Category Archives: Local news

Brentwood Half Marathon cancelled … but let’s run it anyway

As our regular listeners and readers will know, this year’s Brentwood Half Marathon was sadly cancelled due to a second visit from the Beast From The East.

Undeterred by this news, David Liddle and Gavin Perrett from Hawkhurst Alternative Investments decided to run the route anyway!

They set off promptly at 8am and trotted the course a little slower than normal, particularly as the roads between Mountnessing and Blackmore were very icy.

Gavin commented, “Having raised over £600 for Kids Inspire I felt obliged to at least attempt the run out of respect for the people who were generous enough to sponsor me.”

Saint Francis Hospice’s Big Yellow Quiz breaks records

Saint Francis Hospice is thrilled with the backing for this Friday’s (23rd March) Big Yellow Quiz at the Brentwood Centre.

Phoenix FM’s Chris Hood will be hosting the event and Eat My Brunch host Michelle Ward is providing the musical entertainment.

Barry, Beth, Keith, Kevin and Chris from BBC’s Eggheads will be there each with their own speciality round.

Sarah Williamson, Head of Community, Corporate and Events Fundraising with the Hospice, said: “We are so grateful to our amazing supporters. This year all previous hospice records have been broken with 820 sign ups so far.

“Our aim is to make it to 900 quizzers, so if any Phoenix FM listeners are free this Friday evening from 7pm and want to come along please call the hospice events team on 01708 771431 we would be delighted to hear from you.

“Our quizzers are really going to enjoy the music round – the wonderful Steve Davis, snooker legend and music buff is asking the questions for this one.

“This is a really fun evening; whether you’re a hard core quizzer or a trivia buff, get a few friends together, bring your drinks and snacks, come along and have fun whilst supporting a really deserving local charity.”

More information is available on

Saint Francis Hospice is a registered charity that employs 150 nurses, doctors and specialist healthcare staff who are supported by 800 volunteers. Together they provide care and help to more than 4,000 people across the boroughs of Havering, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Brentwood. Saint Francis Hospice provides all of its services free of charge to support patients from our local community with any life-limiting illness including cancer, heart, lung or motor neurone disease.

The Brookings are Saint Francis Hospice’s latest big name signings

Sir Trevor Brooking and his wife Hilkka have become patrons of Saint Francis Hospice.

Pam Court, CEO of Saint Francis Hospice, announced the news today. Whilst Sir Trevor and Hilkka are longstanding supporters of the hospice – attending golf days and the annual ladies lunch this past year – they have now dedicated even more time, officially opening the hospice day services Pemberton Place following a relaunch.

Sir Trevor also agreed to start off the runners at the annual Santathon fundraising event in Dagenham in December, but heavy snow led to the event being postponed until March 25th. Sir Trevor has agreed to honour his commitment and will start off the 500 Santas signed up to attend.

When asked why they had chosen to become patrons, Sir Trevor said, “the hospice is fundamental to everyone who lives in the area and with people living longer I am very conscious of the challenge and the need for Saint Francis Hospice Services.”

Hilkka continued, “a lady who worked for us a few years ago came here. She was extremely well taken care of and that was the first time I visited here and I must be honest I was in awe of what I found and how well she was cared for. The place wasn’t as daunting as I thought and that’s where my interest started.”

Pam Court said “I am thrilled they have decided to become Patrons. Sir Trevor and Hilkka are such genuine, lovely people they have such an affinity with the hospice and they have a genuine interest and they have already committed time which to us is priceless. A huge thank you to both of them for getting involved.

“When Sir Trevor and Hilkka come to the hospice, staff, volunteers and patients are always excited to see them. Sir Trevor is so obliging coming in a number of times to sign memorabilia as he had so many requests.”

When asked if he was surprised by the amount of attention and interest he receives he said, “I am very lucky because even though I finished playing football a long time ago I’ve had various roles that have kept me in the public eye and we’ve always lived in this area. It seems 80/90% of the people are West Ham Fans.”

Hilkka says she is not really surprised because West Ham fans are really very loyal. “I have always said in our marriage the third person is West Ham United and at least I can say I love her.”

Accountant is counting down to the Brentwood Half Marathon

For years accountant Abigail Feeley has been spurring on runners as they passed her home along the route of the Brentwood Half Marathon.

Now Abigail, together with her friend Becky Innocent, is in training for the 13.1 mile race through the stunning Essex countryside on Sunday 18 March.

Abigail and Becky, both 25, signed up for one of Saint Francis Hospice’s exclusive places after the charity cared for Abigail’s mum Jackie Feeley before she lost her battle with bowel cancer on October 19th last year.

“My mum was only at the hospice for two days and when she died so suddenly it was such a shock to us,” said Abigail, who lives in Shenfield.

“We thought she was at the hospice for pain control and we expected her to be there a lot longer.”

Despite spending such a short time at Saint Francis Hospice, the family was impressed by the care Jackie received and it dramatically changed their perception of hospice care.

“We didn’t want mum to go into a hospice at first as we had an image that there would be death everywhere and it would be really horrible but mum had a huge room overlooking a beautiful garden,” said Abigail.

“Everyone we met was so caring and we were all so sad she only had a few days there as we know she would have liked it at the hospice.”

Within days of her mum’s death, the family was contacted by the hospice’s Family Support Services team and Abigail has taken up the offer of group bereavement counselling.

“It was so nice to be remembered,” said Abigail.

“I feel so lonely because I cannot talk to my friends about it; even though they are very supportive they cannot understand and I hope they never have to know what it feels like.

“Our family are very close but I don’t want to burden them either as they are grieving too.”
Abigail was also keen to support the hospice because it is a small local charity and she is able to make more of a difference.

She has also discovered that training for the Brentwood Half Marathon has given her a focus to help her cope with her grief.

“Running is something I really look forward to as it really clears your head for an hour,” said Abigail.

“With grief you need a date to work towards.

“I have seen the runners pass my house every year and this year my family and friends will be on the roadside cheering me on!”

Saint Francis Hospice are looking for more runners to join Abigail and Becky in #TeamSFH. For more details, visit or call the Events Team on 01708 771427.

Baking A Community Cake – a recipe for inclusion

Frontline Partnership (Frontline) is a Brentwood-based charity that has been promoting inclusion and acceptance of all for many years, by supporting adults with learning disabilities and high-support needs to be active participants in the local community.

Frontline has been asked countless times how the charity was developed. In response to this they have produced a document detailing the story of Frontline’s development and presenting the reader with thought-provoking questions to guide them into developing community-inclusive projects.

Using the analogy of a recipe for a multi layered cake, the document takes the reader through the various stages of building an inclusive community project. Each layer of the cake relates to a different aspect – for example preparing and baking, who are your cooks (people who are going to make the ‘cake’), what do you have in your store cupboard (what are the local resources) and so on.

The recipe is written based on Frontline’s work but can be adapted by the reader to meet the needs of other social groups and differing community structures.

It is available for free download from Frontline’s website here or alternatively a pre-printed copy can be obtained at cost price plus postage and packaging from the Frontline office.

Mary Hill and Gill Soper, the authors of the new Frontline document, are interested in hearing from individuals, groups or organisations that could enable Frontline to reach a wider audience by sponsoring the printing of this document and reducing the ongoing costs.

Couple go the distance for Saint Francis Hospice

Husband and wife team Lee and Becci Rhodes are on the run again to support Saint Francis Hospice – the charity which has been there to care and support family, friends and colleagues at the most difficult time in their lives.

Super fit Lee, 34, will be running his fourth Virgin London Marathon on Sunday, April 22nd – three of which have been for Saint Francis Hospice.

And both Lee and Becci, who live in Brentwood, will be taking part in their third Brentwood Half Marathon on Sunday, March 18th.

“I applied for one of the hospice’s Gold Bond places which gave me the opportunity to run the marathon again and raise money for the hospice,” said Lee.

“The Virgin London Marathon is the one to do for me as London is my home city.

“I still have targets I want to beat and I have set myself a target of getting my personal best of four hours.”

Living locally, the Brentwood Half Marathon is the perfect event for Lee to prepare for the 26.2mile feat the following month and for Becci, who says she isn’t a natural runner, it’s a great challenge on her doorstep.

“It’s local, there is a great sense of community and it is definitely the most sociable race I have ever done,” said Becci, 37, who already has six half marathons under her belt.

“There is always a band playing and people even come out and hand out sweets to runners.
“Me and Lee don’t run together as we have different paces but we are really good at motivating each other.”

The couple, who both work at HCL Insurance BPO Services Ltd in Romford, have a lot of personal connections with Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.

It cared for Becci’s great uncle in 2008 and since then it has cared for friends, a neighbour and a work colleague.

“I remember visiting the hospice a couple of years after my great uncle died to see one of the ladies I work with and I was really nervous,” said Becci.

“There was such a lovely atmosphere and it was so relaxing; it didn’t feel like a hospital.

“I still remember a lady coming around in the evening to patients with a drinks trolley.

“The hospice feels more like a family to us now and we want to do everything we can to keep raising money for the charity. It is just really in our hearts.”

Lee, who took part in the Prudential Ride London to Surrey 100 last July with two friends, also says supporting the hospice, which is a local charity, is more rewarding than fundraising for larger national charities.

“At Saint Francis Hospice there always seems to be a massive appreciation from the fundraising team,” he added.

To sponsor Lee visit:

There’s still time to sign up for the Brentwood Half Marathon. Book today by visiting or calling 01708 771427.

Jack and the Beanstalk announced as Queen’s Theatre’s 2018 pantomime

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to announce this year’s panto extravaganza will be Jack and the Beanstalk. It will run from 28 November 2018 – 6 January 2019.

When Jack sells Daisy, his beloved family cow, for magic beans, he soon discovers they open up an unexpected world of thrilling adventure. Join Jack and dotty mum Dame Trott as they scale the Beanstalk, outwit Giant Bonecrunch and are reunited with Jill, the girl Jack loves.

Bought to you by the same team as last year’s record-breaking Beauty and the Beast and 2016’s Cinderella, this actor-musician version of the popular panto tale is peppered with pop hits from across the decades, bundles of audience participation and hilarious slapstick.

Tickets for this festive spectacular range from £12.50 to £29 and are on sale from Tuesday 23 January. The theatre is offering an ‘Early Bird’ 10% off discount if audiences book before 31 March (T&Cs apply).

The Queen’s Theatre is committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy the pleasure of live performance and has confirmed it will continue to provide four especially adapted shows of Jack and the Beanstalk. Tickets for a Relaxed Performance (Wednesday 2nd January at 5.30pm) and a Dementia-Friendly Performance (Thursday 3rd January at 1.30pm) are available to purchase alongside the theatre’s regular Signed (Thursday 3rd Jan at 6.30pm) and Audio-Described (Friday 4th January at 1pm) performances.

For further details and to book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333 or visit

Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch launches £8 tickets for under 26s

To encourage more young people to experience professional theatre, the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is offering £8 tickets for Under 26s for all three of its in-house productions this season and beyond; Rope, Kindertransport and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

The Queen’s Theatre is passionate about making theatre accessible to everyone and believes that, by reducing the financial barrier, more under 26s can enjoy an evening at the theatre. The theatre hopes this will also encourage people to see theatre for the first time or to be more adventurous and see productions they might not be familiar with.

£8 tickets can be booked for the theatre’s upcoming production Patrick Hamilton’s chilling thriller Rope (15 February – 3 March). It will star James Sutton (Hollyoaks), Janet Amsden, Cara Chase, Sam Jenkins-Shaw, George Kemp, Fred Lancaster, Nico Pimparé and Phoebe Sparrow.

Also this season, young people can see Diane Samuels’ heart-warming drama Kindertransport (8 – 24 March) and the feel-good musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (27 April – 26 May) by Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott for just £8 per show.

For more information and to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 01708 443333.

Work to improve stations and tracks on TfL Rail continues

Work to upgrade stations, track, and other parts of the TfL Rail route between Liverpool Street and Shenfield will continue at weekends in the first few months of 2018.

Over a series of ten weekends from late January to March, a number of essential weekend closures will allow improvement work to be carried out in advance of Elizabeth line services commencing later this year. While these are carried out, buses will replace trains along the route.

The Elizabeth line will transform transport in London with quicker, easier and more accessible journeys across the Capital once fully operational in December next year. It will also support thousands of new homes and jobs in London and the South East.

A great deal of work has already taken place and customers going through Manor Park station will have seen the new footbridge and lift structure that has been installed as part of work to make the station accessible for everyone. Work will continue at the station during the weekend closures, including fitting the glazing and cladding to the footbridge and lifts.

Transport for London (TfL) will also continue working on the lifts and footbridges at Seven Kings and on the installation of new lifts at Maryland which are due to come into passenger use later this year. This will bring step-free access to these stations, and all Elizabeth line stations will be step-free, significantly improving the accessibility of the transport network. This complements the Mayor’s plan for 40 per cent of the London Underground network to be step-free by 2022.

During these closures, platform canopies at Chadwell Heath, Goodmayes and Ilford will also be repaired and redecorated, which can only be done at times when trains are not running and overhead power lines are switched off.

Network Rail will also continue with their station improvements, installing structures that carry overhead wires and replacing a further eight kilometres of overhead wiring between Ilford and Manor Park during the weekend closures. They will complete the remodelling of the sidings and the signalling upgrade at Gidea Park as well as completing the link between the Elizabeth line central tunnels and the Great Eastern Main Line to Shenfield.

Howard Smith, Operations Director for TfL Rail, said: “I’d like to thank customers for their patience while TfL and Network Rail continue to prepare for the Elizabeth line opening from December this year. I apologise for the disruption to regular weekend travel, but it’s vital that this work is done to improve the railway and upgrade the stations to make them accessible for all. The Elizabeth line will make life much easier for people along the route and will transform travel across London.”

The introduction of the Elizabeth line is a central part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, which seeks to reduce reliance on the car and tackle air pollution by encouraging greater use of public transport.

Weekend closures are as follows:

Sunday 21 January
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Sunday 28 January
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 February
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 February
No service between Stratford and Shenfield.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 March
Full line closure. No service between Liverpool Street and Shenfield.

There will also be a reduced service on the line on Saturdays in January between Chadwell Heath and Shenfield.

The Elizabeth line will open from December 2018, operating initially as three separate services:
Paddington to Abbey Wood
Paddington to Heathrow
Liverpool Street to Shenfield

From May 2019, customers from Shenfield will be able to travel directly through central London to the West End and Paddington without needing to change trains.

TfL is undertaking a major programme of investment to improve accessibility at stations across the network. The ability for everyone to travel spontaneously and independently is at the heart of this approach. The Mayor’s Transport Strategy seeks to do more than just improve physical infrastructure but also address overcrowding, safety and affordability. More information is available here:

Hollyoaks actor James Sutton to star in Rope

Casting has been announced for the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich production of Patrick Hamilton’s gripping thriller, Rope.

James Sutton, who is best-known for playing John Paul McQueen in Hollyoaks a role he was thrice nominated for a British Soap Award and shortlisted for a National Television Award – and Ryan Lamb in Emmerdale, has been cast as Charles Granillo in this chilling play. He will be joined by Janet Amsden, Cara Chase, Sam Jenkins-Shaw, George Kemp, Fred Lancaster, Nico Pimparé and Phoebe Sparrow. It runs in Hornchurch from 15 February – 3 March.

Based on a 1920’s real-life case, this dark classic was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1948 and remains to this day one of the most tightly coiled of thrillers. It will be directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul, who directed James Sutton in As You Like It at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

The Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch is delighted to announce that due to phenomenal demand, it is extending its run of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert by a week. This regional professional premiere of this glamorously feel-good musical by Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott will now play at the Queen’s Theatre from 27 April – 26 May. Booking for these additional dates is now on sale.

The Theatre’s spring season also includes the deeply moving and timely modern classic, Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. This heart-warming play is co-produced by the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch and Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg in association with Selladoor Productions (the producers of last year’s acclaimed revival of The Crucible). This production marks the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, which saw thousands of Jewish children ferried from Austria and Germany to safety in the UK and 25 years since the play was written. It runs in Hornchurch from 8 – 24 March, at Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg from 27 – 31 March and then tours across the UK to New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich, Richmond Theatre and Manchester Opera House.

Theatregoers can enjoy all three of these productions with a money-saving Jump the Q season ticket from £42 (£14 per show). This special offer must end by Saturday 3 March.

For more information about the forthcoming season at the Queen’s Theatre and to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 01708 443333