Category Archives: Featured

Comedy and Curry coming to the Queens

The Queen’s Theatre is excited to launch a brand new spicy season of Comedy and Curry in the Foyer on Thursday 24 August at 8.30pm with three fantastic stand-ups – Michael Fabbri, Mark Maier and Ria Lina. There will also be a range of delicious meat and vegetable curries to enjoy before the giggles start. By becoming a member of Comedy Club, audiences can see all three nights of stand-up this season for just £27!

Michael Fabbri - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

With a dark and honest approach to some of life’s more touchy subjects Michael Fabbri turns controversial topics into light-hearted silliness, making for a refreshingly eclectic and brilliantly funny act. Since entering the stand-up circuit in 2003, he has performed several solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and at major comedy clubs throughout the UK and all over the world. He has worked as a support act for Micky Flanagan, Lucy Porter and Stephen K Amos and as a writer for Radio and TV. He recently had his own stand up series ‘Dyslexicon’ on BBC Radio 4.

Mark Maier - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

A master of the ad lib and improvisation, the talented award-winning writer and stand-up, Mark Maier, is an established and highly sought after performer on both the national and international comedy circuits. He runs master classes in improvisational comedy in London and regularly appears with the likes of Josie Lawrence, Jim Sweeney and Paul Merton in the famous Comedy Players.

Ria Lina - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

For over a decade Ria Lina has been entertaining both UK and international audiences with her dry wit and occasional song. Her charm and intelligence allows her to get away with anything from the most audacious routines to subtle wordplay. She has been a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2011 and her most recent Ria Lina: Dear Daughter (2016) won Best Comedy Show at the Greater Manchester Fringe.

The Queen’s Theatre will keep audiences laughing all autumn with two further Comedy Clubs this season on Thursday 26 October and Thursday 23 November.

Comedy Club launches at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch on Thursday 24 August at 8.30pm. The bar is open from 6pm. Tickets cost £11.50, concessions are £10 and membership to all three shows costs £27. To book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333, visit the theatre in person or go online at

Audiences can make a proper night of it and book a Pre-Comedy Club Curry for just £6.50 – meat and vegetarian dishes are available with naan bread and rice. Customers should pre-order with the Box Office when booking tickets. Food is served until 45 minutes before the show.

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The Phoenix FM Performing Arts Scholarship

Phoenix FM has teamed up with Razzamataz Theatre School in Brentwood to announce the creation of the Phoenix FM Performing Arts Scholarship!

The first scholarship, worth £245, will be announced after 15 September.

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For more details and a chance to win, keep an eye on the Scholarship’s Facebook page:

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Carmel Jane at Onaplate – Love photography, Love Food, Love Brentwood!


INTERVIEW – Carmel talks photography 


Joined in the studio by Carmel Jane who has a stunning exhibition of her photography at On A Plate, Brentwood

How many times have you said to yourself you need a great picture of you? Maybe its for a business or profile on LinkedIn or social media. A professional headshot capturing you at your best?

Carmel Jane Photography established over 10 years ago as dance photography specialists. Their combined years of knowledge and experience has also allowed them to expand the range of photographic services they offer. Their professional and friendly team of creative photographers take great pride in capturing your natural grace.

Carmel Jane Photography main aim is to capture expression, movement and style. They offer a professional yet vibrant and relaxed photography experience to cater to your needs. Their experience and expertise in capturing natural photos helps to portray the movement of dance and stage, and also produce professional head shots. This can all be captured at our very own custom built photography studio located in Essex.

To find out more about these services please explore our website and portfolio or contact us on 01277 822674.

About Carmel Jane


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Standon Calling 2017: A Seismic Year Of Festival Memories

Serving up its biggest year to date, Standon Calling 2017 proved itself to be the true definitive British festival experience – bringing plenty of sunny memories across the weekend. From show-stopping headline sets from the iconic Grace Jones, Clean Bandit and Orbital, to the packed Standon Calling Dog Show, the incredible Horrible Histories bringing Barmy Britain Live to the Main Stage, Mr Motivator starting Sunday in a fashion only he can and the glitter-soaked force of nature that is Sink The Pink – there was a memory waiting at every turn.

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Festival Founder and Director Alex Trenchard said:

“As we planned and geared up for Standon this year, we kept saying how this year was going to be the best yet, but it’s gone even further than that over the weekend. Seeing so many happy faces, both old and new, young and older was amazing and we were absolutely delighted to see the looks on people’s faces when they saw the likes of Grace Jones, Orbital, Clean Bandit, Sink The Pink and many more. Thank you to everyone who came down this year and made it such an incredible experience – we’ll see you all in 2018!”

With Standon Calling 2017 locked in the memories of over 15,000 happy festival-goers, earlybird tickets for next year’s event are set for release shortly. With deposit schemes available at limited low prices, along with Lavish Lands, Camping and Campervan spots – it’s the perfect moment to lock in those all important dates for 2018.

Standon Calling will return between July 26th-29th 2018.

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Studio 6 Music sessions: Taffy

Tokyo band Taffy were back for their 4th Phoenix FM session and their first one fully plugged in at Studio 6 Music in Witham!

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Iris, Asano, Takeshi and Ken have just completed a seven-date UK tour which culminated in a spot at Kendal Calling.

They treated us to four songs which you can see and hear again below:

You can find out more about the band on their official Facebook page.

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Standon Calling 2017: Gary Numan

Gary is about to release his 21st album, Savage (Songs From A Broken World), and is embarking on a mini-tour of festivals before a more major jaunt in the autumn around the UK and North America.

Gary Numan with Paul Golder

We spoke to Gary just before his Main Stage performance today. Gary explained why he chose a dystopian theme for his new record – and which real world event was the inspiration behind it.

You can hear the interview again here:

You can find out all the latest news about Gary’s album and tour at his official website.

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Standon Calling 2017: KT Tunstall

We grabbed the lovely KT Tunstall for a few minutes before her main stage performance at this year’s Standon Calling!

KT Tunstall with Paul Golder

KT, who now lives in Los Angeles, is currently writing a trilogy of life-affirming albums with the first of these, KIN, already out and the next one due in the spring. She spoke to us about her love of touring, her inspiration for her new work and also chatted about WarChild and the amazing work they do. You can hear it all again here:

You can keep an eye her latest news by following KT’s official Facebook page.

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Studio 6 Music sessions: Lollipop Shoes

July 2017 sees the launch of a new partnership between Studio 6 Music in Witham and Phoenix FM with a new series of fully plugged in sessions!

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One of our first sessions was with Essex folk duo Lollipop Shoes – Kate on vocals, and Martin on guitar and bass – frequently joined by dancing marionette Zozie too!

We had a chat to Kate and Martin about their music and you can hear the interview again below:

We were also treated to four songs in the session which you can hear again below:

You can find out more about the duo on their official Facebook page.

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Studio 6 Music sessions: Stella Cleveland

July 2017 sees the launch of a new partnership between Studio 6 Music in Witham and Phoenix FM with a new series of fully plugged in sessions!

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One of our first sessions was with 15 year old singer/songwriter Stella Cleveland from Ingatestone. Stella told us all about her music and songwriting and you can hear her talk here:

We were also treated to four songs in the session which you can hear again below:

You can find out more about Stella on her official Facebook page.

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Phoenix FM at Standon Calling 2017

The team from Phoenix FM – Paul Golder, Steve Robertson, Nick Field and Graham Stannard – were back at Standon Calling for the third year running.

Standon Calling is one of the hottest small festivals in the UK, with dozens of acts over eight stages, so there’s plenty to see and do without suffering the crushing crowds from bigger events.

Click on the links below to hear our interviews again:

KT Tunstall

Gary Numan

Lucy Spraggan

Organiser Alex Trenchard


Fickle Friends

John Hassall and the April Rainers

Plastic Mermaids

Strong Asian Mothers

Alex Francis

Tom Grennan

Club Drive




The Fairyland Trust
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Phoenix FM at Latitude 2017

The team from Phoenix FM were back at the UK’s biggest and best music, arts and culture festival for an 11th year this year.

Click on the links below to hear our interviews again:

Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy

Mark Gardener from Ride

Declan McKenna

ActionAid UK

Dream Wife

Ben Ward from SuperGlu

Marcus Foster – Seramic

Black Thorn


Bruno Major

Bessie Turner

Rad Pitt

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Katy Arnander from Sadlers Wells

Victoria Shulungu from Far From the Norm

Disco Shed

Margaret Glaspy

Gill Landry

Lisa Wright

Science In A Van With Dr James Kilner

Forest Fringe

#LoveNotLitter with the Forest Faeries

Huw Stephens
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The West Ham Way – show 50

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

Dave had a week off this week so Kev and Ex were joined by Ryan Archer from West Ham Fan TV.

The team discuss West Ham’s transfer targets and answer and questions from listeners.

Dave and Ex also speak to U18 captain Declan Rice on the phone, recorded earlier in the week.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Ocean Flaws live in session

Click here to listen to the show again (session and interview starts at about 0:23:30)

It was great to welcome Ocean Flaws back into Phoenix FM for an acoustic session and interview.

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The band haven’t been in to us since December 2015 and Callum, Alex and Hamish filled us in on what’s been happening in the meantime. Sean sadly couldn’t make it as he’s in the USA.

The boys also played three songs for us live in the studio – a cover of Glass Animals’ Gooey, recent single 20:22 and new single Tel Aviv.

New single Tel Aviv is out on Friday in all of the usual digital download and streaming places.

You can keep an eye on what the band are up to in the future by keeping an eye on their Facebook page.

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Latitude 2017: Gurr

Click here to listen to the interview again:

We chatted with Berlin duo Gurr just before their performance at the Lake Stage at Latitude on Sunday.

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Andreya and Laura Lee talked about how they got together, their current album and even a special forthcoming performance with Berlin resident Eddie Argos from Art Brut.

Gurr then went on to complete a very cool and accomplished set in front of a big afternoon crowd.

You can find out more about the band on their official Facebook page.

More photos from Latitude:

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Latitude 2017: Dream Wife

Click here to listen to the interview again:

We caught up with Dream Wife just before their performance at the Lake Stage at Latitude on Sunday.

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Alice, Bella and Rakel chatted to us about how they got together, their new album and their ever-increasing live reputation.

The live performance was amazing too – the band drew a massive crowd around the stage. It was definitely one of our highlights of the weekend.

You can find out more about the band on their official Facebook page.

More photos from Latitude:

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New village sign unveiled in Shenfield

Valerie Webb came in to talk to Keith Rogers about the new sign. Listen to her interview below:

Valerie Webb with Richard Courage

Valerie with Richard Courage at the sign unveiling

Local schoolchildren and residents, working with the Shenfield Environmental Partnership, have unveiled a new village sign for Shenfield depicting 2,000 years of history of the old village.

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Shenfield has been unique as a route for travel and transport for centuries and a local group, Shenfield Environmental Partnership, has launched a village sign to capture and celebrate some of the history of the village over 2000 years. On 22 July the village sign was installed on the Chelmsford Road, the road that Roman soldiers built for their journey to Colchester and beyond. It represents the first proper road built into Essex and East Anglia.

The sign celebrates the history of the old village. Funding from Brentwood Community Fund and Essex County Council’s Community Initiative Fund made it possible to create the sign, which can be seen by visitors to Shenfield from the A12 and M25. Also featured is the logo for the new Elizabeth Line, which is scheduled to terminate in Shenfield in December 2018.

Local young people from Shenfield High School and St. Mary’s C of E Primary School have worked together to create ideas for the sign which also shows Shenfield’s entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 when the village was called Chenefield which means “good lands”. There were 6 households, 40 pigs in woodland, 2 cattle and 15 goats. Other significant additions to the sign are St. Mary’s Church, which was established in 13th century, The Olde Green Dragon Pub, Shenfield Cricket Club and the logos of both schools.

The sign was launched by Charles Courage whose family have been benefactors to Shenfield over several hundreds of years. Charles shared memories of his family’s association with Shenfield

Also attending was Cllr John Aldridge, Chair of Essex County Council who explained more about the community funds available; the Mayor of Brentwood, Cllr Will Russell, and Cllr Barry Aspinell who had supported funding for the sign at County level. Students from Shenfield High School, Charlotte Simpson and Sophia Morgan also attended. Cllr John Newberry, chair of Shenfield Environmental Partnership, reiterated the importance of sharing and celebrating Shenfield’s history.

Guests were welcomed by Valerie Webb who commented that the project was a community effort which captures and celebrates the history of the village at a time of significant change.

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Scott Lanza Previews the ESL and EOFL Seasons



Listen as Publicity Officer for the Essex Senior League and the Essex Olympian League, Scott Lanza looks ahead to the two football competitions starting.

Scott talks about who to watch out for in the EOFL, Ilford and the importance of volunteers at all levels of Essex non league.

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Six of the best! Bishop’s Stortford 2 Billericay Town 6

A strong performance from the Blues saw them easily defeat their Southern League Premier opponents in this rainy pre-season friendly.

btfc bishops stortford

Billericay had a few chances in the first half hour and took the lead after 31 minutes when Casey converted into his own goal after a Waldren free kick.

Ellul thumped home a header ten minutes later to give the Blues a 2-0 lead at half time.

Bishop’s Stortford brought on Spriggs and Richefond for Gledhill and Hickford during the break. Billericay made more wholesale changes with Julian, Urquhart, O’Hara, Konchesky, Bricknell, Theophanous, Deering, Robinson, Davis and Modeste all coming on. Danny Waldren was the only player to stay on the pitch.

The changes benefitted the home team more as Tapley pulled it back to 2-1 from a corner.

On 55 minutes Sam Deering extended the lead, curling in a shot past goalkeeper Voss.

Deering followed it up with a second goal 10 minutes later with another powerful shot into the bottom corner.

Jamie O’Hara limped off after the goal and was replaced by Walker.

Modeste was fouled by Danquaa after 68 minutes and a penalty was awarded to Billericay, which Bricknell duly converted.

The Blues made it 6-1 with Theopaneous shooting home after some pinball in the Bishop’s Stortford box.

The home team pulled back another goal on 83 minutes with Richefond converting after good work from Calvin Ekpiteta, and the score finished 6-2 to Billericay.

Billericay Town will be high on confidence going into their next friendly, away to Heybridge Swifts on Tuesday at 7.45pm.

Bishop’s Stortford: Voss, Casey, Tumwa, Hickford (c), Gledhill, M Ekpiteta, C Ekpiteta, Livings, Owusu, Tapley, Foxley.
Subs: Spriggs, King, Danquaa, Richefond, Azzopardi, Palmer.

Billericay Town: Giddens, Ocram, Ellul, Paine, Sprague, Chema, Waldren, Evans, Lawrence, Cole, Cunnington.
Subs: Julian, Urquhart, Konchesky, Modeste, O’Hara, Theophanous, Bricknell, Robinson, Davies, Deering, Swaine.

Attendance: 204

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Latitude 2017: Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy

Click here to listen to the interview again:

We caught up with Neil Hannon from the Divine Comedy just before his Obelisk Arena performance at Latitude on Sunday.

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Neil was in great form, very relaxed and happy to chat about his most recent album, Foreverland, which reached the top 10 last year.

Neil and his band will be touring the UK later this year, including dates at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith on 29 November and UEA Norwich on 2 December. We think the band may have something else going on, but did we get any clues?

Big thanks to Neil for the chat and also to Natalie de Pace, Neil Adams and Holly for helping set it up and running the best band social media site on the planet!

The Divine Comedy’s official website can be found at

More photos from Latitude:

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Latitude 2017: Mark Gardener from Ride

Click here to listen to the interview again:

We were delighted to get a bit of interview time with Mark Gardener, singer and guitarist with Ride.

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Even though the band were on site late due to a delayed flight, and were on stage in about an hour and half, Mark and his management made me feel like they had all the time in the world. And I seriously had to fight myself from falling asleep on the bus – it was so comfortable!

After four albums – including two which reached the top 5 in the UK – Ride called it a day in 1996, with the band members moving to other musical projects – Mark formed the Animalhouse and performed with Goldrush, and guitarist Andy Bell forming Hurricane No 1 and then joining Oasis as bassist for their final three albums.

The band reformed in 2015 and after a few packed gigs released a fifth album, Weather Diaries, last month. The album has continued their earlier success, peaking at no 11 in the charts. And needless to say their performance at Latitude was in line with high expectations!

Ride’s official website can be found at

More photos from Latitude:

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Chris Scull and Tom Craine – first show

Click here to listen to the show again:

Chris Scull and Tom Craine have joined the Phoenix FM team!

Who are Chris and Tom?

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Chris Scull (on the right) co-hosts the popular “Quickly Kevin” podcast with Josh Widdicombe..

Chris is also the presenter of West Ham TV and the former host of the award winning Knees Up Mother Brown West Ham podcast.

Tom Craine (on the left) is an award winning stand-up comedian, screen writer, and sketch performer.

Tom writes the hit BBC3 sitcom series Josh with Josh Widdicombe, has written and starred in two critically acclaimed BBC Radio 4 series with his sketch group Jigsaw, presents The Tom Craine Story Show for Radio X, and made his feature film debut alongside Ricky Tomlinson in Gloves Off in 2016.

Tom has performed stand up on Russell Howard’s Good News (BBC3), and appeared on shows such as Drunk History (Comedy Central), Safeword (ITV), and as a series regular on Weekend (ITV). He has also hosted investigative reports for Inside Out (BBC1) and the hour long documentary Glastonbury: Jesus to Jay-Z (BBC1).

At the Edinburgh Festival Tom has gained countless 4 and 5 star reviews for his shows, as well as Critics’ choice in The Guardian, New Statesman, Daily Mail and Independent, as well as Top 5 shows at the Fringe in The Times. He has also supported Rhod Gilbert, Josh Widdicombe and Russell Kane on tour.

Tom is also a much in demand writer. A core writer for every series of the RTS Award winning The Last Leg, his CV also includes Mock The Week (BBC2) and QI (BBC2) amongst many other shows. He has also written for The Guardian, while his monthly column for Cosmopolitan Magazine (Sex & The Single Guy), won Best Column at the UK Dating Awards.

You can hear them back on air with us next Wednesday at 10pm.

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The West Ham Way – show 49

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex discuss West Ham’s new signings, talk about a host of possible targets and also answer questions from listeners.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Busy times at Billericay Town

Click here to listen to the interview:

We caught up with Billericay Town FC owner and manager Glenn Tamplin amidst all the building work at the AGP Arena today.

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Glenn updates us on all the work going on, including:

– developing younger players including new signings Daniel Cheema, Charlie Cole and Brendan Ocran
– dispelling the myths about high wages
– thoughts about the club’s 3-2 win against St Albans last weekend
– changes in personnel at Director of Football and assistant coach levels
– updates on the building works at the ground
– the details on the club’s impressive new mural
– the big test of the first club’s home match against Leyton Orient
– Billericay Town in the community, including visits to schools and the latest news on Harry Parker

The Blues have two away friendlies coming up, against Bishop’s Stortford on Saturday 22 July and Heybridge Swifts on Tuesday 25 July.

The first home game at the rebuilt stadium is against Leyton Orient on Saturday 29 July. This is followed by two more home friendlies against St James’s Swifts on Saturday 5 August and a West Ham XI on Tuesday 8 August.

The Bostik League kicks off on Saturday 12 August with anothe home match against Kingstonian. Ticket information can be found on the club’s official website at

Here’s how the ground is looking today:

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The West Ham Way – show 48 (with Mark Phillips)

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

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On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex are joined by West Ham coach and U18 Assistant Manager Mark Phillips. They discuss West Ham’s current youngsters, while Ex talks about current transfer rumours and the team answer questions from listeners.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Medical Detection Dogs

Click here to listen to the show again:

My guest this week was Sonia Enwright from Medical Detection Dogs, she was explaining how dogs can be more than just pets, we can use them in a number of different ways to help enhance and even save human lives.


The UK has one of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe – because of late diagnosis. Medical Detection Dogs believe their research will help early diagnosis improve in the future.

Because dogs are able to detect tiny odour concentrations, around one part per trillion (the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic sized swimming pools), they are potentially able to detect diseases, such as cancer, much earlier than is currently possible. Their pioneering work could help to speed up the diagnosis process and impact on thousands of lives.

They are very excited and proud to be carrying out an NHS ethically approved study into the dogs’ ability to detect urological cancers using their sense of smell. Alongside the urological study is running the first NHS ethically approved proof-of-principle trial exploring the ability of dogs to detect breast cancer and have interest from many in the medical profession on the potential to detect other cancers such as lung and colorectal cancers. The cancer work has two main aims:

To assist scientists through research into the development of electronic systems (E noses) that will assist in the early detection of cancer through cheap non-invasive tests.

In the short term, cancer dogs could provide additional testing for cancers that are currently difficult to diagnose reliably, such as prostate cancer.

For more information on Medical Detection dogs check out their website at


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The UK’s first Disc Jockey – 90 years ago today!

We’re almost certain that you’ve never heard of Major Christopher Reynolds Stone, D.S.O., M.C. But he was the first person to play music to a radio audience and he did it for the first time 90 years ago today – 7 July 1927.


Major Stone was born on 19 September 1882, was educated at Eton College and served in the Royal Fusiliers. In 1906 Stone published a book of Sea songs and ballads and in 1923 he wrote the history of his old regiment. He became the London editor of The Gramophone, a magazine started by his brother-in-law Compton Mackenzie.

Stone approached the BBC himself with the idea for a record programme, which the corporation initially dismissed. Stone managed to convince them though, and on 7 July 1927 he started playing records on air on his programme “Time For A Tune”.

His relaxed, conversational style was exceptional at a time when most of the BBC’s presentation was extremely formal, and his programmes became highly popular as a result. He wore a dinner jacket and tie when he presented. (Something we’re thinking of implementing here at Phoenix FM).

Commerical radio was banned in the UK at this time, but a number of commercial stations popped up in France with high-powered transmitters aimed a the UK market. In 1934 Stone joined one of these, Radio Luxembourg, on a salary of £5,000 a year – the equivalent of £250,000 today. This got him banned by the BBC as a result.


He also wrote a column reviewing new popular records for the Sunday Referee newspaper and appeared in advertisements for Bush radio sets. In 1937, as “Uncle Chris”, he presented the first daily children’s programme on commercial radio, Kiddies Quarter Hour on another French commercial station aimed at the UK, Radio Lyons.

Stone later rejoined the BBC and caused a major row in 1941. On 11 November he wished King Victor Emmanuel of Italy a happy birthday on air, adding “I don’t think any of us wish him anything but good, poor soul.” This good wish towards the head of a state Britain was at war with at the time led to the sacking of the BBC’s Senior Controller of Programmes and tighter government control over all broadcasts.

Stone was an avid record collector; in the mid-1930s he already owned over 12,000. When he turned 75 in 1957 the magazine Melody Maker celebrated his 75th birthday by praising his pioneering work: “Everyone who has written, produced or compered a gramophone programme should salute the founder of his trade.”

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Amazing progress at Billericay Town FC

Bostik Premier League team Billericay Town are working hard to transform their ground in time for the new season – and the progress is amazing.

I was there on 17 April with nearly 2,000 other fans to watch the Blues turn over local rivals Canvey Island 3-1 in their last home game of the season.

I arrived at 8.30am this morning to find dozens of people at work on all areas of the ground. Three of the new stands are in place, along with about 500 seats. New bars and toilet blocks are being constructed on the corners, and the clubhouse is being completely refurbished, with foundations in place for new buildings adjacent to it.

The pitch looks stunning under a rare summer sky filled with cirrocumulus clouds.

The back of the main stand will be home to a new mural depicting the history of the club, and that is also taking great shape, with the Mayflower connections and the three FA Vase victories already in place.

Glenn Tamplin promised the fans major changes in two fan forums held last season – and it looks like he is set to deliver in time for the new season.

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Salad Undressed live in session

We were delighted to get Salad Undressed – Marijne van der Vlugt, Paul Kennedy and Donald Ross Skinner – down to Brentwood to kick off this year’s Phoenix FM Creative Sessions!


Salad were formed in 1992, with Pete Brown and Rob Wakeman joining Marijne and Paul in the line up. Marijne was keeping busy as one of the roster of MTV VJs broadcasting regularly to the UK and Europe. The band signed to Island Records and released two albums – debut Drink Me, which reached no 16 in the UK album charts in 1995, and Ice Cream in 1997.

The band were joined by Charley Stone – who featured in our Joanne Joanne session in 2013 – as a live guitarist, keyboard player and backing vocalist.

After the band split Marijne formed Cowboy Racer – and we hosted their only radio session back in 2011 when they came down to our former studio at the Baytree Centre in Brentwood.

In 2016 Marijne and Paul decided to get back together to play acoustic Salad numbers at a few gigs. The first one went under the name of the MB’s as a homage to the band’s pre-Salad name (the Merry Babes) but then settled on Salad Undressed after that. And we were there AGAIN to host their first acoustic session in years and years. (Big Salad fans here, obv).

And now we’re pleased to announce that we’ve hosted their first electric (ish) session since the 1990s! Marijne and Paul were joined on bass by Donald Ross Skinner, producer of Ice Cream and long time collaborator with Julian Cope.

We were treated to five tracks – an oldie (Granite Statue), three newies (Being Human, Nowhere Near and Relationship Dust) and a cover (Jefferson Airplane’s 1967 classic White Rabbit).

Salad Undressed are currently writing and recording a new album – Good Love Bad Love – and you can get and two more albums of other recordings on Pledgemusic. And we also heard some exclusive news about what they’re planning straight after that! You can hear the interview again here:

And here’s the audio and video from the recordings:

For the latest news about the band keep an eye on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Phoenix FM has been recording with the Creative Recording Studios in Brentwood since 2005. For more information about their facilities and rates please contact Dave Shalloe on 01277 811886 or visit

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Garth McLean – Iyengar Yoga Teacher

Click here to listen to the show again:

My guest on the show this evening was Garth McLean who is a senior level Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher “CIYT” (Intermediate Sr III) and dedicated practitioner of the subject. Based in Los Angeles, Garth teaches public classes and speciality courses at Namastday Yoga in Beverly Hills. Garth also offers local private instruction in the Los Angeles metro area


Garth studies annually with the Iyengar family in Pune, India. He teaches yoga intensives locally and globally. In addition to regular intensives, Garth offers workshops on the positive effect of yoga on MS and other neurological conditions. He regularly offers workshops in Europe, Australia and most recently Brazil. Garth has served as a guest teacher at the France Iyengar Yoga Teachers’ Convention (2009) and Spain Iyengar Yoga Teachers’ Convention (2011).

He is a founding and current board and faculty member of the Iyengar Yoga Therapeutics group, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that is dedicated to helping people manage diseases and conditions through the therapeutic applications of yoga.

Blessed with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1996, Garth successfully manages his course of MS and a hectic schedule with a daily practice of Iyengar Yoga as presented by Yoga master, Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar.

Upon learning of his diagnosis, Garth was determined to get his MS symptoms in remission. He immediately took to the daily practice of Iyengar Yoga, heeding his neurologist’s advice to try some yoga with the caveat to not overheat the body. He also heeded Mr. Iyengar’s counsel to proceed with courage, caution and patience. The results have been profound. Garth’s dedication to self-healing has enabled him to successfully manage many symptoms of MS and keep his course of MS in remission without the conventional medicines prescribed for the condition. Since 2005, Garth annually monitors the lesions on his brain via MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which has shown very encouraging comparative results. His determination and recovery motivates him to provide a safe, uplifting forum for a challenging, rewarding and transformative experience for all students of yoga.

Garth shares his enthusiasm for the healing potential of a dedicated yoga practice with students and teachers around the world. Garth’s personal in-depth knowledge inspires not only those with challenges, but everyone.

Garth will be in the UK later this year, the dates are listed below; or to find out more about Garth you can contact him via his website

Aug 26- 28
Iyengar Yoga Institute Maida Vale
Website: Iyengar Yoga Institute, Maida Vale, London

Sep 01- 03
Manchester District Institute of Yoga
Website: Manchester and District Institute of Iyengar Yoga (MDIIY)

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The Sun Is Rising for Chris Norman

Originally formed in Yorkshire, in 1966, Smokie hit the British pop charts several times during the late ’70s, influenced by the band’s stay on Mickie Most’s Rak Records as well as the writers of most of the band’s hit material, Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. They comprised of vocalist Chris Norman, bassist Terry Utley, guitarist Alan Silson, and drummer Pete Spencer.
Chris Norman left Smokie in 1986 and went on to have a very successful solo career and is still performing and recording today with a new single out now and an album due out in September.
It was great to chat with Chris today.

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Chris Norman

You can listen to our chat here –

Chris’s new single “Sun Is Rising” is available

You can find out more from Chris’s website here

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Brentwood Art Trail 2017

The Brentwood Art Trail is back! This year’s event takes place at several venues across the borough from 15-30 June.

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Pamela Bickle is one of the exhibitors at Onaplate, Hutton Road, Shenfield

Part of the Essex Summer of Art, this year’s trail will spotlight over two dozen individual artists. Shops and cafes in Brentwood and Shenfield have donated their window and wall spaces to become temporary pop-up galleries.

In addition, Brentwood Library is hosting an artwork display by Open Arts, a charitable community arts and mental health project managed by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

John Brandler of Brandler Galleries has curated a unique Banksy exhibit with over 80 pieces of artwork by the well-known street artist. John recently came in to talk about this with Michelle Ward, and you can hear him talk about it here.

Other local art galleries are also participating, including Neil Graham Gallery and Turner Barnes Gallery.

For more information or to view the Brentwood Art Trail online, visit

Featured artists and venues include:

The Pilgrim’s Staff at Brentwood Town Hall

Installed as part of the Genius Loci project, this 10 foot high stainless steel and bronze structure sits outside the Town Hall to celebrate the town’s historic significance on trade and pilgrim routes.

Banksy Exhibition at Brandler Galleries

John Brandler has curated the most comprehensive exhibition of record sleeves designed by the artist known as Banksy.

Elissa Elwick at Chicken and Frog Bookshop

Ahead of her appearance at the Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival (22-30 July), Elissa will be painting the windows at Chicken and Frog with her whimsical children’s illustrations.

Sean McMahon at the Baytree Centre

Sean has recreated his artist’s studio in one of the empty shop units at The Baytree Centre. Pieces on display include his “Trump Lamp” and a copy of a well-known Norman Rockwell painting.

Susan Burns at Brentwood Theatre

The theatre’s outdoor seating area will be yarnbombed with Alice in Wonderland and Narnia themed decorations to celebrate the past and current Christmas shows.

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The ExtraJordanary Show | Episode 4: “Girls of ‘The Voice'”

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Episode theme: FAITH

Guests: Jessica Richardson (The Voice Kids 2017), Lydia Lucy (recording artist/The Voice 2016)

A truly remarkable episode, cutting deep to the trials and tribulations of immediate fame – 6MILLION people saw Jessica smash it on The Voice Kids last night… and now it’s back to school tomorrow morning. How does a 13 year old person deal with that?

Lydia Lucy joins us fresh off the plane from Hong Kong… or LA, or Dubai… wherever, it don’t matter, point is: she’s crushing it right now. Join us for a ‘Girls of The Voice’ special that challenges the big questions of Fame, Faith and our place in the world.

VOTE Jessica R on The Voice Kids 2017 (if you want to!)



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QYouth hits 25

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is thrilled to be celebrating 25 years of nurturing and showcasing young talent in the form of its dynamic youth theatre, QYouth this July.

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To mark this brilliant achievement, the theatre is hosting a celebratory family fundraising weekend on 8 – 9 July. It’s an opportunity for the theatre and the local community to come together and celebrate the success and development of its youth theatre, QYouth; as well as fundraise so it can continue to grow and enrich the lives of young people for the next 25 years.

Families throughout Essex and East London are invited to join in the celebrations and can expect a range of fun games, stalls and workshops in the theatre’s foyer from 10am – 7.30pm on both days. A free exhibition celebrating QYouth’s history will also be in held in the café.

A cast of over 120 young people from the theatre’s QYouth will be providing the entertainment, treating audiences to a world premiere of the family favourite, The Wind in the Willows. This production has been specially adapted by James Watson and Andrew Linham to mark this fantastic milestone. Performances are at 7pm on 8 & 9 July, with an additional 2pm show on 9 July and tickets are £14. This production is sponsored by East Thames and supported by the Queen’s Theatre’s very own Theatre Club. Founded in 1954, Theatre Club has played a pivotal role in raising funds and generously donating to the theatre which contributes towards the creation of new productions. The club has a strong social aspect with a variety of planned trips to theatres, gardens and short holidays across the country.

Over the last 25 years, the theatre’s youth theatre has provided over 95,000 engagement opportunities for young people aged 7-18 in Havering. The QYouth programme offers young people opportunities in drama, dance and technical theatre, enabling them to develop their creativity in the arts, unlock potential, gain confidence and have fun through the power of theatre. Graduates of QYouth include Lloyd Warbey (Disney’s Art Attack), Gemma Salter (TV and West End performer) and Billy Irving who will be appearing in the upcoming UK tour of War Horse.

The theatre’s Learning & Participation Producer James Watson says, ‘This weekend is set to celebrate all that QYouth has become, with a large cast ensemble show celebrating the full breadth of our current membership, whilst allowing past members, parents and potential members of the future to join in the fun with our celebratory events, fundraising activities and reminiscent opportunities.’

So join in this fantastic weekend of games, theatre and fun that the whole family can enjoy in support of the Queen’s Theatre’s vibrant youth theatre. It’s been at the heart of the community for thousands of young people and the funds raised will go towards continuing to support young people passionate about the arts for years to come.

If you or your business would like to contribute towards the QYouth 25th Anniversary weekend, you can donate through our Box Office on 01708 443333 or alternatively by donate prizes to be used over the weekend. For more information contact

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Laura Try Sets Sail


On Wednesday I was delighted to be joined by local girl Laura Try ahead of her round Britain row which set sail today.

Over the space of 8 weeks, Laura (along with three other crew members) will row 1,800 miles on a two hour on, two hour off rotation day and night, stopping eight times to rotate crew.

Laura is one of the few crew members rowing all of the legs and talks sleep, fundraising and toilets!

If you want to follow her journey, Laura will be providing updates on Youtube and on the website of her sponsor eMoov.

The journey will be raising money for Centrepoint and you can donate to the cause here.

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Bansky exhibition coming to Brentwood


This weekend is your chance to own a Banksy. Listen to the interview with John Brandler from The Brandler Galleries to learn more.



On June 3rd Brentwood sees the opening of the biggest / most comprehensive ever exhibition of Record Sleeves designed by the artist known as Banksy

Included in the show will be artworks from £400- to £175,000 ( possibly £250,000 depending on one owner consigning a piece to us)

Brandler Galleries
1 Coptfold Road,
CM14 4BN,
United Kingdom

Twitter @Brandler1      


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More big changes at Billericay Town

More signficant changes at the AGP Arena! Billericay Town owner Glenn Tamplin has revealed changes to the team kit and backroom staff along with seven summer signings, with possibly more one on the way.

Speaking to the Sun, Glenn announced the seven new players to be:

Robbie Evans, 21 – Wrexham midfielder who captained the team to the FA Trophy in 2013
Matt Paine – 28 – ex-Colchester Utd trainee and Boreham Wood defender
Ricky Modeste – 29, ex-Chelmsford City winger signed from Dover
Danny Waldren, 27 – Welling midfielder
Dan Walker, 27 – Welling forward
Josh Urquhart, 26 – Wealdstone defender and former West Ham and Northampton Town youth player
Louie Theophanus, 25 – Chelmsford striker who has not only scored dozens of goals over the last three seasons but has also worked as a body double for Cristiano Ronaldo!

He also announced ex-Leyton Orient and Barnet boss Ian Hendon is to join the team as the new Director of Football and MMA heavyweight champion Neil “Goliath” Grove is to become the new Head of Nutrition.

Glenn also tweeted a picture of a kit redesign, which shows a new graduated darker blue hoop motif as opposed to a plain royal blue. Billericay solicitors Paul Robinson are to remain kit sponsor for 2017/18.

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In the same tweet Glenn also suggested the new squad numbers for next season.

1 Alan Julian or Jack Giddings
2 Matt Paine
3 Paul Konchesky
4 Joe Ewell
5 Rob Swaine
6 “to be agreed”
7 Ricky Modeste
8 Jamie O’Hara
9 Billy Bricknell
10 Louie Theophanus
11 Jake Robinson
14 Adam Cunnington
15 Robbie Evans
16 Josh Urquhart
17 Bryon Lawrence
19 Dan Walker
21 Danny Waldren
22 Olly Sprague

The new players are formidable additions to a team that ended 2016/17 on top of the form table, with Billy Bricknell and Jake Robinson scoring goals for fun.

Keep tuned to Phoenix FM for more news on the blues throughout the year.

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Dean Friedman live at Phoenix FM

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American recording artist Dean Friedman, best known to British audiences for his classic hits, “Lucky Stars”, “Rocking Chair”, “Woman Of Mine” and “Lydia”, has just released his 8th album and is half-way through a mammoth 40 date tour of the UK.

It was a delight to welcome Dean into Phoenix FM today – still enthusiastic about his music and bright as a button despite having done thousands of interviews over the years! Dean spoke to Keith Rogers about his recording career, his current album – 12 Songs – and tour. He also gave us a rendition of an oldie and a newie too. You can see the whole interview and session again below:

Dean’s new album is available to order now from his website at If you get in quickly you may be able to catch him live in Kent tomorrow night and in London at the weekend – all tour dates are listed on the website too.

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Billericay Fun Walk 2017

The 16th annual Billericay Fun Walk took place at Barleylands Farm on Sunday.

Phoenix FM were once again out in force, raising money towards the new Studio 1 project.

The gruelling two mile cause was made all the more difficult for the walkers who were trying to look at their phones AND not fall down potholes in the field at the same time.

Over 2,000 walkers raised money for around 100 charities and good causes – each being given a medal at the finish.

The monies raised by the charities at this year’s event will be made known at the Presentation evening in September when bonus pot cheques will be awarded. Organiser John Baron,

“This year’s walk has already been a great success with a record bonus pot of £50,000 yet to be distributed on top of what the 100 local charities have raised courtesy of over 2,000 walkers taking part. Our thanks go to them, to the Marshalls, to the Barleylands team, and to our family of volunteers and Committee members for making it all possible. We now wait to see total monies raised from the charities.”

John also thanked the bonus pot sponsors including Swan Housing Association, c2c Rail Ltd, Abellio Greater Anglia, Hallmark Care Homes, Butyl Products Ltd, Leonardo MW Ltd, Private Ambulance Service Ltd, McDonald’s Basildon, Mr Barrie Stone, IFE Global Logistics and others.

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Phoenix FM Election Hustings 2017

Click below to hear the hustings in full:

Phoenix FM hosted Hustings for the Brentwood and Ongar constituency at the Holiday Inn, Brook Street, Brentwood on Thursday 25 May.

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Paul Golder moderated the evening which included five of the candidates – Gareth Barrett (Labour), Alex Burghart (Conservative), Karen Chilvers (Liberal Democrat), Luca Kousoulou (Independent) and Mick McGough (UKIP). A sixth representative, Wendy Stephen (Green), stood in for candidate Paul Jeater who was unable to attend.

Almost 100 people attended the event and after an initial pitch, candidates fielded questions on a number of subjects including hospital care and recruitment, grammar schools, affordable housing, tax collection and the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.

The event was lively and heated at times, with passions particularly running high on the subjects of education and social care.

For the final question, panel members were asked to highlight the single reason which made them get into politics in the first place.

Paul Golder said that the questions posed revealed some interesting facts about what people really think.

“For an election that was supposedly called to settle the mandate on Brexit, I think we only heard the B-word once or twice in passing throughout the whole 90 minute debate. Immigration is supposedly another hot topic but no one expressed any views on this, either for or against.

“People in Brentwood are clearly more concerned about health, education and social care.

“All of the participants spoke with passion and eloquence and I would like to extend my thanks to them, and also to the people of Brentwood who came to listen to them.”

The show will be broadcast on 98.0 FM on Monday 29 May at 6pm and will also be available to hear online at and on mobile devices via the Phoenix FM app.

Also see: Phoenix FM’s 2015 general election hustings

Photos: from Bob Simpson (Phoenix FM) unless otherwise stated.

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Brentwood 25th May 2017  Louca Kousoulou Independent candidate (and father of TOWIE star Georgia Kousoulou at the Brentwood and Ongar Constituency Hustings, Holiday Inn, Brentwood

Brentwood 25th May 2017 Louca Kousoulou Independent candidate (and father of TOWIE star Georgia Kousoulou at the Brentwood and Ongar Constituency Hustings, Holiday Inn, Brentwood. Copyright Photo by Ian Davidson.

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Brentwood 25th May 2017 Brentwood and Ongar Constituency Hustings, Holiday Inn, Brentwood. Copyright Photo by Ian Davidson.

GE2017 Brentwood and Ongar Constituency; General Election Husting in BrentwoodCopyright Photo by Ian Davidson.

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Standon Calling – bigger and better than ever!

Standon Calling, Hertfordshire’s annual music festival is back again this summer. Some amazing acts are taking part, including headliners Orbital, Clean Bandit and Grace Jones along with Editors, Kate Tempest, KT Tunstall, Slaves, Laura Mvula, Gary Numan, British Sea Power and many more.

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In addition there are some fantastic DJ appearances to look forward to, including sets from Faithless, Idris Elba and Phoenix FM’s very own Steve Davis and Kavus Torabi!

We spoke to festival founder and director Alex Trenchard about the bands playing and you can hear the interview again here:

Along with great music, there’s also comedy, children’s entertainment and gourmet food. It’s one of our favourite festivals and we’re looking forward to going back again next year.

Standon is just a couple of miles to the west of Bishops Stortford and just 40 minutes’ drive from Brentwood. (We reckon that’s nearer than the V Festival in Chelmsford once you factor in traffic times …)

Standon Calling takes place from the 27th to the 30th of July. Tickets are on sale at

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Glenn Tamplin talks about Billericay Town’s progress on and off the field

“We will sign more players that will win this league, who are used to winning leagues two leagues up. Some serious signings are definitely going to made this week.”

Click here to listen to the interview:

Owner and joint manager GLENN TAMPLIN met up with us to update our listeners on the club’s progress on and off the field.

Glenn talks about the improvements currently taking place at the ground, his recent talks with Basildon Borough Council, news about a fly-on-the-wall TV series, and his hopes on the quality of the squad he is assembling.

He also revealed that he will be writing a regular column about Billericay Town and non-league football for a famous national newspaper!

Contrary to reports elsewhere, Glenn confirmed that his friend Mark Wright did not take up a 20% stake in Billericay Town. Glenn is keen to only undertake media deals which help to grow the club.

The club has a number of pre-season friendlies confirmed, including:

Sat 15 Jul – St Albans (A)
Tue 25 Jul – Heybridge Swifts (A)
Sat 29 Jul – Concord Rangers (A)
Sat 5 Aug – Waltham Abbey (H)
Tue 8 Aug – West Ham XI (H)

Season tickets for 2017/18 are currently available at a reduced rate until 31 May. For more details visit

Some photos of the progress being made at the ground:

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Billericay Town FC: Glenn Tamplin announces plans for next season

Billericay Town FC owner and joint manager Glenn Tamplin has highlighted his plans for the 2017/18 season


Speaking to Billericay Fan TV, Glenn said:

“We’ve already spoken to five National Conference players – they’re all coming. We’re speaking to two others, so we’ll have at least seven new players that are better than the seven I’m releasing.

“I believe the side we have next year will be disgustingly good. ”

Glenn also said that by the start of next season there will be two new pitches and three new stands at the club.

The club have lined up pre-season friendly matches against West Ham United, Southend United, QPR (possibly), Ilford and Waltham Abbey.

The club have also announced new Season Ticket prices for the 2017-18 season.

Fans buying a season ticket before 31 May 2017 will receive an early bird discount.

Adults: £200 (£180 before 31st May)
Over 65’s & Students: £143 (£129)
Under 18’s: £59 (£38)
Under 12’s: £38 (£25)

To apply visit

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Dan Wilde live at Phoenix FM

We were delighted to welcome singer/songwriter Dan Wilde to the studio.

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Dan is a folk musician originally from Blackpool but now based in Cambridge. He came down to talk about his career so far and also to play three songs for us – With Your Eyes Closed, Nobody Home and Pieces. You can see the session and interview again here:

Dan is currently in the middle of a UK tour supporting Welsh traditional band Calan. You can find out more about Dan and his music at

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Match report: Billericay Town 3 Canvey Island 1

The biggest home attendance in years – 1,970 – watched the Blues win a hard-fought game 3-1 against local rivals Canvey Island.


Billericay dominated the early stages, with Jake Robinson, Danny Fitzsimons and Billy Bricknell all going close.

A clumsy push on Bricknell after 25 minutes led to a penalty, which the Blues’ top scorer duly converted.

Both sides had chances but the score remained 1-0 at half time. Players from Billericay Town’s various Colts teams had an opportunity to play on the pitch at the break.


The Gulls had more chances in the second half with George Sykes finishing well on 55 minutes to equalise.

Bricknell restored the lead 12 minutes later after being fed through by Fitzsimons.

Canvey defended stoutly but Robinson broke clear in the 90th minute and lobbed the keeper, Conor Gough, from 20 yards to seal a 3-1 win.

Other results confirmed that Billericay Town would not reach this season’s play-offs but the club look in good form and will be early favourites for next season’s Ryman League. The Blues climb to 9th and will finish higher with victory at Needham Market in the last game of the season on Saturday.

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Hundreds turn out for the first Essex Big Weekend

The first ever Essex Big Weekend went off with a bang this month!


Hundreds of people embraced the good weather on 1st and 2nd April and celebrated the county’s fantastic tourism industry, by visiting a huge range of attractions and sharing their memories on social media.

49 tourism businesses donated thousands of tickets and experiences to Essex Big Weekend, and there were over 86,000 applications for the free tickets in the online ballot. Two tickets per household were allocated by ballot to the lucky winners (some family tickets were available).

Attractions went out of their way to extend a warm welcome to ticket holders over the weekend, and lucky winners shared their pictures on Twitter and facebook for the chance to win some big prizes in the Essex Big Weekend ‘selfie’ competition.

Visit Essex Chairman Peter Murphy said: “We could not have asked for better weather – or a better welcome – for the first ever Essex Big Weekend. All the participating attractions got into the spirit of the weekend, and shared some lovely feedback from customers about the whole experience.

This event was designed to help re-ignite people’s passion for Essex by showing them just how much there is to see and do on their doorstep, and I’m pleased to say following initial feedback received, it seems to have done just that.”

Carol Jolly Visit Essex’s Marketing and PR Manager said “Our social media platforms were full of great posts and photos from the weekend, both from ticket holders and attractions. This is certainly an event that we hope will take place on an annual basis – roll on 2018!”

During the weekend, both the Chairman Peter Murphy and the Visit Essex Team, visited several participating attractions to show their support for local tourism.

The ‘selfie/photo’ competition was particularly difficult to judge, since all the photos posted were amazing. However, nine winners were chosen and have won prizes to Lifehouse Spa, Orsett Hall, Audley End Miniature Railway, Barleylands Farm, Old MacDonald’s Farm, Dedham Vale Vineyard, the Princes Theatre Clacton, and a Wilkins & Sons hamper of goodies. Essex resident Michelle Porter, one of the winners said ’Our family had such a fantastic day out at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, it was our first visit, and the staff were helpful and friendly. The whole Big Weekend was a fabulous idea, and it gave us a chance to explore a new place we wouldn’t have thought of visiting before’.

During the build-up, the @VisitEssex Twitter and facebook accounts saw over 100% increase in followers and during the weekend alone, the Visit Essex website had 20,000 page views.

Organised by Visit Essex, the Essex Big Weekend event aims to boost tourism and support leisure businesses by giving Essex residents the chance to discover – or rediscover – a huge range of attractions and activities across the county for free for one ‘big weekend’.

The Beach Huts at Promenade Park Maldon & Pirates Bay Golf, proved to be the most popular offers during the ballot, and entry to Colchester Zoo was second. Tickets to Audley End House & Gardens, Rope Runners, RHS Hyde Hall and the use of the spa facilities at the Lifehouse Hotel & Spa completed the top six and their combined applications drew in 37,500 bids.

Other tickets included entry to heritage sites, gardens, parks, museums, sports and leisure e facilities, and food and drink experiences.

Essex County Council and Visit Essex worked in partnership with destination management specialists Go To Places to deliver the first of many successful Big Weekend events in Essex.

Essex Big Weekend also formed part of the national celebrations for English Tourism Week 2017.

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Pharmacy opening times this Easter

Traffic on the roads at Easter is challenging and it can be just the same in A&E – so why not be smart and beat the queues in South West Essex this Easter Bank Holiday weekend (14 – 17 April 2017).


Patients can save time in the waiting room by visiting their pharmacist for quick, confidential advice on a range of common illnesses.

Dr Alistair Lipp, Medical Director at NHS England Midlands and East (East) said:

“Your local pharmacy can help you with more than you might think. Pharmacists offer expert, confidential advice and treatment for many minor health problems.

“As most GP surgeries will be closed on Friday and Monday, we would like to encourage patients to order any medication they need in plenty of time so they have a good supply during the bank holiday.”

Pharmacy opening hours in Essex over the bank holidays can be found on along with information on walk-in centres, urgent care centres or minor injuries units.

Patients can type in their postcode on the website to find their nearest services.

Easter Bank Holiday pharmacy opening times for Basildon, Brentwood, Billericay and Pitsea are in the table below:


Easter Bank Holiday Pharmacy Opening Times



Basildon Your Local Boots Pharmacy 25 Town Square SS14 1BA 08:30 – 17:30
Basildon Tesco Instore Pharmacy Mayflower Retail Park, Gardiners Link SS14 3HZ 08:00 – 20:00
Basildon Asda stores Ltd Heron Retail Park, Miles Grey Road SS14 3AF 09:00 – 18:00
Pitsea Your Local Boots Pharmacy 8 Northlands Pavement SS13 3DU 10:00 – 21:00
Pitsea Tesco Instore Pharmacy Off Station Lane SS13 3JU 08:00 – 21:00
Wickford Your Local Boots Pharmacy 16 Willowdale Centre SS12 0RA 08:30 – 18:00
Basildon Noak Bridge Pharmacy Limited 147 Coppice Lane, Laindon SS15 4JS 11:30 – 15:30
Basildon Your Local Boots Pharmacy 25 Town Square    
Basildon Tesco Instore Pharmacy Mayflower Retail Park, Gardiners Link    
Basildon Asda stores Ltd Heron Retail Park, Miles Grey Road    
Pitsea Your Local Boots Pharmacy 8 Northlands Pavement SS13 3DU 10:00 – 16:00
Pitsea Tesco Instore Pharmacy Off Station Lane SS13 3JU 09:00 – 18:00
Wickford Your Local Boots Pharmacy 16 Willowdale Centre SS12 0RA 10:00 – 16:00
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Lochlan Bearman kicks off the new season at Brands Hatch

15 year old Phoenix FM-sponsored driver Lochlan Bearman kicked off his 2017 race campaign at the famous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.

Lochlan Apr 2017

Running with the established Jamsport team for the first time, Bearman was consistently one of the fastest in every practice session. “The car was working very well, and I was using old tyres so I knew there was more to come”, said Bearman.

In qualifying the top 5 were covered by 0.1 second, with Bearman in 4th place. Coming into Race 1 Bearman was confident of being able to compete for the win and got a good start completing lap 1 in 4th place but in a train of the first 5 cars. However all was not well. From lap 2 I was struggling to get the car off the corners as I had too much grip. Gradually the front 3 began to pull away and Bearman eventually succumbed to 5th place and was running in 5th. I was trying to cool the front tyres and hope that I could mount a challenge in the second half of the race but 6th place was keeping the pressure. Unfortunately the 6th place driver made an optimistic move going into Clearways corners and collected Bearman spinning them both out and taking himself out on the spot. Bearman recovered and eventually finished in 9th position.

Finishing 9th meant Bearman in the No36 car would start Race 2 from 9th on the grid. The team worked hard to repair the damage and get him to the grid on time. Again Bearman made a good start making 1 position before the first corner and another at Druids corner. He then had a battle with 6th place who was defending hard and eventually made a clever pass by using the undercut to pass into Druids. Bearman then set about catching 5th position. For a few laps the gain was small but then as his car began to work better he caught the car in front. They then had a multi lap battle that had the crowd and commentator thrilled as the two drivers ran side by side through corners lap after lap. Eventually Bearman made a brave and determined move braking super late and passing down the inside at Paddock bend. Once past Bearman in the Phoenix FM car pulled away and although his pace was faster than those in front the battle for 5th had slowed them down too much to be able to mount a challenge for 4th.

Lochlan said, “To be honest I’m disappointed. I really came expecting to compete for the win and be on the podium. If we had started race 2 from 5th then I think that would have been achievable. However, we shown we can be fast so I will take the positives and now focus on the next race at Cadwell Park on the 7th of May.”

For more information visit

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7 springtime tips for people with asthma

Fresh breezes, sunny spells, April showers and springtime blossom can be a problematic time of year for people with asthma.

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Sudden changes in the weather can make asthmatic symptoms worse but NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has seven tips that
help lessen the symptoms and reduce the risk of attacks.

Dr Ken Wrixon, the CCG’s respiratory lead, is reminding people with asthma to make sure they have enough of any prescribed steroids, reliever and preventer inhalers, as well as cough and cold remedies.

Colds and flu can make their asthma symptoms worse which can increase the risk of an asthma attack.

People with asthma and those caring for them are advised to:

1) Check you have a reasonable stocks of all prescribed asthma medications. This does not mean stockpiling your prescription items but you should have a spare preventer and reliever inhalers and enough steroid medications if you take these. Avoid running out so that you are prepared in the event of an attack and to help control your symptoms longer term. And if you don’t have to use your inhalers very often don’t forget to check that they are in date.

2) Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with over the counter medication. Cough and cold remedies should always be at hand as colds and flu can have a severe impact on asthmatics. Be sure to avoid any medications that might not be suitable for people with the condition. Ask your local pharmacist for advice

3) Keep warm. The weather might be brighter and warmer than previous months, but it can still be chilly so make sure you wrap up when outside. A snood, gaiter or a cosy scarf is still a must-have accessory in springtime.

4) Exercise indoors if it’s particularly cold or if pollen levels are high. Regular exercise keeps us all healthy and can reduce asthma symptoms, but it’s best to avoid exercising outdoors in very cold weather and when pollen levels are high, especially if these are triggers for your asthma.

5) Check your filters. Heating systems and car air filters help keep the air you breathe cleaner and reduce dust in the atmosphere. These should be changed regularly to avoid them becoming clogged and ineffective.

6) Keep dust at bay. Regular cleaning and dusting at home will keep dust levels low and avoid the particles entering your lungs and causing inflammation which can lead to asthma attacks. Bed sheets and duvet covers are also prone to dust and mites, so it’s a good idea to wash these in a hot wash once a week. You might need someone to help you with cleaning, if dust is a trigger for your asthma.

7) Have an asthma action plan/review your plan. You can download asthma action plans for adults and children at and fill these in with your GP or asthma nurse. An action plan will help you to monitor and stay on top of your symptoms and know when to seek help for your condition. You should review your plan with your GP or asthma nurse at least once a year.

Dr Wrixon, from the Deal Tree Surgery in Doddinghurst, said: “Although the worst of the cold weather is hopefully behind us, springtime can be particularly problematic for asthmatics as changes in the weather and a sudden increase of pollen in the air can make life difficult. It’s important to try to manage your symptoms as much as possible to avoid an asthma attack and taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor is important in aiding people with asthma to do this.”

For more advice see the NHS Choices website.

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The West Ham Way – show 36

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

Matthew Etherington at Phoenix FM

On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex chat to former Hammer Matthew Etherington.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Main Objective to Make Presence Felt in Division 1


Local media descended on The Cloudfm County Ground today as Essex CCC launched their County season, ahead of Friday’s opening game against Lancashire.

The team were promoted to Division 1 last season and face a tough challenge to stay up, but Head Coach Chris Silverwood is simply looking to make the team’s presence felt.


Club Captain Ryan ten Doeschate wouldn’t be drawn on survival either, and equally remained coy on who would take the wicketkeeper’s gloves.


England’s Alastair Cook is available for the beginning of the County Summer, but unfortunately will be missing Friday’s fixture through injury.


There are also a number of new faces around the team this season, including New Zealand seamer Neil Wagner, who could face his former County on Friday.


Essex kick off the season in County Championship action on Friday, as they play host to Lancashire at Chelmsford.  Play starts at 11am on all 4 days.



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My Feral Heart

Steven Brandon, the star of “My Feral Heart”, has just won the Best Actor category at the National Film Awards. No mean feat as had some formidable competition- Michael Fassbender, Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne, to name but three. Recently, the director of the film, Jane Gull, chatted to Phoenix FM presenter Keith Rogers.

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Phoenix FM 10th birthday: Lydia Lucy

Lydia Lucy at Phoenix FM 25 03 2017

It was great to welcome “old” friend Lydia Lucy to our 10th birthday celebrations! Lydia came down to the Holiday Inn to chat to presenter Alan Johnson and sing a play a few songs live, including new single, the self-penned Instagram.

If you missed it you can see and hear it all again below:

Lydia has been incredibly busy since her appearance on The Voice last year, where she made the final. She talked to Alan about how the last year has gone and what to expect in the future – including a new album.

You can keep up to date with Lydia’s latest news by following her official Facebook page.

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Phoenix FM 10th birthday: Jordan Gray

Jordan Gray came down to the Holiday Inn to chat to presenters Bob Simpson and Keith Rogers and play a few songs live, including new single Platinum.

There was also some news about a rather significant change of direction in her career … but to find out, you’ll have to watch it all again.

Jordan’s been a great supporter of the station over the last few years and it was great to get her down once again. You can find out more of her latest news on her official website.

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WE ARE 10!

Phoenix FM is 10 years old! Although we started been broadcasting short term/temporary licences since 1996, we were officially licenced by Ofcom in March 2007. We turned on our Brentwood transmitter and it hasn’t gone off since!

To celebrate we held our first ever outside broadcast from the Holiday Inn in London Road, Brentwood, with special guests popping in throughout the day.

Highlights included:

And here’s some photos:

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Mike Porter kicks off the first “outside broadcast” show at 10am

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Tony Smith and Mike Jones drop in with Mike

2017-03-25 005 Mike Porter, Nigel Fitzmaurice and Antonia Jones

Antonia Jones chats on air with Mike having just finished the breakfast show at our Brentwood Centre studios. Nigel Fitzmaurice is here too

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Lydia Lucy sang live in our new studio …

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… and posed for a group photo with some of the assembled Phoenix FM presenters and listeners

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Alan Johnson chats live on air with Brian Kinnear from Hollands Wine Bar

2017-03-25 013 Alan with Steve Robertson and Aaron Heanue

Alan Johnson chats to Between The Lines presenters Steve Robertson and Aaron Heanue

2017-03-25 016 Katy Forkings and Steve Robertson

Steve Robertson with 16 year old Katy Forkings from Chelmsford who also played live in the studio today

2017-03-25 017 Laura Try with Chris Hood

Endurance rower Laura Try met up with Chris Hood to chat on air about her amazing rowing marathon

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Billericay Town Fans’ Forum – new signings, new badge

Phoenix FM are at tonight’s Billericay Town fans forum.


There’s a bumper turnout tonight for the second forum since Glenn Tamplin took over the club at the end of last year, with over 200 fans in attendance.

New signings

Owner Glenn Tamplin confirmed the signing of Jamie O’Hara and Jake Robinson, the latter from Hemel Hempstead where he has socred 27 goals this season.

Jamie came out briefly to greet the fans to a big cheer!

GT announced to another big cheer that as a result of this, Billericay Town were trending in the top 5 on Twitter today!

Ground improvements

The club has submitted plans to the council for a full size astroturf pitch and gym/bar area behind the main ground, which will have seating on all sides.

Billericay Town’s wages are up to £20K per week and the club is aiming to have 1,500+ people per week to sustain this.

One of the stands would accommodate disabled supporters and GT said it may be named after Harry Parker, a young disabled fan who the club has been supporting.

GT promised that the club would not be “another Micky Woodward”.


The official website has been redesigned by the club’s unofficial website designer James who talked through the new features, and fielded a lot of questions from fans about possible new features for the site.

New club badge

GT introduced the three new potential badge designs and asked for a show of hands from the fans to see which one would be adopted as the new club badge.

After a show of hands badge #2 was chosen as the winner. And here it is:

Billericay Town badge

The Ladies and Colts team will also adopt this badge, rather than have their own one.

Dulwich Hamlet match

GT feels ays that this Saturday’s match at Dulwich Hamlet will decide the club’s fate for this season. He says they will have 3,000 fans there and he wants as many fans as possible to get behind the team.


The club is looking for volunteers to help with stewarding, marketing, looking after the pitch. If anyone wants to help the club and its community GT says it will be very greatly appreciated.

Questions from fans

1. Is the club comfortable that they have the right team going forward?

GT: the team winning the Conference South is on £8K a week and Billericay Town FC, as stated earlier, is on £20K. If the current team can’t win the National League South then there is something wrong. The club may need 2 or 3 more players to strengthen.

2. Will the club need to move with the proposed development of the ground?

GT: I want to get this done in the close season, to blitz it. Basildon Borough Council have said approval won’t be given until 8-10 weeks at the earliest, so I hope we can get the astroturf development done in the summer and then deal with the ground after that.

The new stands will probably go up at the end of next season.

The club has 7 years left on its lease and is aiming to get another 30 years added to this.

3. How much parking will there be?

GT: The new plans are allowing for 150 cars.

4. There has been a lot of rumours about Mark Wright getting involved.

GT: We are teetering on the edge about Billericay Town being a PR stunt. Mark Wright wants 20% of the club, but doesn’t want to inject any cash – he will bring enhanced media attention instead.

I will bring Mark in if he brings something tangible to the club.

5. What will happen about the floodlights?

GT: We have bought floodlights from Arsenal’s training ground at Hale End and we have taken on West Ham’s groundsman. They will arrive tomorrow and be fitted next week.

The substation will be upgraded.

6. Have you considered making the main pitch 4G?

GT: As a businessman I would like to get both pitches 3G as they can be hired out all year round, but I love football so I am going to keep the main pitch grass. (This got a loud round of applause).

GT then wrapped up the meeting with a free bar for the next hour!

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Jamie O’Hara signs for Billericay Town

Jamie O’Hara has signed a deal with Ryman League Premier side Billericay Town.

jamie ohara

Credit: Nicky Hayes Photos/Billericay Town FC

30-year-old Jamie, who played in the Premier League for Tottenham and was a £5million signing for Wolves, has followed Paul Konchesky in joining the blues.

Owner/manager Glenn Tamplin is continuing to steal the headlines in his attempt to bring the team to the Football League.

jamie ohara 2

Credit: Nicky Hayes Photos/Billericay Town FC

Jamie explained to TalkSport that he was persuaded by Tamplin’s friend Mark Wright, who is reported to be investing in the club.

The news was officially announced at the club’s Fans Forums which took place at the ground at Blunts Wall Road.

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Midway Still – this is how it ends?

Described by the NME – a real, influential part of the UK music press at that time – as “Britain’s answer to Nirvana”, Midway Still burst onto the music scene in the early 1990s, recording a Peel session on Radio 1 soon after they formed. They even had Radiohead as a support band!


The band released two albums at that time – Dial Square and Life’s Too Long but then split around 1994. After a long hiatus they got back together in 2010 and recorded three more studio albums – Note To Self, Always Ends and Go Team No Help.

They also recorded one of my favourite Phoenix FM sessions in 2012 when they took part in our annual Creative Sessions at the Brentwood Centre. At 10.50 in the morning!!

The band recently announced they had played their final UK gig at the end of 2016, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with the Sensless Things at their Hull warm up on Sunday. That struck a chord with me as I’d seen the two bands play together in 1991. I still have the T shirt!

Paul and Russell spoke to me about the gig and their thoughts on the band’s future. You can hear it again here:


(BTW, if you didn’t know, “This Is How It Ends” is one of their songs. Go to your record shop and buy it).

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Local groups commit to Brentwood Fairtrade

Brentwood Fairtrade organisers were at Woody’s in Shenfield today for their annual review of their group’s activities and to certify organisations who adhere to the group’s aims.

Fairtrade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainable farming.

Members of the movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards.

Phoenix FM, represented by Steven Roach, was among the local organisations certified Fairtrade this year.

Also present were Brentwood Fairtrade organisers Caryl Kwei, Marjorie Tulloch and Emma Kindell; Lisa Wickington from Woody’s; and Carolyne Williams and Evie Green from Holly Trees Primary School.

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ACT F.A.S.T if you spot the symptoms of a stroke

People in Basildon and Brentwood are being reminded to call 999 immediately if they notice any single one of the symptoms of a stroke in themselves or others.

Stroke A4 Act FAST landscape

Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the Act F.A.S.T. campaign which highlights the common symptoms of stroke and mini strokes.

A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.

Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.

But research for Public Health England shows that one in four people would wait to call an ambulance because they wrongly believe that they need to see two or more symptoms of stroke before making the call. Other barriers to dialling 999 include feeling that they need permission to act on behalf of others.
The ACT F.A.S.T. campaign urges people not to delay making that life or death call.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word F.A.S.T.

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs

Additional symptoms of stroke and mini stroke can include:

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms

The latest available information (31 March 2016) shows that in Basildon and Brentwood there were 4,919 people on GP registers having had a stroke or TIA. The figures represent 1.8 per cent of people on local GP registers which is slightly above the national rate of 1.7 per cent.

Dr Subrata Basu, the clinical involvement lead for stroke at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and the faster someone gets emergency treatment, the more chance that person has of surviving and avoiding serious disability.

Graham and Maureen Goddard 01

“We are reminding people not to delay an emergency call – even if only one symptom is being shown – a fallen or sloped Face, unable to lift Arms above their head, slurred Speech then it’s Time to call 999. Act F.A.S.T. is a simple phrase to remember and act upon.”

While many people think that strokes only happen to older people, they but can strike anyone at any time. You can find out the factors that can increase your risk here.

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The Night Siren – sterling performance from one of rock’s grandmasters

Click here to listen to the interview again:

Steve Hackett is renowned as an immensely talented and innovative rock musician. He was lead guitarist with Genesis as part of their classic line up with Gabriel, Collins, Banks and Rutherford, who produced several of the band’s most acclaimed albums including ‘Selling England by the Pound’ (a favourite of John Lennon) and ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’.

Since leaving Genesis he has worked on dozens of compositions, involving influences from many genres, including Jazz, World Music and Blues, and the hard-working musician is about to release his 25th solo album, The Night Siren.

Steve’s music has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years with his last release, 2015’s Wolflight, reaching no 31 in the UK album charts. A live recording of his Genesis Revisted tour in 2012 fared better, reaching no 24. They were his highest-charting solo albums since 1983, when he releasd three top 20 albums in three years.

Steve spoke to Phoenix FM’s Paul Golder about the release which continues Wolflight’s theme of exploring world music. The presence of instruments such as the tar and uilleann pipes certainly gives it that feel, but it is still very much a rock album – tracks such as the Martian Sea cast a nod to the Beatles’ psychedelic phase, while other songs such as lead track In The Skeleton Gallery have Hackett’s trademark grandiose guitars and towering production.

The album’s launch party took place last night in Islington’s beautiful Screen On The Green cinema.

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The Night Siren is released on 24 March on InsideOut Music.

Steve will be playing the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend on 10 May – tickets and more information can be found at his official website.

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The Essex Big Weekend – 1/2 April

Carol Jolly from Visit Essex joined us in the studio today to talk about an exciting giveaway for THE ESSEX BIG WEEKEND on the 1st and 2nd April and don’t forget if you are a winner of tickets there will also be a SELFIE COMPETITION to enter. GOOD LUCK!


Calling all Essex residents! We’re all guilty of overlooking what’s on our own doorsteps, but for one weekend in April, we want to give you the opportunity to enjoy all that our county has to offer. There are thousands of free tickets up for grabs for popular attractions and hidden gems.

The ballot closes on Friday 17th March, so all you need to do is browse through the many offers we have available and apply for tickets for wherever you fancy! You’ll hear from us around the 20th March if you’ve been successful. Happy hunting!

Closes 17th March so get onto the website and apply for your free tickets.


Excitement is building for Visit Essex’s first EVER Essex Big Weekend! Residents will be able to visit some of our county’s finest tourist attractions for FREE!

Attractions across the county have donated FREE tickets for residents to use on 1st and 2nd April 2017. Residents can bid for available tickets to as many attractions as they wish from 16th February – 17th March. Two tickets per household (per attraction) will be allocated by ballot to the lucky winners (some family tickets will also be available).

The fun-filled weekend will include tickets for tours, family days out and adrenaline-fuelled experiences.

Organised by Visit Essex, the Essex Big Weekend is designed to encourage residents to rediscover the amazing things to see and do in our county – and to then spread the word about them.


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Funding issues gripping local schools

Shenfield High School headteacher Carole Herman visited Phoenix FM to talk about her concerns about the recent budget and the impact it will have on local schools.

Carole Herman

Mrs Herman has written to Brentwood and Ongar MP Sir Eric Pickles, sent on behalf of all secondary Headteachers across Essex and three other counties.

The headteachers are very concerned that despite a detailed and factual campaign, they feel that schools are no closer to a solution to the crisis level in school funding.

You can hear Mrs Herman explaining the problem to Keith Rogers:


You can read the letter below:

9th March 2017

Sir Eric Pickles
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Dear Sir Eric

Adequate and sustainable school funding

Along with school leaders from every special, primary and secondary school in West Sussex, East Sussex, Essex and Cornwall, I’m contacting you again about the significant school funding issues that are gripping our schools.

In spite of a detailed and factual campaign – over a sustained period of time – we are no closer to being provided with any meaningful proposals or solutions to our current and future school funding crisis.

We acknowledge too that you have completed considerable “work behind the scenes” on our behalf. The undisputed facts, however, remain and are as follows:

  • Schools in your constituencies are making far reaching cuts to services that are already stretched to breaking point. These include reducing staffing levels, increasing class sizes and making profound reductions to children’s pastoral and mental health services.
  • The lowest funded schools are not receiving any emergency funding for the financial year 2017/18.
  • The new funding formula is not new at all – it is based entirely upon the current discredited funding arrangements that we already endure.
  • The new funding formula only allows any school to increase its budget by 5.5%, at the same time unfunded cost pressures are rising by 8-10%.

It should also be noted that most schools in England will not benefit from a new funding formula arrangement. The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested that, in real terms, per pupil funding will decrease by 6.5% by 2019.

Decisions being made by Headteachers are no longer being driven solely by what is best for students and their families. The key feature of our strategic work is frequently underscored by a sense of “damage limitation”. To make matters worse, we are also confronted by a chronic shortage of teachers in virtually every subject area.

As responsible professionals we all recognise that we are in challenging financial times and that schools must live within reasonable means. Difficult financial circumstances should not, however, be used as an excuse to short change our most important stakeholders – the children in our schools.

It is also vitally important to be transparent with parents and families and make it clear just how bad matters are.

It is entirely irresponsible, therefore, for the Department for Education (DfE) to suggest that schools in your constituencies can find further “efficiencies” when they have been low funded for such a long time. It is also misleading for the DfE to continue to state that more is being spent on education when in fact real terms cuts are occurring. Equally, it is a matter of vital public interest to highlight the fact that many spending priorities made by the DfE do not stand up to reasonable scrutiny. We refer to the following examples:

  • The loss of £384 million that was originally earmarked for a now aborted mass academisation programme.
  • £150 million earmarked for the expansion of grammar schools over the next 3 years
  • Huge investment in Free Schools where there is no “basic need” and no consistent evidence as to their impact and value for money

Here, we point you directly to the acquisition of land and school sites that the DfE pursues at exorbitant cost – 4 recent land purchases cost £120m – and the independent National Audit Office which states that ‘the primary factor in decision-making has been opening (Free) schools at pace, rather than maximizing value for money.’ (NAO February 27 – 2017)

On a daily basis school leaders have to explain and justify the decisions that we make. And quite right too. We also have to respond to legitimate questions when they are raised by students or their families.

Recently, school leaders in West Sussex posed some important questions. They asked their local MPs why schools have not been provided with emergency funding? What services should we cut? And whether they support the introduction of new grammar schools and Free schools where there is no basic need when we face chronic funding shortages? They are yet to receive an adequate response. We would ask you to respond to the same questions.

It is now important to understand that school leaders from Penzance to Bognor Regis to Eastbourne and on to Colchester are joining together and are united by a common purpose; we all want adequate funding for every school in the counties of Cornwall, East Sussex, Essex and West Sussex. We are certain that this view is echoed right across the country.

We have no issue with a new formula that provides additional support for schools with the highest level of need or that face circumstances such as sparsity or high living costs. All schools must, however, be given enough money to fund adequate levels of staffing, care and essential equipment.
Against this background school leaders need their local representatives to stand alongside them and make it clear to Government that current school funding proposals are unacceptable.

We urge you, therefore, to:

  • Ensure that you only vote in support of a new National Funding Formula that ensures minimum adequate funding for every school.
  • Confirm that a new National Funding Formula must not be considered in isolation from unfunded cost burdens such as increased pension costs, national insurance, inflation and reasonable wage costs.
  • Ensure that any spending initiatives by the DfE are both credible and provide best value for money.

We are, of course, raising the same issues directly with the DfE. We have no doubt, however, that public and joint pressure to ensure the very best for children and their families provides the most effective chance of success in reversing a direction of travel that if left unchecked, will undermine all that is important to our educational provision.

A joint and unequivocal statement from MPs and school leaders would be most desirable. Our children’s and our country’s future depends upon it.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely
Carole Herman

and on behalf of all schools – West Sussex, East Sussex, Essex and Cornwall

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The West Ham Way – show 32

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

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On this week’s show Kev and Ex are joined by ex-Hammer (and current Billericay Town player) Paul Konchesky, who chats about his time at the club.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Worst Wedding Ever – Elisabeth Hopper

The writer Chris Chibnall is best known for Broadchurch, the gripping TV series that stars David Tennant and Olivia Coleman.

Now Chris Chibnall’s laugh out loud comedy, WORST WEDDING EVER in which everything that could go wrong does go wrong, comes to The Queens Theatre on Wednesday next week.

Today I spoke to cast member Elisabeth Hopper who plays Rachel, the bride,  to find out more about this laugh out loud comedy.

Elisabeth Hopper

Elisabeth Hopper

You can listen to our chat here –


Worst Wedding Ever runs from 15th March to 1st April and you can get tickets from the Queens Theatre Box Office on 01708 443333 or online at

We should say that the performance does include some strong language and is recommended for ages 12 and above.

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Former England International joins the Blues

Click here to listen to Paul Konchesky and Glenn Tamplin:

Former West Ham, Liverpool and England defender Paul Konchesky has signed for Billericay Town.

Paul Konchesky

35-year-old Konchesky, who has two England caps, has roots in the area, playing for Great Danes in Brentwood as a junior. He has signed a year contract with an option for a second team.

Konchesky went on to play 621 games for a variety of league clubs, including the 2006 FA Cup final and the 2010 Europa League final with Fulham.

He told us why he’d decided to drop down four divisions and what his hopes and expectations are for the future.

Billericay Town FC Glenn Tamplin also spoke to us about Paul’s arrival, and the departure of Billericay Town manager Craig Edwards, which was also announced this evening.

You can hear the interview at the audio link at the top of this page.

Billericay’s next game is away to Harlow on Saturday; they are currently 10th in the Ryman League Premier, nine points from a play off place.

Paul Konchesky will be in the Phoenix FM studio for the next edition of the West Ham Way, on Wednesday 8 March at 7pm.

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The 1975, Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes to headline Latitude

Courtney Barnett at Latitude 2016 (Pic Paul Golder)

Latitude Festival has announced the line up for their twelfth edition, which takes place on Thursday 13th – Sunday 16th July 2017 in the stunning grounds of Henham Park, Suffolk. Tickets are available here.

Fresh from their Best British Group win at the BRIT Awards and two sold-out nights at the O2 Arena, The 1975 will headline Friday night at Latitude, bringing with them a remarkable stage set up and a fiercely dedicated fan base. Following last year’s critically acclaimed No.1 album I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, the Manchester outfit have gone from strength to strength over the last four years, going on to sell out arenas across the world since first performing on The Lake Stage back in 2013.

Mumford & Sons will take to the Obelisk Arena as Saturday night headliners in a UK Festival Exclusive. The Grammy Award winners will be bringing their Gentlemen of the Road Stopover to Henham Park, presenting their personally curated Saturday line up of some of today’s biggest new bands, before bringing the night to a close with an unmissable headline performance.

Mumford & Sons said:

“This collaboration with Latitude is one of the most exciting things we’re doing this year. Ever since we started working on Gentlemen Of The Road Stopovers we’ve really enjoyed curating line ups and sharing not only our own music but also sharing music of artists who we love and are listening to regularly. It’s almost like creating a mix tape with a best friend, but instead it’s a whole day of music, across multiple stages, with 40,000 people!”

Fleet Foxes make their Latitude debut this July in a UK Festival Exclusive, as they headline The Obelisk Arena on Sunday. Returning from a hiatus and armed with a platinum debut album, their first British performance in five years will no doubt make for a memorable end to the weekend.

Fleet Foxes said:

“After being holed up in the studio for a year, there’s nothing we’re more excited about than performing new songs and revisiting our catalog at Latitude!”

Melvin Benn, founder and creator of Latitude Festival commented:

“Following the incredible success of our eleventh edition last year, we had set the bar high for this year’s festival. The 1975 have more than proven themselves over the past year and I’m thrilled to give them a well-deserved headline slot. Mumford & Sons have chosen Latitude as the only stop in the UK for their Gentlemen of the Road Takeover, and Fleet Foxes’ will headline their only UK appearance at a festival this year. Latitude 2017 is already simply unmissable.”

Lucy Woods, music talent booker for the Latitude Festival music stages said:

“We have phenomenal headliners, but in addition to this there are hundreds of acts to stumble upon at Latitude Festival, with the Lake Stage and much more still to be announced. The festival’s legacy of championing undiscovered music is stronger than ever, and in what’s been my first year, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come.”

The Obelisk Arena will also see performances by some of today’s most exciting and respected artists. Making their Latitude debut after almost 20 years together, Goldfrapp will set the arena ablaze in a long awaited performance, with the addition of returning festival favourites The Horrors in aUK Festival Exclusive, and captivating singer-songwriter Lucy Rose. Fresh after a huge 2016 and the release of their second album How To Be A Human Being, Glass Animals will also bring their energetic live show to Latitude, alongside returning indie rockers Grandaddy off the back of their first album in ten years, Senegal’s mesmerising Baaba Maal, and the critically adored Tinariwen and The Very Best.

Velvet Underground founder John Cale will perform from over five decade’s worth of solo material in The Obelisk Arena, along with orchestral pop band The Divine Comedy and gospel legend Mavis Staples. Joining fellow label mates The 1975, The Japanese House brings her atmospheric synth-pop to Latitude, along with country singing duo Ward Thomas and enigmatic Belgian rapper Baloji.

The BBC Music Stage will welcome alt-rock pioneers Placebo for their Latitude debut and UK Festival Exclusive performance, bringing with them an extensive back catalogue including favourites ‘Infra-Red’, ‘Every You Every Me’ and ‘Pure Morning’. The iconic RIDE will deliver their seminal shoegaze, while the legendary Fatboy Slim will bring his barrage of hits to Henham Park. Also joining the line up is innovative rising rapper Loyle Carner, backed with the recent release of his touching debut album, Yesterday’s Gone, alongside the incomparable SOHN, Irish national treasureLisa Hannigan in support of her recent At Swim album, and BBC Sound Of 2016 winner Jack Garratt.

The BBC Music Stage will also see performances from London electronic duo Mount Kimbie, hotly-tipped pop powerhouse Maggie Rogers,prodigious multi-instrumental two-piece The Lemon Twigs, and the return of young indie rebel Declan McKenna. The Radio Dept. make their Latitude debut alongside indie-pop duo Sylvan Esso, and Antipodean songwriter Julia Jacklin.

Festival favourites Ibibio Sound Machine, model turned folk singer Karen Elson, dance pop prospects Formation, BBC Sound Of 2017 nominee Tom Grennan, and Icelandic garage-rockers Kaleo will take to the BBC Music Stage. Appearances will also come from ascendant French duo HER, the first signing on Ben Howard’s label A Blaze of Feather, and US folk favourites The Head and the Heart.

Latitude Festival welcomes Kurupt FM as headliners of the Music & Film Arena. The stars of BBC smash-hit People Just Do Nothing will take over the arena, dropping nothing but first-rate garage, grime, reggae & DnB.

Latitude Festival also welcomes Will Young to headline the Music & Film Arena. The critically acclaimed singer will join Latitude with his band for a rare performance of Summer Jazz Sessions. Irish musician Imelda May will also headline the stage, performing songs from her forthcoming albumLife Love Flesh Blood. Performances will also come from iconic dub poet, writer, social commentator and musician Benjamin Zephaniah and The Revolutionary Minds, a re-imagination of Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas by Festival Voices and a Swing Jazz Takeover by White Mink wherethey will transport the audience back to the early twentieth century through a collection of DJs and burlesque performers.

The Sunrise Arena returns with an eclectic line up that boasts some of the most exciting, genre-defying musicians of the moment. Atmospheric krautrock trio Beak> will give a headline performance, as will one of the hottest names in UK hip-hop right now, Dave. American troubadour Kevin Morby, psych revivalists Temples, the highly-praised power trio Sunflower Bean, hyped London quartet Palace and the exuberant duo Honeybloodwill all take to the Sunrise Arena. Joining them are Chicago slacker sweethearts Twin Peaks, Scandinavian starlet Sigrid, the much-loved Liverpudlian trio All We Are, the ever-evolving might of Esben and the Witch, genre-straddling experimental trio Yorkston/Thorne/Khan, and classical pianist Lubomyr Melnyk. Hidden away in the woods, grunge-rock singer Margaret Glaspy, electronic producer Max Cooper, raucous London outfit Goat Girl, contemporary soul singer Kadhja Bonet, mysterious producer Seramic and ascendant Irish singer Áine Cahill will also take to the stage,followed by Joe Goddard who will DJ late into the night.

Latitude Festival’s most intimate and adored arena, DIY presents the Alcove Stage will also return in 2017. Performances will come from hugely hyped 4AD sensation Pixx, the much-loved hushed and hymnal Benjamin Francis Leftwich, fellow Dirty Hit signees King Nun, rising pop sensationYoungr, German electronic duo Lea Porcelain, British singer-songwriter Joe Fox and driving four piece Mosa Wild who have made a remarkable impact since emerging in late 2016.

Jorja Smith is the first of many handpicked for the Gentlemen Of The Road Stopover on Saturday. At just 19-years of age, she has already received praise around the country including being named fourth in this year’s BBC Sound Of poll, and will perform on the Lake Stage this summer.

Celebrating the biggest names in dance and performance; the UK’s finest multi-arts festival returns for its twelfth edition, today announcing The Waterfront Stage line up, amongst others, which promises an unrivalled breadth, depth and quality of programming.

Tania Harrison, Latitude’s Arts Curator says:

“Latitude celebrates the very best artists, both emergent and established, across myriad art forms, and this ethos is embodied in the fullness and diversity of the Dance bill for this summer. We’re incredibly proud to offer audiences not only the chance to see the very best ballet, hip-hop and contemporary dance from around the globe, but also the opportunity to learn from these companies through practice, with BalletBoyz, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, and Far From The Norm each offering the Latitude audience the chance to take part in a workshop or class on our iconic Waterfront Stage.”

BalletBoyz will be bringing their new work Life. to the Waterfront Stage, featuring two new commissions by internationally acclaimed choreographers Pontus Lidberg and Javier de Frutos. Life. takes an elegant, powerful and sometimes provocative look at life and death, presented in BalletBoyz’ inimitable style and performed by its all-male company of ten incredible dancers.

Sadler’s Wells, the UK’s leading dance house returns to the Waterfront Stage for the tenth year to present a diverse programme including Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, which celebrates thirty years of innovative dance this year, to the Latitude audience. An extract from Town and Country;Country is a heartfelt pastiche led by the evocative music of Edward Elgar, Noël Coward and Percy Grainger, amongst others. Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures will also lead a workshop on the Waterfront Stage, open to the Latitude audience.

Following the Grammy Award nominated success of INALA, a Zulu ballet performed with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sadler’s Wells present Sisters Grimm’s Voices of the Amazon on the Waterfront Stage this summer, telling the majestic tale of a water spirit from the Amazon River through enchanting contemporary ballet and capoeira, accompanied by live music by Brazilian songwriters and world-renowned percussionists, Olodum.

Sadler’s Wells will present the BBC Young Dancer 2017 Finalists, a showcase providing the Latitude audience with a taste of the best of young British dance talent from the competition’s finalists; showcasing the energy and electricity of a street dance solo, the versatility of contemporary dance, the classical precision and artistry of ballet, and the grace and fine detail of a South Asian dance.

The Get-Down, featuring Boy Blue Entertainment, is a specially curated event which will showcase the very best movers and shakers in the world of hip-hop theatre complete with performances and demonstrations set to a live DJ soundtrack. The Get-Down features Boy Blue Entertainment,whose compelling contemporary dance strives to reflect the world in flux.

Completing the Sadler’s Wells line-up are National Youth Dance Company, with their latest production Tarantiseismic, created by 2016–2017 Guest Artistic Director Damien Jalet. A Sadler’s Wells’ commission presented by a company of 40 dancers; the piece addresses themes such as melancholia, ritual, control and abandon. Jalet’s revered choreographic style combined with the dancers’ energy and talent is set to produce a mesmerising experience that shifts the consciousness of the audience.

Acclaimed hip-hop choreographer and dancer Botis Seva will return to the festival with his company Far From the Norm and their new work Da Native. The piece will explore the timely topic of cultural displacement through a high-energy combination of physical theatre, contemporary dance and hip-hop. The Latitude audience will also have the chance to experience a Far From The Norm workshop.

Award-winning comedian and the presenter of BBC Proms Proms Unplucked podcast, Vikki Stone will present a premiere of her orchestral work,The Concerto for Comedian & Orchestra on The Waterfront Stage. An orchestral piece where the soloist is a comedian, The Concerto for Comedian & Orchestra is the first of its kind, blending Vikki’s unique comedic songs with her love of classical music.

Opera North are committed to challenging conventional perceptions of opera. At Latitude 2017, they will transform Latitude’s woodlands into a magical immersive soundscape as Opera North Projects bring Underworld to The Faraway Forest; a Greek mythology experience formed through words, music and light. Find a path through the Forest and listen out for Orpheus: His voice is in the trees and under the ground; it’s coming.

A brand new yoga experience suitable for yogis of any ability; Disco Yoga will encourage Latitude to ‘Glitter Up’ before a session of flow yoga set to a disco soundtrack in the Cabaret Arena.

Latitude will also welcome a host of DJs to Henham Park for late-night party performances. In the Comedy Arena, the world’s best travelling dance party Hot Dub Time Machine will be coming to Latitude for the first time. After sell-out performances at festivals, theatres and on rooftops across the globe, lead DJ Tom Loud will take audiences from 1954 to the present day with the best pop hits. The ultimate pop safe space, Guilty Pleasureswill return to the festival armed with the most unashamedly and unapologetic chart hits whilst Buttoned Down Disco will also return to Henham Park with their eclectic mix of pop, indie, quirky covers and house. Late night Latitude Festival favourites Disco Shed will return to Pandora’s Playground with their 8 x 6 ft garden shed, keeping the party going every night with the best soul, funk, house and techno.


Adult Weekend tickets £197.50 face value + £8 booking fee per ticket

Accompanied Teen Weekend tickets (13-15 years) £132.50 + £8 booking fee per ticket

Child Weekend tickets – £8

Adult Day tickets £77.50 + £7 booking fee per ticket

Child Day Tickets – £10

Adult Weekend Instalment tickets:

If you purchase your Adult Weekend Ticket  instalment plan between 9am on 1st March and midnight 31st March 2017 your first payment will be of £73 + £8 booking fee on purchase. The second payment of £65 will be on 2nd May and the final payment of £67.50 + £6.50 postage payment will be on 2nd June.

Disabled access requirements and PA/carer ticket applications will open on March 31st. Please refer to the website or contact the access team on for more information and guidance.

M ore ticket information / Tickets available at

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Statue stolen from Lake Meadows

The statue of The Child in the Park has been stolen from Lake Meadows.


The statue and its garden were created for the pleasure and enjoyment of all the children of Billericay – past, present and future. It is hugely sad that someone has taken that from the community.

The police have been contacted, but if you have information please email

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Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival 2017


Brentwood Children’s Literary Festival is back for a second year!

Organisers Natasha and Jim Radford, who run the Chicken and Frog bookshop in Ongar Road, have put together a full programme of events to delight children of all ages.

2017-02-09 11.40.42

Natasha came in to Phoenix FM to chat to Michelle about this year’s event, which you can hear again below:

Phoenix FM is delighted to be on board as a partner of this highly worthwhile event.

The festival is for children (and their grown ups) from pre-schoolers to teens. The festival will take place from 22-29 July 2017.

You can visit their website at

Here’s the full schedule for this year’s festival. Events are subject to change.

Knights Way Centre
Age 6+
Entry fee £3

Are you a newshound? Do you dream of being a world class reporter? Join a member of the First News team for a fascinating talk about all the different aspects of creating a news paper and how to write a great article. There’ll be plenty of time to ask questions too.
First News is the UK’s only newspaper for young people and the widest-read children’s publication in the country with a readership of 1,047,543 seven to 14 year olds every week.

Knights Way Centre
Age 8+ (Guidance only)

One day Ruth was sitting, minding her own business when a girl popped into her head and started talking. She was fed up with her parents for being a bit useless and fed up with her friends for being, well, a bit rubbish at being friends. The more she told Ruth, the funnier it got, so she started to write down what it was like to be Emily Sparkes.

Ruth will share snippets from her Emily Sparkes books with you, answer your questions and sign books.

Ruth’s books will be available to purchase on the day.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 10+ (Guidance only)
Entry fee £3

Join award-winning A Boy Called Hope author Lara Williamson as talks about her latest novel for children, Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy.

Delve into Lara’s childhood diaries and stories and see how everything she wished for when she was small, although it may not have come true in real life, has since come true in her books, through her characters.

Get stuck in and play the ‘wish game’ – catch the ball and tell Lara your wish, be it big, small or totally crazy and find out how your wish could become a story!

Lara’s books will be available to purchase on the day.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 8+ (Guidance only)

A must for all Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans and great family entertainment. Host Alastair Watson brings the books to life with fun activities including The Wimpy Kid Draw-Along and The Wimp Wars! Quiz. The event also includes exclusive clips of author Jeff Kinney talking about the books, his involvement in the films and showing how he draws the characters.

All those who purchase a book on the day will be eligible for it to be stamped with an exclusive Wimpy Kid Show stamp.

Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 9+ (Guidance only)

Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her? With her friends – Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox – Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart…

CogHeart is a fantastical Middle Grade adventure story featuring two friends, murder and mayhem, airships and automata, an over-opinionated mechanical fox and a smattering of steampunk!

Peter’s books will be available to purchase on the day. Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 5+ (Guidance only)

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

This highly interactive show contains twits being vile to each other. Be prepared for silly behaviour and beard making…

“The Twits” is presented with the kind permission of Casarotto Ramsay and the Roald Dahl Estate.

A selection of Roald Dahl titles will be available to purchase. Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 8+ (Guidance only)

Sara is back this year, with an exciting mystery for you to solve, featuring Chase & Mackenzie from Chasing Danger and Mystery at the Ice Hotel. A few actor volunteers from the audience will help to dramatise a short play that Sara has written; the scene concludes with a crime to solve.

Get you detective heads on for this exciting event!

Sara’s books will be available to purchase on the day. Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 4+ (Guidance only)
Entry fee £3

From the award-winning Philip Ardagh, and rising illustration talent Elissa Elwick, comes Meet the Little Adventurers – Finnegan, Sprat, Floss and Peanut. Each week they meet in their top-secret shed HQ, ready to share their fun with you! Sprat has a pet: Leafy! But can you really have a leaf as a pet? Find out…

Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult. Philip and Elissa’s books will be available to purchase on the day.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 9+ (Guidance only)

A few words about one of Michelle’s titles, The Other Alice: What happens when a tale with real magic, that was supposed to be finished, never was? This is a story about one of those stories . . . Midge loves riddles, his cat, Twitch, and – most of all – stories. Especially because he’s grown up being read to by his sister Alice, a brilliant writer. When Alice goes missing and a talking cat turns up in her bedroom, Midge searches Alice’s stories for a clue.

Local Essex girl, Michelle will talk about her books and her life as author, as well as be on hand to sign books!

Michelle’s books will be available to purchase on the day. Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 7+ (Guidance only)

The Apprentice Witch: With everything stacked against her, apprentice witch Arianwyn Gribble must overcome a shaky start to achieve her true potential…

In the Four Kingdoms, witches use a set of five magical glyphs, to control the natural flow of magic in the world. But Arianwyn Gribble, a young apprentice witch, has seen a sixth glyph for as long as she can remember, a glyph that has always heralded trouble and darkness, like the death of her mother.

At her crucial evaluation test Arianwyn is distracted by the glyph and fails. spectacularly, much to the delight of Gimma Alverston, Arianwyn’s fellow apprentice and arch-rival.

James will talk about his books and life as author, as well as be on hand to sign books! Witches and wizards are welcome!

James’ book will be available to purchase on the day. Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 5+ (Guidance only).

Join awesome illustrator, Nick East, for this fun-packed event.

In this short period of time as an illustrator Nick has been shortlisted for the English Picture Book awards, longlisted for The Evening Standard’s Oscar’s First Book Prize and illustrated the successful Goodnight series, recently collaborating with author Michelle Robinson, Puffin and astronaut Tim Peake on ‘Goodnight Spaceman’.

Under 11s to be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 11+
Entry fee £3

Join us and a fantastic panel of YA authors, for a gritty discussion about YA fiction. If you have a question that you’re desperate to ask, or an opinion that you really want to share (about YA!), then this is the event for you.

The panel is: Dan Smith, Gemma Fowler, Molly Looby and Cara Jordan White. The discussion will be MC’d by YA book blogger, Josh.

A selection of the authors’ books will be available to purchase on the day.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 5+ (Guidance only)
Entry fee £3

Nicky Dee is the author of the series ‘Special Dinosaurs’ – you may have been lucky enough to meet her at Chicken and Frog Bookshop last year.

Nicky’s new book, The Bone Wars, is due for publication in May. It promises to be an exciting adventure.

Two men. One battle.

The ‘Great Dinosaur Rush’ is an amazing time in American history when the hunt for dinosaurs really began. Would the two gentlemen scientists who led the hunt play nicely and work together or would their desperation to be the best lead them to behave very, very badly?

A true adventure story, crammed full of guns, trains, native Indians, explosives and DINOSAURS, written for children for the very first time.

Join Nicky for a jam-packed talk, with superb artefacts to keep any budding paleontologist on the edge of their seats. There’ll be time for questions, and Nicky will be on hand to sign books too.

Under 11s must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

Brentwood Theatre
Age 4+ (Guidance only)

This show is going to be fast, fun, inspirational, educational, highly interactive – and downright brilliant. Really Big Pants Theatre Company storytelling show SUDDENLY…! gives traditional tales a whole new twist and encourages children to explore their creativity and imagination, as well as promoting the value of reading and writing.

Under 11s must be accompanied by an adult.

Knights Way Centre
Age 8+ (Guidance only)

Maz’s writing career began in journalism as a TV critic and feature writer. After working as a creative writing lecturer, she founded Story Stew, an anarchic creative writing programme that has visited primary schools and literary festivals around the UK.

A little about Who Let the Gods Out? Elliot’s mum is ill and his home is under threat, but a shooting star crashes to earth and changes his life forever. The star is Virgo – a young Zodiac goddess on a mission. But the pair accidentally release Thanatos, a wicked death daemon imprisoned beneath Stonehenge, and must then turn to the old Olympian gods for help. After centuries of cushy retirement on earth, are Zeus and his crew up to the task of saving the world – and solving Elliot’s problems too?

Maz’s book will be available to purchase on the day.

Hutton Community Hall
Age 7+ (Guidance only)

John’s session will be full of energy; expect a guitar, enthusiastic singing, and hilarious stories. You are in for a huge treat!

John’s books have been shortlisted for a number of prestigious awards – and one was chosen by The Times as one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year 2011 – but, more importantly, they make children giggle.

John’s books will be available to purchase on the day.

Knights Way Centre
Age 7+ (Guidance only)
Entry fee £3

Award winning author Gareth P Jones (Ninja Meerkats, The Thornthwaite Inheritance) presents his new series, Pet Defenders, which sees a secret organisation of pets defending the earth from alien invasion.

For fans of funny and action-packed animal adventures including Andrew Cope’s Spy Dog series, Astrosaurs and Jeremy Strong.

Expect frenetic interactive story telling, raucous songs played on various instruments and a whole bunch of weird alien stuff.

Gareth’s books will be available to buy on the day. Under 11s must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

Knights Way Centre
Age 8+

Lisa Thompson, author of The Goldfish Boy, will lead a hands-on workshop. They’ll talk about how our sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste can make us feel different emotions and how we can use these emotions to help us in our writing.

Lisa will talk about her background working in radio production and how for her, her ears are crucial when it comes to writing; from listening to other people’s conversations, to reading her work out loud during the editing stage.

For this workshop, Lisa will bring in props to stimulate the senses and get some creative writing flowing!

The workshop will finish with Lisa reading a short piece from The Goldfish Boy followed by some Q&As.

Copies of The Goldfish Boy will be available to purchase on the day.

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More than 12,000 GP appointments are wasted every month

A new campaign targeting people who don’t cancel their GP appointments starts today across mid and south Essex.


More than 12,000 slots are wasted every month across the patch due to people failing to show up to their surgeries after booking out time with a GP, with an estimated 450 hours of GP appointment time per month going to waste in Basildon and Brentwood alone.

GP leaders say the missed appointments are contributing to increased waiting times in practice and could be contributing to more people with minor illnesses going to local A&E departments for treatment.

Dr Arv Guniyangodage, local GP and Chair of NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “As GPs we work hard to meet the needs of our patients and make it as easy as possible for them to see their doctor. But we need patients to do their bit too by letting us know if they need to cancel or rearrange their appointment.

“The knock on effect of someone missing their appointment is that some patients who cannot see their GP choose to go to A&E instead and this puts pressure on the hospital. Patients should make sure they attend an appointment if they book one or cancel it if they no longer need it, so it can be made available to someone else.

“There are now many ways of cancelling an appointment, via online services, telephone and even by text in some areas.”


  • Make sure you make a note of your appointment either in a diary, calendar or on your smart phone and ideally set yourself a reminder
  • Register for online services, speak to your GP practice about how to do this – appointments can be easily cancelled at the touch of a button 24/7
  • Ask your GP practice if they have a text message reminder service

NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups across mid and south Essex are working together to raise awareness of the impacts of missed appointments and to help educate local people about tools such as online GP services that help to make cancelling GP appointments easy.

The communications campaign, which is due to launch later this month will include lots of methods to get messages out to the public including bus adverts, a social media campaign and signs on refuse trucks to help raise awareness of how many appointments are being thrown away.

Lisa Allen Chief Nurse, NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG, added: “The ability to book and cancel GP appointments online is available at most practices and offers a really quick, easy way to manage your health appointments.

“We’re hoping this campaign will help to change some behaviours around wasting GP appointments – if you don’t need it, please do try to cancel it.”

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Paul Yarwood from Secure Haven Independent Funeral Directors

In the UK we are paying an enormous price for society’s taboo against talking about death and dying. Other societies around the world talk more openly about the reality of death and the processes of dying and grieving. We do not. We are left to figure it out for ourselves, relying on doctors and funeral directors to tell us what to do once we are face to face with death.

By breaking the silence, we set the foundation for making decisions about life and death and enable ourselves to plan the kind of end of life ritual that would be appropriate for us. It also supports us in coping with the death of our loved ones.

That’s why today I was pleased to welcome Paul Yarwood from Secure Haven Independent Funeral Directors, to talk about the process of dealing with the death of a loved one.

Paul Yarwood

Paul Yarwood

You can listen to our chat here –

Paul will return to Phoenix on Eat my Brunch with Michelle Ward on 1st March and we would love to have your questions on the topic of cremations. If you would like to ask a question please email the studio on

You can find out more about Secure Haven Independent Funeral Directors on their website here


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Farewell to a fundraising legend

Paul visited the Phoenix FM studios back in April 2013 to talk about his amazing feats. You can hear their interview again below.

Legendary marathon runner and fundraiser Paul Freedman has died aged 92.

Paul cracks one of his famous jokes with Sam Allardyce

Paul passed away peacefully at King George Hospital in Goodmayes on Saturday (February 4) after losing his battle with cancer.

His funeral was held at Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery on Monday (February 6) and his family and friends came together to celebrate his incredible life.

Paul, who leaves behind his partner Ellen, son Martin and grandson Samuel, quickly became a local and national celebrity after he took up running at 61 and ran his first London Marathon aged 69 – hitting the headlines in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 when he was the oldest official runner.

A member of Havering 90 Joggers, Paul went on to complete 24 marathons – 18 of which were to support Saint Francis Hospice.

Paying tribute to Paul, Pam Court, Chief Executive of the hospice in Havering-atte-Bower, said, “Our thoughts are with Paul’s family at this sad time.

“While Paul is no longer with us, his legacy will live on.

“He was the most incredible ambassador for the hospice and he was a great inspiration to everyone who met him.

“We are so proud and privileged to have known Paul and will always be grateful for all he has done to raise awareness of our services, as well as raising more than £100,000 to fund our care.”

Paul receiving a fundraising award from Sir Roger Moore in 2016

His charismatic personality, determination and kindness inspired everyone who met him and he was well known in the community for collecting money for the charity outside supermarkets.

Paul, from Hornchurch, injected humour into everything he did and cheekily claimed that his top marathon tip was to “follow a nice bum.”
And he lived by his motto “keep moving, do as much charity work as you can and have a sense of humour.”

Saint Francis Hospice was close to his heart after it cared for his wife Teeny before she died of cancer in 2007 but his connection with the charity began in 1993, when Paul, who was an active member of the Jewish community, and his friends started volunteering on the Inpatient Ward every Christmas Day, serving food and drinks to patients.

Gill Wendelken, the Voluntary Services Manager at the hospice, said, “Paul not only provided, for many years, invaluable practical support to the patients, but he also included within that a very generous helping of wit and humour, wrapped up in his friendly personality, in order to give the hospice patients a special time on Christmas Day.“

Over the years Paul’s fundraising achievements attracted so much media attention and recognition that he dedicated an entire room to his medals, awards and press cuttings.

Paul was proud to be awarded and MBE in 2008 in the New Year’s Honours, was an Olympic torchbearer in 2012 and in 2016 he was presented with an award by 007 star Sir Roger Moore.

And another memorable moment for the devoted Hammers fan was training with the West Ham team before his last marathon in 2015.

Paul, who worked in retail and at one time was a buyer for Bodgers in Ilford, was a natural comedian so it was very fitting that he founded a concert party, The Entertainers, which has been holding performances to raise money for the hospice since 1991.

Clare McPartland, Head of Marketing and Communications at the hospice, added, “The publicity Paul gave the hospice was unrivalled and his attitude was always one of positivity and drive – he was an absolute joy to work with.

“This year will be my first London Marathon and he will certainly be on my mind as I tackle the 26.2 miles – he’s a true inspiration and I know he’d be cheering me on from the crowd!”

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Hutton FC meet Theo the Wyvern

Children from Hutton FC’s Under 9s team were treated to a free day out, courtesy of Leyton Orient FC and Phoenix FM’s The Orient Hour.

Orient school 1

The young players were in E10 to watch the O’s latest game against Carlisle. They received free entry, refreshments, souvenirs and use of the club’s private Hub Room. They also got to meet some of the players, collect autographs and have their photo taken with Leyton Orient’s mascot Theo the Wyvern!

Orient school 2

Phoenix FM’s Steve Roach said, “Leyton Orient is a great place to discover affordable football and get close up to the action, something that is increasingly rare in the Premier League.

“It’s something that The Orient Hour team was very pleased to organise and we’d like to thank the club’s Community Liaison Officer, Howard Gould, for making it such an enjoyable day”.

Hutton’s U9 manager Alex Yip said, “The experience of the day was excellent. The boys were really excited and just couldn’t help themselves trying to get some of the players signature! But I think it was the private room really blow the parents away!”

Phoenix FM and Leyton Orient will be working together in the future to bring more teams to the Brisbane Road ground.

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Billericay Town FC rallies community to support club renovation

Billericay Town FC is calling on fans and people living in the local area to support its bid to revamp the club’s facilities with the help of builders’ merchant, Buildbase.


The club has applied to the Buildbase Club Renovation Programme, which launched this year and is open to teams entering The Buildbase FA Trophy and Vase competitions. Up to £100,000 worth of building materials, electrical products and hire equipment is available to two football clubs in 2017.

Daniel Groves, club chairman, said: “After taking over the club and asking the fans what they wanted, we’re investing in a new stadium, re-developing the clubhouse and creating a second training pitch facility.”

Billericay Town FC is now rallying the local community to support its application online with the number of people supporting a bid forming part of the judging criteria.

To help the club stand a better chance of being awarded Buildbase’s product bursary, fans can register their support at and also Tweet using #BuildbaseRenovation.

Local Buildbase branches – such as Buildbase Basildon – will be supporting the clubs by providing information and advice about the building products required for a renovation project.

Kate Tinsley, CEO of Buildbase said: “Our branch teams are already an integral part of their local communities so it’s brilliant to be able to extend their support with an investment that will renovate football club facilities for the benefit of all. All clubs taking part in the competitions can apply and in partnership with The FA we will select the most worthy causes.”

In February, six shortlisted finalists, consisting of three Buildbase FA Trophy and three Buildbase FA Vase clubs, will be invited to pitch their project to a panel of judges from The FA and Buildbase at a “Dragon’s Den”-style event at Wembley. Two winners will be announced at The Buildbase FA Trophy and Vase semi finals on 11 March 2017. They will receive an award presentation for their building products on finals day on 21 May 2017, ready to start renovations over the summer.

The Buildbase Club Renovation Programme is a £200,000 product bursary running throughout 2017 and 2018.

Mark Bullingham, FA Commercial Director said: “This scheme could be a real boon for clubs wanting to expand, attract more supporters and become a real hub of their local community. It will be both the non-league community and local fans that become the beneficiaries too, which can only be a good thing.”

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A tribute to Gary Raymond

book gary raymond

Received very sad news today that my previous guest, Gary Raymond had passed away. Just over a year ago I was joined in the studio by Gary, he came in to talk about his book BLAG, STEAL & BORROW which has gone on to be a massive success (and still available at all good book shops). He was a larger than life character and the interview was great fun. We kept in contact after the show on Twitter with Gary often retweeting and vice versa. I purchased the book after meeting Gary. He was meant to be in the studio last month but unfortunately wasn’t well enough. I have read so many wonderful words about Gary on Facebook and Twitter, a true music legend, loved and appreciated by many. x


Joined in the studio by Gary Raymond to talk about his autobiography, BLAG, STEAL & BORROW. Gary gave us a little taster of what’s in the book and for those considering a music career or for those already trying to make it, this book will show you the funny, harsh and crazy side of the industry.



Gary Victor Raymond was born in 1960 in East London before the family upped sticks and moved to The Cockney Del Sol seaside town of Southend-On-Sea. The pie & mash loving son of a professional drummer and publican, he had a colourful upbringing that included living in a zoo, working in a dolphinarium, listening to glam rock and watching Bruce Lee movies – sadly having no hand-eye coordination meant that he was never able to follow in his father’s footsteps and take to the stage. But it was when he started working in the music industry that he made his mark, taking 3 unsigned lads from Essex into the top 20, making music chart history, winning a gold disc and having them forever immortalised in The Guinness Book of Records. These days the father of four, having survived cancer surgery, prefers to sit in front of the television with a cup of tea cheering on his beloved Tottenham Hotspur or watching The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and any movie about East End gangsters, leaving behind him those days in the music industry. Gary has had a number of poems published and his thoughtful poem ‘The Thrill of the Kill’ was used in an anti-hunting campaign.


“I literally creased over laughing which I have never done with a book before.”

– Alex Fearn, Diamond Days


“This is the story of the underdog making history – I give it 10/10”

– Paul Baker


“It’s a book that will make you cry, laugh out loud, and wonder how anyone really ‘makes it’ in the music industry these days.”

– Neil Jones, Arts Editor, Essex Standard


“A fascinating read. The annals of management hero worship await.”

– Kurt Prinz, Goldmine Magazine


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Kevin Brewis comes home to the Queen’s

West End performer Kevin Brewis is set to return to his local theatre to pay tribute to a selection of Broadway’s finest musicals in Broadway & Beyond.


Kevin Brewis grew up in Hornchurch and his love of theatre started when he visited his first pantomime at the Queen’s Theatre. From a young age Kevin was actively involved in drama groups at Fairkytes Art Centre and performed in productions at the Queen’s Theatre. After training professionally in musical theatre, Kevin has toured all over the world and appeared in West End shows including Grease at the Victoria Palace and One & Only at the Piccadilly Theatre.

Mike Jones spoke to Kevin about coming back to the Queen’s and what to expect from the new production. You can hear the interview again below:

Kevin will be back at the Queen’s Theatre on 8 February to perform an entertaining mix of music and wit from the most popular musicals in Broadway & Beyond. The show comprises of songs from New York’s legendary theatre district, including hits from Oklahoma!, Kiss Me Kate and Miss Saigon and Spamalot.

He says, “Nearly 20 years after leaving college, having worked all over the West End, the UK and abroad, I find myself back where it all began at the Queen’s Theatre.”

Audiences will be captivated with a stunning array of costumes, exhilarating dance routines and the versatility of five musicians that play over a dozen instruments between them. This is a must see for any musical fan!

Broadway and Beyond comes to the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch on Wednesday 8 February at 7.30pm. Tickets range from £16.50 – £23. To purchase tickets call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or book online at

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Time To Talk Day 2017

Conversations about mental health change lives.

At the moment, too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless by other people’s reactions.

But talking about mental health doesn’t need to be difficult. It can be as simple as making time to have a cup of tea or go for a walk, and listening to someone talk about how they feel.

Being open about mental health and ready to listen can make a positive difference to someone’s life. This is what Time to Talk Day is all about – giving us all the chance to talk and listen about mental health.

Whatever the hour, every conversation, every text, every share means more people are reached and more lives are changed.


PHOENIX FM will once again be devoting a whole day to stories, conversations and interviews on THURSDAY 2ND FEBRUARY.

9am – Rhianna from Brain Works, and Wayne Banks from the Young Peoples Counselling Service will be talking about Mental Health in Young People.

10am – Jay Thornton (Buddy Scheme co-organiser) from SEPT (South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust) with Scott W, Mental Health Campaigner and Service User Buddy will be talking about the Student Nurse Buddy Scheme

11.30am – Chris Hood, Mel Watson and a client from Fitness in Mind in Brentwood – will be talking about Mental Health and Physical Activity.

12pm – Andrew Woodcock and Cara talking about Brentwood Community Print and their Promoting Positive Mental Health at Work event.

1pm – Lorraine from Home Instead and Ted from the Alhezimers Society will be talking about the Dementia Action Alliance.

2pm – Colin Wade will be talking about Brentwood Mind.

3pm – The Homeless in Brentwood Group will be talking about mental health and homelessness.

4pm – Dr Karen McCarty from NHS North East London NHS Foundation Trust and Lois from Futures In Mind will be talking about Mental Health Peer Support.

5pm – Bereavement counsellor Sue Spong and members of the Family Support Services team from Saint Francis Hospice will be talking about supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of patients and families in their journey at end of life.

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Swap a book and see Chris and Pui!

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch will be participating in the annual Discover London Children’s Book Swap on Saturday 11 February.

Book Swap logo high res

The theatre will open its doors to anyone wanting to recycle their children’s books and give children new books to read.

Over 70 venues across 21 London boroughs will be celebrating Discover London Children’s Book Swap’s sixth birthday. For one day only, literally thousands of books will be swapped in an action-packed day of free activities.

CBeebies’ double act, Chris & Pui will star in their very own stage show Show Me Show Me on the same day of the book swapping event.


They will be performing at the Queen’s Theatre at 11am and 2pm, so families attending the event can bring an old book along with them to the theatre and swap it for a different book to take home for free.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch welcomes book donations for the event suitable for children aged 3 – 16.

For more information about the Discover London Children’s Book Swap visit

To book tickets for Chris & Pui visit or call the Theatre Box Office on 01708 443333.

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Shenfield High School – Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Back in November last year it was a pleasure to welcome staff and pupils from Shenfield High School into the studio to talk about their production of Joseph.20170124_184503

Tonight I was privileged to be able to attend the school to witness the production for myself and all I can say is Wow!


I had to pinch myself to remember that this is a school production. It was fabulous, with colourful costumes, imaginative sets, super choreography and an excellent performance all round from the musicians and some top performances from the large talented cast.


It would be unfair to single out any individual performance as this is an ensemble piece with great performances all round of the quality we have come to expect from Shenfield High School

IMG_5496The sell out audience was captivated by the production and the enthusiastic cast, showing their appreciation with a standing ovation. Tomorrow night (Wednesday) is the final performance of this excellent production. Grab one of the few remaining tickets from the school if you can.20170124_195533

On One 2 Three tomorrow I’ll be playing a recording of one of the songs recorded live – Benjamin Calypso – You can listen to it here –

Some more songs from the production are here –

Any Dream Will Do

Close Every Door

Go Go Joseph

Suffice to say it was a brilliant night of entertainment that I thoroughly enjoyed. My thanks to all involved.

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Knock Knock … Be A Good Neighbour This Winter

GPs in Brentwood are urging people to look out for their elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours this winter – and make sure they don’t ‘soldier on’ in silence as winter starts to bite.


Older people and those with long-term health conditions are particularly susceptible to illness and isolation at this time of year, yet it can sometimes be difficult for those at risk to admit they need help.

Dr Arv Guniyangodage, Chair of Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), says winter is a time when communities should come together to support people elderly and vulnerable people who may need to be encouraged to seek medical assistance before illness becomes so serious they need to be admitted to hospital.

Dr Guniyangodage said: “All too often we see elderly and vulnerable people having to be treated in hospital for lengthy periods with symptoms that might not have become so serious and could have been managed effectively at home if they’d only sought help sooner.

“This is often the result of people trying to ‘soldier on’ through adversity because they don’t want to cause inconvenience to their families or bother their GP or pharmacist with something they feel is insignificant.

“If you are aged over 75 or you are living with a long-term medical condition such as a respiratory illness, don’t wait when you’re feeling ill – get help straight away. Speak to your local pharmacist first and they’ll either recommend an over-the-counter medicine to alleviate your symptoms, or tell you if you need to see your GP.

“If you have a friend, neighbour or relative who is vulnerable then you can do your bit to help by checking in on them regularly and making sure they have everything they need to stay well this winter.”

Basildon and Brentwood CCG has the following top tips for how to help elderly and vulnerable people you may know:

  • Drop in to see them and check if they are well at least once a week – and more often if the weather turns very cold.
  • Check if they are feeling well and don’t let them brush off your questions if you’re concerned they’re trying to hide an illness, particularly if they don’t seem their usual self or they look unwell.
  • If they are feeling ill, encourage them to visit their local pharmacist without delay – and give them a lift if you can.
  • Ask if you can collect any prescriptions they need or take them to their GP for any appointments.
  • Tell them to call 111 if they feel unwell when pharmacies are closed – a trained NHS health care adviser will be able to help them.
  • Make sure their home is heated to at least 18°C to 21°C throughout the winter.
  • Ensure they are eating well and have a good supply of essential and store-cupboard food to keep them going – and offer to help them with shopping if they struggle with mobility.
  • Encourage them to get heating and cooking appliances safety checked – and recommend a trustworthy gas and heating engineer or electrician if you know one.
  • If it snows, clear their path, front steps or doorway areas for them – or better still, encourage them to stay in.

For more information on staying well this winter visit

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The West Ham Way – show 25, featuring Mark Ward

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

Mark Ward

On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex are joined by ex-Hammer MARK WARD to talk about his time in the club, West Ham’s recent performances on the field and transfer window news and gossip.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Calling all budding theatre directors!

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is on a mission to find and nurture the next generation of innovative theatre directors by partnering with the prestigious Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme (RTYDS).


As a theatre that is passionate about supporting emerging theatre makers, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is thrilled to announce their first partnership with the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme. Douglas Rintoul, the Artistic Director at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is particularly excited about offering this opportunity to aspiring directors as he received a RTYDS 18-month bursary to Salisbury Playhouse in 2000 and is keen to provide others with the same experience.

Participants will be given a valuable opportunity to take part in an Introduction to Directing programme, which offers free intensive practical training for people who are aged over 18. Introduction to Directing is part of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme and will allow participants to develop their directing skills through practical workshops, work alongside experienced practitioners and have access to opportunities and contacts that could help propel them forward in the theatre industry.

Taking place at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, the fun, hands-on Introduction to Directing programme will be led by the theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul who is directing the highly anticipated forthcoming production The Crucible. Participants will gain insight into his rehearsal process with the cast on the production as well observe show rehearsals.

To be eligible you MUST live in Essex (NOT Greater London), be at the very early stages of your career, have a specific interest in directing rather than in acting or any other theatre craft. The projects are not intended for those who have studied directing as part of a degree. The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is looking for participants currently under-represented in UK theatre as a result of barriers arising from social, gender, financial, ethnic, cultural, geographic or educational disadvantage or disability.

All applicants must be available to attend all sessions. There are subsidies available to cover travel expenses.

Dates are:
Sat 28 Jan, 2-7pm
Sat 4 Feb, 10-1pm
Wed 15 Feb, 6-10pm
Mon 20 Feb, 7-10pm
Sat 4 Mar, 10am-6pm
Sat 11 Mar, 10am-6pm
Sun 12 Mar, 10am-6pm
Sat 18 Mar, 2-10pm

Applicants are required to send a short statement about themselves and why they are interested in this programme to with RTYDS in the subject field.

Deadline for applications is Monday 16 January at 5pm. Interviews will be held at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch on 19 and 20 January (evening).

For more information about the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme visit their website:

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Waste Not, Want Not – Medicines Waste campaign targets antibiotics

A campaign to help tackle medicine waste is encouraging people to only use antibiotics when needed.

The Waste Not, Want Not – Medicines Waste campaign is a south west Essex initiative designed to raise awareness of the costly issue of unused prescription medicine and highlight the overuse of antibiotics.

Healthcare commissioners NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Thurrock CCG have joined forces to reduce the costs of wasted medicines which is estimated to be £2.5 million a year locally…money that could be better spent on improving services such as 100 extra community nurses.

Now with the cold and flu season well underway, the Waste Not, Want Not – Medicines Waste campaign is sending out the message that most people will NOT need to be treated with antibiotics for their winter ailments.

The CCGs have produced a new range of leaflets on antibiotics which are available from doctors’ surgeries and the CCGs’ websites:

  • Antibiotics – what you and your family should know
  • Dry, tickly or chesty cough?
  • Home care is best
  • Snotty, sniffly or sneezy?
  • Delayed prescription – helping prevent the overuse of antibiotics


Denise Rabbette, Head of a joint dedicated Medicines Optimisation team covering Basildon and Brentwood CCG and Thurrock CCG, is pictured with pharmacist Bijukumar Gandecha from Noak Bridge Pharmacy

Denise Rabbette, Head of a joint dedicated Medicines Optimisation team covering both CCGs, said: “Antibiotics are rarely needed for coughs or sore throats because they are usually caused by a virus. Pharmacists can advise on simple self-care treatments and over-the-counter medications to relieve symptoms. Patients should not expect their GP to prescribe antibiotics because they are usually not necessary.

“As well as the money being wasted on unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics, there is also the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

“Overuse and misuse of antibiotics is leading to bacteria resistant to antibiotics which could mean many routine procedures, such as operations and cancer treatment, become increasingly dangerous in the future.”

The Waste Not – Want Not Medicines Waste campaign is reminding patients:

  • Antibiotics do not work for MOST colds, coughs, sore throats or earache. Your body can usually fight these infections on its own.
  • To ask their pharmacist about over-the-counter remedies that can help in the first instance.
  • Not to expect or demand treatment with antibiotics from their GP.
  • When antibiotics are prescribed by a health professional, always take them as directed and complete the course.

Sometimes a GP may give a delayed prescription for antibiotics which can be collected a few days later but only if you do not feel better or feel worse.

Never save any antibiotics for later or share antibiotics with others.

Remember, the more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance that bacteria will become resistant to them so that they no longer work on infections.

For further information on the Waste Not, Want campaign and how you can help to combat Medicines Waste visit

For further information on how you can help protect your antibiotics visit

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Presenters’ Picks – 2016

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Aaron Heanue

Album: Craig David – Following My Intuition

Following My Intuition is Craig David’s 6th studio album. The album debuted at number 1 in the albums chart, his first album to do so since his debut album “Born to Do It” in 2000. My favourite song on this album is “16”, which is a mash up of Craig David’s old hit “Fill Me In” and Jack Ü song “Where Are Ü”. I also enjoyed the single “When the Bassline Drops” from the album, which features UK rapper Big Narstie.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

I have chosen “This Girl” as in my opinion this was the dance song of the summer in 2016! Originally “This Girl” was released by soul-funk band Cookin’ on 3 Burners in 2009. Then this year French DJ Kungs remixed “This Girl” and made it his own. This upbeat dance song peaked at number 2 in the UK charts.

Alan Gulliver

Album: Destrage – A Means To No End

This album came from nowhere like a knockout punch with big powerful riffs melodic overtones and catchy hooks. This band have found themselves this year and reigned in the over-the-top riffing of the past to put together the strongest offering from any band for me in 2016.

Track: Gojira – Stranded

Taken from the album Magma, this song for me was the song of the summer and has the earworm effect on you from the outset. A great song from one of the best live acts this year.

Alan Johnson

Album: Craig David – Following My Intuition

Craig David – one of the UK’s finest R&B talents. Or do I mean Garage – or perhaps these days they call it Grime? Hang on, though, maybe his style’s more just good-old-fashioned Hip Hop.

Forget the labels – Craig David’s ability to cross a range of styles with ease is something I’ve always liked about him, and this album didn’t disappoint with its tuneful solo efforts along with some great collaborations. I particularly enjoyed “16”, a skilful mash-up of Jack Ü & Justin Bieber’s “Where Are Ü Now” with the timeless classic which launched his own chart career back at the start of the century, “Fill Me In”.

Oh now, wait a minute – can I add EDM to that list?

Track: Black Eyed Peas featuring The World – #WHERESTHELOVE

There’ve been quite a few of those songs this year whose melodies became lodged in my head – in a good way. There was the one about leaving a spare toothbrush, for example, or that one with the odd line about the stolen mattress. Then there was the highly catchy song inviting everyone to get sexual – an invitation Zara Larsson certainly seems to have taken on board as she enthuses about one particular way she’d like to get to know you.

Whilst these ditties may soon be forgotten, though, I and millions of others shall long remember this as a year marked by division and nastiness. This was epitomised by the public slaughter of an MP: I recall my heart sinking back in June when an almost quivering voice on the radio confirmed the death of Jo Cox. That was news no-one should ever have had to read, and against this backdrop my track of 2016 was an easy choice.

Antonia Jones

Track: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I know this song was only released in November, but this has got to be my favourite track of the year. Why? It’s catchy, fun and will go on to be one of those songs that will never be forgotten. Bruno Mars has gone and done it again. He brings together a range of different eras into one track – his collection just keeps on growing!

Bob Simpson

Album: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Track: Bruno Mars – Versace On The Floor

As one of the more senior (in years) presenters on Phoenix FM I think my musical head is firmly entrenched in the latter part of the last century. Having said that though, there has been some great new music this year.

My choices for this year have their roots in the past though (what music doesn’t?) Yes, I’m a Bruno Mars fan!

Every track on this album sends various parts of my body into involuntary motion. I’ll leave you to guess which parts! It’s fun, it’s fabulous and does what I think music needs to do. It lifts you out whatever situation you are in and takes you on a journey.

Influences from 80’s funk to early Michael Jackson with a little James Brown and R&B of the late 80’s and early 90’s, the ballads are sweet, the dance tracks superb.

A guilty pleasure? Maybe, but I don’t feel guilty at all.

Brian Ager

Album: Whiskey Myers – Mud

The fourth album from the Texans shows a band who do exactly what they want to do, regardless of musical trends. Like all their previous albums this is an album full of songs and stories of the south, showing their depth of feeling towards their home state.

Opening with the fiddle-heavy Down To The River, the album moves on to the swampy title track, full of their trademark twin guitar attack and featuring female backing singers. Up next is Lightning Bugs and Rain, another switch of styles, this time to a brass backed almost funky song. Deep Down In The South follows in the funkier vein, thudding bass, references to Muscle Shoals, Delta Blues and home cooking, it’s another song of love for the South.

Stone is probably the centrepiece of the album. Opening with piano, the song tells the story of a lonely man on the road searching for happiness. Trailer We Call Home follows, a tale of young couples struggling to get a start in life by living in a trailer. Some Of Your Love lightens the mood, a love song about a man trying to win a girls heart. Frogman, co written by Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, is a tribute to US Navy Seals and their life in battle.

Hank follows, a song of thanks to Hank Williams Jr and the band’s introduction to country music through him. The Good Ol’ Days closes the album on a happy note, sounding very much like a group of friends having a few beers sitting round a camp fire and having fun.

This is a truly wonderful album, musicianship of the very highest calibre at the peak of their powers. If you like southern rock, country rock, or just plain good music, buy this album.

Track: The Answer – Battle Cry

The Answer surprised many fans this year with their Gaelic-tinged album of hard rock, Solas. Battle Cry is the centrepiece of the album, a slow building 6 minute epic that they currently close their live performances with. Great song from a great album.

Chay Appleyard

Album: Asylums – Killer Brain Waves

In a year where a lot of the main music outlets are selecting The 1975’s “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It” (My fingers hurt after typing that), and rightly so, it’s a great album, but let’s embrace some other good stuff which has braced our stereos in 2016.

It was a toss up between Iggy Pop’s “Post Pop Depression” or Asylums’ “Killer Brain Waves”, the first one is great and my head says I should go for that because it is THAT good. But my friends, with my heart I have gone with the latter. Why? I originally bought the album on the off chance from good things I read on Facebook. They are a Southend band on the verge of charting with their album and I felt it was worth giving a shot.

Two minutes in and one song down – I was hooked. The moment “Second Class Sex” finished and “Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine” began it was clear to me I made the right choice giving it a punt. Great production, all very upbeat songs but each with their own identity, interesting song titles and lyrics, everything down to the artwork. It’s my kinda album.

All in all, it’s wonderful to see that band/artists from your region can go on to make great records. If you look towards Southend you can find some great music at this moment in time. And I like to think, that if Asylums can go on to do more wonderful things, such as what they’ve achieve with this album, then it can encourage and inspire more of us who play music in Essex to do exactly the same. Keep up the good work, lads.

Track: Mumford and Sons feat Baaba Maal and The Very Best – There Will Be Time

I’ve embraced pop a little more this year. I’ve loved “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and Rhianna (but it’s mainly because I’m a sucker for most things written by Taylor Swift). I have, however, gone for a song which structurally, melodically, lyrically and spiritually engages me as a local songwriter.

Mumford and Sons to me have become a better band since ditching the banjos and picking up electric guitars – but with this song they took African influences and it features Senegalese music icon, Baaba Maal. In my eyes it has made them one of the most ambitious bands since the 21st century began.

I love how it’s laid out, it starts off with ab-libs from Baaba Maal, then the first chorus, both verses are different, the four chorus are musically diverse (single strums with no drums, then slow building drums, then breakbeat drums – the works), Baaba Maal and Marcus Mumford just seem to play off each other vocally – its wonderful to listen to.

The EP “Johannesburg” is in my car currently, and it isn’t going anywhere fast. Fun fact: I used to work in a fish and chip shop in Grays also named Mumford and Sons, it has been in the Grays area since 1912.

Chris Hood

Album: Neil Young and Promise of The Real – Earth

Neil Young is an angry man – nothing new there. Together with new band Promise of The Real, featuring the offspring of Willie Nelson, this album is a series of live cuts of Young’s best musings on Planet Earth, together with studio overdubs and sounds of nature. The 28 minute version of Love and Only Love is a particular treat.

Track: Prophets of Rage – Prophets of Rage

Prophets of Rage announced their existence in May of this year. A supergroup featuring members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, all the participants are at the peak of their powers for this barnstorming shot across the bows. Plus, anything with Tom Morello in it has to be worth consideration, right?

Chris Siviter

Album: Tacocat – Lost Time

The record I’ve listened to more times this year than any other. A delightfully noisy record full of short punky classics along with lyrics covering feminist themes (amongst other things) make this a must-hear album of 2016.

Track: David Bowie – Lazarus

The death of David Bowie shocked the entire world when it happened only two days after the release of his final album Blackstar. But even in death, he did things on his own terms, staring down his own mortality and continuing to make art until the final curtain. The song Lazarus, along with the moving video is another example of a man who did things his way, always moving forward and even turning his passing into a final artistic tour de force.

Chris Stagg

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me, but in my opinion Blackstar is simply the most important and stunning musical album to be released in 2016.

Put aside for a moment the tragic death of David Bowie just two days after the release of this album and take it for what it is. Yes, this album was Bowie’s goodbye to the World and final message to us, and yes it does make the album all the more important. But to judge it against the context of Bowie’s death is to do this masterpiece of an album an injustice.

As an album on its own it is incredible. ‘Blackstar’ is a short album at just over 7 tracks and 41 minutes, 10 of which is the title track alone. I’m not going to go into depth about ‘Blackstar’ the track, as it was my song of the year for 2015 (which is available on the Phoenix FM website), but it is one Hell of a way to open an album. Wonderfully bizarre, seemingly able to jump genres and yet not be defined by any, it hypnoses you into a state of musical Nirvana. But every track on this album is beautiful in its own right and can easily be enjoyed in isolation or by listening to the album as a whole.

Particular highlights for me though, are the heartbreaking tracks; ‘Lazarus’ and ‘I can’t Give Everything Away, and ‘Twas a Pity She Was A Whore’, which is it wasn’t for the lyrics would be at home on the soundtrack of Labyrinth. Strange, groundbreaking, contradictory and beautiful; ‘Blackstar’ is just like Bowie himself. It is all those things and more. Blackstar is perfect, and honestly everyone should hear it through at least once.

Track: Korn – Rotting in Vain

When Korn first exploded onto the scene, I was instantly hooked. I had never heard anything like them. Their music alone really struck me, with their seven-string guitars and strange other worldly effects combined with heavy use of dissonance. But it was Jonathan Davis’ incredible vocal style that I enjoyed first and his shocking subject matter that inspires him. His crackly deep to childlike singing, metal screaming and perhaps most famously his use of gibberish, opened another World for me.

Korn had album after incredible album with self titled debut; ‘Korn’, ‘Life is Peachy’ and then their breakthrough ‘Follower the Leader’ with its world-smashing track ‘Freak on a Leash’ giving them global fame. The 90s had one more brilliant album for them in ‘Issues’ which gave them many crowd favorite tracks like ‘Somebody Someone’ and ‘Falling Away from Me.’ But after this, in my opinion Korn lost their way. Sure there was the odd track that was good, but the albums just didn’t have that special something. But they have now rocketed back with a brand new track (and album) that is everything Korn used to be, while still showing maturity and musical growth. Even acceptance of where they had gone wrong in the past.

‘Rotting in Vain’ is heavy, very dark and shows a band that are ready and very hungry for more. This track sounds like a beautiful hybrid of the sounds of ‘Issues’ mixed with the ferocity of their debut. We even have the long awaited return of Jonathan Davis gibberish! This is a fantastic track that seasoned veteran will love and also a worthy introduction to any new Korn fan. Check out the Victorian Gothic music video too that is the perfect dark match to the song.

Courtney-Lee Collins

Album: Various Artists – Now 95

I would say this because I think that it has a wide array of fantastic songs in it and I have a wide taste in music so don’t really tend to follow a single group.

The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack – The Living Years

My reason behind this is that whilst I have many favourite songs and usually struggle to choose my favourite of the bunch, I’m a big 80s music fan having been brought up beside it as my parents have listened to it all my life and I love the original song, also I am a massive charity fundraiser so to me the purpose behind the song is close to my heart.

Graham Stannard

Album: The Cortège – Love & Land

I’ve always loved their sound, but they continue to improve with age, especially live. Long time friends of Musical Meanderings, The Cortège have always had the wonderful blend of melody and heaviness I’ve always enjoyed, but this latest EP takes it to the next level, especially as they build towards their trademark crescendos at the end of songs such as Starting Gun. Long may they continue.

Track: Atriohm & Ianuaria – Solstice Extract

I’ve not been listening to too much Psychedelic Trance this year, but am always keen to keep an ear out for any developments on the powerful end of the spectrum and this hasn’t disappointed. From Macedonian artist Atriohm’s new album, only released this month, Million Years Dance, this is a wonderful collaboration with Ianuaria. A finely crafted sonic adventure, with meandering sweeps and satisfying peaks, I’m looking forward to hearing it on a dance floor soon.

Harriet Ivie

Album: DJ Snake – Encore

I have been a follower of DJ Snake over the past couple of years. Loving some of his singles including “Lean On’ featuring Major Lazer and “You Know You Like It” featuring Aluna George. However last August I was so excited to see he had realised his very own album.

I have chosen Encore as my album of the year as I was hooked instantly. With house and dance feels with a few heavy baselines thrown in there it’s an album crafted especially to my taste, I couldn’t think of anything better!

Track: MK & Beck Hill – Piece Of Me

This song stands out to me when I look back on what tracks I have loved this year. Due to its strong beat that instantly put me in a good mood! It is one of them songs that make you want to get up and dance! I was lucky enough to see this track performed by the DJ MK live at V Festival this year, and hearing the crowd sing along and dance makes this track stand out to me this year.

Joe Denby

Album: Azooma – The Act Of Eye

Azooma is a Death Metal band from Iran which completely caught me off guard. All musicians are on top form and there is fantastic musicianship on display.

It blends and perfectly balances technicality, brutality and melody. The album just plays itself and flies by. It reveals more with every listen.

Track: Megadeth – Dystopia

It’s modern yet classic Megadeth. Delicious guitar melodies and hooks. Haunting lyrics. A sure fire future classic.

Kavus Torabi

Album: North Sea Radio Orchestra – Dronne
Track: The Gasman – Motivation

Both artists are favourites of ours on The Interesting Alternative Show. This album and track are career highlights of both to my ears.

Keith Rogers

Album: Rihanna – Anti

A rich and conflicted record at its most interesting when it’s at its most idiosyncratic.

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

A great feelgood track that everyone seems to like!

Libby Holden

Album: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I have been a huge fan of Bruno Mars since the very beginning and was so excited for the release of this new album and I can happily say I have not been disappointed. Even though it was released at the end of 2016 in November I am still choosing this as my favourite album of 2016!

24K Magic is a devoted resurrection of the soul, funk, and R&B of ’80s and ’90s. What elevates 24K Magic beyond pure pastiche relegated to wedding playlists is how well Bruno Mars, brimming with swagger and schmaltz, sells the flossy fantasy.

If you get a chance take a listen! A couple of my favourite tracks being – ‘Chunky’, ‘Versace On The Floor’ and ‘Too Good To Say Goodbye’. I have also got tickets to his world tour next year, so really looking forward to that. Go Bruno!

Track: Lukas Graham – 7 Years

I first heard this song on the radio in the car at the beginning of 2016 and I instantly knew i was going to love it; it has an amazing melody let alone the genius lyrics, most people can relate to a line or two in the song and I believe that is the beauty of good song writing.

Although originally realased last year, 7 Years reached no 1 in the UK singles charts and stayed there for 5 weeks. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Matt Hines

Album: Kate Bush – Before The Dawn

The live recording of the best live show I have ever seen. Before the Dawn captures the magic of the legendary run at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014.

Track: Mystery Jets – Bubblegum

This band came of age this year with their brilliant album “Curve Of The Earth”. Bubblegum is the stand out track on a brilliant piece of work by the band. A real calling card.

Melanie Watson

Album: Susie Smith – Gong Goddess Future Sounds

Susie is an amazingly gifted gong musician. I have attended many of her workshops and finally this year she released an album so the magic of the gong can now be transported into your home. Gonging is becoming increasingly popular, and the concept of having a gong bath is one that is being embraced.

These sounds are incredibly haunting and transport you in to a different world. Ideal as background music for exercise or as a focal point for meditation.

Track: DNCE – Cake By The Ocean

This brings back memories of the wonderful wedding ceremony I conducted in Malta this year.

Michelle Ward

Album: Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate

Beautiful voice with interesting songs and inspiring lyrics.

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

A happy pop tune that makes everything feel immediately summery. Also produced a great video alongside. Justin back to his best.

Mike Jones

Album: The Boxer Rebellion – Ocean By Ocean

It’s astounding how this band aren’t bigger than they are. Huge American tour, large London gigs but still no real hit. Perhaps this will do it. Not a weak track on this beauty with songwriting skills at a premium. Just can’t get this off the playlist. Love it!

Track: Travis – Idlewild

Easy choice this year for me as this ticks so many boxes. Lovely bass line, haunting lyrics deserving all the attention it got.

Mike Porter

Track: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I just love the jazz funk sound.

Nick Field

Album: Sonic Boom Six – The F-Bomb

Sonic Boom Six combine rock, hip-hop, electronica, reggae, ska and anything else they can think of and use them all to create a sound that champions a progressive and fairer society without sounding world-weary. Alongside Lazy Habits, whose ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ album is also worth a mention here, Sonic Boom Six are a band who never compromise themselves or their message. They’re exactly the kind of band the world needs right now.

Track: Babeheaven – Moving On

The first band I saw on stage at Latitude Festival this year, and was captivated. This is beautifully atmospheric chilled-out genre-crosser.

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Rick Astley – 50

Very different and a soulful jazz feel. Not a cheesy album at all.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

A song that I played a lot when we moved to Clacton – my summer feelgood song.

Nikki Mills

Album: Bastille – Wild World

This was a choice between Bastille’s ‘Wild World’ and Busted’s ‘Night Driver’ but as much as I love Busted and I’m extremely happy they are back together, I’ve gone with Bastille.

The reason for this is because for me it has been a long awaited album. Ever since I had the chance to interview lead singer Dan Smith in April last year and ask him questions about the upcoming album I’ve been excited for its release.

Watching the band perform some of the new songs from the album at Glastonbury and seeing them on the Wild World supporting tour has reinforced how amazing they are. They sound just as good live as they do recorded and I enjoy listening to every track on the album.

Track: Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

Another tough decision between two contenders, Shawn Mendes and ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers. I’ve chosen ‘Treat You Better’ because it’s a great follow up to his 2015 track ‘Stitches’ which I also love. Shawn Mendes sings with such passion in his songs and writes meaningful lyrics which I without fail always find myself learning and singing along to.

I am going to see him on his Illuminate Tour next year which I’m very much looking forward to and can’t wait to join in singing with the crowd!

Patrick Sherring

Album: Ward Thomas – Cartwheels

Twenty-two-year-old twin sisters Catherine and Lizzie Ward-Thomas have had a great 2016. Cartwheels was their second album and it was the first by a UK country band to go to No. 1 on the album charts. Their mixture of close harmonies and interesting lyrics, wrapped up in a British take on an American country sound means we will be hearing about them for many years.

Track: MonaLisa Twins – Nothing Is In Vain

For much of the year the MonaLisa Twins have played gigs in their adopted city of Liverpool. You can hear the influence of classic Merseysound from the 60s in their music. But they play it for the 21st century in a fresh and appealing way.

They are multi-talented vocalists and musicians. This track, with an ethereal quality, is a great introduction to their music.

Paul Golder

Album: Divine Comedy – Foreverland

Neil Hannon back to his whimsical best with witty lyrics and amazing arrangements – it’s probably his Divinest Comediest album ever. And he rhymes “brainier” with “Lithuania”.

Track: Honeyblood – Sea Hearts

One of a number of great songs released from their excellent second album “Babes Never Die” – a throwback to the brilliant guitar-driven pop you’d see in the charts all the time before streaming ruined them. Amazing live band too – a big sound from just two live performers.

Rob Harvey

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

This was the first Bowie album I had rushed out to get in ages, and little did I realise it was a swansong.

The album gives me the subtlest of clues to Bowie’s fragility, with songs that feel like a collaboration with Picasso in the palette of his storytelling.

The songs are a mix of Epic, grand, subversive, funny, classic bowie creativity and yet oddly poignant – “I Can’t Give It Away” being my favourite on this masterstroke of a final album, from a true legend.

Track: Neil Francis and Daysound – Deadender

This song was a massive earworm for me this year, as it evokes drama with some truly catchy hooks. It was written originally way back in the 80’s, and they decided to revisit and stay true to the songs original inception. Deadender is a dark pop procession of lush sounds and driving rhythms – a ageless feel that makes me click repeat.

Ruth E Mortimer

Album: Matt Corby – Telluric

Oh Matt Corby … his voice is just incredible and sends warm shivers down my spine. Do you want to sit down, relax and listen to some soothing guitar, and a voice that will make you melt into your chair? If your answer is yes then you seriously need to get this album.

Coming from a guy who was a product of Australian Idol, he has grown into a soulful, soothing musician, and this album displays his versatility and artist intelligence. Check out his Facebook page for some stunning live recordings of songs from Telluric too, really demonstrating this man’s huge talent.

Track: Joy Williams – We Can Never Go Back (acoustic version)

Joy Williams is an artist who has had 3 reprises as a musician – Christian Singer, The Civil Wars member, and now haunting powerful solo artist. Her release of her 2015 album Venus was followed in 2016 with an acoustic Album of some of the songs from that album, as well as bonus tracks, one of which being We Can Never Go Back (acoustic).

The song takes us through the struggle and pain that a lover or friend can’t dwell on the past, and the only way to progress forward from their hurt is to move on. The song finishes with a shift, one which is more peaceful, and displays progression of feelings – and importantly that herself and whomever she is referring to will go on (and on and on).

The song is beautiful, however is difficult to listen to as many would have experienced similar pain and struggle, and the song perfectly depicts this – so listen with caution.

Scott Ross

Album: Phil Collins – The Singles

I always liked Phil Collins so this looks like being a fairly safe bet.

Track: Chvrches feat Hayley Williams – Bury It

This is a band that just keeps getting better and better.

Scott W

Album: Dream Theater – The Astonishing

The American progressive metal group continue on their music odyssey providing an atmospheric, powerful though subtle at times, thought-provoking, character-driven concept double-album set in the future. It’s some antidote to the likes of X-Factor-like talent shows, displaying proper musicianship.

Track: Alter Bridge – My Champion

An uplifting (and loud) reminder of the need to keep going after tough days or tough times, the world is a hard place, though motivation is darn important. Keep plugging away. This choice is dedicated to the Mental Health Community.

Steve Davis

Album: Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden

Their best and most accessible to date.

Track: Gong – The Unspeakable Stands Revealed

From the album “Rejoice! I’m Dead” – considering the relatively recent passing of Daevid Allen this track conjures up a certain melancholy, but not in a sad way but rather in a spiritual sense.

Steve Roach

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

A fantastic album for a classic artist to bow out on.

Track: For The Love Of Bob – Fix You

An amazing vocal harmony version of the Coldplay track, which featured on the Phoenix FM-supported “Sound Of Essex” CD released by Studio 6 Music in the summer in aid of the Brainwave tumour charity.

Steve Robertson

Album: Birds of Tokyo – Brace

The fifth studio album from Australian band Birds of Tokyo. This is an album I’ve been listening to more than any other this year and it only came out in November. The mixed melodic and rock sound just works, and means I have been listening to the recent release no matter what mood I’m in or time of day.

Track: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Human

A stand-out single from a singer I saw perform and interviewed at the Standon Calling festival this year. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – real name Rory Graham performed this live in July when the single was first released and it appeared on the Phoenix FM A-list as a result.

The song has spent 9 weeks at the number one spot in Germany and is now having a second lease of life as it climbs up the UK chart and for me has been the song of the year since I first heard it in July.

Tara Newman

Album: Sheratones – If Your Heart’s Not In It

With an original sound and fresh image, this band stand out by a mile.

Track: Dead Natives – Rollercoaster Scream

This song is catchy and gets your feet tapping. This band have only been together 5 months but they’re songs are going to be massive. Watch out for them in 2017!

Tony Smith

Album: Tove Lo – Lady Wood

So many great mainstream albums released in 2016 so for this category I am going to go with a relative newcomer, Swedish singer Tove Lo and her album that attempts to consolidate the international multi-platinum success of her 2014 debut, “Queen of the Clouds”.

Some listeners may not warm to Tove Lo’s persona, but her songwriting skills are difficult to fault (she’s also co-written hits for Ellie Goulding and Girls Aloud on the side). She is aided on the album by collaborators including Lorde producer Joel Little and Max Martin’s protégé Ilya Salmanzadeh.

Track: Drake – One Dance

Although this song kind of got on my nerves after the first month of its release, it’s worth remembering the track spent 15 weeks at Number One in the UK alone, with a massive 1.8 million sales in 2016 and counting, and was Spotify’s most-streamed song ever! A track that was guaranteed to fill the dance floor again and again, and now that it has had a bit of a break from radio airplay I’m now enjoying the track again.

Was “One Dance” actually any good? Yes, of course it was – its inescapable dancehall rhythms burrowed their way into your ear like Drake never has before – with more than a little help from contributors Kyla and Wizkid.

I must add that I nearly went with Clean Bandit who brought home the most coveted chart accolade of the year with the Christmas Number One 2016, “Rockabye”. Credit also goes to Anne-Marie and Sean Paul for amazing vocal performances on the track.

Tracey Thomas

Album: Passenger – Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea

I love Passenger – I have all his albums and there are so many great tracks it’s hard to pick a fave. I have lots of albums from 2016 that I loved but this stands out.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

It’s just a happy summer tune that always lifts my spirits and reminds me of our family holiday this year in sunny Majorca – grandson in the pool, evenings around the port area, white sangria, paella etc etc!

Xanthe Bearman

Album: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

Snappy Title. My daughter introduced me to this band and I really like their eclectic style. The album has a track featuring a gospel choir, an couple of instrumental tracks, pop style songs and an acoustic song at the end. “Love Me” is certainly one of my favourites as it’s a complete mickey take of popular culture! Lead singer Matty says it was inspired by him strutting around on stage with his shirt undone, arms outstretched, with hordes of teenage girls screaming up at him!

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Such a happy little song from the Trolls movie soundtrack. It’s one of those songs that get in your head and you bounce about all day singing it – I’m a cheery soul so that appeals to me!

Vixter (Vic Damhar)

Album: Kaytranada – 99.9%

Kaytranada released his highly anticipated debut album 99.9% via XL Recordings. Showcasing a blend of genres from soul, funk, disco to house, bass, hip hop and R&B.

Kaytranada, aka Louis Kevin Celestin has cemented his reputation and sound. Every kick, snare, or clap, usually layered with a sample, gives an energetic, funky, house-vibe to his tracks. This is why Celestin stands out from any other popular electronic house producers.

The album features a wealth of guest talent, including acclaimed percussionist/producer Karriem Riggins, rising Toronto vocalist River Tiber, UKG favourite Craig David, Aluna George, BadBadNotGood, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Vic Mensa and Shay Lia.

99.9% also won the 2016 Polaris Music Prize (Canada’s equivalent to the Mercury Prize), which honours the year’s best album.

Track: Dusky – Ingrid Is A Hybrid

Nick Harriman and Alfie Granger-Howell, aka Dusky, are pioneers of the UK house music scene. The duo released the track from their second studio album entitled Outer.

“Ingrid Is A Hybrid” is a superbly textured sound that offers up atmospheric pads, translucent synth and stunningly inventive vocals with classic rave breakbeats. The track takes you into an atmospheric trip, experiencing euphoria through house music, plus adding Dusky’s own contemporary sound stamped onto it.

A pure pleasure to listen to.

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The Hospice Takeover

Click below to hear the show again:

The Hospice Takeover is a special show recorded for Phoenix FM by two members of the Saint Francis team – Clare McPartland, head of Marketing and Communications, and Jane Merrigan, PR & Communications Executive.


Clare and Jane have been regular visitors to the Phoenix FM throughout the year and the Hospice Takeover show features stories and interviews on many aspects of the Hopsice’s busy year, including:

  • Funding activities
  • The opening of OrangeLine
  • Dealing with dementia
  • Support from local companies
  • The Carers’ Xams lunch
  • The Care Quality Inspection
  • The hospice’s Education Centre
  • Caring for LGBT patients
  • The retail operation
  • Tea and Talk at Toby’s
  • Caring for Young Adults
  • The London Hospice Choir’s attempts to get a Christmas no 1
  • The Day Therapy Unit Xmas party
  • There are also interviews, requests and quizzes with patients, carers and staff

You can find out more about the Hospice at

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Ocean Flaws – Live Session and Interview

It was great to welcome Sean Hamish and Callum from Brentwood based band Ocean Flaws to the studio this morning.

Ocean Flaws

Ocean Flaws

The Guys played three superb songs, including their new single 20.22 and told us some of the history of the band. You can listen to the entire session here –

Ocean Flaws will be appearing at The Essex Arms, Brentwood on 6th January 2017.

You can find out more about the band here –




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More Toys from Piccola – Marie Bateman

Ah more Christmas toys for me to play with! This time it was great to meet Marie Bateman from Piccola.

Marie Bateman

Marie Bateman

We talked about what it was like working for Piccola and Marie brought along a host of quality toys from the shop. You can listen to our chat here –

toys-1 toys-2 toys-3

Piccola have been established for over 50 years and pride themselves in giving excellent customer service both online and in their local shops.


Twitter @PiccolaBrentwd


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Billericay Town Fans’ Forum – as it happened

LIVE UPDATES: We’re at the Billericay Town Fans’ Forum at the New Lodge, Blunts Wall Road, Billericay.

Manager Craig Edwards, new owner Glenn Tamplin and new chairman Danny Groves will be chatting with fans about their plans for the club.


There are well over 100 people in attendance – standing room only in the bar!

Glenn Tamplin has started by welcoming everyone present and said that Craig Edwards will answer questions too, including when he will get his first three points under the new ownership, which raised a big cheer!

GT explains he played for CE 20 years ago at Barkingside and he knows what it feels like to kick a football around with passion and be in a winning environment.

He says that the most important thing he can input into the club is not money but more a desire to build the club up at all levels.

GT says the new players haven’t gelled yet and every one needs to be patient.

The Colts (Youth team) and Ladies teams are very important to the new ethos of the club.

GT hopes to get 1,000 fans at matches every week and hopes to support all areas of the club and that they’ll support the club in return.

GT says that the club needs to be able to fund and pay for itself – so he is setting the club up to run as a business, and not reliant on his money.

GT went on to talk about his experiences in football and how he would run the club. He wants to make Billericay Town to be somewhere that the fans want to come.

He hopes to offer free admission to local schools and get local schoolchildren involved as mascots each week. He says that the club will dedicate a lot of time to disabled supporters – there will be charity fundraisers at the club in aid of disabled charities.

GT wants to get more youngsters through the doors.

He talked about his experience in business – said he has learned a lot.

A question from the ground – the ground isn’t very disabled-friendly at the moment, and will this be improved?

Danny says that a topographical survey is taking place next week to find out where improvements can be made.

GT said there will be major changes to the ground and access for the disabled will be improved. Drawings are being made at the moment.

Another comment from the fans – is the club doing more to publicise the games through the town?

GT mentioned that Phoenix FM is giving the club more publicity and the Echo is now increasing coverage. DG said that all marketing opportunities are being looked at.

GT said that more leaflets will be produced and asked if the fans can help to distribute them to help publicise the games.

A question from the fans – has the new ownership had any discussions with Basildon Borough Council?

GT says that there is only six months left on the lease at the ground and he will be visiting the council to talk about his plans to see what they will and won’t be happy with.

Another fan mentioned that a former chairman, Rod Moore, put in plans for a new stadium 20 years ago but they were rejected. GT says he will be thinking positively and will be constructive with the Council.

GT was asked if it would be possible to turn the whole pitch round. He said that they have already looked at this but the cost was prohibitive.

GT went on to talk about his strengths and weaknesses. He says he won’t take unnecessary risks. Money has already gone on new players and patience is needed. He stressed that he wants to make the club a community and a family.


GT explained why he chose Billericay. The first reason was because Dagenham and Redbridge turned down his offer. He’d also spoken to Bishops Stortford but the deal wasn’t right for him. So there was an element of luck, but he is very happy at the set up at Billericay and feels fortunate that other offers did not go through.

GT then went on to outline his plans for the club.

GT says that clubs are definitely trying harder against Billericay now they have brought new players. However he says the club can still get in the playoffs and be the best side at the end of the season. He also hoped for a cup final this season too!

GT says that if plans go through, it will take 2 1/2 years to build the stadium he wants. He doesn’t see any reason why Billericay can’t be in the National League in 5 years and have a 6,000 seater stadium. He will open up facilities to attract new corporate sponsors too, which he feels Dagenham and Redbridge does well.

GT’s vision is 3 promotions in 5 years. He says it’s a lot to ask for but he wants to excel where the club has failed before. He repeated that at the end of that time the club has to run without GT and his wallet.

A question from the fans – will the club be building a 4G pitch as previously mentioned on Phoenix FM? GT said yes, he wants a pitch behind the ground, with new changing room and bar areas which the Colts and Ladies can use along with local schools. It could hopefully bring in more income.

GT says he will be looking for at least 40 more parking spaces with the new facilities.

Another fan asked the club thinks it could get 6,000 people to fill a stadium? GT says he believes the club can come up to 1,500 people a week. He says that he can build a bigger stadium due to his knowledge and resources in his existing steel business.

GT then asked the fans if he wants standing areas behind the goals to remain. The fans in the room were very strong in their support of keeping this.

GT asked if the food and drink should be improved? One fan asked if cards could be taken behind the bar – GT said this would be arranged. Another fan asked if lunches could be served on match days too, and GT said they would look at trialling this.

Another fan asked if Steve and Sharon Kent were still going to be involved in the club. GT said that they are welcome to continue their involvement at a different level if they want to be.

Another fan asked if floodlight bulbs could be purchased! DG said that this is in hand.

A fan asked if the TVs could be improved in the bar area with the introduction of Sky Sports. DG said that improvements will be made and would look into getting Sky back to keep them in the bar longer.

GT then spoke about what is currently under development.

– A new website, to include a forum and other developments to benefit the club

– A new Billericay Town FC logo, which would keep the old heritage but modernising the style. The Mayflower motif would stay. The fans would be presented with the old badge and four new designs by the end of January and fans would vote on their favourite

– A new slogan, to help the club and the fans be as one and get behind the community, players and supporters

– A mascot – which will involve supporters’ suggestions

Fans were asked for suggestions to the website and a number of fans were very complimentary of the unofficial site at

One fan asked if the New Crawdaddy Club would continue and GT said that events would remain an important part of the community feel of the club.

Some fans talked about the number of official and unofficial sites, Twitter accounts and so on. GT said he wants to unite the club and wants to talk to any fans who have issues with this regard.

GT wrapped up by asking for feedback at the following web address:

He said, “I look forward to this exciting challenge which I intend to make my ultimate goal for my family, colleagues, and those of this amazing club.”

GT then handed the floor to manager Craig Edwards.

He was immediately asked if he was confident that the players would succeed on the pitch.

CE said that the club has had a lot of new players come in recently. The club has also has its worst injury crisis in his time as manager, losing several key players to injury.

New players had to come in quickly as the squad was getting short. This coincided with GT’s introduction to the club – if GT had not come in, lower league players would have been recruited instead.

CE was very confident on Saturday but the club just had a bad day. He said it would settle down.

CE says that every year the club has to build a new side, and this wouldn’t happen in future as he hoped to keep the core of the club.

The cups are very important and the club aims to “win the league in the second half of the season” which would put BTFC in the playoffs.

One fan asked if the injured players would be part of the club’s plans and CE said the sooner the players come back, the better.

Another fan asked if the passion and commitment from players would continue and CE said he wants all players, no matter what level, continue to give everything they’ve got on the pitch.

CE was asked about player recruitment. He said that all of the players who had come in were good lads and the challenge was keeping players motivated who had dropped down a level to play at BTFC.

One fan asked if the side was settled now. CE said that if players didn’t have the desire to play at BTFC he has to let them go.

CE said he felt it was exciting times for the whole club. The club was on a dip in form but the team has quality players who want to play well and he expects them to bounce back.

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Cinderella at the Queens Theatre – Magic for ALL the family

Panto season is one of the most joyous and magical times of the year and no one should feel excluded from enjoying the wonders of Pantomime.


The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch welcomes all those who might usually be prevented from attending the theatre to join warm-hearted Cinderella on her exciting adventure to find her Prince Charming where they can share the magical experience with their friends and family.

Committed to ensuring everyone’s experience to the theatre is special, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is further widening their accessibility provision by providing two specially adapted shows for their enchanting forthcoming production of Cinderella. Tickets to a Relaxed Performance and a Dementia-Friendly Performance are available to purchase alongside the theatre’s regular Signed and Audio-Described Performances.

Relaxed performances provide a comfortable setting for audience members who might find it difficult to follow the usual conventions of theatre etiquette. By creating an informal environment it will enable patrons to just be themselves without the need for families or carers to worry about the effect it may have on others around them. It can be assured that audience noise is permitted throughout the performance and individuals who may feel overwhelmed are free to leave to a ‘chill out’ area in the foyer and return when they feel ready at any point during the show. Extreme loud noises and flashing lights will be cut and trained staff will be on hand to provide extra assistance in front of house.

The Relaxed Performance will take place on 2 January at 6pm and the Dementia-Friendly Performance will take place on 10 January at 2pm. These adapted performances welcomes people of all ages who will benefit from a relaxed, quieter and supportive environment including people with an Autism Spectrum Condition, sensory and communication disorders, a learning disability or dementia.

Written by Andrew Pollard and directed by Martin Berry, Cinderella is packed with live music, spectacular sets, colourful costumes, side-splitting slapstick and tailored audience participation.

Cinderella will be performed at the Queen’s Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch until 14 January. Tickets for these Relaxed Performances are £12.50. To book tickets please call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or stop by in person to discuss your requirements.

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Secure Haven wins industry prize

Products which enable a loved one’s ashes to be worn as jewellery or returned to nature among the trees have earned an Essex company an award.

Secure Haven Independent Funeral Directors, in Margaretting, attended the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management Learning Convention and Exhibition and came away with a trophy.

The Best Exhibition Stand award was voted for by the 125 delegates, speakers and invited guests at the event in Oxford.


Managing director Cheryl Yarwood, who runs the company with husband Paul, picked up the award for the display of their extensive range of innovative products and green concepts for helping the bereaved lay their loved ones’ ashes to rest.

Secure Haven offers brass urns to take pride of place in the home, environmentally-friendly urns enabling loved ones to be put to rest along with nature, plus a range of modern silver jewellery with discreet compartments for ashes to be stored.

Cheryl, who has researched and sourced the products from around the world, said: “This demonstrates how times and needs are changing and the industry’s decision-makers are embracing new innovation to help bereaved families.

“It was a great honour to receive this award for the efforts of everyone at Secure Haven. Now Secure Haven has become a tranquil funeral home, too, we can assist families before they need our services, all the way through their journey to grief recovery.”

More than 80 exhibitors represented 38 companies from all aspects of the industry at the event.

Members of cemeteries and crematoria picked up the latest information on topics from new environmental forms or disposal to the financial cost of unaddressed grief in the workplace on the day.

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Shenfield Christmas Fayre

Phoenix FM presenters Keith Rogers and Mike Jones ran the stage at this year’s Shenfield Christmas Fayre, now in its 3rd year.

The Mayor of Brentwood, Cllr Noelle Hones, gave a speech of thanks, and a number of acts entertained the crowds, including Lydia Lucy, star of The Voice, along with Daisy Benson, Edd Coates, Hockers, JADA Dance School, Brentwood Operatic Society, Sweete Harmonie, Richie Farrow, The Big Sing, Stuck In The Middle and entertainers from 360 Play.

We also had some fantastic performances from children from Shenfield St Mary’s Primary School, Willowbrook Primary School and Hutton All Saints Primary School.

Here’s a clip of Lydia Lucy singing a Christmas classic:

Edd Coates live on stage:

You can see some of the photos below:







































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Toys from Piccola – Bean Boozled!


Joined in the studio by Simon Wilson owner of Piccola. Piccola is an independent children’s Toy, clothing and book shop on the High Street, Brentwood, since 1966.



Unlike many websites, when you buy something from Piccola you’re not buying from an office or a warehouse (or worse still, someone’s front room). We’re not etailers, an e-toy shop or anything like that – this website is the most cyber thing about us!

When you buy from Piccola you’re buying from a living, breathing children’s shop, with real toys and clothes that are being experienced by our customers every week of the year.

Twitter @PiccolaBrentwd



Simon kindly came in with one of the games from the shop, we played live on air BEAN BOOZLED. If your children love Harry Potter they will love this in fact I think get one for the children and one for the adults!

How to play.. spin the wheel and then you eat the jelly bean the pointer goes to. Each flavour can be either nice or ewwww. Guess who got Canned Dog Food flavour, me!

Coconut or Babwipes
Berry Blue or Toothpaste
Buttered Popcorn or Rotten Egg
Chocolate Pudding or Canned Dog Food (I got that one and it had the canned dog food aroma once you bit into it).
Peach or Vomit
Tutti-Frutti or Stinky Socks
Lime or Lawn Clippings
Juicy Pear or Booger!


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Charity networking event a great success

Phoenix FM attended the first networking event in aid of Haven House Children’s Hospice, organised and hosted by the Brentwood Orthodontic and Implant Centre in Regency House, Ingrave Road, Brentwood.

Over 40 local businesses took part in the event, which included presentations from Haven House’s community and events fundraiser Kate Donoghue, and Stuart O’Neil, a business coach at local firm Pro-Actions.

We spoke to Nikhil and Kate, and you can hear the interviews again below:

There will be a further event next year – keep an eye on Brentwood Orthodontic and Implant Centre’s website for more information.


Brentwood Orthodontic and Implant Centre –
Haven’s House Children’s Hospice –

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Billericay Town Fans Forum – have your say!

Billericay Town FC will be staging a Fans Forum on Monday 19th December at 7pm.

The forum, to take place at Blunts Wall Road, Billericay CM11 9SA, is organised by the club’s prospective new owner Glenn Tamplin and is a change for all fans to have their say and help build the direction of the club going forward.

For more information keep an eye on the club’s website at or follow them on Twitter @btfc.

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Lighting Up Brentwood 2016

Click below to listen again to Phoenix FM’s interviews from this year’s event:

Contents: Rob Dennis from SNAP; Saint Francis Hospice; Pippa Meads from Essex Youth Service; Hopefield Animal Sanctuary; Frankie Emmins from Universal Roots; Doddinghurst Road Church; Jim Shrubb, Town Crier; Street Pastors; Murray Dedman, stage manager; various fairies!

Interviews by Bob Simpson, Nikki Mills and Nick Field

Phoenix FM once again hosted today’s Lighting Up Brentwood in Brentwood High Street.

Tony Smith and Mike Porter introduced a myriad of singers, bands and choirs before the big switch on at 5.00pm.






























































































































































































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Billericay Town FC – new owner urges the town to get behind the club

Billericay Town’s new owner Glenn Tamplin is urging the town to get behind his club as he aims to take them from the Ryamn League to the Football League over the coming seasons.


Completion of the purchase of the club will take place in the next few days but Glenn has already injected funds into the team, having signed eight new players in the last 10 days.

Speaking to Phoenix FM this morning, Glenn says that he has a strong vision for the club but needs support in helping the club to progress.

Glenn said:

“I am bringing money, drive, passion, desire, commitment and unity to the club. We’ve got very high hopes that our new players will make an impact.

“We want our fans to be on the journey from the start. These are exciting times for Billercay Town and its supporters.”

The Blues are currently 11th in the Ryman Premier but only 5 points from the play-off places with games in hand.

Their next home match is against the Metropolitan Police tomorrow (Saturday) at 3pm, followed by another home game against AFC Sudbury on Tuesday at 7.45pm.

You can follow Billericay Town on Twitter @BTFC and the new owner is also now on Twitter @GlennTamplin.

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The Living Years – Saint Francis Hospice aim for Christmas No 1!

Watch the video:

A newly-formed choir of 300 patients, families, staff and volunteers from 18 hospices are aiming for this year’s Christmas number 1 – and to raise awareness of the hospice movement – with a cover of “The Living Years” alongside Paul Carrack, who was also lead vocalist on the original 1991 hit. 

The multi-generational London Hospices Choir recorded their new take on the classic track at the world famous Abbey Road Studios and shot the moving music video with patients at Clapham’s Royal Trinity Hospice, under the direction of top Hollywood film director Annabel Jankel (Super Mario Bros, Live from Abbey Road).


Saint Francis Hospices’s Jane Merrigan came down to chat to Mike about the project. You can hear the interview again below:

Lead vocalist Paul Carrack said, “The Living Years has been an important song for me for many years, but this is the version that means the most. Recording it with this incredibly special group of people for such a worthwhile cause has created some kind of magic. It’s a powerful and inspiring track, and I hope that everyone gets behind it this Christmas.”

Choir member Lillian John (94), a patient at St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than 9 years ago said, “I have been given a new lease of life being part of the London Hospices Choir. St Joseph’s Hospice has been like a family to me, and now I feel like I am part of a huge extended family with 300 people all wanting to give something back to these wonderful places.”  

Former MP Derek Wyatt, Chair of Trustees at Royal Trinity Hospice, who brought the choir together in honour of their 125th anniversary, said, “We hope that this song will encourage families to take time to have those important conversations as they come together for Christmas. Everyone who buys the song will also be helping London’s hospices to offer the best possible care at a time when every day is precious.”

Music producer James Hawkins said, “The idea of recording ‘The Living Years’ with this wonderful choir came to me as I was walking around the pond at Royal Trinity Hospice. The song’s message was reflected so strongly as I watched generations come together at a place of such serenity and life to share important conversations. It couldn’t be a better message for everyone to hear this Christmas.”  
All profits from the sale of the single will be divided between the 18 hospices involved, helping them to support those reaching the end of their lives, and their families.

As well as Saint Francis Hospice, the other hospices contributing are Demelza Hospice Care for Children, Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice, Harlington Hospice, Haven House, Marie Curie (Hampstead), Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice, North London Hospice, Pembridge Palliative Care Centre, Princess Alice Hospice, Richard House, Royal Trinity Hospice, Shooting Star Chase, St Christopher’s, The Hospice of St Francis (Berkhamsted), St Joseph’s Hospice (Hackney), St Luke’s Hospice and St Raphael’s Hospice.

“The Living Years” by The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack is being released on December 16th. It’s available to pre-order now from:

Amazon (Physical):
Amazon (Digital):

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We chat to Jane Geering from Contact The Elderly

Hi everyone,

I had the privilege of filling in for the fabulous Michelle Ward for one of her Eat My Brunch shows and I LOVED IT! I was lucky enough to be joined with a fantastic guest, Jane Geering from one of the Brentwood branches of Contact the Elderly was on the show speaking about the fantastic work that happens during a Contact The Elderly tea party and their need for new drivers. For more information you can visit the website at or call the freephone number 0800 716 543.

If you are interested in volunteering in Brentwood specifically, as there are many branches dotted around all over the place you can contact Jane herself by email on:

Thank you so much for coming in Jane, it was lovely chatting to you and I really hope that you get the volunteers you need very soon.

Click here to hear the interview again:

Playlist for the show:

  1. Junior Senior – Move Your Feet
  2. Ella Henderson – Ghost
  3. Rebecca Ferguson – Bones
  4. Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex
  5. Abba – Mamma Mia
  6. Busted – Easy
  7. Niall Horan – This Town
  8. Aerosmith – I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing
  9. Melanie C – Anymore
  10. Olly Murs – Grow Up
  11. Rick Astley – Never Gonna Give You Up
  12. Shawn Mendes – Mercy
  13. Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
  14. Lukas Graham – Mama Said
  15. Ting Tings – Shut Up And Let Me Go
  16. Girls Aloud – Something New
  17. Spandau Ballet – Chant No 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On)
  18. Madness – Mr Apples
  19. 5 Seconds Of Summer – Amnesia
  20. ABC – Poison Arrow
  21. Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy
  22. Calvin Harris Featuring Ellie Goulding – Outside
  23. Alanis Morisette – Ironic
  24. BB Diamond – Praying
  25. Madcon – Beggin’
  26. Kaiser Chiefs – Parachute
  27. John Lennon – Imagine
  28. Pixie Lott – What Do You Take Me For
  29. Bastille – Good Grief
  30. Clean Bandit Featuring Sean Paul And Ann-Marie – Rockabye
  31. Four Seasons – December ’63 (Oh What A Night)
  32. George Ezra – Budapest
  33. Nathan Sykes – Famous
  34. Jason Derulo – Want To Want Me
  35. Zayn – Pillowtalk
  36. The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey – Closer
  37. Walk The Moon – Shut Up And Dancecontact-the-elderly
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Calling all local businesses!

Brentwood businesses can explore opportunities to work together at a new networking event, taking place in the town on from 6pm on Thursday 1st December.

The event is organised by the Brentwood Orthodontic and Implant Centre, who will also be raising money and awareness for their designated charity, Haven House Children’s Hospice.

The evening will feature a raffle in aid of Haven House with many exclusive prizes donated by local businesses, including luxury VIP tickets for the champagne lounge at Sugar Hut, a voucher for Smiths Restaurant Ongar and afternoon tea at Mulberry House Manor. This will be followed by a presentation from Haven House Children’s Hospice and a short talk from a Business Coach at Pro-Actions.


The event will be held at Regency House, 38 Ingrave Road, Brentwood CM15 8AX, and is supported by Phoenix FM and the Essex Business Forum. To attend, please email

Brentwood Orthodontic and Implant Centre has been providing specialist dental treatments for the local community for over 13 years. You can find out more about them on their official website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Haven House Children’s Hospice has provided specialist care for over 650 children and young people since 2003 (from birth to 19) who have life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. You can read more about their work on their official website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Shenfield High School – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat

Shenfield High School has an excellent Drama Department. Each year a variety of students from all years take part in a full scale musical, the latest of these is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

In the studio today to tell us all about it was course teacher Mrs Rachel Bryan and students Daynah Lorelle  Taylor Elsworth, and Nathan Armin.

Mrs Rachel Bryan with Taylor, Daynah and Nathan

Mrs Rachel Bryan with Taylor, Daynah and Nathan

You can listen to our chat, along with a song from Daynah previously recorded at Phoenix FM and an impromptu performance of Any Dream Will Do from Nathan, here –

It was great fun having them all together in the studio. What a talented bunch!

image1 image2


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Courtney-Lee Collins wins Inspirational Youth 2016

Phoenix FM presenter Courtney-Lee Collins is celebrating after winning the Inspirational Youth award at this year’s Pride of Essex Awards!


As well as being our youngest presenter, Courtney-Lee has been an avid charity fundraiser over the last few years, raising money for Help For Heroes, The Rainbow Child Foundation, Puffin Ward at Basildon Hospital, The British Heart Foundation, Follow Your Dreams, Treetops Special Needs School, Southend
Breast Cancer Unit, Basildon Hospital/s Polly Parrot Appeal, Clik Sargent, St Luke’s Hospice and Essex Air Ambulance.

The awards, held at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, have been held since 1994 to recognise and award achievement over adversity.




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Man flu or actual flu? It’s Movember!

It’s November, meaning it’s Movember time again when men are growing moustaches and the focus is on raising awareness of men’s health issues.

We may all joke about man flu, but Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is asking men if they can tell if it is flu or just a common cold?

On average, adults can expect two colds a year and children as many as 10, until they develop immunity. Sometimes a bad cold can be mistaken for flu because a severe cold can also cause muscle aches and fever. But it’s how quickly the symptoms come on which is the biggest clue.

Flu usually comes quicker than a cold and symptoms include a high temperature of 38-40 degrees Celsius, muscle aches and pains, sweating, feeling exhausted, needing to lie down and a dry chesty cough.

A person with flu may also have a runny nose and be prone to sneezing, but these are not usually the key symptoms of flu. Flu symptoms appear one to three days after infection and most people recover within a week, although you may feel tired for longer.

Colds on the other hand can cause more nasal problems. This includes a blocked and runny nose which begins with a clear mucus that develops into thicker green mucus as the cold progresses, a sore throat, sneezing and a cough.

Adults are also more likely to suffer a mild fever, earache, tiredness and headache. Cold symptoms develop over one or two days and gradually get better after a few days. Some colds can last for up to two weeks.


Dr Jojo Mampilly, local GP and board member of Basildon and Brentwood CCG says: “Unfortunately, colds and flu are an unpleasant part of winter. No one likes to be ill so whether you’re normally fit and well or if you have an underlying health condition it’s important to take notice of what your body’s telling you.

“If you do start to feel ill the best thing to do is visit your local pharmacist for advice on cold and flu remedies that will help you feel better. If you’re taking other medication make sure you tell the pharmacist so that they can give you remedies that won’t interfere with your medication. Also take lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.”

Other things to remember:

  • Have a free flu jab if you are over 65 or have an underlying health condition
  • Keep paracetamol or ibuprofen-based pain and fever treatment or cold remedies in the house. They will help with the symptoms of both colds and flu
  • If you are prescribed antibiotics because of a bacterial infection, make sure you finish the course
  • Sneeze into a tissue and put it straight in the bin – don’t carry it around and reuse over and over again
  • Have good hand hygiene – always wash hands with soap and water, particularly after sneezing and blowing your nose. Take the time to dry them properly as wet hands harbour and spread germs
  • Keep surfaces clean

Whether it’s a cold or flu, get medical help if you either have a chronic condition, such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or have a very high fever as well as an unusually severe headache, abdominal or chest pain.

For more information about pharmacies and staying well this winter visit

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EXCLUSIVE: Glenn Tamplin highlights his plans for Billericay Town

Click below to hear the full interview (10 mins):

“By this time next week it should be signed, sealed and delivered”

On Sunday, Ryman League Premier team Billericay Town FC made a shock announcement that the shareholders, Steve Kent and Grant Gordon, have agreed to sell their stake in the club to Glenn Tamplin.

Glenn led a consortium which has been in negotiations over the last few months to take over Conference side Dagenham and Redbridge. The deal has fallen through and Glenn has turned his attention to the New Lodge.

In an exclusive interview with Phoenix FM’s Paul Golder, Glenn talks about:

– his own personal history in non-league football as a player
– what happened with the Dagenham and Redbridge bid
– his plans for the team, the ground and how the club will reach out to the community
– where he expects the club to be at the end of his seven year plan


We then continued chatting about football in general on the full-size pitch in his garden!

Glenn’s plans are ambitious – but he clearly has conviction that Billericay Town can go to a whole new level.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the exciting times ahead for the Blues.

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The Hopefield Hour – pilot show!

Click here to listen to the show again:

The Hopefield Hour is a new show presented by Ruth E Mortimer from Brentwood charity Hopefield Animal Sanctuary.


In our first pilot show Ruth talks to Hopefield staff member Ben Gregory about his work at the centre.

The Hopefield Hour is to become a regular feature on Phoenix FM in the near future – keep an ear out on 98FM to find out when.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary has been caring for sick, unwanted and mistreated animals since 1983. For more information about Hopefield visit

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Sugar Hut live! – Wills Childs and Lydia Lucy

Phoenix FM presenters were out and about at the Sugar Hut’s second Thursday night music event last night.

The evening’s host, Wills Childs, and Lydia Lucy, star of The Voice, performed to a packed audience.

The event was supported by our own Graham Stannard, Tracey Thomas and Steve Roach, who supplied the photos.

If you want to get involved in future events send a sample of your voice to













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Help the animals at Hopefield this winter!

Our friends at Hopefield Animal Sanctuary are asking for help this winter – by filling up a shoebox.


You can help the sanctuary’s animals during the cold winter months by filling up a shoe box with animal related products such as food, treats, toys, bedding, blankets, fruit and veg and any other things you think of.

Why not ask your school or workplace to get involved, and pass on the message to friends and colleagues too!

Boxes can be dropped at the sanctuary any day of the week (Sawyers Hall Farm, Sawyers Hall Ln, Brentwood CM15 9BZ), or can be dropped at Hopefield’s pet supplies shop in Ingatestone from Monday to Saturday (3 Market Place, Ingatestone, CM4 0BY).

If you can’t drop it off you can post your boxes directly. And if you pop your details on the box, the animals will write you a special thank you note :)

If you need inspiration as to what to put in the box you can check out Hopefield’s Amazon wishlist here:

Facebook page for the Shoebox appeal:

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Spotlight on … Brentwood Fairtrade

Click here to listen again:

Sara Macham sits down in the Phoenix FM studios with Caryl Kwei, secretary of the Brentwood Fairtrade campaign group. Find out how Caryl and her team of volunteers got Brentwood certified as a fairtrade town, what makes a fairtrade school and why we should all care about where our food, clothes and even footballs come from.


If you would like to know more, visit If you would like to help Caryl, you can find more details and how you can get involved at

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Brentwood Business Showcase


Brentwood’s first Business Showcase event, held today at the Brentwood Centre, proved to be a great success with over 500 people in attendance.

The showcase was set up as an opportunity to promote local businesses, visit exhibitors, network with others and meet new customers and suppliers.

Organised by Brentwood Borough Council, and sponsored by Wortley Byers Law, the showcase featured key speakers including Crossrail’s Surface Director Matthew White, who spoke about Crossrail coming to the area and how this will transform Brentwood’s business environment, and Nick Kay of St Modwen Developments Ltd, who spoke about the Strategic Development Plan for Brentwood Enterprise Park and why it is the new place to do business.

Other speakers included Judy Hoskins from the Women In Business Network, Laurie Edmonds from Local By Social and Russell Quirk from eMoov.

Phoenix FM was in attendance too – represented by our Sales and Marketing Manager, Steve Roach. Get in touch to find out what deals we can offer businesses!





















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Do you qualify for a free flu jab?

Joined in the studio by Dr Ramkhelawon from NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG to talk about the flu jab.


Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reminding people in ‘at risk’ groups to book in for their free flu jab.  These include:

  • adults over 65
  • those with long term health conditions
  • children aged 2 – 7
  • carers
  • pregnant women

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country see their GP and tens of thousands are hospitalised because of flu1.  Symptoms of flu can be debilitating and last for several weeks.  It can lead to more serious complications like middle ear infections in children, and pneumonia or bronchitis for those with underlying health conditions, and in some cases it can be fatal.

As someone with a long term condition, Basildon and Brentwood CCG’s Public Health Consultant Krishna Ramkhelawon has the flu jab every year and is encouraging other people in ‘at risk’ groups to get themselves vaccinated.

Krishna said: “Flu is a highly contagious illness that spreads rapidly through the population.  It can cause serious complications for at risk groups, such as the people who are frail and elderly, expectant mothers and people with long term health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, cancer patients and asthma.

“This year more children are being vaccinated because we know that they can very easily pick up germs and spread them among  friends and family members.  This vaccination programme helps protect people and their communities.

“Thousands more local residents are entitled to a free flu jab and if you are unsure, please contact your GP practice. My advice for anyone eligible for the free flu vaccination is to get it early before flu starts to circulate in their community.”

Although it’s not possible to know which strains of flu will circulate each winter, the flu vaccination is still the best protection against an unpredictable virus which can cause severe illness and deaths amongst vulnerable groups.

Over the many years that the flu jab has been administered, there has generally been a good match between the strains of flu in the vaccine and those that subsequently circulate, so it’s important that we do all we can to ensure vulnerable people are not discouraged from having flu vaccination now, or in the future.

Vaccines are available now so contact your local GP or pharmacy as soon as possible – it’s free because you need it.

For more information visit

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Brentwood Festival 2017 – Laurie Edmonds reveals first acts

The Brentwood Festival is back next year and the festival team have already booked their first acts!

Laurie Edmonds Brentwood Festival 09-06-16

Laurie Edmonds spoke to Mike Porter about the festival, now in its 7th year, and you can hear the big announcement below:

The Brentwood Festival takes place from 14-16 July 2017. Early bird tickets go on sale on 1st November and you can find out more at

The White Horse Beer, Sausage and Cider Festival takes place from 28-30 October and will feature many festival regulars including Missing Andy and Expose. Profits will go to Blesma, The Limbless Veterans charity. You can find out more on the event’s Facebook page.

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Join the Giving Machine and help Phoenix FM!

We’ve signed up with THE GIVING MACHINE to help our supporters raise money for Phoenix FM!


The Giving Machine works by generating commissions for us every time you shop online.

There are over 1,500 retailers to choose from including Amazon,, John Lewis, eBay, Sainsbury’s and Next.

Using The Giving Machine doesn’t cost you anything extra – but we earn income which goes towards our studio running costs.

How can you help?

Go to our cause page at and register an account.

Bookmark which gives you a list of shops to choose from. Alternatively use the search bar at the top of that page to search for products.

And that’s it!

You can also install an optional Shop and Give Reminder which will show you which retailers help our cause as you browse the web.

As a supporter we’ll keep you up to date about how much we’ve raised and what we’re spending it on.

Happy shopping!

Phoenix FM is a not-for-profit organisation.

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Parents – protect your child from flu!

Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group is reminding parents to act on the letter they should have received about their child’s free flu vaccination.

This year the annual flu campaign is being extended to include older children in school year three.

The free immunisation is being offered to youngsters aged two, three and four and pupils in school years one and two and three.

The move will help protect a larger number of children across south west Essex and help provide protection to schools, friends, family, and the wider population from the virus.


Dr Sooraj Natarajan, who is the clinical lead for paediatrics at Basildon and Brentwood CCG, said: “We know coughs and colds are already starting to spread which means flu season is right behind. Children aged two, three and four are more vulnerable and can be hit hard by flu. In addition, they spread infections easily. They’re not bothered about covering their mouth when they cough, sneeze, or keeping their hands clean. And if they’re around family members of friends that are over 65 or who have a health condition, they’re putting them at risk too.

“Flu spreads fast and places like schools are ideal environments for it to get a grip in the community, so it’s essential we make sure children are protected for the sake of their fellow pupils and those they are in contact with.”

The vaccination is given by squirting a single dose of nasal spray up each nostril and so there are no needles to worry about.

Dr Natarajan, who is GP Principal at the Tile House Surgery in Brentwood, said: “The vaccination is the best protection against what is an unpredictable virus. It can cause severe illness and can even be fatal in some cases. It’s also vital that children get vaccinated every year, vaccines are not for life and just as the virus changes each year so does the vaccine – it will protect your child and potentially those they come into contact with.

“So we’re asking that parents and carers pay attention to the letter they have received or will be receiving soon. We understand being a parent keeps people busy but this five minute job is really important for the health of your child and your loved ones. It really isn’t worth the risk so please get your child protected.”

Any parent who has not received a letter, should contact their child’s school or GP practice.

Young people with long-term health conditions up to the age of 17 are also eligible to receive a free flu vaccination at their GP practice or local pharmacy.

For more information visit

You can download the NHS leaflet here.

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The West Ham Way – show 13

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex discuss West Ham’s recent performances on the field and questions from listeners.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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Chris Ronald and John Ellis in session

A great song is a great song so they say and Chris Ronald & John Ellis have so many!

Beautiful musicianship and catchy songs all completed with a pitch perfect vocal. Awesome!

Chris came into Phoenix at the end of his European Tour and if you get a chance to catch him Thursday 13th October will be the date at Loughton Folk Club


Interview Part One


City Girl – Live


Interview Part Two


Sons of Summer – Live


Interview Part Three


Interview Part Four


Retirement Plan – Live


Chris’s fifth album is out early next year and available on pre order via his website.

chris-roland-pics-2 chris-roland-pics

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Nando’s comes to Mayflower Shopping Park

Phoenix FM was at the opening of the beautiful new Nando’s at Mayflower Shopping Park today.


The new store occupies the former Pizza Hut site but has been completely transformed and modernised.


Basildon’s third Nando’s has created 20 new jobs for locals and will seat 125 people at a time.

The brand new restaurant will bring the Nando’s experience to locals with authentic Portuguse hand made fabrics for the fixed seating, as well as beautiful cortex steel planters for the front seating area.


Regional MD, Stephen Geach said: “We are thrilled to open the doors to our brand new Nando’s in the Mayflower Shopping Park, which will give locals and fans alike the chance to experience our authentic Peri Peri flavours.

“This fantastic location is our third restaurant in Basildon and we’re delighted to be growing in this thriving area.”

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In conversation with legendary comedian Jimmy Jones


Comedy Legend Jimmy Jones see him live in aid of St Francis Hospice on 14th October, Romford.



Comedians Jimmy Jones and Mickey Pugh AN AUDIENCE WITH JIMMY JONES at the Premiere Cinema Romford on October 14th in Support of St Francis Hospice. Tickets are £15.00 each and money raised is going towards supporting the work of the hospice.

Had a fabulous chat on air (and off) with the legendary comedian, Jimmy Jones.

Jimmy has racked up over 50 years in the business and has played in venues all over the world.

Winning Club Mirror ‘Comedian of the year’ award – the first non TV comic to ever win the award, he has played Las Vegas, London Palladium, plus a sell out season at The Strand Theatre London. He was also the first stand up comic to release a video.

HELP JIMMY JONES AND MICKY PUGH raise funds for the amazing St Francis Hospice who provide care for people with life limiting illnesses.

For tickets go to

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Hospice Care Week

Today is the start of Hospice Care Week and to celebrate this, staff, volunteers and patients from Saint Francis Hospice have created a video which explains what hospice care means to them.

Saint Francis Hospice will be using social media this week to highlight the special and sometimes unexpected ways that they offer care and support.

You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter to find out more.

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The Everglows – back at Phoenix FM

Click below to listen to the interview:

We welcomed back The Everglows – Andy Smith, Ray Brodrick and Steve Perkins – to the Phoenix FM studios for their third session for us, having visited us in 2014 and 2015.


We always have a short chat about the band which ends up in a long preamble about music in general, and the lads didn’t disappoint this time.

They played three more songs for us too, which you can see again below:

You can find out what the band are up to by visiting their Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud pages.

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A Month Of Sundays – we chat to William Hoyland

Actor William Hoyland is currently starring as Cooper in A Month Of Sundays, which is running at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch until 15 October.


Robin Hooper and William Hoyland in A Month of Sundays at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Photo: Mark Sepple

William has worked extensively with the most eminent theatre companies across the UK and he has also appeared in some of the world’s best-known films as well as numerous television hits. These include: Return of the Jedi, Gandhi, For Your Eyes Only, Scoop, Life on Mars, The Thick of It, Call the Midwife and Rules of Engagement.

Graham Stannard spoke to William about his current production and you can hear it again here.

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John Baron’s Fun Walk breaks records

At their presentation ceremony this evening, Basildon and Billericay MP John Baron, along with other trustees of the Fun Walk Trust, awarded bonus pot cheques to all those charities and good causes which took part in this year’s Fun Walk, which took place at Barleylands Farm on 22 May.

Because of the generosity of corporate and individual sponsors, each project receives a bonus over and above what they raise themselves in sponsorship on the day. In this year’s walk, for every £100 raised by projects in sponsorship, the bonus pot is adding a further £53. The total monies raised both by the projects and bonus pot sponsors came to £110,000 – a new record and up 10% on last year. Nearly 100 projects in total benefitted from this year’s Walk, including Phoenix FM, who had a team of presenters present.


The presentation was held at Anisha Grange Care Home, Outwood Common Road, Billericay. John said:

“The 2016 Fun Walk has been a huge success and our bonus pot sponsors have been integral to that success. Our thanks go to Swan Housing Association, c2c Rail, Butyl Products Ltd, Abellio Greater Anglia, Hallmark Care Homes, Private Ambulance Service Ltd, IFE Global Logistics, Leonardo (formally Selex ES), Mr Barrie Stone and others.

“Our thanks also go to Barleylands Farm for hosting the Walk and to Hallmark Care Homes for hosting the presentation evening, to our family of volunteers for organising and running the event, and to the many others who have helped including our marshals and accountants Hunt Smee and Co.

“Many people and good causes less fortunate than ourselves will benefit from everyone’s generosity. It’s been a great team effort. Next year’s walk will take place on 21st May 2017- again at Barleylands Farm. All are welcome.”

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The Queens – Most Welcoming Theatre in the East!

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is overjoyed to win the UK’s Most Welcoming Theatre award for the East region in the UK Theatre Awards, in association with Smooth Radio.

Queens Theatre Hornchurch

The Theatre is among 12 regional winners announced yesterday by UK Theatre and all will be invited to the annual UK Theatre Awards ceremony on 9 October at London’s historic Guildhall, where the overall winner will be announced.

The award, which is voted for by the public, is an opportunity for audiences to celebrate their local theatre.

Julian Bird, Chief Executive of UK Theatre, said: ‘Theatres play a vital role in communities across the UK, so it has been wonderful to see so many votes cast. This campaign brings together audiences, theatres, performers and producers and gives everyone the opportunity to celebrate their local venue.’

Awards judge Paul Phear said: ‘It is a privilege to team up with UK Theatre once again as we crown the nation’s Most Welcoming Theatre. This Award is even more special because it is the audiences, including our Smooth Radio listeners, who have chosen the winner. I look forward to announcing the result next month.’

The Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul says: ‘We’re delighted to win this award. Thank you to everyone who voted and to the team at the Queen’s Theatre. We’re working hard to be a welcoming, accessible venue – our customer service is warm and efficient and our varied programme of entertainment offers something for all ages and interests. Crucially, we’re reaching out to many more members of the community – who may not have previously felt able to visit the theatre – with several new initiatives, from £1 ticket offers to Relaxed Performances for audiences with autism and Dementia-Friendly performances.’

Lesley Manville OBE will be compèring at the ceremony, where Vanessa Redgrave CBE will be receiving The Gielgud Award for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts, while Sir Ian McKellen will collect the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre.

This year’s nominations demonstrate the breadth and depth of outstanding talent and achievement in theatre and the performing arts throughout the United Kingdom, on and off stage. The full list can be viewed

For more information about the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch, call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or visit

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The West Ham Way – show 11

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

On this week’s show Dave, Kev and Ex discuss West Ham’s recent performances on the field, the fall out from Sam Allardyce’s resignation from England and questions from listeners.

The West Ham Way will be back next week on Wednesday at 7pm. #COYI

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The Sound Of Essex

Click here to listen to the show again:

The Sound Of Essex is a recording project put together by Studio 6 Music in Witham and Phoenix FM – proomoting the best of unsigned talent in Essex.


11 artists have recorded a track at Studio 6 especially for the project. You can hear many of them chatting about their band and music, and hear all the tracks involved, on a special radio programme bring broadcast on 20 September.

The project is in aid of Brainwave, a Witham-based children’s charity. For more information and to buy copies of the CD contact

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Walking the Crossrail


Joined in the studio by The Senior Minster of Sawyers Church, Peter Jordan (previously a Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years) to talk about his part in fundraising for a new community building.

Here’s some more information about the walk:

Peter is going to walk the Crossrail route from Heathrow to Shenfield over three days (22nd, 23rd and 24th September).  The new Crossrail route, which ends in Shenfield, will probably open around the same time as the new building, which will have a massive impact on the local community and is big news locally.


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Andy J Gallagher live at Phoenix FM

Hear the interview and session again:

It’s fair to describe Andy J Gallagher as a bona fide stalwart of the Essex Music Scene. I saw Andy’s first band, The Shopkeeper Appeared, 24 years ago at the Pink Toothbrush in Rayleigh supporting Irish indie nonsense merchants The Sultans of Ping – another little known band, Radiohead, shared the support with Andy that day.


Andy came down today for his second session with Phoenix FM – the first being way back in 2009. With guitarist Millsy we had a chat about his musical career and played three songs for us, which you can see and hear below:

Andy has a new single, Sheena’s Big Night Out/Because We Are, out on JAC64 Records – the songs were produced by long-time collaborator and ex-Damned guitar/keyboard player Roman Jugg.

You can find out more about Andy at his official website –

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Imogen Heap launches Saint Francis Hospice’s OrangeLine

Click here to listen again to the interview:

Saint Francis Hospice’s new OrangeLine has launched with new patron Imogen Heap playing at a very special ceremony in Havering-atte-Bower.


Imogen, who recorded a live session for Phoenix FM back in 2011, performed four songs for hospice staff, carers and patients.

Paul Golder spoke to Imogen about her role at the hospice and also a little about what she’s up to musically at the moment. He also chatted to the hospice’s Director of Quality and Care, Tess Smith, about the impact that OrangeLine will have on service users and also about Imogen’s support of their work.


OrangeLine is Saint Francis Hospice’s new free telephone service. It is aimed at local people who are suffering or caring for someone with a life-limiting illness, or have been recently discharged or bereaved, or just in need of a friendly conversation. It’s confidential and managed by specially trained staff and volunteers who are dedicated to the caller’s wellbeing.


For more information about OrangeLine please visit

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The West Ham Way – show 9

Click here to listen to the show again:

Welcome to the latest edition of The West Ham Way, Phoenix FM’s weekly round up of all things West Ham!

The show is presented every week by Dave Walker and Kev Slade from West Ham website Sex Drugs & Carlton Cole with help from the mysterious @exwhuemployee, founder of The West Ham Way website.

On this week’s show Dave and Ex discuss West Ham’s woeful performance at home to Watford, injury and transfer news and questions from listeners.

The West Ham Way will be back next week at the later time of Thursday at 7pm. #COYI

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Parts of Brentwood set to join South Basildon and East Thurrock

The UK’s political map is set to be redrawn in the run-up to the next general election in 2020 – with many people in Brentwood likely to find they are voting in a completely different area.


Under draft plans just published, the number of parliamentary constituencies will fall significantly, reducing the number of MPs in Parliament by 50 to 600, while most seats will change in size and character for the first time in at least a decade.

The Brentwood and Ongar constituency has been increased north to include many areas previously in the Saffron Walden constituency, as far as North End and Great Leighs on the outskirts of Braintree. It’s also increased east, taking in the village of Boreham, a few miles to the east of Chelmsford.

However some villages traditionally identifying as Brentwood, including Great Warley, Little Warley, Ingrave and Herongate now join the South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency, whose MP is currently Stephen Metcalfe. The previous boundary line between the two was the A127 but this has moved up to the Brentwood railway line, so roads as far into Brentwood as Myrtle Road and Mount Crescent will now be voting for the same MP as people in Tilbury and Coryton.

The shape of Billericay and Basildon constituency has changed too with the village of Stock and Margaretting now voting here instead of in Maldon, as they did in 2015.

A map of the proposed changes can be found here:

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Lywis Cowles live on Phoenix FM

lywis cowel pic 1

I love having different musicians onto my radio show, all ages, all styles, that’s the pleasure of the job I do, giving people an opportunity to be heard. Occasionally you get to hear a voice so astounding  it leaves you speechless and you know I bloody ramble for England! Today was that day and Lywis Cowles was the voice – simply amazing. His vocal ability and range is impressive yet he doesn’t over complicate a song, he doesn’t do vocal gymnastics although he sure could, you listen and its pure. I think I just met a future STAR!

Lywis Cowles… Life is too short to care what other people think – Be happy and always be proud of who you are.

Interview Part One – Live Performance ALL I ASK

Interview Part Two – Live Performance LAY ME DOWN

Interview Part Three – Live Performance

FACEBOOK Lywis Cowles for bookings

lywis and ben pic 2

Lywis & Ben

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Guest Blog: MHM – The Journey

Mental Health Matters, not only is it the name of the programme but just as a statement – it is very true. I remember how the programme came about, back in March 2015. The mental health organisation Time to Change had their annual ‘Time to Talk’ day and Phoenix FM had their daytime shows chock-full of interviews that were mental health-related in one form or another.

Scott and Bob

Scott and Bob

From that, Mental Health Matters (MHM) was born and in some ways, it could be described as a ‘specialist’ programme – though what it is is actually a rarity. The ‘big fish’ in the mental health (MH) arena such as Mind, Rethink & co would do well to give those with lived or living experience of mental health conditions, survivors if you like, the chance to encourage others to speak out using radio or podcasts, to make a difference. When I look back on what MHM may have achieved during its run, it is exactly that – making a difference.

We’ve had fun as well and that is another key thing to remember in this not-so-pristine world of ours, if you can laugh at things sometimes – it does help. Without being self-indulgent, we’ve had some superb guests like MH campaigners Jonny Benjamin & Norman Lamb MP plus quite a few passionate campaigners here in Essex, great discussions and played some good music as well.

Being involved in MHM since its inception has been a real journey and then some. Writing this to mark the 15th & final episode of the series, it’s been an honour and I sincerely hope that it’s helped the MH community as they are absolutely who MHM has been for in the first place.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to thank all of the guests, panellists & supporters that have assisted with the programme since Episode 1. Thank you all. And a special thanks also to Bob, without him we may not have had a series at all. Plus station Chairman Paul, for being open to having the show to begin with, thank you.

If you’d like to check out the episodes themselves go to and scroll down to listen to different episodes or click on the Episode’s title.

Goodbye MHM – it’s been a blast!

Best wishes to all,
Producer & co-presenter of MHM

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Mental Health Matters Episode 15 – Listen Here

Wayne Scott and Bob

Wayne Scott and Bob

Welcome to the 15th episode of Mental Health Matters on Phoenix FM, the last in the series!

Presented by Bob Simpson & Scott W

In this packed episode, Scott speaks to Mental Health survivor, campaigner & writer Laura May about her Mental Health journey & her campaign work. (Twitter: @lauramaywritten)
Plus, Bob talks to accredited & qualified counsellor Lorna Slade who talks about her specialism – narcissistic personality disorder. (Twitter: @LornaSlade1)
Also with our panellists, MHM semi-regular Wayne Banks and Ricky Thamman (@VividRicky on Twitter) our discussion topic is on the importance of Friends & Family plus a Stress-buster on Creative Writing – Poetry & Blogging with Scott, Bob & Wayne.

Plus, we have another good set of Songs of the Month & our run-through of Helpful Organisations. Happy Listening!
Also, check out Scott’s blog about the journey of the programme & what it means.

Scott and Laura May

Scott and Laura May

Lorna Slade

Lorna Slade

Ricky Thamman

Ricky Thamman

Songs of the Month:

Song 1: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Jamie Cullum & Gregory Porter

Laura’s song choice (Interview #1) : Monday Morning by Fleetwood Mac

Song 2: Higher & Higher by Jackie Wilson

Song 3: Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney

Song 4: When I’m 64 by the Beatles

Presented by Bob Simpson & Scott W
Produced by Scott W
Edited by Bob Simpson
Contributors: Laura May, Wayne B, Lorna Slade, Ricky Thamman & Mark D
Series Consultant: Wayne B

Let us know what you think of the programme!
Twitter: @MHMpodcast

Facebook: Search “Mental Health Matters on Phoenix FM”

Helpful Organisations (correct, as of July 2016)

• Mind 0300 123 3393, text 86463 or

• Samaritans Free on 116 123 , e-mail: or

• SANE 0300 304 7000 (6-11pm every evening) or

• Elefriends (MH Support Forum) –

• Rethink Mental Illness website (for factsheets/blogs etc) :

• YoungMinds
• Parents Helpline: Call: 0808 802 5544 or
(Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm, free from mobiles & landlines)

• The Silverline – 0800 4 70 80 90 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or

• The CALMzone (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
(5pm-midnight every evening)
• 0808 802 5858 if you’re in London
• or call 0800 58 58 58 Nationwide or

We would like to thank our contributors, guests & supporters of the programme for all you have done to support & spread the word about MHM. It’s been a journey & a half!

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It was twenty years ago today …

Twenty years ago today, I started Phoenix FM.

Why I ended up in community radio is still a bit of a mystery to me. I had never harboured any dreams of being a DJ although I always loved music and in the 1990s I was spending an obscene amount of my salary on CDs and gig-going.

I also had no kids and tons of free time, so I enrolled in a one year Greek course at Bishop’s Hill Adult Education Centre in Shenfield. That turned out to be a bit of a disaster, as after 60 hours I only knew enough of the language to order food and beer. (Actually that’s not a disaster at all). However in the summer of 1995 I did see a poster there that caught my eye …

We are setting up a new radio station for Brentwood
For more information call …..

So I did, and ended up at the group leader’s house in Romford. I found out that he was applying for aa 28 day licence to broadcast on FM which, in the days before internet radio, was extremely exciting. He also said he was going to apply for a full time licence too. I told him I wanted to play 2 hours of indie music – and then had to explain to him what indie music was. He didn’t seem too offended, and said that I could have a two hour radio show for four weeks when the station came on air that August and September.

1995 poster from MFM

I went to the first group meeting the following week, saw about 75 people crammed into his living room, and thought “I’m not going to get my radio show if I don’t give them something in return”, so when he asked for help raising funds to help pay for the cost of the broadcast, I was one of about 2 or 3 people who offered.

My stock rose a bit higher when it turned out I was the only person there who owned a PC and a printer. It rose again when I told them I had access to a photocopier at work! The group formed a new company, the group leader became the Managing Director and I was one of other two directors on the board. In the meantime, the MD decided to name the station Mayflower FM and move it to Billericay. This puzzled me a bit, because our studio site was to be the car park of the Hermitage in the centre of Brentwood. But we stuck with it, and I managed to raise about two-thirds of the £5,000 needed to put the station on air by walking up and down Brentwood, Shenfield and Billericay and persuading companies to advertise on a station that didn’t exist.

September came and the broadcast was a real eye opener. The group had no equipment or transmitter, so we had to hire everything in. The transmitter, aerial, studio, even the music – everything!


Our broadcast home for the 28 days was an old BBC outside broadcast van. It was dirty, cramped and the 2 CD players seemed to break down every 45 minutes, leaving one of the presenters in tears on one particularly bad evening. None of us had any real radio experience before except for our marquee signing, Edward Cole, who had 30 years of radio experience including occasional stints on BBC Radio 4.

Edward wrote us a nice letter after the four weeks were up, saying that he enjoyed his time on air but didn’t want to do it again as he couldn’t stand going back to “that ghastly box”. And this was from someone who spent years on filthy trawlers in the North Sea as part of the Radio 370 team …

Mayflower FM Apr 1995 05 - Paul Golder

The broadcast for me was fun, and I enjoyed playing Blur, Pulp, Salad and Stereolab albums on air, and we decided to get together and do it again. The team regrouped and we planned a new broadcast for March 1996. We ended up going on air a month later, as the Managing Director forgot to post the application fees to the Radio Authority. A new group of presenters came in, all nearer my age, and I started spending a lot of time in the pub with them. We got through our second broadcast and started planning another one for later that year.

While planning the next broadcast, the MD started to bring a whole bunch of his friends in, and gave them prime shows. Although he didn’t say so specifically, he was effectively sacking my new friends, as there was no way everyone could be given a show when the station came back on air. And it was the people whose futures were uncertain who were raising the money and walking around town promoting the station, not the new guys.

He also had an aversion to playing Oasis and told the daytime DJs not to play them. I was no big fan myself (personally I was a Blur-ite) but Oasis had just announced their two big Knebworth gigs, and 2.5 million people applied for tickets – so they were the biggest thing in music by far at that time. And our Station Manager decided listeners couldn’t hear them because HE didn’t like them. I was starting to think Mayflower FM wasn’t so much a community station now, but just his own private little fantasy.

I tried to talk to him to explain my concerns, but he didn’t really want to discuss it, and the whole thing stopped being fun for me. In June 1996, I said my goodbyes and walked out. And that was almost that.

I was still in touch with the new presenters and we were meeting regularly and I was still keeping up with the gossip from the old group, who were now leaving Mayflower FM one by one. A third broadcast was planned to start on 1st September. The Brentwood Gazette had even printed a schedule, with a number of people listed who’d already left.


On 31st August I was in the Spread Eagle in Brentwood being plied with beer and cajoled by 4 or 5 of my former Mayflower friends to start a new station. I DID feel like it could be fun again and that we could do a much better job, so I relented, and The Phoenix was born.

We chose the name “The Phoenix” because there was a trend to not only drop the FM but to name stations after birds (“The Eagle”, “The Kestrel” etc) which I never really understood. I liked it because it was non-geographic, and I also mischievously thought the obvious “rising from the flames” connection might wind up my former colleagues a little and give them some healthy competition. I had also thought up a great back story – we were going to be based in Brentwood, a town whose name meant “burnt wood” and had risen itself, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of a forest fire.

At the time I was an accountant and left public practice to work as the deputy to the Bursar at Brentwood School, so setting up in the town was a no-brainer. As well as having lots of contacts and a 90 minute lunch hour, I was very popular with local businessmen, as Brentwood School was the only large local organisation who paid their suppliers on time!

I spent the next few weeks setting up a studio and office, getting advertisers on board and publicising our own 28 day broadcast, which was to start on 29 December that year. I’d learned a lot from my year at Mayflower FM and I didn’t copy any of the mistakes that they’d made.

1996 poster

In the meantime – Mayflower did not go on air again. They had very few presenters and no one had actually bothered to raise any money after I’d left the group, so the studio man and licence fees couldn’t be paid, and no frequency was allocated. The new Mayflower team went to the Brentwood Yellow Advertiser to blame their silence on faulty equipment. Amazingly, the paper persuaded them all to sit in the car park, holding CDs and a cassette player and look as glum as they could be …


We formed a partnership with the Brentwood Gazette, and decided to put on just one broadcast only in aid of the Gazette’s PHAB minibus appeal. Mayflower FM got very upset when they heard our plans, and sent a number of press releases to the local papers, which got ignored. So the following week they sent them in again, saying we were “confusing” listeners and “poaching” businesses – the ones who we’d brought in in the first place.

The Gazette thought it was all hilarious and gave the “spat” a lot of coverage, which helped raise our profile.


The Basildon Evening Echo – a daily paper which was bought in reasonable numbers in Billericay – were hostile to us because of our connections with the Brentwood Gazette, and went so far as to publish a story saying there was a “cash row” when there was no such thing (neither of us had any cash) and sarcastically described as being “ironically named”!


Roy Dyer, who was instrumental in getting the station off the ground, arranged for our first broadcast to take place at the Information Centre – the town’s tourist information office which was then located at 14 Ongar Road, a building now occupied by Brentwood Mind. Brentwood Borough Council offices were generally very supportive and gave us some rooms rent free, and allowed us to put our aerial on the roof.

The Mayor, Charles Myers, came down at midnight to launch the station. We then set the tone of it by playing six hours of loungecore music until 6am.

I lined up a few people to do shows and come in for interviews. None of us really had much radio experience, but I wasn’t too bothered about that. As well as us regular guys I approached as many local celebs as I could think of to get them involved. Steve Davis came in to do a soul show – I’d booked him for an interview on Mayflower by finding his details on the Brentwood School computer. Trevor Brooking, Fatima Whitbread, Helen Rollinson, Billy Murray (then appearing as Don Beech in The Bill on ITV) did likewise. International sprinter Jason Fergus came in for a chat about sports development, and liked it so much that he ended up presenting a dance show for the final three weeks. Essex cricketer Ian Pont presented our sports show, and Thin Lizzy’s Brian Robertson and Let Loose’s Rob Jeffrey were two of his guests.

Frank Bruno agreed to come in, forgot to turn up, and then denied he’d agreed to do at all. And Martine McCutcheon’s agent (or someone claiming to be) told me she wouldn’t get out of bed unless we paid her £5,000 for an interview. But otherwise, all the local celebs were on board.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. After the broadcast the council took me up on the roof of the Information Centre to show me where our station engineer had decided to put our aerial. It was attached to a aluminium scaffold pole, which was placed down a ventilation tube so the pole was sitting on top of a small plastic ventilator grille immediately above where you might sit if you were on the upstairs toilet. It was possible for the whole pole to come crashing down into the toilet bowl, whether someone was sitting there or not. If we hadn’t been leaving that day, we would have been served with a dangerous structure notice. You live and learn …

The broadcast ended and we managed to make a £500 surplus which we donated to PHAB. The Radio Authority then decided to open up some frequencies for new commercial radio licences. We spent the whole of 1997 putting together an application, backed with over 600 letters of support. The licence was awarded to Chelmer FM in March 1998 (they became Dream 107 and Chelmsford Radio and are now part of Radio Essex). Mayflower FM applied too – but after sacking all of their volunteers and directors during the application process, they also failed and disintegrated soon afterwards.

Our failure was a blessing in disguise – if we’d won, we would have no longer been a non-profit. I’d given 60% of the station to radio group UKRD who wrote our application – and they probably would have sacked all our volunteers too if we’d been successful. And then maybe me too, six months later. The station would have been rebranded and moved and Brentwood would have had no radio station at all.

Phoenix FM 1996

The team back in 1996. The photo was taken at Old Big School in Brentwood School. L-R back: Phil Smith, Dennis Rookard, Karin Ridgers, June Woolerton, Mike Miners, Brian Eringa and myself, with Steve Davis at the front.

We regrouped ourselves, decided to do more 28 day broadcasts – one more as “The Phoenix” in March 1999 and then ten more between 1999 and 2006, eight of them under our new name of “Phoenix FM” and two under the name of Eastgate FM in Basildon. In June 2001, thanks to a hookup with IT firm Enformatica, we became the first community radio station in the UK to broadcast a 24 hour schedule of internet radio programmes. The new online service was launched at the Hermitage by David Soul and Steve Davis’s Spitting Image puppet.

In February 2006 Ofcom called me to say we’d been successful in a second application for a full time radio licence, and we launched on FM permanently on 23 March 2007.

So the 20 year story of Phoenix has been two different ones … 10 years of trying to persuade the authorities to put us on air full-time, and then nearly 10 more wondering what on earth we’d asked for. We’re all proud of what we’ve achieved although we don’t usually celebrate 31st August as our birthday – the day we went full time was much more important. So the last thing I need to say on our 20th birthday is that I’m really looking forward to our 10th birthday next year!

2016-08-31 Brentwood Gazette (20 years)

Our 20th anniversary as reported in the Brentwood Gazette

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Spotlight on … Ingatestone Musical and Operetta Group

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Phoenix FM’s Sara Macham catches up with Amy Welton, publicity officer at the Ingatestone Musical & Operetta Group (IMOG), at its weekly rehearsal as members prepare for the next production – Carousel – to be performed in October.

IMOG - IMG_0940

This ‘little theatre group with a big heart’ has about 30 members of different backgrounds and musical ability. Dating back to 1970, IMOG is still going strong, and this year will another string to its bow when it puts on its first ever pantomime.

Amy talks about the history of the group and its repertoire, and about the everlasting appeal of Carousel and its famous songs.

IMOG - IMG_0943

You can find out more about the production and book tickets here:

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Spotlight on … Brentwood Arts Cinema Club

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Phoenix FM’s Sara Macham went along to the monthly film screening hosted by the Brentwood Arts Cinema Club and had a chat with the group’s committee members Joanna Moncrieff and Phil Mynott.

Brentwood Arts Cinema Club 1

BACC shows films at the United Reformed Church Hall in Brentwood once a month (except August) on a Sunday evening. They are all chosen by the group’s committee and either haven’t been on general release or are films that you might not otherwise come across.

The post-film talk and glass of wine are optional, but Joanna and Phil chat about the benefits of watching a film together and discussing it afterwards.

Brentwood Arts Cinema Club 2

You can find out more about the films and membership here:

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The Rock Show with Gully and Joe 19th of August

It’s The Rock Show with Gully and Joe and this is our brand new new show on Phoenix FM

Fridays 24:00 GMT 19:00 EST

You can find us on 98 FM on your dial in Brentwood and surrounding areas
Or going to

Or look us up on the tune app here

We have interviews from the Bloodstock Festival from Paradise Lost, Stuck Mojo, Evil Scarecrow, and Gloryhammer

We also have brand new music each and every week!

We are looking for unsigned rock and metal acts local and worldwide to send us music.

We have one rule send us an MP3 we play it once send us a CD we play it a month!

And who knows if we like you enough we might have you on the show and if you are local you could come in and play for us live!

rock show phoenix

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Spotlight on … Zinc Arts

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Sara Macham meets the team at Zinc Arts in Chipping Ongar – director Sonia Cakebread, marketing officer Ryan Lightfoot and head chef Adam Wooltorton – to hear about the centre’s activities and plans for the summer holidays.

zinc arts 1

Zinc Arts is a not-for-profit arts and education centre, providing a variety of arts-based activities for people of all ages and abilities. And a new cafe with a varied and fresh home-cooked menu makes it a brilliant lunch venue, too!

zinc arts 2

For more information about Zinc Arts, or to make a donation, you can visit their website:

zinc arts 3

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Xanthe chats to Paul Cattermole

Xanthe Bearman went to meet her old musical theatre chum Paul Cattermole at The Cliffs Pavilion in Southend this week. He’d just come off stage as Eddie in the Rocky Horror Show and they had a chat over a glass of wine!

Xanthe Paul Cattermole Aug16

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The Rocky Horror show will be at The Cliffs Pavilion until Saturday 20th August. For more information about the tour visit

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Mental Health Matters – episode 14

Welcome to Episode 14 of Mental Health Matters on Phoenix FM!

Wayne Scott and Bob

Wayne Scott and Bob

Presented by Bob Simpson & Scott W

In this episode, Bob & Scott speak to Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk & Mental Health campaigner Norman Lamb about his campaign work and his family’s experience of Mental Health. (Twitter: @normanlamb)
Bob also speaks to Yoga teacher Daniel Groom, who talks about his Mental Health journey & the importance of Yoga in his life. (Twitter: @danieljgroom)
Also with our panellists, MHM semi-regular Wayne Banks and debutant , MH survivor Ricky Thamman (@VividRicky on Twitter) we have a discussion topic on Medication, a new section called Thought of Mind & some Mental Health News with Scott & Wayne.

Plus, we have a variety of Songs of the Month & our run-through of Helpful Organisations. Enjoy!

Norman Lamb MP

Norman Lamb MP

Ricky Thamman

Ricky Thamman

Daniel Groom

Daniel Groom








Songs of the Month

Song 1: I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty

Song 2: Don’t Give Up by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush

Song 3: Three Little Birds by Bob Marley

Song 4: Talking to the Moon by Bruno Mars

Presented by Bob Simpson & Scott W
Produced by Scott W
Contributors: Norman Lamb MP, Wayne B , Ricky Thamman, Daniel Groom & James W
Assistant Producers: Bob Simpson & Isla B
Series Consultant: Wayne B

Let us know what you think of the programme!


Twitter: @MHMpodcast

Facebook: Search “Mental Health Matters on Phoenix FM”

E-mail: (Confidentiality rules are in effect)

Helpful Organisations (correct, as of July 2016)

• Mind 0300 123 3393, text 86463 or

• Samaritans Free on 116 123 , e-mail: or

• SANE 0300 304 7000 (6-11pm every evening) or

• Elefriends (MH Support Forum) –

• Rethink Mental Illness website (for factsheets/blogs etc) :

• YoungMinds
• Parents Helpline: Call: 0808 802 5544 or
(Mon-Fri 9.30am-4pm, free from mobiles & landlines)

• The Silverline – 0800 4 70 80 90 (24 hours, 7 days a week) or

• The CALMzone (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
(5pm-midnight every evening)
• 0808 802 5858 if you’re in London
• or call 0800 58 58 58 Nationwide or

We look forward to your company for the next episode of Mental Health Matters on Phoenix FM!

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Marijne and Paul from Salad – live at Phoenix FM

Interview and session:

Tracks played: 10:51 Muscle Man, 14:40 Broken Bird, 26:20 Motorbike To Heaven, 29:36 I Want You, 42:12 Your Ma, 45:30 Drink The Elixir

We were utterly delighted to welcome Marijne and Paul from Salad, one of the best and most underrated bands of the 1990s!

Salad montage

The band, originally known as The Merry Babes, formed when Dutch singer Marijne van der Vlugt and Essex guitarist Paul Kennedy met in London in the late 1980s. The line up was completed by Pete Brown on bass and Rob Wakeman on drums.

While the band were writing and recording, Marijne was recruited as a presenter on MTV Europe where she fronted shows such as The Pulse and Alternative Nation for four years. In the meantime, the band were signed to Island Records and released two albums – 1995’s Drink Me, which reached no 16 in the UK, and the 1997 follow up Ice Cream.

Salad split in 1998 and the band members embarked on a number of musical projects in the meantime, including Cowboy Racer who performed on our 4th birthday at the Baytree Centre.

However Marijne and Paul have recently started performing Salad songs together again as an acoustic duo, with a recent performance in Anetnna Studios in Crystal Palace and more London dates planned, so it seemed perfectly natural to persuade them to come down to Brentwood for a long chat!

We were treated to SIX live songs and also chatted about the history of the band and why Marijne and Paul are doing what they’re doing now.

You can catch Marijne and Paul live at Star Shaped at the Garage in London tomorrow (6 August) and again in December – and more shows are planend for the future. Keeping an eye on the band’s Facebook page is a good place to find out when.

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Everywhere live in session!

Click here to listen to the interview:

2016-07-28 Everywhere

We were delighted to welcome Everywhere into the Phoenix FM studio this week for their first interview and session.

Everywhere (Steve R)

Since their Hypemachine charting debut ‘Eddie’, Eveywhere’s music has been streamed millions of times on YouTube, Soundcloud and Spotify. They made their first International appearance at the 2013 NME Awards in the UK, playing alongside Django Django and Palma Violets, and later went on to support the Kaiser Chiefs and headline Notting Hill Arts Club in London.

The band were formed in Sweden by frontman Max Berga, but when he relocated to London he reformed the band with fellow Londoners from France and Switzerland as well as England – hence the name!

We had a chat about how the current band got together and their current plans for playing live, writing and recording.

They also played some songs for us which you can see again below:

You can keep up to date with the latest news on the band’s Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud pages.

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Live in Brentwood: Zublue, Jack Fordham and Muscle Bomber, The Lightscopes, Two Faced Serenade

Label White Room and Phoenix FM staged their second gig together at the Essex Arms in Brentwood on Saturday 23 July 2016.

More photos from the event can be seen here:

You can see and hear the sets below:

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The Phoenix FM stage

The Phoenix FM stage – a haven for people who appreciate quality musicians who don’t judge you if you buy your clothes from Primark.

Here are some of the acts who played our stage at this year’s Brentwood Festival. Thank you to Ricky Allen for the photos – you can visit his Facebook page at





Black Cherry Pop Tart

Black Cherry Pop Tart



Frog On A Rocket

Frog On A Rocket

Johnny and the Raiders

Johnny and the Raiders

Nobody's Fool

Nobody’s Fool

Ocean Flaws

Ocean Flaws

Paolo Morena

Paolo Morena

The Cajonoisseurs

The Cajonoisseurs

The Cracked

The Cracked

The Prefabs

The Prefabs

The Reggaelators

The Reggaelators

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Fit For The Future

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Last summer, NHS Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launched its “Fit for the Future” community engagement programme, seeking people’s views on how the local NHS should adapt and change to meet the challenges of the future.

Dr Aravinda Guniyangodage, who is a GP and also the Chair of Basildon and Brentwood CCG, spoke to Keith Rogers about the programme and how people can help shape the future of the NHS in our area.

The formal public consultation closes on Monday 12th September 2016, and a number of public meetings are planned to talk about views received, including a meeting this coming Thursday at 6pm at Brentwood Community Hospital.

You can find out more about Fit For The Future at this link:

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The Last Post

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Queens Theatre Interview 20th July 2016 edited

I was joined today by Olly Langdon, the Artistic Director of Kilter Theatre, to talk about The Last Post, a production with a difference at the Queen’s Theatre … or rather NEAR the Queen’s Theatre.

It’s set on a tour bus. The bus takes 18 people so it’s an intimate space with the actors right in front of you and there’s even live music!

Step on board Mobile Sorting Office (MSO) 451 and be transported to a world where snail mail reigns supreme. Our pillar-box red van is brimming with vintage paraphernalia from a much-travelled life, with a thousand items of real mail. Meet Verity, the irrepressible heiress of an international pen-pal agency and Red, a redundant Post-Master and witness the unwrapping of a curious love story accompanied by “harmony-drenched, melancholy-tinged” live music, provided by Tomaz (who arrived one day in a jiffy bag)

After the show, stay for a tipple of sherry with Great Aunt Sofya and perhaps write that letter you’ve been meaning to send before popping it into our real (and functioning!) post box for delivery. Or if you’re stuck for inspiration you can pick up a postcard from our ‘Friends for Pens’ pin-board and write to a real life recipient who is waiting for your letter.

Performances will take place on Sunday 24th July at 2pm and 5pm.

You can find out more about Kilter Theatre at

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Brentwood Festival 2016

Phoenix FM presenters were out and about talking to some of the performers and festivalgoers at this year’s event, which took place at the Brentwood Centre from 15-17 July.

Libby and Marielle talk to Jazzy B from Soul II Soul