Harry films introduction to special Royal episode of Thomas Friends

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Harry films introduction to special Royal episode of Thomas & Friends The Duke of Sussex has spoken of his "fond memories" of growing up watching Thomas & Friends as he filmed an introduction to a special episode of the animated show in which the Queen and a young Prince of Wales are characters. Thomas & Friends: The Royal Engine is part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of Thomas The Tank Engine, which was created by British clergyman the Rev Wilbert Awdry as a storybook for his young son. It will see Thomas travel to London for first time on a mission to take Fat Controller Sir Topham Hatt to Buckingham Palace to receive an honour. Harry filmed the on-camera introduction to the episode, in which he sits in an armchair holding a copy of the book, in January, and a donation was made to charity. He said: "Thomas the Tank Engine has been a comforting, familiar face to so many families over the last 75 years - entertaining, educating and inspiring children on important issues through exciting stories and characters. "I certainly have fond memories of growing up with Thomas & Friends and being transported to new places through his adventures. "I am very proud to have been asked to take part in this special episode. I wish Thomas & Friends a very happy anniversary." In the 22-minute special, Sir Topham Hatt has been invited to London by the Queen to receive an award for distinguished service to the railway, and a young Charles has asked that Thomas be the engine to bring him. Thomas gets lost along the way and meets the royal train, called the Duchess of Loughborough, voiced by Rosamund Pike. The Gone Girl star said: "It is an absolute honour to have the chance to appear in the show. "I take it as a big responsibility to play Duchess who is a lovely, warm, bubbly sort of effervescent engine that I am incredibly drawn to because she is very anxious to get things right." Chuck Scothon, of toy company Mattel, added: "Since the beginning, Thomas & Friends has celebrated friendship and teamwork through storytelling which has cultivated fan love across generations. "In this milestone 75th year, we are releasing more storytelling content than ever before to engage the next generation of fans. "While families are spending more time at home, we are able to offer new content to enjoy together across videos, books, apps and through music and podcasts and are thrilled Harry, The Duke of Sussex is introducing this special." The special episode will be on Milkshake! on Channel 5 at 9.05am on May 2 and will stream on Netflix in the US on May 1. Published: 28/04/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Up for the Cup Soccer fans brew up a new game

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Up for the Cup? Soccer fans brew up a new game Football fans in Scotland have found a novel way to feed their appetite for the sport during its postponement by the coronavirus outbreak. The #TeabagVolleyChallenge was coined by Hibernian Women footballer Siobhan Hunter and the game is simple - film yourself kicking a teabag into a mug on the volley. Hunter told the PA news agency: "It was a competition I had done in my own kitchen with myself... I'm happy that other people are giving it a go as it's actually a very fun competition. "It's a great way to stay busy, have a competition in the house with family members and create a good atmosphere. "There are also different ways of putting it in the mug so there's a fun way to increase the standard." Scotland international Amy Muir, Hunter's team-mate, added: "She challenged us as a team to try it so then we put it out to challenge the public with the #TeabagVolleyChallenge." Hunter's alternative way of tea-making method is now proving thoroughly popular in Scotland, where many are sharing their attempts on Twitter. Donna McQueenie, from West Lothian, filmed her 10-year-old daughter Eve, who plays for Hibs' Under-13s, taking part in the challenge. "Eve loves these sorts of challenges at the best of times but for her heroes to start the trend was fantastic, which meant she was keen to impress them," Ms McQueenie, 40, told PA. "She is doing all she can to stay sharp and fit, so these challenges mean a lot at this difficult time." Hibernian analyst Emma Crawford, from Edinburgh, said the challenge is particularly welcome amid the current crisis. "It's nice to have lighthearted challenges like this to take our minds off the situation that's going on at the moment," she said. The trend could also be found in Glasgow, where Leah Robinson described it as "a way to cure the boredom for a while". "Promise it wasn't a fluke," said Ms Robinson of her header into a teacup. Published: 22/03/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Government claims sporting recovery has begun

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Government claims sporting recovery has begun The Government has paved the way for elite sport to return behind closed doors in England from Monday There are claims “The British sporting recovery has begun.” New health and safety guidelines have been issued representing stage three in the process of bringing sport back from the coronavirus lockdown. Stage two, which allowed for close-contact training for elite athletes, was published last Monday. Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Two months after sport stopped and after weeks of round the clock discussion with medical experts and professional sports bodies I’m delighted to announce today the Government has published guidance which allows competitive sport to resume behind closed doors from Monday at the earliest.” Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing, he continued: “It is up to each individual sport to decide exactly when to resume competition. They know their sports best. But football, tennis, horse racing, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby, snooker and others are all set to return to our screens shortly.” Dowden later added: “The British sporting recovery has begun,” hailing the “forensic, clinician-led approach” that placed the safety of athletes, coaches and support staff at the heart of its work. Horse racing will lead the way at Newcastle on Monday, while the first major meeting follows on June 6 at Newmarket, including the 2000 Guineas. Premier League football is scheduled to restart on June 17 with the English Football League set to follow later in the month, subject to club votes and approval from police and other safety bodies. Restrictions of recreational sport and exercise have also been eased, with up to six individuals now free to train together outside providing social distancing is observed. Dowden made it clear women’s sport would not be allowed to fall behind, adding: “Visibility matters, and our daughters deserve to see female athletes on the main stage.” As well as ensuring no spectators are present at events, key conditions have been made for sports fixtures to go ahead. Participants must travel alone and in private transport, while everyone entering a venue must be screened for Covid-19 and anyone suspected of having the virus must be placed in isolation. A one-way system of movement must be established around the venue, while social distancing must be maintained “where possible” – including celebrations and sitting on the bench. Dressing room use is to be minimised although showers can be taken in line with guidelines, advice for personal protective equipment must be followed, while physio treatment should be limited to essentials. Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said: “The Premier League welcomes the Government’s announcement today. “We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on 17 June, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of everyone involved. “This includes consulting with our clubs, players and managers – along with all our other stakeholders – as the health and welfare of our participants and supporters is our priority. “If all goes well, we will be thrilled to resume the 2019-20 season in just over two weeks’ time.” Asked directly about the fixtures which have been identified by police for potential hosting at neutral venues – and specifically about the Merseyside derby – Dowden said: “It is up to each individual sport to apply (Government) guidelines and determine the way in which they do so.” He added that police and local authorities will determine together which venues are appropriate for matches. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, said fans congregating outside stadiums as football returns is “clearly a police matter”. He said: “There has to be enough understanding that the venue can cope with the segregation and the organisation and the social distancing right up until the kick-off whistle until the final whistle to make that the safest possible experience for everybody there. “And that’s going to be a crucial factor as well in choosing these venues.” Published: 31/05/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Study to probe impact of coronavirus restrictions on language learning

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Study to probe impact of coronavirus restrictions on language learning The impact of the coronavirus lockdown on UK pupils whose mother tongue is not English is to be the subject of a study, amid concern that school closures may harm their learning of the language. While some fear that missing classes may disadvantage children who learn English as an additional language, other researchers believe that the time away from school may benefit these youngsters, claiming that a stronger grounding in their mother tongue could improve language learning overall. A study by Cambridge University, Reading University and partners is asking multilingual families to complete an online survey as researchers seek to learn more about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on language learning. Dr Naomi Flynn, Associate Professor of Primary English Education at the University of Reading's Institute of Education, said: "It is natural for parents of bilingual or multilingual children to be worried about the impact of school closures on their child's learning of English. "For many families, school is where the children speak English, and home is where they speak their first language. "If that is the case, my advice for parents is to continue doing this. "These are unprecedented times so now is not the time to start speaking a different language at home. "Research shows that a strong foundation in your first language helps when learning a second or third language so this will not be a hindrance when they go back to school." Around 300 different languages are spoken in the UK, according to the Government's School Census, and more than one in five primary school children speak English as an additional language. Professor Ludovica Serratrice, director of the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at the University of Reading, said: "At the moment, we don't have a good picture of multilingual families' attitudes towards language in general, so it's difficult to understand what impact the lockdown will have. "So much of this is shaped by parents' feelings and beliefs. "Families might, for example, change their policy on what language is spoken in the home while schools are closed. "We want to understand what is driving their approach, and what this might mean for children's education." Co-researcher Dr Elspeth Wilson, from the Faculty of Education at Cambridge University, said: "This is clearly a situation in which young people's exposure to language is changing massively, but it's not simply about English language development. "Spending more time with their home language could have a number of effects, including possible benefits. "By finding out more about this, we should be able to provide useful information both for education professionals, and multilingual families themselves." She said that more frequent contact with a child's mother tongue "may actually improve their interest in language learning, and it could lead to stronger relationships at home and in their wider family". Researchers are inviting multilingual families in the UK and Ireland, who have at least one child under the age of 18, to participate in the survey. Participating families must be living together during the lockdown period and speak a language other than English. All contributions will be anonymous, with participants asked to complete online questionnaires at three different stages: during the closures, when schools reopen, and in April 2021. They will also be invited to participate in an optional interview. Findings will be fed back to policymakers, schools and families in a bid to support the development of multilingual children following lockdown. Published: 03/05/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Katy Perry shares update on her baby with fans

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Katy Perry shares update on her baby with fans Katy Perry has appeared to reveal that she is expecting a baby daughter with her fiance Orlando Bloom. The US singer posted a photograph on Instagram of her British actor partner covered in what appears to be pink icing, alongside the caption "it's a girl". Perry, 35, previously announced her pregnancy in the music video for her single, romantic ballad Never Worn White. The song appeared to be about her relationship with Bloom and features the lyric: "See us in 60 years with a full family tree." The video ends with a side-on shot of Perry, who is wearing a white dress, cradling a baby bump. In an interview with SiriusXM's Mikey Piff, the Roar singer previously said that her pregnancy was not an "accident". Bloom and Perry have been dating for more than four years after reportedly getting together in 2016. The couple confirmed their engagement in February. Published: 04/04/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Contact tracing app to be trialled on Isle of Wight

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Contact tracing app to be trialled on Isle of Wight A smartphone app to trace the spread of coronavirus will be trialled on the Isle of Wight this week before being rolled out more widely later this month, the Government has announced. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said around 50% to 60% of people will need to use the software for it to be effective as he described it as the "best possible way to help the NHS". The NHSX app is part of the Government's test, track and trace strategy and will be central to its efforts in slowing the spread of coronavirus. Contact tracing has been used extensively in South Korea, Hong Kong and Germany, where outbreaks have been contained more quickly. The Government intends to use the app and a phone team to carry out the tracing. It will be downloaded on to smartphones and use bluetooth technology to work out when other app users are in close enough proximity to potentially spread the virus. The data is recorded under an anonymous ID, rather than by the person's name. If and when someone starts showing symptoms, or tests positive for Covid-19, they are able to share that on the app. The app then sends a notification warning of possible infection to all those phone users to have come in requisite proximity recently. Mr Shapps told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "The idea is that we will encourage as many people to take this up as possible. "This is going to be a huge national effort and we need, for this to work, 50% to 60% of people to be using this app. "Not everybody has a smartphone and I appreciate that for various reasons not everybody will download it but it will be the best possible way to help the NHS." He stressed the app will be completely confidential. Published: 03/05/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Premier League clubs vote for return to contact training

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Premier League clubs vote for return to contact training Premier League clubs have voted unanimously to resume contact training as part of ‘Project Restart’. After small, socially-distanced training sessions started last week, players and managers from the 20 top-flight clubs were briefed on proposals for the reintroduction of contact training on Tuesday. Phase two was voted on the following day and Premier League shareholders have given it the green light as a mid-June return to action edges closer. “Premier League shareholders today voted unanimously to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so,” the league said in a statement. “Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact. “The Premier League’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all participants. “Strict medical protocols are in place to ensure the training ground is the safest environment possible and players and staff will continue to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. “Stage Two of the Return to Training protocol has been agreed following consultation with clubs, players, managers, the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), LMA (League Managers Association) and the Government. “Discussions are ongoing as work continues towards resuming the season, when conditions allow.” This vote was a big moment in the plans to return to Premier League action, having suspended play on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plans are based on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s guidance, which recommends contact being gradually built up first among clusters of two to three players, increasing to groups of four to 12 players before ultimately a return to full team training. It also recommends meticulous record-keeping of any close contact – defined as anything which occurs within the two-metre social distancing boundary – so that in the event of a positive test, contacts can easily be traced. The latest round of the Premier League’s coronavirus tests are set to be published later on Wednesday, when the Bundesliga will continue its successful return to action. The German top-flight is on its third matchday since play resumed and Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho wants to follow suit. “Since the moment the Bundesliga started, since the Portuguese and Spanish leagues announced a date to restart, that is the most difficult moment for us,” he told Sky Sports. “We want to play, it’s hard to see other countries playing football and we don’t do it. German professionals are giving the world something they love and we are not. “But we trust what the authorities and Premier League are doing. When they say it’s the moment to start, we want to do it.” A further shareholders’ meeting is scheduled for Thursday when clubs will look at wider issues, including possibly settling on a restart date, further discussions on the use of neutral venues, considerations around the broadcast of matches and talks on what should happen if the season should have to be curtailed. The agreement on contact training allows them to focus on such discussions, while Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw is among those welcoming the decision to move to phase two of training. Speaking ahead of the shareholders meeting, he told the club website: “It’s been great to have the ball at my feet again, but to be honest every aspect of it has been enjoyable. “Just getting back to training, being back on our own pitches, being in our own training kit… it feels like things are moving forward. “We all missed the ball a lot, but I think it’s more that we missed being together. Everyone’s here now, even the lads who have been out injured for a long time, and it feels great. “Now obviously we’re waiting for the clubs to have their meeting and hopefully bring us good news about a return to full training. That’s what we’re all looking forward to. “We’re all very excited and hoping that the meeting goes smoothly. “I think everyone feels really safe at our training ground because the club has gone to huge lengths to make it that way, and everything has been followed to the letter. “We’re even more excited because we feel ready and confident for the season to restart.” Published: 27/05/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Heartbroken father of four dies after cancer treatment delayed due to Covid 19

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'Heartbroken' father of four dies after cancer treatment delayed due to Covid-19 A father-of-four who died after his cancer surgery was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic was "heartbroken" by the delay, his youngest daughter has said. Pete Sharp, 60, died on April 27 following a lung cancer diagnosis in January. While he did not have the virus himself, he was unable to have surgery on the cancer as the intensive care bed he would need for recovery was being used to treat Covid-19 patients. His youngest daughter said Mr Sharp was heartbroken after the chance for more time with his family was "snapped away from him" due to the outbreak. Tayler Sharp, 23, told the PA news agency her father was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer which had spread to his lymph nodes. She said: "It was just kind of downhill from there, he said he felt like a ping pong ball because he was going from appointment to appointment. "Even though he had the hardest news he could have possibly had, he never showed that he was scared." Miss Sharp said the surgery scheduled for March 30 may have given Mr Sharp more time with his family. However, the week before he was due to have the surgery Mr Sharp, from Kettering, was told it was not safe for him to have it due to the pandemic. Miss Sharp said: "Obviously it really annoyed him but I explained that they weren't doing it to be horrible, they were doing it because they wanted him to come out the other side of the operation. "It was hard for him, he hid it very well but I knew he was heartbroken. "It was me who had to call the nurses and ask what was going on because he couldn't do it - it literally broke his heart not being able to have it. "He had been given a 98% chance of pulling through the operation and living for however long, and it was just snapped away from him just like that because of coronavirus. It was awful." He was later referred to have chemotherapy before the decision was made to give Mr Sharp palliative radiotherapy to help him cope with the symptoms. Miss Sharp said her father was also experiencing heart and liver problems and said he would be happy he did not spend time in pain. "A part of me is like this was probably the best time for Dad and he would want to go being happy and the best that he can," she said. The roofer, described as a "Jack of all trades" by his family, celebrated his 60th birthday on February 26 with Tayler, his two other daughters Elisha, 31, and Hayleigh, 40, as well as his son PJ, 27. Miss Sharp described her father as a "character", and said: "He was always there to help people and was always ready to put people before himself. "We said he was the entertainer because he'd always want to be the person who made someone laugh or made them smile. "He was a bit of a joker, he loved to play pranks and things and he lived life to the fullest, not a care in the world unless it was for his kids." Published: 14/05/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Johnson facing questions over coronavirus lockdown

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Johnson facing questions over coronavirus lockdown Boris Johnson is facing calls for clarity after placing the UK on a police-enforced lockdown with drastic new measures in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. The Prime Minister ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of "very limited purposes", banned public gatherings of more than two people and ordered the closure of non-essential shops. But police chiefs warned of phone lines being inundated with calls on Monday night with questions about what movements are still permitted, while MPs also called for answers. In an address to the nation from Downing Street, Mr Johnson ordered people to only leave their homes to shop for basic necessities "as infrequently as possible", and to only perform one form of exercise a day. They can also seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if "absolutely necessary", under the measures to last until at least Easter Monday. "That's all - these are the only reasons you should leave your home," he said. "You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home." A failure to follow the rules could see police dispersing gatherings and imposing fines, which Government officials said would start at £30. After the UK death toll hit 335, the PM ordered the immediate closure of non-essential stores including those selling electronics and clothing. Sports Direct came in for heavy criticism for keeping its stores open after the Prime Minister's announcement. Management justified the move on the basis that selling sporting and fitness equipment makes the company a vital asset during a national shutdown, according to an email seen by the PA news agency. Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery questioned the decision, tweeting: "Who on earth does Mike Ashley think he is? He's prepared to endanger the life of his employees and the public at large." The Prime Minister also ordered a ban on all public gatherings of more than two people - other than those they live with. Other premises to join pubs and restaurants in being closed are libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, places of worship and hotels. Parks will remain open for exercise, but all social events including weddings and baptisms will be stopped. Funerals can continue. Mr Johnson said the measures will be "under constant review" and will be considered for relaxation in three weeks if the evidence allows. Politicians who had piled pressure on the PM to enforce strict measures amid fears people were disregarding social distancing advice largely welcomed his announcement. But there were calls for answers to the public's concerns after the PM scrapped his daily press conference on Monday to announce the measures in a statement. Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley warned the public not to "cripple our phone" lines with enquiries on the PM's announcement. Lincolnshire Police warned of an "extremely high volume" of calls, and Humberside Chief Constable Lee Freeman said his force had received "a number of calls" on the subject which he said he was unable to answer. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close - and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders." Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the measures that "amount to a lockdown" were "essential for the protection of all of us". Ironically, hours after the PM placed the UK on lockdown, China said it was lifting restrictions on movement in most areas of Hubei province on Wednesday, ending a lockdown in the place coronavirus first surfaced. Mr Johnson, whose announcement prompted a surge of traffic to online supermarket websites, is to hold a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, but some ministers will be joining online instead of heading to Downing Street. Forty-six more people died in England alongside four in Scotland and four in Wales on Monday, taking the number who have died in British hospitals after testing positive to 335. Those who have died in England range in age from 18 to 105. In an earlier escalation of advice, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told citizens travelling overseas to return to the UK using commercial routes that are still running. "If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can," he said. Foreign Office staff are working to help citizens get back where routes have been halted due to the crisis. Meanwhile, emergency legislation to tackle the outbreak cleared the House of Commons after MPs chose not to oppose the third reading of the Coronavirus Bill. Published: 24/03/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Covid 19 loans slow as another 13bn handed to small businesses

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Covid-19 loans slow as another £1.3bn handed to small businesses Just over 25000 loans have been approved Small business across the UK have won another £1.33 billion of support as part of the Government's scheme to help companies weather the economic storm brought by coronavirus. Nearly 8,640 new loans were approved in the seven days to Tuesday, according to figures from UK Finance, released on Thursday. According to the trade body, it brings the total lent under Chancellor Rishi Sunak's coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) to £4.1 billion. However, the data also shows the rate of approvals slowed from last week, when UK Finance said £1.45 billion had been approved in the previous seven days. It is the first time the rate has slowed since the scheme started. Published: 30/04/2020 by Radio NewsHub