“I am guilty. I’m a little confused.” The Thrill Of Love at The Caxton Theatre

The words of Ruth Ellis to the off duty policeman who arrested her outside The Magdala pub in April 1955 after she had used a revolver to kill her lover David Blakely. The crime is played out in the opening scene of The Thrill Of Love by Amanda Whittington, which retells the story of the last woman to be executed in Britain.

As post war austerity draws to an end the private clubs of Soho and Knightsbridge are full of well to do punters and there is always a place for a good looking hostess. It’s a world of seedy glamour, of fast cars, strong drink and seamed stockings and the new production at The Caxtons recreates that world to remarkable effect on a stripped back stage painted prison grey and with the shadow of window bars cast over the set. There are only a few pieces of spartan furniture on stage, emphasising the similarities between the tawdry clubs around which the action plays out, the spartan bedsit in which Ellis miscarries, having been punched in the stomach by Blakely, and the condemned cell at Holloway (just pull the wardrobe aside to reveal the door to the gallows chamber).

The play investigates the damage that love can do and the suffering that some people are prepared to endure in its name. A crackly recording of Billy Holiday sets the scene and Chloey Rose as Ruth Ellis brings just the right mixture of brass and vulnerability to her portrayal of Ruth, a small town girl from North Wales who has spent the war dancing every night and hopes to move into the glittering world of British film celebrity like her idol Diana Dors.

Drawn inexorably to men who will do her harm she seems to be marked for victimhood from the start and although the play unquestionably doubts whether or not she should have died as she did it does not make her out to be a heroine or a martyr. She’s a severely damaged person, incapable of pulling herself back from the brink, as frustrating to Ruairidh Greig’s dogged, down to earth police detective as she is to her friends.

Greig’s old school copper is an omnipresent narrator/character, moving serenely through flashbacks, questioning Ellis to try to discover the truth, (particularly about exactly where she acquired the gun) and persuade her to co-operate with the many appeals for clemency launched on her behalf by others. She gives him short shrift almost to the end, by which time it’s too late.

There’s fantastic support from the three actresses who play Ellis’s friends, Marie Barker as the hard as nails and heart of gold Sylvia Shaw, Louise Blakey as comrade in arms Vickie Martin and Claire Wright as charlady and good girl Doris Judd and under the direction of Cathy Bennett-Ryan they effectively summon up the spirit of an era long before #MeToo, when casual violence against women was part of everyday life.

After a run of comedies it’s nice to see the Caxtons taking on a more serious piece of theatre for a change and we’d highly recommend a visit.

The Thrill Of Love is at the Caxton Theatre from Saturday 20th January to Saturday 27th January. Tickets available through www.caxtontheatre.com or on 01472 323111.

Could you run a Ron-a-thon? ALL SET FOR THE MAYOR’S CHALLENGE 2018

Are you fit enough to face a 12-hour, non-stop exercise challenge in the name of charity?

Local Mayor for North East Lincolnshire, Councillor Ron Shepherd, has this week launched his Mayor’s challenge – an annual project set up by the incumbent Mayor to raise money for his or her chosen charities.

This year, Councillor Shepherd has chosen to host and take up the challenge of a 12 hour ‘Ron-a-thon’ of non-stop exercise to raise funds for his charities, Linkage and the Carers Support Service.

The challenge, which will run from 7am to 7pm on Friday 2 April 2018, is open to the public to spectate or join in.

The Worshipful, the Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Councillor Ron Shepherd, said:

“I’m really looking forward to this Mayor’s challenge – I think it’ll be a tough one though. I hope that lots of people from all walks of life come along and get involved in any way they can – even if they can only do fifteen minutes or so on a treadmill. It’s all for two good local causes. All people have to do is gather sponsorship and commit to doing a length of time, and then turn up at Grimsby Town Hall on the day and complete their challenge.”

“I would like to thank Lincs Inspire for providing the machines – treadmills, rowing and cycling machines – for the challenge. If anyone wants to host their own Ron-a-thon on the day at a location that suits them, then they are more than welcome to do so, and if possible I will come along and visit and get involved.”

To find out more about this year’s Mayor’s Challenge, contact Tracy Frisby or Paul Wisken on 01472 314101 or paul.wisken@nelincs.gov.uk.

CLEETHORPES FUNDRAISING TEAM PRESENT MONEY FOR THE RESPIRATORY UNIT

A dedicated fundraiser and her team have raised money for a department close to her heart following an illness that saw her cared for at Grimsby hospital. After receiving care from the respiratory department, Jean Madin and her team of fundraisers presented a cheque to The Health Tree Foundation at Jean’s local pub, The Market Tavern, in Cleethorpes.

Jean said: “I have been a patient of Dr Richard Chan’s in respiratory for many years and have had half my right lung removed. I wanted to do something for the department. There’s quite a team of us who do our bit so hopefully we have raised enough to go towards some new equipment.”
Her latest effort has seen Jean raise £600 for the respiratory department with the help of her team, including two young, new members: Jessica Terry-Taylor, aged 18 and Courtney Terry-Taylor, aged 15.

Jean also recently raised £1,200 for The Health Tree Foundation’s Rear Into Gear Appeal – a campaign that is raising money for keyhole surgery equipment for patients with bowel cancer or bowel related illnesses at Grimsby and Scunthorpe hospitals.

Jean decided she would become a fundraiser after her father passed away in 2004. Shortly after, she moved to Cleethorpes where she has continued fundraising for a number of local causes.
Jayne Smith, a close friend of Jean’s, moved to the area around the same time as and got on board with her fundraising. Jayne said: “The team is like one big happy family. I had a break from fundraising but it feels great to be back with everyone again. I really missed it.”

Jean added: “We want to continue doing things to help people and we are so lucky we are able to do that living in this area. I cannot thank the people and businesses of Grimsby and Cleethorpes enough. We live in such a generous community.”

Community champion for The Health Tree Foundation, Laura Gooderham, said: “Jean’s dedication and determination is to be admired. She has gone through a rough time herself with illnesses and has still continued to raise money to help others – we are very grateful.”

From left: Jessica Terry-Taylor, Joshua Penny, fundraiser Jean Madin, community champion for HTF Laura Gooderham, Jayne Smith and Courtney Terry-Taylor at The Market Tavern in Cleethorpes.

CURTAIN UP’S 42nd STREET BRINGS SOME BROADWAY GLAMOUR TO THE MEMORIAL HALL

Times are tough on Broadway in 1933 and when word spreads that legendary Julian Marsh is casting for a new show the competition for places in the chorus line is predictably intense. One of the hopefuls is Peggy Sawyer, fresh into town from the Pennsylvania sticks, but when she loses here nerve and misses her audition her prospects don’t look good. Meanwhile Dorothy Brock, a former star who has the lead role thanks to an investment by her current beau Abner Dillon, is probably embarking on a last hurrah.

And so the stage is set for 42nd Street. Not quite the one you remember from the Busby Berkeley film because this stage show only dates from 1980 and has been extensively embellished with great songs of the time, but still a great show and one which has picked up plenty of awards for multiple productions over the last forty years and a fine vehicle for the talent and enthusiasm of the Curtain Up Productions team.

In the skilled hands of Director David Wrightam, choreographer Hayley Wrightam and musical director Keith Weston it’s a terrific, high energy show within a show drama that’s well worth an evening of your time. The lead players are all excellent with special praise going to Ruth Blanchard as the ingenue Peggy and Barb Dowell as the ultra-glamorous Dorothy Brock. Gary Howson’s Julian Marsh is a nice mix of martinet and wistful philosopher and Scott Smith (as juvenile lead Billy Lawlor) does a fantastic job leading the big musical numbers. He’s also resposible for the costumes which brilliantly evoke the colour and energy of 1930s New York.

It’s packed with great songs, the title number being the most famous of course, but also including the incomparable Getting To Be A Habit With Me, We’re In The Money, Young And Healthy and Shuffle Off To Buffalo and some dazzling dance routines and if you’re in the mood to brighten up a dark January evening with some good old fashioned razzmatazz then you couldn’t do better than to head down to meet those dancing feet.

42nd Street is at the Memorial Hall until Friday with tickets available from the box office on 01472 323111

LOCAL SERVICES ACHIEVE ‘BABY FRIENDLY’ ACCREDITATION

At a time when most of the health service news that we see can be pretty depressing it’s great to be able to pass on some tidings of comfort and joy for a change and it’s a special pleasure to help share the news that health services for pregnant women and new mums across North and North East Lincolnshire have been awarded the prestigious ‘baby friendly’ accreditation from UNICEF.

The services receiving stage three of the UK UNICEF baby friendly initiative include the Health Visiting Service and Family Hubs and Children’s Centres run by North East Lincolnshire Council.

The health and well-being of all babies is at the heart of these initiatives because a strong mother and baby relationship is the foundation for a baby’s future health and well-being, and breastfeeding supports this loving bond, making a vital difference to health.

Amanda Anderson, infant feeding lead for Grimsby hospital added: “We know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of some cancers – although mums might be more interested in hearing that it is easier, cheaper and simply less hassle than bottle feeding. However a mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will be supported to form a strong loving relationship with her newborn – through having maximum skin to skin contact and understanding how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond.”

The approach taken across North and North East Lincolnshire councils in implementing the standards required was commended by the assessors in their report. It said: “There is a robust and innovative approach to identifying challenges, action planning and audit with excellent leadership and a workforce who have a strong passion to ensure excellent care for pregnant women, new mothers and babies.”

Councillor Ros James, portfolio holder for children and young people in North East Lincolnshire, said: “This is a great result that reflects the hard work that the council’s infant feeding team, health visitors and family hubs put into making the services the best they can be. These services are offering vital front-line support to parents and families to ensure that babies get the best possible start in life.”

LOVE TO WALK? WHY NOT TRY A TREK FOR MARIE CURIE IN 2018?

At this time of year it’s traditional to overestimate our resources of grit and determination and to make promises that we can’t keep about our future virtue, but this year why not put the new into your New Year’s resolutions and inspire yourself by setting a different kind of goal for 2018 that will support Marie Curie and increase your fitness levels at the same time by signing up to take part in one of their amazing treks!

Marie Curie treks are a fantastic way to see the places you never imagined you could! From the picturesque views of Great Wall of China to the glorious setting of the Peak District – there really is an experience for everyone. Marie Curie treks are designed to provide participants with an enormous sense of achievement, new friendships and the opportunity to raise serious sponsorship for your local Marie Curie services. With a little training a trek can be within everyone’s capabilities and it truly is the experience of a lifetime.

Marie Curie Community Fundraiser Lauren Alexander is on the lookout for people interested in taking on a new challenge for 2018, saying: “Not only will you feel the buzz the outdoors but, by taking part in a sponsored trek, you will also be enabling Marie Curie to continue caring for people living with a terminal illness, and their loved one through the local Marie Curie nursing service. In Lincolnshire, we have over 85 nurses and this is thanks to members of the public for helping us to fund them each year.”

Your Marie Curie trek place includes training guides to help you get going, a fundraising pack, a Marie Curie T-shirt and also access to a private Facebook group just for your trek so you can chat with fellow trekkers beforehand, sharing tips and training stories along the way.

If you are up for the challenge, please contact your local Community Fundraiser, Lauren on 07525 80531 or lauren.alexander@mariecurie.org.uk. She’ll be delighted to find the right trek for you and explain everything that you need to know. So stick to this year’s resolution, get fit and get the Marie Curie t-shirt for 2018!

Ladies Of The Blues At Lincoln Alive

Local blues enthusiasts are in for a very special treat, when the Ladies Of The Blues Tour, featuring the combined talents of Connie Lush, Kyla Brox and Erja Lyytinen arrives at Alive in Lincoln on Saturday 24th March, the fourth show of their tour and it’s going to be a very special night indeed because these are some of the most acclaimed female vocalists in the world and they’re all at the very top of their game.

Connie Lush

Connie grew up in Liverpool and was singing in her church and school choirs from the age of five. Regarded as one of the finest blues singers in the UK, five times winner of best UK vocalist and twice European Blues vocalist of the year, she has performed at some of Europe’s most prestigious festivals, wowed audiences from Moscow to LA and toured the UK with the late, great BB King culminating in an unforgettable night at the Royal Albert Hall. Twenty years into her award winning career, entertaining audiences in thirty countries throughout the world, Connie Lush has arrived at a new beginning. As BB King said “That woman makes my heart sing”.

Kyla Brox

Born in Lancashire in 1980 and introduced to the passion of Afro-American music at first hand by her blues singing father, Victor, Kyla’s voice is a stunning example of the soul singer’s art: turning up the heat by degrees, lulling and charming before unleashing emotional catharsis, and blurring the distinction between pleasure and pain like the soul greats of old. Whether fronting the mighty Kyla Brox Band, or harnessing undiluted soul power in a duo with musical and life partner Danny Blomeley, Kyla is without doubt the most authentic UK blues and soul singer of her generation. You can have a look and listen to Kyla on YouTube singing “If You See Him” and other great tracks.

Erja Lyytinen

Erja was born in Finland and quickly emerged as an artist to watch in her native country. Since first setting foot in a recording studio she has become a bona fide star in her homeland and a celebrated fixture on the international music scene. She has recorded nine studio albums in locations as diverse as Helsinki, Memphis and Clarksdale, Mississippi, earning numerous awards and honours along the way. Erja is equally at home in traditional and modern blues and has never been afraid to incorporate jazz, pop and soul elements into her work. Erja was described by City Life as “an authentic soul diva … sensitive, sexy and with infinite reserves of sassiness”.

Lincoln Alive is located at 22 Newland, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN1 1XD
Advance tickets are £18.00 + bf and can be purchased by calling 01472 349 222 or online at www.solidentertainments.com

“blues music has never sounded …. or looked so good”.

Swap your bike lock and stay secure this January

It’s every cyclist’s worse nightmare – going back to where you left your bike only to find that it has been stolen but now a local partnership is taking the fight to the bike thieves in North East Lincolnshire by offering bicycle owners the chance to swap their old locks for a brand new one.

Lockswap is an annual event delivered by North East Lincolnshire Council working in partnership with ENGIE and Grimsby’s Cycle Hub, and helps cyclists locally to keep their bike secure.
Cyclists in need of a new lock can trade in their old lock at the Cycle Hub at Grimsby Railway Station and receive a new, Gold Standard Sold Secure D-lock (worth £40) at a heavily discounted price of £10.

Lockswap runs from Tuesday 2nd January to Saturday 3rd February.

Janine Walker, Managing Director of the Cycle Hub, said: “It’s great to team up with the Council and ENGIE to be able to offer these Gold Standard Sold Secure D-locks during January to make this offer. Our main aim is to keep the community cycling and help people to keep their bikes safe and secure.

Anyone who has received a new bike for Christmas or wants increased security for their bike and thinks they could use a better quality lock should definitely pop to see us and take advantage of this deal.”

The project is one of a number of schemes being delivered by the council working in partnership with ENGIE, supported by the Department for Transport’s Access Fund to help more people make more trips by bicycle across North East Lincolnshire.

To take advantage of the offer the visit the Grimsby Cycle Hub at Grimsby Town Station between Tuesday 2nd January to Saturday 3rd February during normal opening hours.