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SUMMER 2018 | ISSUE 6 |

SQUATLIFE – St Albans in the 1980s Page 5

THE BIG INTERVIEW ‘She was in a womaniser outfit, carrying a whip’ Page 24

28 pages – biggest issue ythe et o YOFC Times f delivered to 30,000 homes

4,000 flock to film festival


ORE than 4,000 people attended 21 events, in 11 locations over the five days at this year’s St Albans Film Festival, which ran from 26 June to 1 July. This was the festival’s fifth year of operation and its second year of the Abbey Open-Air Cinema, which was once again a huge hit. People enjoyed a range of food from the Abbot’s Kitchen and drinks from the Pinkerton’s Prosecco van as they basked in the sunshine of the Abbey Orchard and watched a wide selection of films. An awards ceremony on 1 July, organised by festival directors Leoni Kibbey and Matt Bigg, saw more than 100 filmmakers and VIPs descend on Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub garden to find out which films would win the prestigious awards and watch clips on the pub’s giant cinema screen. Local actress and West End performer Asha Banks provided the entertainment and TV presenter and actor Alistair Divall compered the evening. The winner of the short film was unveiled as Kayla, a film made by a St Albans actor about an elderly man with dementia and his carer. Leigh-Anne Gilbert, who attended Sandringham School, wrote and starred in the


film. Over the past five years, the film festival has earned its place alongside the bigger international film festivals, gaining credibility by attracting 1,500 entries from filmmakers from 40 countries into its short film competition. Sponsors for

the festival were: University of Hertfordshire (UHArts), Willmott Dixon Group, St Albans Cathedral, Oaklands College, Meyer Homes, Alban Arena, Dylans, Stowe Family Law, Meraki and Visit Herts. stalbansfilmfestival.com

Young Student: A Can’s Journey, director Jude Leese Student: The Nephew director Wilhelm Kuhn Documentary: The Mechanic, director Orlando O’Mahoney Morris Animation: See Dyslexia Differently, director Alex Amelines Music Video: Deaffest 2017 Music Video: I Believe Best Actor: Rebecca Grant Main Short: Kayla, director John Dower

If you have a news story for The YOFC Times or are interested in being a YOFC Times partner, email angie@loudbird.co.uk

Landlord’s hasty drivel YOFC TIMES SUMMER 2018

Some want to call it editor’s notes, but I’m not having any of it


ELLO hello and welcome. If you get to the bottom of this, congratulations and thank you. You may see that it is impossible for me to use 50 words when I can use 500. Many have asked me: “Why the newspaper?” So I thought it was a good starting point to explain to those that have just had it delivered for the first time or joined our ever-growing very own pub newspaper. It all started nearly seven years ago when I wrote the business plan for a then very dilapidated pub on one piece of

A4 paper. This plan included a pub newspaper about what’s going on in and around the pub. Pubs were then – and now more so – dying (don’t get me started on business rates). I simply didn’t see it that way. Knowing St Albans, I always saw how our would-be amazing pub would shine through. A pub community, OUR pub community. Proving that pubs are an essential part of the community was key. That’s what dreams are made of, a vision so clear, no-one could talk me out of it. I won’t put a fiver on a horse but was eager to bet my house on the pub. It was called The Landlord’s Hasty Drivel in our early weeks back in the spring of 2012. Since then, we produced our first YOFC (Ye Olde Fighting Cocks) Times. Essentially, it was a piece of A3 paper folded in half. An amazing four pages with the menu inside. It was given just to pub customers.

Before print, I sent what we had created to Angie Cronin, a close family friend, customer, and now, with Sophie Banks, (her business partner in the local PR firm Loudbird PR), the PR support for YOFC, and the YOFC Times production team.

“I won’t put a fiver on a horse but was eager to bet my house on the pub” Angie has a background of 20 years in journalism, and she begged to cast a professional eye on what we had produced. Naturally it came back with red all over it, and looking amazing, and without all the errors in it you will be reading now. Last quarter, (April 2018), readership was up to 80,000 and 20 A4 pages. This July 2018 quarter issue is somewhat bigger (at 28 pages) and will have a staggering readership 100,000, plus those

who subscribe to it online. I would like to thank with all my heart Angie and Sophie at Loudbird PR; all the partners, writers, customers who shared the dream; and the man who only wants to be referred to as “my mate” (which is true), Chris Meadows. I would label him as David Beckham was when he joined Real Madrid Galactico – the last member that made our team complete, and a big reason why you are reading this now. Also, thanks to Bernard Tominey, who guides me wisely with encouragement, belief and a firm hand. And to my pub family, which is every member of staff that stands tall and talented. And lastly my amazing wife Sarah, my reason for every breath I take, and my boys Alex and Thomas, my little rocks I hope turn into mountains. I want to inspire them, so they believe anything is possible. Have a great day and remember: it’s nice to be nice. Christo Tofalli

THINGS TO SEE IN QUARTER THREE There’s so much to see in and near the pub over the summer, including a hard-hitting exhibition on homelessness, St Albans’ own music festival, and the St Albans Food and Drink Festival. JULY St Saviour’s Beer and Fizz Festival 20-22 July In association with Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, at St Saviours Church. Spend your weekend surrounded by more than 25 varieties of beer and cider and a selection of champagne and prosecco while raising money for charity. Squatlife Exhibition 14 July - 26 August The Squatlife exhibition is the first community-focused exhibition at the new St Albans Museum + Gallery and is a far-reaching look at homelessness

through the ages. It’s inspired by a series of photographs of squatters taken in the ’80s’. (See page 5) UK’s Strongest Man, 27 July-29 July For the first time, the Channel 5 show is coming to England – and is happening a stone’s throw from YOFC at the athletics track in Verulamium Park. AUGUST Meraki 10-12 August This family-friendly music festival returns to St Albans for a second year featuring a line-up of top live music acts across three stages. (See page 26) SEPTEMBER Timeturner event, 16 September St Albans is turning back time with each street themed to a different era with music, food, fashion and vintage markets.

Holywell Hill will be themed WW1 to ’20s, St Peter’s Street WW2 and ’40s, George Street ’50s and ’60s and Catherine Street ’70s and ’80s. (See page 20) St Albans Food and Drink Festival 26 September-8 October The festival will return this autumn to showcase the fantastic range of food, drink and produce available throughout St Albans city and district. (See page 3) Hayward Touring exhibition - Hand Drawn, Action Packed, St Albans Museum + Gallery 1 September-11 November This exhibition is the national launch of the new Hayward Touring exhibition, curated by Roger Malbert. Introducing work by 10 internationally acclaimed artists, it will explore drawing, animation and narrative. enjoystalbans.com

Bring on the awards



HE St Albans Food and Drink awards are back this year and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is doing everything it can to hold on to its title as Best Pub. Landlord Christo Tofalli said: “We were so proud and honoured to be named St Albans pub of the year in 2016 and 2017, and we are keen to do all we can to hold on to that title this year. There have been so many changes at the pub since we won the award back in 2016. We are constantly evolving our menus and our real ale offering and working with new suppliers and micro breweries to deliver our customers the best experience we possibly can. “And then there’s the pub paper which we launched back in spring 2017, our music and comedy nights and our giant screen in the garden to provide our community with the opportunity to enjoy the World Cup – and some blockbuster movies – among friends. “My team continually work hard to provide the best experience we can to our customers and we are eternally grateful to our customers for their constant support. Bring on the 2018 awards.” Nominations are open until Friday 20 July 2018 and people are encouraged to nominate all of their favourites – with no cap on the number of

The YOFC team collect the best pub award (top left), while revellers make the most of the Street Feastival establishments people can put forward. Voting will then open for residents to choose their favourite from the list of categories (see box) and will close on 26 August. This year, residents can even nominate the best place to go for a hot drink with the addition of the new best hot beverage category. The winners of these popular annual awards will be announced at an awards dinner at Sopwell House Hotel on Monday 8 October. Councillor Salih Gaygusuz, portfolio holder for business and community at St Albans City and District Council, said: “The St Albans Food and Drink Awards celebrate the food

and drink establishments and producers in the district. We have a thriving food and drink scene with a great mix of cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, markets stalls, shops and producers.” The festival will run from 26 September to 8 October. There will be plenty of events to attend across the district, including the CAMRA Beer Festival and the St Albans Feastival on 30 September. The week-long calendar of foodie workshops and events will shine a light on the amazing range of food and drink created by the many artisan food and drink producers throughout the city. enjoystalbans.com

AWARDS CATEGORIES 2018 • Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion • Best Restaurant for Everyday Dining • Best Pub • Best Bar • Best Café • Best Hot Beverage • Best Local Producer • Best Food and Drink Shop • Best Market Stall • Best Takeaway • Best Place to Do Business • Most Family Friendly • Best Newcomer • Kate D’Arcy Award


Those of you involved in the commercial property market either as owners or occupiers may be wondering what is currently happening locally.The St Albans market generally remains strong. There continues to be very good demand for freeholds either for occupation or investment with the only slight tempering of this being for out of town offices where there is more of a balanced market, probably due to employers’ perception of staff desires relating to recruitment and retention. The office market generally remains one of short supply due to the take up in stock as the economy has improved and the reduction in supply due to conversion to residential under the Permitted Development Rights. The industrial market remains in short supply with good levels of demand. The retail market, despite the troubles faced by some national retailers is generally holding up well in St Albans with few empty units and generally a good level of demand. However, investors are starting to become a little more concerned over recent administrations and the ongoing march of the internet and accordingly retail investments are sometimes taking a little longer to sell. Restaurants, which were once seeing significant expansion, have suffered from well reported problems recently and a number of local operators are reporting trading difficulties. There is likely to be somewhat of an adjustment in this market but we don’t anticipate any fundamental problems. St Albans remains a popular place to dine out as anyone will testify who has attempted to book a table at short notice on Friday or Saturday nights! In summary, the market has cooled a little but remains strong and freeholds remain as popular as ever.

Mark Bunting BSc (Hons), MRICS, IRRV (Hons), ACIArb

Anyone requiring further advice about commercial property is welcome to contact any of our St Albans team on 01727 843232 or visit www.argroup.co.uk. For all our properties coming onto the market you can also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ar_commercial

Houses with Annexes We are often told by those who are seeking extra accommodation for “mum”, au pair or other purposes how it is akin to looking for ‘a needle in a haystack’ (writes Nick Hill, Head of Town & Country at Aitchisons). Most unusually, there are now 5 such properties available for sale in St Albans and country locations with guide prices in the range of £1.5m to £4.5m; Home House is an ‘ubermodern’ detached house in secluded grounds of towards 2 acres, Skegsbury House is an equestrian property on the edge of a village with groom’s accommodation, stable yard, outdoor school and 5 acres, right on a bridle path. In Clarence Road there is a handsome Edwardian detached 5-bedroom house of around 3,000 sq ft with an adjacent “super annexe” of c1260 sq ft with attractive and secluded west-facing gardens. Felden Orchard is an exquisite 1920’s detached residence (with more than a hint of “Arts & Crafts” about it). It is one of the region’s finest and most notable country homes, with significant outbuildings, including a detached lodge and a substantial barn, set centrally within delightful gardens of 3.3 acres and backing directly onto open countryside. Also, near Berkhamsted is one of the area’s premier private residences - Cassett House is a delightful Edwardian Country House in a superb location, originally dating from c1909. In the early 2000’s it was sympathetically restored and extended to provide a principal house and annexe of around 9,800 sq ft designed to take maximum advantage of light, aspect and outlooks over the attractive gardens, orchard, woodland and delightful Chilterns countryside beyond. It is in very secluded grounds of around 14 acres, with privacy guaranteed by being set well back from Two Dells Lane behind a gated access and private drive. As well as the principal residence and detached selfcontained annexe the property includes attractive formal gardens (including hard tennis court), bluebell woods and paddocks.

For further information about these and other Town & Country properties, please call Nick Hill on 01727 855556 (Nick.hill@argroup.co.uk)


‘A far-reaching look at homelessness’ AN EXHIBITION about the far-reaching implications of homelessness is set to be the first community-focused exhibition to run at the new St Albans Museum + Gallery. Squatlife is inspired by a series of photos by Dave Kotula, a local resident, who, along with many others, squatted in empty houses in St Albans in the ’80s. The Squatlife exhibition, which is being put together by the St Albans Arts Team after they received a £50,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, will be showing from 14 July until 26 August, and will explore attitudes to homelessness through the ages, looking at the issue from as far back as the 12th century through the Victorian times and workhouse era, through to the 21st century. However, Kotula’s photographs are the central part of the exhibition, and its inspiration. “These pictures are treasured by the people in them,” Kotula says, “especially when they are looking back on their often difficult pasts. The exhibition is an opportunity for me to show these people in a positive human light.” Kotula was born in St Albans City Hospital in 1965 and grew up in a council house in London Colney and went

Dave Kotula’s pictures of life as a squatter back in the 1980s

to school in the village. The youngest of three children, he’s of mixed Ukrainian/Polish and English heritage. His father, Wasyl, was an ethnic Ukrainian who arrived in England in 1946 as a refugee, while his mother grew up in Barnet, not far from St Albans. The young Dave was always politically active and, being interested in both photography and social history, when he found himself involved in the alternative squatting scene in the city in the ’80s, he felt compelled to document this part of his life with his camera. He even appears in one of the

most striking images – taken on a roof in Lower Dagnall Street, by a self-timer device. He left the insecurities of squatting behind in the early 1990s when he met his wife, Antoinette and moved to Luton in 1993 and started a family. Now a father of two, aged 9 and 16, he has worked for a university in London for the past decade. Alongside Dave’s photos, the exhibition is also showing modern-day photos

by and of currently homeless people, and these are being attached to railings in highly visible areas throughout the city centre to symbolise the ongoing problem of homelessness. Meanwhile, the celebrated Whitechapel Theatre company, Cardboard Citizens, will work with homeless or recently homeless residents from the district to create a performance at the Abbey Theatre (27 July). facebook. com/StAlbansSquatlife

SQUATLIFE – THE HIGHLIGHTS Squatlife Exhibition – 14 July to 26 August St Albans Museum + Gallery Walk a Day in My Shoes – 14 July to 26 August Outdoor exhibition Wax House Gate, Sumpter Yard and St Albans City Centre Cardboard Citizens’ Theatre Performance – 27 July Abbey Theatre, Westminster Lodge, 7:30pm Squatlife St Albans City Centre Walk: Waifs, Vagabonds and Workhouses 29 July 2.30 – 4.00pm City Centre walk (starting West End of St Albans Abbey) Squatlife Children’s Workshops, 1, 4, 8 and 11 August Location: St Albans Museum + Gallery All of these events are free. For more information, go to facebook.com/StAlbansSquatlife

FRIDAY 20TH JULY 12noon - 11pm OVER 18s ONLY

SATURDAY 21ST JULY 11am - 11pm OVER 18s ONLY




















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M Fest raises £21,000 for Marlborough school


ARLBOROUGH Science Academy welcomed more than 3,000 music lovers to its ninth M Festival on 30 June. Festival-goers enjoyed an impressive line-up of bands on two stages, fairground rides, zorbing arena, bungee trampolines, circus skills, arts and crafts, yoga sessions and mini pamper treatments. New for this year was a big outdoor screen next to the main stage. Much-loved Marlborough music teacher Tom Billington performed with his band Glitterbox on the main stage alongside a number of other top acts including: party pop band Six Go Mad; Alexis Kings, described as the “band to listen to in 2018” by Radio X’s John Kennedy; D-Day. an alternative band from Galway; San Blas, a four-piece band who combined traditional tones of the

ukulele with the energy of British rock; St Albans-based singer/songwriter Hope, who has 15 million hits on her YouTube channel; indie pop singer/ songwriter Phoenix O’Neill; cover band The Shambles. Ten-piece soul band Soulfish were the headline act on the main stage, who rounded off the evening with a soulful rendition of

Stand By Me accompanied by a fireworks finale. This year’s festival raised £21,000 for the school, with more than £86,000 raised over the nine years of the festival. Festival-goers described the day as “superb”, “amazing”, “awesome” and “can’t wait to go back next year”. The 2019 M Festival marks the 10th year since the first music gathering.

M Festival committee member Julie Raynes said the 10th one will be the last one to be organised by the current committee. “We hope the M Fest will continue with new volunteers and so next year would be a great time to get involved to ‘shadow’ our experienced committee with a view to helping in subsequent years.” themfestival.co.uk

Absolutely Fabulous – top 10 PR tips


ILL Gates once said he would spend his last dollar on PR. You might have a fantastic business but if nobody knows about it, that means nothing. We all do our own PR every day: we tell people about the benefits of our business, our product. But for those who want to get coverage in the media, here are some top tips from Loudbird PR.

1. Who are you trying to reach? Sounds obvious, but there’s no good getting coverage in a national magazine that your customers don’t read, even if it does have a huge circulation. Much better to appear in a relevant publication even if it is the local school’s newsletter. 2. What are your key messages? Your key messages are what you want people to remember about you, the things that make you and your business fantastic.

3. Make a list of the media that could get these messages to your audience, including social media. Some of the most effective PR is carried out on social media. 4. What’s your news? What’s the thing about you that people might talk to their friends about? Think about what’s making the news today, and how you fit into that. 5. Write a press release and send it to that list. Journalists still like a good old-fashioned press release, but they get hundreds every day. Write an email subject line that will make them read yours. And write the body copy like a news article, not like an advert.

6. Send the same journalists news about your offering regularly. You probably won’t get a hit

Loudbird PR’s Angie Cronin and Sophie Banks with YOFC’s Martin Robinson and Christo Tofalli with your first communication. PR is a cumulative process. But if you continue to send timely, information to relevant media, you’ll reap the rewards. 7. Pictures. The media runs on images. Social media also needs images and video. They can be taken with your smart phone – just make sure they are high resolution. 8. Network! Then others will

help spread your messages too. 9. Always reply to journalists straight away! They don’t like to be kept waiting, and they could be on a deadline, which means if you wait, you might miss out. 10. Hire a good PR company ;) You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @loudbirdPR


The YOFC Times catches up with some members of SAB – the St Albans Business Community set up by Popdance founder Sue Wybrow in 2009 – to find out what their plans are for 2018

Flexible care for expectant parents PREPARING for the arrival of a new baby is both an exciting but slightly anxious time for expectant parents. There is so much to look forward to with the prospect of a new baby but the thought of the birth experience and postnatal recovery can be a daunting one for both mum and dad. Local midwife Louise Brennan offers tailor-made antenatal classes, postnatal support and Birth Reflection sessions to help parents through the whole process. Louise, who qualified as a midwife back in 2001, is registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and is a member of the Royal College of Midwives. And as well as offering private classes, Louise also continues to work for the NHS which she loves. “I deliver private by My Mustard Hugh’s Business Social Media Tips • Always try to guide the audience somewhere, typically to your website. Whether it’s building awareness, sharing knowledge or good old-fashioned selling, you can use your social media presence as a signpost. • Stay on brand; people should be able to recognise that a post belongs to your business at a glance. • Calls to action are your friend. Phrases such as ‘sign up now’ or ‘find out more’ boost engagement and click through rate on your posts. • Scheduling posts is possible if you don’t want to log on every day. For Twitter you can use the Twitter Ads section of the site to compose and schedule a tweet. • Make sure your profile picture and cover imagery are high definition and correctly cropped.

antenatal classes for first time parents and for those who already have children,” says Louise. “My classes are one to one and held in the couple’s home at a time and date that suits them. The classes are tailored to their circumstances so we can discuss anything they wish. I also offer Birth Reflections. These sessions are perfect for anyone who feels upset or traumatised by their birth experience and wishes to talk about it. I also offer postnatal care up to day 28 after the birth of a baby. My visits can be a one-off or new mums and dads can book several visits. “More importantly, they are flexible and designed so that I am there for you when the new parents need me. They don’t need to book in advance and if they want same-day visits, they

just have to call me.” louantenatal.com

Hypnos Wellbeing offers support for working mums

ARE you a busy working woman struggling to keep your head above water and not finding any time to prioritise the most important things – your physical health and mental wellbeing? Well, help is at hand from St Albans-based Hypnos Wellbeing, run by Geraldine Oxenham, who is a health coach, hypnotherapist, neuro linguistic programming practitioner, cognitive behavioural psychotherapy practitioner and hypno-band weight loss system licensed practitioner. Geraldine qualified 20 years ago as a radiographer and found herself caring for patients with a variety of diseases, many of which she discovered were created by lifestyle habits. And after she herself developed a chronic auto-immune condition in her 20s along with an inflammatory joint condition, Geraldine decided to source alternative pathways to help her improve her health and she trained as a hypnotherapist and health coach. Fast forward 20 years, and Geraldine now runs a business that is helping women to manage the stresses of daily lives. “My Look and Feel Fabulous Total System,” says Geraldine, “consists of three approaches: transforming people’s food wisdom; mindset mastery, the who of your identity and the why of your behaviours;

and support and accountability, where my patients are getting the help that makes success inevitable.” hypnoswellbeing.com SPOTLIGHT ON A SAB CERIMONIA is a unique shopping experience offering menswear for any occasion and gorgeous bridal gowns and accessories. If you are looking for shirts, jackets, trousers, suits both formal and casual, come in and see us. Situated on George Street, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, we are a pleasant walk from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, on your way into town.

Total Care Personal Training For many of Total Care Personal Training’s clients, working out together not only builds confidence but also helps build their relationships. Endorphins make people happy. Working out together can bring back that playful nature in the form of friendly competition but also it brings a support network to help people stick to their goals. Keeping to a nutritional meal plan becomes easier when friends and families are in it together. Doug and Katie trained together for their wedding at TCPT. Katie says: “Thank you for helping me achieve what I never thought I could. I’ll forever be grateful and you helped make our wedding (and our photos) truly wonderful.” TCPT specialises in helping people get the maximum enjoyment and fulfilment from life. It’s a place where people can become stronger physically and mentally. TCPT is offing free consultations on how to boost strength and confidence. tcpt.co.uk or call TCPT on 01727568220

We also design and make garments, and give you the chance to express your personality with hundreds of different cloths and lining. And the Bridal Boutique is a tranquil space where brides to be, their family and friends can relax, be pampered, and find ‘the one’. Our accessories include belts, hair pins and vines to enhance your dress, and our

new servicein bespoke veils, is proving popular. cerimonia.co.uk


Charity trains 300 in suicide action


HE OLLIE Foundation, a youth suicide prevention charity, has had a busy 2018 so far. The charity, supported by Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, has trained 300 people this year on its Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and safeTALK courses. ASIST teaches intervention skills while helping to build suicide prevention networks in the community, while safeTALK trains people on how to become suicide alert helpers, which helps people to spot the signs when someone is having thoughts of suicide and take action by connecting them with life-saving intervention resources, such as caregivers trained in ASIST. Alongside these training programmes, the charity has held a number of successful

fundraising events. The third OLLIE Memorial Golf Day took place on 10 May at Harpenden Common Golf Club with £3,000 raised for the charity. The OLLIE Foundation was also the chosen charity for this year’s St Albans Half Marathon which took place on 10 June. Meanwhile, last month, the National Youth Theatre produced a short film, Ollie, on behalf of the foundation, which is part of the charity’s #ItMatters initiative. The film was aired at the start of all of the movies screened at this year’s open-air cinema at the St Albans Film Festival.

Finally, charity co-ordinator Verity Bramwell attended the Young Minds Matter Conference at the University of Bedfordshire. And The OLLIE Foundation team has been strengthened with the appointment of Amy Clements, who has joined in the role of administrator. The One Life Lost is Enough (OLLIE) Foundation was set up in 2016 by three parents who had all lost their teenage sons to suicide. These three parents vowed to do all they could to prevent other families suffering similar tragedies. theolliefoundation.org

Earthworks sets September date for summer fair

Asha Banks, 14-year-old star of the West End, with six shows under her belt including Les Miserables, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4, singing at the Awards Ceremony at this year’s St Albans Film Festival, which was held at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.

From luxury ship design to homes for real people A new local interior architect that has experience of designing interiors for luxury cruise ships has launched a business in St Albans. Randa Kort, who uses her many years’ experience to help clients get the maximum use of their interior space, says her simple formula is to pay attention to her clients’ needs, how they use the space, what their requirements are now and how they may change. “We then translate their ideas into a workable design with a balance between the artistic and the practical,” she adds. “We look at each project holistically. The first step is to understand our clients and their wishes; we then create well-studied space plans, taking lighting, furniture and their everyday life and movement into consideration. Our motto is real

design for real people; making well-designed interiors accessible for everyone.” After 25 years of working for other design firms in London and New York, Randa decided to launch her own interior architecture business in St Albans. “I worked on some fun projects. Last year, I led the design for an exclusive cruise ship that takes 200 passengers on wildlife-geared expeditions from pole to pole, complete with high-end restaurants, bars and lounge areas.” However, the most rewarding project for Randa so far has been refurbishing her own house in St Albans. “I knew then what was possible to be achieved from a conservation area planning permission aspect and I want to offer the same to my clients.” randakort.co.uk

EARTHWORKS is hosting its summer fair between 12pm and 4pm on 1 September. The local charity, which is run by people with learning disabilities whose key focus is to grow organic fruit and vegetables, will take place at Earthworks site in Hixberry Lane. The summer fair will include live music, a plants and crafts sale, a barbecue, tea and cakes and activities for everyone. There will also be a number of community groups with stalls. The event is free and everyone is welcome, even dogs on leads. earthworksstalbans.co.uk

Local born and bred St Albans gardener, very competitive rates, available for free quotations on general gardening enquiries. Tel: 01727 859696; Mobile: 07879 475301 Email: chris@cliffordsgardening.co.uk

Planning to succeed PARTNER FEATURE


HEN you have a vision as ambitious as the one Christo Tofalli has for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, you need an expert to help you turn that vision into reality. So Christo has enlisted the services of Simon Rowberry, planning consultant, who is an expert in urban regeneration and local planning. Simon has the specialist expertise, as well as the local knowledge and appreciation of the area: he was Interim Head of Planning and Building Control at St Albans City & District Council from 2012 to 2014. Landlord Christo is pushing ahead in 2018 with plans for a £1 million improvement and extension project for the pub. He has now opened detailed and constructive discussions on the proposals with St Albans City and District Council and work is currently progressing on detailed conservation and heritage assessments and archaeological studies. Once these have been completed, it is expected that a full planning application will be submitted in the autumn. The project’s aim is to ensure the pub’s survival, as both a thriving local pub, and a heritage site and building of historical significance, with the construction of several octagon-shaped canopies over a rear seating area catering for around 200, which will replace the existing open terrace. Simon will provide the vital guidance to steer the project through the process, to a successful conclusion. As well as leading the planning team at St Albans council, he has held senior planning positions at Southampton, Windsor and Maidenhead, Harborough, Warwick, Maldon, Slough, and South Oxfordshire councils. He was also Strategic Director at Cannock Chase, where his focus was on urban regeneration. He looks back at his time at St Albans as

the most enjoyable in his career. “Leading the planning team at St Albans was a privilege. I enjoyed working with the varied and diverse stakeholders, from community groups and residents, through to local businesses and inward investors. It was always a challenge to find a balance between necessary development on one hand, and protection of the extremely valuable environment, including the vital Green Belt, on the other. I hope I helped maintain that balance during my time here. “It is a wonderful city and district, with a rich heritage.” He is now working with Ye Olde Fighting Cocks to realise Christo’s vision of creating a pub for today, while retaining its unique heritage. He says: “My planning objectives for the Fighting Cocks proposal is to create a scheme that provides for the needs of today’s consumers, whilst protecting and enhancing the historic, social and community asset to the city that the pub represents.” Since 2004, he has combined his interim work within local planning authorities with a portfolio of private clients, many of whom are located in Hertfordshire and across the southeast. His company, Simon Rowberry Consulting and Support Ltd,

offers the full range of planning services: “We always seek to achieve planning solutions that optimise development benefits to clients on one hand, while avoiding unnecessary conflict with the Local Planning Authority, achieving a ‘win-win’ outcome. My 35 years or so of experience within the public sector, as both a permanent employee and, latterly as an Interim, has taught me that many schemes can be negotiated, as long as there is flexibility and realism by all parties. “We have worked in the most difficult planning environments, including Hertfordshire. Our approach is to seek understanding between the parties of the benefits of development, whatever the

scale, whether it be a house extension or a tricky conservation-based commercial proposal like our ideas for Ye Olde Fighting Cocks.”

HOW TO GET IN CONTACT Simon Rowberry Consulting and Support Ltd T: 01926 337440 M: 07976 925088 E: simon@srcsconsulting.com

W: www.srcsconsulting.com


A museum for all ages


Make and Do craft session 29 and 30 July, 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 August, 2 – 4 pm Drop-in craft sessions inspired by our objects, artworks, spaces and stories. Squat life – Huff, Puff,

All pictures: Elyse Marks

HE new St Albans Museum + Gallery opened on 8 June and is welcoming a massive 10,000 visitors a week. The city’s residents have flocked to the new centre for arts to enjoy its art and history exhibitions. But the museum and gallery is not only for culture-loving adults. The Georgian courtroom and prison cells have been delighting the thousands of children who have already visited, and there are a host of activities planned for families over the summer. Here is YOFC Times’ round-up of the best the museum has to offer little ones, and most of it is free:

Blow Your House Down 4 August, 2-4.30 pm A storytelling and craft activity day as part of the Squatlife season of events. Can the 3 Little Wolves make a shelter which is indestructible? Using paper straws, children will try to construct a home, which won’t collapse or be blown down.

Go to Press! 14-18 August 11am – 1 pm Families are invited to Drop into the Learning Studio to use a replica Caxton printing, experiment with a variety of different media and take away their creations. Inspiring Women Children’s Workshop, 25 August,

11.30 am and 3pm Specially commissioned for the museum’s ‘And So She Did’ season, theatre group, Freshwater Theatre will be running an immersive workshop introducing children to a host of pioneering women. For more info on the family sessions, go to stalbansmuseums.org.uk

Club Excel heads to St Albans – special offer for YOFC Times readers THE longest running children’s holiday activity camp in Radlett is coming to St Albans this summer. Club Excel has been running in Radlett and Elstree for 20 years, welcoming 500 children aged between 3 and 12 years old, each summer. This year, for the first time, St Albans parents will be able to give their children a taste of the popular holiday camps as the new Club Excel opens at Beaumont School Sports Complex from 23 July. The family run business is known for its friendly, caring, fun and active

environment, and has welcomed children of famous football players and pop stars in the past, with an extensive range of activities to suit all children’s tastes. Guy Mitchell, who will oversee the St Albans camp, and whose mother started up the business in Radlett two decades ago, said: “We want all children, whatever their interests, to have a fantastic time with us, whether they are here for three days or three weeks. So, although we offer all the usually activities such as football, cricket and multi-sports, and performing arts, we

also have some more specialist activities for children with different tastes, such as Mad Science, Lego Robotics and cookery.” Club Excel accepts childcare vouchers and has extended day hours available, from 8.30am – 5.30pm, and has been OFSTED registered for 18 years. Club Excel is offering readers of YOFC Times a huge 30% off bookings made before the end of July 2018. To redeem this offer, call 01923 469475 and quote ‘YOFC BEAUMONT30’. clubexcel.co.uk

ST. ALBANS 01727 833222



020 7388 2641



Pupils make impression on TV star


WO school children from St Albans have secured places at a prestigious full-time drama school in London. Sam Jackson-Hale, who is a student at St Columba’s College, and Victoria Beavis, who attends Marlborough Science Academy and are both aged 16, will be taking up places at PQA Studios London in September after wowing industry judges at their auditions earlier this year. Actor Pauline Quirke, who is best known for her role as Sharon in the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather, is the brains behind PQA Studios London, a new full-time drama school. The new academy is for young performers aged 16 and over. It will offer a Diploma in Performing Arts (a Level 3 qualification); the equivalent to three A Levels, for entry into professional vocational diplomas/HE institutions. The academy is based in the original Poor School building in Pentonville Road, Kings Cross, which closed last year after three decades, just a

St Albans students Sam Jackson-Hale and Victoria Beavis will be heading to London this autumn to take up their places at PQA Studios London, the newest stage school in the capital, run by actor Pauline Quirke stone’s throw from where Pauline herself went to school, and discovered acting, at the age of nine. Pauline’s team has completely renovated the building, which now has a fully equipped in-house theatre and several large, high spec studio spaces, and it reopens as PQA Studios London in September 2018. Many of the teachers at the

PQA Studios London have all performed in hugely successful West End shows, so Sam and Victoria will be learning from teaching professionals, who also have the experience of what it is like to be a performer at the top of their game. Sam and Victoria have been students at the Pauline Quirke Academy weekend stage school in St Albans. Pauline launched

her first weekend, non-selective performing arts school 10 years ago with her husband Steve; there are now 170 of these weekend schools in the UK. Talking about taking up her place at PQA Studios London in September, Victoria said that the two-year Diploma in Performing Arts course appealed to her as she wants to set herself challenging goals she knows are going to help her get to where she wants to be. “I am thrilled to be given the chance to fulfil my passion with a fantastic team of teachers.” Sam said he decided to take up a place at the full-time PQA Studios London stage school instead of studying for A Levels because he wanted to concentrate on all aspects of performing arts rather than some academic subjects. “I have been set on this path to achieve my dream of a career in performing arts for years so I am excited about the future and to be given the opportunity to meet and work with such an amazing group of people and in London too.” pqastudios.com

St Albans schoolboy lands place at Royal Ballet A TALENTED schoolboy from St Albans will be following in the footsteps of international dance stars after landing a place at the Royal Ballet School in London Fifteen-year-old Basil James (pictured), who is currently a student at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, will start at

the Royal Ballet School in September. The school is one of the world’s greatest centres of classical ballet training; its alumni includes many of the world’s finest classical dancers such as Margot Fonteyn, Kenneth MacMillan, Antoinette Sibley, Anthony Dowell, Anya Linden, Jonathan Cope and Darcey Bussell. Tring Park School has also long been the favourite for budding dancers, singers and thespians. And it boasts a glittering line-up of star-studded recent alumni, such as Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) Lily James (Pride and Prejudice and Disney’s Cinderella), Ella Henderson (The X Factor), Jessica Findlay-Brown (Downton Abbey) and Drew McOnie, who is currently directing and choreographing Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom in the West End, and King Kong on Broadway.

Prior to joining Tring Park School, Basil trained at Let’s Dance Academy in Marshalswick and was a student at St Columba’s College. Speaking about his achievements, Basil’s mum Mary said: “We are very proud of Basil. He had a few auditions in Covent Garden for the Royal Ballet upper school. The last one had boys from all over the world for very few places. “We are so grateful to Tring Park School and everything they have done for him and the amazing opportunities he has had.” Basil said: “I have had a wonderful time at Tring Park. I’ve learnt so much and can’t begin to thank all the staff enough for their support and encouragement. I’m going to miss them all as I start this new adventure.” Tring Park School will be hosting open days in the autumn on Friday 5, Thursday 11 and Friday 12 October. tringpark.com


Teeing off with drive to sign up future golf pros


ITH the 2018 Ryder Cup taking place this autumn, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is joining forces with Verulam Golf Club to encourage young golfers to have a go at the game. Promoted by three local PGA professionals – Chris Meadows, Carl Morfoot and Laurence Allen – they are drawing on their combined experience to offer children the chance to try their hand at golf at the home of the Ryder Cup. Verulam Golf Club is a progressive club that is leading the way in promoting the game to young people and building

the next generation of golfers. Meadows told The YOFC Times: “I was lucky enough to have the same coach as Nick Faldo in my junior years. His name was Ian Connelly and he lived in St Albans. He was a great inspiration not only for my golf but my life. “Golf is now so much more accessible for young people than it was when I was a junior. “When I met Carl and Laurence at Verulam Golf Course, I knew immediately that these young pros were dedicated to growing the game locally. Verulam Golf Course also has a great attitude to

young players and is committed to developing their junior section. After discussion with the juniors at the club, the Samuel Ryder Young Golfer Initiative came together. “We’re delighted that YOFC has joined us in finding the next Ryder or Solheim Cup star from the local area. “But, more importantly, we hope to introduce this great game that can help develop confidence and friendships to as many young people as possible.” St Albans, Harpenden and indeed Hertfordshire has a

rich golfing heritage that really kicked off when Samuel Ryder presented the Ryder Cup in 1927 and so began the biannual competition between what is now the USA and Europe. And what a glittering start it’s been for the Verulam Golf Club junior section. At the European Tour event at Centurion last month, their team won the junior event on the Sunday with many tour pros in attendance. Now it’s your chance to join them and get in on the action by signing up to the Samuel Ryder Young Golfer Initiative. Continued on page 15


PACKAGES ON OFFER AT VERULAM GOLF COURSE Continued from page 14 SRYGI Silver Package – £125 Aimed at beginners this package will allow any young golfer to see if the game is for them and includes: • Full use of golf course • Full use of clubhouse • Verulam Golf Course logo shirt/chill top • 1 basket of range balls per visit free • Golf clubs provided for lessons • 6 x one-hour group sessions • 3 x individual sessions • Once sessions have been exhausted, more can be bought (£5 group and £15 individual) • Participate in golf activities on the golf course and play in the many competitions throughout the year SRYGI Gold Package – £190 More lessons equal more improvement and fun. This package will develop your skills and includes: • Full use of golf course • Full use of clubhouse

• Verulam Golf Course logo shirt/chill top • One basket of range balls per visit free • Golf clubs provided for lessons • 10 x one-hour group sessions • Golf clubs provided for lessons • 6 x individual sessions • Once sessions have been exhausted, more can be bought (£5 group and £15 individual) • Participate in golf activities on the golf course SRYGI Platinum Package – £230 This premium package will take you all the way to getting your first handicap and improving on your existing one. It includes: • Full use of golf course • Full use of clubhouse • Verulam Golf Course logo shirt/chill top • Unlimited x one-hour group sessions • 10 x individual sessions • Once Sessions have been exhausted, more can be bought (£15 individual)

• Participate in golf activities on the golf course and many competitions throughout the year A full range of competitions for girls and boys run throughout the year including events at other golf clubs. Young golfers will need to be approved for play on the golf course by the Verulam professional coaching team. So if you want to have a go at golf or improve your existing game you really couldn’t get better value. To book call Laurence or Carl on 01727 853327 Also for every youngster who registers an interest in our Samuel Ryder package they will go into a free monthly draw with the lucky winner winning a best selling golf instruction book and a free individual lesson at the club.


Tackling the issue of waste head on YE OLDE Fighting Cocks had three machines installed, an LFC food digester a glass crusher and a small cardboard baler. The LFC uses a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the presence of oxygen. The environment of the LFC, with our proprietary mixture of microbes and enzymes, accelerates the digestion of most food products and bio-plastics within 24 hours. The output is grey water that is environmentally safe this has also been independently

tested by the University of Brunel. The LFC is a practical alternative to the traditional disposal of waste food. Anything you can eat, including fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, bread, rice, and noodles can go into the LFC. The machine can digest both raw and cooked foods. The process is totally green because it uses no chemicals. As one of earth’s oldest processes, aerobic digestion is the most effective means of stabilising and converting

biodegradable waste. The waste food is not being chopped but it is being digested to such a degree that it becomes a liquid and can exit the machine only through a fine mesh screen. The rich by-product is therefore safe and replenishes nature. The cardboard baler reduces the need for frequent collections and is taken to a local depot for recycling, ultimately diverting from landfill. The glass crusher reduces the need for collection by four times, the glass is crushed to a size that can still be sorted by colour and this means the glass is then turned back into bottles rather than being sent to be used in an application as an aggregate. Installing these applications means the YOFC will reduce its carbon footprint in excess 100 tonnes each year. If you are looking for advice and support on how to improve your waste solutions, email mercedes.price@pakawaste.co.uk

ad ul fr tic kid ts o ke s fr m ts o £5, m £3 9


10-12 Aug st albans

judge jules

danny rampling dj laura



tall paul

seb fontaine freemasons

jonathan ulysses

george kafetzis crafty cole





St Albans Ladies FC does the double ST ALBANS Ladies Football Club have a lot to shout about this summer after an incredible end to the 2017/18 season. The team did the double last season, winning Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Women’s Football League Division unbeaten as well as winning the League Cup. And to prepare for the forthcoming season, they have been taking part in some summer tournaments, as well as starting pre-season training early to ensure they get off to a raring start in September. Fundraising officer Caroline Hughes said that any women looking to join a new football club should pop along to their training sessions for a trial. The club is also looking for new sponsors for next season. stalbansladiesfc.co.uk

Radio Verulam broadcasting from the Herts Ad School Awards and the county show

Radio Verulam gets out and about COMMUNITY radio station Radio Verulam has had a busy summer so far with a number of outdoor broadcasts to supplement its studio-based programmes. The team have been doing live broadcasts from the Herts County Show, the Street Festival, the Herts Advertiser School Awards and the Phil Milton Cricket memorial from Clarence Park. Talking about the outside broadcasts, Dave Neal, markeitng manager at Radio Verulam, said: “Supporting our community is a vital role of the radio station, and we’re always pleased to meet our listeners who stop by and say how much they enjoy listening to our shows. We’ve also been

busy delivering new programmes with music genres new to the station, including reggae and Northern Soul. Also new is a travel show as well as an increased focus on local life with more features and podcasts about our great city. But to run the station 24/7 and cover these events not only takes many hundreds of hours of our volunteers’ time for which we are grateful, but also costs more than £100 in real funds to generate just one day of local programming,” Dave added. “Anyone could be a Radio Verulam supporter with a small donation. We’d love to have your support.” To support Radio Verulam, go to radioverulam.com/donate-2

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E’RE teetering on the edge of festival season and with so many fantastic events lined up for Hertfordshire in 2018, it’s the perfect time to start planning your festival calendar. Whether you’re looking for the soundtrack to your summer at one of Hertfordshire’s many music festivals, or a sprinkling of culture at an arts festival, it’s time to start planning.

Benington Chilli Festival

The Great British Food Festival, 21-22 July Foodies, rejoice! The Great British Food Festival is coming to Knebworth for 2018. The 28-acre formal gardens will host a taste of some of the UK’s finest food, with 70 stalls of artisanal produce, chef demonstrations and cookery workshops.

Festival fever

Standon Calling, 26-29 July Paloma Faith, George Ezra, Brian Ferry, this boutique festival offers big names and the very best in emerging talent for 2018. Complete with pool, hot

Benington Chilli Festival, 25-27 August

tub and a touch of luxury with accommodation ranging from tipis to deluxe suites, it’s safe to say this is not your average music festival.

Hot heads, this is the festival for you. Sixty stalls of chilli traders, sensationally spiced food and cocktails, chilli plants and plenty of entertainment is all set for this year’s festival, perfect for the chilli aficionados. For the real spice-seekers, it’s time to test your mettle in the infamous chilli-eating competition. Cool Britannia Festival at Knebworth Park, 31 August-2 September Britpop fans, do not miss out on tickets to this. Knebworth Park, the background for so many iconic events in British music, will once again host some of the very best in British rock and dance. Celebrate an epic era with headline acts Happy Mondays and Ocean Colour Scene and dance your way through the ’90s and

Established in 1958 and based in Luton, Roland Allen offers a full range of catering supplies from light to heavy equipment with over sixty years as specialists in the Commercial kitchen and Ca Catering Equipment sector. • Service & Support to all major commercial industry brands & appliances with full UK coverage • Ventilation & Extraction • Bespoke fabrications

noughties with artists including Razorlight, Lightning Seeds and Toploader in the supporting line-up.

Eat Your Hert Out, 15 September Indulge in a gourmet food and drink festival celebrating the crème de la crème of Hertfordshire’s restaurants, pubs and street food. St Albans Food and Drink Festival, 26 September – 8 October Over a week of glorious local produce, beer and feasts awaits in St Albans this autumn. The CAMRA Beer Festival and Street Feastival are excellent excuses to test your tasting skills, while the experts will have their say at the awards on the final day of the festival. visitherts.co.uk

• Commercial kitchen design services including full project management. • Showroom with large range of stock available for purchase • Online shop - buy online with free delivery on orders over £60 and 10% off your first order.

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St Albans Food and Drink Festival


World Cup mania grips pub M ORE than 9,000 football fans from all over the city had descended on Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub garden throughout the World Cup tournament to enjoy watching the games on the pub’s giant screen. The performance of Gareth Southgate’s young squad inspired the city and the nation as they made it through to the semi-final, only losing 2-1 in the last few minutes of extra time to Croatia. This national festival mood, coupled with a heatwave engulfing the UK, meant that the race was on for people to find outdoor venues in order to watch the footie together. YOFC has always made the most of its spectacular garden in the summer, and the giant screen has made an

appearance in previous years to show the rugby, and other sporting events, and movies. And this year was no exception. Landlord Christo Tofalli said: “The atmosphere for all the matches has been amazing. I’ve never felt this kind of buzz before – when

England played, our pub garden was electric. The weather has been awesome and the mood of the country overwhelming, and I like to think we have contributed in some way by giving locals a fantastic place to watch the match, outside, with their mates and loved ones, and

created lasting memories of the summer of 2018.” And when there has been an evening when there hasn’t been a World Cup match on, Christo decided to put some movies on the big screen for free, including Spinal Tap, Back to the Future and Dirty Dancing.


The perfect treatment Professional golfer Chris Meadows reflects on finding the perfect physiotherapist right here in St Albans AS A professional golfer, I probably rely on full functioning of my body more than most. Unfortunately, as the years tick by, my body doesn’t always co-operate. Three years ago, I sustained an injury to my right shoulder that resulted in limited motion both upwards and backwards of my right arm. I received treatment from two local physios but this had limited effect. So I was left with the final solution – the surgeon. Andrew Irwin at The Spire in Harpenden is somebody I know well, and as a keen golfer himself, I knew he’d give me the best advice. Initially. he recommended steroid

injection but this had no effect. His final recommendation before considering surgery was to go and see a physio by the name of Paul Carnell at Orchard Clinic in St Albans. When I visited Paul, I made it clear, I had low expectations due to my recent history but this was my last shot. He calmly made his own assessment and began treatment. After three or four sessions, I realised to my delight the pain was reducing. After six sessions, it had almost disappeared. Since this treatment, Paul has treated two other injuries with the same result. After a 40-year career in sport, I’ve had my share of physiotherapy but I can honestly say that I have never met anybody who

uses the innovative techniques he employs, not only treating the injury but educating me in how and why the injury has occurred. Often due to bad postural habits that require correction. I’ve now combined a regular visit to Paul with my yoga classes in the hope my professional golf career can last into my late 60s. With Paul by my side, I hope 50 really is the new 40...

Orchard Clinic, Catherine House, Adelaide Street, St Albans, Herts AL3 5BA; Tel: 01727 855414; www.orchardphysio.co.uk; facebook.com/OrchardPhysioClinic/

An eventful time ahead


Helen Burridge, manager of the St Albans Business Improvement District (BID), looks forward to a busy season of city-centre events

Gin and Jazz on George Street will be making a welcome return in October


T ALBANS BID is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the businesses in St Albans city centre to improve the city centre. BIDs across the country have demonstrated that investment in events and culture convert into spend, dwell time and improved brand recognition of an area. Building on our reputation for high-quality, quirky and captivating events that deliver real spend in the local rea. St Albans BID will curate a range

of events in 2018/19 to drive footfall and highlight the expertise and cultural capital hidden in plain sight in the city centre.


Due to the success of our pub newspaper we have a great opportunity for our first Media Sales Executive. A person with strong local knowledge would be ideal. Experience working in the local business community and in sales would be advantageous but not essential. We have exciting plans for the future and the right person could carve out a rewarding and lucrative career. We have no intentions of slowing down or staying small, so be prepared for a fast-moving environment. We are an award-winning, fast-growing business, and a tight-knit and loyal team; the same staff have been here for years, which is unusual in the hospitality sector. Only those with a positive outlook should apply. Excellent commission on results (your earning potential which will not be capped) and I’m happy to discuss basic salary. I led sales teams for more than 20 years and this is the perfect job for a self-starter, hungry for success, who really wants our whole team to succeed. You will need to learn how the pub works, and I believe in having experience in every part of the business; I have done it, so everyone does. There are no egos here (The End). We work as a team, and have a lot of fun along the way. Christo Tofalli Please send CV to: info@yeoldefightingcocks.co.uk

Timeturner On 16 September, St Albans will be turning back time. Each street will be themed to a different era with a variety of activities for you to enjoy. Historic vehicles will line the streets and businesses of all sorts will be joining in the fun by creating their own retro feel. Holywell Hill will be themed WW1 to 1920s, St Peter’s Street WW2 and 1940s, George Street 1950s and 1960s and Catherine Street 1970s and 1980s. Music, food, a vintage shopping market and fashion will all play their part in the festival. Gin and Jazz on George Street As part of St Albans Food and Drink Festival, on the evening of 5 October, the fabulous George Street Gin and Jazz with music, food and of course, gin will be making a welcome return. A boutique shopping evening with a chance to sample cocktails, mixers and more with world-class live jazz to get a swing in your step. Style St Albans This is an all-new event taking place on 19 October with fashion retailers exhibiting on

a bespoke catwalk in the newly restored Assembly Rooms at the St Albans Museum + Gallery, showcasing party and festive looks from the AW18/19 collections. Tickets go on sale in September. Halloween Facepainting, ghoulish activities and super-duper superheroes will swoop into Heritage Close on 31 October to get children into a spooky kind of spirit. This will be a free half-term event. St Albans Advent Trail Twenty five businesses will take part in St Albans city centre’s first Advent Trail. Explore St Albans’ shops, bars, businesses and restaurants as they transform their window displays to spread festive cheer, with one unveiling every day throughout December. Enjoy St Albans St Albans tourism website, Enjoystalbans.com is being relaunched in September with a new look and feel. It will be the ultimate online destination for what’s on, what’s fabulous, insider guides and the must-sees of our district. stalbansbid.com


There’s more than one Guinness record holder in the city. And their proximity to each other is closer than you might think. Laura Bloom, Visitor Services Officer at St Albans Cathedral, explores the connections

School children check out the recreated Bayeux Tapestry (below) at St Albans Cathedral

The Guinness connection T

HE connections between St Albans Cathedral, the longest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain, and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the Guinness record-holding oldest pub in Britain go back hundreds of years. The foundations of the pub date back to when King Offa founded the first Benedictine monastery here in 793. The octagonal structure, a medieval dovecote formed part of the monastic buildings when the church was St Albans Abbey and was then moved to its present location after the dissolution of the abbey in 1539. As you walk between the cathedral and the Fighting Cocks, you walk in the path of almost unlimited history – Alban walking to his execution in 300AD, King Offa marking the site of his new monastery, King John meeting with the nobles of the country to draft the Magna Carta, Oliver

Cromwell stopping at the pub for a night’s Michael Linton who, over the course of 33 sleep, and the list goes on and on and on. years, designed and assembled the ‘tapesThe Norman invasion of England in 1066 try’ using three million tiny pieces of steel had a massive impact on the country and left over from industrial textile on St Albans itself; the church you can see manufacturing. The finished product is a today was largely built by the Normans in 64-metre installation weighing 1077 and much of their approximately 350 kilooriginal architecture and ‘As you walk between grams. This incredible art can still be seen inside. the cathedral and the display of skill and The best known record craftsmanship absolutely has Fighting Cocks, you of this invasion is the to be seen to be believed. Bayeux Tapestry, which is walk in the path of The Guinness Book of Redue to travel from France unlimited history’ cords was originally started to Britain in 2020; but as a way to officially settle you don’t have to wait that long to get the pub arguments, so in case you have ever full story. argued about the longest steel The Cathedral is currently hosting ‘1066 mosaic, wonder no more! The Fighting Medieval Mosaic’ a complete recreation Cocks holds the Guinness record for the of the Bayeux Tapestry, which holds the oldest pub in Britain, so with two record Guinness record for the longest steel moholders currently in such close proximity, it saic. The installation is the work of artist would be crazy not to take advantage. While the reputed tunnels that stretch from the pub’s beer cellar to the cathedral would have been the adventurous route, now you can simply walk through the lovely park. The cathedral is always free to enter and the mosaic exhibition is also free, The artists are often on site to answer any questions and share their incredible story of research and detailed work on the mosaic. You can start at the mosaic and then wander down to the oldest pub in Britain to have a pint of Guinness to thank the folks who have added yet another link between these two incredible buildings. The mosaic will be in the North Transept until the 27 August. Free entry and free guided tours of the cathedral are available every day. stalbanscathedral.org


St Albans tops health league I N THE same week that St Albans was revealed as having the lowest rates in the country for childhood obesity, the city’s multi-million-pound family leisure centre, Westminster Lodge, has continued its mission to get the city’s residents fit by opening a new café specialising in healthy food and drink. Recent research* reported in the national press in July revealed that almost 1 in 2 children in London’s boroughs are overweight, but the healthiest children in the country live in St Albans. Brent in West London was named worst in the statistics, showing one in two 10-11-year-olds in the area are classified as overweight. St Albans families are lucky to have the use of the £24 million fitness centre, which opened at the bottom of Holywell Hill in November 2012. With three pools, an indoor climbing wall, a wide range of activities for children, a state-of-the-art gym,

and a crèche, the centre has become a favourite haunt of parents and children. Figures published in September last year showed that visits to Westminster Lodge topped one million in the year to April 2017, and that around 3,500 children learn to swim at the site every week, well above the national average of 1,500 for a typical leisure centre. And now it has turned its attention to what its guests are putting inside their bodies too. Independently run, Crussh Fit Food and Juice Bars has been going for 20 years. The Crussh café at Westminster Lodge is serving freshly pressed fruit and veg juices, freshly blended smoothies and organic coffee, alongside a wide range of food from all-day brunch items such as avocado on sourdough, to turkey chilli ‘fit bowls’. In addition, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and an extensive range for those avoiding gluten, wheat or dairy. As well as a daily café menu,

Crussh is also catering for the popular Westminster Lodge kids’ parties and offering lunch boxes and hot dishes for younger customers, such as chicken goujons or jumbo haddock fish fingers with sweet potato mash and peas. Everyone Active general manger Lesley Garner said: “We are excited to be working with Crussh and believe its healthy food and drink options will complement the active lifestyles of our members. The addition of a children’s menu is particularly appreciated.”

TOP 5 PLACES WITH LOWEST CHILDHOOD OBESITY 1. St Albans, 21.2% 2. Epsom & Ewell, 21.6% 3. Elmbridge 21.9% 4. Rushcliffe, 22.5% 5. South Cambridgeshire: 22.5% * Data from the National Childhood Measurement Programme for England For more information, tel: Westminster Lodge on 01727 736080 or ask at reception.

Making Tax Digital for businesses PARTNER FEATURE

Rayner Essex partner Neil Heyes asks, is your business ready for Making Tax Digital?

It is now less than one year away. Did you know that from April 2019 ALL VAT registered businesses with turnover above the VAT threshold will be required to maintain digital records and will need to send their VAT information to HMRC using third party commercial software? What’s changing? This system is different to the HMRC portal that you are currently using to file your VAT returns online and will provide

a direct digital link from your accounting records to your VAT return which will be filed with HMRC. If you currently compile your VAT return either partially or completely using spreadsheets, then this will still be permitted but there will have to be a digital link between the spreadsheet and your VAT return to ensure a seamless flow of data from the business to HMRC. All transactions will have to be stored digitally but documents can continue to be stored in paper form. What should I do now? Watch out for more information. HMRC are running a small pilot in which we will be taking part but the full requirements of the system have yet to be published. HMRC are in discussions with all of the major

accounting software providers to enable them to adapt their software or provide an add-on module which will provide the link to enable VAT returns to be filed. What about income and corporation tax? This will not change before 1 April 2020 at the earliest. When this is implemented businesses and landlords will have to submit quarterly accounting information to HMRC. Any questions? If you have any questions about MTDfb VAT returns please contact us. We have a specialist MTD team who will be issuing information as it becomes available from HMRC. Rayner Essex, tel: 01727 833222 or email fh@rayneressex.com.


Local women brew up a storm Local St Albans mums Posy Parsons and Claire Russells are serious about beer – so serious that they have gone into business together. Home Brewtique allows beer lovers to make their very own brewery-quality ale from scratch using raw, all-grain ingredients from the comfort of their own home. Katie Wiles, communications manager for the Campaign for Real Ale and a freelance beer writer and blogger, caught up with local Posy Parsons to discuss how the two entrepreneurs got into business together and the future of home brewing in the UK.

recipes available, ranging from an Australian Pale Ale to a Milk Stout and loads of IPAs.

First of all, how did you and Claire get into business together? Claire and I met back in 2010 when we were neighbours on Burnham Road in St Albans. Our kids were the same age and got on well together which meant we spent a lot of time together on playdates. As expats we bonded immediately. I’m originally from Boston, Massachusetts while Claire hails from Melbourne in Australia. Our background meant we were both used to local breweries making delicious, flavoursome beers that push the boundaries so we decided to try making our own brews. Soon we were obsessed with perfecting the equipment and recipes; the next thing we knew Home Brewtique was born. What makes your home brew kits special? Our kits are designed to make brewing from scratch as easy as possible so anyone can experience all-grain home brewing without having to use bulky equipment or spend entire weekends brewing. We created a ‘full volume

What plans do you have for the business? We are very excited to roll out a new recipe builder this month that allows our clients to take their creativity one step further and design their very own beer recipes. From our website you simply need to choose a base style to start from and then specify exactly what types of hops, yeast and flavours to add in. We’ve even created ‘flavour bombs’ for an extra kick – our winter warmer for example includes coca nibs, cinnamon and orange peel. It couldn’t be easier to become a master brewer from your kitchen.

Posy Parsons and Claire Russells, the brains behind Home Brewtique mash’ and a brew-in-a-bag method so you can make your beer in one large pot on your

stove top. Our small-batch kits include only the finest quality ingredients which are pre-measured and vacuum sealed for freshness. We also designed our fermenter to block out light – it is about the size of a small food processor so can easily fit in any size kitchen. The integrated bottling spout on the fermenter means one less messy step and our convenient bottling wand fits straight into the spout. Most importantly, our recipes taste great. We develop and test every recipe for the best results and then write step-by-step instructions that a novice brewer can recreate time and again. We have a wide range of

What can we look out for in the beer industry? Beer and brewing is something that everyone can enjoy – it isn’t confined to a certain age, race, class or sex. Our aim in setting up Home Brewtique was to smash the stereotype of home brewing as a throwback to the 1970s and empower more people to give it a go. Whether you’re living in a small flat in London, have a passion for cooking or recently retired and are looking for your next hobby, home brewing is a fun and simple activity for anyone. As more flavours, styles and variety are introduced to the market I hope we will see more people try beer for the first time – even if they consider themselves a wine aficionado or dedicated G&T fan. Beer in the UK is changing and the future looks bright – we just have to help spread the word. homebrewtique.com/

‘She was in a womaniser YOFC TIMES SUMMER 2018

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlord Christo Tofalli has a beer – and a lot of laughs – in the YOFC garden in the middle of the heatwave with Paul Watson, founder of Headliner magazine, and Jack Mercer, AKA the artist VC Pines, with whom Paul is collaborating on some exciting new material, about to explode on to the music scene.


AUL Watson – good friend of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlord, Christo Tofalli – is a music-mad man with fingers in a lot of pies. He’s been a musician himself all his life: sings, plays both guitar and piano, and has history as a band member with a successful touring band. But he’s best known for being the founder and editor of Headliner, the muso’s bible, which is both a print magazine and also an online hub and social media influencer, reporting on, supporting, promoting and interviewing creative artists. Now he’s turning his hand to producing, and is currently working with Jack Mercer, who music fans might know as the charismatic lead singer of The Carnabys, who is about to release some new music as a solo artist, which he is presenting to the world under the moniker VC Pines. More on that later, but first he talks to Christo about Headliner. Christo describes the editorial in Headliner and its whole approach as different from other magazines. He asks Paul about its unique perspective and his fascination with the creative process. “I wanted to create something that was artist-focused,” Paul says, “so it had a cool factor – but that also talks about the creation of music.” Headliner covers all artists,

Paul Watson, founder of Headliner magazine, talks all things music to up-and-coming artist VC Pines, aka Jack Mercer, also pictured right

‘I wasn’t supposed to talk to him [JeanMichel Jarre] but I didn’t know the rules’ from up-and-coming music makers to big superstars, and looks at their work through the lens of how it actually comes about – how it is created. “We try to talk about the creative process and use the talent to tap into the way they make it, the technology, but mainly it’s got that lifestyle edge,” he says. Having experience as a band member with a touring band, and as owner of a recording studio, Paul understands the artist’s life and motivation. When he realised breaking into the big time was always

going to be a long shot he turned more to music production, and also began working as a music journalist. His first editorial commission was to cover JeanMichel Jarre’s concert at Wembley arena. He was writing for a techie music trade mag, and so talked to the technical guy at the concert first, but then simply blagged his way backstage and interviewed Jean-Michel Jarre himself. “I wasn’t supposed to talk to him, but I didn’t know the rules,” he says. Once he submitted his copy of that interview, his career was launched. Many journalist gigs followed. Often the youngest journalist on the freelance circuit, he brought a fresh energy to music writing and

worked for a bunch of different international music magazines, getting the chance to interview some big stars. He even bumped into Britney Spears backstage once, which gets a very lively reaction from Christo when he remembers that “she was in her womaniser outfit, carrying a whip.”

‘We’re in our fifth year now, and it’s a profitable business, which is really cool’ But he became disillusioned with the commercial approach many magazines took, “which was all about selling pages” rather than celebrating the music talent and creativity, and so he set his own up. Thus

outfit, carrying a whip’


Headliner was born, breaking even in its first year. “We were very fortunate,” he says “We’re in our fifth year now, and it’s a profitable business, which is really cool.” So – Christo next turns his attention to the young man sitting next to Paul. VC Pines (real name Jack Mercer) is, according to Christo, “a lovely lad with no ego”, but is set to take the music business by storm with the release of his new ‘alternative soul’ music, much of which has been produced, with the help of Paul, in a studio above The Boot pub in St Albans. With the music industry rumours circulating that this artist could be a big deal in the near future, YOFC Times was keen to talk to him. Christo asks him for the story

‘He is a real creative... If I could have Nick Cave’s life, I’d be a very happy man’ behind the name – and it turns out to be a uniquely personal one. Pines explains that the VC stands for Violet Coloured, and was inspired by the fact he sees every song he writes as a colour – some are red, some blue, some violet. He puts this down to the condition of synaesthesia which he has (a neurological condition that results in a joining or merging of senses that aren’t normally connected), and which could well be connected to the Temporal Lobe Epilepsy he has also had to deal with. This epilepsy

means he has powerful visual memories that will suddenly come to him, and one such recurring image is of the pine trees he saw on a trip to New Jersey as a child. Hence VC Pines. Music fans might know Pines’ alter ego, Jack Mercer, as the young lead singer of The Carnabys, a band he toured with for five years. In his time with the band, he opened for Bruce Springsteen at a festival in the Olympic Park and toured with Blondie. He has fond memories of chilling with Debbie Harry over a glass of wine at the end of every show. Still only in his early 20s, Pines is now producing his own solo music, which he describes as having elements of soul and funk with a hip-hop underbelly. It appeals to people of all ages because of this retro jazz/soul feel. He’s already had two sell-out shows and has plans to release three singles this year, the first of which drops on 20 July. He’s keen to make it authentic, letting the music speak for itself and, despite the progressive technology he uses, he has an old-school approach to making music organically. One of his biggest influences is Nick Cave, and he is after a career with the same longevity. “I want to continue to do this for as long as I can” he says. “Nick Cave was there at the birth of punk and is still making music. He also writes film soundtracks. He’s a real creative and is able to be a successful creative without selling his soul – or struggling financially. If I could have Nick Cave’s life, I’d be a very happy man.” A conversation with Paul about the merits of winning a Mercury award over a BRIT shows they’re very much on the same page, and Paul is helping him to achieve his goals by

giving him a creative space, producing his music, and understanding where he wants to be as an artist. “My gut feel,” Paul says, “is that he’s more about a Mercury prize than a BRIT. It’s intelligent music, and it’s music people will listen to. There’s a message behind each of these tracks, and there’s still a great melody, a great dynamic to it, but also a reason for it.” Having introduced Pines to the Headliner studio above The Boot, they are now working hard; experimenting, recording, producing new stuff together. And, in simple terms, he’s clearly a huge fan of Pines and his talent too – “it’s all about the voice,” he says at one point. Paul Watson’s love of music is old-school, but he is the future of the industry: using his talents and understanding of today’s technology and how it informs the creative process to get involved in every aspect of it. In Headliner he has created a new type of music brand - not only writing about the creative process and promoting the talent and the music, but also producing it too, bringing the sound of VC Pines to a new generation of music lover, and helping to create the new headliner on the block. headlinermagazine.net @HeadlinerHub @vcpines



Last year, St Albans’ first-ever three-day music festival, Meraki, made quite an impression on the city. The YOFC Times catches up with KERRY MARKS, the brains behind the festival to find out what she has planned for this year’s Meraki How are the plans coming along for the second Meraki this summer? We had so much love from people who attended last year, which led to a rush of people asking for dates for 2018, so we knew we were going to have to create a festival that would blow last year out of the water. It’s taken years of hard work to make Meraki a reality – getting a first festival off the ground is hard – so from there, it’s all about making it better each year. This year is packed with more activities and bigger acts. We can’t wait to deliver the second Meraki this August.

Headline acts from the first-ever Meraki Festival last year included, from top left clockwise, Belinda Carlisle, Lemar and Sophie Ellis-Bextor

‘It’s taken years What acts have you got lined up for this year? We spent a lot of time talking to people at and after last year’s show and it was useful in deciding who to book for this year. A lot of people were asking for killer ’90s artists, so we’ve gone for All Saints, Gabrielle and Morcheeba, for modern pop fans, Pixie Lott, and for lovers of classic rock,

MERAKI TAKES OVER CHRISTMAS Meraki have announced they are bringing a Christmas Festival to Verulamium Park front meadow this December, which will incorporate the traditional Christmas Market that has, up until now, been running in the Cathedral’s Vintry Garden for the past five years. The Meraki Christmas Festival will run from Tuesday to Sunday from 30 November to 22 December. It will be free to enter, and packed full of seasonal activities, from exclusive Santa Claus experiences, kids’ ice skating, funfair rides and an ice bar, to a three-tier tipi bar with fire-pit, mulled wine, live music, theatre and entertainment. The Meraki Christmas Movie House will show a selection of festive faves. There will be a Food Court serving a wide variety of culinary treats and the festival will also provide a new home for the St Albans Christmas Market and its stalls of stocking fillers and handmade gifts.

the legendary 10cc. Add to that a dance tent featuring legends of dance music such as Judge Jules, Seb Fontaine Danny Rampling and Tall Paul and top it off with a line-up of emerging artists including Annabel Williams, Simon McBride, The Kondoors and Pearl-Handled Revolver.

Which acts are you really looking forward to seeing? On the main stage, it’s got to be All Saints and Morcheeba – two bands that had a huge impact on me in my younger party days. I’ve always been a huge fan of dance music – particularly house music, so having Judge Jules, Seb Fontaine and Tall Paul perform will be quite an emotional experience. These DJs that I loved growing up are going to be smashing it in the House Of Neon Dance Tent and I’ll be there to see them. As well as the main stages, what other activities have you got lined up for festival-goers?

We have so many great activities this year – and they’re all free. Once you’re through the gates, you only pay for food and drink. We have Europe’s biggest outdoor waterslide, a big wheel, roller disco, indoor caving, laser tag, dodgems, hot tubs and swimming pools, massage, the movie house and silent disco. There will also be kids’ arts and crafts and kids’ cinema, an entire double-tipi playspace and the return of The Flying Seagull project. We built Meraki on an ethos that a festival experience should be an incredible day out for adults and children alike. When you go out nowadays, it feels like every little thing has to be paid for, again and again – and for most people, that’s really restrictive. If the kids want to go on the big wheel five times, it creates so much pressure on parents – and you either limit the kid’s fun or add stress to the parent’s day. I love the idea you can shape your own day at Meraki. If you want to watch bands all day,


year but we keep everyone on file and review each year. Apart from Meraki, do you have a favourite festival? Without question, Glastonbury, I love everything about it. The new friends you make, the variety of acts, the amazing food, the sheer size and scale of it, but also the enchantment of it – it feels like you’re in another world. And of course, the latenight dance areas. I’ve created some of my best memories in Block 9 at Glastonbury.

rs of hard work’ that’s cool, if you’d rather go on the waterslides, big wheel, go caving, and repeat that all day long – that’s fine too. If you want a bit of everything, you can plan your day that way.

And how does the camping work? What are the options and will I be able to use my hair straighteners? Our campsite is only a few minutes’ walk into the festival itself. You get a 6x6-metre pitch nicely laid out, so there’s no climbing over other people’s tents or tripping on guide ropes in the dark. We have an adults-only space, family camping and for everyone, we have hot showers and nice toilets, as well as a variety of traders providing delicious food and drink. If you’d like to upgrade, you can bring a camper van, try glamping in a tipi or spend a night in our VIP hotel. If you want to use those straighteners, glamping is the way to go. Why did you choose St

Albans as a place to launch a festival? I had a technology event business in St Albans for six years on Victoria Street, and when I lived there, I always felt that the city needed a big event for families to come together, have fun, celebrate live music and just have a brilliant weekend together. I decided to invest in building Meraki. I haven’t looked back since.

What was your inspiration for the festival? I love a challenge. I’ve done events for almost 20 years now, but when you run big tech events, they have a limited scope. They’re for companies trying to share innovation and promote products, and although you can have a big impact in that particular industry, I always wanted to do something that could touch society – that would have a positive impact on the whole community. I’ve always loved festivals, big parties, family events and live music, and my husband is

a professional musician, so he’s got lots of experience and a lot of connections. I’ve always taken a lot of pleasure in being creative, coming up with a concept, watching an event come together and then finally seeing people having an amazing time. How do you find and choose the local acts for the festival? There are an incredible number of very talented musicians here – from the time we lived here, my husband was connected to the music scene and Jacket Records (a local record company and recording studio) has also been a great link into the local music community. We search online a lot now and use social media to see who’s having an impact. We never have any shortage of acts to look at. People email us all year round, sending us clips of their live performances. If you’d like to perform, email us – everyone is considered. You might not fit the bill this

What’s your long-term vision for the festival? We want to keep building the festival, making each year better than the last. The more tickets we sell, the bigger we can go the following year, booking bigger artists, adding in exciting new activities and establishing Meraki as an annual event that everyone wants to come back to. The plan is to cap the festival at 10,000 attendees though – it’s a boutique, family-friendly space, and ensuring the safety and beauty of a festival becomes harder if you go too big. What is the best part of your job? In the midst of all the madness, I get to stop for a minute and look around the festival. You see people smiling, laughing, loving where they are and what they’re doing. You can see entire families or groups of friends having experiences that you know they’re committing to the ‘life memory’ – a day they’ll always remember. Finally, have you ever tried the legendary Fighting Cocks chicken wings? I’m a veggie 99% of the time these days, so no. But I did fall off the wagon and have their roast a little while back and it was incredible. I can’t promise I won’t try it again. This year’s Meraki Festival takes place at the Herts Showground from 10-12 August. To buy tickets, go to merakifestival.com


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The YOFC Times Summer 2018  

The YOFC Times Summer 2018  

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