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Liverpool Life




Green Party wants green light for safer crossings By SCARLETT O’TOOLE © JMU Journalism Wavertree Green Party has started a petition to try and improve pedestrian safety in the area. The petition, which was created last week, wants proper pedestrian crossings at the Wellington Road/Picton Road junction installed. It also calls for speed cameras to be installed on routes such as Rathbone Road and Wavertree High Street. David Morgan, the Green candidate behind the petition, told Liverpool Life: “We have these hellish problems with speeding and people running red lights on Rathbone Road, which is quite an accident black spot.” He added: “I’ve been living in Wavertree for just over ten years now and the thing that has always shocked me is the complete lack of road safety in the area.”

The pedestrian crossing in Wavertree.

There is a four-way crossing by Wavertree high street which is lacking in pedestrian services. Mr Morgan told LL: “People are literally having to take their lives in their hands, running across these roads in a brief couple of seconds, trying to dodge traffic.” The petition has already gained more than 300 signatures. The Green Party candidate told LL: “One woman posted a comment on the petition saying her teenage son

© Scarlett O’Toole

had been hit by a car just a couple of weeks before by Picton Clock, where again there is no pedestrian crossing in the majority of that junction. Thankfully he wasn’t seriously injured.” The next step for the local Green Party is to go out onto the doorsteps to raise awareness of the issue. They currently have a leaflet circulating which details the need for better pedestrian services in the area and there will be a second going out before Christmas.

Tense vote for West Derby candidate By SCARLETT O’TOOLE Everton councillor Ian Byrne has narrowly won a vote to become the Labour candidate for the West Derby parliamentary seat following MP Stephen Twigg’s decision not to stand at the next election. The selection meeting took place on Sunday, with the result being announced later that evening. The successful candidate told Liverpool Life: “I want to represent the people in West Derby right across the board, from a solicitor in Sandfield Park to someone who’s on universal credit in Norris Green.” The result was close, with just two votes between him and runner-up Angela Coleman. Mr Byrne won the selection with 222 votes. The new parliamentary candidate co-founded Fans Supporting Foodbanks. He told Liverpool Life: “The power of the grassroots is something which is often overlooked, but it’s something I’m steeped in through creating

The West Derby labour selection takes place © Scarlett O’Toole Fans Supporting Foodbanks to being a community activist.” Mr Byrne will go into the Thursday, December 12 General Election defending a Labour majority of nearly 83%. He told LL: “I haven’t done a traditional way to get into politics. I fell into this. It’s not something which I chose, or which I aspired to be. It was

LIVERPOOL LIFE Scarecrow festival



just something that has happened.” The successful candidate had his campaign endorsed by Labour frontbenchers such as Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and Dan Carden. Other parliamentary candidates for the constituency include Paul Parr for the Liberal Democrat Party, Ray Pearson for the Brexit Party and Steve Radford for the Liberal Party.

CONTENTS Panel of Metal: Rock artists discuss genre issues P8

City gets ready to pay respect By KATIE PREECE People from all over Liverpool will gather to remember the fallen at a series of commemorative events across the city to mark Remembrance Day. The biggest Liverpool city event for Remembrance Sunday, which this year is November 10, will be held outside St Georges Hall. Parades will begin from 10.30 am alongside the parades, there will be speeches and poems read by The Archbishop of Liverpool and Sue Johnston OBE. Before the two-minute silence at 11am The Band of the Duke of Lancaster Regiment will accompany singer Danielle Louise Thomas, before playing the last post. Thousands of poppies will follow the musical contribution, falling from the roof and beacon of St Georges Hall. There will be a speech by former Royal Marine Andy Grant and the wreaths will be laid on the cenotaph. The Museum of Liverpool is hosting ‘Armistice 100- Liverpool Remembers’ on November 10, from 7.30-9.30 pm. The evening will commemorate the First World War with letters and music. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Honour Choir will be in attendance at the event, there will also be readings from letters throughout the night. A picture of World War One veteran and poet Wilfred Owen will be projected onto a building in Skelhorne Street near Lime Street to emphasis the significance of soldiers leaving and never returning.



You have been reading ...

EDITOR: Lydia Baggs

Birkenhead transformation approved P5

LL speaks to Leroy Cooper P10

PRODUCTION TEAM: Tom Battison, Chloe Morgan, Matthew Nyland, Sarah Almond, Louise Jamison, Lewis Batty, Jada Jones, Maisie Harvey, Stephen Rawlinson

FACT exhibiton opening

LL interviews author Sean Campbell 11

FRONT COVER: Toxteth © Leroy Cooper Poppy image © Daniel Williams, Wikimedia Commons



Residents throw their straw hats into the ring for scarecrow festival By SCARLETT O’TOOLE Rainhill has been invaded by more than 60 scarecrows. As part of its first-ever scarecrow festival businesses and residents from all over the village decorated their windows and gardens with scarecrows. Lindsey Smith, organiser of the festival, told Liverpool Life: “Rainhill’s first scarecrow festival was a resounding success.” Miss Smith got the idea after taking her family to a scarecrow festival in another town. She told Liverpool Life: “I knew that Rainhill already had a great community spirt and thought it would work well. “I contacted the team who run our local community Facebook page, Rainhill Rocks, and asked them to put out a post to see if it would be something the residents would be interested in. There was a great response from everyone so the next morning Rainhill’s first scarecrow festival was born.” Dianne Taylor, manager of the local YMCA store, told Liverpool Life: “It brings us all together.” Jane Thompson, local resident, said: “Everywhere looks so wonderful. It’s fantastic. That’s the only way I can some it up.” Another local resident, Anna Navis, told LL: “I think it brings all of the community together. It’s a really nice

Some of the creative scarecrows on show

© Scarlett O’Toole

thing.” Some residents were left upset after vandals destroyed three of the scarecrows in the village on Mischief Night. Resident Emily Ranson told Liverpool Life: “It’s sad for the people who have gone out and actually made the effort to do something.” Miss Smith is hoping to run the festival again next year.

Survivors’ harrowing tales of ‘honour’-based and FGM abuse By SARAH ALMOND

A charity whose aim is to raise awareness of female genital mutilation visited Liverpool, bringing a powerful and moving message. Savera UK established in 2010, is the leading charity seeking to eliminate ‘honour’-based abuse and harmful cultural practices and is touring with its #EndFGM Exhibition, which was hosted yesterday ,Tuesday, by Liverpool John Moores University. Founder, Afrah Qassim, told the audience at the event: “We stand here today for those 200 million women affected by this. “I do this because I saw my family

Payzee Mahmod spoke at the event © Scott Clarkson

not have the choice, yet I had the choice. This is why I am here today. I am a survivor.” The event detailed explicit artwork created by the Savera UK Youth members, some of which experienced first-hand abuse in their lifetime. Speakers emphasised how Female Genital Mutilation still happens today across the world, and at an alarming rate. Payzee Mahmod, FGM survivor and now campaigner spoke movingly at the event and told how she first learnt about FGM at the age of 13, when her mum told her she would have the procedure. Ms Qassim told Liverpool Life how radio and television presenter, Maya Jama, was scheduled to take part in a round table discussion at the event. She was chosen as an ambassador as her own family had gone through those same practices years ago, but disappointingly, their most famous guest speaker had to cancel due to transport issues.

© Pete Price

Radio host Pete Price harrassed By DANIEL WILLIAMS Radio City Presenter Pete Price, pictured above, was forced to hide in a restaurant after a gang followed and harassed him. The 73-year-old ran into the restaurant after the gang chased him through the city centre yesterday. The talk-show host, best known for his weekly radio show Pete Price: Unzipped, claims the men recorded the incident while hurling abuse. He took to social media to describe what happened. He said: “I’ve just ran into a restaurant to get away from them. They are still outside and I’m frightened. You should see them outside it’s horrendous. The abuse I’ve just had for 10 minutes is outrageous. It’s starting to get me down.”



Show shines spotlight on food allergy advice BY TILLY KENYON

Sarah celebrates scripted TV role By SCARLETT O’TOOLE LA Productions, an independent production company based in Liverpool, has appointed former scriptwriter Sarah Deane as its new Head of Scripted. As part of this role Sarah, pictured above, will be looking after all development projects at the company. Ms Deane told Liverpool Life: “It’s pretty full-on, but there’s never a dull moment. “I’m really excited about getting stuck into this new role, although it will leave me with less time to binge watch stuff on Netflix...” The new Head of Scripted originally worked on the first two series of La Productions’ BBC drama, Moving On, before joining the operation permanently in 2016. More recently, she was Lead Writer and Show Runner on the 10-part prison drama Clink. Ms Deane will work with development assistant Tom Kinney.

Boost for PR agency By KATIE PREECE Influential PR has been voted the eighth best PR agency in the North - and that means it is number one in Liverpool. The company’s varied client base includes Everton Football Club, Stagecoach, Liverpool One and the Brain Charity. It operates from offices in Liverpool, Manchester and London. Influential specialises in Strategy, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Digital and Social Media and Design. The prestigious list of the North’s 50 top public relations agencies was announced at the Prolific North awards ceremony earlier this week,


The world’s largest event dedicated to free-from living came to Liverpool offering solutions, help and advice to people suffering from allergies and intolerances. The Free From Show Winter 2019 featured thousands of free-from products from household names to exciting start-up brands all looking to show customers what they were made of. As well as food and drink, the twoday event included cooking classes, free seminars and talks, expert advice and skin consultations. Daniel Kelly, creator of May Contain, which is an allergy blog discussing related topics, gave a talk about restaurants taking allergies seriously and living with an allergy. He said: “I feel like there is a massive issue at the moment where some restaurants just don’t take allergies seriously. “I recently did an Instagram poll and 90% of kids with allergies don’t feel like the restaurant is going to take their allergy seriously. It’s about trying to give these young people confidence to speak up about their allergies in restaurants and make sure restaurants start that dialogue with the customer.” For anyone living with allergies, intolerances, eczema or coeliac disease, or simply living free-from, there was something for everyone. Freedom Marshmallows launched in 2013 and were one of the vendors

Crowds gathered at Liverpool Exhibiton Centre (above). The Freedom Marshmellow mascot at the event (right) © TillyKenyon at the event. They are part of Freedom confectioneries who have been involved in producing gelatine-free marshmallows since 2010. They now sell to 15 different countries. Elvin Willgrass, sales director for Freedom confectioneries, said: “The beautiful thing about our marshmallows is that they are gelatine free, gluten free, egg and dairy free, soy free and nut free and we only use natural colours and flavours.” “The real word with allergies is safe. People just want to eat nice food and know they aren’t going to suffer from it afterwards.”

Police swoop in gangs crackdown By EMILY ROBERTS Liverpool police have raided a number of homes in a bid to target organised crime. This follows a series of shootings across Merseyside. A spokesperson for Merseyside police said the arrests would “put a serious dent into organised crime” in the area. These raids followed 10 shootings on Merseyside, including an incident in which a 12-year-old girl was hit by a car when she was trick-or-treating for Halloween, after the driver was fired at. Five men and two women were arrested and a haul of drugs seized, including between 7 and 8 kilos of amphetamine. The arrested persons were held on suspicion of many offences including possession of drugs, cultivation of cannabis, drug dealing and money laundering. A driver of a van was reported to Trading Standards after a roadside

Unexpected raids in a bid to tackle gang violence PIC ©MerseysidePolice check on East Prescot Road revealed he had industrial fireworks inside. While in Newdown Walk, Croxteth, a cannabis farm was found. Officers also seized over £2,500 in cash, scales, mobile phones and a di-

ary, which listed numerous contacts in the local area and others across the country. The police spokesperson added: “Merseyside police will not tolerate gang activity in our communities.”


HIGH SECURITY: Walton prison © Sue Adair/Walton Prison, Hornby

Prison security revamp

By JOSE RUIZ Walton prison has become one of the first to implement airport-style security to clamp down on smuggling. The Walton jail has been highlighted as one of the prisons that need immediate improvement, as it faces significant security challenges. X-ray scanners and metal detectors will be put in place, searching visitors and staff coming in and out of the facility. This isn’t the only equipment they will receive as part of the government’s £100m investment to strengthen security across the UK prison network. The prison will also have drug detection equipment to stop drugs from being smuggled through prison mail, new digital forensics facility, phone-blocking technology and an expanded digital investigations team. The Ministry of Justice said this will make a significant difference to the stability of the jail. Prisons Minister, Lucy Frazer said: “The gate and reception are key areas of vulnerability to smuggling and more robust searching of staff, visitors and prisoners will help reduce the flow of drugs, phones and weapons. “This game-changing package of equipment is part of the Government’s new £2.75bn investment to modernise and maintain our prisons, create 10,000 additional places, and crack down on crime behind bars. All of these elements are crucial as we create a system that can rehabilitate, cut re-offending and ultimately make our communities safer.”

Birkenhead shopping centre renovation plans get green light By JOSE RUIZ Wirral Council has approved a project which aims to transform Birkenhead town centre. The council met on Monday morning at Wallasey Town Hall, where they supported the proposal to buy part of the Pyramid Shopping Centre, with units at Milton Pavement and unit 13-15 at St Werburgh’s Square included in the plan. If all moves forward smoothly, the Birkenhead community could have a major revamped shopping centre. The space aims to include food, drink, and leisure offers, along with a refocused market dedicated to fresh produce and local goods, along with a commercial district. The council aim to ensure that the purchase of Milton Pavement along with the other units will have a positive impact on the town centre when redeveloped. The project will be transferred over to the Wirral Growth Company’s (WGC), a joint venture between the council and developer Muse. WGC is currently also talking major projects in Moreton and Bromborough Cllr Pat Hackett, leader of Wirral Council, said: “This investment will deliver two key objectives at the same time – help kick start the regeneration of Birkenhead which in turn will bring in money in future years to help the council continue delivering the crucial frontline services residents and businesses rely upon. “Regenerating Birkenhead will help turn the town around and create a prosperous community and at the same time, by investing in this now

HAPPY SHOPPERS: Pyramid shopping centre © Sue Adair Regen the council will earn income from it in the future, helping support vital frontline services from social care to road maintenance.” With phase one now completed, a public consultation in Birkenhead will

take place on November 7. The public recently opposed the Allport Lane car park which has now been scrapped. They will now have their say on the revamp of the Birkenhead town centre.

Inside the Pyramid © Rept0n1x

City lights up as festival returns By KATIE PREECE

LIT UP: Pictures from the River of Light festival

© Katie Preece

The River of Light festival returned to Liverpool this week, and brought with it firework displays, light features and light shows all around the city. The Light Festival has created a trail around the city that locals can follow to see various light features or the designated shows throughout the nine-day festival. Each night from 5-10pm until November 9 the city is lit up with giant rabbit lights, spiders climbing on the Cunard Building, and even underwater light features.



Imagine a world without division TILLY KENYON

visits a new exhibition at FACT, inviting visitors to enter an alternative world


ou feel me_ seeks to challenge the systems we live with and asks how we can work together to repair, rebuild and restore justice to groups affected

by bias The exhibition at the Liverpool arts centre brings together multisensory and interactive artworks which disrupt systems of power, from 360° virtual reality experiences to a neon-lit restaurant orbiting in space. It aims to allow for other voices to break down the old, and create new, ultimately different worlds. Seven artists have their work displayed including Rebecca Allen, Megan Broadmeadow, Anna Bunting-Branch, Phoebe Collings-James, Brandon Covington Sam-Sumana, Aliyah Hussain and Salma Noor. You feel me_ has been developed by Helen Starr, Curator-in-Residence at FACT, and was made possible with support from Art Fund. One of the 360° virtual reality experiences pieces displayed is ‘Why can’t we do this IRL?’ by Megan Broadmeadow. It is based on a video from November 2018 where a YouTuber, Shirrako, shared a video of his Red Dead Redemption 2 avatar killing a suffragette, creating huge controversy due to its violence against a female character. This immersive experience delves into the ethical questions behind gaming, creating an art piece which places the character that killed the suffragette on virtual trial. Megan Broadmeadow told Liverpool Life: “The work has been made in response to a question given to me by FACT and curator Helen Starr. “They gave me the link to the video by Shirrako and I was asked to make a video in response which takes the virtual character to court. “My idea is to think about emotion in machine technology. The plot is based around the emotions of the virtual universe as told through the characters of the game. I’m using human voice too to create sounds which mimic technology which will form the soundtrack.”


Megan Broadmeadow has created this in collaboration with community groups who will be working on the project up until December: “I’m really happy to be included in the exhibition with this group of artists, it’s my first time working with FACT and Helen. I am also really interested in the concepts and theories behind the exhibition.”


The verdict paper

© Tilly Kenyon

Pictures © Tilly Kenyon. All taken at FACT exhibition. Above, virtual reality space restaurant. 360 experince by Megan Broadmeadow.

‘Ordinary people with big hearts’

AHFO founder Kevin Morland © Ahfo Facebook


TAMMY-LEE WALSH finds out how one man’s lightbulb moment created a charity that is changing people’s lives one hour at a time


ix years ago, Kevin Morland from Liverpool, had an idea that would help to better the lives of hundreds of people across the city. The painter and decorator had been struggling to find a purpose under the pressures of fatherhood and the loss of his mother in 2007. He told Liverpool Life: “I moved around various painting firms and even left the profession a few times, trying different roles as an office worker, industrial roofer, support worker and working in a factory. I was never really happy in any of these jobs and always felt like they had no meaning. “This time was a bit of a wakeup call to me and as I got older I started to really think a lot more about the world around me, especially after the birth of my son and the death of my Mum. For quite a while after my Mum’s death, I was becoming really down about the problems of ordinary people in my city and the wider world were facing.” As his frustration grew, Mr Morland found himself complaining to those

around him and on social media. Then, on November 2 2013, he had what he describes as a ‘lightbulb moment’. Around this time, Mr Morland had moved back into his father’s home and was inspired by how happy his son was after he decorated the spare room for him to stay in. He thought of how he could bring the same feeling of joy to people who couldn’t afford the costs of redecorating their home. The 44-year-old told Liverpool Life: “I realised that my constant complaining about the world wouldn’t change a thing and if I wanted to see a change for the better then I had to start living this way and do my bit. I recognised that my skill of painting and decorating along with some of my time free of charge and a few materials could really have a massive impact improving the living conditions of people living in poverty and with illness.” Since his epiphany, Mr Morland has worked with volunteers across Liverpool, helping to change the lives

of those in poverty with the priceless gift of time. One idea has grown into a widespread charitable campaign, An Hour for Others (AHFO). AHFO is a charitable group consisting of volunteers from different trades and backgrounds. The AHFO team offer their free time to help people in need with the likes of redecorating their homes, supporting their families during Christmas and sending fans to football matches.


evin told Liverpool Life: “It’s ordinary people with big hearts and businesses who share our vision of wanting to create a better part of the world and stronger community. Skilled tradespeople and companies give their time for free to decorate bedrooms and living spaces including brand new beds and flooring. “We’ve sent hundreds of children to football games and events VIP style. People have given away caravans and hotel breaks, vouchers, bikes and clothing. We also have built a health and wellbeing

programme, which is held weekly at community centres across the City. We are always looking for more businesses and people to join. We are inundated with requests for help with room refurbishments and are stretched with the resources we have.” Now, AHFO are working on their annual Christmas mission and aiming to raise around £4000. Mr Morland added: “We want to provide amazing presents, toys, clothes, food and vouchers to more than 20 Liverpool families, elderly people and 40 children. We spend a lot of time finding out the wishes of each individual. We have amazing businesses on board and individuals who are committed to helping sort of sponsor a family. If anyone reading would like to donate a voucher that can be used to buy food or clothing, that would be amazing.” • To make a donation to An Hour for Others, you can find the link to their Christmas mission at: https://www.



Saving metal from death

With fewer venues hosting heavy metal bands and fewer fans turning out for gigs, ASH ROWE investigates the genre’s fight for survival ... THE BAND: A Pale Horse Named Death

THE PANEL: A meeting of the metal community

Pic © Ash Rowe


panel of influential voices in Liverpool’s metal music scene hosted an open forum on Monday to discuss issues facing bands and venues in the city. The session, held in Phase One in Seel Street, was followed by a set from New York metal four-piece A Pale Horse Named Death. The venue itself was praised throughout the night, along with others in the city, for still hosting some of the scene’s heavier bands. Phase One opened their doors in 2018, a sister venue to the original Jacaranda featuring live music, a café and a vinyl shop, but they recently cut their opening hours to focus on gigs. Mark Cooper, who hosts the ‘Spoken Metal Podcast’, chaired the event. He told LL: “I think you don’t get this sort of conversation in other genres because metal includes everything, from what you wear to your political beliefs. “I am sure it is to a certain extent with other music scenes like mod movements and punk movements, but it just seems very entrenched with metal. It shapes every single of facet of what we do.” He claimed that “metal is most definitely in a difficult position at the moment” and offered some straightforward advice for fans who want to help save Liverpool’s metal scene: “Go to a show. It sounds like a weird thing to say but some people need to be told that and grabbed by the scruff of their neck if need be and told ‘listen this will die if we don’t.’” The 45-year-old, from Wallasey, added: “We’ll be sitting around in the future, which might be sooner than we think, saying ‘remember when you could go and see a band and talk to the guitarist afterwards about his pedals and talk to the drummer about how he plays’. That’s all going to go if we don’t get to shows. “It will be a memory and we’ll say ‘Jesus, I wish we’d done something about it then’. Well I’m saying we can do something about it now.” Metal Columnist and LJMU Media lecturer, Ned Hassan, said: “A number of people have different perspectives, it seems very fragmented.” He noted that while Liverpool’s metal and alternative scene may seem alive and well when you see the same faces around iconic spots like The Swan and around town, “it’s quite rare that you get all those people together unless a really big band like Slipknot come to the city.” The subject of elitism, specifically around certain sub-genres in metal, came up a number of times, but Amanda Barnett, associate editor for Metal Music Studies, introduced the idea of racial and gender elitism in the scene. She called for a need to “work on our elitism and make is as friendly and safe as we boast it to be. We’re all the same in the pit.” The forum also featured input from Peter Guy, the editor for music-based news website ‘Get Into This’. Joe Maryanji, vocalist for Liverpool band ‘Oceanis’ and JJ Haggar, a well-known promoter in the Liverpool scene, also sat on the panel.

The LL podcast is here!




The sound of identity (Below and centre) Visuals by Virág Pázmány. © Tilly Kenyon

TILLY KENYON pays a visit to the UK’s 15th Homotopia


omotopia, the UK’s longest running LGBTQ+ arts festival, has returned to Liverpool. Friday night saw the launch of two of its events Who Are We? and Bona Pop. These are just two of the many number of events which are taking place during the festival which runs until November 10.

Sign for the Who Are We? exhibition © Tilly Kenyon

Who Are We? is an audio-visual installation created by sound artist Xavier Velastín and visual artist Virág Pázmány. The work has two screens and two projections abstractly using narrative and audio-visual manipulation. For both of them it is their first time having their work displayed in Liverpool. Xavier Velastín, from London, said: “It’s about having a fluid identity, so it is dealing with our individual identities in terms of sexual, cultural and ethnic fluidity but also the resistance against being boxed in or categorised, which we thought fed into Homotopia’s themes of resisting.” This year marks the 50th anniversary since the Stonewall Riots and Homotopia’s 2019 theme is Resist! Resist! Exploring protest, resistance, challenging bigotry and intolerance. The artist added: “I think we sort

Homotopia’s Who Are We? exhibition.

© Homotopia

of wanted to make work that doesn’t say stuff, it isn’t preaching, it is very much our interpretation of these things and I would be really happy with people to come in and interpret it. I would be more happy if they related to it in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.” Homotopia is an annual event which happens every November. This year’s programme includes talks with leading LGBTQ+ influencers, cabaret, art shows, plays and much more. Ceri Barrow, festival assistant, explained how Homotopia is trying to branch out by bringing in more Liverpool vendors, venues and artists but are also trying to push to be as internationally inclusive as they can. She said: “We try and be as open and inclusive as possible and in doing that we are giving people ten days of arts and culture. We’ve come a long way as a society but it is things like Homotopia that really help to make those changes happen, I think that is why we are so important as a festival.”

We’ve come a long way as a society

Homotopia was first launched in 2004 with a grant from Liverpool City Council. The first pilot festival featured 16 events in four venues in Liverpool and was enjoyed by an audience of 2,500 people. In 2011 Homotopia was included in the Arts Council England National Portfolio of regularly-funded organisations. At that time, is was the only dedicated LGBT+ arts organisation to be recognised in this way. In the 15 years since it was launched, the organisation has grown and developed massively and has welcomed some of the biggest names in LGBT+ arts to Liverpool.

If you want to catch the full effect of Xavier Velastín and Virág Pázmány’s exhibition head down to Northern Lights in Cains Brewery Village 9


BACK IN THE DAY: Cooper’s work shows powerful photographs from history. © Leroy Cooper

‘I don’t want to be remembered just for 1981’ Artist Leroy Cooper talks Toxteth riots, ‘uprising’ and his new piece of work. ASH ROWE reports


first met Leroy Cooper at the opening of a photography exhibition - how fitting. There were some renowned artists displaying impressive international works and the whole gallery was breathing, pulsating with elbows rubbing, artists mingling… ‘networking’. A dirty word, but nevertheless a crucial practice for anyone trying to make it in the arts. However, amid the handshakes and commendations, Leroy immediately struck me as a genuine Liverpool artist. Within minutes, he had infected me with an excitement for his own work, which is why I made sure not to miss his book launch a few weeks later. Back in The Day: Volume 1 is a collection of photographs taken by Leroy between 1984 and 1989 - 44 black and white moments powerfully packed with history and a nostalgia that grips you even though you weren’t there. Leroy told me: “I am making a significant contribution to Liverpool’s contemporary culture and in turn to its cultural legacy. I don’t want to be remembered just for 1981.” Leroy was referring to his connection to the Toxteth riots, although, he prefers to call the incident an ‘uprising’. He said: “It was black and white young people venting their anger at the abuse they had suffered for countless years. It was an anti-police reaction not a race riot as some tried


to twist it. “There was an atmosphere in the air. There had been sporadic incidents of confrontation between local youths and the police. The day I was arrested just brought things to critical mass of discontent.” Although Leroy’s arrest in 1981 was a catalyst for what happened in Toxteth, he is set on taking back and making his own legacy with his art. It is an art which comes in many forms - although he is gaining a lot of attention for his photography, Leroy has played in bands, DJ’d, tried his hand at pirate radio and also put paint to canvas from time to time. He said: “All the other areas of the arts that I have engaged in are all parts of my creative artillery that I will return to but photography is my creative weapon of choice, closely followed by the pen and the paint brushes.” It wasn’t really a surprise hearing Leroy compare his artistic catalogue to weaponry. He is a loud man. Confidence can be off putting sometimes, but when it’s coming from a place of genuine passion and positivity, it’s hard to find fault. At his book launch in the Blue Coat last week, the Toxteth legend opened his talk by engaging the audience in what he called a “laughing exercise.” The whole room tried their best to keep up with him, but his huge, booming roar overpowered every filled seat. It was a bold start to a serious talk and with everyone now

LAUNCH: Leroy Cooper at the book launch acquainted with Leroy’s high-octane personality, he stated: “Thank you, because everything after this is not a laughing matter.” Leroy takes his work seriously. He is confident in his work.

I want to give back and encourage others to find art as a way forward in life the way I did

Leroy told LL: “I have what I call a cosmic eye. I am good at spotting what will make a strong photographic image: an elderly couple tenderly holding hands, kids splashing in a big puddle, a woman sitting on her front doorstep, a working man taking his tea break.

© Ash Rowe

“Just ordinary, everyday people living their lives but when I photograph them, I feel they are elevated and become symbols and represent some bigger narrative that is being revealed through my photography” Leroy recently officially registered his Capstone Media Company and made it clear that he intends to use his passion for the arts to give something back. He said: “I want to create art-related educational workshops to give access to digital technology to excluded and marginalized groups and individuals. “I want to encourage them to use photography, film making, creative writing, painting and music as a means to developing self-confidence, improve mental and emotional wellbeing and increase their potential employability or desire to start their own business related around the arts and digital technology. “I love Liverpool and I know that there are loads of talented individuals out there doing good work but not being appreciated or given recognition or proper respect. “I’ve experienced that myself for thirty odd years. “I want to give back and encourage others to find art as a way forward in life the way I did.”


Sean is made of the write stuff SCARLETT O’TOOLE meets author Sean Campbell


riting a novel is hard work. Forcing yourself to sit down, plan, write, edit, rewrite, edit and rewrite some more until you have somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 words is tough. Most people can’t do it. Sean Campbell, journalism graduate from LJMU, is one of the few people who could. His first novel, Judge, was released at the end of last month. “It’s based around how the seemingly insignificant actions of some can have a big impact on other people’s lives,” he said. In this gritty revenge thriller the main character “essentially sets out on a quest of vengeance to try and bring justice to a world that won’t otherwise deliver it.” The protagonist of the novel is an anti-hero, a morally ambivalent character who sometimes does the right thing and only sometimes for the right reasons. With characters like this, you can sympathise with them, find yourself getting behind them, only to later discover they go against conventional ethical codes. Sean said: “I’d always wanted to write a revenge thriller, something where someone who has been wronged does their best to make things right. Or at least in their eyes.” Sean first started writing this book back in 2014 and had the first draft finished in 2017. “Then I left it for some time. I think it

sat on the hard drive on my laptop for about a year.” The author eventually decided to go down the unconventional route of self-publishing. He had been in touch with a number of publishers, however, the ones that replied wanted in excess of £2000. “It wasn’t really something I was prepared to pay.” “I got offers. They were quite personal offers as well, it wasn’t just generic, they specified parts of the book they liked.” The novel is set in Liverpool, specifically Crosby, as Sean has a lot of family history here. Crosby’s Iron Men feature on the front cover of Judge, which was designed by the author’s friend, David Mallows. “I’ve always found the Iron Men quite fascinating. I’ve never seen a beach with anything like that.

There’s something captivating and haunting about the Iron Men

Sean Campbell with his first book, ‘Judge’ © Katie Brownrigg They watch the tide come in, some of them end up submerged and they’re helpless against their fate and by the same token they accept their fate.” The journalism graduate wanted a strong front cover: “People say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but many people do, especially as a first-time author. “If you look at a shelf of books, you need something to grab you. You can have an amazingly written book, but what’s going to grab people is a strong and stark cover.” Having graduated from LJMU, Sean tried many times to write a novel but would dry up at around 5000 words.

But this time was different. “I really put my mind to it. I had far more of a determination about me that I was going to finish this and the ideas just seemed to keep flowing. “I made a conscious effort to write 500-1,000 words per night, sometimes more than that.” Judge was written in a myriad of places. “I had written it sat on the side of a castle in Spain, sat in a two bedroom terraced house in Bootle, or actually sat on Crosby beach.” Now that he has finished his first novel, Sean is currently writing a supernatural thriller, which he hopes to release next year.

JUDGE is available to purchase on Amazon 11

LL SPORT Fighting his way to gold By HANNAH MARTIN A junior kickboxer has brought home gold and silver medals from the World Championships. Charlie Knox, 9, from Widnes, has been in Ireland winning his second gold medal for the sport. Charlie has been at ISKA (International Sport Karate Association) World Championships in Cork, where he won Gold and Silver medals. Originally founded as the International Sport Karate Association when the birth of kickboxing in America grew out of “Full-Contact Karate,” ISKA is now also recognized globally as the International Sport Kickboxing Association. Competition at the 2019 ISKA Amateur Members Association World Championships was fierce. With 25 countries vying for medals, the field was crowded with talent from all over the world. Still, England and Ukraine rose above the rest with 54 and 52 gold medals respectively, showing how well English atheltes are performing in sports. ISKA also promote regular fights for Bellator MMA, one of the biggest MMA promotions across the world. Remarkably, Charlie has also previously won Gold and Silver in Jamaica in 2018 and is gaining quite the collection of medals for such a young athlete.

© Greenbank’s Sports Academy

Electric wheelchairs will power up hockey games By GRACE PLOWMAN Greenbank’s Sports Academy is holding one of their Power Hockey tournaments this week. Greenbank, near Sefton Park, is one of the few facilities where disabled children can play hockey. Power Hockey allows children with disabilities to play hockey with their parents, friends and other children who are just like them. The club started around 2001, and has become more and more popular over the last few years. It enables children ages eight and

above to play to the best of their ability as they provide specialist wheelchairs for those who need them. The wheelchairs enable the children to tackle the ball and pass it to other players with ease, unlike normal wheelchairs. Pete Wyman, the coordinator of the group, told Liverpool Life: “It’s very competitive, it’s for severely disabled children and adults that are normally electric wheelchair users. “They come along and play a game every week, the chairs are specialist

chairs that we have made ourselves in our factory, they are the kind of chairs where you press a button and you are able to shoot a ball “It is the only electric chair contact game that we are allowed to bump someone off the ball!” The academy has a wide range of sports available for those with physical disabilities, such as many mini league groups such as football, boccia (similar to bowls), wheelchair handball and cricket. Most of these sessions are avaible to attend weekly.

High demand for new facilities at boxing club By HANNAH MARTIN Kirkby Amateur Boxing Club (ABC) is currently undergoing an extension to cater for rising demand. The club, whch has been around for nearly 60 years, has produced greats such as world champions John Conteh and Paul Hodkinson, and they now train 80 amateur boxers. Alex Moon, one of the club’s main coaches, told LL about the club and its past. Mr Moon said: “What’s so important about ABC is that it’s not just about boxing, we’re a distraction to a different life. “Our community is so important to us and that’s one of the reasons we try to involve young offenders. It’s then just a bonus when we produce

some first class fighters. “It’s great that as a club we’re moving forwards now, we’ve experienced some financial difficulties over the years and we’ve struggled to keep a permanent base. “It’s thanks to so many amazing, hard working people that we’ve made it to this point.” When Kirkby ABC opened in 1961 there were six youngsters in training, with around 80 students now it’s no surprise the club need more space. Last year Sport England released statistics detailing record levels of female participants in boxing and figures showed an overall rise in the popularity of the sport in the news, with fighters such as Tony Bellew reguarly being featured.

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Profile for Steve Harrison

Liverpool Life 8:5 November 6 2019  

Liverpool Life is a weekly news magazine produced by final year undergraduate students on the Journalism and International Journalism progra...

Liverpool Life 8:5 November 6 2019  

Liverpool Life is a weekly news magazine produced by final year undergraduate students on the Journalism and International Journalism progra...