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October/November 2021. Issue 53


Because Milton Keynes is worth celebrating


Local independent school aims to build a reputation for footballing excellence after appointment of ex-Arsenal coach as Head of Sport & PE

INSIDE! namji leah mcguane Emma raducanu

lity T he qua n e ma gazi fo r M K


Coach Marlese brings a new football focus to Swanbourne House

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6 LEAH’S WORLD TREBLE MK dance starlet qualifies for the Irish Dancing World Championships for the third time in her career

9 FIREWALK FOR HOSPICE Sam Carmichael picks out Willen Hospice’s Firewalk as one of her cool local events for Oct & Nov





Ginger Mum talks about the launch of the new restaurant and much more in her latest column

14 EMMS ON RADUCANU Gail Emms reflects upon Emma Raducanu’s US Open tennis win and points to what we can learn

17 AUTUMN FASHION TIPS Professional stylist Isabel Kelly suggests some of her favourite knits for you to buy this season

10 14

22 SWANBOURNE HOUSE How ex-Arsenal coach Marlese Levermore is bringing a new football focus to the school

30 CHRIS WESSON GIG Vicki McCarthy chats to the star

Plus! Family days out (27), Food Scene (29), Creative Culture (33), Reel Reviewer (34), Murphy Runs (36) and much more!


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October/November 2021

Welcome from the Editor

Fun Fact

A tiny fact about TV’s Nadia

Did you know that former Celebs Go Dating TV star Nadia Essex is only 4ft 11inches small? The TV love coach revealed this little fact to 6ft 4inch Celebrate:MK editor Jon Boyle when they met at the London Lifestyle Awards in September!

How to Subscribe The easiest way to receive Celebrate:MK directly every issue is to subscribe to the free digital edition. Just email the word ‘Subscribe’ to

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elcome to the October/ November issue of Celebrate:MK. I hope you had a great summer. I certainly did as I rounded it off by taking my 5-year-old son on a fun TUI Marella Explorer cruise up to the Orkney Islands, before attending two glamorous Alpha Club events, who advertise on our back page. The first was the MK Drop-In Drinks at their private Oscars restaurant in The Hub, and the second was the star-studded London Lifestyle Awards. It was great to hobnob with celebrities including Sky Sports’ Bianca Westwood (pictured), who is even more football-mad than I am!

It was great to hobnob with celebrities at the London Lifestyle Awards thanks to Alpha Club Jon Boyle



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Leah set to shine on world stage Local dance starlet hoping it will be third time lucky for her at the Irish Dancing World Championships


K schoolgirl Leah McGuane will complete a dazzling hat-trick in November when she competes in the Irish Dancing World Championships for the third time. The 13-year-old has been dancing competitively since the age of 3 for her mum and aunt, who run the Mary Drake School of Irish Dancing in MK Leah is a regular

on the podium at competitions, most recently placing 5th at the All England Championships in 2020 before all competitions were cancelled. This achievement meant she again qualified for the World Championships, which will take place in the first week of November after being delayed by the pandemic. The prestigious event will be held

in Killarney in the Republic of Ireland and will last for 7 days. Leah can expect to battle it out with around 160 competitors from across the world in her age group of Under 13s. Leah’s mum Claire Theobald said: “This will be Leah’s third time attending the World Championships, which is a huge achievement. “But having unluckily not achieved

a recall in previous years, she is feeling a lot more confident this year and is hoping it will be third time lucky!”

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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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October/November 2021

A firewalk for Willen Hospice Cool


in Oct & Nov


ell, that was a short-lived summer! The temperature has quickly changed, leaves have started to fall, and I’m writing this while sat in a knitted onesie. But that does mean that we can start to prepare for some autumnal events. Halloween is quickly approaching and what better way to mark the occasion than to pick some pumpkins at The Patch MK? The local tourist attraction, located near Deanshanger, becomes a pumpkin patch in October each year. Over 80,000 pumpkin seeds have been sown and there are 35 different types of pumpkins to pick. There will also be a barrel train, hay bale maze, viewing

Sam Carmichael’s cool local events for October and November include pumpkin picking and a daring firewalk to raise money for Willen Hospice.

platform, house made of pumpkins, and lots of photo opportunities! Tickets must be booked in advance at If you’re looking to do something daring, then why not take on Willen Hospice’s firewalk on 14th October? You’ll receive full training and then hot-foot it across four metres of burning embers. Firewalking is all about mind over matter and developing your inner strength. It’s an opportunity to do something fulfilling while raising money for charity. Book your spot at There are also plenty of events at Unit Nine, MK11 and Milton Keynes Theatre in October and November. The Theatre is welcoming

the likes of Hairspray, SIX The Musical, 80s Live and even Russell Brand doing stand-up about the strange 18 months we’ve had. Lastly, is it too early to mention Christmas? Towards the end of November there will be festive events across MK, including grottos at the centre:mk and Bletchley Park. People are very excited about Christmas this year so tickets for festive events are booking up really quickly. That’s it for now. Whatever you get up to, stay safe and I’ll be back in December! If you are running or hosting an event and want to get in touch, find Sam on Instagram @samxradio or email

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Mouthwatering cuisine at the new Namji Our resident lifestyle blogger Amanda, aka Ginger Mum, talks about the launch night of the hot new Xscape restaurant and much more...


ey my lovelies! Food glorious food! I feel the wave of excitement in the MK food sector at the moment, as we are all free to enjoy one of the greatest pleasures, dining out with friends and family once more. Although sadly some fantastic eateries fell victim to the pandemic, it’s heartening to watch those who have been able to diversify and expand as a result. One standout for me is the lovely Naseem of Namji, who has shaken up Xscape with her latest restaurant, in the old La Tasca location, showcasing the best of modern and traditional Indian cuisine. We attended a super fun launch night there recently and were treated to mouthwatering cuisine, not least the culinary centrepiece, Thali.

For me it’s a fusion of art and food, each dish as pleasing to the eye as to the palette. A BYOB (bring your own bottle) venue, it’s a great family vibe there and the mocktails are a real delight. Do put it on your to-visit list and let me know how you enjoyed it! Keeping with the culinary theme, I recently discovered MK Cookery School, my passport to perfecting those dishes I like most. It is also my top pick for a Christmas gift this year as they do gift vouchers – what a result! I am most looking forward to the upcoming Thai day course but they cover every cuisine. Who could resist a fast track to fab Med/Indian/Fish

dishes to dazzle your friends and family? Half day or full day, they have it all covered! This year, I’m not sure if the masses will lean in to those huge party venues. For me and my friends, I feel like we will go for an intimate night making memories. Don’t forget, we are such a short (boozy?) train ride into London or nearer to home in one of the three counties, we are really spoilt! I’d be much happier with a meal locally and cocktails at one of our amazing options like Blossom Room or Be At One MK and let’s not forget the MK Food Awards on Nov 7th which is always an epic night and great recommendations! Please support by voting for your faves! See you soon for some exciting Christmas sparkle!

Don’t forget you can follow my daily musings on my Instagram stories over @gingermumstyle

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October/November 2021


Brand Mission find out why the HydraFacial is so popular


eauty fanatics and “We’re extremely busy celebs alike rave over with HydraFacials. Some of the HydraFacial so we the results we’re getting are caught up with Shweta, just incredible - especially Skin Specialist and owner when combining with Microof Harmony Skin & Beauty needling. first treatment which uses Therapy to find out if they “I always recommend targeted serums and is really are the must-have regular treatments to maintain completely customised for treatment. healthy skin. How often and each client’s skin condition.” “Designed for all skin the results depend on client’s If you want to achieve that types, HydraFacial is a skin. To target concerns, HydraFacial Glow, prices at medical grade treatment we might do a course of Harmony start from £130 providing solutions for treatments, a combination and can be booked online at various skin concerns – Acne, of treatments with Acne scarring, pigmentation, needling, CACI or Face LPG, fine lines and wrinkles,” plus a plan for prescriptive explained Shweta. “It allows Column by Brand homecare products to achieve therapists to achieve a deep a desired outcome. Mission PR and exfoliation such as a chemical “HydraFacial provides marketing agency peel 7.5, 15 and up to 30% clean, well-hydrated and glowing skin from theSeptember very without any downtime. Visit for more news from around MK 2020

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October/November 2021

Smarter fitness: How Full Fibre can strengthen the UK’s digital and physical well-being


hile the days of Mr Motivator’s mid-morning TV workouts may be long gone, just one look at a smart phone app store will tell you we’re a nation obsessed with health and fitness. Yet, with around six in 10 of all UK adults now classed as overweight or obese, it’s clear that obsession hasn’t quite led to action. For some, however, the pandemic has triggered a positive shift in behaviour – and hopefully it will last. In many households, one personality in particular became the face of lockdown workouts – a modern day Mr Motivator by the name of Joe Wicks, better known as The Body Coach. Of course, tuning into those streams wouldn’t have been possible without digital technology. Not all connectivity is created equally, however. 80% of homes in the UK still rely on traditional or partfibre networks, which, in most cases, use slow legacy copper cabling. Fitness powered by full fibre Fitness and wellness apps have been popular for some time, but when gyms and fitness studios were forced to close, many of us had no

choice but to turn to the online world to keep on track with our goals. Downloads of health and fitness apps, for instance, grew worldwide by 46%, while daily active users surged by around 24%, demonstrating that people were actually using them. Wearable fitness gadgets also rapidly grew in popularity, with tech from the likes of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin, which allow users to track a range of metrics in real time, becoming an increasingly common feature on people’s wrists. Connectivity is the essential ingredient in making these products work. And with the fitness landscape undergoing significant change, it’s imperative that Milton Keynes has a digital infrastructure that can

support the innovations we know are coming. Thankfully, Milton Keynes is already flexing its digital muscles with CityFibre building a town-wide full fibre network which will massively strengthen our digital muscles. To find out more about CityFibre and their work in Milton Keynes, and to register your interest in services, visit



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The secrets of Raducanu’s success Olympic silver medalist Gail Emms reflects upon Emma Raducanu’s US Open triumph and picks out three key points as the keys to her success...

Gail Emms n lbeing colum Health & wel


atching tennis starlet Emma Raducanu win the US Open was just incredible. At 18-years-old, and with all the odds stacked against her, she defied each and every one of them to win. Now all journalists and media outlets are desperate to know the ‘how’s?’ and ‘why’s?’ of her success,

interviewing everyone from her school teachers to coaches and family, trying to get that golden nugget of information to show other people that it is possible too. The truth is that there isn’t one reason why Emma won, there isn’t one person that made it all happen, there isn’t a magic formula at all. It is a combination of many factors, from Emma’s personality traits, to her upbringing, to her approach to the tournament. Emma is, as we all are, a product of nature and nurture… and we all have a choice about what we do about it. Whenever I am asked to do a motivational talk about winning, mindset and resilience, I always finish with these three points as I believe

they are the keys to success… mine, Emma’s and yours too. Trust We need to be able to trust ourselves, our support team, instincts… we can only control two things in life. Our thoughts, and our actions on our thoughts. Strengths and weaknesses No one is superhuman and is 100% perfect… accepting this, maximising what you are good at and asking for help at what you’re not, means you have the self-awareness to be the best you possible. Adaptability Life will throw all sorts at you. To quote Ronan Keating, ‘Life is a rollercoaster, you just have to ride it’. But it’s true we need the downs to get the momentum to get back up again, so make sure you enjoy the twists and turns that you get carried on. Winning has different meanings for everyone, but Emma has shown us that with a positive mindset and an only-live-once attitude, the unbelievable can be achieved. You can follow Gail on Instagram @gailemms

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October/November 2021

Get wrapped up for autumn Professional stylist and fashion columnist Isabel Kelly on some of her favourite autumn knits


ith summer long done, half-term already on the horizon, and the evenings drawing in, autumn is most definitely in the air. While many of us didn’t get to wear those summer dresses as much as we would have liked, the new autumn knitwear collections are in store, and in truth, I love this time of year for fashion. So, if you’re looking for an injection of colour, or would like to add some classic pieces into your wardrobe, here are some of my favourite picks this season. This pink knit from & Other Stories, £75, will add some colour to your outfit, and the button details are beautiful! Love this with denim and it would also be perfect dressed up with a satin skirt and heels. clothing/knitwear/cardigans/

For a retro look, that will work with trousers, skirts and over dresses, try Arthur Apparel’s Plant Pot Sweater, £155, from Twiin.


Ethically made, this oversized jumper is an investment piece that will ensure you stand out from the crowd. knitwear/products/the-potplant-sweater-in-neutral If classic styles are more your thing, head to Parisian label, Sezane. Their range of knits and sweatshirts come in a variety of beautiful colours and will last for years to come. You can’t go wrong with their Scarlett jumper, £100, for knitwear that is effortlessly chic. product/scarlett-jumper/ white#sizeXXS Another classic style is a striped jumper – there are so many to pick from this season, but

I particularly like those with additional details, like a collar or zip up front. This striped knit sweater from Mango, £35.99, is a great addition and a perfect piece to layer over a shirt or t-shirt too. women/cardigans-andsweaters-sweaters/stripedknit-sweater_17004048.html If you love a cashmere jumper, then look no further than Boden – who have this beautiful cashmere crew neck in emerald green, £115. If green isn’t for you, they have eight other colours to choose from. This is smart enough to pair with a skirt or trousers for going out, but will be comfortable for cosy Autumn days in jeans too. cashmere-crew-neck-jumperemerald-green/sty-k0490-grn Isabel Kelly is a Stylist and Influencer Manager. Follow her on Instagram at @isabelkelly__



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A dress to impress the locals Ray Pantling, owner of Tyres Direct, has a regular at The Swan Hotel to thank for his latest column inspiration...


he 21st century has brought about new challenges, and the need for creative solutions to these challenges, in our daily lives. For instance, our changing environment has spurred the growing desire to make the best use of our natural resources – including the desire to find a new purpose for used and unwanted tyres. One of the newest ways this is taking

shape is within the world of fashion, where designers are turning retreads into women’s threads! I try to decorate my imagination as much as I can when I write these columns and I have to give credit to Mr Wayne for this one, who is a very openminded regular at The Swan Hotel in Fenny Stratford. He has the ability to consider other perspectives and seeks to be empathetic to other

people, and he prompted this idea by asking whether it is possible to make a dress from tyres. I wasn’t quite sure of his motive – maybe he thought his loved one would look good in it? But I researched his idea and I think the final result speaks for itself – look at this amazing dress (right) commissioned by Goodyear Dunlop and designed by Carl Elkins. Would you wear it?

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How to add character to your new build property interior design co lumn

Hugo Fleming, Design Director of awardwinning local interior design company Cranberryhome, shows us some clever ways to inject some character into your new home


ilton Keynes has a plethora of new build homes available from individual builders to national housebuilders. If you are one of Milton Keynes' residents that finds yourself wishing to put your stamp on your property, here are some autumn design trends to consider. With the movement towards natural and environmentally friendly materials, jute and rattan are two on-trend choices for autumn 2021. Try a rattan stool or lamp along with a jute rug for hard floors. Match with soft and luxurious textiles for the perfect look. I introduced the Japandi style (the Japanese/Scandi fusion) to readers in the July 2020 edition. So this season, a spa bathroom is a popular choice. Using light wood elements, typical in a Scandi design, you can make your bathroom your centre of wellness and wellbeing. Deep blue or green kitchens are fast becoming one of the biggest kitchen trends this year. Whether it's paint, cabinetry or tiles, the hues are popping up everywhere. Adding marble splash backs and brushed brass accents makes this look inviting.

Howdens Design_at_nineteen


Turning your house into a smart home by customising your lighting to turn on as you enter or unlocking your front door at the touch of a button is so popular. Wireless charging, LED lighting and mobile-controlled technology in every corner of the home is the way to go. One of our favourites is the Samsung art TV. "Broken-plan" offers the various functions of an open plan allowing for flexibility by using screens or divides to create zones. Use your space to incorporate a small designer desk or reading nook. Our homes need to be adaptable so the flexibility of this scheme can work well. John Lewis reported a 73% increase in desks alone this year.

Whatever your space, be creative and don't be afraid to try out some of these ideas to make your house a home. 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 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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Marlese brings a new football focus to Swanbourne House Swanbourne House, the independent day and boarding school set in 55 acres of Buckinghamshire countryside just outside of MK, has exciting news on sporting developments at the school, including a new focus on football development, extended sporting provision as part of The Stowe Group and the appointment of exArsenal Ladies coach Marlese Levermore as Head of Sport & PE


ith an impressive sporting background as a semi-pro footballer at Doncaster Belles Ladies FC and Watford Ladies FC, five years coaching at MK Dons FC, five years coaching at Arsenal Ladies FC and three years experience working at Swanbourne House in the Sports Department, Marlese Levermore’s appointment comes amidst an exciting period for the school’s sporting programme. Earlier this year, Swanbourne formed The Stowe Group with Stowe School and Winchester House, giving pupils group wide access to the incredible sport facilities at Stowe which include an 18 hole golf course, modern gym, 8 lane athletics track, equestrian centre, 6 lane competition swimming pool and clay pigeon shooting range. Former England Rugby Captain Dylan Hartley has already been spending time at Swanbourne as part of his work with the group, working with pupils on mindset training and giving insight

BALLER: A student at Swanbourne and, inset, Marlese Levermore into life as a professional sportsman. Miss Levermore paints a picture of exciting times ahead for Sport at Swanbourne House: “Across all sports we’ll be looking at the individual and all aspects

of their game. Whatever their chosen sport and whatever they’re competing in, we’ll be looking at giving all our players the tactical, technical, physical and psychological strength to succeed. “The broad curriculum will

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move away from traditional training alone, and look at additional important areas of sport such as mindset and nutrition too. “This all comes with the overarching priority of ensuring children are enjoying themselves. “We want them to have fun and develop a real passion for being active, whilst enjoying the wonderful feeling of

The broad curriculum will move away from traditional training alone and look at mindset and nutrition too

October/November 2021

achievement that can be found through sport.” The onsite facilities at Swanbourne House are clearly impressive and include a golf course, swimming pool, dance studio, gymnasium, grass tennis courts and football, cricket and rugby pitches. The children have an opportunity to play sport every day and, from this term, the school will be introducing additional football coaching for both girls’ and boys’ football, following a pupil survey in which pupils fed back on their desire to receive more coaching and competitive opportunities in the sport. Jane Thorpe, Head at Swanbourne and a talented and keen sportswoman in her own right, is looking forward to seeing how Swanbourne can build a national reputation

for footballing excellence. “We were determined to harness the passion and obvious talents of many of our pupils in football,” she explained. “We offer a huge range of sports at Swanbourne including rugby, lacrosse, tennis, swimming, cricket, netball and hockey, and our teams have done extremely well both regionally and nationally over the years. “Football is the sport with the biggest global following and adding further resource and talent into football coaching at Swanbourne House will undoubtedly lead to ongoing progress and growing success for our young footballers.” Admissions for Swanbourne House take place throughout the year. To find out more or attend an Open Day, visit or email

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New Institute of Technology aims to plug the leaks in talent pipeline The new South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley provides courses specifically designed to equip students with the technical and digital skills to meet the current needs of businesses in Milton Keynes and beyond. This is the final part of our trilogy of features on the exciting project led by Milton Keynes College...


usinesses in Milton Keynes are struggling, as they are all over the country, to recruit people with strong technical or digital skills. That’s where the new South Central Institute for Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley comes in. The SCIoT is providing courses specifically to meet that demand by training the people needed. Because the curriculum is largely shaped by local

companies, its students are guaranteed to learn the skills businesses actually need. The SCIoT consortium, led by Milton Keynes College, landed a grant of £24million from the Department for Education in a national competition - the largest sum awarded to any Institute of Technology reflecting its importance to the city and the wider region. Consortium partners include global companies like Microsoft, McAfee and KPMG

and important local brands like Cranfield University and CCL Evidence Talks. It will enrol a thousand students and apprentices a year onto new digital courses and is the only place in Milton Keynes offering higher technical qualifications equivalent to university level, as well as short courses. Principal, Alex Warner said: “This is a whole new concept for education in Britain. The SCIoT is an inclusive centre for

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technical qualifications, higher apprenticeships and training to plug the growing gap between demand and supply for key technical and digital roles, including cyber security.  “Students can choose to complete their studies in person, blended, or online as part of our Lifestyle Learning approach. “They’ll be taught by amazing people with upto-date experience in tech businesses and they’ll work on real world problems supplied by our partners. “This a real joint effort by business and education to train people for the careers of the future.” Half the staff are what’s known as dual professionals – people already working for the project partners and local businesses who are as up-to-

October/November 2021

date as they could be in terms of the knowledge they’re passing on to students. “Local businesses can get involved in so many ways here,” Alex said. “Business people are already helping to decide exactly what should be studied and putting forward their own real problems as projects for students to work on. “We’re always looking for guest lecturers and mentors from local companies and they don’t need to be teachers, just know what they want and the skills that matter. “The SCIoT is all about creating talent pipelines feeding directly into the local and regional economy. “We’ve already designed new courses with our partners and there are things people

can study here today which just aren’t available anywhere else in the country.” Another unique feature of the SCIoT is its plan to ensure that the people studying reflect the community of Milton Keynes and the wider area it serves. The SCIoT operates an EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) Steering Group and is already making progress in attracting students from harder-to-reach groups. Of students already recruited, 52% are from a Black, Asian, or Ethnic Minority background, 37% are disabled or neurodiverse, while 22% are female. Anyone interested in finding out more about courses should drop an email to or visit

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Dele inspires a generation Dele Alli’s mentor Dan Micciche explains how the Milton Keynes boy’s World Cup success will inspire all young footballers across MK

Inside this issue SoCal Val lands ITV role, plus August MK events, beauty, fashion, food, fake news, fitness, films and fun!



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October/November 2021

I’ve found the purr-fect cat café Family travel blogger Faye Shearwood shares spook-tacular events that your little monsters will enjoy and a location that feline fanatics will love

Family days out


s the evenings draw in and the leaves fall from trees, we’re looking forward to our favourite season (after summer of course). Autumn! Now that restrictions have fully eased we can’t wait to celebrate Halloween this year; with trick or treating, pumpkin carving and much much more. So, for this issue, I thought I’d share some upcoming spook-tacular events – all situated in and around MK. Perfect merriment for your little monsters! First up, The Patch MK offers BOO-tiful insta worthy shots, a pumpkin house, barrel train, bale maze, fresh food and a giant pumpkin patch (with over 80,000 to choose from). Open weekends during October then daily from 20th – 31st, tickets must be booked online in advance. Next, just 10 minutes down the road, Lillingstone Pick Your Own has a maize maze, tractor trailer, pony rides, farm

animals and two pumpkin patches bursting with pumpkins and squashes. Open weekends from 9th October then from 23rd31st, tickets also need to be booked online in advance. Then from 4.30pm – late on Saturday 30th October, the Halloween ghost train returns to Caldecotte Miniature Railway. Always a firm favourite of ours, and still priced at a bargain £1 for 2 trips around the track, I highly recommend getting there early. Fancy dress encouraged! From The Mursley Pumpkin Festival at Mursley Farm Shop, to a Pumpkin Spooktacular at Mead Open Farm and Pumpkin Hocus Pocus at Thrift Farm, it looks set to be a fangtastic spooky season in Milton Keynes this year. Happy Halloween! Now for something entirely different… my son and I visited the Bedford Cat Café (situated on the main high street) on a rainy day recently and it was purr-fect (OK I’ll stop with the puns now)! Choose from a delicious selection of light bites, sandwiches, cakes and hot

drinks whilst a whole host of feline friends saunter, sleep and play amongst the tables. All of the cats come from a rescue centre and you are free to wander around, stroke and interact with them. In order to protect the welfare of the cats entrance is strictly for children aged six and above, and proof of age for all children aged 10 and under must be shown on arrival. Let me know what you’ve been up to this Halloween on my Instagram page @meandbeau_travels. Until next time!

For family adventures in Buckinghamshire and beyond, follow Faye on Instagram @meandbeau_travels


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October/November 2021

Refill to reduce your carbon footprint Hazel Roberts talks about the concept of a refill shop, how it can help you lower your environmental impact and what local shops you can support...


ith the COP26 Environmental Summit taking place in Glasgow this November, it is natural to feel a sense of urgency to make changes on a personal level to help tackle climate change. Fortunately, there are several independent shops locally that can help you lower your environmental impact on everyday essentials. The concept of a refill shop (or zero waste shop) is very straight forward. Food items are stored loose in large dispensing containers in store and you can bring along your own containers to fill up, thus eliminating the need for packaging and oneuse plastic. However, there are more benefits to these kinds of shops than perhaps first meets the eye. Run by people who care, they carefully select suppliers who have a circular economy policy on packaging at all stages, who tick fair-trade boxes, and are as ethical and local as possible.

Food scene

This can help you shop with confidence, knowing that the shop-owners have done their research. They are a great place to shop if you have special dietary needs too. Many products are naturally vegan-friendly, whilst special ranges of vegan food are also stocked. If you need to avoid gluten, the separate gluten-free area takes the headache out of your shop. The type of food that lend themselves to the refill concept are often wholefoods and allow you to easily cook up nutritious meals from scratch or enjoy a guilt-free breakfast.

Oats, lentils, rice, pasta, nuts and an array of dried fruit will give you the ingredients you need to ditch the junk. But reducing plastic isn’t only about food, and the refill shops also stock products to help you reduce your carbon footprint, such as re-usable cups, food wraps and sanitary pads. There is shampoo, detergent and a range of beauty products too. When trying to tackle a global problem you can feel that your actions have no impact or that you have no voice, but these small businesses welcome feedback from their customers, allowing people to suggest items that they would like to see in stock. And being small local businesses themselves, they are keen to support other local businesses so you can often find local honey, jam, sauces, coffee and oil, making it possible to support your local economy all in one location. Local refill and zero-waste shops include: My Refill Market – High Street, Stony Stratford Nothing Wasted – High Street, Newport Pagnell Molly’s Pantry – Buckingham Road, Bletchley The Green Way 2 Shop – High Street, Olney The Good Life Refill – High Street, Leighton Buzzard



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A headline return to Unit Nine Music reporter Vicki McCarthy talks to Chris Wesson ahead of his his gig on November 19


ith live music firmly back on the cards, I was lucky enough to attend a few gigs in recent weeks, with one of the highlights being a storming set from 90s Britpop legends The Bluetones, who played at Unit Nine venue in Old Wolverton. On the night, I was heartened to see a packed audience ready and waiting for the supporting acts Toffees and Chris Wesson. Not being one to refuse an opportunity to turn a gig into an informal networking session, I learned that Chris was in fact looking forward to returning to the venue towards the end of the year, but this time as the headline act. Chris and I caught up later to talk about the forthcoming event some more. Taking place on Friday 19 November at Unit Nine venue, Chris will be supported on the night by great local duo Little White Lights and another local

The scene

act, to be confirmed. So, I asked Chris how he got into performing. “I was 15,” Chris reminisced, “There was a lad at school that played guitar who charged other kids a quid each to hear him play! I thought to myself, ‘I fancy some of that!’ and started to learn guitar too. It just went from there.” After moving to London for work, Chris found himself working for Sony BMG, “At the same time as Simon Cowell!” Chris smiled, “But it was when I started working with colleagues in A&R that I developed a passion for getting music heard, and that included my music too, especially as my experience grew.” Returning to MK, Chris got involved in the local music scene here by attending open mic nights and gigs, where he met fellow music-lovers and performers. Fast forward to 2020, the UK was plunged into lockdown, which saw Chris

spending time crafting new material and recording three new singles, ‘Where are you?’, ‘Understand’ and ‘Second chances’, which are out now on Spotify. With a gig alongside Lucy Spraggan - who originally found fame on X-Factor and formed a career as a respected singer and songwriter - under his belt, Chris was chuffed to be asked to support The Bluetones when they visited Milton Keynes on their recent UK tour. Chris elaborated, “It’s the biggest name myself and the band have supported and was such a great gig. The turnout was impressive, the atmosphere electric and the venue excellent. We couldn’t have asked for a better show.” So, what’s next for Chris, besides the headline gig on 19 November? “Thinking of a band name!” he laughed, “There’s myself, Callum Mangold-Jackson, Dale Parker and Jimmy Brewer that make up the band, but so far we’ve not managed to come up with a name!” Answers on a postcard folks! Failing that, seek the guys out at Unit Nine in November with your best suggestions! Find out more and buy gig tickets at chriswessonuk


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October/November 2021

Visit Vietnam at Hanoi Art House Creative Culture columnist Elizabeth Woodward discusses Hanoi Art House, a gallery in MK that is passionate about showcasing Vietnamese art


anoi Art House is a fine art gallery based in Shenley Lodge, MK, that specialises in contemporary Vietnamese art. Founded in 2014, the gallery has also been involved in exhibitions and art fairs in London, New York and numerous cities across the UK. Hanoi Art House is passionate about showcasing Vietnamese artworks to an international audience. The gallery houses work from some of Vietnam’s most notable and respected artists, such as the anonymous women in traditional clothes portrayed by Nguyen Thanh Bihh and the striking colours used by Dao Hai Phong to depict landscapes and villages. The French colonisation of Vietnam in the 19th century was influential in the development of contemporary Vietnamese art. In 1925 the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine (now known as the Vietnam University of Fine Arts) was founded by the French colonial government. Other art schools were

‘Dreamy Girl’ by Bui Tien Tuan


‘The Morning Flowers’ by Nguyen Thanh Binh

created in the big cities of Hanoi and Saigon where European art methods were taught. Vietnamese artists began to fuse this style with the traditional mediums of lacquer and silk, the result was a new genre of art, unique to Vietnam. Lacquer painting is a traditional Vietnamese technique that dates back over 2000 years. The process is long, taking a minimum of 75 days to complete and complex, requiring skill and patience. The paintings are created on wood which is coated with various layers, most notably the sap of the lacquer tree. The process has many

‘In Between Seasons’ by Dao Hai Phong

stages of drying, sanding and polishing which reveals the colours underneath. Further elements such as crushed eggshell, mother of pearl and gold leaf can be added to create a unique and beautiful effect. Silk painting is a traditional technique that reached its peak in the early 20th century. Much of the beauty of the painting relies on the quality of the silk used, with its inherent shine being utilised in the work. Silk artists are very skilled as the technique requires specialist knowledge of the characteristics of silk and its fibres. Hanoi Art House also represents local artists, Simi Godagama, a watercolour painter and Len Gifford, a sculptor who are both based in Milton Keynes. For further details and information regarding upcoming events later this year, visit: Visits to the gallery are by appointment only, email to enquire about artworks.



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King Richard is a Grand Slam Jason Day previews the latest cinema releases, including the biopic following Venus and Serena Williams' father Kind Richard (November 12) Biographical drama starring Will Smith as Richard Williams, father to tennis legends Venus and Serena. The movie follows his battles to ensure his daughters have an equal shot at sporting success.

wer e i v e r l ee R


he Addams Family 2 (Out on October 8) Oscar Isaac and Charlize Theron return to provide the voices of the ‘seriously kooky’ animated family. Gomez (Isaac) decides on a family camping trip to help them bond; ghoulishly funny capers follow. Halloween Kills (October 15) “Evil dies tonight” says Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), chased for decades by serial killer Michael Myers. He’s racked up 150+ on screen kills in 12 movies but, with another instalment planned for 2022, she’d better not count her pumpkins before they’re carved. Dune (October 22) Director Denis Villenueve has created a visually stunning sci-fi about aristocratic families battling for control of a planet that

contains a space travel enabling drug. Timothy Chalamet stars. Last Night in Soho (October 29) Edgar Wright’s thriller is about an aspiring fashion designer mysteriously transported to the swinging 1960s. Designs from MK-based Poppy Simone Dowsing are featured and the cast includes 60s cinema legends. Eternals (November 5) Marvel movie about Godlike beings who have helped humans evolve over millennia. They do battle when their evil counterparts the Deviants threaten to destroy humanity. Stars Angelina Jolie.

Belfast (November 12) Drama from director Kenneth Branagh that focuses on families during the 1960’s in Northern Ireland. The cast includes Dame Judi Dench and Jamie Dornan. Pirates (November 26) TV presenter Reggie Yates directs his first feature length film, a hotly anticipated “shortest ever” road movie as three friends journey across London on New Year’s Eve 1999. And at MK Gallery… Raphael on Screen It’s 500 years since Renaissance master Raphael died and this filmed account of a Rome exhibition is probably the biggest celebration of his work. To book: You can read more in-depth reviews from Jason by following him on Twitter: @Reelreviewer

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Running into the third trimester Murphy Runs shares her experience of staying active during her pregnancy


ello fellow runners! Last time I caught up with you, I shared the news that I am expecting my first baby – a boy – in September 2021. Well, at time of writing, I am just two weeks away from my due date. Pregnancy is so different for every woman, sometimes without explanation, but I wanted to share my positive experience of running and staying active through my low-risk pregnancy. Me and this little bump ran over 500 miles together, the MK Turing 10km race at

27 weeks pregnant, climbed Mount Snowdown, ran in the snow, the trails, climbed Peny-Fan and explored the peaks of the Scottish Isle of Skye during my third trimester. It’s safe to say we’ve had a fun and exciting year of adventures and fitness. During the last couple of weeks, I’ve started to notice that I am getting quite tired and I am slowing down, but overall I truly believe that staying active kept me energetic and feeling like myself with minimal symptoms. It’s not been all sunshine and rainbows though. I started to suffer from pelvic pain from very early on. At 34 weeks, the pelvic pain I would experience post-run impacted my mobility far too much, so I switched to run-walks (90 seconds of running, 60 seconds of walking). That was still too much, so now I am

Murphy Runs heading to the gym and training on the cross-trainer. My priority now is to rest, but if you’re a runner like me, you’ll know the feeling that exercise is the way us runners like to ‘rest’, so I am still making sure I do something active each day, if not for fitness then for my mind. I am excited to start the journey of returning to running. This whole experience has taught me that I have no desire to be the fastest runner; I just love getting my trainers on and running outside in all weathers. See you in a few months – hopefully with a new little running buddy and some post-partum miles under my belt! Follow Anastasia’s running adventures on Instagram @MurphyRuns

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Pay rise for Waitrose LGV drivers Drivers’ annual salaries are increased by up to £5,000 per year


he John Lewis Partnership has announced it is increasing annual salaries for LGV drivers by up to £5,000 a year. From August 8th, LGV drivers employed by John Lewis and Waitrose received a pay rise of around £2 an hour in their base pay across all regional and national distribution sites. The salary increases which follow a review of LGV driver rates in the Partnership - are designed to ensure that both retailers can continue to recruit LGV drivers at market competitive rates. Around 900 drivers currently employed

will benefit from the higher pay rates. In addition to higher recruitment rates, there will also be a welcome payment of £1,000 to new LGV Drivers with C+E licences joining the business before November 2021 as the business enters its peak trading period. Also, the business is planning

to invest in driver recruitment and training by establishing a driver training programme to allow existing Partners and new recruits without LGV experience to train up. This will help address the acute shortage of drivers, which is affecting the entire industry. Mark Robinson, Director of Supply Chain for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “There’s never been a better time to get behind the wheel for Waitrose and John Lewis. “We’re responding quickly to the national driver shortage by ensuring our drivers are paid competitively and by investing in training for the future.”

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October/November 2021

Can you be too careful as a parent? Freelance writer, blogger and married dad-of-two, Gareth Ellis, talks about trying to get the balance right between letting children explore and making them safe


’ve always been a cautious kind of guy. When I was younger, I didn’t really want to climb trees or do anything dangerous, I rarely talked back to my teachers at school for fear of the repercussions, and I liked doing things that were safe. So, it’s no surprise that as a dad I am very cautious with the kids as well – I think the number one phrase that comes out of my mouth when I’m with the kids is ‘be careful.’ Jess and I have a very different approach to things in this regard. Where they might run down a hill or climb onto something, Jess is happy to let them explore, whereas I can’t stand the thought of them falling and hurting themselves. That’s not to say Jess doesn’t care, but just that we have a different approach to things. So many times now I have watched, often through my fingers, as Rupert runs down a hill close to our house, because I’m scared he’s going to fall over. I know falling over is part and parcel of growing up and by letting him experience it we’re not monsters, I just hate the thought of him being hurt when it could be avoided. We recently went to Willen Lake and one child went in one direction and one went

Dad's The Word

the other. In a second, I had to do a risk assessment to see who was in the most danger. Was it my two-year-old, Rupert, climbing the rope bridge or my one-year-old, Emilia, running down the hill. Now Emi is walking I love seeing her toddle around with a look of sheer joy on her face. But again, I can’t help but say ‘careful, baby’ as she walks across the room. I guess I’m no different to any parent, right? We don’t want our children to hurt themselves, and even less so on our watch. The reason for me is that it looks like I wasn’t paying attention.

The question is, when does careful become TOO careful? I don’t want them to get hurt, but I don’t want them to be scared of everything just because their daddy was worried they might get a graze on their knees. At some point I’ll have to find that line between letting them explore and holding their hands forever. I mean, before I know it they won’t want to hold my hand at all – at least not in front of their friends. Gareth writes a regular blog at www.garethellisblog. and you can follow him on Instagram @dads_the_word_blog



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Burretti show set for The Venue Cara Lee previews the best theatre shows in MK in October and November, including the story of Bletchley’s own Freddie Burretti

show stoppers


s we get into the last few months of the year, the theatre keeps coming! First of all, after a great reopening in August with Jane McDonald followed by Rocky Horror, MK Theatre continues to serve up great entertainment. Fresh from the West End and Broadway, smash-hit musical Waitress comes to the MK Theatre from the 8th to the 9th of October. The show stars Lucy Jones and Matt Willis and is based on the 2007 film of the same name. It’s also got music by Sara Bareilles and tells the story of a down on her luck waitress who bakes pies as an escape. At The Venue, Burretti: The Man Who Sewed the World is playing on the 29th of October. As the name would suggest,

it tells the story of Bletchley’s Freddie Burretti. He was an early designer for Ziggy Stardust and a close friend of David Bowie. The performance will also be filmed for a future cinema release. The Comedy Cow Presents is also back at The Venue on the 30th of October, with Ed Gamble as a headliner. Other comedians on the line-up include Garrett Millerick and Glen Moore. Moving forward towards November and to The Stables, Stephen K Amos returns to MK. Known for appearances on shows like The Project, QI, Live at the Apollo and many more, Stephen K Amos is one of the country’s most iconic comedians. Rescheduled from May this year, his show After Laughter will now be on the 26th of November. Finally, in October a thrilling mystery will also be making its way to MK Theatre. Dial M for Murder will play from the 26th to the

30th of that month. Adapted from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, the show stars Tom Chambers and Diana Vickers. When a jaded ex-tennis player discovers that his wife has been unfaithful, he begins to plot his revenge… You can find out about all the shows on at MK Theatre at You can also get more information on all the shows on at The Venue at www. and can read all about The Stables at 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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October/November 2021


Local Business Directory To advertise, email or call 07928 027444 Architect Andrew Jackson Design 07525 825843 Beauty and Aesthetics Dermaspa..................01908 242023 Make Up By Della B 07980 927337 Cycling Blue Horse Bikes......07464 171032 Chiropractor Isis Chiropractic.......01908 307075 Dancewear Design Agency Sole2Sole....................01908 567823 Dentist MK Dental Spa...........01908 569949 Food and Drink Alpha at Oscars.........01908 242977 Riverford MK..............01908 238100 Maaya Indian..............01908 242665

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