Page 1




SUMMER TIME YOFC gears up for a busy 2019

THE BIG INTERVIEW BBC journalist talks Brexit, terror and equal pay

ROMAN HOLIDAY 10-day festival to celebrate city’s heritage

Pubs action wins award and time in Parliament



T ALBANS’ Save our Pubs campaign is blazing a trail through the UK as it has not only picked up the award of Campaigners of the Year from the Campaign for Real Ale, but its vice-chair, Mandy McNeil, has been invited to address a parliamentary select committee. The campaign was launched due to the threat to the city’s 50 pubs as a result of business rate increases and the award has gone to landlords Sean Hughes (The Boot) and Christo Tofalli (Ye Olde Fighting Cocks). The news was announced at CAMRA’s annual conference and recognises the campaign fought by Save St Albans Pubs against crippling levels of rates imposed on the city’s pubs in the 2017 rates review. The campaigners were nominated for Campaigner of the Year by beer writer Roger Protz. The campaign said the pubs of the city would have to sell an extra 180,000 pints of beer a year to meet the rates rise and survive. Mandy, a St Albans-based international project consultant, volunteered as campaign manager in mid-2018 and since then she has worked tirelessly to gather detailed intelligence to

The award-winning campaign team planning their next visit to Parliament convince the Government that the business rates hike is not only a huge threat to the existence of our pubs, but also to our local economy. St Albans pubs bring circa £40 million a year into the local economy, employ 1,600 people and purchase from local brewers and businesses. As a result of Mandy’s efforts, Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick MP advised the campaigners to go national, so they have risen to the challenge and are now operating as Save UK Pubs and fighting for pubs across the UK. What’s more, senior officials from the government body that values properties for the purpose of tax (the Valuation Office ) are travelling to St Albans to meet the campaigners on 3 May. And following a suggestion

from MP Anne Main, Mandy submitted her research to the parliament Treasury select committee, and has subsequently been asked to present to the committee for its investigation into the impact of business rate hikes on business on 7 May. “Our submission was selected from hundreds,” said Mandy. “We are fighting for others in the UK, not just in the interest of a few pubs. We’ve looked at 3,000 pubs around the UK and the results are dire. More pubs are closing daily.” But the campaign needs the support of local people, who are allowed to come to Parliament to watch Mandy present. “We are hoping for a big turnout on 7 May in Parliament from our great supporters,” says Mandy. “It’s a pretty big deal,

St Albans can show Parliament our hard-working, independent businesses are a force to be reckoned with. It’s important that people realise many local businesses are interdependent, and this campaign’s evidence will help fight the knock-on impact on our community.” Mandy is also presenting for the campaign in July to the Parliament All Party Beer Committee on Isolation and Business Rates. “Cottonmill is an example of the impact of the loss of a community asset, such as a pub,” she says. “I’ve spoken to older people, who can’t drive and have lost all physical connection to their lifelong friends. Save UK Pubs is working on a project to explain what the loss means to present to Parliament.” savestalbanspubs.co.uk

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

Landlord’s hasty drivel THE YOFC TIMES SPRING 2019

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


ELLO campers! This is my favourite time of the year – summer is on the way which means a FULL pub garden! And trust me, this summer is going to be a cracker. There is

so much going on for the pub and I can’t wait to celebrate it all with you in the sunshine over a beer in our garden. It’s hard to pick out some highlights, but my editor has told me to do so… Firstly I am so proud that Fridays in St Albans have got their mojo back again, with live music back where it belongs in Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub. We have the amazing Empty Events who are organising this for us and at the time of this drivelling, we’ve already had a couple of Fridays and they have been blinding!

Anyone who knows me knows how important my live music is to me so I am truly chuffed about this. Secondly – we have a new logo! And it’s a beaut. The guys at Ember Designs have come up with a simple classy feather logo and we all love it and think it does the pub, and its heritage, proud. (Yes, Loudbirds, we know you suggested a feather logo ages ago...) And finally we’re going to have our own festival! It’s on 25 May and will be with Empty Events. More than 20 acts from

There is so much going on for the pub this summer and I can’t wait to celebrate it all with you in the sunshine over a beer in our garden 12.30pm – 11pm and it’s FREE! So excited about this – are you all IN? This is a jam-packed issue filled with news, interviews and events – ENJOY!

THINGS TO DO IN QUARTER 2 There’s LOADS going on in and near the pub over the Spring months, including … Barbara Hepworth at the museum + gallery, Roman, music and film festivals. MAY Barbara Hepworth: artist in society 1948-53 Runs until September - FREE St Albans Museum + Gallery This major exhibition explores a short but significant period in the life of one of Britain’s most celebrated artists. This poignant exhibition introduces sculptures, drawings and archival material, reuniting works that have not been seen together since they were first created. This exhibition is presented at St Albans Museum + Gallery in partnership with University of Hertfordshire. stalbansmuseums.org.uk Southwark Playhouse – Songs for Jeremy, 12 May Okay not St Albans - but St Albans’ favourite young actress and singer, 15-year-old Asha Banks, who started her career in YOFC at the pub’s Open Mic Night at the age of eight, is singing with a bunch of West End stars (including Trevor

Dion Nicholas – the Genie in Aladdin) at a fundraising concert raising money for The Good Grief Trust – a charity that supports people who have suffered loss. Organised by performer Katie Shalka whose father died when she was 14, this concert features stars from Les Miserables, Hamilton, Miss Saigon, Aladdin and Six. Tickets £20 southwarkplayhouse. co.uk Fighting Cocks Festival, 25 May Free entry YOFC has teamed up with Empty Events to host its first-ever all-day music festival – and what we believe is the first all-day pub music festival of its kind in Hertfordshire – with more than 20 acts, all from Hertfordshire, playing from 12.30pm through to 11pm across two stages. There will be festival fare and activities for all of the family too. See page 3 for more details Hertfordshire County Show – The Showground Redbourn 25-26 May A Showcase of Herts’ finest; farming, food, shopping and entertainment. Local food, great entertainment and much more. See page 6 for more details. hertsshow.com

JUNE St Albans Roman Festival 21-30 June The whole city is getting into the spirit of all things Roman and celebrating its heritage with a 10-day Roman Festival for the whole family. stalbanscathedral.org See pages 14 and 15 St Albans Film Festival June 25 – July 6 Kicking off with the Rocky Horror Show launch party at the Alban Arena, the sixth film festival once more will host the Abbey Open-Air Cinema in the Abbey Orchard, showing a programme of classic films for all the family. Plus lots more film-related events throughout the city. See page 4 for more details stalbansfilmfestival.com St Albans Half Marathon Verulamium Park, 9 June Starting and finishing in Verulamium Park and known as the friendliest half marathon in the area with marshals in fancy dress cheering you on, the St Albans Half Marathon 2019 is in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young – a very worthy cause, so get your lycra shorts on and get training. Oh, and pop in for a pint after. cry@c-r-y.org.uk




ANS of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks will be over the moon to hear that landlord Christo Tofalli and his team have got a busy summer of events planned for 2019 that is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

Live music is BACK at YOFC The pub has teamed up with Empty Events and is bringing live music back to the pub every Friday night from 8pm. Live bands, duets and solo artists are now taking to the YOFC stage to perform in front of a packed house, really getting the weekends off to a flying start. From five-piece rock bands through to insanely talented acoustic duets and solo artists, YOFC will have it all to make Fridays rock again. Keep an eye on their Instagram @emptyevents and website emptyevents.com for updates. For information on how to apply to perform on Friday nights, please drop Empty Events an email on info@emptyevents.com Festival Fever hits the YOFC On the 25 May, YOFC will be joining forces with Empty Events to host its first-ever all-day music festival – and what we believe is the first all-day pub music festival of its kind in Hertfordshire – with more than 20 acts, all from Hertfordshire, playing from 12.30pm through to 11pm across two stages. The aim of the festival is to promote local bands and create a platform for

Sizzling summer ahead at YOFC them to perform and gain exposure. Using the inside of the pub and the extensive garden overlooking the park and lake, there will be festival fare for all the family: fun activities for kids, fantastic food, face painting, fire-eating, and of course fierce music. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks offers a summer of LOVE

A summer of music, ice cream and barbecues awaits YOFC customers

And while we’ve got that festival vibe, YOFC is offering a summer of LOVE. Kids will love the ice cream that the pub will be selling again on its outside stall through the summer months; everyone will adore the barbecues, running all summer in the pub’s sun-trap garden; and betrothed couples will love the fact that the YOFC is available to help you create the wedding of your dreams. And those looking for a bargain will love the fact you can get a free pint or 175ml glass of wine with each meal when quoting YOFC Times spring issue with your email details. New look identity for YOFC Something else that we love, thanks to Ember Designs, is the pub’s new look for the summer.

The pub is proud to reveal its new logo in this paper. The new logo reflects the pub’s ‘bird’ heritage, while communicating a sophisticated, contemporary look that appeals to everyone. YOFC on GMB Did you catch the pub on ITV in April? The Good Morning Britain team came to St Albans Cathedral to film a segment for the show and they ran some beautiful footage of the city, along with a long, lingering shot of YOFC. Fame at last!




RAB your popcorn, find your deckchair, and dig out your fishnets, for the sixth St Albans Film Festival in June, with a theme of classic movies dominating the programme for 2019. The most beautiful outdoor cinema in the country is open for business again, from 26 June, and this year, due to popular demand, the Abbey Open-Air Cinema is running for a record-breaking 11 days. Classics such as Gladiator, Romeo and Juliet, Grease, Silence of the Lambs and Trainspotting will be on the big screen along with recent Oscar winner Bohemian Rhapsody. Food and drink stalls will provide refreshments so audiences can pop open a bottle of bubbly on a balmy summer night to enjoy with their movie. However, the festival actually kicks off on 25 June with a Rocky Horror Picture Show party at the Alban Arena. It’s time to dress up in cult classic style to watch this iconic movie and party like it’s 1975. Tickets for the launch are £10 and it is for age 15 and above. Festival directors Leoni Kibbey and Matt Bigg along with an army of volunteers, are

Classic film festival kicks off with Rocky Horror party hoping to make this year the biggest and the best yet with a few surprises along the way. There will be other films showing at the Alban Arena and also at the Pudding Stop and the Fleetville Larder as part of the festival, and more film-themed events which will be announced shortly. Matt said: “We cannot wait to bring the Abbey Open-Air Cinema to St Albans once again, in the Cathedral grounds, just a stone’s throw from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. Our theme is classics, and we

will be showing something for everyone: a chick flick, a family film, a teen movie, and a mother and toddler screening. “This must be the most stunning location for an outdoor cinema and we are very grateful to the Cathedral for supporting this event.” Leoni added: “I cannot wait to get my glam gear out for the Rocky Horror Picture Show party at the Alban Arena on 25 June. “Tickets are on sale for everything now, including the launch party.”

The St Albans Film Festival would like to thank its sponsors for their support this year. They are: Willmott Dixon, Oaklands College, Dylans, Stowe Family Law, the, Alban Arena, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks and St Albans Cathedral. There is still time for local businesses and individuals interested in supporting the festival to get involved. Please email stalbansfilmfest gmail.com To book tickets, go to stalbansfilmfestival.com

The priest, the publican and a p***-up Father Richard Watson, vicar of St Saviour’s Church in St Albans, talks beer, fizz and festivals

After the success of last year’s Beer and Fizz Festival at St Saviour’s, plans are well under way for this year’s event from 19-21 July. The idea was born on a wet Saturday afternoon at a table in the corner of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, where landlord Christo Tofalli asked me: “So my friend, what shall we do next?” The rest, as they say, is history. The result was a bustling three-day beer festival inside St Saviour’s Church, with a selection of fine ales, ciders, sparkling wines, prosecco and champagne. Around 800 people took part in the festival, enjoying music from

Katie plus Juan and Seb Wesson and other local favourites; as well as the rustic charms of the St Albans Morris Dancers and a well-oiled Beer and Hymns sing-a-long. In addition to boosting church funds, the event raised money for charity, The OLLIE Foundation. For those left scratching their heads as to why a church would host a beer festival, allow me to explain. Over the years we’ve known each other, I’ve often said to Christo that we do a similar job. The priest and the publican both try to create a space where all feel welcome, where all are accepted for who they are, and a space where community is encouraged. So for those of you who have never had a pint of ale in a church before and are feeling a bit reticent, just remember we really are on common ground. For more details about the St Saviour’s 2019 Beer and Fizz Festival, go to ssaviours.org


Super Trouper line-up for M Fest ANGIE CRONIN REPORTS


HE Marlborough Science Academy’s annual summer music festival will be celebrating its 10th year on 6 July with its biggest line-up to date. The M Festival will have three stages and a silent disco for the first time ever to keep 3,000 festival-goers entertained from 1.30pm through until the fireworks finale at 11pm. Headline acts on the main stage, which will also have a giant screen next to it, include Abba Arrival, the number one international multi award-winning ABBA show that will be taking revellers back to the 1970s with their authentic ABBA experience. Another top-of-the-bill performer will be party band The Monster Hits, who will be keeping the M Fest crowd

entertained with killer tunes from the ’80s. Other bands taking to the main stage include Charlotte and the Glovers, the New Ambassadors; Electric Umbrella, Hope, Indie and the Vegas, Amelia Lappert and Grace George plus the combined primary schools choir, Marlborough choir and many of Marlborough’s talented

student soloists and bands. Local band Arc will be headlining the acoustic stage with more bands yet to be confirmed. And for the first time this year, there will be a third stage for student acts. As well as a day of live music, there will be a programme of activities, including zorbing, funfair rides,



Fighting cocks festival 25th may 2019

activity play bus, Lego fun, nine-hole crazy golf, bungee run, wipeout spinner, football, sand art, foot darts, massage, glitter tattoos, face painting, henna tattoos, nail painting, tombola and circus skills. There will also be a wide selection of food and drink available. The M Festival organisers would like to thank main sponsors Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, Eyes on St Albans, Biffa, Amthal Fire and Security, Aldwicks; Whitby Munn Recruitment, Tesco, O J Poole Electrical and SA Law. There is still time for local companies and individuals interested in supporting the festival to get involved. Email info@ themfestival.co.uk or call 07940 467681 for details. To buy tickets, go to themfestival.co.uk

join us for a full day of live music! With over 20 acts performing over the course of the day and an all day BBQ, this really is going to kick start the summer! Doors open at 12:00pm and music starts at 12:30!

Time to turn to the dark side


Move over IPA, 2019 is the year of stout and porter, says Roger Protz, a St Albans resident, who also happens to be one of the world’s leading beer writers, historians, lecturers and tasters

THERE’S dark at the end of the tunnel. The past decade has seen the apparently unstoppable rise of pale beers – golden ale, pale ale and India Pale Ale (IPA). But 2019 has been dubbed the year of stout and porter as neglected dark beer makes a comeback. Of course, as any Guinness drinker would tell you, it’s never

NETWORKING IN HERTFORDSHIRE Herts Chamber of Commerce has a bumper programme of networking events taking place over the next few months. These include: • Breakfast – How To Beat Your Competition, Part 2, University of Herts, Hatfield, 17 May • Breakfast – Strengthening Team Performance, Shendish Manor, Hemel Hempstead, 21 May • Lunch – Chamber Lunch, Herts County Showground, Redbourn, 23 May • Amazon Tour, Amazon, Hemel Hempstead, 4 June • Lunch – PA Club, Shendish Manor, Hemel Hempstead, 6 June • Inspiring Herts Gala Award St Albans Cathedral, 13 June • Breakfast – Protecting and Enforcing Your Intellectual Property, Herts Chamber of Commerce, Hatfield, 18 June hertschamber.com

been away and there are scores of dark and black beers made today but they have to a large extent been over-shadowed by the popularity of pale beers, IPA in particular. Like IPA, porter and stout have a bit of history behind them. They were first brewed in London early in the 18th century, with stout – or stout porter as it was then called – the stronger version of porter. The beer acquired its name as a result of its popularity with the porters who worked the streets, the markets and the docks and who needed refreshment for their hard labour. Such large amounts of porter and stout were exported to Ireland that brewers there, including Arthur Guinness, jumped on the bandwagon. But, whisper it quietly in Dublin, stout began life in London. Dark

beers get their colour and flavour from the addition of heavily roasted malts. The end result is beer with superb aromas of coffee, chocolate, liquorice and caramel – though none of these ingredients are used and come from the malt. These rich flavours are balanced by hops that add peppery and spicy notes. There are some fine examples of the style produced in this area. Tring’s Teapot Stout takes its name from the outline of Hertfordshire that looks similar to a teapot. Farr Brew isn’t shy about its offering, Our Most Perfect Porter, while Mad Squirrel has won many prizes for its London Porter. And watch out for the Imperial Stouts from the Chiltern Brewery that are aged in oak casks. Memorable.

Poldark horses to star at county show YOFC REPORTERS

COMPETITION TIME To be in with the chance of winning a family ticket to go to the Herts County Show, send your answer to the question, What is the name of the tractor who will be returning to the Herts County Show for 2019? Answers to kerry@yofcltd.com by 11.59pm on the 19 May. The winner will be drawn at random from all correct answers submitted and contacted on 20 May. The tickets are non-transferable.


HE Hertfordshire County Show takes place on 25 and 26 May and is the ultimate day out for all members of the family – from those who just want to sit back, relax and take in some music, to the extreme sports lovers, to the shopaholics. Headliner events are the Atkinson Action Horses, a stunt and liberty display team never before seen in Hertfordshire (although you might have seen them in Poldark or Victoria); the Herts Farmers’ Fantastic Forklifts display – which you won’t see anywhere else in the country; the Dog and Duck Show joining the hilarious Sheep Show, bassets and beagles; and a BMX display with the chance to join in, as well as live music and theatre performances. There will also be the Strongest Man World Record Attempt Tractor Pull on the Saturday and pig racing. The

show is a prime chance to shop local, and will once again have two Made in Herts marquees, but this year will also host a Hertfordshire Etsy marquee, giving you even more opportunities to buy bespoke work, from some of the county’s finest craftsmen. For the children, Tractor Ted will also be back with his bouncy castle and games. For the

farmyard animal lovers, across the show, you’ll be able to see miniature horses through to rare heavy breeds, or see a huge variety of livestock in the sheep or cattle marquees. And the food and drink offering will be second to none. Tickets are 20% off until 20 May. Parking and aentertainment are included in the ticket price. Buy yours at hertsshow.com


Angie Cronin catches up with Fawzia Topan, manager of the Albany Montessori School, to find out about this unique approach to early years education



TUDIES have long shown how vital the first five years of a child’s life are in their physical, intellectual, social and emotional development. While family life plays the main role in these early years’ development, choosing the right nursery environment is also key – which is something that Fawzia Topan, manager of the Albany Montessori School at the St Albans Sea Cadets Hall in Verulamium Park, along with her husband Tim Hodgson, is passionate about. “It was through our own children that we were introduced to the Montessori approach to early years’ education, and we saw our girls flourish in this environment,” says Fawzia. “We felt so passionate about the benefits of the Montessori method, that when Albany Montessori School, which was then based in Fleetville, came up for sale in 2006, we jumped at the chance to acquire it. “I was already a qualified teacher and I decided to study for a Montessori diploma – and the rest as they say is history.” So, what exactly is the Montessori philosophy and what makes it so different to nurseries that don’t practise Montessori? This early years method of education was pioneered by Maria Montessori, who in 1896 became the first woman to graduate as a doctor from the University of Rome. Maria’s research led her to believe that children are born with personalities that gradually unfold. The key to allowing children to reach their full potential is to provide an enriched nurturing environment in which they will flourish. A teacher’s role in this situation is as a “director” who does not impose or dictate

The Montessori way learning on to children, but instead, directs them in their own learning pathways, giving them the freedom to make their own choices. This helps to facilitate the development of greater imaginations, which in turn aids the development of better social skills and stronger foundations for future paths of learning and success. So what does a day at the Albany Montessori look like and how is it different to traditional nurseries? “The day starts with Circle Time, where each child is asked in turn for any news they would like to share. There is always a topic we discuss and this could be anything from the solar system to orchestras,” says Fawzia. “Then we move on to Choosing Time where children can select an activity of their choice, for example working with number rods, doing puzzles, painting, sand play, reading, playing with toys... the list is endless. This is supported by our nursery assistants, who

are available at each session and are constantly engaging with the children. “During Break Time, the children head outside to the climbing frame, ride-on toys, ball games, and of course, lots of fresh air.” The weekly timetable includes music on a Monday led by Tim, who studied acting and musical theatre. I spent a Monday morning with Fawzia and Tim at the nursery. While the children don’t have to take part in music time, it was quite obvious how popular it is as all the children were very much involved and engaged. The rest of the week is just as fun and interesting – yoga on Tuesday, a visit to the park on Wednesday, French and baking on Thursday, and Mandarin speaking and multi-sports on Friday. “Most of our children stay with us until they are five. Primary schools often tell us that Albany Montessori children are more mature and well-rounded than those from

other nurseries. Our children also have creative imaginations as they have learned so much through play – and this is more important than anything else. “We have parents bringing their children to us from as far afield as Dunstable and North Finchley. And of course, Prince William and Kate’s decision to send Prince George to a Montessori nursery really helped to shine a light on what an amazing start in life this method of nursery care gives children.” So, if you are searching for a nursery place that will help your child to flourish, then look no further than the delightful Albany Montessori School.

TO FIND OUT MORE The Albany Montessori, Tel: admissions 01727 298052 Email: admissions@ albany-montessori.co.uk Website: albany-montessori.co.uk


2009-2019 10 YEARS























BUS *Under 5’s go free!



FROM 1ST APRIL £40.00 £45.00 £17.00 £7.00












Spectacular St Albans video goes viral SOPHIE BANKS REPORTS


PECTACULAR St Albans from the sky, a video posted by tourism board Enjoy St Albans and shot from an aerial view, has enjoyed viral success since its launch in March. The video is part of a campaign by Enjoy St Albans to attract people across the UK, and internationally, to visit the cathedral city and enjoy its stunning scenery and picturesque town centre, as well as the unprecedented number of events and festivals it has scheduled for this year. Alison Berneye, of Enjoy St Albans (the St Albans Visitor Partnership), said it was “the most viral content Enjoy St Albans has ever posted, with more than 55,000 views and 1,000 shares so far. It’s been lovely to see the extraordinarily positive reaction this video is having,” she said. “Obviously it’s being shared by an awful lot of proud St Albans residents who want their friends and relatives to see how beautiful the place they live in is, but it’s

also being shared by many ex-St Albans people who miss St Albans and are wishing they were still living here. There are a lot of sentimental posts about this video.” The video, which was created by local company Life’s Lost Luggage, shows the cathedral in all its glory, the Art Deco cinema, the 100 acres of Verulamium Park with its striking lake, and other

Calling all aspiring radio broadcasters DO YOU think you’ve got what it takes to be a radio presenter? If you’ve always secretly hankered a desire to be the new Chris Evans, or Jo Whiley, then this is your chance to shine. This spring, community radio station Radio Verulam is launching a new station sound and is recruiting volunteers. The station is looking for presenters, producers, social media stars, and support to help with engineering, HR, PR, legal stuff and much more. Radio Verulam has been going for 20 years, broadcasting news, views and music to the city and further afield. It’s a not-for-profit organisation, funded by donations, sponsorship and advertising, and run by volunteers with a mission to enhance daily life in the local community. The

station is immersed in the local life of St Albans residents, but is also a key player in the business community. Transmitting to 150,000 local homes as well as online to the whole world, the station covers local news and events in real time, but also enables local groups, people and businesses to have their say on air. So, if you want to help make a difference on the airwaves, email kerry@ radioverulam.com

historic sites such as the medieval clock tower, and, of course Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub. To view the video, go to Facebook.com/EnjoyStAlbans

wagada.co.uk | 01727 260187

We’re passionate about delivering marketing results to grow your business, getting your website to the top and going that extra mile to see you succeed.

• • • •

We explain what we do We only have talented people We don’t over promise We deliver results

SEO | Google Ads | Content Marketing Social Media | Marketing Strategy | PR Second Floor, New Barnes Mill, Cottonmill Lane, St Albans. AL1 2HA

Sustainability Festival biggest yet with 160 events




T ALBANS Sustainability Festival is set to be the biggest yet, with 160 events all about the environment and living more sustainably. SustFest19, organised by local charity Sustainable St Albans and the campaigning group Friends of the Earth St Albans, takes place from 11 May to 1 June, across St Albans city and the district, with a programme of events that includes inspiring talks and tours, walks and bike rides, art and crafts, nature activities and sustainable food events. Sustainability Festival committee chairwoman Catherine Ross said: “What we’re actually talking about here is the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the water you drink. It’s about our beautiful green spaces, such as Verulamium Park, and preserving the wildlife that flourishes there. It’s about hopping on your bike with your kids and getting out on a sunny day. The environment is all around us, all the time, and the Sustainability Festival invites local residents to both enjoy it and protect it.” Some highlights of the festival are: • The Blue Dot art trail (organised by Plastic Free St Albans) across the city centre

where residents can follow the Blue Dot to see artists’ work on an environmental theme. Artwork will be displayed at local venues including the Courtyard Cafe, the Inn on the Park, and Fade to Black, a new coffee shop in Marshalswick. • An exhibition of recycled art work put on by the Nude Tin Can gallery on Hatfield Road. • A talk by Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, on fighting climate change. • Open Days at local allotments including FoodSmiles St Albans, where you can find out about growing your own food. • Outdoor adventures for young people, aged 6-16 years – from den-building to rope bridges over at Nomansland Common. They can explore nature on land and water with heron watching at Verulamium, bees at the Herts County Show, or discover hedgehogs at Hornbeam Wood Hedgehog Sanctuary. • The first ever Market Takeover event all

about helping residents reduce their carbon footprint. On 19 May, the Sustainability Festival will take over the market area in St Peters Street with sustainability-themed stalls, food, live music and activities. The online programme of events can be found at sustainablestalbans.org

Spring into a new season in St Albans

LONG gone are the days of cold fingers and toes, waking up early to defrost the car, and dark, miserable evenings spent inside on the sofa. Spring is here, the flowers have bloomed, and the countryside is alive with wildlife. Warmer weather and longer days make spring the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the best of what’s on your doorstep in St Albans… Spring blooms Painting our beautiful countryside and parks a wonderful array of vibrant colours, we can’t wait to start spotting

those stunning spring flowers, bringing a wave of colour and scent to Hertfordshire. Admire the dazzling daffodils decorating the grounds outside St Albans Cathedral, wander acres of beautiful parkland at Verulamium Park with wildflowers in abundance, or if you’d prefer to take a bouquet of spring blooms home to enjoy all to yourself, why not pay a visit to the gorgeous Flower Box in the centre of town? Put a spring in your step Lace up your walking shoes and set off on a wildlife walk

Pictures: Woodland Trust


in Heartwood Forest and see our British wildlife waking up; listen to the birds, spot the insects and explore an orchard in the making with fruit trees including apple, pear, cherry plum, medlar and apricot. With three great way-marked trails to follow at Heartwood, you’re bound to find the right route for you and your family. And, for those who fancy travelling

that extra mile for a spring-time stroll, why not take a trip to Hatfield House? A magnificent country house set at the centre of a large agricultural estate with extensive parkland. To find out more about what’s taking place in St Albans, and further afield throughout Hertfordshire, go to visitherts.co.uk.


BBC News presenter Martine Croxall is one of the main hosts of The Papers, a popular nightly review of the front pages, an equal pay campaigner, and also a St Albans resident. She was widely praised for her calm handling of the Paris terror attacks breaking news story in 2015. Martine talks to The YOFC Times about her career and living in St Albans. How long have you lived in St Albans and what do you like about the area? I moved here 22 years ago from the Midlands to work for the BBC at Elstree. Even in 1997 the house prices were a shock. It’s a welcoming place with great schools and cultural life, close to open countryside and also to London. How did you get started in journalism? And how did you become a BBC News presenter? After university and a year out travelling in Africa, I began by doing work experience at my then local station BBC Radio Leicester. I moved through regional TV in the East Midlands and the Southeast, and into national news. I never intended to be on air at all. I wanted to be a radio producer, firmly behind the microphone. But one day I was sent out to do some live reporting. That first interview was about the launch of a fundraising campaign to plant a national

Martine, right, presenting the BAFTAS with fashion designer Maria Grachvogel and film critic Jason Solomon

‘I never intended to be on air at all’

forest and the guest was a man dressed in a latex tree costume. It wasn’t the most auspicious of beginnings but I did a good job and it took off from there.

How difficult is it for you to stay impartial on issues that affect everyone, such as Brexit, for instance? In some ways it gets easier - when you report on a story over a long period of time and interview more and more people with opposing views, you come to understand the differing perspectives. We often have to play devil’s advocate so we have to be able to articulate alternate opinions. It’s a good way of testing the sense and validity of your own arguments. My favourite quote is by the feminist activist Gloria Steinem, “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.” Facts can be very inconvenient if you have a firmly held view! What story have you covered that has been the most challenging/ difficult for you? The beheadings carried out by the now retreating so-called Islamic State

Group. I found those stories deeply upsetting to report on and it took me hours after getting home to stop watching the news and settle down enough to sleep. The terror attacks in Paris and at London Bridge had a similar effect on me. They unfolded while I was on air so I spent hours explaining what was going on, interviewing eye witnesses and talking to correspondents. Of course, it’s not me who’s suffered the trauma directly but it does have an impact. What’s been your career highlight? Being on air for some of the biggest breaking and rolling news stories of the last 20 years. I joined BBC World News in 2001, a few weeks before the 9/11 attacks that had such far-reaching ramifications that we are still feeling all this time later. On a lighter note, I’ve presented the BBC News channel’s coverage of the Oscars and Baftas this year. Our live unscripted programme from the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall was joyful to be part of. What cause do you give your time to?

I’m a founder member of the BBC Women group that is campaigning for equal pay. As a rep for the National Union of Journalists, I’m supporting dozens of women directly and hundreds indirectly who are trying to win pay parity. I know you have teenagers - do they want to follow in your footsteps? Certainly not! They are not at all impressed by what I do (naturally and rightly). My son wants to go to drama school and be an actor; my daughter wants to be an equality and human rights lawyer - perhaps because she’s heard me banging on about equal pay. What do you do to relax? I walk my dog in the countryside and spend time with friends. When I’ve had time in the past (and I intend to go in the future) I’ve gone along to lindy hop dance classes with Jive Swing at the Jubilee Centre in St Albans. What’s your top tipple? A good dry white wine, usually sauvignon blanc, or champagne on special occasions, Pimms on a hot day.


‘I came straight out of school in ’86 and performed with Ray Charles’ From playing with Ray Charles to touring with Earth, Wind and Fire, the YOFC Times catches up with the legendary musician Mo Pleasure, who will be performing in St Alban’s Funk at the Alban Arena on 25 May When did you discover your passion for music? Well, I started playing music when I was four, and I knew I had a passion for it then. I had my own band from around the age of 11, but then when I saw Earth, Wind and Fire when I was 13, I knew that music would be my calling.

COMPETITION TIME To be in with the chance of winning two tickets to see the legendary Mo Pleasure perform at St Alban’s Funk on 25 May at the Alban Arena, send your answer to the question Who did Mo Pleasure first perform with to admin@stalbansfunk.com The winner will be picked at random and will be notified by 20 May. The tickets are non-transferable.

The legendary and multi-talented musician Mo Pleasure

What instruments did you play? Bass, keyboard, piano and trumpet. Can you tell us a bit about your musical education? I went to college and got a degree in classical piano and actually won the concerto competition from the University of Connecticut playing the Gershwin Concerto in F and I’ve subsequently played Rhapsody in Blue about 10 times with orchestras and two pianos. I had great teachers but just everything else was learnt on the road. What was your first break in music and where did it lead you to? I came straight out of school in 1986 and performed with Ray Charles. From that, I went on to having a 30-year career. Who are the most famous musicians you have worked with? Earth, Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Roberta Flack, Natalie Cole, Christina Aguilera, Mary J Blige and Ray Charles.

Who is the artist that has impressed you the most? There are so many, it is hard to pick just one... Bette Midler, Ray Charles, Janet Jackson and Michael McDonald. What are your most memorable music moments? Seeing Michael Jackson perform Billie Jean in the This is It rehearsals was extremely memorable. Performing Rhapsody in Blue with an orchestra in front of my dad before he died. Any moments you would rather forget? I wouldn’t say I would like to forget this moment, but playing at Michael Jackson’s memorial was hard, but a huge honour.. What are you working on at the moment? Numerous projects including

my own album, St Alban’s Funk, masterclasses, I’m an ambassador for The Haven London, which is a charity that supports the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of creatives, and I’m also working on something with Bette Midler at the moment. What are your plans for the future? Working with emerging talent. Any particular current musicians/singers that you are really impressed by? So many, everyone from MonoNeon to Sola. How did you get involved with St Alban’s Funk? I had just finished a tour with Bette Midler and I had a birthday party in Southgate where I met Tony Larking who told me he was writing songs

for his live music show with his friend Bryan Smith and the rest is history. Tony and Bryan are St Albans born and bred song writers. The show makes its debut at the Alban Arena in St Albans on 25 May. And will we ever get you down to YOFC to play at the pub’s Live Music Fridays? Yes I would love to. St Alban’s Funk at the Alban Arena on 25 May. Tickets are available from alban-arena.co.uk For more information, go to facebook.com/stalbansfunk/ or stalbansfunk.com To find out more about The Haven + London charity that supports the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of creatives, go to thehavenlondon.com


Journey back in time with

Pictures: Arun Kataria, Richard Gillin, Fred Stacey and Sally Masson


Take a step back in time this summer in our great city with a Roman holiday to remember


HIS summer from Friday 21 to Sunday 30 June, join St Albans Cathedral and the city of St Albans as it celebrates its Roman heritage during a 10-day festival with events for the whole family. Take a walk back in time to Roman Verulamium, where it all began, and enjoy the city in which Alban lived with all the

wonderful things St Albans has to offer today. Two of our Roman Festival’s key events that celebrate the heritage of St Albans take place on 22 June. From 12pm, join us on the Abbey Orchard for Alban Fest – an afternoon of Roman-themed fun. Live Roman military battles, medieval pilgrimage badge demonstrations, clay sculpting and music from the Maida Vales are just some of the special activities taking place. There will also be festival glitter and face painting and plenty of other crafts, games,

food and music to keep all ages entertained. Prior to this, the Alban Pilgrimage, a magnificent procession organised by St Albans Cathedral to remember our city’s namesake,

Alban, Britain’s first saint, takes place in the morning. Expect to see 12ft-tall carnival puppets, representing figures from the story of Alban, take to the streets to re-enact the historic events that led to the execu-


St Albans Roman Festival



19-21 June London to St Albans Pilgrimage – a journey for the soul on your doorstep 21 and 22 June The Passion of Alban and Livia – a new play presenting the events around the death of Alban. Taking place at the historic Roman Theatre of Verulamium. 11am, 21 June The Alban Pilgrimage, St Peter’s Street to the Cathedral 12pm, 21 June Alban Fest, the Abbey Orchard 22 and 23 June Roman Fun at St Albans Clock Tower 23 June Empress and Emperor Party at the Inn on the Park Roman Film Club at The Pudding Stop

tion of Alban. The puppets are accompanied by people of all ages, dressed as lions, Roman soldiers, angels, chariots and more, resulting in a stunning spectacle of colour and celebration. All are welcome to join the procession as it makes its way through the town centre to St Albans Cathedral from 11am. The Alban puppet – and a few friends – will also make an appearance at Alban Fest during the afternoon. Local businesses and venues are getting involved in the Roman Festival to make it a real community, city-wide

event, including, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, St Albans Film Festival, the Alban Street Festival, St Albans Museums, the Roman Amphitheatre, The Pudding Stop and the Odyssey Cinema. Expect Roman-film showings, themed menus, historical city walks and talks, plays and performances, and much more. As just a small taster of what to expect, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks will be hosting a range of Roman-themed events, from a Roman pub quiz led by Caesar Chris, to Roman barbecues; St Albans Film

Festival will be showing the epic Gladiator at its Open-Air Cinema on the Abbey Orchard as part of their programme of films and the Cathedral will be running its highly popular Tower Tours throughout the week. We hope you can join in the celebrations.

GET THE LOWDOWN For more information and the full programme of events, please visit stalbanscathedral.org

7pm, 26 June A screening of Gladiator at the St Albans Film Festival 29 June Celebrating 80 years of Verulamium Museum with a programme of free activities for all the family 30 June Toga Yoga – an extra special yoga workshop in the Abbey Orchard, overlooking the Cathedral Larkus in the Parkus – the free annual community event marches back to its roots as it embraces the city’s Roman heritage

Profile for The Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Times

THE YOFC TIMES Spring 2019 issue  

THE YOFC TIMES Spring 2019 issue  

Profile for yofctimes