) The smallprint: Celebrate:MK cannot take responsibility for the content of advertisements or quotes/claims in articles. All photos and artwork are accepted on the condition that permission has been granted for its use in Celebrate:MK. Reproduction of any content included in Celebrate:MK, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited unless permission has been granted by the editor. © Celebrate:MK

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February/March 2021

Welcome from the Editor

W Fun Fact

Gail’s boom buddy, Basil

Our new health and wellbeing columnist Gail Emms (pages 14-15) is so famous that she has rubbed shoulders with celebrity TV fox Basil Brush at a gala black tie event. She must have picked up his lingo too as she loves saying ‘Boom’!

elcome to the February/ March issue of Celebrate:MK, which includes plenty of positive content to help you blast away the lockdown blues. One highlight for me is a match made in MK music heaven, as Vicki McCarthy interviews the legendary Sammy Jones (pages 22-23) about her new book on the history of the MK music scene. Sammy – who I used to work with as a reporter at the MK Citizen – and our Vicki are two of the best music journalists around. Congratulations to Vicki for being honoured at the Women Leaders Awards 2020 for her MK music Jon Boyle Visit celebratemk.co.uk for more news from around MK work. Rock on, ladies!

Sammy and our Vicki are two of the best music journalists around

How to Subscribe The best way to receive Celebrate:MK directly every issue is to subscribe to the free digital edition. Just email the word ‘Subscribe’ to jon@celebratemk.co.uk

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February/March 2021

Lee hails NHS Test and Trace service as ‘brilliant’ after recovery from Covid Bletchley-based graphic designer bucks the trend by praising the much-maligned government service which supported his recovery


Bletchley man has heaped praise on the NHS Test and Trace service after his recovery from

Covid-19. Lee Hall, who works as a graphic designer for Trek, was struck down by Covid like so many other people across the country just before Christmas. But while the government has come under fire from many critics for spending billions on the Test and Trace system, Lee insisted the service was a huge support to him while he recovered alone at home. He said: “I got tested for Covid-19 on a Sunday when I started feeling unwell and found out a day later that I had tested positive, so I had to self isolate for 10 days. “My symptoms were headaches, body aches, flu like symptoms and strange patches of my body that were sore or tender to touch, but I had no fever or temperature. “I have to say that the NHS Track and Trace service, for me, has been absolutely brilliant. “They rang me on the day I tested positive and then again two days later to help track my movements prior to and post test. “Then they rang again after that to ask how I was feeling, what symptoms I still had, and if I needed any assistance with food shopping or anything else. “It’s a great service, and a

service from the NHS we all sometimes take for granted. I would like to say a big thank you to the NHS.” NHS Test and Trace was launched last May to help identify, contain and control coronavirus, reduce the spread of the virus and ultimately save lives. Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 is contacted by NHS Test and Trace and needs to share information about their recent interactions, as Lee did. Lee was also full of praise

for his employer, which sent him a hamper to help him through his period of self isolation. He said: “Trek is the best employer out there. I received a box from Amazon full of goodies such as chocolates, skin care products, plus some lovely messages from my work colleagues. “I was really choked, it’s nice to have a thoughtful employer as it really brightens up your day. I’ve never worked for a company who look after you like that.”



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Nadiya stars in new Waitrose podcast Local celebrity chef Nadiya Hussain talks food on ‘Life on a Plate’


he first episode of the new Waitrose podcast ‘Life on a Plate’ features an interview with local author, presenter and winner of The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain. During the conversation with restaurant critic Jimi Famurewa and Waitrose Food Editor, Alison Oakervee, Nadiya talks about what food means to her, her childhood food memories, kitchen disasters and store cupboard staples. Nadiya said on the podcast: “I didn’t apply for Bake Off myself - it was my husband. I was at my lowest in terms of my mental health and I was really struggling to find myself again. “Somewhere between being married and having children, and being a stay at home mum, I lost myself a little bit. “I think when people watched me (on the show) they saw whatever it was I couldn’t speak out about. “I still can’t fully watch the ending: the mixture of the music, and my sobbing face and my children’s voices in the background - even now I can feel my jaw tightening up as I say it. That moment was much more than cake. It wasn’t about winning a competition.” Despite her success on the most famous baking

programme on TV, Nadiya came to baking late. “Baking wasn’t a thing I understood until I went to school,” she said. “I’d seen Delia do it (on television), but I’d never seen a real life person making cake.” Nadiya recalls claiming she thought her Home Economics teacher had ‘gone mad’ by putting a cake in the oven; due to lack of use in her childhood home, she thought it was a cupboard. She said: “I’ll never forget my first ever smell of butter and sugar in the oven and then out comes this cake. I think that magic will always stay with me. The first thing I ever baked was a Victoria Sponge - it was lopsided but it tasted just like Mrs Marshall’s from Home Ec.”

On her childhood, Nadiya said: “Home was quite chaotic. Growing up in an immigrant household it was mostly just survival, as long as the bills were paid and we were just getting by, that was our life. There was no aspiring to be better or be more. “I remember really looking forward to going home and opening the door and being met with that smell and trying to guess what mum had cooked that day.” Life on a Plate is a new podcast from Waitrose, which launched in January. Future interviewees on the podcast include chef Tom Kerridge and comedian Sarah Millican. For more information on the podcast, visit www.waitrose. com/podcast.

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February/March 2021

South Pole adventurer is helping couples overcome infertility in MK TV adventurer and dad-of-three Ed Coats is heading up Oxford Fertility’s Milton Keynes clinic at Whaddon Way Medical Centre


man who has raced to the South Pole with James Cracknell and Ben Fogle has joined the team at Oxford Fertility, and is heading-up its Milton Keynes Clinic at Whaddon Medical Centre. Former GB track and field decathlete Ed Coats competed in the race to the South Pole for BBC Two’s ‘On Thin Ice’, jointly led a ski expedition to the Geographic North Pole for Channel 5’s ‘North Pole Ice Airport’, has swam the English Channel and completed various adventure races including the Original Mountain Marathon. But the dad-of-three’s day job is helping couples conceive. With degrees in Medicine and Human & Aerospace Physiology from the University of London and a Medical Law degree, he undertook specialist training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the South-West of England and completed his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the University of Nottingham.

Ed Coats is a qualified Doctor of Medicine (MD) Ed has won national and international awards, is widely published and is regularly asked to write for books on fertility. He now joins the Oxford Fertility team, running its Milton Keynes clinic. The satellite clinic is based at the Whaddon Medical Centre in Bletchley, as well as offering scans at Ultrasound Direct in Stony Stratford. It gives NHS and private patients in Milton Keynes local access to a clinic that has been supporting couples for 35 years and has helped welcome more than 13,000 babies into the world. Commenting on the move,

Ed said: “I’m proud to be part of a team that holds a 5-star rating from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and achieves success rates ahead of the national average. “With access to the widest range of treatments, we can advise on the best route to match a patient’s needs, from natural IVF, IVF, genetic analysis or surrogacy.” To arrange to meet Ed to discuss your fertility concerns and plan the best way forward, visit: https:// www.oxfordfertility.co.uk/ about-us/satellite-clinics/ milton-keynes-satelliteclinic/


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I'll have another Cheeky Bhaji Our resident lifestyle blogger Amanda, aka Ginger Mum, talks about various local food companies to meet your cuisine cravings and a skin purifier product


hat can I say about February that hasn’t been said a million times? It’s synonymous as the month of love for most people, surely, despite the marketing gurus of the world peddling us every corny cliché in the book. If we’ve learned one thing over the past turbulent and challenging year, it’s that simplicity is key. No fanfares, overpriced florals or fancy gifts necessary – just togetherness. Oh, and some amazing food sure helps. Takeout has never tasted so good and whether restaurants are open again by the time this issue hits your homes or not, The Brothers Supper has a Valentine’s Menu to rival any other. If they are talented enough

to cook the Beckhams’ favourite Sunday Roast, I’m booking them for a fabulous frisky feast – fine dining without even having to leave the house, PJ’s optional. Of course, we have a plethora of amazing MK options, not just Aaron and Shane, aka The Brothers. Another discerning fine dining choice is Paris House At Home and if you are looking for affordable luxury sweet treats, then look no further than MK’s own Pretty Sweet Patisserie, to name but a few.

Talking of food, launching a new restaurant during a global pandemic is a pretty bold move, but that’s just what the guys behind The Cheeky Bhaji in Newport Pagnell have done. ‘Do we need yet ANOTHER

Indian restaurant/takeaway’? – a natural question but TCB’s menu is predominantly focused on Indian street food, giving them a unique edge. Check them out at www. thecheekybhaji.co.uk and let me know what your taste buds think! My top tip this issue for you all is on the beauty front because until the vaccine rolls out to all of us, it’s still mask o’clock. For all of us who have struggled with ‘maskne’, this is the product that’s going viral, thanks to the recent recommendation of Rochelle Humes. Available from Boots among other outlets, Clinisoothe is a multipurpose skin purifier, it also cleanses, soothes, balances, protects and calms the skin. Not bad for £19.99 eh? I’ll be back in a couple of months with the rest of the Celebrate:MK team, see you in sunny spring, guys! Don’t forget you can follow my daily musings on my Instagram stories over @gingermumstyle

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February/March 2021

Celebrate in style at home! Cool


This month

MKFM presenter Sam Carmichael has ideas to mark Pancake Day, Mother’s Day and St Patrick’s Day at home...


appy New Year, and what a year it has been. Here’s to health, happiness, and hopefully the return of more events in 2021. For now, with everything still up in the air, it’s best to bring you three big events to celebrate in the comfort of your own home because, let’s face it, we haven’t quite ventured out of sweats just yet. First, a bit of history. Did you know that Olney is home to the world’s first pancake race? On Shrove Tuesday over 550 years ago, story has it that a local woman ran down the Olney high street, frying pan in hand, fearing she would be late for church. Fast forward to the 21st century, this woman’s little mishap has led to a worldfamous tradition. Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, falls on 16th February, so why not have your own race? Get some frying pans at the ready, show off your eggstraordinary skills, and pay homage to the old townsfolk. Don’t forget to reward yourself with a homecooked

pancake, or ten. You deserve it! 14th March is Mother’s Day. If you’re lucky enough to be in the same bubble as your mum, then there are plenty of things to do. There’s always afternoon tea which you can make yourself, or order from one of the many independent bakeries across MK. We’re lucky to have countless parks for Sunday strolls; I’d suggest grabbing a coffee and heading down to Stanton Low, a hidden gem!

Or if you’d rather celebrate virtually, why not sip mumosas during a virtual brunch? St Patrick’s Day will be celebrated across the globe on 17th March. Many would usually be visiting a parade then heading to the pub, but celebrations will again be more low-key this year. They will be shifted more to home feasts, family time, game nights, and bringing the bar back home. MK Biergarten in Wolverton is the perfect place to grab some brews! Happy celebrating. If you are running or hosting an event and want to get in touch, find Sam on Instagram @samxradio or email her at sam.celebratemk@gmail.com

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Creating opportunities in lockdown Olympic badminton silver medallist Gail Emms MBE has joined Celebrate:MK as our resident health and wellbeing columnist. She kicks off by talking about how she turned the isolation of lockdown into a positive by knuckling down to launch a new book...

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hen the first lockdown happened in March 2020, it hit me pretty hard. As a sports consultant, compere, awards host and motivational speaker in businesses and schools, I watched as all my work was cancelled. It was devastating for me as I have worked so hard to get those contacts and gigs. Not only did it hit me from a work point of view, but financially too. I’m self-employed and I was losing my income as well. The stark reality of lockdown life was hitting me hard. As an Olympic medallist and former World, European, Commonwealth champion, I don’t do sitting down and doing nothing well – it isn’t in my nature or my personality. I need to be active otherwise my mental health suffers. It was during the last gym opening day that I jokingly messaged ex-Man Utd and Newcastle footballer Keith Gillespie about creating a quiz to keep him entertained (he is a massive quiz geek) and I’d put it out on Twitter. 20 sporting questions to see if he could get all the answers correct.

And so, it started… the competitive nature of sportspeople, the connection of social media and ‘Gail Emms Pub Sports Quiz’ was born. Every weekday evening in lockdown at 8pm, 20 questions were sent out on my @gailemms handle and lots of people joined in – including Keith. Over 1,000 questions later, and I have turned the Twitter quiz into a book. At the start of 2020, I would never have

thought I would have a book published, but it just goes to show what can come out of adversity. There will always be obstacles in our paths, but life wouldn’t be fun without challenges, right?! So to beat the lockdown blues or challenge friends and family, the book is available at £9.99 on Amazon or direct from the publisher here: www. desiredreamvision.store/ product-page/gail-emmsultimate-pub-sports-quiz

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February/March 2021

Gail’s secret seven tips for fitness success in 2021 MK sports queen Gail Emms writes her debut fitness column for Celebrate:MK


s an Olympian, I trained three times a day, six days a week. I put my body through immense regimes of interval runs, weights programmes and on-court work. Now, I’m a working mum of two boys and my priorities have changed massively. I don’t need to be a world champion badminton player any more, but I do want to be a positive role model for my friends and family. Exercise makes me feel good and gives me the energy I need for the rest of the day. Here are my top tips for fitness success this year...

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1) Find a goal This can be a timed run, target weight or just creating new habits, but having an end result helps keep the motivation and you can reward yourself when you are on track.

Follow @gailemms on social media

2) Enjoy the workouts! You will get better results doing the exercise you like. If you don’t like swimming, don’t swim. You will find excuses not to do it.

life, but I still have a personal trainer (Riley Gooch @Prolete), I use a gym and F45 classes, and get advice from Katie Elmer (@cleancoachkatie) about running.

3) Always OVER-plan Life will inevitably get in the way so if you want to do 3-4 sessions a week, plan 5-6 then if you have to miss one, you won’t feel as negative about it.

5) Listen to your body Get advice from a medical professional if you are unsure about your health and whether to exercise before you start. If there is pain, stop… but learn to love the way the mind can push the body, even when you want to give up.

4) Get help! I’ve been exercising most of my

6) Recovery is important Stretching, warm-downs and rest days give your body time to replenish and reset for the next session. 7) Go outdoors! It might be warm and cosy inside… but fresh air and being outside is so good for your physical/mental health and your immune system as well as getting vitamin D. And no excuses about the weather – the only excuse is not appropriate clothing ;)

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Chocolate treats for your Valentine Hazel Roberts caught up with Steve Mills from The Chocolate Mill MK to talk about the company's successful 2020 and how they're looking to keep the momentum going


he past few months has required many businesses to adapt and change in order to survive. Small businesses are probably best placed for changing quickly and, although many are struggling, one local business that has found success in these difficult times is local artisan chocolatier The Chocolate Mill MK. I caught up with Steve Mills to find out why he didn’t think 2020 had been altogether a dead loss. “One of the more positive things to have come out of 2020,” he tells me, “is that people have started to discover that there are some fantastic food businesses in Milton Keynes. It's a thriving scene and one that I am immensely proud to be a part of.” Although he was disappointed that so many events were cancelled, he has been pleased by the number of customers who made the effort to support

Food Scene

local businesses by visiting the farmers markets or by searching online. In fact, he says that 2020 saw a remarkable 500% increase in sales. Buoyed by this support, he is keen to keep the momentum going in 2021 and promises plenty of chocolate treats for his existing and new customers. There will be an expansion of flavours within the core group of truffles offered all year round and some

special seasonal flavours to watch out for, including some fantastic new products launching towards the end of the year. For Valentine's Day, there will be a return of the popular boxes of truffles named after famous romantic films. These will be available in special collections of 12 and 24 with one or two of each flavour, ideal for sharing with your loved one. Easter will also see the return of the impressive truffle themed easter eggs, perfect for a special treat that you can’t buy in the shops. You can find The Chocolate Mill MK at Odell's Yard Market in Stony Stratford every Saturday and at Winslow Farmers Market on the first Sunday of the month. Failing that, you can order online by visiting www. thechocolatemillmk.co.uk

Cloudy2Clear, A Local Service With A Smile. I think we can all agree that seeing the back of 2020 was a welcome event for each and every one of us, and we can now hopefully march into 2021 with renewed positivity and optimism. One thing is for sure though, there have also been some heart warming positives that we can take out of last year. It has often been said that we can only really get to know one another and realise what is truly important in times of crisis. I think few would argue that in this case what has proven to be important is local community spirit. When talking to the Manager of Cloudy2Clear windows Stephen Moon it became clear that these values have been held dear for a number of years. Since starting

the business some years ago Cloudy2Clear have remained true to their core values of supporting the local community by providing a service that saves the public money. The Cloudy2Clear service only requires the glass to be replaced and not the whole window once the unit has failed. Stephen commented “Cloudy2Clear were able to assist our community through the last financial crisis in 2008 due to the savings that can be made in using our service. Unfortunately we might be going through something similar again soon and the public can rest assured that we will be there to help once again”.

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Styling your property for selling: Myths uncovered When selling a property, what are the main reasons some homeowners give for not using a professional stager? Hugo Fleming, Design Director of award-winning local interior design company Cranberryhome, explains

interior design co lumn


y house is vacant therefore the spaces look bigger: A room always looks bigger with furniture in it. In reality, items of furniture correctly scaled to a room, gives a buyer a perspective of how their furniture will fit into spaces and correctly purpose the room. I don’t want to spend any more money on my house as I’m selling it: The return on investment for professionally styling your property on average is 8-10% more than a non staged home. Staged properties sell 50-80% quicker, avoiding potential additional costs and price reductions. I never staged my home before and it sold OK: In reality, buyers are savvier now and are expecting higher standards. More and more homes are now being professionally presented, which increases the competition for buyers.

Buyers can look past imperfections: Again buyers are much more sophisticated than before. With access to the internet, TV design shows and DIY classes this has all changed. If a buyer subconsciously observes too many “red flags” he/she will move to the next property or demand a price reduction. My house is beautiful, therefore everyone else will love it: Even decorated homes still need a professional touch. With decorating, the focus is on the “stuff” whereas, with property styling, it is more about highlighting the architectural features and focal points of your home.

I can’t afford a home stager: Many assume that home stagers charge similar fees to interior designers, however, the cost of staging can accommodate many budgets from a simple consultation to a full home style. With the current stamp duty holiday still around till the end of March, now is a great time to consider selling.

Hugo is Design director of Cranberryhome the award wining interior design and property styling company based in Milton Keynes. Often found at Ask an Expert at Grand Designs Live, Hugo is in demand as an interior designer all over the UK.

watchwords are Quality, These days most homeowners suffer from Integrity and Value. Quality in thearound materials a lack of storage space. Visit celebratemk.co.uk for more news from MK So many precious items that we use for all our installations and the fact that need to be kept that all our loft packages – but where to store it are fitted by time served all? That’s where Home tradesmen, so our Counties Loft Ladders customers are assured come in. of the best job. The company, Integrity in that we based locally, offers will turn stand up at the homeowners themost hese days Ladders out.time opportunity to maximise we say and make sure homeowners Manager Jamie the house isare spotless their storage watchwords Quality, These days mostspace from from a Oakley explained: when we leave, and with suffer a loftsuffer ladder, Integrity and Value. homeowners storage “Our are valuewatchwords in the thatmaterials we offer 50sqft of of boarding and Quality in a lack of lack storage space. our services a price a light - all fullyitems fitted that So many Quality, Integrity and we use foratall our Sospace. many precious peopleQuality canand afford. in less to than day precious items thatfrom installations Value. in the the fact that need beakept just £355!toBut it’s not that allbusiness our loft packages – but where store it need to be kept – but materials thatrelies we use Our on just the affordability are fitted by time all? That’stowhere referrals and we served get a where store Home itthat all? for all our installations of the package so that our Counties Ladders huge amount of our That’sLoft where Home tradesmen, and the fact all calls makes Home Counties customers are who assured come in. from people have Loft Ladders stand Counties Loft Ladders our loft packages are referred of been the best job. to us by out, as manager Jamie come in. fitted by time served The company, our existing customers Oakley explains: based locally, offers‘Our Integrity in that we

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Award-winning Milton Keynes car repair company rebrands to ‘VCR - Vehicle Crash Repairs’ Scuff N Scratch Solutions has enjoyed an illustrious first decade in business, winning multiple awards including ‘Best Automotive Bodywork Repair Specialists in Buckinghamshire’ at the 2019 UK Enterprise Awards. Owner Rob Clark (pictured) has now decided the time is right to rebrand the business, including a stunning refurbishment of the workshop


n celebration of 10 years in business and the company’s development, vehicle body repair specialists Scuff N Scratch Solutions have rebranded to ‘VCR - Vehicle Crash Repairs’. Located in Denbigh Hall Industrial Estate, Bletchley, VCR - Vehicle Crash Repairs

has built an exceptional reputation as an insurance approved accident repair body-shop, trusted by bigname car brands, as well as hundreds of local car owners for many years. Established in 2011, Owner, Rob Clark set ambitious goals for his automotive repair

company which started as a mobile service. Carrying out small repair work at people’s homes, Rob’s reputation as a trusted repairer quickly grew and he moved into a workshop in Milton Keynes. Employing a team of experienced and qualified

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technicians, within a year the business outgrew the first premises and moved into the current workshop where Rob and his team of specialists repair vehicles under insurance, or privately – all of which is under full warranty. Investing in the correct equipment and training to carry out insurance crash repairs, VCR is recognised by the National Body Repair Association and Approved Code Trading Standards. As an approved car bodyshop by insurance providers, the team at VCR will liaise with the insurance company directly, taking away the hassle for customers. Rob, founder of Vehicle Crash Repairs, said: “The workshop has undergone a full refurbishment over Christmas and we can’t wait to share it with customers. “Reaching a 10-year milestone is an achievement for any business, and I am proud to have grown the company to where we are

February/March 2021

today – particularly after a really difficult 2020.” Rob continued: “I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of our journey over the years and to reassure customers that our mission hasn’t changed since starting the business – to provide high-quality repairs with a friendly and reliable service. “We’re the same company with the same values, we’ve just refreshed the branding to reflect the developments as

Reaching a ten year milestone is an achievement for any business, and I’m proud to have grown the company to where we are today – partciularly after a really difficult 2020

VCR - Vehicle Crash Repairs is open during Covid lockdowns as an essential business

a business over the last few years. “I have exciting plans for VCR over the coming years and a great team to help reach even bigger heights.” VCR covers all aspects of paintwork and body repairs, vehicle crash repairs, full repaints, aluminium repairs, panel swaps and more. For more information visit vehiclecrashrepairs.co.uk or call 01908 377217.



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Sammy’s book strikes a Music reporter Vicki McCarthy caught up with local author Sammy Jones to


ith the beginning of 2021 still giving us no clue as to when live music events can safely return, all we can do is reminisce over gigs and concerts of the past, while waiting patiently for gigs and concerts of the future. For Christmas, I was lucky enough to receive a much-wanted gift from my boyfriend Don, that provides local music memories in spades. Milton Keynes - Wired for Sound is the long-awaited book written by local journalist and music-lover Sammy Jones, covering the rich, varied – and sometimes surprising – history of Milton Keynes’ music scene. I recently caught up with Sammy over the phone to find out more. Nine years in the making, and a labour of love for its author, how was the idea for the book conceived? “I’ve been writing about music in Milton Keynes for over 20 years,” Sammy explained. “I worked at MK Citizen while still at school, eventually becoming a freelance writer for them, and some UK music publications before I became the Editor of the Go! Magazine, which covered local music and leisure events.” But that’s not all. Due to Sammy’s passion for music, she became a regular visitor

at Linford Manor studios, which saw big name artists record their albums on its premises. The studios were owned by Pete Winkelman, now known for being chairman of MK Dons, and it had a stream of credible musicians through its doors. Sammy elaborated, “You have to remember, preinternet, the Go! Magazine really was the only place to go to find out what was happening in MK. So, when I became Editor, I decided to take the supplement to the next level. “Due to my relationship with Pete and the producers visiting the Manor, I had access to some great artists and it helped me network and establish connections for interviews, which served me well when these artists came to play live in MK later down the line.” But who has Sammy had the pleasure of interviewing in the past? Well there’s many! From rock gods Metallica, Black Sabbath, Guns n' Roses and Bon Jovi, who all played at MK Bowl over the years, to more recent interviews with Black Eyed Peas and Take That, who played at Arena MK and Stadium MK, respectively. “Over the years, I’ve kept cuttings of my interviews, gig tickets and photos from the local music scene,” Sammy explained. “And it’s it not just

On the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Sammy interviewing Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash

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February/March 2021

chord with MK music fans talk about her new book on the exciting music history of Milton Keynes famous bands and artists I’ve interviewed and promoted through my writing, but in the main, the local bands too. Which will be used in an upcoming local exhibition I have planned.” Well, who can forget the only few venues we had in MK back in the day were The Pitz, Dukes, MADCAP, Bletchley Leisure Centre and The Point. To recognise the local scene back then, Sammy organised the Go! Awards. It was backed by Marshall Amplification and readers voted for their winners in their droves. Sammy clarified, “It was always important to not only promote, but to also recognise the vibrant local music scene that we had (and still have) here. The awards were my chance to do just that. “Milton Keynes has seen some of those young, local bands go onto greater things nationally, and internationally. So, I think the book was my opportunity to celebrate the local talent, share my stories, highlight some of the key names in the local scene (not just musicians) who made MK so great and showing how they did it.” Milton Keynes - Wired for Sound is a romp through the decades, and even to someone like me who (in pre-Covid times) was at gigs

every week, it was a real eyeopener and education on just how rich our musical history is here in MK. What have been the highlights for Sammy over the years? “Besides the obvious, of supporting the local music scene, I was very lucky to find myself in amazing situations while doing my job,” she smiled. “I witnessed Skunk Anansie and Jamiroquai record their first and third albums respectively, at Linford Manor. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing stars such as Roger Moore and Priscilla Presley. I’ve covered major festivals and even found myself trying to track down an interview while on holiday in L.A!” Sammy’s passion for local and visiting artists to MK is evident in her book and the interviews and stories ensure it’s a real page-turner. Sammy added, “Every quote and interview in the book is original, and my own work. Nothing is lifted from websites, or faxed press releases from yesteryear. I’m proud that I’m finally able to share the finished article with other music-lovers.” So, what’s next? Does Sammy have a sequel tucked away that she could share with us? “Never say never mate!” Sammy laughed. “Just don’t hold me to it, okay? I hope to do the exhibition sometime

The scene this year first. “If there is another book, I hope it won’t take as long to produce. Taking control of all aspects of the book was a learning curve, and it took some time to complete around other commitments. But it was important to be able to dig into the history of our scene and ensure that there is a record for the future.” So, plenty more to hopefully look forward to from Sammy. Now just that small matter of music venues safely opening again… To buy Milton Keynes - Wired For Sound and for more information about the exhibition visit facebook.com/ miltonkeyneswiredforsound and follow Sammy on Twitter @sammyjonespress


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MKIAC brings local communities together in ‘Art in Isolation’ project Project by Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture involved local schools, colleges and even an MK star battling on the Covid frontline


uring this pandemic period, Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture (MKIAC) initiated an ‘Art in Isolation’ project that brought local communities together remotely in a creative way. Various arts and culture themes were on show in the project, which included a programme of spoken word pieces and an online gallery. Many schools took part in a section of the project called ‘Happier and Healthier Young People’, and Milton Keynes College students took the lead by focusing on a number of key recent issues in society. They addressed issues around wellbeing, lockdown, isolation, socioeconomic deprivation, multi-generational house units, digital deprivation, Black Lives Matter and the effects of mental health issues on youths and BAME communities. Hamid Manji, senior consultant in the intentive care unit of Milton Keynes University Hospital, participated in the ‘Art in Isolation’ project after appearing on the Channel 4 Covid-19 documentary ‘Ross

Kemp: On The NHS Frontline’, which was filmed inside the hospital. Hamid talked of his concerns about coronavirus and supported the development of an art animation commissioned and created by Munity (www. munity.org.uk), which shows him working in ICU during the pandemic (pictured above). You can view the artwork online at www.mkiac.org on the ‘Resilient Culture’ page. Addressing mental health among youths and Syrian refugees, an animation was also commissioned looking at children who have been subjected to traumatic experiences, and the effect

on women and children. MKIAC is a successful BAME grassroots organisation set up in response to the 9/11 terror attack. It has been a bench-setter for embracing diversity and inclusion, which was also seen in its Digital Lights projects last year in partnership with Bletchley Park, MK College, Shenley Brook End School and diverse communities. MKIAC has also initiated county-wide projects such as Unity and Creative Diversity Hubs, developing and advocating for cultural diversity programming and diverse artist development in Milton Keynes and the surrounding region.

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February/March 2021

Art with a cause Our Creative Culture columnist Elizabeth Woodward visits the striking CoExistence sculptures on show at Waddesdon Manor


herd of life-size elephant sculptures may seem a little out of place in the grounds of Waddesdon Manor in the middle of winter, but they carry an important message of coexistence and represent endangered animals worldwide attempting to survive in increasingly human-dominated habitats. Elephant Family is made up of five Indian elephants; a matriarch, tusker, two male adolescents and a female calf. They are portraits of real elephants (called Philomena, Umed, Badai, Jitna and Baachcha) who live in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. This summer, 120 similar sculptures will begin their migration around the Royal Parks of London. Elephant Family is part of the CoExistence campaign that aims to highlight how the growing human population causes competition between humans and animals for space and resources, which can cause irreparable damage to biodiversity.

The charity has Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, as joint royal presidents. The sculptures were made by a team of local craftspeople over five years and truly capture the majesty of the gentle giants. They are made from dried Lantana Camara stalks which were chosen to highlight how human activity interferes with ecosystems. Originally brought to India by British tea planters as a decorative plant, it has become an invasive weed that has now overrun and caused a decline in local flora. As the most densely populated continent on Earth, Asia is where the greatest number of wild animals face extinction. However, we are also facing this plight here in the UK, having lost around 60% of our wildlife in the last 50 years. Endangered and biologically extinct native UK birds including storks, cranes

CREATIVE Culture and white tailed eagles depicted by British artists will be included in the campaign to highlight the issue closer to home. Animal conservation is deeply rooted in the history of Waddesdon Manor, with Ferdinand de Rothschild being a huge animal lover who famously built artificial rock formations on his front lawn to house mountain goats and llamas. The aviary built by the Baron is now one of Europe’s smallest zoos and home to many endangered species, with a focus on repopulation. The sculptures are on sale and funds raised will help enable human-wildlife coexistence worldwide. Elephant Family will be at Waddesdon Manor until 31st October 2021. Booking is required. For more information visit: 1. https://waddesdon.org.uk/ whats-on/elephant-family/ 2. https://elephant-family.org/



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February/March 2021

Your 2021 running challenge Murphy Runs talks about her Winter Half Marathon and sets you a challenge


appy New Year, fellow runners! Despite a lack of the usual festive Parkruns, I hope you were able to sneak in a few miles over the Christmas period inbetween trips to the Quality Street tin. For me, the highlight of the run up to Christmas was the Milton Keynes Winter Half Marathon! It was a Covid-19 secure race and the first large race I have done since the restrictions came in. I was very impressed with the organisation and I

felt very safe. The race was over two days and if you participated, you’ll know that the Sunday runners got the short straw and it’s safe to say it was the wettest race I’ve ever done. I was drenched head-to-toe. It didn’t just rain – it poured. Although I will say that secretly, running in the rain makes me feel hard-core! Nevertheless, I completed the race in 1:54 hours with a smile on my face and a big dose of the ‘runners high’. That being said, the race already seems a thing of the past, with no upcoming races in my diary until May. So, here’s a challenge to keep you on your toes over the next few weeks. My 2021 challenge to you Head outside tomorrow and see how far you can run in 20:21 minutes – as a nod to hopefully

Murphy Runs a happy and more ‘normal’ 2021. I’ll be heading out this weekend to attempt mine and I will probably hit just under 5km. You can try this again every so often to see how far you’ve come or perhaps in the summer and then again in the winter. Running is the one thing that has stayed a constant during the last year. Shops and gyms may unfortunately be closed, but running is still very much open! So for me, this year I will continue to try and run further and faster and look forward to the day that I see you at Parkrun! Follow Anastasia’s running adventures on Instagram @MurphyRuns

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The Rebirth of You Quinton (Mr Milise) shares excerpts from his motivational poem ‘The Rebirth of You’, which empathises with the challenges that we all faced in 2020 and invites the reader to celebrate overcoming adversity...



hen you hear this, I want it to be the beginning of your healing process. If life has dragged you to the darkest of places and you’re feeling hopeless. If it seems like negative energy is constantly poisoning your progress. If there’s a pain in your chest! If reality slowly but relentlessly draws a map on your face. If it feels like the world is whizzing by and you can’t keep up with the pace. Just lately, I think I know where you are. I think you’re lost sometimes like we all are. And you’re walking with a heavy heart. I think you were born with courage from the very start. But the past has been harsh. I think this isn’t the first time you’ve fallen apart. And put yourself together again only to be broken in half!

Asking yourself in the morning... how long can this last! With your head in your palms. But look up! Tell yourself that you deserve another chance. Remember it was you who dusted yourself off, all of the other times. When everything you built felt like it was burning down. But you called it a forest fire. Because you built it all back from scratch at a time when your life was more than volatile. With only yourself to rely on. When it seemed like all of your friends were standing on the shoulders of Giants! Whilst you’re stood in the cold and it’s quiet. Trying to survive until the stars are aligned. But you’re ready to shine at THIS moment in time. So why wait for the stars, if you can see the sunrise. A wise man told me THIS and I share it with everyone. You don’t have to SEE anyone who don’t SEE that you could be anyone. So delete negativity and you will prevail. Leave behind those who took the wind from your sail.

Find your purpose and surround your tomorrows with the ones who never left you to drown in your sorrows. Be in sync with your instincts and ALL will be fine. It’s about time you realised that you can re-align. Nobody ever said you won’t fall on hard times. But hero’s are born when they are forged from cast iron. When we look at the SUN we know it’s MORE than just a fireball. So telling yourself YOU’RE MORE, is more than justifiable. There’s no time to look back, I know it hurts when you do. What a day to celebrate, IT’S THE REBIRTH OF YOU!

The full poem is out now on Spotify. Follow Quinton on Twitter @QuintonMilise & Instagram @whoismrmilise. Follow Mr Milise on Spotify.

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February/March 2021

Revamp your marketing approach to weather the end of the Covid storm Heather Murphy, owner of Brand Mission, talks about stripping your business back to the marketing basics and thinking about the short-term


s we edge towards a more ‘normal’ life, it’s the ideal time for businesses to review their marketing – which is likely to be very scaled back right now. Making plans to recover revenue rapidly is a top priority and the right marketing will help give organisations the best possible chance of a strong return. Companies will need to redefine their marketing approach and audience profiles. Previous frameworks might not work for the current climate and consideration for targeting a new customer could be in order. Creating a long-term strategy might not be the best approach during these bumpy months. Instead, we recommend spending some time to understand where your business now sits within the market position and identifying your three most effective communications channels.

Where the budget is tight, having this knowledge will help to make informed choices – which is going to be key to meet the urgent needs of the business. Where to start? Strip back to basics and think about the core of your business. What does your business offer and who are your customers (past and present). Understand the why – why do they choose you. What is your USP? Once you’ve identified what makes you stand out as a business, analyse where your main enquiries and conversions come from. This could be from your website, social media, walkins, email marketing – or a combination. You’ll then know which communication channels to focus your marketing efforts. As the country slowly repairs, we recommend layering marketing rather than going full-throttle to let campaigns unfold – allowing you to be reactive to daily insights and turn up budget for the areas which are bringing business in. Our top recommendations to consider investing in now to fine-tune your brand voice: • Producing quality authentic content to highlight your USP • Public relations

• Social media advertising to generate trackable leads • Email marketing Weather the end of the Covid storm with strong marketing. If you feel too close to the daily operation of your business and need a review from a fresh perspective, get in touch with us. We use insights to form an effective marketing plan to help businesses achieve the best ROI and reach.

Reap the benefits of outsourcing your Marketing and PR. Contact Brand Mission at info@ brandmission.co.uk or visit www.brandmission.co.uk for more information.



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Slimy scarecrow sees the light Ray Pantling, owner of Tyres Direct in Bletchley, tells us some motoring stories, from police scarecrows, to full beam punishments


nother month has passed and as usual the world of motoring has not failed in offering us some fantastically weird and wonderful stories. From police scarecrows in the UK to motorists being forced to look into the light in China. One community has had enough of cars speeding when travelling through their village. To slow down any wannabe Sebastian Vettels, the residents of Glenworth in Leicestershire have created a policeman scarecrow. Meet officer Speedy (right) – he’s outstanding in his field as well! He evidently was kidnapped. Slimy End To A Car One motorist in China did not have the best of days when he lost control of his car and landed in a river. As the car sank he managed to climb onto the roof, and was thankfully rescued from the stagnant water.

To make matters worse, the police charged him for speeding, and was charged to get his car dragged out of the water.

TyrE Talk Bizarre Punishment When driving at night, it is always infuriating (not to mention painful and dangerous) when you come across another driver going in the opposite direction with their full beams on. In China, police in the south east province of Guangdong have come up with an unusual punishment for drivers who do not dip their headlights when passing another car.

They are forced to stare into the lights themselves (see picture below)! If they refuse their car is impounded, they are fined and risk losing their licence.

You can find Ray at Tyres Direct, Unit 51, Barton Road, Water Eaton Industrial Estate, Bletchley, MK2 3BN. For more information follow @TyresDirectBletch on Facebook or visit the website www.bletchleytyres.co.uk

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February/March 2021

It’s crazy how much kids love repeats Ex-MK Citizen journalist and married dad-of-two Gareth Ellis on how children can become obsessed with watching the same things...


hen I was a kid, I was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Danger Mouse. I could watch them over and over and not get bored, even if it was the same episode I’d seen the week before. So, it’s no surprise that I have a son that will now happily watch the same things, quite literally, on repeat. It’s crazy! Most days he will come into our bedroom in the morning and want to watch Hey Duggee! Something that’s a whole lot harder to say no to, now that he can say it. When he’s not asking for Duggee he will run to me and sing the notes from Frozen 2 (if you know, you know). We try to limit his time in front of the TV as much as we can, and that often means telling him that the Frozen princesses or Duggee are sleeping as it’s too early/late. That or the TV is broken. I think one time I even said the TV was sleeping and didn’t want to be woken up. I love that innocent part of his character. He will happily sit there, in complete silence, trying to take it all in like it’s the first time he’s seen it. He knows full well he’s seen it before because he asked for us to put it on, but the wonder in his eyes is amazing.

Dad's The Word

I mean, he actually watched Stick Man three times in a row just recently. Every time it ended, he just looked at me, grinned and said: ‘Daddy, again!’ To be fair, that day he’d been so good I just felt like I couldn’t deny him – although we don’t often give him treats for just being a good boy, he’s not a dog. Although he does love a walk, will happily eat something off the floor with no hands and will chase a

ball in the park. I can’t wait to see what Emilia likes in the future, although she’s already started grinning her head off whenever she sees Duggee. Not a massive indicator though, she smiles at everything. Gareth writes a regular blog at www.garethellisblog. wordpress.com and you can follow him on Instagram @dads_the_word_blog



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Stunning shows for 2021 Cara Lee talks about upcoming productions that will hopefully go ahead!

show stoppers


o, most of you will know that the planned shows we wrote about last time didn’t get a chance to go ahead due to the new Covid restrictions. Even the West End returned for a few days, only to be shut down again. But there’s still plenty of planned content to look forward to in 2021! Although, we of course don’t know for certain when any performance venues will reopen, planned shows for MK Theatre for the next year include Hairspray, running from the 10th to the 15th of May, We Will Rock You, rescheduled to the 16th to the 21st of August and the major West End musical Waitress from the 4th to the 9th of October. Over at The Stables, music acts on the bill include That’s

Entertainment Acoustic, Naturally 7 and Feast of Fiddles, whilst comedy acts will include Matt Richardson and Hannah Brackenbury. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, The Amazing Bubble Man is scheduled to perform on the 18th of February. Going a bit further afield, comedians set to play Aylesbury Waterside include Julian Clary on the 29th of March and Jimmy Carr on the 12th of April. In terms of theatre shows, Gangsta Granny (12th August) and The Adventures of Bo Peep (27th August) will be on for families, whilst 9 to 5 the Musical (28th September – 2nd October) and Groan Ups will be some of the other major shows on for more mainstream audiences. These shows aren’t the only ray of hope that theatre fans have been given, as the

aforementioned return of the West End may also get back on track if the restrictions in London are eased. As I said previously, we don’t know when theatre will truly be able to come back – but we’ll certainly have a lot to look forward to when it does! For more information on shows at MK Theatre, you can go to https://www.atgtickets. com. To find out more about The Stables, you can go to https://stables.org. Or to find out more about Aylesbury Waterside, you can go to https://www.atgtickets.com. Cara Lee is an MK based freelance writer and editor, who also writes the theatre blog In the Lights. You can find her on Twitter at @LeeInTheLights, on Instagram at @inthelightsblog and on Facebook at @caraleecontent

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Solution on page 39 Across

Your Feb/March crossword

1 Showing off — nine tattoos (anag) (11) 9 Breed (9) 10 Excessively (3) 11 Conifer (of Lebanon?) (5) 13 Kind (7) 14 Summarises briefly (abbr) (6) 15 Straight sword with a narrow two-edged blade (6) 18 Corpse (7) 20 Correct (5) 21 Flow (3) 22 Infamous (9) 24 Substitute (11)

Down 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 12 16 17 19 23

Feb/March sudoku

Placatory concession (3) Narcissistic venture (3,4) Platitude (6) Subject (5) In an unstable position (2,4,3) Past performance (5,6) Hot sauce, popular with beef- eaters (11) Immorality (9) A puzzling combination of letters? (7) Professional judge (6) Corrupt (5) Personal (3)

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February/March 2021

Camila Cabello as Cinders Jason Day previews the upcoming scheduled cinema releases for February and March 2021

wer e i v e r l ee R


happy New Year for some but certainly not for cinemas. After a brief reopening before Christmas then a dark spell during the festive break, they are yet to open for punters in 2021. Lockdown #3 means they are closed until at least the middle of February. A minor inconvenience for some, but a real frustration for those like me who see cinema as a very essential service! Here’s the pick of what’s scheduled for a possible Feb/ March release. Cinderella (February 5) Musical fairy tale adaptation about a servant girl romanced by a Prince. Camila Cabello stars as Cinders, Idina Menzel (Frozen) is her wicked stepmother. Promising Young Woman (February 12) For me this is the movie to see in Feb. Carey Mulligan is a woman

who exacts revenge on men who take advantage of inebriated women. Romeo & Juliet (February 12) 25th birthday re-issue of Baz Luhrmann’s dazzling take on Shakespeare, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes as the starcrossed lovers. Nomadlad (February 19) Frances McDormand stars as a woman who, after losing everything in a recession, embarks on a journey through the American west, living as a van-dwelling nomad. Supernova (March 5) Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth star in this moving drama about a gay couple facing up to Tucci’s dementia. They are determined he is remembered for his glorious, past self. Locked Down (March 5) A cinematic Covid offering with this heist romcom.

Quarrelling couple Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor are breaking up as a lockdown is announced. They make peace in order to rob Harrods. Tom and Jerry: The Movie (March 19) The famous frenemies are holed up in a posh hotel. Chloe Grace Moritz is an ambitious employee determined to get rid of mouse Jerry by using cat Tom. Crisis (March 26) Not a pandemic crisis, but a pharmacological one – in triplicate! Three narratives about prescription drug abuse are combined. Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer and Evangeline Lily star. You can read more in-depth reviews from Jason by following him on Twitter: @Reelreviewer

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Norway knitter helps MK newborns The



n December, MKFM saw a message from the hospital's maternity department asking people to knit red hats. These tiny little hats were to be worn by premature babies, so they could be kept warm when being transferred from ward to ward. Knowing that we were heading into Tier 4, and people would subsequently have more time on their hands, MKFM decided to write an article asking for volunteers. This article has since been shared on social media thousands of times. MKFM has been inundated with messages from keen knitters wanting to get involved – we even heard from someone in Norway who wanted to help! The generosity of the knitting community means that Milton Keynes Hospital has received 3,000 hats. Michelle Hancock, from the maternity department, has since thanked everybody for their help. She said: "We are incredibly grateful to have received so many hats from members of the community to help keep our tiniest patients warm. The level of kindness shown is humbling and we have been impressed by the amazing

Thousands of hats have been knitted for newborn babies at Milton Keynes Hospital following MKFM appeal

knitting skills that are out there!" These hats will be put to good use and will last the hospital quite some time. Therefore, they are now asking volunteers to hold onto any extra hats that they have for now. Michelle continued: "We now have plenty of hats to keep us going for the time being so, if you have any hats that are ready, or you still

want to knit some hats in the future, we would ask that you please just hold on to them for the time being, rather than sending them in at present, until we put the call out again for more hats. Once again, thank you all ever so much." MKFM shares a range of local news stories, like this one, both on-air and on its website at MKFM.com

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February/March 2021

Local Business Directory To advertise, email jon@celebratemk.co.uk or call 07928 027444 Accountant AD Accountancy........01908 675938 Barbers Just Gents, CMK..........01908 606003 Istanbul, Stony...........07405 107928 Beauty and Aesthetics Dermaspa..................01908 242023 Make Up By Della B 07980 927337 Dentist MK Dental Spa...........01908 569949 Design Agency Design Agency westfourstreet...........01908 618639 Estate Agents Cauldwell..................01908 304480 Food and Drink Maaya Indian..............01908 242665 Handyman Odd Jobs....................07464 171032

Mortgage Advisor BMC.............................07756 315441 Heating

Printer Bartham Press..........01582 573471

Home Fuels................07867 386343

Neves Solicitors.........01908 304560 Schools Swanbourne House...01296 720264 Shopping centre

Home and Garden Prestige Lawns..........01908 542422 Snug Roofs.................01908 645566 Tame Your Conservatory 07598 341793 Home Loft Ladders...0808 3019558 Cloudy2Clear Windows 0800 6121118 Motoring Vehicle Crash Repairs...01908 377217 Tyres Direct MK.........01908 367770 Private Members’ Club Alpha Club MK..........01908 354960 Public Relations and Marketing Brand Mission..............07970 395110 Perception PR..............01908 380936

S & M Leaflet Distribution Make your business stand out from the crowd with solus leaflet distribution. 10% off first campaign! From cards, newsletters and menus, to leaflets and magazines, we deliver them all in the local area. A reliable and affordable family business.

Call us now on 07783 416052 Or email sarah.deakin@rocketmail.com for a quote

Crossword solution


centre:mk...................01908 678641 Sport and Fitness David Lloyd Club.......01908 207907 Let’s Kick It.................07415 178399 Be Military Fit.............07984 775332 Studio44 Training.....07808 030091 Taxis Skyline Taxis...............01908 222111 Theatre MK Theatre.................08448 717652


Used Cycle Sales, Mobile Servicing, Repairs, Accessories & Bikes Wanted

07464 171032 www.bluehorsebikes.co.uk


Sudoku solution You can find this month’s crossword and sudoku puzzles on the Puzzle Page on page 35. No peeking at the answers until you’ve finished!


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