Tag Archives: news

British Firework Championships 2019

By Megan Dibben

The British Firework Championships 2019 took place in Plymouth last week. With the amazing turn out of the weather, the outstanding entertainment and the spectacular fireworks displays, it is safe to say the two day event was a brilliant and unmissable one.

There was a lot of speculation as to whether Wednesday night would be worth attending due to Plymouth’s unpredictable weather, however many people were pleasantly surprised by the clear skies; perfect for viewing the fireworks late into the evening. Thousands of people flooded the Barbican’s narrow streets and crowded onto Plymouth Hoe awaiting the firework displays, and by 9pm it was difficult to even roam around the roads due to the amount of people who had arrived. This was an outstanding turn out, and it was lovely to see the people of Plymouth come together for a wonderful night.

The fireworks weren’t the only attraction however, as there were many local acts who performed for the crowds earlier in the evening – and they were spectacular! These included Ocean City Sounds Barbershop Chorus, a four part harmony singing group of around 50 men, Stage Stars musical theatre group and Street Factory dance group. On Thursday evening there were more fantastic performances from Plymkids musical theatre group and Natasha’s Bollywood Dance. These groups gave outstanding performances both nights, adding to the buzz of the evening and providing a wonderful build up to the fireworks displays at the end of the night.

Finally, the moment we all came for arrived, and the first bang of a firework silenced the crowds. The vibrant explosion of purple, red and blue above our heads was stunning, and for one moment everyone was looking in the same direction, watching in awe.

The competitors for Wednesday night were Nemisis Pyrotechnics, Aurora Fireworks and Phoenix Fireworks, however the third display was sadly cancelled due to technical issues. Thursday’s competitors, there were Illusion Fireworks, Selstar Fireworks and 1st Galaxy Fireworks. Selstar Fireworks were crowned the winners of the British Firework Championships 2019 the next day.

All of the displays were absolutely breath-taking however, and I think everyone who watched them can agree with me. Overall, both nights ended on a beautiful finish thanks to these brilliant competitors.

Photo provided courtesy of Will Hexter (Instagram: willh.jpg)

Considering Calling Clearing? Why Wait?

By Mitch Gregory

Clearing. That dreaded word that every A-Level student shudders at the sound of, especially on Results Day. Clearing is so often associated with failure, rejection, and as a last resort; but how far from the truth that is!

I’ve been working in the University of Plymouth’s call centre for Clearing this year, and as a result I’ve seen would-be-students given another chance to go to University and study something they’re really passionate about, even when their A-Level results told them they couldn’t. The misconception that Clearing is for the desperate students who want to go to University and the desperate lower-tier Universities trying to fill their spaces is inaccurate. Throughout the Clearing process the University makes sure they’re filling their spaces with students who they see potential in, and similarly the student is just as critical and rigorous with their choice of University as they were in the first instance when they made their application on UCAS Track.

So how do you do it? Are you considering phoning up a University Clearing service in a change of heart bid to get into University, but unsure how or when or what to say? Let’s see if I can help.

When you phone up Clearing all you need are your grades and an idea of what course you’d like to study. Your helpful call-handler (who is probably a student at the university already!) will take some details from you and check that the course is available and you fit the entry requirements in some way. If that all goes smoothly then voila! You’re given an invitation to apply to the University via UCAS Track and hopefully, all being well, you’re accepted! Even if you don’t quite meet the requirements for your course – maybe you don’t have that elusive B in a science or your GCSEs were a bit lower than the University would like – they don’t give up on you just yet. You’ll probably be put through to an Academic from that course, or maybe through to another section of the admissions team for their consideration. They may take into account your work experience or offer you a Foundation course so that you can learn the basics before starting your BA/BSc/BEng. The absolute last resort is that the University has nothing available, but even then there’s always another University just down the road!

All I really wish to say is that CLEARING IS OKAY. If you’re going through, or considering going through, Clearing, it isn’t the end of the world. Instead it is the start of something that will probably change your life. I’m about to go into my third-year of University and although I didn’t go through Clearing, I know a lot of my friends did. When you’re all there studying together and having the time of your life, whether you went through Clearing or not is irrelevant.

Boardmasters 2019 Cancelled

By Megan Potterton

Boardmasters 2019 has been cancelled by event organisers due to forecasted severe weather conditions.

The major music festival was due to begin in Newquay today, Wednesday 7th August. Florence and the Machine, Wu-Tang Clan and Foals were all scheduled to headline the festival, which was expected to run from Wednesday 7th until Sunday 11th August.

Gates were due to open to festival-goers at 7am this morning, however event organisers released a statement cancelling the event across Boardmasters’ social media channels at 11pm last night.

Here is the official statement:

“Due to forecasted severe weather conditions, specifically high winds, Boardmasters 2019 has been cancelled. 

Following full consultation with all of the relevant authorities including independent safety advisors, Devon and Cornwall Police, emergency services and the Met Office, a final decision was made yesterday evening (6th August).

The safety of you, the fans and attendees, as well as performers and crew comes first, and the potential risk is too severe for the event to go ahead at this time.

Refund advice will be shared as soon as possible – please follow Boardmasters’ social media for official updates. 

We sincerely regret the disappointment to fans, and apologise for any disruption caused to local businesses, performers and crew who were looking forward to Boardmasters as much as we were.”

Fans and artists alike have expressed their disappointment on social media. Sam Fender, who was due to play the Main Stage on Saturday, tweeted:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Sunday headliners Foals also tweeted that they were ‘Gutted’ in response to the official statement.

Ticket holders have been told to keep an eye on the Boardmasters social media pages for advice on refunds. Great Western Railway have also advised that all unused tickets to and from Newquay this weekend are eligible for refund, including normally non-refunable Advance fares.

Opinion: Are we living in our very own apocalypse?

By Lily Smith

As an English Literature student at Plymouth University I have the opportunity to read and study a wide variety of books and genres. We’re taught to analyse, look for the deeper meaning, examine the context. This year I’ve taken a module called ‘Apocalypse and the Modern World’ and enjoyed it so much it became a starting point for my dissertation.

Consequently, I’ve recently been reading a lot more apocalyptic texts, including Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel is set in the apocalyptic setting of the Republic of Gilead. Fertility rates have plummeted ‘past the zero line of replacement’ and so-called Handmaids (fertile women) have been placed in the homes of those deemed worthy to reproduce. I cannot recommend this book highly enough; Atwood’s writing is sublime and the topic so interesting and scarily accurate in our ever-changing political climate. Atwood’s clever style of writing gives us glimpses into the laws and ways of Gilead in which abortion has been outlawed and those who go against authority are subjected to public punishments and shaming.

Is anything sounding familiar? I’m the first to admit I’m not exactly politically minded but I don’t think the recent US abortion ban has passed many of us by. Five American states including Alabama and Georgia have recently banned abortion to some degree; removing the right for a woman to make a decision about her own body. The abortion ban is based on pro-life arguments in which the “baby’s” right to life is considered before the circumstances of the pregnancy and the wants of the woman. This has of course sparked debate on at what point a fetus should be regarded as a human life and has resulted in various bans being more or less extreme than others. Alabama is seen as having one of the most extreme bans, with doctors who perform abortions facing possible charges of 99 years of imprisonment.

Abortion was made legal in most US states in 1973 (via Roe v. Wade), meaning that abortions rights in the US have been recognised for a noticeably short time period spanning less than 50 years. Human rights group Amnesty International conducted an independent poll and found that 73% of Americans support the right to obtain an abortion and therefore disagree with the ban. This sentiment can be witnessed by many people my own age via their social media platforms.

Such widespread disapproval leads to the question: how have these laws been passed? The Washington Post suggests that abortion bans have been spurred on by evangelical supporters (who made up a majority of Trump’s election votes) and the appointment of pro-life judges. Much of Atwood’s novel hints at a religious precedent leading to its apocalyptic setting, which scarily mirrors debates within the US. Are we, therefore, living in our very own apocalypse? An apocalypse shaped by the political climate and shifts in those in positions of power and decisions.

Perhaps more importantly, we should be asking what we can do to help. Abortion is not just an issue debated in the US but discussions are taking place closer to home in Northern Ireland and across the globe. Ultimately every woman should have the freedom to make a decision about her own body. By supporting groups such as Amnesty International and the Centre for Reproductive Rights we can create a conversation, be heard and demand a response.

You can find out more about these groups here:

https://reproductiverights.org/
https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/sexual-and-reproductive-rights/

Plymouth Enters Government

By Tobias Chalcraft

After decades of being confined to either the backbenches or the shadow cabinet, Plymouth has now found itself with elected representation working on the government frontbenches.

Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View, has spent some of the last few months supporting Boris Johnson’s campaign for Conservative party leader and Prime Minister, which saw his preferred candidate secure a victory with two-thirds of the votes.

Following royal ascent to the role, the PM splashed the front pages with his new cabinet, as he replaced a significant portion of ministers from Theresa May’s government with MPs that voted for Brexit in 2016 or, like Mercer, supported his leadership bid.

The extensive media coverage and Twitter trends are hardly surprising, with the new cabinet being one of the most diverse and featuring head-turning politicians like Priti Patel, who has been put in charge of keeping our country secure through her promotion to Home Secretary, after being sacked by Theresa May nearly two years ago for holding unofficial talks with the Israeli government.

However, there is another appointment which hasn’t made as many headlines. The Prime Minister has very recently created a government office for ‘Veterans Affairs’. This comes after pressure from the man who will be leading this department, Johnny Mercer, and his collaboration with the Sun newspaper which resulted in both leadership contenders, Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, promising to create a new department which prioritised our Veterans.

Regardless of if you support him or not, Mr Mercer’s role as ‘Minister for Defence People and Veterans’ is the first time that an MP representing a Plymouth constituency has entered government in decades.

After the announcement of his appointment, the Plymouth MP said on Twitter that he “looks forward” to his role, whilst also pointing out that “It’s taken four years, but we finally have an Office for Veterans Affairs in the UK”. He also offered his gratitude to Tom Newton Dunn, the political editor of the Sun, for supporting the campaign to establish this new office.

Some of his supporters will also be quick to point out that being an ex-serviceman and possessing a clear passion on this topic, as demonstrated through his declaration to stop supporting Theresa May’s government until the prosecution of Northern Ireland veterans were halted, will provide the Plymouth MP with the qualifications to excel in this role.

Critics of the new government may see this appointment as offering some comfort, with Mercer having previously said that he wishes to see a more centre-leaning Conservative party which reaches out to more young voters.

Meanwhile, Mr Mercer’s opponents may argue that by joining Boris Johnson’s government, and thus accepting the government’s aim to leave the UK with or without a deal, he has abandoned his goal to reach out to younger voters which predominantly voted to remain in the EU.

Overall, will Johnny Mercer keep his centre-leaning position and, more importantly, will he be able to bring Boris with him? Or has the offer of a government position moved his values towards those of his government colleagues?

Kinky Boots Review: Giving Toxic Masculinity the Boot

By Keiran Potter

A story about family ties and the bounds of friendship, Kinky boots is a fun but moving celebration of humanity. It succeeds in challenging the idea of what it means to be a man, in a world smothered with toxic masculinity. 

A story revolving around a young man inheriting his family business didn’t initially excite the musical theatre geek inside of me. Especially when 1000 pairs of boring brogues are introduced as a plot device. 

However, despite having very little knowledge of the show before attending. I truly loved this musical. It’s silly and fun, yet carries a real message, as great pieces of art often do. It is a political presentation of the working class and the impacts of capitalism and gentrification. More importantly,  it is a touching reflection on masculinity and powerful females, and how humans don’t have to fit into the cookie cutter mould of expectations. Kinky Boots states how the act of accepting people for who they are, is the real key to what makes a man. 

My favourite character was undeniably Lola, the real heart of the show and bringing tears of laughter and of sadness on numerous occasions, portrayed by the talented Kayi Ushe. Lola enters the humdrum city of Nottingham and injects it with her fabulosity. She makes unconventional friendships along the way, allowing the audience to learn the importance of acceptance at the same time as the characters do.

Her presence highlights the power of a pair of heels and passion. The character separates gender from sexuality and shows that all you need is some glitter and determination in order to turn a dream into a future for yourself and those around you. 

The entire cast were excellent, taking you on a real journey with each of their characters. Joel Harper-Jackson, as troubled protagonist Charlie, also deserves a special mention.  At its heart, Kinky Boots is a story about two very different men who realise that, beneath their exterior, they’re made of the same stuff. 

I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say, what an amazing message to share with numerous generations. I couldn’t help but notice the crowd predominantly full of elderly people. To see them laughing along with the numerous drag queens on stage was quite beautiful, an unfamiliar yet stunning dichotomy. 

Looking around further though, I did notice that a lot of the seats were empty. This confused me, as the show progressed and got better and better, with an unmissable moral message. Unfortunately there were just not enough people around to see it. 

I do hope that this was a coincidence and just a quiet night, as I’d hate to think it is the presentation of the characters and subject matter; of drag and breaking down gender barriers, that could have stopped anyone from experiencing this eye opening show for themselves. 

Kinky Boots was on at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from Monday 8th – Saturday 20th July.

Plymouth’s Three Musketeers: Who Represents Plymouth in Westminster?

By Tobias Chalcraft

Lacking in knowledge on Plymouth’s elected representatives in Westminster? If so, look no further than Generation Plymouth to give you a quick, non-biased summary of Plymouth’s three musketeers.

Plymouth is split into three different constituencies: Sutton & Devonport, Moor View & South West Devon. Plymouth Moor View covers the North of the city, South West Devon covers some of the East and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport covers the rest of Plymouth, including the city centre. Unlike cities such as Manchester or Bournemouth, which have been run by a single party for decades, our city likes to keep a more open mind when it comes to its politics.

Since 1997 the Conservatives and Labour parties have frequently struggled to hold Plymouth city council for longer than 3 years before being voted out of office, with the Tories’ tenure between 2007-2012 being the sole exception. This division is also represented in our MPs.

So, who are these three MPs representing Plymouth constituencies in Westminster? Firstly, Luke Pollard is the Labour Co-operative MP that has represented Plymouth Sutton & Devonport for the last two years, taking the seat from the Conservatives in 2017. In July 2018 Pollard joined Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in a role shadowing the Conservative’s environmental policies; predominately flooding, coastal communities and fisheries. He has always voted against the government’s Brexit deal and argues the best solution to the Brexit deadlock is a second public vote, with remain as an option.

Pollard is a member of the transport select committee, which examines what the government gets up to in the Department of Transport. His current campaigns include making Plymouth Sound the first national marine park, extending the M5 further westwards and ensuring that the retired nuclear submarines in Devonport are recycled.

Representing Plymouth Moor View is Conservative backbencher Johnny Mercer, who has held the seat since the 2015 election, taking the seat off Labour. Earlier this year Mercer said he wouldn’t support the Conservative government until the prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans are stopped. Since September 2017 Mercer has been a member of multiple defence committees and the Health & Social Care committee, which scrutinise both defence and health aspects of government actions respectively. His campaigns include persuading the government to have a newly commissioned navy fleet of type 26s based at Devonport and improving mental health services and veterans’ care.

Mercer voted against the government’s negotiated Brexit deal in the first parliamentary vote in January, but then switched to support the deal in the second and third ‘meaningful votes’. Furthermore, in the indicative votes that took place in March as a result of parliament seeking a solution to the Brexit deadlock that could receive a majority of MPs’ support, Mercer supported leaving the EU without a deal.

The third Plymothian musketeer is Sir Gary Streeter, Conservative backbencher MP for South West Devon. Streeter has held his seat since 1997, having held another Plymouth-based seat 1992-1997. Over his 27 years in parliament, Streeter has held multiple roles including shadowing Labour’s Secretary of State for International Development (1998-2001).

Sir Gary currently sits on the Panel of Chairs, committee of Privileges and committee on Standards, and has sat on Environment and Home Affairs committees in the past. Streeter supports leaving the EU with a deal, having supported the aforementioned deal in all three votes. Campaigns supported by the Devon MP include moving more troops to his constituency, increasing funding for local schools and improving rail links in the South West.

So, there we have it, a simple overview of the three Plymouth MPs. Although our three musketeers don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on most topics, our unique city is represented by people from somewhat differing backgrounds, political parties and even views on Brexit – would you believe it?

Do you know who your MP is? Head to https://www.theyworkforyou.com to find out who represents you and see their voting record to help you decide if they deserve your vote at the next election.

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