University of West London on board for FA Cup campaign

With Brentford Football Club playing their final Emirates FA Cup tie at their historic Griffin Park home, the University of West London further expanded their long-standing partnership. Brentford lost to Leicester City, third in the Premier League, in a Fourth Round tie at Griffin Park on Saturday, 25 January. And a sell-out crowd saw the last ever cup tie at Griffin Park as The Bees prepare to move to the brand-new Brentford Community Stadium in the summer.

UWL signed a deal to be Brentford’s official Emirates FA Cup Shirt Sleeve Sponsor for the 2019/20 season. Their logo appeared on the left sleeve of all shirts when The Bees faced Leicester. UWL have been a long-standing supporter of Brentford FC and are our official Education Partner as part of a relationship that is in to its eighth year. Their logo appears on top tier of the Brook Road stand at Griffin Park and on the back of First Team and B Team shirts and shorts as well on the Club’s LED perimeter advertising.

Professor Anthony Woodman, UWL Deputy Vice-Chancellor, said: “At UWL we take people with talent and ambition and provide them with great teaching, excellent facilities and outstanding student support so they can connect with successful and rewarding careers. Given the impressive performance of Brentford’s young team, it is apt that UWL sponsored the Club’s FA Cup run this year. Our sponsorship reflects the close working partnership we have with Brentford FC that helps us to deliver the very best sports facilities for our students and give back to our local community.”

Mike Sullivan, Brentford FC Commercial Manager, said: “Our relationship with the UWL continues to grow and grow. They have been brilliant in showing their support and commitment to the Club, over the last nine years, and have always been open to any new innovative ideas. We are delighted that the UWL have agreed to be our official Emirates FA Cup sleeve sponsor for the second season running.”

Watch: #TakeYourSeats Andy, Stu and Keith

Part of 30-strong group, Andy Ditton, Stu Evans and Keith Mosdall spoke to us at our Reservation Centre on Heritage Walk after purchasing their 2020/21 Season Tickets.

When you head down to the Reservation Centre, keep an eye out for the Club’s Communcations Team, who will be collecting fan stories. These interviews will feature on our #TakeYourSeats playlist on our YouTube channel hereSubscribe to Brentford FC’s YouTube channel to get the videos as they go live.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

Watch: #TakeYourSeats Bjørnar Bruun

Bjørnar Bruun said he “instantly fell in love with the place” on his first visit to Griffin Park two years ago.

Bjørnar, a Season Ticket holder who flies over from his native Norway to follow The Bees, recently secured himself a premium seat for the 2020/21 campaign.

When you head down to the Reservation Centre, keep an eye out for the Club’s Communcations Team, who will be collecting fan stories. These interviews will feature on our #TakeYourSeats playlist on our YouTube channel hereSubscribe to Brentford FC’s YouTube channel to get the videos as they go live.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

#TakeYourSeats: From Reservation Centre

It was a special day for some long-standing Brentford fans last week who were among the first to secure Season Tickets at our new home. Premium Seats and Premium Season Tickets have already been on sale and many supporters have snapped these up but Season Tickets in all areas of the Brentford Community Stadium, set to open in the summer, are now on sale. The first ‘8+ year’ Season Ticket Holders were invited to attend their appointments at our Reservation Centre last week and more are passing through every day.

Also in attendance were some famous Brentford faces, and the media. Mathias Jensen, Dominic Thompson and Ollie Watkins were on hand to meet our first Season Ticket Holders, along with Peter Gilham. Dominic spoke to Stu Wakeford of #BeesLive and that interview can be seen below.

ITV News and BBC News were also present and their reports can be seen here and here while Stu Wakeford did a special #BeesLive from the centre. Chief Executive Jon Varney spoke to Sky Sports and his interview is included in this report here. One of Stu’s interviews, with fan George Pinto, can be seen below.

When you head down to the Reservation Centre, keep an eye on for the Club’ communcations team, who will be collecting fan stories. This will feature on our #TakeYourSeats playlist on our YouTube channel here. Subscribe to Brentford FC’s YouTube channel to get the videos as they go live.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

Community Sports Trust working to get girls active

Brentford FC Community Sports Trust has joined 13 professional football clubs to tackle physical inactivity of girls in disadvantaged areas across London. Funded by The London Marathon Charitable Trust, Brentford will join the likes of Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Chelsea to encourage 5,000 inactive girls and young women to participate in football and physical activity sessions. The London Marathon Charitable Trust have awarded £820,000 to London United, a conglomerate of 14 professional football clubs that tackles social challenges in the capital.

With rising levels of youth violence increasingly affecting girls and young women, the project – called Kicks Girls – aims to offer a safe space for teenagers to enjoy sport. Along with physical activity sessions, the project will also offer a series of educational workshops and qualifications for teenage girls living in London.

Sarah Ebanja, Chief Executive of the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation and member of London United, said: “London United’s 14 professional football clubs are delighted to be collaborating with The Trust to use the power of the beautiful game to get more girls and women physically active. This applies regardless of fitness levels, age, disability – it’s a sport that all can get involved in – from recreational, grassroots, through to professional.”

Sarah Ridley, Chief Grants Officer of The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “We are delighted to have awarded £820,000 towards this terrific project, which is synonymous with The Trust’s vision to inspire activity. Our mission is to enable people to become and remain physically active regardless of gender or background. We’re passionate about getting more women involved in a wide range of physical activity and look forward to seeing the positive impact this programme will have on girls across London over the coming years.”

With a multitude of Premier League and EFL clubs in London taking part in the initiative, the project will utilise the clubs’ female players to inspire thousands of girls to enjoy physical activity. To help tackle period poverty and the anxiety of girls taking part in physical activity during their periods, the Trust will provide a selection of free sanitary products at every session.

#TakeYourSeats: BBC London Reservation Centre Report

It was a special day for some long-standing Brentford fans on Monday who were among the first to secure Season Tickets at our new home. Premium Seats and Premium Season Tickets have already been on sale and many supporters have snapped these up but Season Tickets in all areas of the Brentford Community Stadium, set to open in the summer, went on sale yesterday. The first ‘8+ year’ Season Ticket Holders were invited to attend their appointments at our Reservation Centre.

Also in attendance were some famous Brentford faces, and the media. Mathias Jensen, Dominic Thompson and Ollie Watkins were on hand to meet our first Season Ticket Holders, along with Peter Gilham. The BBC’s Emma Jones joined us at our Reservation Centre on Heritage Walk to speak to some of the first Bees fans to secure their 2020/21 Season Tickets. See her report below.

ITV News were also present and their report can be seen here while Stu Wakeford did a special #BeesLive from the centre. Chief Executive Jon Varney spoke to Sky Sports and his interview is included in this report here.

When you head down to the Reservation Centre, keep an eye on for the Club’ communcations team, who will be collecting fan stories. This will feature on our #TakeYourSeats playlist on our YouTube channel here. Subscribe to Brentford FC’s YouTube channel to get the videos as they go live.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

Watch: #BeesLive Season Ticket Special

It was a special day on Monday 6 January for some long-standing Brentford fans who were among the first to secure Season Tickets at our new home.

Stu Wakeford and the #BeesLive cameras headed to our Reservation Centre on Heritage Walk to capture the action.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

#TakeYourSeats: The Stride Family

It was a special day on Monday 6 January for some long-standing Brentford fans who were among the first to secure Season Tickets at our new home.

Premium Seats and Premium Season Tickets have already been on sale and many supporters have snapped these up but Season Tickets in all areas of the Brentford Community Stadium, set to open in the summer, are now on sale. The first ‘8+ year’ Season Ticket Holders were invited to attend their appointments at our Reservation Centre.

Among the crowd at the Reservation Centre was John Stride and his son, Matthew. John utilised our You+2 scheme to secure seats for his grandchildren, ensuring that three generations of his family will be able to attend Bees games together. John has supported the Club since 1962 and says that the performance against Fulham this season was the best he has ever seen Brentford play. Watch John’s story below.

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found online here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

Start the New Year by signing up for Brentford Sports FEST

Local residents are encouraged to lace up their running shoes and take part in Brentford’s biggest running event – Brentford Sports FEST. The event will take place in the grounds of one of west London’s most iconic houses, Syon House, and will offer runners the opportunity to run in the private grounds of the prestigious estate. Run in partnership with Brentford Lock West, the event will be held on the 5 April 2020 and will offer a range of sporting activities for all the family.

Residents of all ages and abilities can take part in a 10k run, 5k run, 1k children’s fun run and a 5k Walk and Talk (in association with West London NHS Trust). For water lovers, there is an opportunity to take part in an exciting paddleboarding lesson at Brentford Lock. Plus, the event is also offering a free health and sports village – local residents can sample hatha yoga or try their hand at making a healthy pizza.

Anna Rutowicz, who took part in the 10k last year, said: “Taking part in Brentford Sports FEST was such a fun experience that contributed to my motivation for running more. The course takes place in the grounds of Syon Park, including sections that are usually closed off to the general public – making it a picturesque route. It is definitely one to track on Strava!”

For runners hoping to beat their personal best, all races have chip timing.

James Stockdale, Development Director at Waterside Places, said: “We are delighted to be once again, sponsoring the Sports FEST. The event provides ample opportunity to get out and get active – whether you are a serious runner, or you are just looking to keep fit or run with friends.

“There is always a really welcoming atmosphere on the day and it has been great to see the event grow year on year. Many of the residents of Brentford Lock West are now regulars to event – with many also participating in the paddleboarding, which takes place, right in front of our development.”

Sign up for the event at www.brentfordsportsfest.co.uk.

Headliners this weekend

There’s a great line-up at Headliners this weekend, in the Boston Room of George IV pub.
Hal Cruttenden, Shappi Khorsandi, Paul Thorne +MC

Starts at 9pm on Friday and Saturday.

Headliners has the same line-up on the Friday and Saturday, and offer Club Card holders the fantastic discount of £6.00 on Fridays.

That, together with the 20% off food and drink offered by the pub, makes for a great, and cheap night out.

See: Headliners Comedy Club, Club Card Offer.

Live Music in Chiswick

There’s a lot of live music happening in Chiswick these days.

The Stable pizza restaurant by Kew Bridge has an open mic night this evening (Tuesday 28 January). They are members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme, offering 25% off takeaway pizzas.

There are Latin dance classes in the basement of the Gunnersbury Pub on Tuesday nights.

Wednesday nights are Open Mic nights at George IV, where your Club Card will get you 20% off food and drink at any time.

There’s also live music at the Italian Job, on Wednesdays and Sundays from 6.00 – 10.00pm. They too offer a fantastic 20% off all food and drink, on production of the Club Card.

Friday and Saturday night’s there’s always live music at Connelly’s Irish Bar and at George IV.

There are DJs at George IV and the Old Packhorse every Saturday night.

Three charities receive £5,000 each from the Chiswick Book Festivals

Three local charities have received £5,000 each from the Chiswick Book Festival and Cookbook Festival, following record ticket sales at the festivals last autumn.

Fundraisers from InterAct Stroke Support, Doorstep Library Network and the Felix Project were presented with cheques on Monday by the director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Torin Douglas, and two of the Cookbook Festival team, Jo Pratt and Jules Kane.

 

Below is the news release from St Michael and All Angels Church:

Charities receive £5,000 each from the Chiswick Book Festival and Cookbook Festival
January 27th 2020

Three local charities have received £5,000 each from the Chiswick Book Festival and Cookbook Festival, following record ticket sales at the festivals last autumn. Fundraisers from InterAct Stroke Support, Doorstep Library Network and the Felix Project were presented with cheques on Monday by the director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Torin Douglas, and two of the Cookbook Festival team, Jo Pratt and Jules Kane.

The presentation took place at St Michael & All Angels Church, which hosts the Festivals, and which also received a £5,000 donation. (See pictures attached)

Nirjay Mahindru, chief executive of InterAct Stroke Support, which employs actors to read to stroke patients in Charing Cross Hospital, said: “This is wonderful news. £5000 is the equivalent of half a year’s work at Charing Cross being fully paid for. We cannot thank you and the team enough.”

Annabel James, chair of Doorstep Library Network, which brings the magic of reading into the homes of families in disadvantaged areas of London, said: “This is fantastic news and an incredibly generous donation. Thank you so so much. As you know, it will make a real difference and enable us to continue our work with children and families in West London.”

Isabella White, community and challenge events fundraiser for The Felix Project, which distributes food to charities and schools that would otherwise go to waste, said: “I am honestly so chuffed by how much was raised from this event. I announced this news to the entire office and we are all so delighted! This really is a significant amount and will make such a difference to the thousands of lives we touch daily”

To mark the 140th anniversary of the consecration of St Michael & All Angels in 1880, the church is seeking more volunteers and donations for its arts, charity and community activities throughout the year, under the slogan “140 years serving Christ in the community”. For more than 50 years, it has organised the Bedford Park Festival and Green Days weekend and it will celebrate the anniversary at this year’s Festival, which runs from June 12th to June 28th 2020.

 

20% off tickets to Lightopia

‘Lightopia’ opened in the grounds of Chiswick House last week and will continue throughout February.

Organisers Outreach Creative are offering holders of a Chiswick Calendar Club Card 20% off the ticket price. Just enter the promotional code CHISWICK20 when you book online and take your Club Card with you when you pick up your tickets. 

The show has received mixed reviews so far. Some people think the series of illuminated sculptures all around the gardens are tacky. Others are won over by the magical wonderland they create after dark.  

This year’s display is much more interactive than previous shows. Visitors can control some of the extraordinary sculptures using touch pads and drums.

James Willcocks went to see it for The Chiswick Calendar. Have a look at his gallery of images on here and make up your own mind.

Debt Counselling 

Photograph above: Michele Rooney, Centre Manager for St Nicholas Church Crosslight Centre

The stress and anxiety of people who find themselves in debt is something with which Michele Rooney is very familiar. She runs a debt counselling service based at St Nicholas’ Church in Chiswick, providing a buffer between debtor and creditors, prioritising debt, making payment arrangements with them and offering emotional and practical support.

“I used to think people who got themselves into debt lived chaotic lives” she tells me. But she now realises that mostly that’s not the case. People who are organised, working full time, on top of things, suddenly find that something happens: an unexpected large bill, family problems, illness, a change of circumstances which tips them in to debt, which can then be very hard to get out of.

“People are vulnerable, anxious, apprehensive. Many have not told their family about it and they find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle, anxious and ashamed”.

Usually people come with one or two really troubling bills: rent, council tax, utilities. A bit further into the conversation they might find out things have got a bit more serious; there’s a possession order for example. Michele’s aim is for her team to provide support for vulnerable people in a loving community, without judgement.

Often people are just poor, not to put too fine a point on it. Their disposable income just isn’t enough to deal with a sudden, large bill, or they find a short period of illness or being between jobs is enough to get them into a hole. Financial problems are compounded by poor understanding of administrative systems. Without confidence, and maybe without good enough English, the problems seem insurmountable.

“Sometimes they look visibly lighter after their first visit, just because they’ve shared the problem” says Michele.

I should not be surprised, she says, that the service is needed in what is on the surface an affluent area. Many people with good jobs and nice houses have found that when there’s a major change in their lives: divorce, bereavement, unemployment, the edifice they’ve built comes tumbling down.

Crosslight Advice

The debt counselling service she runs is a branch of Crosslight, a church charity originally set up originally by William Wilberforce. It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and provides training for volunteers so they can take on individual cases and give people as much time as they need to understand their issues.

Once they have gathered the necessary information, they’re across the problems and have the relevant documentation and permissions, they contact creditors on behalf of clients. The volunteers are able to deal with banks and credit card companies, welfare departments and local authorities dispassionately. They have a working knowledge of personal finance, pensions and benefits, and have built up relationships with the agencies involved. At time of writing, the centre has 40 active clients.

“I’ve always found the local authorities to be helpful” says Michele. “We have a long established relationship with Hammersmith and Fulham and Hounslow are getting to know us”.

Another part of the service they offer is free budgeting classes.

Photograph above: St Nicholas Church, Chiswick Mall

Volunteering

The volunteers work in pairs, which takes some of the pressure off them, and Michele says they put no limit on the amount of time and support they offer. They have been working with some of their clients for over three years.

Michele herself does not come from a financial background, but she has empathy in spades, plenty of life experience and a calm, logical approach to problems, to which she has added the training and now several years’ experience of supporting people in debt.

An American who settled in London many years ago with her English banker husband, she worked as a nurse in New York before moving here, working as a visiting nurse (a cross between a district nurse and a health visitor) in Manhattan and Long Island. She also ran a programme which aimed to enable people with medical conditions to live in their homes as long as possible, including a programme for people with AIDS.

Their first child had complex disabilities, so when she moved here she became her main carer, and through that experience she began to work with children, running a support group for parents of children with disabilities.

It was when her husband Andy retrained as a lay priest that she came across Crosslight and she set up Crosslight Advice at St Nicholas Church in Chiswick in 2016. Crosslight has six centres, four of them in London, which all offer debt advice and support.

Chiswick Money Advice Centre

They have recently set up the Chiswick Money Advice Centre to fundraise for the debt counselling service, and have received £1,500 from Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church.

“We would like to be able to pay salaries” Michele tells me. She herself is paid, but she is the only paid worker. She is looking for volunteers both to do the debt counselling and to help with fundraising.

Contact the debt counselling service

The centre is open regularly on Monday evenings from 6.30 – 9.00pm and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10.00am – 5.00pm, at St Nicholas Church on Chiswick Mall, though the case workers don’t just work those set hours; arrangements can be made to see clients outside those times.

The centre is most definitely not evangelical, she says. Neither clients nor volunteers are expected to be involved in the church. Get in touch through the website.

crosslightadvice.org/chiswick

Why small children need gym classes

Photograph: Marlene Welburn, Director of Little Gym, Chiswick. Photograph by James Willcocks

Marlene Welburn runs The Little Gym on Hartington Rd. She reckons even quite small children need gym classes. In the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, she would say that wouldn’t she? After all she sells gym classes.

Surely small children get all the exercise they need naturally, because they love to run around and climb and play? Well that apparently is where you’d be wrong. While that was the case when we were young, she told me, now there is a huge problem with young children not getting enough exercise because they are ‘containerised’.

This concept is new to me, though when she explained, it made sense. Small children are taken from cot to high chair, from high chair to playpen so they’re safe while their parent / carer does chores, from playpen to buggy or car seat, and what carer wouldn’t prefer to sit in a nice warm cafe chatting with their mates over a decaff soya latte with their charge safely strapped down in their buggy, rather than freezing their backside on a metal bench in a windswept playground while the children ran around and climbed on things?

The Little Gym is on Hartingdon Rd, by Chiswick Bridge, in the modern building that also houses Bright Horizons nursery and Roko Gym. Unlike the drafty church hall experiences of previous generations, the current cohort of small children have in The Little Gym a custom built, specially designed environment with loads of brightly coloured, soft padded space to run around in and throw themselves down upon, and a flop area for parents, rather like one of those airport lounge areas which you can only get into if you’re flying business class, with comfy sofas and a help yourself coffee machine and even a microwave, so you can bring baby gloop and heat it up to feed one child while the other is doing their class.

Opened in 2007 on the ground floor of the building, The Little Gym expanded to the upper floor in 2016, so while most of the gym classes are downstairs, there is a second area, available to hire for parties, where children do martial arts classes on a padded floor on one side of the hallway and dance classes in the mirrored dance studio on the other. It’s all very light and airy and spacious.

Some 1,200 children per week enjoy classes here, ranging from sessions for the under threes to take part in with their parent / carer, to themed sessions, be it music and rhythm or pirates, for age groups up to 12. “The mums are very organised” says Marlene. “They come and they’re feeding one child and doing homework with another while a third child is doing their class”. The dads are a different matter, often to be found, especially at the weekend, sprawled on a sofa, dead to the world, thankful for an hour’s remission.

There are some very famous dads who come. No names no pack drill, but one very embarrassed trainer found herself coaching one of the world’s most famous rock drummers on the importance of rhythm, in a group with his young child.

Going back to the containerisation of babies and small children, it is a recognised ‘syndrome’, says Marlene. Pediatric specialists use it to refer to a collection of movement, behaviour and other developmental problems that result from babies being constrained to a ‘container’ for increased periods of time in a given day. Although these containers are useful in helping to keep the baby safe from accidents, equipment such as baby walkers and bouncy swings as well as playpens and pushchairs, restrict a child’s freedom of movement and stops them learning through movement in the way they would naturally.

Marlene sees it all the time. Children can’t physically cross their mid line. They can’t wrap their arms around their body from one side to the other and they can’t bend right over so their upper body hangs down below their waist. They are not developing the core strength they need to be able to sit and do task when they reach school, she says.

“We were more adventurous” she says, sweetly including me in the same generation as herself. “Parents now are more nervous about letting their children move about freely. They just don’t have the same freedom of movement that we did when we were little”. As for electronic child minders, in their many and various forms, don’t get her started.

Marlene is South African, from a small town in the Cape called George, on the ‘Garden Route’. As a child, her life was all about sport: gymnastics, swimming, hockey, and she sees gymnastics as important as a basis for all sports. It develops the muscles and gives children the flexibility to go to do well in their chosen sport, or just to live a healthier life. As a teenager she says gymnastics also gave her resilience and self-discipline and a sense of purpose that probably stopped her from “going off the rails”.

Studying at Pretoria Technicon on a scholarship in the era of changeover from apartheid, she studied Sports Science while developing her skills as a track athlete. She began to be interested in child development and how play affects the development of a child’s motor skills. At home in the Cape she started a business going in to schools with a van load of sports equipment, teaching kids sports with a retired sports psychologist. “I learned a lot from him” she says. She was also doing “high end” gymnastics coaching and judging competitions.

If she hadn’t broken up with her boyfriend, she might still be there, but after a relationship break up she sold the business and came to Europe, met a nice Englishman, and here she remains.

“I notice how stressful life is for kids in London” she says. “If I can give a child an hour of fun without all the crap at home – homework, studying, parents arguing – I find that hugely satisfying”. The emphasis at The Little Gym is on fun, which is one of the reasons why she chose it out of the many job offers she received. It’s not about competitiveness and achievement; it’s all about creativity, imagination and fun. The kids are not climbing on climbing frames and bars, but in magical forests. They’re not balancing on gym equipment, but on the book of a ship ploughing through the waves.

She also likes that the classes are accessible to all in terms of physicality. Their detailed lesson plans are written by experts. Her staff are trained by occupational therapists on how to deal with children with conditions such as autism and dyspraxia and they set store by the sensitivity and warmth of their teaching style.

They take children from as young as four months. Parents are always surprised by what quite a young baby can do, she says. Many of the children who come started when they were four months old and are still coming as seven year olds. The ratio of children to adults is 6-1 for 3-6 year olds and 7-1 for 7-12 year olds.

Classes continue throughout the year, but with special sessions for school holidays. Children can come to holiday camps for three hour sessions in the morning, four hour sessions in the afternoons, or all day, with lunch club. The sessions are structured to include art and craft sessions and story time as well as gym activities, so they feel like they’ve had a good, fun and productive day, but it’s not like boot camp!

Cost

The Little Gym charges a £50 annual membership fee, but not if you have a Chiswick Calendar Club Card.

Charges for sessions:

Bugs 10 Class Pass (4-10 months) – £170
Gymnastics & Karate Classes (10 months – 12 years) £88 per month
Dance classes (3 – 12 years) – £52 per month

Membership benefits include:

  • Three Tumble and Tea sessions per week – supervised 90 minute free play sessions for under 3’s, as long as you attend one class – effectively giving you up to 5.5 hours in the gym per week, making The Little Gym much cheaper than many other classes available.
  • Practice Time Sessions during the school holidays and weekends for over 3’s. These are structured and supervised sessions to practice essential gymnastics skills the children have learnt in class each week.
  • Discounted holiday camps and birthday parties for members
  • Refreshments in the lobby
  • Events (for example the Izzy Judd workshop as well as regular parenting talks)
  • Free make up classes if you can’t make your usual weekly class.

Man in the Middle – Chapter 20: Musical Mothers

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact?

If you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read
No. 1: The Letter here

No.20 Musical Mothers

Mother is reading about Margaret Mackie, the pensioner, whose version of ‘My Way’ has been in the charts recently. Mrs Mackie has dementia. But it hasn’t stopped her giving Ed Sheeran, James Blunt and Stormzy a scare, while raising awareness of dementia.

‘Good for her. You can’t beat old-fashioned pluck. You don’t see enough of it these days,’ she says, holding up the newspaper as evidence.

Mother admires Pluck. It became endangered in the UK after its habitat was destroyed by the Swinging Sixties and the sexual revolution. It is now as rare as a Tory Remainer and seldom found except in people over the age of sixty-five. Mother has it in spades. Sometimes, it’s the only thing which gets her out of her bed in the morning.

‘It proves you shouldn’t write us oldies off. We’ve still got lots to offer.’

‘Nobody writes you off, Granny,’ says my Daughter gently.

‘He does,’ she says pointing at me. ‘Won’t even help me with the TV without a putting a condescending smirk on his face.’

I would like to refute this accusation. But the truth is I have had to explain to her how to use the TV remote controls four times this week and my patience may have frayed. My last intervention was so she could watch ‘Judge Rinder’, a TV programme which I regard as a threat to the public’s confidence in our justice system and whose host may one day win a Nobel Prize in smugness.  In the circumstances, was it really so wrong for me to let slip my frustration? Surely, the Judge himself would urge Mother to be more lenient? 

Instead of trying to justify my tender, but inept condescension, I switch the conversation back to brave Margaret Mackie.

‘Did you know, ‘My Way’ is the most popular song at funerals,’ I say. ‘Do you think she will play Sinatra’s version at her funeral? Or her own?’

‘Jesus wept,’ says my Wife.

I realise immediately that instead of getting out of a hole, I have just started digging again. Mother revolts whenever funerals are mentioned. Luckily, my Son, who always sings in the bathroom and sometimes in school musicals, pipes up.

‘How about we write a musical about Granny’s life?’ He says.

‘What would we call it?’ asks my Wife, supportively of her little chick’s creative twitch.

‘The Long Goodbye,’ says Mother, darkly. 

‘That’s a movie not a musical,’ says my Son, who wants us to stay focused on his new wheeze.

‘It could be both,’ I say. I have my open mouth and smiley eyes emoji face on as I say this. I hope by supporting both of their suggestions I can take a place at the constructive centre of this family debate rather than its outer edge, which is where I normally am.  

‘Why don’t we start with one single song like Mrs. Mackie and then go from there? A whole musical will take a long time to do,’ suggests my Daughter, demonstrating her mother’s pragmatism or an eagerness to get her hands on the money which might flow more quickly from a chart topping single. 

‘That’s very sensible. Squeeze every drop out of me as soon as you can. There are no guarantees, after all, that I’ll be around if we attempt anything more complex,’ says Mother, determined not to let go of her grump, even with the beloved grandchildren.

Mrs Mackie would admire her pluck for not giving up the fight.

Read the next in the series – Chapter 21  New Resolutions here

Profile of Leigh Osborne – Owner of Chiswick Auctions

Photograph above: Leigh Osborne, leaning on a ‘tiger skin’ of man made fibres

I’ve just been to the most peculiar auction. Called ‘From the Curious to the Extraordinary’, it featured objects such as a life-sized fibreglass elephant head, a (real) egg from a Madagascan Elephant Bird and a photograph by Robert Doisneau of a flea harnessed to a gun carriage in an Edwardian flea circus.

As I sat chatting to Leigh Osborne, owner of Chiswick Auctions, one of his specialists bounded gleefully in to tell him they’d just sold two sets of antlers for £40,000. They were huge, to be fair, and fossilised, but still, who in their right mind buys antlers? For £40,000?

Photograph above: Fossilised antlers

“We’ve never done this kind of auction before” said Leigh cheerfully. Chiswick Auctions see themselves as a “good, honest, fair and friendly local auction house, with great customer service and highly trained specialists”. Their normal stock in trade is Oriental rugs, European, African and Asian art, designer handbags, furniture, fashion, jewellery, rare books; the kind of stuff which is more conventionally sought after.

Leigh told me they’d decided to auction the weird and wacky collection ‘From the Curious to the Extraordinary’ because that kind of catalogue is offered by the “West End boys”. I raised a questioning eyebrow. “Christies, Sotheby’s, Bonhams. I call them the ‘West End Boys’” said Leigh. “We will never compete with them, they’ve been going for hundreds of years, but that’s our business model, to offer what they offer, only locally”.

Leigh is relatively new to the antiques business and claims to know nothing about antiques. That’s the job of the specialists. His expertise is running a business. He thrives on taking risks and making money, and he’s very good at it.

Photograph above: Fibreglass models of animal heads

An entrepreneurial risk taker

Now 48, Leigh left school in Cardiff with no qualifications, started work washing dishes in a pub at the age of 16 and quickly decided he wanted to run the place. He worked his way up through barman, head barman and assistant manager to take over as general manager when he was 22.

He knew then that he had a flair for entrepreneurship. He bought a Hoover, took on the cleaning contract and began hiring cleaners. He then moved to Dubai to run the hotel bar at the Meridian, the first beach hotel in the emirate, for a year before coming to London to work at the Hippodrome nightclub.

Realising he wasn’t going to make serious money in the hospitality industry, he moved into recruitment, first of all in catering and then in fashion, which was well enough paid for him to embark on his third career: buying property.

“I knew in my twenties that I wanted to be rich. I wanted to be a millionaire”, he told me, “though maybe I shouldn’t say that because it makes me sound like an idiot”.

I see nothing wrong with knowing what you want in life and going after it, especially if you succeed, which he has, several times over. He was a millionaire by the time he was thirty and many people have asked him how he did it.

The answer is that he played the property market like other people play Monopoly. “In 1999 I bought six houses in Canary Wharf. Prices were shooting up. I remortgaged every three months to release the equity”. That strategy carried huge risk, I suggested. “I never worried about it. It was in the capital city and people always need somewhere to live, so I knew I wouldn’t have trouble renting  them”.  He still has those properties, but he also became something of an expert at buying properties to do up and sell on.

Photographs above: Leigh Grand Designs Victorian water tower in Kennington

The ‘Grand Designs’ water tower

If you’re thinking that the name Leigh Osborne is vaguely familiar and you’re wondering how you know it, you may have seen him on the TV property makeover programme Grand Designs.

“It’s been a huge part of my life” Leigh said. He bought the crumbling Victorian water tower in south London with his partner Graham Voce; it was featured by Kevin McCloud in Grand Designs in 2012.

The water tower was Grade II listed by English Heritage, built in 1877 to serve the adjacent Lambeth Workhouse, but it was on their ‘at risk’ list as it had remained derelict for decades and was literally falling apart.

Their restoration was radical. They created just one room on most of its nine floors installing a lift to the fifth floor of the 30 metre tower. The top of the tower has windows on all sides with a fabulous 365 degree view over London. At ground level they built a two-storey, 36-metre-square extension with a glass façade which apparently has the largest set of sliding glass doors in Europe.

The building has been featured in many glossy magazines since: ‘the interior decoration, overseen by Sue Timney, is light, modern and laid-back, with comfortable sofas, plenty of rugs from The Rug Company and interesting modern art. It is a grand design indeed’ says David Nicholls in House & Gardens.

For a spell he rented out rooms through Air B&B. “I can’t imagine you serving people a full English breakfast” I said. “No, I don’t do that” said Leigh. (Did I imagine the shudder?) It’s no longer available to rent through Air B&B, but he and Graham still live there.

From receptionist to owner of Chiswick Auctions

Leigh’s relationship with Chiswick Auctions started in 2008 when William Rouse, his best friend of ten years, bought a half share in the company. William asked Leigh to take a look at the business for him and make suggestions on how to improve it, so he started working at the auction house on reception two days a week.

“There was something about it that grabbed me immediately” said Leigh. The place is fascinating, with its ever-changing landscape of beautiful objects, and there’s the drama of the auctions: each one a unique piece of theatre.

When William’s partner decided he wanted to sell his share in 2013, Leigh bought it, and when William retired in 2019 he took over sole ownership. In the five years he’s been financially invested in the place it’s gone from 20 staff to 80, from 50 sales a year to 150 and the turnover has increased from £2m to £14m.

Chiswick Auctions is in Bollo Lane, in the industrial estate opposite the London Underground depot. He’s glad that London Auctions on the High Rd has closed down. “They were detrimental to us,” he said, as people always confused the two “and they weren’t very good”. There always has been only one Chiswick Auctions, and now there is only one auction house in Chiswick.

While 50% of the sales are online, he loves the buzz of the live auction.

“I don’t understand why people buy in shops” he told me, looking genuinely baffled.

“People haven’t cottoned on to the fact that buying at an auction is cheaper. Jewellery shops buy from us.” Why would you buy the same item from a shop with the shop’s mark-up when you could have bought it direct from your local auction house?

Maybe people are worried they’ll get carried away and bid more than they can afford, as they always do in films, I ventured. It’s true, he said, that sometimes people do get into a bidding war which drives up the price.

“Something is not worth what one person would pay for it. It’s worth what two people would pay. I’ve seen an item go from £10,000 to £500,000 because there were two people bidding against each other”.

So as long as you don’t do that, you’re fine.

See here the next auctions coming up at Chiswick Auctions.

Government agency ‘acting like a loan shark’

I reported a couple of weeks ago on the Loan Charge, which has left thousands of people with unexpected tax debts of hundreds of thousands of pounds and has caused stress and anxiety to the point of causing marital breakups and even suicides. There are at least 220 people in Brentford & Isleworth constituency who are affected by the Loan Charge, and I have been talking to some of them in Chiswick about the tactics used by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to recoup the money. This government agency is ‘acting like a loan shark’ they say, employing ruthless tactics which they describe as ‘bullying’, adding quite deliberately to their anxiety over their debts, in a concentrated effort to make them pay up, with complete disregard to their mental health and well-being.

What is the Loan Charge?

The charge has hit freelances and contractors who used loan schemes provided by umbrella companies to receive their pay. The schemes were sold as a legal way of minimizing tax liability, and were promoted by tax advisers (some of whom continue to promote them) as totally above board. An employer paid a contractor’s wages to an agent who then ‘loaned’ the money to the employee. Because loans weren’t subject to tax, the employee paid less tax. Not everyone who signed up did so to save money. Some did it for the ease of administration, to have a company manage their tax affairs rather than having to do to themselves; others because they were told they had no choice if they wanted a particular job. In 2017 legislation was introduced which defined these schemes as tax avoidance and empowered the tax office to impose a Loan Charge. Those affected began receiving, unexpectedly, demands from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs for huge sums of money.

Birthday and Christmas letters

The first person I talked to about this, let’s call her Hayley, told me receiving a letter from the tax office on or around your birthday was a common occurrence among the people in her circle who are being pursued for Loan Charge debt. I’ve seen several letters which would appear to bear this out. One, dated on the recipient’s birthday, thanks her for contacting HMRC seven months earlier. Why choose that date to reply after seven months? Another arrived just before Christmas. Hayley’s interpretation is that they’re pushing the recipient’s emotional buttons:

“Having the Loan Charge hanging over you is ruining what should be happy times”.

These might have been coincidences, were it not for the fact that just in Hayley’s small circle she was able to produce six examples. The All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs, which has gathered evidence on the operation of the Loan Charge, reported last June:

‘A strange and concerning pattern has emerged with regard to the timing of correspondence; numerous examples of HMRC contacting individuals at times when the impact would be expected to cause the greatest stress. Correspondence from HMRC is also routinely received on a Friday, so individuals’ weekends are ruined by worrying about the content with no ability to contact either HMRC or a tax adviser… We have seen evidence of bankruptcy notices arriving in the days immediately before Christmas and bank holidays. In doing this HMRC forces additional worries on the individual, causing additional stress’.

Intrusive personal questions

A friend of Hayley’s, who I have not spoken to personally, told Hayley she was asked by a tax official what money was in her children’s bank accounts and what jewellery she had. Another, who I did speak to, received a phone call from an HMRC case worker about a month after his father died. He told me:

“She said: ‘I believe your father’s passed away’ and asked whether I had any inheritance”.

“I was shocked. When I put the phone down I was extremely angry and upset, as it brought a lot of the emotion back. It left me shaking and extremely hurt. I didn’t think anyone would go that low. We hadn’t even had the reading of the will at that point”.

In another call, this time with the Loan Charge helpline, the HMRC representative said they could see online how much his house was worth and asked if he could remortgage to pay the charge. When he pointed out that you’re not allowed to remortgage your house to service a debt, he was floored by their suggestion that he might say he wanted the money for an extension. That, he told them, would be committing fraud.

Tax officers are not supposed to offer debt advice. Not only is it contrary to their own, publicly available, code of conduct, but it is illegal. To offer debt advice you have to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, which HMRC is not. Their role is purely to collect tax.

‘Aggressive and unreasonable’ approach

The Loan Charge All-Party Parliamentary Group identified a number of tactics used by HMRC which they described as ‘aggressive and unreasonable.’ Among them were: wholly unaffordable offers, aggressive communication, threats of bankruptcy, unreasonable delays in HMRC’s responses, inconsistencies in HMRC calculations and unreasonable contractual terms for settlement,  including punitive levels of interest. All taxpayer rights are ‘surrendered’ where terms of settlement are agreed and signed under the Loan Charge legislation.

MPs were ‘visibly shocked’ at the ‘clear pattern of HMRC behaviour’ towards people facing the Loan Charge, described in evidence to them by tax professionals as “bullying”, “aggressive” and even “openly lying” in some cases.

“They told my secretary I was accused of tax avoidance”

Another man I spoke to told me someone from HMRC had phoned his business and spoken to his secretary, telling her they wanted to speak to him about tax avoidance. The HMRC’s code of conduct clearly states ‘We will treat your tax affairs in the strictest confidence’ and that if you have an agent acting on your behalf – as this man did, his accountant – they will deal with them rather than call you direct. Not only did they call him direct, repeatedly, but embarrassed him in front of his staff.

He has also been contacted several times by an HMRC fraud investigator and each time he’s been told it’s not an official investigation or inquiry. He hired an ex-HMRC fraud investigator himself, to go with him to a face to face meeting and take notes. His conclusion: there was no serious allegation of fraud; the Tax officer had just been trying to pressure and intimidate him. This case is now subject to legal proceedings.

Public support for hounding tax dodgers after the financial crash

After the 2008 financial crash there was public support for the government cracking down on those big corporations and multi-millionaires who avoided paying tax. At the 2014 Lib Dem party conference, Danny Alexander, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the coalition government, said:

“Liberal Democrats have led the crackdown on tax avoidance… we are using psychologists and behavioural economists in HMRC to get the money quickly. Tax dodgers beware – we know where you live, we know how much you owe, and now we know how you think. Your behaviour is unacceptable, and we are coming for our money”.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs were given greater powers. The team he refers to, the Behavioural Insights Team has become hugely successful, working with governments, local authorities and businesses using a ‘clearer understanding of human behaviour’ as a key part of policymaking. They have been very effective at bringing in revenue. In 2013 they won a Civil Service award for their innovative tax trial, which was estimated to have brought in around £210 million of tax revenue. The trial involved rewriting tax reminder letters to incorporate ‘behavioural economics principles’.

This is an example of the kind of phrase they use, which has been effective in getting people to pay up:

“The great majority of people in your local area pay their tax on time. Most people with a debt like yours have paid it by now.”

HMRC also send regular texts out to mobiles. Hayley has now blocked them. She says you have to give your mobile number to the tax office to verify your identity when talking to them, but neither she nor other people she’s met who are subject to the Loan Charge, who regularly receive text messages from the tax office, are aware that they have ever given permission for HMRC to use their numbers in this way.

HMRC Inefficient and illogical

While behavioural psychology is used to goad people into paying up, there is now a large body of evidence which shows HMRC to be inefficient and illogical in its approach to letting people know what they owe and what is the deadline by which they should pay it. Some of the tax office’s demands have been shown to be wrong. There are inconsistencies and miscalculations, later acknowledged by the tax office, which have left people bewildered as to how much they owe. In some circumstances, taxpayers have received Accelerated Payment Notices which say they have to pay many thousands of pounds within 90 days, while in another part of HMRC tax officers are still working out how much is owed.

‘HMRC are routinely contacting individuals to pressurise and coerce them into settling by issuing demands with arbitrary deadlines’. All Party Parliamentary Group.

Loan Charge ‘unfair and pernicious’

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has also looked at the Loan Charge. In their report on Treating Taxpayers Fairly, published in December 2018, they said:

‘HMRC appears to be prioritising recovery of tax revenue over justice by targeting individuals, rather than promoters (who could be considered more culpable), so it can more easily recover liabilities’.

Most of the evidence they received was from taxpayers, often in the National Health Service or working for local authorities, ‘who had been denied the opportunity to enter into a normal employment contract’. This case study, supplied to them by tax consultant Graham Webber at WTT, was typical of the kind of taxpayer who has found themselves hit by a Loan Charge:

“I have a client who is a social worker. She was made redundant by her local council. … It has a farewell party on the Friday and on the Monday it said:

“If you join this agency and use the scheme, we will re-engage you as a contractor.”

She … was re-engaged as a contractor for five years … At the end of those five years, the council told her it would re-employ her as an employee, which it did. She was unaware of what was going on. She now faces a loan charge equal to probably a year and a half’s salary. She has no means of paying it.

She is the only worker in that particular house; she has a young child and her spouse stays at home. If she goes bankrupt and it comes up on her next criminal records check, she cannot work. This is not a rich merchant banker who has done something wrong. This is a dedicated social worker. That encapsulates what the loan charge does; it is unfair and pernicious …

Yes, my contractor benefitted because she paid less tax. The Revenue was supine and silent and by its silence gave tacit approval to these schemes. In fact, that was used in the schemes’ marketing: no approach from the Revenue meant they were Revenue approved … The county council did not warn her, and the people behind the agency running the scheme, as is usual in these cases, were selective about the information that was made available.

You could argue that she should have investigated and should have known more about this, but she is a social worker, she is not a tax expert … How could a social worker be expected to penetrate that type of arrangement? It is just unfair.”

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, the All Party Parliamentary Group and finally an independent review led by auditor Sir Amyas Morse have all looked at the Loan Charge and concluded it is unfair, catching honest taxpayers, who have routinely submitted their tax returns, with retrospective charges that they did not expect and cannot pay. They have all accused HMRC of overstepping the mark. Sir Amyas Morse said HMRC’s approach risked undermining the relationship between the public and the government on which the collection of taxation depends.

New Legislation and a Judicial Review

Draft legislation was introduced last week which will go some way to ameliorating the stress caused by the Loan Charge by taking out of the equation those people who used loan schemes prior to 2010, but there are still many thousands of people who owe huge sums with no means of repaying them.

The Loan Charge All Party Parliamentary Group has yet to examine the draft legislation, published on 20 January, but they are pleased the Government has accepted the recommendations made by the Independent Review, so that fewer people will have to pay it.

As to the culture of bullying by HMRC Co-Chair Ruth Cadbury MP told me: `We all expect to have to pay the tax we owe. But there is very worrying evidence of bullying and inappropriate behaviour. HMRC needs to put its house in order. They should be fair and transparent in the way they assess and collect tax”.

I spoke to one woman, let’s call her Amanda, who applied for ‘Time to Pay’. She was denied it on the basis that she earned too little to be able to make the repayments, but then got a letter saying the outstanding bill had to be paid in full. She is pinning her hopes on a Judicial Review, due to be heard in the High Court in mid-February. The Loan Charge Action Group, which represents those who are subject to the Loan Charge, has engaged renowned tax barrister Robert Venables to fight the case on the basis that retrospective taxes are a breach of their human rights.

If you are affected by the Loan Charge and would like to find out more about the Judicial Review, you can contact the Loan Charge Action Group through their website.

hmrcloancharge.info

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Thousands encouraged to join bad tax schemes

See also: Debt Counselling in Chiswick 

First fans Take Their Seats at Brentford Community Stadium

It was a special day yesterday for some long-standing Brentford fans who were among the first to secure Season Tickets at our new home. Premium Seats and Premium Season Tickets have already been on sale and many supporters have snapped these up but Season Tickets in all areas of the Brentford Community Stadium, set to open in the summer, went on sale yesterday. The first ‘8+ year’ Season Ticket Holders were invited to attend their appointments at our Reservation Centre yesterday.

Also in attendance were some famous Brentford faces, and the media. Mathias Jensen, Dominic Thompson and Ollie Watkins were on hand to meet our first Season Ticket Holders, along with Peter Gilham. ITV News were among the media that had a look at what was going on and their piece on the day can be seen below

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found online here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

20/21 Season Tickets on sale to current Season Tickets Holders

The wait is over. The Bees will kick off in our new stadium this summer and we have invited all ‘8+ year’ Season Ticket Holders to attend their appointments at our Reservation Centre this month. Telephone appointments are also available for those unable to come into the Reservation Centre and online booking windows will be available at the end of each priority access window.

Our move is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sit with friends and family. Existing Season Ticket Holders are able to invite up to two existing or new supporters to purchase their Season Ticket with them, as well as grouping with more fans (up to a maximum of 12 – assuming the group contains at least four Season Ticket Holders).

In case you missed it, Early Bird prices at the new stadium will expire on Thursday 30 April and will not increase should we get promoted to the Premier League. It also means that current Season Ticket Holders, Members and their guests will have exclusive access to the Early Bird prices. Full prices, estimated on sale dates and more information about 2020/21 Season Tickets can be found online here. You can also find the answers to frequently asked questions about 2020/21 Season Tickets in our FAQs here.

With 2019/20 Club Memberships still available for only £25 Adults and £5 Juniors, this is another great reason to join over 4,000 current Members and gain priority access to Season Tickets in the new stadium.

Become a Club Member now

Alternatively, you can also join our Season Ticket waiting list at newstadium.brentfordfc.com

*Subject to availability. Season Ticket Holders will be able to buy two additional Season Tickets in the one purchase. These could be for new Season Ticket Holders, or fellow Season Ticket Holders who are in a later priority window group. Season Ticket Holders can also group up with fellow Season Ticket Holders and their ‘plus two’s’. This will allow you to team up with others that you want to sit with, up to a maximum group size of 12 – assuming your group contains at least four Season Ticket Holders. This will be strictly monitored and we reserve the right to amend this policy should sales exceed expectations. The make-up of your group may impact on where you can sit – larger groups with more new fans will need to move to less central locations to ensure that longer term fans are not unfairly displaced.   

Limited availability to play at Griffin Park

There is a little over four months to go now until we play our final Sky Bet Championship game at Griffin Park when we face Barnsley. What better way to say your goodbye to Griffin Park than by getting your boots on and stepping foot onto the field that has been our home for 115 years.

Following our final game, our annual pitch-hire period will take place from 26 May until 6 June, with three time slots available per day. Do not miss out on the chance to have an experience of a lifetime with your friends, family or work colleagues.

Available from £2,000(+VAT)*, our pitch hire is valid for three hours including use of the dressing rooms for 15 players per team. That’s 45 minutes pre-match, a full 90-minute match with a 15-minute break and 30 minutes post-match. Please note: kits and footballs are not provided.

With limited availability, don’t delay, simply e-mail Joanne Surgeoner on jsurgeoner@brentfordfc.com, or call 020 8380 9930 to hire our pitch.

*Additional costs may apply depending on need for officials, floodlights and anything else requested

Lightopia Picture Gallery

We went to the the opening night of Lightopia in Chiswick House Grounds last night. Lightopia is the new winter light trail event for 2020 and this year includes some interactive illuminations. Take a look at some of the highlights below. Photographs by James Willcocks.

Organisers Outreach Creative are offering Chiswick Calendar Club Card members 20% the ticket price. See how to access the Club Card offer here.

Watch: Natalie Sawyer secures Season Ticket #TakeYourSeats

Brentford will kick off next season in a new stadium in the heart of West London.

Most Season Tickets will be sold at our Reservation Centre at Heritage Walk near Kew Bridge, where you will be shown a video of how the stadium will look and the view from your seat using state-of-the-art virtual reality.

Watch as Bees fan and talkSPORT Presenter Natalie Sawyer drops in to secure her seat for the 2020/21 campaign.

Season Tickets will be on sale to some Season Ticket Holders on Monday. If you’re a current Season Ticket Holder, the Reservation Centre has sent you an email (or will give you a call) to confirm your details and invite you to your appointment during your priority access window.

If you don’t have an email address or you haven’t received this email, please call us on 020 3750 9705 or email reservations@brentfordfc.com.

Alternatively, don’t forget to join the waiting list for 2020/21 Season Tickets here now.

Become a “Mini Bee” at new sessions at Gunnersbury Park

Held at Gunnersbury Park’s new sports hub, Brentford FC Community Sports Trust is relaunching its Mini-Bees programme in January.  Delivered by the Trust’s experienced football coaches, Mini Bees offers exciting football sessions at Gunnersbury Park’s new state-of-the-art facilities on Saturday mornings for children aged five-12 years old.

In January, the sessions will expand to offer children as young as 18-months old the opportunity to play football in a fun and engaging environment. Plus, for budding gymnasts, the Trust will be offering “Tumble Bees” gymnastic lessons for children aged 18 months to 12.

One parent whose son has attended the Mini Bees session, said: “I think the Mini Bees session is great – the coaches are very professional and are fantastic role models.”

The new facility, which boasts one of the largest outdoor sporting facilities in London, will mean local people will soon have access to a huge range of activities to help them maintain a fit and active lifestyle. Along with Mini Bees, the Trust will be offering adult and junior leagues football sessions – along with girls’ football sessions.

To pre-register for our football sessions click here and to pre-register for our gymnastic sessions click here. For more information about our Mini Bees programme, please email us at minibees@brentfordfcccst.com.

‘No alignment’ with EU says Sajid Javid

Chancellor Sajid Javid told the business community last week that “there will not be alignment” with the EU on business regulations after Brexit and insists firms must “adjust” to new regulations.

Speaking to the Financial Times, he admitted not all businesses would benefit from Brexit.

The automotive, food and drink and pharmaceutical industries all warned the government last year that moving away from key EU rules would be damaging.

Asked how differing regulations between the UK and EU may impact industries such as automotive and pharmaceuticals, he said: “We’re also talking about companies that have known since 2016 that we are leaving the EU”.

Indeed they have. A lot of people in Chiswick work for GSK, the world leader in developing vaccines combatting diseases ranging from cervical cancer, to shingles and meningitis. It is also working on new TB treatment – a godsend for the developing world.

GSK estimates £70m + for Brexit costs

GSK has been implementing their contingency planning since January 2018.

‘Our priority is to maintain continuity of GSK’s supply of medicines, vaccines and health products to our patients and consumers in the UK and the EU’.

They’re looking at re-testing and certification of medicines; transferring Marketing Authorisations registered in the UK to an EU entity; updating packaging and packaging leaflets; amending manufacturing and importation licences, and securing additional warehousing, 

They’ve budgeted £70 million over the next two to three years, ‘with subsequent ongoing additional costs of approximately £50 million per year, including additional customs duties and transaction or administration costs’ just to maintain the status quo.

That’s £70 + that could have gone into the new treatment for TB they’re working on.

 

Builders Breakfast

Members of the Hounslow Cycling Campaign gave breakfast to the road workers who are creating the new Cycleway 9 junction and the north end of Kew Bridge on Saturday morning.

About 20 local residents turned up to offer egg and bacon rolls and coffee to the slightly bemused road crew on their breakfast break, among them Brentford councillors Guy Lambert and Katherine Dunne and keen cyclist, broadcaster Jeremy Vine.

The workers are building protected cycle lanes at the junction with improved pedestrian facilities, including a new pedestrian crossing by Kew Bridge Station. The work started before Christmas and is expected to continue until April.

Michael Robinson, borough co-ordinator for Hounslow Cycling, denied it was a PR stunt meant as a deliberate provocation to those who oppose the cycle lane. It was purely to thank the road crew for making improvements to the area, he told me.

“The South Circular and Kew Bridge junction are currently dominated by motor traffic and are hostile and intimidating to people on bikes and on foot. 

“We thought it would be a good idea to thank them”.

Chiswick Clean Up Sunday 26 January

Cllr Ron Mushiso is organising one of his regular litter picking sessions, this Sunday (26 January).

Join him and Cllr Gabriella Giles at 2,00pm, outside Chiswick railway station (on the East bound side facing the Co-op on Burlington Lane). Do it for an hour and then relax with the group from 3.00pm at the Old Station House.

“Committing to just over an hour of their time, one Sunday a month, is not such a stretch as you know” says Ron.

“It get gets us out and about walking, being active and mingling. And it actually does a lot of good in creating an awareness for our local environment and educating the rest of the public to think twice about littering and fly tipping”.

       

Hogarth Club introduces new fitness programme

Guest blog by Vojin Soskic

The New Year is here. Predictably it is back with a bang and not just if you saw some fireworks. On the crest of that wave, we can exclusively reveal a brand new product at The Hogarth.

We introduce to you… The Hogarth Octagon Health and Fitness tests!

January is a popular time in gyms but we know there is danger of not maintaining the momentum in the coming months. One of the ways to stick to it is to set goals which are specific and measurable. These can then be reset as you reach one to target another. The Octagon tests will be a great way of achieving long term success.

Whether you are a beginner or a more seasoned exerciser everyone will have areas for improvement and the Octagon measures 8 categories in Health and 8 in Fitness, which will give you a starting point from which you can aim to improve and retest down the line.

Photographs above: Octagon Health testing

The Hogarth Octagon Health test will screen for 8 cardiovascular disease risk factors: age, family history, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes and cholesterol. Whilst risk factors like age or family history cannot be affected the other six can be tackled proactively. Whether you need to lower your blood pressure or increase your activity levels we will help you do that. Even if you are not at risk from any of these, don’t wait until you are and keeping fit will combat them ahead of time. Think of it as a health M.O.T.

We can get through it all in less than 20 minutes and you will be much better informed about your health status. It might feel like being back at school as you will be graded from A-E at the end.

Photographs above: Octagon Fitness testing

As for The Hogarth Octagon Fitness tests, do not worry it is not an entry exam for the army! In half an hour it will look at strength and cardio as part of it, but it will also look at the quality of your movement. We will assess control, flexibility and mobility. The 8 tests will each determine a score out of 5. The range of motion of your muscles will directly impact what you can or cannot do in exercise and everyday life.

For this we will check ankle, posterior hip, anterior hip and upper body mobility. An overhead squat will be assessed for depth of movement and control. Single leg stability will test both sides individually as the ankle, knee and hip joints work in unison during the exercise. Your core strength will be scrutinised with an abdominal curl test. You will finish with a 3-minute Watt Bike test from which we can measure your aerobic capacity.

The variety of these tests will paint a comprehensive picture of your fitness and you will get an overall score from 1-5 alongside the individual categories. This should give you the impetus to work on areas of improvement and consolidate your strengths.

You can book in for either the Health or the Fitness Octagon. Or you can do both in under an hour.

The new decade has begun and at The Hogarth we are always looking at evolving in our quest to help people improve in their aspirations. We feel The Octagon will be able to enhance a clearer vision for everyone’s goals in 2020!

Hope to see you at the gym desk soon.

Vojin Soskic runs the gym at the Hogarth Club

The Hogarth Club sponsors The Chiswick Calendar and offers Club Card members an exclusive membership deal.

 

 

Ealing refunds parking fines

Guest blog by Cllr Andrew Steed

Did you get a parking permit reminder?

This was a story from last autumn: Ealing Council had a IT meltdown with the result residents did not receive reminders to renew their permits. Upto 3,000 Ealing residents subsequently ended up with a parking fine. Many appealed but the Council response was that it was up to residents to renew and rejected appeals. Local LDs raised the issue with parking, with the Portfolio Holder, the Chief Executive and asked questions at Full Council. To be frank it looked like the Council were adamant and would not do the decent thing. However I began to hear anecdotal stories that some of those who appealed were receiving notices cancelling the fines and refunds issued. It has now been confirmed that the Council will refund all residents who were penalised as a result of the Council’s own failure.

Crime down in Southfield?

Last Tuesday I attended our local Police Panel with 30 other residents. All wards in London have, or should have Police Panels, it is a key ingredient of Community Policing. Over the years Southfield has benefitted from some effective Chairs, committed ward sergeants and dedicated PCSOs and a team of Street Watchers. On this occasion we were joined by Inspector Leigh Ballard who manages the 23 wards in the Borough. Topics included doorbell cameras, thefts of catalytic converters, fly-tipping, and the relationship between the various ward police teams. Overall crime is down in Southfield year on year.

Planning

As the discussion forum indicates this is a big issue at the moment with a number of proposals in the ward and neighbouring the ward. The TfL proposal for Bollo Lane is actually in South Acton but will impact us significantly: the initial consultation gave the impression there would be something in the region of 400 units-to now discover it will be twice that number is shocking. The Stanley Road development with a planned 22 storey tower is also a concern, with local opposition growing and getting organised. Closer to home, as it is actually in the ward, are the plans for Cobbald Way, the site is currently a car park behind Greenend Road, adjacent to Acton Pumping Station. This last application is due to go to the Planning Committee soon, maybe in February, and I will speak against it.

Ward Forums – the final chapter?

Hounslow has Area Forums, Ealing has Ward Forums. Credit where it is due, the Ward Forum was originally a Conservative initiative. Over recent years Labour reduced the recommended number of meetings, the extent of officer support, and the budget to spend locally. Our meeting in St Albans Church on the 1st April will be the last such meeting. We maintained four meetings a year, lived with limited officer support, and enjoyed being challenged by residents. The ability to fund local improvements, be it lighting in our parks, helping local charities, or contributing to the Turnham Green Murals was appreciated by all. It is a great shame and without wishing to sound too dramatic, bad for local government and local democracy.

Cllr Andrew Steed is one of three Lib Dem councillors representing Ealing borough’s Southfield ward.

Green shoots in the housing market

Guest blog by James Waight

Welcome to our first Chiswick property market blog of the year and decade. As the cloud of political uncertainly recedes, green shoots begin to emerge for the market.

Regardless of your political persuasion, having more clarity about the direction of our country is creating greater confidence amongst buyers. There is a huge amount of pent up demand and it didn’t take long for us to agree our first sale of the year, a lovely two-bedroom apartment in Goodwood House at the asking price.

We are hoping this positive result is an omen for the rest of the year. The mood amongst property professionals is bullish, the vast majority expect property transactions to increase and modest price growth.

Certainly the early indicators are encouraging, the number of buyers registering is up massively on last year as is the number of viewings we have carried out.

As I write this blog we have just agreed the sale of a charming house on Wilton Avenue within one week of marketing, after receiving multiple bids. This is not unusual as there is still a shortage of available properties, so now could be a prudent time to market your home.

If you would like any advice on selling, buying or renting please don’t hesitate to contact us, alternatively feel free to pop into our office on Turnham Green Terrace.

James Waight is Associate Director of John D Wood & Co estate agents in Chiswick. John D Wood & Co sponsors The Chiswick Calendar.

johndwood.co.uk