Category Archives: Eat My Brunch

#3030Essex – Active Essex wants you to take their June challenge

Residents in Brentwood and surrounding areas are being urged to carry out 30 minutes of physical activity every day in June – in a campaign launched by the Active Essex Foundation.

Active Essex Director Jason Fergus came in to talk about the #3030Essex Challenge and how people can get involved. You can hear his interview again here:

The aim of the campaign is to help raise funds and awareness for the charity which harnesses the positive power of physical activity and sport to engage and support the most deprived communities across Essex. It also hopes to encouraging more people start or increase the amount of physical activity they do every day.

People across Essex can choose to carry out any type of physical activity in the 30:30 challenge, such as walking to school or exploring their local area by bike. The challenge can either be completed in one 30-minute burst or by three 10-minute bouts of activity throughout the day. The challenge can also be varied with different sports tried over the 30-day period.

The campaign has been backed by This Morning’s resident doctor Dr Zoe Williams, a GP and clinical champion for physical activity for Public Health England. Dr Williams is an expert in changing behaviours to help improve health and wellbeing in a range of ages and abilities.

Dr Williams, a 30:30 ambassador, said: “This is a wonderful campaign for Essex and I encourage as many people as possible to take on the 30:30 challenge in June.

“Physical inactivity, classed as doing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every day, is the cause of one in six deaths – the same rate as smoking. Therefore, a strong commitment to regular physical activity is absolutely essential in order to maintain positive health and wellbeing. I have seen first-hand how lives have been transformed by becoming more physically active.

“Exercise is increasingly being rebranded as physical activity which makes this commitment much more achievable and fun, and in the 30:30 challenge, unlike other charity fitness challenges, there are no distances to run, no targets to beat, and no fixed activities. Walking, cycling, and everyday chores in and around the house all count. The only rules are 30 minutes for 30 days.”

Currently, one in five Essex residents do not take part in any physical activity or sport, and the levels of inactivity are highest among people on low incomes, women, those with disabilities or life-limiting illnesses, and unemployed people. Recent research also found that only 20% of 15 year olds are active for an hour each day and 30% of children in Year 6 are overweight or obese.

The Active Essex Foundation uses sport and physical activity to inspire hard-to-reach and under-represented communities to become more physically active, lead healthier lives, raise aspirations and confidence, and improve mental health.

The foundation works in partnership with local organisations to help individuals and families living in areas of deprivation, at risk young people, people living with physical and mental health challenges, and BAME (women and girls, black, Asian and minority ethnic), LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and faith groups.

The foundation’s current project and fundraising activities include working with Motivated Minds, a community interest company in Basildon, to tackle rising issues of mental health disorder, Achievement Through Football to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southend, and Canvey Get Set Youth which engages with youngsters in the Canvey Skate Park and Castle Point areas to create and support a calendar of positive activities.

Get involved in the 30:30 challenge on social media by using the hashtag #3030Essex.

For more information, visit or

The Book Club (May) with Sylvia Kent & Natasha Radford

Joined in the studio by Sylvia Kent and Natasha Radford for this months book club.

Talking, Billericay Readers Group, SWWJ, Natasha’s current favourite children’s books and The Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival.


Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival is for children (and their grown ups) from pre-schoolers to teens. This year’s festival will run throughout the first week of the summer break – starting on 21st July 2018. 

JIVE ACES – The incredible live session (Catch them live at Queens Theatre, Ingatestone Hall this July).

Michelle Ward was joined in the studio by the incredible JIVE ACES. The band performed live and talked about their new album and their up and coming gigs.

With over 300 gigs a year in the UK and the USA this band are as tight as a drum.

Their new album Diggin’ The Roots Volume 2 – Hot Jazz is out now on download, CD and Vinyl.


INTERVIEW PART ONE (How did the band get together) 






INTERVIEW PART TWO (Simon Cowell, Len Goodman, The Album)






INTERVIEW PART THREE (Talking Vinyl Records) 







SUNDAY 1ST JULY Queens Theatre 

SATURDAY 7TH JULY Ingatestone Hall 

Absolutely brilliant! That really put me in a good mood’ SIMON COWELL

A ray of sunshine. I loved the Jive Aces’ ALESHA DIXON

‘Infectious, Uplifting and Marvellous’ LEN GOODMAN

Dying Matters Week – 14th to 20th May


I was honoured to deputise for Michelle Ward on today’s programme during which I was joined by Laura Coyle and Bridget Moss from St Francis Hospice and Claire Edwards of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust to explain what DYING MATTERS WEEK is all about.

Listen again here to what the ladies told me: –

Don’t forget you can get more information from the websites – and

All being well Michelle will be back tomorrow so it’s “over and out from me”


Beauty Hacks with Hayley – Self Tanning, Softest Feet, LVL Lashes, Castor Oil, Rizla Papers & more

Michelle Ward was joined by Hayley Simpson – Make Up Artist and Beauty Expert to give some great beauty hacks, including castor oil and Rizla papers?






Black Chapel talks Producing/Remixing/Songwriting and the new single MY MIND IS MY OWN

Michelle Ward was joined by BLACK CHAPEL AKA Steve Mortimer who is a Producer, Remixer and songwriter from Essex. BLACK CHAPEL collaborates with a host of singers/songwriters for a totally unique sound and their live gigs are few and far between but always a packed venue. Also joining us, Martin Jeffries, who is Management for BLACK CHAPEL and singer/songwriter, BIRD.

The new single MY MIND IS MY OWN is out on the 12th May and is a co write with CE CE Hemmings of HEMMINGWAY.

I talked to Steve about his work as a Producer, Remixer and more. Note to self, never take an extra strong mint from the guest(s) just before you speak…..








Twitter @Blackchapel50

Dying Matters Week, Seminars, Memorial Service and Living Well in Later Life Community Event


Michelle Ward was joined in the studio by Jane Bennett and Martyn Stevens of Bennetts Funeral Directors to talk Dying Matters Week Seminars, Memorial Service and the Living Well in Later Life Community Event.


When Crisis Strikes

A crisis can be different things to different people, to a child losing a toy can be devastating; to a teenager not getting enough ‘likes’ on Facebook; to an adult being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or losing a job is something we can connect with.  The crisis that we most often see, though, is when someone has died, sometimes because of an accident, at the hands of others or by suicide.

As part of Grief Journey Essex, Bennetts Funeral Directors, T Cribb and Sons and Paul J King Funeral Directors see families in crisis much of the time.  We are there to help families through the dreadful time as best we can, often staying in contact for years afterwards, and continuing to offer our support after initial numbness has subsided.  Many of us meet families when someone has died suddenly and unnecessarily, and to help us to understand the emotions surrounding these situations better we have invited Dr Bill Webster to speak to us and our colleagues who may meet these families – particularly HM Coroner’s officers, the Police, Fire and Ambulance Services, A&E teams, hospital staff and doctors, members of the clergy, school staff, support workers and council staff.

The seminar is not designed to replace existing policies or procedures for future crises, but to help us better understand what can be experienced by those involved, directly and indirectly, in the crisis or disaster, and how we as communities can respond.

Professional Seminar 1:
Thursday 10th May 2018 – Bentley Crematorium – 2.30 to 4.30p.m.
The Challenges of Grief after Suicide – A Seminar by Dr Bill Webster

Part 1: The Uniqueness of Grief after Suicide.
In this seminar, Dr Bill Webster will suggest some of the unique challenges of Grief after Suicide, and show how recent research has developed some alternatives to traditional theories of grief and conventional cognitive and narrative therapies.
Part 2: Healing Strategies for Grief after Suicide
What is healing? Is “closure” or “recovery” a viable goal of therapy or support, or is there a better and more realistic way of describing positive outcome. What can we realistically offer the survivors of suicide that will enable them to go on with life and living?

To book your place at this free seminar please visit or contact us on 01277 210104 or at

Professional Seminar 2:
Friday 11th May – Basildon Hospital – 10 a.m. to 12 noon and repeated at
Essex Country Cricket Club, Chelmsford – 2.30 to 4.30 p.m.
Coping with Crisis – A Seminar by Dr Bill Webster

In a world where we know that tragedies occur, organisations should have policies, procedures and personnel in place to deal with what we should do when ‘This can’t happen here’ … DOES happen.” – Dr. Bill Webster

In the past few years, we have all witnessed whether personally or through the media, numerous situations of crisis involving terrorist attacks, bombings, murders, suicides and major disasters like the Grenfell Tower tragedy which took so many lives and affected countless others.

Such incidents, which seem more widespread and frequent than ever deeply affect communities. Families and friends of those who suffered in such tragic events, as well as the many first responders and support agencies can experience distress not just by what took place on those specific days, but also during the ongoing aftermath of such events through follow up reporting and analysis.

The seminar is designed to help us better understand what is experienced by those involved, directly and indirectly, in a critical incident, and what we can do to support and empower people when crisis impacts a community, and in the aftermath?

Dr Bill Webster, a grief counsellor, comes to help us understand some of the traumatic reactions of such critical incidents, and some of the practical and emotional issues such a situation can not only create but which can linger.

  1. Understanding Trauma and Crisis
    What constitutes a crisis? Is it the event or the reaction to what has occurred?
    2. Strategies of Support during and after a Crisis
    What can we do to support people when crisis impacts a community? What helpful strategies can we offer to those affected by the sights, sounds and smells of the situations they are exposed to?
    3.  Let’s Talk: Communication Skills
    What do we say to people in crisis, and how do we say it? What helps and what doesn’t?
    4.  Understanding Resiliency: The “Bounce Back” Factor
    All too quickly, people talk about “healing” after any crisis. But what does that mean? Is “closure” or “recovery” a viable goal of therapy or support, or is there a better and more realistic way of describing a positive outcome. What can we realistically offer people after a loss that will enable them to go on with life and living?

To book your place at this free seminar in Basildon please visit  or in Chelmsford please visit or contact us on 01277 210104 or at

Public Seminar for SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide):
Thursday 10th May – Christchurch, Warley 7 – 9 p.m. – Refreshments from 6.30 p.m.
Coping with Grief after Suicide

Dr Bill Webster is a well-known grief counsellor who has been providing grief support to people for over 30 years. He will share some of the unique challenges of coping with the loss of someone who has died by suicide, as well as some practical coping strategies to enable the survivors to find reasons to go on with life and living.

To book your place at this free seminar please visit or contact us on 01277 210104 or at

Bennetts Funerals Memorial Service:
Sunday 13th May, The Regimental Chapel, Warley – 4 p.m. followed by refreshments in the Chapel
Milestones in the Grief Journey

Dr Bill brings us some new ways of looking at grief and some practical strategies that can help us as we struggle to find ways to cope with loss and to find that life can still be meaningful.

To book your place please visit or contact us on 01277 210104 or at


Bennetts Funeral directors and undertaker services Essex

Bennetts funeral home is your local funeral director and undertaker with offices at Brentwood and Billericay serving all of Essex in arranging and planning funerals. Bennetts funerals is a family undertaker business that has served the local community with respect and sensitivity for over a 100 years. We can accommodate your funeral wishes in all types of funerals. 


Keeley Smith Sings Live THIS IS ME from the GREATEST SHOWMAN and KEALA SETTLE loved it!

Michelle Ward was joined by local singer, Keeley Smith, who talked about her life in music and performed two amazing live vocals.

Keeley recorded a version of THIS IS ME from the film THE GREATEST SHOWMAN and the actress and singer, KEALA SETTLE love it and reposted it, Keeley’s Instagram went into overdrive that day!















The Incredibile Blues Man Benjamin Bassford plays Live


Michelle Ward was joined in the studio by the incredible blues singer songwriter and guitarist, Benjamin Bassford.

Benjamin’s new album is out now – BENJAMIN BASSFORD.









STAR WARS FANS…MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU! Gaming Charity Event Friday 4th May 2018



Michelle Ward was joined by Sam Ingram from Northreach Recruitment to talk about a STAR WARS themed fundraising event 12pm – Friday 4th May (May the 4th be with you). A 24 hour gaming extravaganza that you can get involved with via social media, You Tube, Twitch, Facebook and Instagram not to mention interviews with the participants every 3 hours through the 24 hours of game play.




THE TEAM4 intrepid souls from the Northreach Recruitment team are giving up 24 hours of their time to raise money for The Stuart Feakins Trust. They will embark on an energy sapping 24 hours of online gaming NON STOP – except for the call of nature. You will be able to follow their progress online and watch their eyes sink deep into sockets – should be entertaining!



The Stuart Feakins Trust

The Trust was set up in February 2008 in memory of Stuart Feakins. He loved and lived life to the full through his passions for sport, film, music, outdoor activities and his work with young people in Hackney.

The Stuart Feakins Trust is about keeping every bit of this passion and his spirit alive.


Well done to the team at for putting this together

Gavin from Will Protect Ltd – Great information on WILLS and why you need one.



Michelle Ward talks to Gavin Perrett from Will Protect Ltd who came in to talk about WILLS.

Gavin covered a variety of topics concerning WILLS

  • Appointing guardians
  • Minimum age to make a WILL
  • A basic WILL
  • How long have WILL Protect Ltd been in business
  • Adding funeral arrangements and funeral plans
  • Property Investment and Mortgage Broking
  • What is Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Free Seminar



Want to find out more then come along on TUESDAY 6th May at 6:30pm for a 7pm start at The Mary Green Manor Hotel in Brentwood. Its a great environment to come and learn about estate planning, ask questions and then if you want to you can follow up with a 121 meeting with one of the team to find out how you can protect your family and your assets. We make no charge for this event so you have nothing to lose.

Will Protect Ltd ,Saxon House, 27 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex. CM1 1HT

M: +44 (0) 7776 157 503

T: +44 (0) 345 894 8441



Croft & Cotes talk debut album – Symmetry – live acoustic performance & interview




Michelle Ward was joined in the studio by musical duo, Croft & Cotes, their album Symmetry is released on the 27th April along with the first single I DID. Catch them live 6th May Fiddlers Elbow, Camden details 

Croft & Cotes have since developed their own unique blend of Indie and Urban Acoustic which incorporate harmonies so tight that only twins could have. Croft & Cotes have been often described as a high energy ,breath of fresh air drawing comparisons to the likes of George Ezra, Mumford & Sons , Simon & Garfunkel and many more .











T: @croftandcotes



Amelia Hart on her stunning murals at The Beeches Care and Nursing Home (Brentwood)


Michelle Ward chats to Amelia Hart on her stunning murals at The Beeches Care and Nursing Home (Brentwood).

The murals will become part of a sensory garden for The Woodlands part of The Beeches that specialises in care for those with dementia and cognitive issues.

Here I talk to Amelia on what inspired her to design the murals and what it will bring to The Beeches.



For more information on The Beeches contact 



Brilliant Live Performance from Singer/Songwriter Nicola Collis



Michelle Ward was joined by Nicola Collis a local singer, songwriter and guitarist to perform a few tracks from her new album DOWN SIDE UP.



Plus Live Performance of The Unforgiving Minute & Welcome Back to the 80’s 

Nicola has a mixture of music styles and if you get to hear and see her live she is a fire cracker of a performer. A great voice with a husky edge, pitch perfect and she plays a mean guitar too.

The album DOWN SIDE UP is out now. 

T: @nicolacollismusic

I:  nicolascollismusic



Damian Carruthers of Serenade the Stars, talks about his new film project, STRONG SOLDIERS


Michelle Ward talks to Damian Carruthers of Serenade the Stars about his new film project, STRONG SOLDIERS.





Strong Soldiers is a short film which focuses on 4 characters from completely different walks of life. The characters lives are inexplicably brought together by fate and they must all draw on their own and each other’s strengths to survive.

The film highlights how strong we can all be when situations arise and brings to light the fact that everyone is fighting their own individual battles.

The film was written by Serenade The Stars guitarist Damian Carruthers and the band will be teaming up with Citizens of the world choir to record the soundtrack.

You can check them out here

Serenade The Stars released their debut single “she’s the one” which received worldwide radio play on December 2017 – you can have a listen here! – please subscribe to the YouTube channel for updates on upcoming releases and involvement with the film


The band and choir will be working with the awesome guys at Hoffen Studios for the soundtrack – check out their page here

This is a completely unique and exciting project for all those involved! We are all extremely excited about working with one another and cannot wait to begin recording and shooting!

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge we face is recording a full choir and mixing that with the recorded track! It’s very difficult to get a full choir into a recording studio! – we plan to overcome this by recording the song initially at hoffen studios and then bringing a mobile studio off site to capture the choir sections of the song. 

MILENA – Funky, Soulful Singer/Songwriter – LIVE and in Interview

Michelle Ward was joined by Singer/Songwriter/Pianist/Guitarist, MILENA who also played LIVE in the studio. Soulful, funky and chilled out tune and plenty more great tracks on her album, EVERYDAY which is out now.

QUOTE – MILENA  “You can put my album on and feel the sunshine all the time”



Voices of Brentwood – Greta, Jackie & Don

Michelle Ward interviews residents about their earliest memories, happiest times, childhood, living through World War Two,  what they think of today’s society, life in Brentwood, their new lives at The Beeches Brentwood and much more.

Signature Senior Lifestyle at The Beeches Brentwood

Had an enjoyable and interesting afternoon talking to residents at the luxurious The Beeches such a wealth of life experience and it was wonderful to listen to their words.

QUOTE from 102 year old GretaAlways remember little girl that sometimes something that looks like a major disaster is the best possible thing that could of happened to you”









Mayor of Brentwood & Do Good in Brentwood Campaign – Talk Childrens Photography Competition

Michelle Ward was Joined in the studio by The Mayor of Brentwood, William Russell and Do Good in Brentwood Campaign Director, Villene.

Do Good in Brentwood –  Share some kindness in your local community by following the campaign, giving us some likes and getting involved.  


Children’s Photography Competition – Check Facebook link for details.

Have you entered your child’s photo into our Children’s Photography Competition yet? One of the things we’re looking for in a new Facebook/Twitter cover image is Community Spirit, so here are some ideas for the kids:

💗 Take a photo of your favourite group of people that Do Good In Brentwood – maybe organisers at Brentwood junior parkrun or a team of staff at your favourite restaurant or shop,
💗 Take a photo of people in your local community who support each other and stick together – volunteers at Beavers, Cubs or Scouts, or even your neighbours,
💗 Take a photo of people enjoying themselves at a local event.


Social Media Links 


The Book Club (March) with Sylvia Kent & Glenys Newton

Michelle Ward was joined for a hilarious book club this month with Sylvia Kent and guest writer, Glenys Newton. Things started well….. ish……

Thanks to Sylvia and Glenys for a great chat about all things books.




Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to an Empty Nest

My son, Chris, first left home 7 years ago now. To be honest, I was quite looking forward to having some time to myself so was shocked by the tsunami of different feelings that bowled me over.

Rather naively, I imagined that children leaving home was a straightforward part of the whole melee that is parenting and was not prepared for quite how bumpy it all was. I wouldn’t say that it was all bad and I wouldn’t say that it was all good but it was complicated.
I then found that the phase of life that is coined as the ‘empty nest’ is something that nobody really talks about. As with any kind of loss, people tend to think that they have to keep it to themselves. When I did get talking to mums, they were really keen to relay their experiences and how it has affected them. Each and every person had a different story to tell, but at the heart of each story was the voice of a mum with a great love for their child or children.
I also looked around for books on the subject and there does not seem to be a great deal written given that it is something that happens to so many people. And so, ‘Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to the Empty Nest’ was born. I have written the things that I wished that I had known at the time of my own son leaving home. Also in the ensuing years when he was back and forth to the family home, and still is to be honest.
It is written with humour and dashes of wisdom, which is parenting itself really. Without a sense of humour not many of us would get through child rearing and all the surprises that it delivers.
Not everything that is written will apply to everybody but I hope that you will find some words that will resonate with your experiences. I also hope that it will help us all to talk more about this complicated and huge transition in our lives.


No Wonder We’re All Mad

used to work as a social worker in a community mental health team and I have wanted to write this book for some years in response to the stories that I listened to at that time. I am now a storyteller but I began my working life as a story listener and a great privilege it was too. What I found, though, was that people’s stories were often pathologised in order to receive support. This is not the fault of anyone in particular but it is how madness is viewed within our society. We are all trained from birth to fear the madness that lies within us all but, we all, at some point in our lives, find the wheels coming off of our trollies to some greater or lesser degree. There are certain things in life that are guaranteed to send us mad, and I have talked about these in the book, such as family, work, grief, media, falling in love and I’m sure it could be an endless list. The very story of madness itself changes at an alarming rate and, historically, people have not been viewed and treated kindly for showing what is essentially very human emotions to very human events in life. We all have a story around difficult times in our lives. Grief is an unavoidable rite of passage but it is not always easy to share our stories in order to be able to make sense of them. Telling our stories is one of the most significant ways of constructing and expressing meaning and within this book, ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ I have shared some of my stories and those of others. It is with the sharing of our stories that we can know that we are not mad, or that we are and that is alright, and that we are not alone. ‘No Wonder We’re All Mad’ is written with humour and with the hope that it will encourage other people to share their wonderous and fascinating stories as each and every one of us has a story to tell. 



Essex Book Festival is one of the highlights of Essex’s cultural calendar. Each March it hosts 60+ events in over 30 venues across the County, including theatres, libraries, schools, universities, through to cafes and art galleries.

The Festival was established by Essex County Council in 1999 to celebrate the book in all its forms with the widest possible audience in Essex. Since then it has grown into one of the leading festivals of its kind in the Eastern Region, inviting local writers and writers from all over the world to take part its activities. It also hosts a year round series of writing and reading programmes for all ages and abilities.

In 2011 it became an independent charity run by a board of voluntary trustees. This, in turn, led to a number of new opportunties. Not least of all the huge variety of partners with which it now works within Essex and beyond.

Essex Book Festival is based within the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Essex’s Colchester campus.


T @EssexBookFest




Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things talks Crochet for Mental Health

Michelle Ward chats to Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things.

Joined in  the studio by Claire Mackaness from Beautiful Things to talk about the recent funding from Brentwood Council under the Community Fund to help people with their mental health through crochet.