Mersey News Live 1:8 December 1 2021

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Powered by LJMU journalists

December 1 2021










4&5 Disaster Day proves a success 6 Mayor’s delight at festive switch-on 7 University strike action across region 8 City MP responds to police chief 9 Spotlight on Orange Ribbon campaign

LIFE & ARTS 10&11 12 13 14-15 17 18 19


LJMU graduate Connor Dunn ’Unnemployable’ entrepreneurs Light up your house Amanda’s new cook book 19

Books gifts for Christmas Sean’s a double thriller Writer’s first novel - at 80 4-5


elcome back to this week’s edition of MNL - it’s jam-packed with news and events from across Merseyside! Luke Pollitt joins a mock disaster day for LJMU policing students to tackle several scenarios they are likely to face once they join the force, while Oli Johnson reports on the latest university strikes across the region. Catrin Jones talks to LJMU graduate Connor Dunn about his career in both journalism and public relations. Amna Akram speaks to

Just in the (Saint) Nick of time!


RSAA Merseyside, who have started an orange ribbon campaign which encourages women to leave a orange ribbon in public spaces in a place where they ever felt unsafe. Sophia Smith chats to former Desperate Scousewife Amanda Harrington about her new cook book ‘At home with Miss Harrington’ which is coming out today. Two self-styled “unemployable” brothers went on to start a fashion business, as Ella Williams reports.

We take the time to celebrate authors this month - Sophie Moore talks to a Liverpool writer who at the age of 80 is publishing his first novel, while former LJMU journalism student Sean has also published a new book. as Evan Barton reports. To round off the festive celebrations, Gabby Bergonzi, reports on the Illumination Street contest. Sophie Moore , Sub Editor




It’s no disaster as students By LUKE POLLITT


id-way through tackling a house fire, a call comes in that a man is threatening to jump from onto a motorway, quickly followed by a neighbourhood dispute that threatens to get out of control. It all sounds very dramatic, but luckily it was all part of a day’s exercise designed to test the emergency workers of tomorrow. Liverpool John Moores University policing students took place in a mock disaster day on Monday to tackle several scenarios they are likely to face once they graduate to the force. The Emergency Services Training Centre offers coaching for police

trainees working towards becoming the next generations officers. Monday saw students from John Moores and Hugh Baird College take part in a mock disaster day. Encompassing five scenarios they are likely to face when they make the next step into the police carried out with the help of an amazing set of volunteer role-players. A large group of arrived in the morning, eager to get involved. To start the students were put through a crash course in first aid, the importance of which was highlighted by a lecturer’s experience from previous years. A past student took what they learnt from that crash course and saved the life of their flatmate who was overdosing on Ketamine. They properly cleared the victim’s airways and was able to resuscitate and stabilise their friend who would have

The Emergency Service Training Centre housed the day’s activities died otherwise. Reinforcing just how important those skills are.


he students kitted up and got to grips with their police radios for the day, learning their callsigns and the proper way to use them. Nick Kealey is a lecturer for the policing course at LJMU and was acted as the dispatcher for the day, he told MNL: “What we’re trying to do is get radio discipline, because I’m looking after five student groups, one of which is quite because they’re in the fire house with no radio are all trying to get control, so it’s quite interesting.” Just as they began to get to gips with this, the urgent radio messages came through. The group we followed received an urgent call that a man was threatening self-harm from a height, a jumper.

Students attempting to calm a distressed member of the public

A group gather the details of a vulnerable person who has gone missing 4

They sprang into action and arrived on scene to find one of the actors threating to jump onto the motorway. The student’s job was to learn how to deal with the situation in the safest way possible as well as using the radios to communicate with HQ what was happening. The students actively engaged with the man and tried their best to interactive with him on a personal level, in a situation that in real life would be hugely stressful. Nick Kealey added: “As you can see it gets really, really busy. So, what we’ve got now is we’ve got five different sets of callsigns from students. “So, a mixture of professional policing students, undergrad policing students and students from our partner program at Hugh Baird College on our foundation degree, theirs is

Photographs © Luke Pollitt




get taste of life in the force

A group of students all kitted out in fire gear to learn about tackling blazes year nought and year one and we do level four and level five. So, we’ve got staff and students helping from Hugh Baird helping us out today, roleplaying and taking part in the processes. As I mentioned before it’s all about putting the learning into practise so we’re putting our students under a little bit of pressure today”


rguably the most exciting scenario was next. Rather than just focusing on policing, a call came through on the radio to alert the group to a house fire, the students had to rush to get kitted out in full firefighter gear and make their way to the blaze. The centre, as a whole, really emphasized learning on the job and thus the students were talked through how top properly deal with the situation. Dave Alcock is the chief executive officer at the ESTC and has a history in the ambulance service, fire service and the armed forces. He told MNL: “Most of the scenarios are quite realistic to be fair and it does put them under pressure to see how they react to these situations. They’re very important, because what they allow the students to do is experience different aspects of the

emergency services.” With barely a moment to catch their breath the group were called to the next situation. A vulnerable person missing from care. Now the students had to gather precise information on the patient in order to track them down. More information filters through their radio that a man matching the description has been located on a railway track, again forcing them into action. Nick said: “What we’re doing now is taking that absent rom care scenario down, they’ve given us a description, obtained details of what drugs they’re taking. “What I’m now gonna do is deploy them to the train and tell them that their absent from care has been found at the station, underneath the track. “We’ve also got a master’s student Shauny Dixon who’s an acting special sergeant with the British Transport Police, so we’re actually doing peer learning now, our students are teaching our students and actually to be honest I don’t think it gets any better than that.” As well as a road traffic accident, policing students then moved onto a domestic disturbance in which a

neighbour was racially abusing a group of Romanians. Nick talked MNL through the scenario: “Our role actors, students from level 5 and level 7 are Romanian nationals. “We have a situation where the three Romanian students have been told, speak in Romanian but be a little bit helpful if you can be. “We have Trish Hughes who is one of the tutors at Hugh Baird College and she’s playing the part of some right-wing or left-wing extremist neighbour, picking on the students and falls out with them, because of issues around music but actually it’s a much deeper one than that. “It’s very much ‘pro-Brexit, stay out of our country, you’re taking our jobs’ kind of neighbour dispute. Which the Police go to all the time. So, it’s actually quite an interesting scenario”


NL caught up with a group of students participating in the activities, Ellie Turner, an LJMU student said: “It’s really fun, really enjoyable, very fun day out yeah. “You’re like learning on the job as well, rather than in Uni when you’re just sat learning the academic things,

Staff brief the students as they eagerly await the start of the scenarios 5

It’s all about putting the learning into practise ... We’re putting our students under a little bit of pressure

here it’s really hands on.” Georgia hills and Flossie Blackmore-Young are also students and added: “Well, I feel like I’ve learnt a lot more here than I have in the classroom at all for 2 months now, 100%. All the advice from talking to different people from the different scenarios.”




Village celebrates with the lights fantastic


By ELLIE ROCHELL called Oxton Christmas Lights: Buy a Bulb. Normally, the Christmas Fair would be funded by profit from the Oxton Secret Gardens, an event which happens every summer, allowing visitors to explore the famously beautiful gardens of local homes. Although Covid-19 also stopped this event from happening in 2021, it was held remotely instead, which severely reduced the profit made.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful and the crowds were just unbelievable


ach year, the small suburban town of Oxton celebrates the festive season by lighting up the village centre. Usually, the locals are able to celebrate during the Christmas Fair, but last year Covid19 disrupted the village’s plans. This year, the Christmas Fair and lights returned to Oxton, alongside Wirral Mayor George Davies, who had the honour of switching the lights on. The Mayor and Mayoress performed the countdown, then lit up the village with the festive lights. The village was bustling with endless visitors browsing the food stalls, local shops and cafes and watching the performers. The event was enjoyed by all, especially by Mayor Davies. He told MNL: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful and the crowds were just unbelievable.” The fair has always played a big part for the Wirral Mayors, as it is a ceremonial post elected annually. They get to be a part of the Christmas Fair but end their post after visiting the Secret Gardens. George Davies said: “The last thing you do in your year is the Secret Gardens. It’s a nice thing to look forward to going back there.” The fair was organised by The Oxton Society, who raised funds for the event through a JustGiving page

ue to the generosity of locals, however, the Oxton Society was able to hold the event. With frequent council budget cuts, raising money has never been more important. The Mayor said: “You’ve got to make sure that if you’re raising money, the people of Oxton are very generous as well. They needed £3,800, but they got that and more,” The Mayor insists he is not to thank for the Xmas Fair, he said: “It really

was a peaceful occasion. And well put together by the Oxton Society. No thanks to me, or anything else. It was down to how they organised it and got it set up.” Having raised over £225,000 since 2001, the society forms a large part of the local community. The Mayor said: “They’ve now got 187 members, of which they have a committee of 13. Those 13 work on it all year round.” The fair was as festive as can be, with mulled wine, Santa’s Grotto, a Christmas raffle and food stalls from the village stores. Children’s choirs from local schools including St Joseph’s and Woodchurch Road joined to sing some festive songs, alongside the famous Rock Choir. Mayoress Cath Davies, was a singer for the Rock Choir in the past. The Mayor said: “Even my wife was delighted because she hasn’t seen her singing group the Rock Choir and they were in Oxton village. And that’s where she was two years ago.” • Want to find out more? Visit our website MerseyNewsLive to read more about the Christmas light switch-on and a oneon-one with the Mayor.

Oxton village’s ‘Home’ cafe © Ellie Rochell

Wirral Mayor George Davies © Dannielle Jones

The famous Rock Choir performing their carols at the Christmas Fair © Ellie Rochell

Above: The centre of Oxton village pictured at the Fair © Ellie Rochell

Oxton village’s ‘Greens’ shop, based in the village centre © Ellie Rochell





Staff at city universities take strike action from today Staff at University of Liverpool, Hope University and LIPA are taking action over pay and pensions this week. OLI JOHNSON talks to some of those affected


niversity strikes are happening again. From today until Friday, 58 universities across the country – including three in Liverpool - will be hit with industrial action. University and College Union (UCU) members were balloted over two issues in November - pension cuts, and pay and working conditions. Three Liverpool institutions are taking part in the union action: the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Hope University and The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). Uni of Liverpool are striking over both pay and pensions, and Hope University are striking over pay only. LIPA are one of six universities who are seeing action short of strike over pay. This means that their staff will be working strictly to contract and taking on no addition duties. The general secretary of the UCU, Jo Grady, talked about the need for industrial action and how it is needed for universities to take staff concerns seriously. She said: “A resolution to this dispute is simple. But if employers remain intent on slashing pensions

UCU strike in Glasgow.

and exploiting staff who have kept this sector afloat during a pandemic then campuses will face strike action before Christmas, which will escalate into spring with reballots and further industrial action.” Ms Grady added: “University bosses refuse to revoke unnecessary, swingeing pension cuts or even to negotiate on issues like casualisation and the unbearably high workloads that blight higher education.” There have already been multiple strikes this year, in May/June, August and September. Lucy, 19, a second-year law student at University of Liverpool, had her first year of uni completely online, and was greatly affected by the assessment and marking boycott. She said: “It’s really frustrating I only have two contact hours a week anyway for one of my modules, and this week I have none because of the strikes.” Nicole, also 19, a History student at University of Liverpool, also expressed her frustration at the strikes: “The strike this week doesn’t help. It’s annoying because I want to get a first and this will affect my grades.” The UCU are determined and work

The Victoria building at University of Liverpool, Wikimedia Commons very hard in their effort to improve university working conditions, but in the eyes of some students, they are disregarding arguably the most important people at the university, the people who are there to learn and get a degree. The National Union of Students national president Larissa Kennedy’s message to students is that they should be supporting the strikes if they want to minimise disruption in the future. She said: “Many postgraduate students who are on casualised teaching contracts will be striking. The onus for minimising disruption for students lies with university bosses: they must come back to the table to address the clear issues in how higher education is currently run.” Larissa Kennedy also mentioned that university vice-chancellors’ average total pay packets have risen to over £269,000 per year. UCU balloted Liverpool John Moores University staff over pay and working conditions but LJMU didn’t meet the threshold so there will not be strike action before Christmas - however, staff are going to be reballoted before December 1.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Hope University graduation in Liverpool. Photo: Flickr

LIPA, Mount Street, Liverpool, Photo: Wikimedia Commons Universities UK represents employers in the pensions talks. It said the strike was supported by only a minority of staff and blamed “members of the influential UCU Left faction” for the breakdown of talks.







Force has ‘long way to go’ on tackling racism, says MP

JACK MCGAHAN spoke to Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, for her reaction to claims made by the new Chief Constable of Merseyside on the subject of institutionalised racism within the force


erseyside police chief Serena Kennedy has received a vote of confidence from one of the region’s MPs in her determination to address racial discrimination - but was warned that structural racism still exists in the force. Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson spoke to MNL in the wake of comments from Chief Constable Serena Kennedy about tackling on of the major issues she faces in the new role - racial discrimination within the Merseyside police force. Ms Kennedy had said: “There is a lot of work being done both internally and externally, and the relationship between the police and the Riverside communities are better than ever. Two priorities are community engagement, and the police have to reflect those communities. “It is black young men that the police need to work with, and that the police force is an inclusive organisation in terms of opportunities.

“I am confident that there is no evidence of racial profiling. There is a slight disproportionality in terms of stop and search of young black men. But overall, there is no disproportionality of minority ethnic groups. Our figures are not reflective of what you may read of other metropolitan major cities.” When asked if she was confident that young black men in Liverpool would not be profiled by Merseyside police officers, she simply answered. “Yes”. Along with other prominent figures, Ms Johnson - the first black person to represent a Liverpool constituency - spoke at an event to mark the 1981 Uprisings on Sunday 24th October. She detailed the struggles faced by the black communities during that period, particularly the communities in Toxteth. Ms Johnson became the first black MP on Merseyside in 2019 and proceeded to give her reaction on hearing the comments made by the new Chief Constable.

Chief Constable of Merseyside Police Serena Kennedy © Joe Foley “I would first like to agree that my experience is that Serena Kennedy is more open to addressing under-representation in Merseyside Police force than I believe her predecessor was, and I am glad to see that she has already begun to address this.  We do have a long way to go before Merseyside Police is fully representative, and the key to that is building trust between the Black communities and the police, especially among young Black men.”

‘I am disappointed that she still states there is no evidence of racial profiling or disproportionality’

Kim Johnson

However, Ms Johnson disagreed that there is no structural racism in Merseyside Police, and that she has commented previously on recent official figures that show Black people were nearly three times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by Merseyside police in 2019-20, although only marginally, more likely (13% to 11%) to be arrested and charged with a crime. She then explained that black people were also more than three times more likely to have force used against them by Merseyside police than white people, but again the gap had shrunk from five times in 2018/19.  Use of force includes tactics such as hand-

Photo courtesy of Parliament UK 8

cuffing, other restraint, use of batons, irritant sprays, tasers and firearms. Ms Johnson added: “At the same time, Black people in Merseyside were more than three times more likely than white people to be detained by police under the Mental Health Act last year, and that gap had grown from twice as likely. “This is really concerning, as my office has noted that mental health issues have increased throughout and as a result of the COVID lockdowns.” To determine if the stop and search and use of force figures continue to decline will heavily depend on the data that will be released in the next couple of years. “I do note the positive data that shows the ethnicity gap in the use of Section 60 has also decreased, with Black people in Merseyside now only slightly more likely to be stopped and searched using this power - down from nearly seven times more likely in 2018/19. Section 60 allows police to stop people without suspicion that a crime is actually taking place.” “Serena Kennedy is aware of these statistics, so I am disappointed that she still states there is no evidence of racial profiling or disproportionality.  “However, I am keen to work with the Chief Constable - and the PCC, Emily Spurrell - to address what I still see in the official statistics as racial discrimination in Merseyside policing, and I do hope with the policies Serena Kennedy is putting in place that we see a dramatic and swift fall.”




Victoria Park in Southport reclaimed

City goes orange in wake of gender-based violence AMNA AKRAM reports on the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence in Liverpool and finds out what RASA Merseyside is doing to help


rganisations across the city are raising awareness against gender-based violence by going orange to remember survivors of sexual abuse and women who lost their lives to violence. The campaign – part of a 16-day initiative launched by the United Nations (UN) - comes in the wake of recent tragedies in Merseyside involving the killing of Ava White and a 47-year-old woman. Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (RASA) Merseyside have released a powerful campaign which started from November 25 till December 10, where they are placing orange ribbons and encouraging other women to do so with a little tag on to explain why they felt unsafe in a public space. Emma Walker from RASA Merseyside explained the cause behind the act: “Earlier this year there was a Police Crime Commission survey which we delegated to anybody that wants to fill it out and we got some data of where people feel unsafe coming back to those answers it was mostly public places.” She went onto say: “We are reclaiming those spaces, they are for everybody and letting people know that sexual violence, genderbased violence or any kind of harm that is directed at somebody who is female or identifying as female is not acceptable.”

According to the Opinions and Lifestyle survey in June 2021, from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) 89% of women in Great Britain who had experienced harassment said they felt” very or fairly unsafe” walking on their own after dark in a park or other open space. The registered charity which provides professional counselling and support to survivors of sexual abuse was founded in 1986, after the tragic rape and murder of Diane Sindall who was just on her way home from work. This incident was a catalyst and reminder for the future that we still have a long way to go in the city and that is only going to happen if there is systematic change. Amongst the orange ribbon campaign RASA Merseyside has also been hosting a poetry project for an interactive experience calling all artists and poets for their interpretations on sexual violence which has then been posted on their social media accounts. The response and contribution to this open call has been seen on a massive scale as Emma mentioned the significance: “We received very high volume of entries and this has impacted so many people regardless of gender and identity, everybody seems to want to get involved with this which is really important.” Hera Perihar, a student from Liverpool John Moores University shared her thoughts: “The fact that

Women feel empowered after standing up to gender based crimes (posed by a model)

I want people to know we are here as a service to support the health, safety and wellness of all people

there’s been a noticeable increase in violence against women is worrying to me. I try to have a positive outlook and I feel like I’m safe enough to walk home by my own but I’m much more guarded now and cautious about where I go and when. “I just don’t think it’s fair to be living in constant fear about whether it’s safe to go out or not, I feel like we, as a society, should be doing more to create an environment where everyone feels and is safe and


comfortable enough to live their lives and thrive.” There will be a vigil taking place this Saturday at 6:00pm on Church Street in remembrance of Ava White and all the other women who have sadly lost their lives to violence. RASA Merseyside is encouraging people to get involved in their campaign. To learn more about what the service provides please visit: info-support




From newsroom buz


CATRIN JONES chats to former LJMU student Connor Dunn about his recent career change

iverpool is best known for The Beatles, its historical docks, and of course, football. For one young aspiring journalist, it was the perfect city to kickstart his career in the media industry. Connor Dunn has since gone on to be a news and sports reporter for the Liverpool Echo, before landing his current job in public relations. LJMU journalism graduate Connor explained to MNL what drew him to the city: “I came out here with a few of my home mates and thought it was class. “So, I applied to go to university here and thought there would be so many opportunities. I also thought the city was small enough and had a town-feel but still a city, so I thought it was an ideal place to learn to be a journalist.” The 28-year-old from Kent graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 2015 as he left LJMU newsrooms to become a reporter at

the Liverpool Echo. He told MNL of why he chose to stay up north to pursue his career. “I fell in love with the city and loved the people- I know it sounds like such a cliché. Where I’m from, it’s very rural and not a lot going on, whereas in the city there is so much available to me.” He also explained why his passion for football steered him into a job as a sports reporter for the Echo. “When I did news, I went to court, I covered policing, and did general news. Then I went to sport and did football and little bit of boxing, but because football is the big traffic of Liverpool, it was just football and I’m a Liverpool fan myself-ever since Michael Owen scored a goal against Argentina in 1998.” During his time at the Echo, Connor has produced a portfolio of football pieces, including the coverage of the controversial European Super League chaos. The Liverpool fan recently left his

The 2018 Champion’s League Final press conference Photo: Connor Dunn five-year position at the Merseyside newspaper as he made the transition to PR. Connor now works for the agency ThisGeneration, and since his recent career change, he has seen many opportunities arise. “I got amazing opportunities in both but then with this PR company I do big events- we’ve been doing the PR for Westlife! “I can see a little bit of different sides to media but also seeing where PR can take me after doing journalism for nearly 6 years- a bit of a change might give me a new challenge.” Connor has recently attended major events with his agency including award shows booming with celebrities and high corporates. “On Thursday, it was The European Diversity Awards at the Landmark Hotel in London. We had Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York there. It was quite a highly corporate awards and it’s essentially celebrating diversity champions in various workplaces. “On Friday, it was The Ethnicity Awards at the Grosvenor Square Marriott. It was a bit more celebrity and public figure focused, for example Charlene White was hosting.” The night saw many prestigious awards being taken home, including Moira Stewart, the first Black female news presenter on British television, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award. British journalist and televi-

Royal: Connor pictured with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, at the European Diversity Awards Photo: Connor Dunn


sion presenter Naga Munchetty also won Journalist of the Year. Connor also mentioned his PR company work with a charitable initiative ‘Football for Change’ launched by Liverpool player Trent Alexander-Arnold to get young people into education and employment opportunities. The charity was accommodated at the Titanic Hotel on Saturday 13th November, with the likes of Sir Rod Stewart, Russel Howard, and Pixie Lott attending. “It raised a series amount of money; in Yorkshire alone, it raised £252,000. So, that all now is completely not-forprofit and will go into organisations supporting young people across the Northwest.” Alongside his career, Connor is also a world traveller and has visited many corners of the globe, with many of these trips a part of his work, such as the 2018 Champion’s League Final in Kiev. Where he met former Ukrainian Boxer Wladimir Klitschko. “After uni, I took 6 months out before I started a job. I travelled across China, then went down to Vietnam, back up to Thailand and then flew to India then made my way back up.” “It’s just amazing to go to these places and get paid to do it. Press tripsthey’re not as regular as they used to be when I was speaking to older people in the newsroom, but I was lucky enough to go on two different Ski holidays. That is not a bad perk really.” Connor mentioned his next adventure was due to be Jamaica.




zz to prestigious PR

I have an absolute passion for travelling I’ve been so lucky

ous: The Ethnicity Awards at the Grosvenor Square Marriott Connor Dunn

Press Trips: Connor on a ski holiday


Photo: Connor Dunn




‘Unemployable’ brothers start luxury fashion business Two brothers believed they were ‘unemployable’ - so their only option was to create their own luxury fashion business. By ELLA WILLIAMS Joe told Merseynewslive, “We’re described as quite the pair with the ladies!” Social media plays a huge part in how their business has rapidly grew. Ben told Merseynewslive: “After we came back from lockdown, we moved to a shop and people were coming down from all over to see us because we have a big following on TikTok.” The social media platform played a big role during lockdown, when the brothers went from selling 100 items a month to selling around 10. To counter this lockdown slump, they decided they needed to create a TikTok account to gain back the followers they’d lost in lockdown. They create content about luxury items and sustainable fashion - but also, creating quirky content that is funny yet educational for viewers. From tutorials on lacing up, cleaning your shoes, to crazy facts about brands that you might not know. They grew to two hundred thousand followers, to seven hundred thousand followers in just a matter of months “We posted three to five times a day for eight months and that’s how our business really took off.” Luxe Collective promises: After them creating a 1. Authenticity is guaranteed TikTok account, All items we showcase on our website are 100% genuine. We not only does ensure this through rigorous forms of testing by our team of it reach the authentication specialists who have a wide range of knowlpeople of Liveredge built up through several years of experience. pool. But Manchester, London 2. Condition is exactly as described and Glasgow We would never sell something we would not be happy audiences now receiving. We ensure that each item is accurately described reach out to against each condition ranking. We include any extra photos them and want of wear we believe the buyer would want to see. to come and see them. 3. Best Prices when buying & selling They Not only will we offer the best prices when purchasing from don’t just sell ourselves but when you want a wardrobe refresh and want to preloved items. sell your old items, we promise to give fair, accurate prices to On their Youensure peak customer satisfaction.

(Image: Luxe Collective/press handout)


wo Liverpool brothers started their own luxury fashion business together - because of how ‘unemployable’ they were. Ben and Joe Gallagher, from Formby, started their business “Luxe Collective” when they were just 17 and 22. Luxe Collective is all about delivering the most up-to-date, pre-owned luxury pieces directly to your door, offering a quick, stress-free selling process. They noticed that pre-loved womenswear lacked a lot compared to menswear and Ben and Joe wanted to change that. Instagram pages were full of preloved menswear, but womenswear had not taken off as successfully. This is where the two found a gap in the market and ran with it. Speaking to MNL, Ben, who is now 21, said: “We’ve always been entrepreneurial, Joe used to sell some of his stuff on eBay, anything from boxers to candles. “We didn’t do well with taking orders off people, I always described us as unemployable.” Starting with £1,200, from Joe’s leftover loan from buying a new car, and Ben’s £200 as a seventeen-year-old boy. For the first six months, they bought off eBay and Depop and then would clean the stock in the back room of their house. They would then advertise it on their new Instagram page and for those first six months, drove round Liverpool delivering the products. The brothers would oftendeliver products in person, surprising their female customers.

Tube channel, they review trainers, clothes and bags to give as much information about a product to you as possible, so you know what you’re going to receive before you get it. They have videos such as “A day in


the life of Luxe Collective.” In the next year, they hope to double their staff just with the sheer number of orders they’re getting and they want to be the biggest in Europe in five years’ time.

Image: Luxe Collective




Win £5,000 by lighting up your house this Christmas


llumination Street is an annual competition which showcases the neighbourhoods’ best twinkling fairy lights and stunning spectacles at Christmas time. Sponsored by British Garden Centres, the aim of Illumination Street is to inspire adults and children to use their imagination and light up the country during the festive season. Anyone who participates will be in with the chance to win up to £5,000 of prizes. The competition is split into five categories: best large outdoor display, best small outdoor display, best community outdoor display, best front door display, and best children’s display. Each category boasts three prizes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Last year’s winner was Dan and Mark Warr-Extance from Somerset, who transformed their bungalow into a dazzling Disney Castle. They created a truly stunning display, whilst raising money for charity.

The pair took home £1,000 worth of garden gift vouchers for their winning display. Second place in 2020 was Sue and Graham Hawkes, taking home £500 worth of garden gift vouchers.Their annual display was the talk of Almondsbury in Bristol as they added a touching tribute on their roof to the NHS to celebrate their hard work. The best community display category sees communities pulling together and lighting up their streets, villages, and towns. Last year’s winner was Hailey Christmas Walking Trail. The village of Hailey united and decided to create a cohesive community display. With restrictions in place at the time, they knew it would have to be an outdoor show, so 46 houses were part of the walking trail, with each displaying a unique festive word. They won £500 garden gift vouchers. It may be cold outside, but gardens can still dazzle all through winter. Fes-

The Liverpool skyline from Everton Brow

Photo: Chloe O’Connor

One of last year’s stunning entries tive displays give streets a huge lift on gloomy nights, shining a festive light on spectacular shrubs and trees. The competition website encourages the nation to get involved: “We want to celebrate the best displays

across Britain, from those dedicated souls who raise money for charities, to others who just want to make their streets sparkle. “These displays can really brighten up communities as the nights draw in – and anything that encourages an inclusive community experience through their garden lighting displays is a good thing.” Head over to Illumination Street’s website to enter, or email 6-10 high quality photos of your display to

“We want to celebrate the best displays across Britain” Imaginative display from Ashley Williams in West Glamorgan Photos: 13




Thyme flies when you’re a busy bee! by SOPHIA SMITH

Food is a real family affair for a former Desperate Scousewife and model who has created her first cookbook



No one questioned grandad!

During lockdown, Amanda began posting new dishes on her Instagram page before she was inundated with requests for the recipe. The page quickly amassed over 10,000 followers. “The response to my recipes was overwhelming, I found myself spending loads of time just sending them over to people, so I decided to make a separate Instagram to put the recipes on and because of lockdown I was just cooking all the time. Everyone told me to create a cookbook, and I was unsure because I’m not a chef!” In lockdown 3.0 Amanda decided to use her time and got cracking with the book. “Soon it became this positive community, which I love being a part of and my following grew.” She explained: “I really could never have dreamt of writing my own cook book. I started posting meal inspiration in the first lockdown in 2020 as I was on a health kick and was trying to stay accountable and the response was overwhelming. I then posted a new recipe everyday and having the cooking account gave me purpose during lockdown when so many people felt lost.” Amanda receives many photos of recipes posted being recreated, including messages of praise from people who said her cooking kept

them sane during the lockdown and first-time cooks who had discovered a new passion. “The idea was to create something for busy people like me who run businesses, run a house and don’t always have the time to spend hours cooking. They’re all simple recipes and nothing too overwhelming. You can make things from scratch without needing a million ingredients.” Amanda has also included her take on Liverpool’s famous Scouse dish, how to create a delicious Sunday roast dinner, a Spice Up Your Life section and indulgent desserts.

There is also a ‘From The Heart’ chapter which is packed with winter warmers, and there’s everything from spicy dishes to pastas, tasty kebabs, and there’s a whole section on the humble potato cooked five different ways! “I’ve always been into cooking, but when I buy a cookbook and there’s a recipe with 25 ingredients it’s an instant no! I just haven’t got the time; I always go for short recipes and I only ever do a recipe if it has a picture next to it. That’s why I made easy, short recipes. For girls on the go!” ver 90 recipes are included in the book which includes breakfast dishes, healthy recipes, ‘fakeaway’ dishes, and slow cooked delights. It includes cuisine from all over the world including Italy, Greece, Mexico, India, and Asia. Each dish is varied so you won’t get bored from page to page. “The book has been a year in the making, I started it in January, and I thought it would be a simple process but it’s really not. The book has 17 chapters and over 90 recipes in.” The kitchen queen added: “I’m a chocaholic so when I want to snack on chocolate, I make the protein balls. My favourite recipe in the book is the salt and pepper chicken and the chicken panang curry, it’s a really nice one.” Amanda also has a business in Harvey Nichols where she sells a health and fitness machine, Zerofat. “I’ve been doing that for five years now. I also work out and walk every day. I’m always cleaning, I’m a proper

Photo credits: Amanda Harrington

business woman just trying to juggle everything at once. Now I’m busy launching the book!” Amanda styled and designed 18 different looks for each chapter and front cover of her book. “It took me a while, but I planned out every outfit, accessories, wig, outfits, back drops. I got everything together myself. The photo of me sat on my throne with the sunglasses was my favourite look. It was going to be the original front cover but there was no food on the image. “People always call me the Queen of Liverpool so I created that look to take the mick out of myself. People’s perception of me is probably, me wearing feather gown sitting on a throne.” The book also contains an equipment and spice checklist for those starting out in the kitchen with a Liverpool restaurant guide for foodies who love to eat out. “I know a lot of people who say they can’t cook but they just need the basic ideas to get going I learned a long time ago that a little planning is the key to nutritious cooking.” Amanda gives a teaser to the recipes on her website where you can expect to find chocolate orange brownies, crispy tortilla chicken strips, truffle mustard roast beef,




t was after the birth of her daughter Savannah which made Amanda Harrington realise she loved preparing food, setting the table, preparing the dishes, and having everyone around and putting a smile on their faces. “I had my daughter really young, at the age of 19 I was suddenly running a home and looking after a baby. I just wanted to be a good mum and decided to enrol in a six-week cooking course at college.” Amanda wanted to create the warm family environment she never had, and cooking gave her the foundation to do this. “Next thing you know, I’m cooking Christmas dinner for twenty people like Nigella at 19 years old!” As if that wasn’t enough of a family link, Amanda’s grandad was a chef on cruise ships as he started off as a galley boy and worked his way up to a cook. “My nan had her work cut out with three babies, he had to work away to support the family, but it was him who showed me the basics. She remembers how everyone had to sit around the table at dinner time in her childhood and nobody was allowed to eat anywhere else. “No one questioned grandad, thank God there weren’t any mobile phones when I was younger, he would have put mine in the bin!”


chicken piccata pasta and a delicious breakfast frittata.

People always call me the Queen of Liverpool!

“Once you’ve got a good selection of spices on hand, it’s simply a case of deciding what meat, fish and vegetable combination you fancy for each dish. Spend a few minutes planning out recipes for the coming days and you’ll be good to go.” This is not just any old cookbook, it’s also an insight into Amanda’s life, childhood, family, travels and most of all her admiration for cooking. From brunch recipes to family one pot dishes and date night ideas there really is something mouth-watering for all tastebuds. • At Home With Miss Harrington is available to purchase directly from www.athomewithmissharrington. for £15.99


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MNL Merseyside books to fill your stockings



By HARRY HUGHES The world of Liverpool literature is always guaranteed to be an engaging read for the citizens of Merseyside. As Christmas looms on the horizon and with jingle bells ringing ever closer in the distance, now is the time to decide what gifts to get for your lucky loved ones. Your nearest and dearest will no doubt love spending the winter months delving into these page-turners.

1. A Taste of the Liverpool Way, Mona


When LFC’s head of nutrition isn’t keeping track of the squad’s eating habits, she’s telling all of us the club’s nutritional secrets. In her first book, Mona Nemmer goes into how she makes sure that Liverpool’s players are eating the right things at the right time. With anecdotes, recipes and illustrations, readers can explore the healthy, delicious and affordable meals that fuel the stars of Anfield. For those looking to avoid binging on chocolates and Christmas dinner leftovers over the holidays, here’s your alternative!

Amazon’s 2021 Best Sellers 1. American Marxism, Mark R.


This new book sees the American talk radio host deconstruct modern Marxism and progressivism within the United States.

2. Ghost Town: A Liverpool Shadowplay,

Jeff Young

2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones, James Clear For those who have been left with a severe lack of motivation during the pandemic, this self-help book is must-read.

This award-winning memoir is a vividly fantastical look back at the Liverpool of decades past. More than just a standard autobiography, writer Jeff Young revisits the Liverpool of his youth, when its streets were lined with magnificent buildings and filled with eccentrically endearing characters. For those wishing to be whisked away to a familiar yet uniquely dream-like version of Liverpool, this is the book for you.

3. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book), Don Miguel


Based on ancient Mexican Toltec beliefs, Ruiz reveals the secrets to living a spiritual life within the modern world.

3. My Mummy is a Monster, Natalie

4. If Animals Kissed Goodnight,

Reeves Billing

Ann Whitford Paul

This instalment in Paul’s ‘If Animals’ series is a cute storybook for the little ones.

Merseyside author Natalie Reeves Billing released numerous children’s books throughout the pandemic. As well as writing, Natalie spends her time supporting children around the world through her social enterprise, Split Perspectivez, which aims to teach kids about the importance and fun of storytelling. This instalment of her ‘Monstrous Me’ series would be a great gift for the little ones over the holidays. When something inevitably goes wrong cooking the Christmas dinner and you’re on the verge of a breakdown, you may find your youngsters relating to the characters in this story-

5. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Bessel Van Der Kolk M.D. This deep dive into the psychological effects of trauma is a harrowing and thorough analysis.

Mersey News Live Favourites... The Lyrics, Paul

Before & Laughter,

Jimmy Carr


My Body, Emily

Breaking from your typical celeb auto-biography, the comedian delivers a light-hearted selfhelp book.

Compiling songs dating from 1956 to present-day, the Liverpool superstar looks back on some of the most famous and imaginative lyrics of his career.

In this revealing and honest memoir, the supermodel criticises the culture in which she rose to fame.






Ex-LJMU student Sean’s double dose of thrills By Evan Barton


former LJMU journalism student has published his second novel in a series of thrillers. Sean F Campbell, whose succesful first book entitled ‘Judge’, tells the story of a Merseyside based man stuck ‘in a dark abyss of loss and depression.. With nothing left to live for, he embarks on a quest of retribution to ensure those responsible face judgement.” The gritty revenge thriller was met with a stream of positive reviews from several readers describing it as “ gripping, “ enthralling” and “ an absolute page turner.” Campells debut left readers eagerly awaiting his next novel and in November were given just that. His new book ‘Defying Humdrum’ tells the story of George Harris, a man with big dreams and ambitions struggling with his relationships and career. George seeks something more in his existence than simply just being alive. He stumbles across a small

village that changes his perceptions entirely, however he soon discovers a grim reallity that everything isn’t as it seems. Sean told MNL: “Defying Humdrum is also a thriller but touches on the supernatural and even adds in a slight dash of horror. The story follows a degree of sacrifice he is willing to make in order to live a life he thought he lost.” Sean’s novels arent just everyday thrillers, they each contain a different theme, something he wishes to further in his future novels. When asked what we can expect from him in the future he told me “ I have a couple of ideas in my hard drive at various degrees of completion. There is a sci-fi novel in the works at present as well as a horror which I intend to work on after that. As you may gather, my books so far are different genres and that’s because I’m inspired by a lot of different things. Eventually, I may settle on one but that would depend on what proves to be the most popular and what I feel I am best at.” As Sean’s novels have been so well recieved, i wanted to find out what inspired a student to make his venture into the writing world. He told me “ I’ve always had a creative side and always enjoyed writing. Some people are good at art, maths, sports etc but for me, creative writing has always come naturally. Teachers as far back

as primary school used to say ‘he should write a book one day’ and my family always encouraged me to do so. “I’m a great aficionado of ‘what if’ scenarios. I look back at historical events and wonder how alternative outcomes would have shaped our future, I watch films and imagine entirely different outcomes. “I guess an active mind, a strong sense of creativity and, of course, my Mum’s encouragement finally made me realise that it would be criminal if I didn’t get something written one day.” When asked how his time at John Moores shaped his career, he

said “Definitely! Though I haven’t followed journalism as a career, my degree turbo-charged my creativity. There were so many different scenarios we had to write for but I always preferred the informal ones where I could spread my wings and have some fun with my words but at the same time, the more formal work gave me a strong discipline which I still adhere to today.” Sean’s eagerly-anticipated second novel and his highly-rated debut are available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle. His next venture, wether it may be science fiction or a new theme is leaving readers anxious for more.

‘ ’ I have an active mind, a strong sense of creativity

Sean F Campbell with his new novel ‘Defying Humdrum’





First novel for true crime writer George - at age 80


n acclaimed writer from Liverpool has published his first novel at 80-yearsold - just months after leaving hospital following a frightening battle with covid. George Skelly, from New Brighton, began writing his first novel, The Most Familiar Face In the World, back in the early 1970s. After 50 years, the novel was finally ready to be published Christmas 2020, but following an admission into hospital after being diagnosed with coronavirus, his family "weren't sure he'd live to see the day" that it hit the shelves. John Skelly, George’s son commented on his dad’s battle with Covid and said: “We almost just lost him to covid. Thanks to the amazing staff at Wirral University Teaching Hospital, he pulled through. He now has published his latest book. We weren’t sure he’d live to see the day that it was published.” John added: “The novel is 50 years in the making, and almost a casualty of covid. Now the old man’s book finally sees the light of day!” George’s novel serves up an uncompromisingly authentic slice of post-war Liverpool as a backdrop to young protagonist, Sheridan. On why it has taken so long to

A Liverpool writer has published his first novel at the grand old age of 80. SOPHIE MOORE reports publish, George said: "Its genesis dates back to the early 1970s, but life, family and other projects led to it spending almost 50 years percolating gently on the backburner." As a student, he studied at the University of Liverpool, then went on to have a career in social work. He then changed careers after an early retirement to focus on his passion for 'researching and writing miscarriages of justice. Speaking about the novel, George said: "Young Sheridan is an exceptional kid in a cruel, confusing world. He is astute beyond his tender years, but trapped in a hard-knock childhood, amidst the grit of post-war Liverpool, where the grown-ups make no sense. Brutal yet kind, tragic yet funny, happy yet sad. He feels for them. He feels for everything!" He added: “It’s based on six years in the life of a boy, Sheridan Connolly, from the post-war Liverpool slums, who despite his physical surroundings of hardship and brutality is an introspective, sensitive child.

fiction, George has already published two influential true crime books, The Cameo Conspiracy and Murderers or Martyrs. His research on the former being key in the exoneration of an innocent man who had been hanged 53 years previously for a crime he didn’t commit. Murderers or Martyrs concerns another investigation led by the


eorge added: “That amount of time however places a useful distance between present day and the vivid and gritty world of postwar Liverpool that the novel depicts so authentically as a coruscating backdrop to this timeless tale about self and the universal human need of having something to look forward to.” Despite this being his first work of

George Skelly and John Skelly

We weren’t sure he’d live to see the day that it hit the shelves!

George Skelly

now-discredited late Liverpool detective Herbert (Bert) Balmer, which resulted in two 20-year-old Mancunian burglars, Edward (Teddy) Devlin and Alfred (Alfie) Burns, being hanged at Walton Prison on April 25, 1952. • The Most Familiar Face In the World by George Skelly is available to buy now at: shorturl. at/jqwyU


Cover of George’s book

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