Category Archives: Local news

Meet The Sound Doctor: a free online video library for patients

A number of NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs)* , in partnership with Essex County Council, are offering local residents free access to ‘The Sound Doctor’  –  a library of patient education videos to support those with long term health conditions such as diabetes and dementia to live their lives to the full.

To access the videos, residents need to visit  The website is run by local authority partners and contains wider advice/information to improve health and wellbeing.
The content of Sound Doctor videos has been co-produced with clinical experts in their field and disease specific charities, e.g. Alzheimer’s Society, British Lung Foundation, & British Heart Foundation. All the material adheres to NICE guidelines.  The Sound Doctor was developed by Dominic Arkwright and Rosie Runciman – both previously worked at BBC for over 20 years.


All films are short and to the point, ranging from three to five minutes. The Sound Doctor bridges the gap in terms of easily accessible condition specific patient information in one place.

Who: should watch the films?
Patients, relatives, carers and anyone interested in knowing more about any of these conditions. Available to all Castle Point and Rochford residents.

How: Go to
Follow the link to The Sound Doctor
Select your GP practice from a drop down menu.
Enter your postcode.
You’re away!

*CCGs participating in the Sound Doctor programme include NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG, NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG and NHS North East Essex CCG.

Hospice celebrates Royal Wedding with a special breakfast

On the eve of what was the wedding of the year, hospice staff and volunteers celebrated with a Royal fundraising breakfast.

The canteen at Saint Francis Hospice was transformed into a palace on Friday (May 18) and staff dressed up as the Royal couple with our Meghan look-a-like wearing a stunning wedding gown and veil from our Harold Hill retail store!

There was excitement throughout the hospice as our Harry and Meghan visited patients on the inpatient unit.

Actress and Phoenix FM presenter Vicki Michelle was also at the hospice with her sisters to visit their mum Joanie who is being cared for on the ward, and she took time to pose for photos with the Royals and join in the fun!

Jan Scott, Service Development Manager at the hospice, said, “The laughter from our staff, and the music played at our Royal Wedding Breakfast, could be heard throughout the hospice. 

“It was a truly splendid way to express our happiness in preparing for the marriage of Prince Harry to Ms Megan Markle.

“To see the people we are caring for in the inpatient unit join in the fun was just perfect.  A great day was had by all.”

Prior to the wedding, the hospice contacted Kensington Palace to let them know about the Royal breakfast event and was delighted to receive a reply, “Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle were incredibly touched that you took the trouble to write as you did in connection to their forthcoming wedding.

“It really was most thoughtful of you and greatly appreciated. His Royal Highness and Ms. Markle send you their warmest thanks and very best wishes.”

Introducing the new Mayor of Brentwood

Brentwood Borough Council has elected Councillor Sheila Murphy as the Mayor of Brentwood for 2018/19; she will take over the role of ambassador and first citizen for the coming year.

Councillor Murphy replaces Councillor Will Russell who held the role last year.

Her appointment was made at Annual Council on Wednesday night, where members of the Council were joined in at Brentwood County High School by residents, family members and friends to witness the traditional Mayoral ceremony. Her husband Kevin will accompany her as her Consort.

Councillor Murphy, who is Brentwood’s 27th Mayor, was born in East London. She has lived in the Borough for 33 years.

While growing up, her family ran florist shops in East London before they ran a pub in Herongate. This has been in her family for 40 years, starting with her parents, then run by Sheila and her sister before she took it on on her own. She has now retired from the business and her sons continue to run it.

Sheila met Kevin when they were in school and later married in 1975. They had their sons James in 1976 and John in 1979 and now also have four grandchildren.

Sheila is very involved in her community and has been a trustee of the Herongate and Ingrave Preservation Society for 30 years. She has been a member of Herongate and Ingrave Parish Council for 14 years and is involved in many community activities locally. She has always felt part of the community and said she loves the people and where she lives adding her heart has always been in her village.

Sheila became a Borough Councillor for the Herongate, Ingrave and West Horndon ward in 2012 and has been part of the Asset and Enterprise Committee and Planning and Licensing Committee.

Sheila said: “I am proud to be representing Brentwood as Mayor and to have been chosen to do this. I’m ready to go out there and shout about how great Brentwood is and I hope to be able to carry out all my duties with dignity, grace and a smile.

“During my Mayoral year I will be highlighting and fundraising for three charities which reflect three areas that are very important to me – the community, young people and older members of the community. I have always been community minded, that’s where my heart lies, which is a running theme through all the charities I have chosen.”

Her chosen charities are:

West Horndon Village Hall – It is the hub of the local community and where most things happen. They have built it and run it themselves.

The Brentwood and District Scouts and Brentwood Division Girlguiding – Sheila will support the local groups and highlight the good work that they do with local children.

Wendy’s Kitchen – Wendy Thomas was a local lady who was a member of our church St Nicholas Church and spent many an afternoon prepping tea after church services. She was an unsung hero in Sheila’s local village. Wendy’s husband Ray has created this project in her memory – to build a new kitchen to modern standards at the church.

Sheila also intends to work with and alongside Cllr Russell’s new Community Trust Fund of Brentwood on fundraising events this coming year.

Councillor Keith Parker, ward member for Brizes and Doddinghurst, was appointed Deputy Mayor for 2018/19. His wife Frances is the Deputy Mayoress.

Brentwood School leads tributes to John Killilea

Brentwood School Headmaster Ian Davies has led tributes to Brentwood teacher John Killilea who has died unexpectedly in his sleep.

John Killilea had taught PE and maths at Brentwood School during his 30 year stay at Brentwood School, and also served as the school’s basketball coach before his retirements in July 2016.

Paul Golder says:

I was very sad to hear about Mr Killilea’s passing. He taught me while I was a pupil at Coopers Coborn School in Upminster in the 1980s. When I worked at Brentwood School in the mid 1990s as the school accountant, I found myself in the unusual position of controlling the budgets of someone who used to make me run around the fields!

As a colleague I found John to be a very friendly, calm and relaxed person, always happy to pop by and have a chat and someone who really enjoyed life. His untimely death will sadden many thousands of local people who met him and my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

A statement published by Brentwood School read:

It is with great sadness that we inform you that our friend and colleague Mr John Killilea passed away unexpectedly in his sleep over the weekend. Headmaster, Ian Davies, held a special assembly for students and staff this morning. Here’s what he said:

“We are meeting this morning to remember a member of staff who, very sadly, passed away during the Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr Killilea was very highly regarded and widely respected. He was a real gentleman, kind and sensitive to the needs of others and always keen to help.

He started at Brentwood School in 1986, and positively influenced many Brentwood School students past and present, either on the sports field or in the classroom.

Initially appointed as a Teacher of PE, Mr Killilea proved particularly popular on the basketball court where his experiences as a former GB International led Brentwood School to many forays on the National School’s Basketball Championship including an overall victory in the 1990’s.

Mr Killilea soon progressed to Housemaster of East House and Examinations Officer before being promoted to Director of Co-Curricular activities.

Many of you will know him as a teacher of Maths but it was on the sports field where his real passion shone through.

His undoubted experience and enthusiasm has been a significant factor in sport at Brentwood School being represented on the national stage across a wide variety of activities and he will be sorely missed by all of us.

Many of you here will know his daughter, who is now in the Third Year, and son, who is in the Prep School. Both of them, and his wife, will need all the love and support we can give them in the next months and years ahead.”

The funeral will be held at St Peter’s Church, South Weald at 1pm on Tuesday 22nd May, with a private committal at Bentley’s Crematorium after the service.

Everyone is invited to refreshments after the service at the Old Brentwoods Club, Ashwells Road. The family have requested that there are no flowers. Donations will go towards setting up a fund in memory of John to help develop young athletes.

New art therapy group for bereaved young people aged 17-21

A hospice is inviting bereaved young people to come along to a new art therapy group so they can express their feelings and emotions through creativity.

Art Therapist Anna Green and Child and Family Therapist Stella Christou, who are part of the Family Support Services team at Saint Francis Hospice, are facilitating the group, which is for people aged between 17 and 21 who have lost a loved one under its care in the past two years.

“We hope to introduce the idea of art therapy as a therapeutic approach in bereavement as this hasn’t been offered before to this age group,” said Anna. 

“This is a different outlet and will give bereaved young people an opportunity to see how art therapy can help them as they may find talking 1-2-1 too difficult.

“We also hope that this shared experience of loss will create a supportive and non-judgemental environment for those attending.”
The sessions are free of charge and will take place at the hospice in Havering-atte-Bower every fortnight, beginning on Thursday, May 22 from 5.15pm to 6.45pm.

Please visit our website at to download the form which should be completed and emailed to Anna at by 11th May or to find out more please call the hospice on 01708 753319 and ask to speak to either Anna or Stella.

Thrift Green Trotters’ amazing achievement for Saint Francis Hospice

It goes without saying that the Thrift Green Trotters love to run but they also step up to make a difference!

And when 10 members ran the London Marathon in April, they raised an incredible £18,500 for Saint Francis Hospice.

For some Trotters it was their first marathon experience and for others it was a chance to relive the iconic race, but all the runners’ commitment and dedication over the months was rewarded with a medal as they passed the finish line and the huge sense of pride and achievement that will stay with them forever!

And it’s not just the awesome runners we need thank – Scores of members also spent the day handing out water at the Mile 10 drinks station and many showed their support by cheering on the hot and weary runners.

The club, which is based at the Brentwood Centre, originally set out to raise £15,000 for the hospice but thanks to its huge fundraising efforts which included quiz evenings, curry nights and golf days, it smashed its target!

And this latest figure is on top of the £23,000 the Trotters have raised for the charity over the past two years.

“We are immensely proud of our runners on completing the marathon on what was the hottest London Marathon on record and we are equally relieved to see them all come home safely,” said Thrift Green Trotters member Lynsey Prentice.

“Our passionate support for Saint Francis Hospice is simple – so many people have had first hand experience of the hospice and its services and we want to ensure they are available to other people in their time of need.”

Chris Franklin, Fundraising Organiser at the hospice, said, “The support we receive from the Thrift Green Trotters is simply outstanding.

“The Trotters is a club with a big heart and the London Marathon is a shining example of how it steps up to help its community.

“It costs £54 an hour to fund our specialist care services so this latest donation of £18,500 will make a real difference to so many people and their families at the most difficult time in their lives.

“On behalf of everyone at the hospice, we would like to say a massive thank you to all the Trotters for their continued support.”

Marathon heroes raise thousands for hospice care

It was the hottest London Marathon on record but that didn’t hold back 32 runners who battled through the heat and their achy muscles to complete the 26.2 mile course in aid of Saint Francis Hospice.

Luke Harman, 30, from Brentwood, described running the marathon as “one of the worst and one of the best days” of his life.

“The heat hit me hard earlier than I expected it to and I wasn’t sure I’d get through it, but the crowds and the realisation of why I was doing it and all the support from family and friends on the day and from afar got me through in the end,” said Luke, who was running in memory of his godmother Frances Garrett who was cared for by the hospice in 2000.

“The feeling at the end was indescribable and something that will stay with me forever.

“I always knew that if I ever did the marathon it would be for Saint Francis Hospice and I was so proud to wear my orange vest on the day.

“To raise over £5,000 for such an amazing cause and one which means a lot to my family and I is overwhelming and makes it all worthwhile.”

James Sapwell, 27, from Brentwood, completed his second London Marathon but this time he upped the challenge by dressing as a lion – a special tribute to the hospice’s mascot Frankie!

Lee Rhodes, 34, from Brentwood, completed his fourth London Marathon – his third for Saint Francis Hospice.

“I can honestly say it was the hardest marathon I have taken part in to date because of the weather conditions and I was very relieved and delighted to finish it,” said Lee.

“It was really good to see so many people there at mile 23 and it certainly got me through the last few miles.”

Sarah Hockley, 21, from Brentwood, who was inspired to sign up after volunteering at the charity, said, “Being a part of team SFH this year was one of the best experiences of my life, made all the better by the amazing morale between all the hospice runners.

“Knowing how much money I’d raised for such a worthwhile cause really did keep me going, along with the awesome cheer point of course!

“Thank you so much for having me as part of the team, I’m so proud to have run for you.”

Chris Franklin, Events Organiser at the hospice, said, “All our marathon runners are heroes!

“It takes so much dedication and commitment to prepare for a marathon and it takes every bit of determination to complete it on the day.

“A massive thank you goes out to all our runners who have raised thousands of pounds to help fund our specialist care services.

“And a special thank you to everyone who joined us at Mile 23 to cheer on our superstar runners.”

The One and Only – Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

I was both surprised and privileged this afternoon, to get to chat with the star of this weekend’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Brentwood Centre – the one and only CHESNEY HAWKES.

The show’s producer, former Brentwood Mayor, MARK REED, was also on hand to provide some additional information.

Listen here to what both Chesney and Mark had to tell me: –

If you are quick there are still a few tickets available if you call 0333 6663366 or go to the Brentwood Centre Events page, click on the orange boxes shown on either side of the stage

Performances are at 7pm on Saturday 14th April and 2:30pm on Sunday 15th April.

Brentwood runners getting ready for another marathon

The 2018 London Marathon takes place on Sunday 22 April and we take a look at three local fundraisers who will be pounding the streets this year in aid of Saint Francis Hospice.

#TeamSFH runners raise £90,000 per year towards patient care. For more information see

James Sapwell

If you see a lion running around the streets of Brentwood there’s no need to be alarmed!

Shipbroker James Sapwell experienced the thrill of the London Marathon in 2016 and he’s roaring to do it all again in April dressed as a big cat – in honour of Saint Francis Hospice and its mascot Frankie.

James, 27, first ran the Virgin London Marathon in 2016 in memory of his best friend Jack Baxter’s dad, Dave Baxter, who was cared for by the charity before he died of Malignant Melanoma in 2013.

James, from Brentwood, was part of Team Dave Baxter and proudly ran alongside Jack, and three of their friends.

This time James is going the 26.2 mile distance alone on Sunday, April 22, but he has the fabulous support of his friends and family who will be helping him to raise as much money as he can for the charity.

“It is always a pleasure to do something that means other people can benefit from Saint Francis Hospice’s services and I don’t think we will ever stop,” said James, who served as a Brentwood Borough councillor from 2011 to 2015.

“The London Marathon is such an amazing experience. It is the only time the average person can feel like a professional athlete as people scream your name as you run through the streets of London, which is the best city in the world!”

Luke Harman

Luke Harman is making his first ever marathon one to remember by celebrating turning 30 just three days before the iconic race.

But it is much more than just a personal challenge for Luke! He is running in memory of his godmother Frances Garrett who was cared for by Saint Francis Hospice before she died of breast cancer in 2000.

“She was my mum’s best friend, and although she wasn’t direct family, she was still family,” said Luke, who lives in Brentwood and works as a Partnership’s Manager at the Football Association.

“It means everything to be running for the hospice as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

“It’s bigger than just me; it’s about raising money and awareness for the charity.

“I am excited as it will be a proud day for me, but there’s also the fear of the unknown and not knowing what’s coming.”

“I’m going to try and keep positive all the way round, and if I hit the dreaded wall, I’m going to try and remember why I’m doing it and what I’ll achieve at the end of it.”

Sarah Hockley

Volunteering at Saint Francis Hospice inspired Sarah Hockley, 21, to step outside her comfort zone and take on her first marathon!

Sarah’s initial contact with the hospice was through her mum Janet who works for Hetheringtons, a real estate agents in Hutton Road, Brentwood, which are big supporters of the charity.

This led to Sarah taking time out to volunteer at the hospice and even going the extra mile by signing up for the London Marathon so she could raise awareness and funds for its specialist care and support services.

“I’ve never done anything like this before so I just want to finish and enjoy the day,” said Sarah from Brentwood.

“Sporty events have never really been my thing but after volunteering at the hospice last year I’m eager to get involved a bit more. This is my next challenge and my chance to raise some serious money for the hospice.”

The Biggest Yellow Quiz of them all

Saint Francis Hospice hosted Brentwood’s biggest quiz last Friday at the Brentwood Centre. The event has been hailed as a massive success, breaking all records and selling out for the first time in its seven year history.

Phoenix FM not only entered two teams – one of which finishing 6th – but also provided the evening’s MC, Chris Hood, and the half-time entertainment in the form of Eat My Brunch host Michelle Ward who sang a great set.

Almost 900 quizzers took part with the Dagenham and Romford Donkeys, taking the winners title. Their team was made up of managers from the Romford and Dagenham stores of the Cooperative supermarket chain. The captain, Area Manager Mike Roast said, “We are over the moon to win, we can’t believe it.

“What a fantastic night out, I took part last year with a different team and we came 56th so this is definitely an improvement!”

Juliette Whittakker, Events Manager said “We are thrilled with the success of the quiz and the generosity of our supporters.

“On the night we raised £6,000 from the proceeds of our raffle and quizzers could pay a £5 and ask the Eggheads for an answer!”

Molly Austin (17) & her mother Lynsey attended the quiz for the first time, Lynsey said, “I’ve been blown away by it all this evening, it is amazing.” Molly who attends the Brentwood School was delighted to answer one of the trickier history questions!

Laura Davis, from Hutton said, “This is the second time I’ve come and it has been such a brilliant evening. “The atmosphere was fantastic and it was all for a wonderful cause.

“The highlight was definitely getting all the questions right in the music rounds and playing our joker!”

Jane Frame, Director of Fundraising & Marketing at the Hospice said “We would really like to thank all our sponsors The Big Yellow Storage Company, Phoenix FM and Marygreen Manor who all contributed so much to putting this night together.

“Barry Symmons and the Eggheads bring so much fun, our quizzers are delighted to get pics with them and pay for an answer. Steve Davis was brilliant too; he put together the music round and gave up his time to record it”.

“So many people contributed to the success of this event, our staff, volunteers and all of those who donated raffle prizes.”

Saint Francis Hospice relies on donations and fundraising events to provide their care and services, only 28% of their funding comes from the NHS which leaves a shortfall of £21,000 a day that needs to be raised to keep all the services going.”