peonies Photo by Miroslava on Unsplash

Good News You Need Right Now

Culture /


Bringing you the best news stories from around the web to keep spirits up in these unprecedented times

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

       

We all need a little positivity in our lives, so we’re picking out the good news stories to come out amidst the pandemic reporting for some light relief. Stay safe, and please share any stories you think we might like to share with our readers on Twitter @countryandtown or send them to intern@countryandtownhouse.co.uk. This too shall pass.

Our weekly good news email will land in your inbox on a Monday morning to start your week off right, so make sure you’re signed up here.

Good News in Coronavirus Crisis

24 July

UK Government Vows to Protect Environment Amid Coronavirus Recovery

Environment Secretary George Eustice has announced that protecting the environment will be a key part of the UK’s coronavirus recovery and stated that leaving the EU will in fact enable the country to further safeguard its green spaces. The MP also announced that a £5m pilot project will be implemented in order to develop the science necessary to protect the environment. He said: “There is no point leaving the EU to keep everything the same. The old model (including EU farm subsidies) hasn’t stopped the decline in our natural world. We must think creatively, to innovate and to avoid clinging to procedures just because they are familiar. On environmental policy, we can do better.” Source: BBC

Dior Hosts Uplifting Cruise Show in Italy

Despite the ongoing pandemic bringing the fashion world somewhat to a halt, Dior went ahead with the showcasing of its new cruise collection on Wednesday evening with an inspiring socially-distanced show at Lecce Cathedral in southern Italy’s Puglia region. Of course, the virus had its impact: models walked two metres apart, while audiences were physically absent – though the show was available to stream. Artist Marinella Senatore designed the uplifting and illuminated set which featured timely phrases evoking a sense of optimism such as “We rise by lifting others”, while the show paid tribute to Puglia’s “crafts and traditions” featuring pizzica folk dancing and locally-sourced materials used in the recreation of the Dior Bar jacket. Chairman and chief executive of the French fashion house, Pietro Beccari said of the show: “There is huge emotion tonight because everyone gave the last drop of energy in a difficult situation, here in Puglia and all over France and Italy, to help us pull together the collection.” Source: The Guardian

Restrictions to be Placed on Unhealthy Food Advertising

In an attempt to gain control of the UK’s current high levels of obesity, Boris Johnson will allegedly announce a series of new restrictions on the sales of unhealthy foods in Britain, as well as the implementing of a pre-watershed ban on the advertising of junk foods, the Financial Times reported. Other plans might include compulsory calorie counts on restaurant menus and supermarket promotion limitations. Source: Independent

Photos of Prince George Released to Celebrate his Seventh Birthday

In honour of his seventh birthday, two delightful photos of Prince George were released last week, both of which were taken by the Duchess of Cambridge earlier in the month. His Royal Highness, set to be England’s 43rd monarch, is all-smiles in the images which were posted on the official Instagram account of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in which the caption stated that they were thankful for all the Prince’s kind birthday wishes. Source: BBC

Prince George

@kensingtonroyal

Prezola Enables Wedding Couples and Guests to Give Back

Renowned wedding gift list company Prezola has extended its social gifting concept in order to encourage friends and family of wedding couples to “commit to acts of kindness” or fundraise for a good cause. Guests can, for example, vow to donate leftover wedding flowers to local hospitals, pledge to support a small business or make a donation to NHS Charities Together. The clever initiative aims to help soon-to-be newlyweds and their guests give back to those in need as they plan their big day. Brand content manager at Prezola, Lauren Stuckes said: “2020 has seen couples looking for ways to be ‘socially conscious’ and with human acts of kindness being more important now than ever we wanted to expand our offering of social gifts to reflect that. Listening to the needs of couples is at the forefront of everything we do at Prezola and we are committed to continually evolving our service to meet those needs and remain relevant and reactive.” prezola.com

17 July

Captain Tom Moore to Receive Knighthood at Windsor Castle

Captain Tom Moore, the 100-year-old former British Army officer who raised over £30 million for the NHS, will today (17 July) receive his merited knighthood from Her Majesty The Queen. The knighthood is set to take place in the form of an open-air ceremony in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, in which the Queen will use her father, the late King George VI’s sword to award Sir Tom with the insignia of Knight Bachelor. The ceremony will also mark the Queen’s first in-person engagement since lockdown. Prior to the ceremony, Sir Tom stated on his official Twitter account that “It is going to be the most special of days for me.” Source: Standard

Captain Tom Moore

@captaintommoore via Twitter

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre to Reopen This Summer 

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has announced that it will reopen this summer with a run of 70 live performances spanning August and September. The award-winning theatre, located at London’s Regent’s Park, will be the first theatre to open in the capital, kicking off with a concert staging of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar on 14 August. 140 people, particularly those working within the theatre industry – an industry which has significantly suffered during lockdown – are being employed to assist with the run, while the venue has been limited to 390 seats to ensure safety for guests. Bookings available from 21 July 2020; openairtheatre.com

15 July

Theatre Support Fund+ Raises Quarter of a Million Pounds For Theatre Workers & NHS

The Theatre Support Fund+, a platform launched by theatre industry workers Chris Marcus and Damien Stanton, has raised a quarter of a million pounds for theatre charities Acting For Others and The Fleabag Support Fund, as well as the NHS COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. The Fund, which launched just eight weeks ago, creates and designs ‘The Show Must Go On!’ t-shirts based on the artwork of 16 renowned West End musicals – including Les Misérables, The Lion King and Wicked – in which an incredible 20,000 orders have been placed and shipped to more than 60 countries worldwide. The campaign has drawn in huge support from a number of renowned personalities, including that of Keira Knightley, Michael Ball and The Fleabag Support Fund founder Phoebe Waller Bridge. Chris and Damien said “We are incredibly overwhelmed with the generosity and support people have given to the theatre industry and with the government announcing arts funding, it is all moving in a very positive direction. However there are still individuals out there that need our help and we will continue to unite and work together to raise monies for these charities to help all of those that have been affected from the pandemic until the theatre industry is up and running again.” theatresupportfund.co.uk

Phoebe Waller Bridge

Phoebe Waller Bridge

Wild Bison to Return to UK for the First Time in Thousands of Years

Thanks to a new initiative by the Kent Wildlife Trust and Wildwood Trust, a small herd of European bison is set to be released in the West Blean woods, near Canterbury, in the spring of 2022. Wild bison are close relatives of the now-extinct ancient Steppe bison, who roamed what is now England many thousands of years ago as part of a healthy ecosystem. The project aims to “promote stronger habitats by restoring natural processes that are able to withstand the current environmental crisis and species decline and in the long run, reverse it”. The bison, initially limited to one male and three females, will come from the Netherlands or Poland, where previous releases have safely succeeded. Source: CNN

Nursing Home Residents Recreate Classic Album Art

David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, Adele’s 21 and The Clash’s London Calling are only a small sample of iconic albums re-created by the residents of Sydmar Lodge, a nursing home in Edgware. The creative series, touching and frequently hilarious, was the brainchild of Sydmar Lodge activities co-ordinator Robert Speker, and quickly went viral on Twitter after he posted the results in a thread. “It’s been my job and privilege to keep [residents] entertained during the COVID crisis,” wrote Mr. Speker on a GoFundMe page for the project. “Elderly people will remain in lockdown for a long time, and I want to make their time as happy and full of enjoyment and interest as possible.” Proceeds from the fundraiser will be split between Dementia Friends UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK. Source: Independent

10 July 2020

Quarantine Rules Relaxed For Overseas Travellers

Good news for holidaymakers; the government announced on Friday 10th July that travellers arriving in the UK from a select 75 countries – including France, Italy, Belgium and Germany – and British overseas territories will no longer have to undergo 14 day’s worth of self-quarantine. However, Scotland will still require travellers returning from Spain to self-isolate. Source: BBC

Spas, Gyms & Outdoor Theatres Set To Reopen

Mullion cove

Finally, the news we had all been waiting for (besides hairdressers reopening their doors); a number of leisure facilities and beauty salons in England – including spas, pools, gyms and nail salons – have been given the green light to reopen following a government announcement. Beauty services and spas are able to reopen from today (13 July) with some restrictions placed on “high-risk services”, whilst it was announced that outdoor pools and outdoor theatres were able to reopen at the weekend, from Saturday 11 July. Gyms and indoor swimming pools will subsequently open from 25 July. Source: BBC

The Best Spas in the UK

8 July 2020

Cure3 2020 Announces Stellar Line Up

The Cure Parkinson’s Trust in association with Bonhams and Artwise has announced a fantastic line-up of participating artists for Cure3 2020, the third edition of the selling exhibition to raise awareness and funds for curative Parkinson’s research. With original artworks by more than 90 international artists including Frank Bowling, Anish Kapoor, Conrad Shawcross, Ron Arad, Rana Begum, Annie Morris and Idris Khan plus the likes of Giles Deacon and Roksanda Ilinčić from the fashion world. Artists are given a bespoke Perspex box 20cm by 20cm by 20cm to work with, with prices for the works to range from £500 to over £40,000. Cure3 will take place from 5 to 8 September, with all works available to view and buy at cure3.co.uk, and also presented in a showcase exhibition at Bonhams, London.

Follow The Story Of Rescued Endangered Sun Bear Mary

Meet Mary, the endangered sun bear Mary who was rescued from a tiny cage in Laos and nursed back to health. Mary, the five-month-old sun bear was rescued last year from an illegal bear bile factory. Mary’s story is to be the subject of a new BBC documentary tracing her story as a house guest in Free The Bears CEO Matt Hunt’s house on to a sanctuary. The documentary is to be called Bears About The House and airs on 15 July at 8pm on BBC2. “Part of me hates telling people about what’s going on, but if people aren’t aware then nobody will help us to do anything about it,” says Matt. Source: iNews

7 July 2020

Boundary Boost For Suffolk Coast & Heaths

The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) has had approval from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to extend their boundary of protected land. The Surrey Hills AONB Board is hopeful that this may pave the way for their boundary extension hopes. “It is wonderful to see the Secretary of State announce this extension to the AONB, especially in the 50th anniversary year of its original designation,” said Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association of AONBs. “We look forward to what this now means for other landscapes like the Surrey Hills.”

Oxford’s Coronavirus Vaccine Test Results May Be Ready By August

The coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University is currently looking like the most likely candidate to produce the world’s first Covid-19 vaccination. The vaccine is in three late-stage trials and it may be clear by the end of next month whether it is effective or not. If there is one trial showing efficacy it would allow a regulator to apprive the vaccine for emergency use, which would likely pave the way for high-risk groups to receive the vaccination by October. Full approval could come in early 2021. Source: iNews

Man Fights Of Australia’s Most Deadly Snake While Driving

A 27-year-old Australian truck driver named ‘Jimmy’ has survived a fight with an eastern brown snake, a highly venomous snake that is responsible for the majority of Australia’s snakebite deaths. Jimmy was on the highway in Queensland when he noticed the snake in his pickup truck. “The more I moved my legs … it just started to wrap around me. Its head just started striking at the (driver’s seat) chair, between my legs,” he said. He fought the snake off with a seat belt and a knife while trying to stop the vehicle, but feared he had been bitten while killing the snake. Since the snake’s venomous bites are fast-acting and fatal, he sped toward a hospital before being pulled over by the police. “A brown snake or a tiger snake is in the back of the ute (truck), I think it has bitten me, it was in the car with me,” Jimmy told the police on being pulled over. “You can feel my heart, mate.” Source: CNN

3 July 2020

‘Thank You’ Flags & Messages of Hope Emerge Across London

Over 200 ‘Thank You’ flags have been exhibited across the West End in celebration of the NHS’ 72nd Anniversary. The commemorative display also pays tribute to those NHS workers and #OurHeroes who have valiantly dedicated their efforts to helping those most vulnerable amidst the pandemic – you’ll find them displayed across Regent Street, Regent Street St James’s, Oxford Street and Bond Street.

NHS Thank You Flags

What’s more, Grosvenor Britain & Ireland have also unveiled a series of flags comprising messages of hope and thanks across Mayfair & Belgravia, created by award-winning designer Alex Fowkes and artist Adam Nathanial Furman.

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland flags

Grosvenor Britain & Ireland flags adorn Belgravia’s Motcomb St

2 July 2020

Soho Is Open For Business

Following a campaign that received support from more than 6500 people, Soho is officially back in business as of Saturday 4 July. From 5pm each evening, 17 Soho streets will be pedestrianised allowing for area wide alfresco dining this Summer and giving the area’s hospitality businesses a chance to get back on their feet. Many of the areas restaurants and bars will be opening with weekend-long offers and free drinks on offer, while many businesses will honour the efforts of the NHS by offering summer-long discounts to staff. Street closures will be in effect from 5pm to 11pm. Find out more at saveoursoho.co.uk

1 July 2020

NHS Staff Celebrate Hotels Opening Night

The Pig Hotels are marking their reopening this weekend by hosting members of the NHS and care workers that live or work within a 25-mile radius of each hotel. Part of the #treatournhs initiative treatournhs set up by founder Sarah White, there were 5,500 nominations on The Pig website and the hotel group is expecting a house party feel for opening night. Robin Hutson, Chairman of The Pig Hotels said: “I think it’s true for most people in this country that in the past we have perhaps taken our NHS and Care workers for granted. Not so now! At this time when we really need them, the whole country is showing their deep appreciation and respect in many ways for how they put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe.” For guests wanting to stay at The Pigs after they re-open visit thepighotel.com

“Miracle Mal” Makes Full Recovery

You might have heard Sue Martin’s interview with the BBC back in April, where she spoke about her husband Mal’s battle with Covid-19. His outlook was bleak, his survival chances next to nothing, the family were granted permission to go to Mal’s bedside to say their goodbyes. But against all odds, Mal is due back to his family home this week. Sue received thousands of messages of support from around the country. She told the BBC: “We are so, so sad for the families who did lose their loved ones to Covid, we send them lots of love and our deepest sympathies. But throughout this ordeal support has also come from another, totally unexpected source. So what I’d really like to say is thank you to the thousands of people, complete strangers not only from the UK, but Australia, Spain, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand, around the world, who wrote to me, messaged me, left comments on social media, and others who held us in their thoughts for a moment. I can’t describe what a comfort and help that was.” Source: BBC

5-Year-Old Double Amputee Tony Hudgell Raises £1million

Tony Hudgell, 5, has raised more than £1million for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital by walking 10km with two prosthetic legs. He initially hoped to raise £500 for the hospital that saved his life, and was inspired by his hero Captain Tom Moore who has since sent him a message of congratulations. Tony hugged adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell at the finish line in his home town of West Malling in Kent. Paula said: “It is incredible to think that just a few weeks ago Tony could barely take a few steps. He is such a strong and determined boy and we are so proud. We’d like to thank everyone who has been so generous in supporting Tony’s fundraising and we couldn’t be happier that the money is going to a place that is so special to our family. I still can’t get my head around it to be honest, it still doesn’t seem real. I’m just so incredibly proud of him and everything he’s done has just been amazing.” justgiving.com Source: Evening Standard

THE PIG-at Bridge Place - Canterbury, Kent

24 June 2020

UK Bookshops See Sales Soar

Almost four million books were sold in the first week back trading in reopened bookshops in England. Reni Eddo-Lodge’s anti-racism book is still topping the charts, with total sales up 30% on the same week in the UK last year, despite the fact that shops in Wales and Scotland are still closed. “It’s so lovely to see all of our customers as we’ve really missed them, but we’ve also had the chance to meet a lot of customers who used us for the first time during lockdown and have come back to us again now that the shop is open,” said James Ashmore at independent bookshop Read, in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. Source: The Guardian

13 Spanish Neighbours Crochet 50 Metre LGBQT+ Flag

Carmen Romero and other residents of Aguilar de la Frontera in Spain spent the early days of lockdown sewing masks to aid coronavirus efforts. But when masks were no longer needed they moved on to another project. Carmen and 12 neighbours decided to team up and create a huge rainbow crochet project in celebration of Pride month. The 50 metre rainbow banner covers and shades an entire street of the municipality. “It gave me a lot of emotion to see the awning put on this Monday, it has been my biggest entertainment of the quarantine”, said Verne Romero, 59. Source: Verne

Holiday Season Is Back On

It’s official! From the 4 July we will be allowed to holiday in England, with a host of hotels, rentals and campsites opening up again. But where will you go first? To help you choose we’ve rounded up some of our favourite hotels’ reopening plans and found some cute seaside rental options to get you started. We’re all going on a summer holiday (and staycations are in for 2020).

The Scarlet Hotel

23 June 2020

Barcelona’s Opera For Plants

Barcelona’s Liceu opera is open for the first time since mid-March, but there is one major difference. The first post-Covid performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu was to an audience of 2,292 plants. The audience of flora (probably) enjoyed being serenaded with Giacomo Puccini’s “Crisantemi, with a human audience following along on the livestream. A statement from the Liceu said: “After a strange, painful period, the creator, the Liceu’s artistic director and the curator Blanca de la Torre offer us a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature.” The plants will be donated to 2,292 health care professionals at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona. Source: NPR

22 June 2020

Five Friends Run NHS Marathon

A group of five friends spelled out the letters ‘NHS’ with their marathon running route and raised almost £15,000 for NHS Charities Together. Tom Fender, Susie Pajares, Steven Penketh, David Robbins and Ben Grew, a chef and four company directors came together to run the marathon route to do their bit to support the coronavirus efforts. Tom said: “The reason for running the NHS is obvious. Members of my and Susie’s families were struck with Covid-19 in late March. I also have family members who are working on the front line at the Royal Brompton Hospital. The freedom to run every day has become a valued privilege – a moment of escape and exhilaration. Running past our local hospital, we know many others are working hard to save the simple things in life.” virginmoneygiving.com

marathon runners

19 June 2020

UK Covid-19 Alert Level Lowered

Chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have announced that the UK’s Covid-19 alert level has been reduced from four (transmission is high or rising exponentially) to three (virus in general circulation). In a joint statement, the medical officers stated: “There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues.” However, they added that this “does not mean that the pandemic is over” and that “localised outbreaks are likely to occur”. They said: “We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues.” Source: BBC

18 June 2020

Keeping Soho Alive

The thriving hospitality scene in London’s Soho has been impacted enormously by the pandemic, but Soho Estates and Shaftesbury are leading a campaign to ensure the area remains at the centre of London’s food and drink scene. The Soho Summer Street Festival campaign is proposing to temporarily pedestrianise the area and to relax licensing measures allowing venues to expand into the streets of Soho. John James, Managing Director of Soho Estates says: “With so many brilliant independent businesses in Soho, we are at risk of losing the culture that makes the area so special. Despite the awful effects of the crisis, it has been incredibly warming to see the community come together in such a way.” Stephen Fry, Damien Hirst, Olivia Williams and Bill Nighy are amongst those who have added their names to support the campaign. savesoho.co.uk

Anonymous Phoneline Launches To Inspire Short Film

This week is National Loneliness Week, and with 7.4 million Brits thought to have been impacted by loneliness during lockdown, Oscar-nominated film director Liam Saint-Pierre is looking to chronicle people’s experiences in a new short film. You can call The Missing Line and share what you have or haven’t been missing, and a selection of the anonymous caller confessions will be transformed into a short documentary film charting 24 hours of lockdown life, to be named ‘Missed Calls’.  themissingline.com

Ronnie Wood Supports Hotel Charity Campaign

El Palace Barcelona, which is due to reopen in September, will be selling five two-night vouchers to stay in the El Palace Suite by Ronnie Wood to help raise funds to support the development of vaccines and medication against COVID-19, and its economic effects on local families. Known to surprise guests of the hotel with impromptu ‘jam sessions’ in the Bluesman Cocktail Bar, you may even bump into the legendary Rolling Stone on your visit. The hotel is donating all proceeds from the vouchers to #YoMeCorono, a research and development project focused on finding market specific solutions to combat the pandemic in the city of Barcelona and Banc dels Aliments de Barcelona a charity that provides food to those in need. hotelpalacebarcelona.com

Making Sustainable Shopping Easier

Farfetch has launched a new fashion footprint tool aiming to equip customers with a better understanding of how their fashion choices impact the planet. Customers will be able to consider which materials reduce the environmental impact of their spending and see the green savings that opting for pre-owned purchases incur. The tool is accompanied by a report exploring the average environmental impact of fashion items including carbon, water and waste production. farfetch.com

16 June

Marcus Rashford Makes a Difference

Marcus Rashford’s campaign for the government to continue to provide children with free school meal vouchers throughout the summer holidays has been a success. The Manchester United footballer spoke to BBC Breakfast, stating that he was “grateful that the prime minister did change his decision”, following news that the government were to stop its providing of vouchers to families whose children are entitled to free meals outside of term time. Boris Johnson stated in a daily coronavirus briefing in Downing Street: “I talked to Marcus Rashford today and congratulated him on his campaign which to be honest I only became aware of very recently, today – and I thank him for what he’s done.” Source: BBC

Coronavirus Life-Saving Drug Discovered

Cheap and widely available Dexamethasone drug can help save the lives of seriously ill coronavirus patients, signalling a major breakthrough in the fight against the virus. The low-dose steroid treatment dexamethasone is part of the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments and cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators. Chief investigator Prof Peter Horby said: “This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality – and it reduces it significantly. It’s a major breakthrough.” Source: BBC

15 June 2020

Country’s Shops & Boutiques Open Doors

Shops and boutiques across the country have opened their doors again today for the first time in months. Many have had to adapt the way they operate to adhere to new social distancing and safety measures, but many have met the challenge and gone even further, working on new shopping experiences and customer services to make post-lockdown shopping even more exciting. In London, Selfridges has launched personal after-hours shopping trips and new live entertainment for those having to queue, while shoppers on Sloane Street can make the most of virtual sales appointments and curb-side collection at Prada and enhanced online offerings and appointments at other boutiques. Chopard is welcoming back shoppers to its New Bond Street boutique with enhanced safety and hygiene practices, and Liberty has opened its famous doors once more. Outside the capital, those looking for a full day of retail therapy can find it at Bicester Village, which has reopened with a host of carefully-implemented social distancing measures, while smaller boutiques and businesses up and down the country are opening their doors with one common hope for their returning customers: that they’ll spend, spend, spend.

Meanwhile, with our homes having been more under the spotlight than ever over lockdown, if you are looking for some update inspiration for your home, how about getting down to The Design Centre to experience the patterns, colours and finishes you’ve been pouring over on screens in person? With a wealth of specialist expertise across the board and rooms full of inspiring and unique designs, a visit is sure to lift your mood (and get your creative juices flowing).

Soho London Photo by Mark Sayer on Unsplash

Soho, London: Photo by Mark Sayer on Unsplash

12 June 2020

UK Barn Owl Numbers On The Rise

UK barn owls are on the rise, and humans are to thank for the growing numbers. Up to 80% of the country’s population of the birds now nest in man-made boxes, with 20,000 boxes now set up nationwide. Lynne Flower, a volunteer for Kent Wildlife Trust, is licensed with the British Trust for Ornithology to monitor boxes in the local area. “We’ve found that a pair might become quite loyal to a box and while they’re pairing up and mating, they’ll be in the box. If a female starts laying, the male will often roost somewhere else,” she said. “Once they’ve got young he will definitely move somewhere else and he will bring in food. When the young get really big she will also roost somewhere else possibly, so all these roost sites are really important to them.” There are now an estimated 12,000 breeding pairs of the birds in the UK up from 4,500 in 1987. Source: The Guardian

The Queen Makes First Video Call To Support Care Workers

The Queen made her first video call appearance to speak to care workers through the charity Carers Trust to mark Carers Week. The monarch was the last to join the call and the first to leave as per formal etiquette of royal engagements. Nadia Taylor, who looks after her mother who is blind and has osteoarthritis, her father who is undergoing chemotherapy for a blood disorder, her husband who has a kidney deficiency and her 16-year-old daughter who has temporomandibular disorder of her jaw joint, was on the call. She said: The call was about 45 minutes and the Queen was on for about 20 minutes of that. She asked us all questions. We talked about how we are all coping in the current climate with Covid-19. I explained to her how much more isolated carers are at the moment. Many don’t have laptops or tablets and feel very cut off. A lot of the appointments – doctors, hospitals etc – we need have been cancelled. The Queen asked questions about how we all coped and called us extraordinary, which was very lovely. She is quite formal in the way she speaks but I have to say I was personally struck about how warm she was.” Source: Evening Standard

Gamers Unite To Raise Money For Racial Justice Causes

A community of game developers have come together to raise funds for racial justice and equality causes, posting more than 1,000 games and asset packs online at itch.io up for grabs for a donation of $5 and up. The target is to raise $5million for the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund and a donation to the cause will allow you to download more than 790 games. The bundle includes games like Night In The Woods, Overland and Super Hexagon. itch.io

Por Todos Fund Raises $11million For Ecuador’s Poorest

With coronavirus putting many of the indigenous communities at risk, a new charitable fund and pool of resources is raising vital aid to help those most in need. The fund, set up by Roque Sevilla of Metropolitan Touring, has raised $11million so far to provide food and economic assistance to maintain social distancing, COVID-19 detection testing, respiratory triage centres and PPE provision to Ecuador’s most vulnerable in the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon, Cuenca, Esmeraldas, Quito and the Central Highlands. Sevilla commented, “We are eternally grateful to all those who have donated so far, and thanks to many volunteers and generous donations, have managed to stabilise the situation in the Galapagos Islands and provide a lifeline to many vulnerable communities…We know that every country has its own coronavirus issues to contend with, but we invite anyone who is able to join the fund, it is about saving everyone’s life, health and future.” www.portodos.ec

Kathy Sullivan Is First Person To Visit Challenger Deep And Space

NASA astronaut and oceanographer Kathy Sullivan has become the first person to reach the deepest point of the ocean as well as having visited space. Sullivan reached Challenger Deep, at a depth of 10,928 metres in the western Pacific Ocean on Sunday as part of the Ring of Fire Expedition. “I know (Challenger Deep) as a bathymetric feature on a chart, a tectonic feature, and a seismic feature … but that’s all data-based understanding. To see it in person — it makes all the difference in the world,” she said. “No self-respecting marine biologist would be able to pass up an invitation!” Source: CNN

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity Launches Phizz-whizzing Workshops

Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity is set to launch a series of workshops to teach primary school children about core values to include bravery, empathy, resilience and kindness. The ‘Phizz-whizzing Workshops’ will highlight the charity’s work and will encourage families to take part in fundraising activities for the charity through a competition to be judged by Jodie Whitaker and other famous faces. Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity provides specialist nurses and support to 21,000 seriously ill children across the UK. Sign up to receive more information on the workshops here: roalddahl.com.

painting of the earth

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

11 June 2020

Zoos & Drive-In Cinemas To Reopen

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are amongst the attractions set to open up to the public on Monday. These outdoor leisure activities will be able to resume as long as social distancing rules are followed, alongside some non-essential shops that will also reopen on Monday 15 June. “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so,” said a Downing Street Official. “This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.” Source: BBC

Councils Call For Removal Of Monuments Linked To Slavery

Councils across the UK are backing demands to remove moments of figures linked to the slave trade amidst nationwide protests. Sadiq Khan has launched a commission to make the capital’s public spaces more diverse with changes to street names, statues and monuments. He said: “The commission will advise us on [the removal of statues], but actually we don’t have enough representation of people of colour, black people, women, those from the LGBT community.” Source: iNews

Travel Company Shells Out £115million Refunds

As the travel industry prepares for a tentative reopening in the UK next month and hotels start reopening across the world, many companies are facing the reality of more than three months with no business. Trailfinders has informed its customers that alongside repatriating 20,000 clients, it has processed refunds for 100,000 people totalling £115million, in some cases bridging gaps between suppliers. They are currently taking booking for 2020 and beyond.

UAE’s Mars Mission Prepares For Launch

The very first Arab mission to Mars is in preparation for its 14 July launch with fuelling to get underway next week. The ‘Hope Mars Mission’ (titled Amal, meaning ‘hope’) is set to reach Mars by February 2021 and will orbit the red planet for one Martian year (687 days) collecting data. Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre said: “This mission is not just about the UAE, it’s about the region, it’s about the Arab issue.” Sarah Al-Amiri, the UAE’s Minister of State for Advanced Sciences said: “Mars provided us with the necessary challenge to rigorously develop talent in engineering, it gave us an appetite for risk and being able to circumvent the risk and push forward with the mission for development. It allows us to start integrating and creating new opportunities for scientists within the UAE and those that are studying the natural sciences.” Source: iNews

Chelsea Women’s Football Team Donate Prize Money To Refuge

Chelsea has donated the £100,000 prize money for winning the Women’s Super League title to domestic abuse charity Refuge. Emma Hayes, the Chelsea manager said: “It’s a charity that’s close to the hearts and minds of the women’s team, and is very important to our owner, Mr Abramovich, and everyone at the club. It makes me proud our club is supporting those less fortunate in times of need. Up until now our involvement was about supporting the campaign publicly with a call to action but we all wanted to do more than that and if donating our prize money can ease some of the concerns and worries people have, then it’s the least we can do. It’s an important message. It’s a campaign that’s really dear to us and the best way we can demonstrate our support further is by committing our prize money towards it and helping those in need.” Source: The Guardian

10 June 2020

Renewables Are The Future As Britain Goes Coal-Free

Tonight at midnight will mark two full months without burning any coal to generate power in the UK. The last coal generator came off the system on 9 April after the country went into lockdown and no coal has been born for electricity since. Dr Simon Evans of Carbon Brief said: “So far this year renewables have generated more electricity than fossil fuels and that’s never happened before. With gas also in decline, there’s a real chance that renewables will overtake fossil fuels in 2020 as a whole.” Source: BBC

France To Ban Police Chokeholds

The French government has announced that police will no longer be able to use chokeholds when arresting people following a week of protests. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said: “I hear the criticism; I hear a powerful cry against hatred. Racism has no place in our society, not in our Republic. We want total transparency. In the face of excitement, of comments, of certainties, only truth and transparency count. This is what the President is encouraging us to strive toward.” Source: CNN

British Scientists Sets Up Social Enterprise For Distribution

A team of British scientists working on finding a coronavirus vaccine has set up a social enterprise to distribute it if they are successful. The aim is to ensure that the world’s poorest gain access to the potential vaccine, rather than placing it in the hands of a big pharmaceutical company. Simon Hepworth, director of enterprise at London’s Imperial College said: “Right now we think the focus should be on how to solve the problem rather than how to make money out of it. Social enterprise fits with our mission – applying scientific discoveries for the benefit of society.” Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

Donations To Black Lives Matter Causes Top £1million

Charity groups and grass roots organisations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK have received more than £1million in donations in the wake of recent protests. Groups include Black Minds Matter, as flagged in an earlier Good News bulletin, and Black Protest Legal Support. Black Lives Matter UK has raised more than £750,000. A spokesperson said: “BLMUK have been overwhelmed and greatly touched by the generosity of communities and individuals across the country… In the longer term, we will take our time in making carefully considered plans about how these donations can be best invested into the black communities that need them most.” Source: The Guardian

Famed Yellowstone Bear Emerges With Cubs

One of the oldest grizzly bears in the world living in the wild, known as ‘399’ has emerged from winter accompanied by four cubs. The bear, aged 24, is not only one of the oldest grizzlies living outside a zoo, but she has continued having cubs late into her life, making her emergence from the winter season with a rare litter of four all the more exciting. Steve Franklin, a retired firefighter and arson investigator from Phoenix was particularly keen to get the first picture of 399: “I dreamed of being the person who sees her first in the spring and gets the photo. Everyone who knows the legacy of 399 wants to be that person.” Source: The Guardian

9 June 2020

British Man Rescued After Six Days In Bali Well

British man Jacob Roberts has been rescued, six days after he fell into a well on the Indonesian island of Bali. The 29-year-old man broke his leg falling into the well in Pecatu village while running away from a dog, according to local sources. His cries for help were eventually heart by a local resident out looking for cattle feed in the remote area. South Kuta police chief Yusak Agustinus Sooai said “he looked thin and injured,” when he was lifted out of the well by three men, but he is reportedly well. Source: BBC

Minneapolis Council Pledges To Dismantle Police

The of Minneapolis City Council has voted by a majority to dismantle the local police department amidst global protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody last month. Nine of the 13 councillors read a statement to hundreds of protesters on Sunday. City Council President Lisa Bender said: “We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe. Our efforts at incremental reform have failed. Period.” Source: BBC

$1m Treasure Found In Rocky Mountains

Art and antiquities collector Forrest Fenn said the $1million treasure he hid in the Rocky Mountain wilderness a decade ago has been found. The 89-year-old said that a treasure hunter collected the chest a few days ago but wishes to remain anonymous. Clues as to the treasure’s whereabouts had been posted online by Fenn and in his 2010 autobiography. Asked how he felt about the discovery of the chest he said: “I don’t know, I feel halfway kind of glad, halfway kind of sad because the chase is over.” Source: The Guardian

Gamer Grandma Reveals Motivation In Life

A 90-year-old Japanese pensioner known as the ‘Gamer Grandma’ has revealed that gaming is a ‘motivation in life’ for her. Hamako Mori appears in the Guinness World Record books for being the world’s oldest gaming YouTuber and she spends three or more hours every day gaming and streaming on her YouTube channel. “It’s fun being watched by a lot of people, rather than playing alone,” she said. “I won’t put it down just because it’s difficult … It’s better than doing nothing! I want to play well no matter how old I am.” Source: iNews

Zero New Coronavirus Cases In Premier League

As the Premier League prepares to start back up next week, a sixth round of testing across all clubs has confirmed no new coronavirus cases. A total of 1,195 players and club staff from across the 20 top-flight clubs were tested last week as part of the centralised testing programme. “The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 4 June and Friday 5 June, 1,195 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19,” the Premier League said in a statement on Saturday evening. “Of these, zero have tested positive. The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency. No specific details as to clubs or individuals will be provided by the League and results will be made public after each round of testing.” Testing will be carried out twice a week. Source: Evening Standard

football Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

8 June 2020

No New Covid-19 Deaths In Scotland For 24 Hours

Scotland recorded zero coronavirus deaths for 24 hours this weekend for the first time since near the start of the breakout. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We are not in the business of rushing out announcements on the back of albeit a piece of positive news, but a one-off piece of positive news in the context of the weekend when we know the number of registered deaths are lower than in a week day. I want to be here on many more days where either I or the first minister are giving those kinds of numbers, but for us to get there we need to stick with the measures that are in place.” Source: BBC

Banksy Unveils Black Lives Matter Artwork

Artist Banksy has unveiled an artwork to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The street artist posted a picture of the painting on his Instagram account alongside a call for change to the systematic oppression of black people across the world. He said: “At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine. People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs. This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in.” Source: Instagram

Tree Mapping Site Gets 50 X More Visits

A walking app to help local walkers identify trees close to them has seen record traffic during lockdown. TreeTalk is an online mapping tool featuring the location and species of more than 700,000 trees in London, and the increase in people taking walks in their areas and getting to know their local parks has seemingly led to an increased hunger for knowledge about the trees they are passing by each day. Co-founder of TreeTalk Paul Wood said: “The wonder of nature is a cliche but trees are a truth at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty. There is a conceptual mystery to the way they manage to burst into life every spring despite everything we throw at them – the vans and buses going by, the extreme weather, the pollution.” Source: The Guardian

Huge Black Lives Matter Mural Painted Near White House

The city of Washington has painted a huge Black Lives Matter yellow mural on the street leading up to the White House in the midst of the ongoing protests against police brutality in the US. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the painting by city workers and local artists is there to send a message of support for the movement. “We know what’s going on in our country. There is a lot of anger. There is a lot of distrust of police and the government,” she said. “There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognised. We had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city.” However, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter said it did not support painting the street and instead called for active support for calls to defund police and increased investment in the community. Meanwhile, protests continue around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. You can keep up with the efforts and get involved at blacklivesmatter.com. Source: AP News

Ceasefire On The Table After Almost A Decade Of Libya War

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has announced an initiative to end the cival war in Libya, which includes peace talks in Geneva. The initiative is backed by rebel general Khalifa Haftar. The ceasefire will begin today and the President said it will pave the way for elections. “There can be no stability in Libya unless peaceful means to end the crisis are found, that include the unity and integrity of the national institutions,” he said. Source: The Guardian

5 June 2020

Healthcare Mum Reunited With Daughters After 9 Weeks

An NHS healthcare worker who spent more than two months away from her daughters as she joined the fight against coronavirus has finally been reunited with her family. Suzie Vaughan, 43, from King’s Lynn, Norfolk, surprised her two daughters Hettie, seven, and Bella, nine, after two months apart. “We had said it was only going to be for a maximum of a month, but nobody knew at the beginning of this how it was going to go,” she said. “It was amazing to see them again, I missed the girls terribly. When they started crying I felt so bad but so relieved I was back with them. Now they won’t let me out of their sight. When I put them to bed they said, ‘Am I dreaming mummy?’” Source: ITV

Dubai Building Transformed Into World’s Tallest Donation Box

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa was transformed into the ‘World’s Tallest Donation Box’, being illuminated bit-by-bit to represent donations coming in to fund coronavirus-hit communities. The fund reached its target of securing funding for 1.2 million meals for low-income families and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic within one week of its launch. All further donations will fund the ‘10 million meals’ campaign. visitdubai.com/en

Kenyan Boy, 9, Praised By President For Hand-Washing Machine

A nine-year-old Kenyan boy has been recognised by the country’s president for building a unique hand-washing machine to help fight the spread of Covid-19. President Uhuru Kenyatta recognised Stephen Wamukota with a prestigious state commendation for his work alongside 67 others who have contributed to the country’s anti-Covid efforts. The machine is equipped with a pedal-like foot lever to allow hand-washing with zero hand contact. “I had the idea of developing this machine and after I started, I ran out of materials and approached my father who assisted me complete it,” said Wamukota. Source: CGTN

Jamaica Retrains Tourism Workers

With global travel grinding to a halt because of the Covid-19 pandemic, up to 75% of Jamaica’s tourism sector have lost their jobs. To tackle the unemployment across the country, Jamaica has announced the launch of a free online training programme for those affected. Over 6,500 users have registered since the programme launched with courses including: Laundry Attendant, Guest Room Attendant, Kitchen Steward Porter, ServSafe Training in Food Safety, Certified Hospitality Supervisor, Introduction to Spanish, Public Area Sanitation, Hospitality Team Leader, Certified Banquet Server, Certified Restaurant Server, and DJ Certification. It is hoped that most will be reemployed within the next few months with a greater skillset. tef.gov.jm

‘George Floyd’s Life Mattered’: Duchess Of Sussex

The Duchess of Sussex addressed students graduating from her former school in LA, Immaculate Heart, and gave a heartfelt message following the death of George Floyd. In a video for the graduating class she said she: “realised the only wrong thing to say is nothing because George Floyd’s life mattered”. She said: “I know that this is not the graduation that you envisioned […] but I also know that there is a way to reframe this for you, and to not see this as the end of something. But instead to see this as the beginning of you harnessing all of the work, all of the values, all of the skills that you have embodied over the last four years. Now all of that work gets activated, now you get to be part of rebuilding. We are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt, because when the foundation is broken, so are we.” Source: Essence

Celebrity Raffle To Support Big Issue Vendors

Celebrities have pulled together to support Big Issue vendors impacted by the coronavirus lockdown with a raffle. Editor, Paul McNamee, said: “Since the end of March we’ve been going all-out to completely change, and save, the Big Issue during the Covid-19 crisis. We’ve come so far, with the generous support of the public. But the battle is not over, nor is it won. We have one more big idea.” The Big Raffle has a host of prizes donated by celebrities including a personalised message from Ray Winstone, a backstage tour and breakfast date with Lorraine Kelly and a virtual chat with Joanna Lumley. Source: Guardian

Jamaica Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

Jamaica, Photo by Austin Kirk on Unsplash

4 June 2020

Washington DC Man Shields 80 Protesters

Rahul Dubey heard screaming from outside his house in Washington DC as clashes between protesters and police escalated post-curfew. He flung open his doors and offered a safe haven to all who could fit inside as they tried to flee the streets, and ended up with 80 protesters in his home. Speaking in a BBC News video he said: “Overnight, every square inch of this place had a person or body in it. They were all strangers, that was amazing, they didn’t know each other, it wasn’t a group of people. From age, to race, to ethnicity, to sexual orientation. It was amazing. It was America. It gave me a lot of hope. And we got everybody home.” Source: BBC

Coronavirus Not Mutating

Contrary to prior speculation, WHO has said that coronavirus is not mutating. Scientists across the world are studying the virus and none of the genome sequences have displayed signs of mutations to a more dangerous strain. “There are more than 40,000 full genome sequences that are available,” said WHO infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove. “Scientists are looking to see, are there changes in the virus? And as it is a coronavirus — it is an RNA virus — there are normal changes in this virus that one would expect over time. None of these changes so far indicate that the virus itself is changing in terms of its ability to transmit or to cause more severe disease.” WHO warns that this does not mean that now is a time for complacency in dealing with the virus. Source: CNN

City In Japan Proposes Walking With Phone Ban

Here is one for all of the speed walkers out there. The pedestrians that love to get from A to B with as few obstacles as possible and at as great a speed as possible. How much easier would pounding the pavements be without the dawdlers, the Whatsappers, the live-streaming-Instagrammers slowing you down? This could be the case henceforth in Japan as politicians in Yamato put forward a bill to make it illegal to gaze at phones when walking. A 2020 study by researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada published in the BMJ journal suggested that “distraction injuries” are becoming more common due to smartphone use. Lead author Dr Sarah Simmons said: “Given the ubiquity of smartphones, social media, apps, digital video and streaming music, which has infiltrated most aspects of daily life, distracted walking and street crossing will be a road safety issue for the foreseeable future.” While people won’t be punished for flouting the rules, the law has apparently been drafted to keep pedestrians safe when crossing roads, and to encourage them to use their phone only when in spots where they are unlikely to pose a hindrance to others. (The aforementioned speed walkers, perhaps?) Source: Independent

Festival Season Is Back On(line)

For all of you missing out on your favourite alfresco events this summer, all is not lost. There might be some way to go before festivals go ahead as we know them, but many have found new ways to stream online to allow participation from home. Check out our roundup of the best virtual festivals for 2020 which includes next week’s Puffin Festival of Big Dreams and Glyndebourne Open House, which is happening now.

Black Minds Matter Raises More Than £60K In Two Days

Black Minds Matter has launched a crowdfunding campaign to offer as many black individuals and families in the UK certified, professional, black practitioners for therapy sessions as soon as possible. They went live with the campaign just three days ago with an initial target of £72,000 and at the time of writing the total raised was more than £60,000. If you or anyone you know could benefit from their services visit blackmindsmatteruk.com and you can donate online at gofundme.com.

Glyndebourne

3 June 2020

Joyce, 100, Raises £20K For Charity

Joyce Richardson celebrated her 100th birthday by raising £20K for charity by standing up 100 times by her big day. Joyce, from Thirsk North Yorkshire, has nearly lost the use of her legs after developing sepsis last year, and described the challenge as a “huge struggle”. She said: “When I started it I thought if I raised £1,000 I would do very well, but I’m absolutely amazed how generous people have been.” Captain Tom Moore tweeted his support to the centenarian saying: “Welcome to the club Joyce, 100 years young today! And congratulations on your challenge for a great cause. Stay safe #TomorrowWillBeAGoodDay”. Joyce is raising money for Herriot Hospice Homecare in Northallerton, which cared for her son before his death last year. Source: BBC

US Lawmakers Prepare For Change

A US lawmaker is preparing a bill aiming to end court protection for the police amidst the protests following the killing of George Floyd. U.S. Representative Justin Amash is planning to introduce legislation this week to end a pattern of police violence by allowing victims to sue officers for illegal and unconstitutional acts. The Ending Qualified Immunity Act would allow civil lawsuits against police, something that the qualified immunity doctrine largely prevents at present. Source: NY Times

Businesses Unite To Prioritise Green Recovery Plan

UK businesses and investors are uniting to call on the government to deliver a recovery plan for the pandemic that prioritises tackling climate change. The group of more than 200 top UK firms, including Lloyds Bank, Asda and Sky, believes that ministers should be using the current lockdown to propel a greener economy. “Measures that cut greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy have the potential to be more effective in supporting jobs and economic growth.” Reads a letter from the group. “They’ll also support our long-term climate goals and deliver better outcomes in other key areas of public interest, such as public health and wellbeing. Investments in projects such as building renovation, offshore wind, electric vehicles, environmental improvements and low carbon industrial clusters have the potential to bring investment and job creation across multiple regions of the UK.” Source: BBC

Start Date Scheduled For F1

Good news for fans of Formula 1, the 2020 season is due to start in Austria on 5 July for a run of eight races in Europe. The first two races will both take place in Austria on the 5 and 12 July, with the third in Hungary. Following a two-week break there will be two races in Britain followed by races in Spain, Belgium and Italy. All will take place ‘behind closed doors’ with no audience with participants following guidelines to minimise the rise of Covid-19 contamination. F1 bosses hope to finish a 15 to 18 race season with races in Bahrain on 6 December and Abu Dhabi on 13 December. Source: BBC

Watch Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus

How about a little home theatre to brighten your week now that the sun has taken a break? Tom Hiddleston’s turn in Donmar Warehouse’s production of Coriolanus is set to be released online this week as part of National Theatre at Home. The play also stars Alfred Enoch, Deborah Findlay and Mark Gatiss and is directed by Josie Rourke. The play will live-stream on Thursday June 4 at 7pm here and will be available until June 11 so catch it while you can. You can donate here to support the National Theatre. Director Josie Rourke will also host a watch-along on her Instagram with Hiddleston.

National Theatre credit Philip Vile

National Theatre photo by Philip Vile

2 June 2020

Summer Season Saved With Online Opera

Lamenting the loss of the summer season? Thanks to Grange Park Opera, Surrey, you can enjoy the opera this summer with 15 performances that will be free to view online. Sir Bryn Terfel and Sir Simon Keenlyside are to give concerts from their homes and tenor Joseph Calleja will sing from Malta. Eight of the 15 performances are being filmed in the empty Theatre in the Woods, observing respectful distance between artists and technicians. The performances will be online at grangeparkopera.co.uk from 4 June. Founder & Chief Executive Officer Wasfi Kani said: “Grange Park Opera’s original 2020 programme will forever be known to me as The Lost Season. But culture is active and happening right now. Driven by this, I did not want to just share performances that people will have seen before, but to create an entirely new Found Season of brand-new works, and bring it to as many people as possible.”

Spain Reports No New Coronavirus Deaths

Spain recorded a full 24-period with no new coronavirus deaths for the first time in three months yesterday. Emergency health response chief Fernando Simón said: “We are in a very good place in the evolution of the pandemic. The statistics are following a trend. They are going the right direction.” Almost all beaches are now open across Spain and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum has also reopened its doors. Source: Metro

Police Join In Protests In Camden, New Jersey

As protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in police custody in USA escalate across the country, police in Camden, New Jersey have taken a different approach to handling the situation. Police Chief Joe Wysocki locked arms with activists alongside other city officers, saying: “I wanted the unity, I was looking for peace. People had to be able to speak their mind, they had to be able to vent.” March organizer Yolanda Deaver, 36, said: “They didn’t try to use their authority to control the crowds. They made it about the people, about how we feel. They stood with us.” Officers stood in unison with marchers and shouted slogans like “No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police.” Source: Inquirer

Hope For World’s Rarest Primate

The Hainan Gibbon, the world’s rarest primate, has a renewed hope of survival following the discovery of a new breeding pair. The apes now live solely on China’s Hainan island following deforestation and poaching pushing the specie’s existence to the brink. Numbers fell as low as 10 in the 1970s, with the latest census showing five families making a total of 30 gibbons. Philip Lo, senior conservation officer described the emergence of a new breeding pair as “a piece of good news that could cheer up other dedicated conservation colleagues”. Source: BBC

Discount Safaris For Emergency Service Workers Worldwide

Asilia Africa will offer discounts of up to 75% on safaris for healthcare and emergency service workers from across the world when travel restrictions lift. They will be offering front line staff to travel with a plus one (and children) to an Asilia property at the discounted rates until 31 May 2021. Commercial Director Gordie Owles says, ‘’We know that this gesture is not much compared to the sacrifice that so many have made during this pandemic. But we hope that by opening our doors and taking people out to the wilderness to recharge and reboot it goes some way to saying thank you for their heroic work.’’ www.asiliaafrica.com

cheetah Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash

Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash

1 June 2020

Teen Sets Up Community Senior Letters

Nina Anderson, 16, has set up a thoughtful initiative to help lonely care home residents in coronavirus isolation. The teenager from London previously set up Community Senior Music to organise music concerts in care homes, but since lockdown she has switched to organising the delivery of handwritten letters from primary school pupils to lonely care home residents. Since she launched the scheme, thousands of letters from more than 35 primary schools have been delivered. “I believe that letters and drawings have the power to affect empathy and connection between two people from different generations, contexts, and walks of life,” said Nina. “Sending and receiving these letters helps to uplift spirits, ease stress and relax the mind. Not only does it provide elderly people with some form of human connection during isolation, but it also helps to alleviate any boredom the pupils may be feeling.” Community Senior Letters would love for more schools and care homes to get involved. To do so please email communityseniorletters@gmail.com.

Astronauts Enter Space Station

US astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the SpaceX Nasa mission have docked with and entered the International Space Station (ISS). Their SpaceX Dragon capsule attached to the bow section of the orbiting lab and the pair disembarked to join the Russians and Americans onboard. Their mission is the first crew outing launched from America in nine years. “We’re just happy to be here and Chris is going to put us work. And hopefully we will fit in and not mess too many things up,” said Doug Hurley. Source: BBC

High Risk Recovery Stories Give Hope

For at-risk groups living in lockdown or shielding, the anxiety of contracting Covid-19 can be very high. The BBC has published a series of survivor stories from high risk individuals who have recovered from the virus. Bryony Hopkins said: “As my temperature spiked, my mind was full of questions and the horror stories I had read about. Would I end up in hospital? Would I need a ventilator? Am I going to die? There was no opportunity to be tested, but a doctor suggested it was Covid-19. I was told to hold tight and go to A&E if my condition worsened. After eight days, my symptoms eased. My suppressed immune system had done a good job.” Source: Read more of Bryony’s story and other survivor stories on BBC News

#WalkWithUs: US Sheriff Puts Down Baton To Join Protesters

In a weekend of unrest in the US following the death of George Floyd in police custody, which has seen protests across the States and anti-racism marches across the world including London, one sheriff laid his baton aside. A Michigan sheriff joined protesters in Flint and put down his baton. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson told protesters: “The only reason we’re here is to make sure that you got a voice, that’s it.” Following crowd chants of ‘walk with us’, Swanson responded: “Let’s go, let’s go, where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night.” #BlackLivesMatter. Source: CNN

Coronavirus Choir Unites Thousands Online

This weekend an online choir of thousands united to sing Handel’s Messiah, which lasts hours. Two million people in the UK belong to a choir and this coronavirus choir has given some of them a chance to fill that choral-shaped hole in their lives by connected with like-minded musicians online. The choir even includes a set of twins, Nora and Andrew Boswell, joining from their homes in Berkshire and Yorkshire. Source: BBC

22 Teddy Bears Ride a Rollercoaster

It’s been quite a heavy few days (weeks, months) news-wise. So, here’s a video of a group of oversized teddy bears riding a rollercoaster at a Dutch theme park called Walibi Holland, which reopened this week after the coronavirus lockdown. Source: Today

teddy bear Photo by Oxana Lyashenko on Unsplash

Photo by Oxana Lyashenko on Unsplash

29 May 2020

UK Hotels Unite To Provide Complimentary Stays For ICU Workers

Four travel industry professionals have banded together to launch a brand new initiative which sees luxury hotels across the UK uniting to offer two-night breaks for all ICU frontline workers. Tom Harding, James Wales, Jacob Pickering and Greg Früchtenicht have launched Nights On Us to unify the UK hotel industry in a collaborative show of gratitude and appreciation to ICU worker’s heroic efforts throughout the coronavirus pandemic. So far, more than 3,500 nights have been confirmed from an array of noteworthy UK hotels, from The Savoy to The Doyle Collection, Grantley Hall and Belmond La Manoir. We at Country & Town House are proud to have joined forces with the initiative, which will continue over the next 12 months, calling on further hotels to offer unoccupied rooms whilst the industry gets back on its feet. Co-founder Jacob Pickering said: “We in the luxury travel, hospitality and hotel industries are not in the business of saving lives, we are in the business of enriching them. So it’s with that in mind that we think it’s only fitting for the industry to unite and offer a light at the end of the tunnel for these frontline workers who have risked their lives during the pandemic.” nightsonus.co.uk / @nights.on.us

Berkshire Village Embraces Silly Walks

Monty Python fans in Sonning have brought the Ministry of Silly Walks to life. Resident James Ruffell, a fan of the classic British comedy decided to encourage residents to re-enact the famous sketch by putting up signs outside his house in the Berkshire village. He then filmed the results with a motion-controlled webcam and shared the results on social media. Long live silliness. Source: BBC

Lockdown Easing Allows Group Meetups

As of Monday, it will be legal to meet in groups of up to six people from different households, meaning that people in England can be reunited with friends and loved ones. They will be able to meet in outside spaces including parks and private gardens. “These changes mean friends and family will start to meet loved ones,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson, describing what would be for some a “long awaited and joyful moment.” Some things to remember? “If someone was to go into the loo because they had to do that, it’s absolutely critical that they wipe everything down, wash their hands all the way through”, he said. “If you were to do something like a barbecue, remember that passing things from one person to another, if you haven’t washed your hands, you can pass the virus that way.” Source: BBC

New Zealand Discharges Last Covid-19 Patient

There are currently no Covid-19 hospitalisations in New Zealand, following the discharge of a patient in Middlemore Hospital in Auckland. The total number of recovered cases in the country is now at 1,462, and there are just 21 remaining active cases of the virus. “There is no widespread, undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.” Contact tracers are working to monitor new and existing cases through the NZ COVID Tracer app. Source: CBS News

French Cat Survives Coronavirus

French cat Papille, 9, the first known case of a pet being infected with coronavirus in France, has recovered from the virus. “We didn’t know what was wrong with her,” said Brian, Papille’s owner. “Mum found it strange the she was showing the same symptoms as a human: fatigue, a cough and bouts of lethargy. We said to ourselves, ‘perhaps it’s COVID-19. Unlikely, but perhaps’. She couldn’t stand, she wouldn’t react when we called her. She’d barely lift her head. It was us who transmitted the virus.” Papille is now fully recovered and vets are assuring owners that pet to human infection is very rare. Source: Reuters

cat Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

28 May 2020

Lost Stock Boxes Fund Factory Workers

If lockdown has you spending more time online shopping, but you’re worried about the impact your fast fashion splurge could have on the planet, this one is for you. When lockdown hit, high street retailers cancelled $2billion worth of orders, which meant almost a billion garments now without a shop and a million Bangladesh factory workers out of work. Muhymin Chowdhury, Head of Challenge Fund & Fundraising at not for profit health organisation Sajida said: “Cancelled orders have affected over 1000 factories. A recent study found that 47% of these workers now have no income.” Lost Stock https://loststock.co/ is a charity fashion box initiative powered by MallZee that allows you to pay £35 for a box of random fashion items in your size from cancelled clothing orders from shops such as Topshop and Gap. You’ll get a minimum of three items worth around £70, and you’ll support a garment worker in Bangladesh – and their family – for a week. Source: Glamour

Claire Foy & Matt Smith To Perform In Old Vic

Following the announcement that The Old Vic theatre is in a ‘seriously perilous’ financial situation, Claire Foy and Matt Smith have announced they will reunite for a performance of Lungs at the London venue. The pair, who also co-starred in The Crown, will perform the socially-distanced play live from an empty Old Vic theatre that will be streamed online with tickets priced between £10-£65. Each performance of Lungs will be limited to 1,000 viewers, the number of seats in the theatre. “Significant support is urgently needed if we are to emerge from this crisis still able to deliver exciting entertainment and social benefit,” the theatre said in a statement. Source: BBC

Enjoy An Anxiety-Relieving Botswanan Soundscape

If your kind of therapy is immersing yourself in another culture, how about relaxing to the sounds of traditional Botswanan songs sung to celebrate the country’s beauty, culture and traditions? Check out the Wilderness Safaris Mombo Choir singing ‘Beautiful Mombo‘ or enjoy an audio story by Wilderness Safaris Guide Trainer Louise Monsey. You can even listen to the sounds of lions roaring and imagine you’re close to the action (for those of you with kids at home, this may feel like a more relaxing option).

Walkers Found In New Zealand After 19 Days In Wilderness

Two missing walkers that disappeared in the Kahurangi National Park in New Zealand have been discovered 19 days after they set off. The pair, Jessica O’Connor and Dion Reynolds, both 23, had expected to be gone for six or seven days, but got lost in the fog and became injured after falling. They were eventually discovered by a search helicopter crew that noticed smoke from their camp fire and were winched into the aircraft by their rescuers. Police search and rescue co-ordinator Sergeant Malcolm York said: “They did the right thing. They stayed put and they made themselves visible.” Source: BBC

Rarely-Heard Narwal Sounds Recorded

Marine biologists have been able to assemble a collection of rarely heard narwal sounds with the help of Inuit whalers. The sea creatures are hard to study due to their uncongenial habits and are found deep below the Arctic Ocean surface or off the coasts of northern Canada and Greenland. The animals live in one of the “noisiest soundscapes in the ocean,” so capturing them on tape is very tricky. Authors of the paper, Evgeny Podolskiy and Shin Sugiyama from Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan were able to make the new recordings in their 2019 expedition with the help of Inuit whalers in Arctic glacial fjords in northwest Greenland. Source: Gizmodo

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

lion roar Photo by Ivan Diaz on UnsplashPhoto by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

27 May 2020

Northern Ireland Reports No New Covid-19 Deaths

Northern Ireland reported no new Covid-19 related deaths for the first time since 18 March yesterday, 25 May. Health Minister Robin Swann said it was “a clear sign of progress”, saying: “We all have been waiting for a day like this”. He warned against complacency, however, saying: “If people get it into their heads that this emergency is over, the consequences will be catastrophic…A second wave of the virus is also expected in the months ahead so we must keep our defences up.” Source: BBC

Free Holidays For 15 Key Workers

CV Villas is donating 15 villa holidays including flights in 2021 to key workers who have kept the country going throughout the coronavirus epidemic. From frontline NHS workers and supermarket workers to pharmacists and community volunteers, you can nominate a deserving candidate at cvvillas.com/heroes. Those not lucky enough to win will still receive a £300 voucher for use against their 2021 CV Villas holiday, applicable to any villa in any destination.

20 Barbados Holidays For NHS Heroes

Barbados has launched a Barbados Cares campaign, inviting the British public to nominate their NHS heroes, and share their stories for a chance to win a holiday to the Caribbean island when travel restrictions lift. Twenty NHS healthcare workers, and their guests, will be chosen to win a seven-night holiday by a panel of judges including H.E. Milton Inniss, Barbados High Commissioner to London; world-renowned DJ Carl Cox; Michelin Star Chef Tom Aikens; Chairperson of WPP and GroupM CEO Karen Blackett, OBE. barbadoscares.com

JK Rowling Announces New Children’s Book

JK Rowling has unveiled her first non-Harry Potter children’s book, called The Ickabog, which she is publishing in daily instalments on her website for free. There is also an illustration competition running alongside the release of the new book. The author has revealed that she wrote the story over a decade ago but felt that the time was right to share it, for “children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times”. “Over time I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children, because I’d read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory,” she said. “My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again. As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed).” Find out more at theickabog.com Source: jkrowling.com

Blue Bee Found In Florida

A rare blue bee that was thought to be extinct has been found in Florida. The rare species was first discovered in 2011 and has been eluding scientists ever since, until now. The blue calamintha bee (known scientifically as Osmia calaminthae) was last spotted in 2016 but has been seen this year. Chase Kimmel of the Florida Museum of Natural History confirmed the bees’ survival saying: “It was a great feeling; those first few nights were hard to sleep due to the anxiousness and excitement. The first few times I found the bee I couldn’t help [but] constantly question my own eyes and judgment on the diagnostic characteristics of the bee. I needed to look multiple times at the photos to confirm their identity.” Molly G. Rightmyer, whose team first identified the bee nearly a decade ago said: “I feel very happy to hear that the bee was rediscovered…to know that people were spurred to action—that people actually cared enough to go looking for this bee—is very heartening.” Source: Smithsonian Magazine

25 May 2020

Balcony Zumba Class For Retirement Community

Residents at Wadswick Green retirement community in Wiltshire enjoyed a Zumba class every Wednesday pre-lockdown, and instructor Maria decided that Covid-19 shouldn’t come between her students and their weekly fitness class. “I was holding a weekly Zumba class at Wadswick Green every Wednesday before the Covid-19 crisis hit. I was very sad that the lockdown meant that I wouldn’t be able to come and see the residents so when the staff at Wadswick Green suggested courtyard sessions, I said yes immediately,” said Maria. “For some residents these sessions have been the only time of week they could step outside, enjoy the nice weather and see everyone. It can be an isolating and difficult time, so I’m really happy that our sessions help bring the community together.” Maria leads classes from the courtyard with loudspeakers so residents can join in from private balconies while maintaining social distancing.

Free Skincare Consultations For NHS Staff

Facialist Joanne Evans, founder of Skin-Matters studio in Notting Hill has been using her time since her studio closed due to lockdown to offer NHS workers with complimentary 1-to-1 skincare consultations. She decided to pay thanks to those staff who may have suffered skin damage due to long-term PPE wear. She will also be gifting 30 NHS workers complimentary treatments post-lockdown. mailchi.mp

France Announces Pay Rises For Health Workers

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced that the country’s health workers stand to receive ‘significant’ pay rises after the coronavirus pandemic. “I can say without any ambiguity, the increase will be significant,” he said in a statement. The news follows a year of striking from health workers demanding higher salaries and increased staffs, with issues being highlighted throughout the pandemic. Source: France 24

Care Home Creates Drive-Through For Visits

One Devon care home has come up with a unique way to allow residents to be reunited with loved ones with the introduction of a ‘drive-through restaurant’. Through careful planning, PPE and separate stations, families have been able to see residents from the saftely of their cars after eight weeks of separation. Source: BBC

Plant Probiotics Could Replace Pesticides

Healthy gut, healthy body, right? Well the same principles could be true for plant life too. Scientists at the University of Sheffield say that ‘good’ bacteria may boost plant health, and that probiotics could fight off pests and diseases without the need for pesticides and other chemicals. Professor Duncan Cameron, principal investigator of the study said: “Scientists have learned a lot in recent years about how beneficial bacteria in our guts keep us healthy – and we believe the same is true for plants. By investigating how tomato plants interact with good bacteria in the soil through their roots, we hope to be able to develop plant probiotics to boost their immune systems and help them fight diseases without the need for harmful pesticides.” Source: iNews

No Covid-19 Deaths In Ireland On Monday

Ireland reached a significant milestone on Monday with no Covid-19 related deaths reported in the country for the first time since mid-March. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described it as a “day of hope” and a “significant milestone”. Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the report was “consistent with our overall pattern of reduction”. Source: The Journal

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

The Best Hotels in Paris

22 May 2020

London Records No New Coronavirus Cases For 24 Hours

London has recorded no new cases of coronavirus for 24 hours, after Public Health England data revealed that none of Monday’s Covid-19 swabs came back positive. This follows research by PHE and the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatic Unit that the rate of infection has dropped to just 24 per day. Monday’s case-free day was a fall from the 19 cases reported on the previous day. Source: Evening Standard

Couple Celebrates 50th Anniversary With Virtual New York Trip

Ed and Barbara Higgins from Norfolk were devastated when their 50th anniversary trip to New York was cancelled due to the pandemic. They were due to fly out on the 9 May and sail home on the Queen Mary 2. However, their family ensured they didn’t have to miss out, so they scheduled them a full itinerary of online tours, dinners and photo mock-ups. Mrs Higgins said: “The day we were due to fly, we got an email from our daughter with a link to an itinerary and films and videos of the places we ought to have been visiting in person. It had instructions about where we would go each day and links to virtual tours so we could walk through Times Square, watch a Broadway musical or have a special meal.” Source: BBC

NHS 4 NHS Provides Holidays For Staff

The Harper in North Norfolk has launched the NHS 4 NHS (Norfolk Hotel Stays for the NHS) campaign to say thank you to frontline staff battling the pandemic. Once they open, The Harper will offer two complementary rooms to NHS staff and their families, and they are inviting fellow Norfolk Hotels and B&Bs to do the same.

Plants For Joy

With garden centres still difficult to reach for many and those open incredibly busy, new business Plants For Joy is supporting the plant trade with its Wednesday to Saturday market. You can find them Wednesday and Saturday at Brook Green Market & Kitchen at Addison Primary School, Bolingbroke Road, W14 0DT from 10 – 2pm on a Wednesday (from 10-11am for the elderly and vulnerable) and 9-3pm on a Saturday (from 9-10am for the elderly and vulnerable). instagram.com

Moonpig Offers 25,000 Postcards For Mental Health Awareness Week

Know someone who might need a message of support this Mental Health Awareness Week? Moonpig will be offering 25,000 free postcards for Mental Health Awareness Week – 5,000 per day for five days – to encourage people to say the things that matter. Sarah-Jane Porter, Head of Cards at Moonpig said: “Written messages allow us to pour our emotions onto paper without any pressure. It’s easier to express feelings, concerns and care – things that many might feel uncomfortable saying out loud in person.” Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week on the Mind website. moonpig.com

For The Love Of Arts: Support For Entertainment Industry

British actress Michelle Collins and the Equity Benevolent Fund have announced a fundraising initiative to support entertainment industry professionals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The appeal is backed by the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Mandeep Dhillon, Joseph Fiennes, Sir Derek Jacobi, Lennie James, Alex Lawther, Miriam Margolyes, Lesley Manville and Elaine Paige. The stars have come together to perform monologues, all between 2 and 5 minutes long and recorded at home, to raise some much-needed funds for those in need under the hashtag #FortheLoveofArts. Michelle Collins said: “The current crisis has had a devastating effect on my industry affecting so many of us indiscriminately. I wanted to help. I started ringing around friends in the industry and one thing led to another and I suddenly had a list of fantastic, well known and highly respected film, TV and stage actors on board, all wanting to help in any way they could. I also have a group of extremely talented writers who have all agreed to write a monologue for whoever needs one.” To donate to the #FortheLoveofArts Equity Benevolent Fund visit: justgiving.com.

Gaza Girl, 13, Starts Lockdown Classes

A 13-year-old girl has started teaching neighbourhood children missing out on their studies due to coronavirus lockdowns. Fair Hmaid’s lessons are taking place in a wooden shack, and consist of English, Arabic and maths studies. Fair is hoping to be a teacher one day. “I wanted to bring them here and teach them, this is my talent,” she said. “I have one girl in first grade. If she is absent from school for a period of time, she will forget how to grab the pen and how to write.” In addition, Gaza teachers have been giving lessons online. There have been 20 cases of coronavirus in the Hamas Islamist-run Palestinian enclave to date. Source: Reuters

AMAFFI RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden Gifted To the Chelsea And Westminster Hospital

Luxury fragrance brand AMAFFI Perfume House has donated hundreds of plants and shrubs from its RHS Chelsea Flower Show Garden 2020 to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital as a long-term thank you to the NHS. The brand enlisted the help of RHS Ambassador Jamie Butterworth to create the perennial garden within just three days, enhancing the hospital’s outdoor space and providing solace and joy for its patients and staff. Founder and president of AMAFFI Perfume House, M. Amaffi said: “AMAFFI Perfume House sympathises with and cares for the millions of people affected by COVID-19 worldwide. Many Londoners suffered the consequences of this debilitating pandemic. We are hugely grateful to doctors, nurses and key workers who each day heroically put themselves at risk to save lives. AMAFFI Perfume House sincerely hopes this garden, as a magical present, gives joy and positive thinking and the flowers inspire with their beauty.”

AMAFFI Perfume House Garden

AMAFFI Perfume House Garden | Lynn Keddie

21 May 2020

#DrawForNHS Campaign Raising Money Through Art

If all this time at home has made you realise your walls are crying out for some artwork, this one is for you. DrawFor is a not-for-profit social enterprise launched by six friends during lockdown, raising money through showcasing emerging artists and selling limited-edition, affordable prints of their work. Launched less than two weeks ago, the initiative has already received 86 artist submissions and raised over £13K for NHS Charities Together. Find out more and shop the prints at drawfor.org.

Girl, 10, Donates 1,500 Art Kits To Children In Need

Chelsea Phaire, a 10-year-old from Connecticut, USA, has sent more than 1,500 art kits to children in foster care and homeless shelters to help lift spirits. The kits include pens, crayons, paper, colouring pencils and colouring books and are being sent as part of Chelsea’s Charity, founded in collaboration with her parents. “Since she was seven, she was begging me and her dad to start a charity,” Candace Phaire, Chelsea’s mom, told CNN. “She was so persistent, every couple of months she would ask, ‘Are we starting Chelsea’s Charity yet?’ When she was turning 10, she asked us again, and we decided it was time to go for it.” Chelsea said: “I feel good inside knowing how happy they are when they get their art kits”. Source: CNN

Couple Married For 70 Years Reunited

Mary Humphreys, 88, was separated from her husband of nearly 72 years, David, when she was placed on end-of-life care in hospital suffering from sepsis. However, Mary recovered and has now returned home to her husband, from whom she has spent ‘barely any’ time away from since they married seven decades ago. Mary’s daughter Lynne said: “It shows people that in difficult times, love conquers.” Source: BBC

NHS Announces Free HIIT classes

The NHS has announced the launch of free weekly HIIT and pilates classes through a partnership with Instructor Live. An NHS tweet read: “We’ve teamed up with fitness experts @InstructorLive to bring you some exciting new workout courses.” The first videos are available on YouTube, with new classes launching every Tuesday and Thursday. Not a fan of HIIT or Pilates? The NHS also offers yoga, pilates for back pain and even belly dancing on their fitness studio website. nhs.uk/nhs-fitness-studio Source: Evening Standard

Congratulations! It’s A Planet.

Scientists say they have taken imagery that could be the first direct evidence of a baby planet being born. Images, captured on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, show a dense disc of swirling dust and gas, with a spiral structure inside thought to be an indication of a new world being formed. Anthony Boccaletti, who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, France, said: “Thousands of exoplanets have been identified so far, but little is known about how they form. We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form.” Source: Independent

20 May 2020

Captain Tom Moore Awarded Knighthood

Having raised over £32m for NHS charities, Captain Tom Moore has been awarded a knighthood following a special nomination from the prime minister. The 100-year-old war veteran – who took to walking 100 laps of his garden before his centennial birthday to fundraise for the NHS – will receive the official title Captain Sir Thomas Moore. Her Majesty has approved the knighthood which will be ceremonially announced on Wednesday. Boris Johnson stated: “On behalf of everyone who has been moved by his incredible story, I want to say a huge thank you. He’s a true national treasure.” Source: BBC

Dramatic Fall In Global Carbon Emissions

Daily emissions of carbon dioxide fell by 17% by early April compared with 2019 figures, according to the first major study of global carbon output this year. The drop in greenhouse gas emissions is due to global lockdowns worldwide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This is the sharpest drop in carbon output since records began, with large parts of the global economy coming to a halt. The UK’s decline in emissions was 31% in this period. orinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia said: “This is a really big fall, but at the same time, 83% of global emissions are left, which shows how difficult it is to reduce emissions with changes in behaviour,” pointing out that long-term change is needed to make a real impact. Source: The Guardian

US News Anchor Broadcasts With Son On Lap

An NBC News anchor in America has shown that she’s right there with everyone trying to juggle work and parenting right now. Stephanie Ruhle, who is the network’s senior business correspondent, shared footage of herself giving a television report on the entertainment sector while her son takes a rest on her lap, just out of shot. The clip has since been viewed millions of times online. Source: Twitter

Opera Holland Park Virtual Open Day

Looking for something new to do this weekend? Opera Holland Park is set to host its very first Virtual Open Day this Saturday 23 May, with interactive online workshops, music and activities for the whole family, all free, from 10am. Expect a dance class led by BBC Our Dancing Town’s Steve Elias, conducting classes with Dane Lam, Lada Valešová and Matthew Kofi Waldren and a performance from the Opera Holland Park Chorus. operahollandpark.com

More Free Holidays For NHS Workers

St Lucia’s boutique villa resort Cap Maison is showing its support to those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic by giving away free holidays to eight NHS frontline staff. The selected winners will be given a five-night all-inclusive stay at Cap Maison with a guest to be taken once travel restrictions are lifted. Friends or family can nominate an NHS worker who they think deserves the holiday and the reason why. capmaison.com/nhs 

Supermarket Manager Arranges Hot Meals For 87-Year-Old Customer

Aldi manager Richard Allen noticed one of his elderly customer seemed to only buy herself tinned foods, so asked her if she needed help getting some fresh food. When the 87-year-old woman told him that she had no oven or microwave to cook with and that she had no family locally, he decided he could do something to help. Richard arranged for hot meals to be sent to the pensioner by local business Miss Molly’s cafe, which is feeding 80 vulnerable people for £5 a time, and even offered to pick up the bill. Leander Connaughton, who works at Miss Molly’s, posted about the good deed online, saying: “Bless him, he rang our cafe and arranged to have hot meals delivered to her. He has also fixed her doorbell and offered to settle her bill if necessary (it’s not) so this is a shout out to Richard, manager at Aldi Camborne who noticed a customer in need two weeks ago and stepped up to help out. You sir, are bloody amazing.” Source: Metro

painting of the earth

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

19 May 2020

Star-Studded James & The Giant Peach Charity Reading

This is not your average bedtime story. Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi has gathered a star-studded line-up of actors for an epic lockdown reading of the Roald Dahl classic James and the Giant Peach to raise money for Partners In Health and their Covid-19 relief efforts. Meryl Streep, Ryan Reynolds, Cate Blanchett, Cara Delevingne, Chris And Liam Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lupita Nyong’o and Eddie Redmayne are amongst the celebrities taking part in the 10-instalment series on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel. The first two episodes are available here and you can donate here.

Primary School Raises £1.5K For Hospitals

A primary school class in Bristol has collectively run a marathon to raise money for local hospitals. Harvey Thomas, of Redfield Edge Primary School in Bristol asked his classmates if they would like to run a mile each to make the collective total, and the school set the fundraising target of £100, which they smashed to reach a total of £1,510. Harvey was reportedly inspired by his sister, who has been working hard for the NHS throughout the pandemic. Harvey’s mother Sara Thomas said every child in the class had now taken part, including the teachers who “all put their heart in it” with students who “scootered, cycled, ran and one who is a gymnast even walked on their hands”. Source: BBC

Bid On Dinner At The Ritz

The Alpha Club’s Alpha Auction is offering people the chance to bid for an extra special prize. The online auction is offering a rare chance to dine in the prestigious William Kent Dining Room at The Ritz Hotel, London for you and up to 15 guests, hosted by the President of the Restaurant Association of Great Britain and Alpha’s “Partner in Excellence” Robert Walton MBE. Donations to the Carers Trust through the auction are also welcome, and for any donation of £20 and over, you will automatically be entered into Alpha Auction’s prize draw to win a family holiday for four to Orlando, Florida. alpha-auction.co.uk

Woman, 96, Speaks Welsh For First Time In 40 Years

An elderly woman living in the United States has spoken Welsh for the first time in 40 years, following a social media appeal from her son. Ray McDermott, 96, is originally from Carmarthenshire and has lived in the US for 70 years and was worried she may never get to speak her mother tongue again. But her son Keith asked for help online after she told him of her worries. Keith, 70, who lives in New York City, said his mum was starting to suffer from short-term memory loss. “The pandemic imposes the greatest loneliness on people. My mom is feeling that loneliness. When we get in to discussions of the past and Wales, her memory is totally sharp and she has been yearning to speak Welsh.” Following a Facebook appeal he was overwhelmed with offers to help, and was able to connect his mother to New York-based Welsh playwright Melisa Annis. Ray told BBC Wales: “My mother was the last person who spoke Welsh to me, and she has been dead 40 years so it has been a long time. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I don’t cry very often. It was lovely, it really was.” Source: BBC

Coronavirus Trials Give Positive Results

The first human trials of a US coronavirus vaccine trial have given ‘positive results’ according to initial tests. Biotech company Moderna dosed 45 patients between the ages of 18 and 55 with varying doses of its experimental drug and according to a statement, 25 people recorded levels of antibodies found in patients who had fought off Covid-19. Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said: “This is a very good sign that we make an antibody that can stop the virus from replicating,” Source: Independent

Strictly Star Joanne Clifton Dances 24-Hour Jive For NHS

If you thought running 5k for the NHS was hard, try a 24-hour Jive. Strictly professional dancer Joanne Clifton has done just that, completing a 24-hour Jive on Sunday 15 May to raise money for NHS Charities Together. Clifton streamed the dancing challenge live on Facebook and Instagram – stopping only for ‘short toilet breaks’ – whilst friend and housemate Sasha Latoya was on hand with food, water and support. Friends of the dancer also called in mid-stream to offer words of encouragement, including her brother Kevin, partner AJ Jenks, and professional dancers Katya Jones, Janette Manrara and Oti Mabuse. Joanne said: “I did this challenge because people at the NHS are risking their own lives every day to save others. The amount of cases that there are, I bet they have had to stay up for 24 hours at some points treating and saving them. So yes, the Jive was a challenge, but it was the least I can do. I want to thank everyone who donated, shared or literally stayed with me online with words of encouragement. And thank you NHS.” Joanne has raised over £13k at the time of writing.

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

18 May 2020

Wild White Storks Hatch In UK For First Time in Centuries

The White Stork Project has announced the arrival of white stork chicks in the UK for the first time in hundreds of years. Eggs in one of three nests at the Knepp estate in West Sussex have hatched, with observers witnessing the parents removing eggshells from their nest in an oak tree and feeding their young. Lucy Groves, project officer for the White Stork Project said: “After waiting 33 days for these eggs to hatch it was extremely exciting to see signs that the first egg had hatched on 6 May. The parents have been working hard and are doing a fantastic job, especially after their failed attempt last year.” Isabella Tree, who co-owns Knepp with Charlie Burrell, said: “When I hear that clattering sound now, coming from the tops of our oak trees where they’re currently nesting at Knepp, it feels like a sound from the middle ages has come back to life. We watch them walking through the long grass on their long legs, kicking up insects and deftly catching them in their long beaks as they go. There’s no other bird that does that in the UK. It’s walking back into a niche that has been empty for centuries.” Source: The Guardian

Read our interview with Isabella Tree, here

The Country Food Trusts Appeal Donates One Million Meals

The Country Food Trusts Appeal has hit an important milestone in its Coronavirus Appeal, donating more than 1,000,000 meals to people in need. Pre-pandemic, the charity was already providing meals to those in need up and down the country, and has stepped up its efforts to meet increased demands brought on by Covid-19. In the last month, extra support has enabled The Country Food Trusts to provide just under an additional 400,000 meals to people in need including over 35,000 to front line NHS workers. thecountryfoodtrust.org

Woman Speaking After 58 Days On Ventilator

A patient at Southampton General Hospital, who is still being supported by a ventilator, is conscious and speaking for the first time since being admitted to intensive care after a record 58 days on a ventilator. Dr Sanjay Gupta, the hospital’s lead consultant for critical care says the 35-year-old woman still faces a long road to recovery but shared the positive news saying: “Suddenly she can communicate, whereas before she was so weak she could barely lift a finger to write anything.” Source: The Times

Does Humpback Whale Recovery Give Hope For Planet?

A recent study of humpback whales that breed off the coast of Brazil has shown that numbers have increased back up to the numbers seen before the days of whaling, having dropped as low as 450 in the 1950s. Scientists say this is not only good news for the whales, but for the planet at large and the looming climate crisis. On average, a single whale stores around 33 tonnes of CO2. When a whale dies naturally, it exports this CO2 to the deep sea, locking it up for centuries. Protecting the current population of whales is keeping more than 800,000 tonnes of CO2 safely stored, around twice the annual emissions of a country the size of Bermuda. Source: Time

Endangered Pygmy Hippo Born

In more pleasing news from the animal kingdom, an endangered pygmy hippo has been born at San Diego Zoo, the first in more than 30 years. The baby pygmy hippopotamus was born to mum Mabel, a 4-year-old hippo last month, but the zoo has only just released the news. “Mom and calf are doing very well,” said a statement from the zoo. “The calf is nursing and getting lots of attention from the first-time mother.” Source: CNN

Isabella Tree

Isabella Tree

15 May 2020

“Extremely Good News” As Hospital Admissions Decline

The UK’s deputy chief medical officer has reported that hospitals are seeing a long, steady decline in Covid-19 admissions. Speaking at yesterday’s press briefing, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “There are long, steady declines in admissions and the proportion of critical care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients. This is clearly extremely good news and shows the pressure on hospitals is now beginning to ease. The general pattern across the UK, you can see now, is clearly downwards. There has been a 14 per cent drop in the total number of people in hospital since last week and, again, this is moving in the right direction.” Source: Evening Standard

Artists Donate To Support The View

The View, a publication written by women, for women in the criminal justice system is to benefit from online auction #IncarcerationNation featuring the works of more than a dozen highly respected artists. The auction will go live on 21 May to raise vital funds for the magazine, which is dedicated to women in the criminal justice system’s solicitors, advocates, families, friends and supporters. Of women currently in prison, 80% have a mental health issue and 50% are victims of abuse. Johan Anderssen, Rachel Ara, Frances Aviva Blane, Nasser Azam, Julie Brook, Fiona Graham McKay, Mary Hashemi, Hipkiss, Anish Kapoor, Sarah Maple, Carolina Mazzolari, Conrad Shawcross, Richard Spare, Bob and Roberta Smith​ and ​Jake Tilson have donated works for the online exhibition and auction. theviewmag.org

Programme To Mark Mental Health Week

Next week marks Mental Health Awareness Week and in line with the occasion, Our City Together is set to launch a free programme of content. The digital arts programme, in partnership with cultural institutions including the Barbican Centre, Museum of London and London Symphony Orchestra is supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Grayson Perry and Fearne Cotton. Our City Together will feature a collection of archive and contemporary digital content including podcasts, playlists, artworks, photography, films, talks, museum collections and even yoga classes live from Tower Bridge. Broadcaster Fearne Cotton said: “As a proud Londoner, I think Our City Together is a great initiative to help find inspiration through London’s world class arts and culture as well as supporting Londoners’ mental health during this extraordinary time. Let’s be kind to ourselves, and each other.” ourcitytogether.london 

Normal People Stars Sex Up Cookery Content

ICYMI, Normal People is the most talked-about TV of lockdown, with the BBC adaptation breaking iPlayer records with its captivating characters (and undeniable chemistry). But if you’ve binge-watched the whole series and are missing Marianne and Connell (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal), here’s a little bonus content to brighten your day. The duo appeared on James Corden’s The Late Late Show where the host challenged them to bring their electric chemistry to a string of very unsexy TV clip dialogues. From Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares to a shopping channel edit, the pair delivered beautifully. Source: YouTube

Wild Horse Rescued From Bog

While much of the earth’s wildlife is enjoying the quieter conditions afforded by mass quarantines and suspension of tourism, not so for one young wild horse, that found itself stuck in a bog in Alberta, Canada. But fear not, a group of volunteers, who had been out looking for new foals, rescued the filly from the deep, ice-rimmed mud hole. What a mare! Source: BBC

wild horses Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

14 May 2020

Photographer Capturing ‘Extraordinary’ Over-80s

Photographer Laura Page is seeking over-80s for her next project. The proposal to show the “extraordinary lives” of Britons over 80 won Laura the fourth annual Rebecca Vassie Memorial Award, which will fund the freelance photojournalist with a £2,000 bursary and £1,000 worth of printing for a subsequent exhibition. The photographer aims to challenge ageism in the UK with her project titled ‘The Hidden Depths’. Source: BBC

The Office Stars Surprise Couple With Wedding Appearance

John Krasinski, star of The Office, served as officiant for two fans on their wedding day in a video shared on his Some Good News YouTube series. Maryland couple Susan and John caught the star’s attention with their proposal video, which was a tribute to Krasinski’s character. Krasinski invited the couple onto his show via video chat and said: “You think I’m kidding, but I just got ordained as a minister for you guys.” He then added friends and family to the call, along with a few other surprise guests. Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, Mindy Kaling, B.J. Novak, Angela Kinsey, Brian Baumgartner, Phyllis Smith, Kate Flannery, Creed Bratton, Oscar Nunez and Ellie Kemper all joined the call from their homes to recreate Jim and Pam’s wedding dance scene from The Office. Source: Today

No Pedestrian Deaths In New York For 58 Days

New York has recorded 58 days straight without any pedestrian deaths, the longest stretch since records began in 1983. As lockdown and social distancing measures continue in the worst-hit city in America, road traffic and foot traffic are both at below-average levels. Officials in New York say they will concentrate on growing the Citi Bike scheme with a focus on the impact of the pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York would liberate 100 miles of streets from vehicle traffic, including 40 by the end of this month. Source: ABC News

Free Doughnuts For Your Neighbours

In the lead up to the (admittedly not landmark) ‘Do Something Good for your Neighbour Day’ this Saturday, Krispy Kreme is making it easier for the nation’s non-bakers to treat their neighbours. On Saturday, the doughnut brand will gift every purchase of its Original Glazed dozen box of doughnuts with another Original Glazed dozen free, for customers to gift to a neighbour or local key worker. krispykreme.co.uk

The Secret Life Of… Moths?

Your first thought when it comes to moths might be the damage they do to your favourite cashmere knits, but they might actually play a more vital role in nature than first thought. New research suggests that moths actually play a vital role as overnight pollinators, work usually credited to daytime friends, the bees. “There’s this big misconception that all moths come and eat my clothes. That’s not what happens at all,” said Dr Richard Walton, from University College London (UCL), lead author of the new study. “Some of them happen to be visiting flowers and can be an important part of the pollination process.” Source: The Royal Society Publishing & BBC

Bacon Saves Sausage Dog

A missing sausage dog has been reunited with his owners in North Yorkshire after they used bacon to guide him home. Floyd the seven-month-old miniature dachshund had been missing for three days on a 350-acre farm in Middleton Tyas, returned home after a specialist dog tracker advised owners Fern Holmes and Doug Dinwiddie to use tasty treats to lure him back. Ms Holmes, from Darlington, said she was “hysterical with emotion”. “I was so tired after no sleep all weekend. I just couldn’t quite believe my eyes.” Source: BBC

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

13 May 2020

Nurses Receive Calls From The Queen

The Royal Family has been calling healthcare workers around the world to mark International Nurses Day in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and Princess Alexandra all made phone calls and video calls to those working to battle the virus to thank them for their ongoing work. A montage of the calls was released on the official Instagram account. Source: Instagram

Opening Up The Soane

The Sir John Soane’s Museum is the latest London institution delivering culture from its walls straight into your homes with a new three-part series telling the story of the restoration of the museum completed in 2016. The series was filmed over six years and includes details of restoring artworks, Soane’s Private Apartments and the recesses in the Museum’s central staircase. All three episodes are available online.

Train With Ballet’s Elite

The world’s top ballet companies are opening up their classes to the public during lockdown. For ballet’s professionals, the show may not be able to, but the training must go on. And instead of in person, lessons are now taking place in dancer’s own home via video link, with some of the top companies in the world streaming the classes on YouTube. Tens of thousands have already tuned in to see Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet’s digitised classes, with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet also sharing online content to inspire aspiring ballerinas and dancers. Source: iNews

V&A Open Call For Rainbow Signs

The V&A has launched an open-call for homemade signs created during the lockdown to enter its permanent collection. The call-out is for rainbow signs created by children, shop signs and hand-written notes posted in public spaces in response to the lockdown measures. The gallery intends to make the chosen pieces part of its permanent collection and will join UK road signs, public transport maps and street posters in a history of signage on our streets with rainbow drawings joining 40,000 child-related objects in the V&A’s Museum of Childhood collection. Brendan Cormier, Design Curator, co-leading the initiative, said: “Due to social distancing measures, what we’ve seen during this crisis is an enormous amount of written communication taking place in the public sphere from home windows to shop fronts. The sum effect of these signs are that communities are organizing and expressing themselves through the means they have available; by doing so it forms a powerful reflection of the crisis itself.” Members of the public are encouraged to submit images of their homemade signs via homemadesigns@vam.ac.uk.

Tennis Is Back In Play

As day one of eased lockdown restrictions begins in England, tennis is back on the table, with singles matches allowed, or doubles if all four members are from the same household. Individual lessons can now recommence for both adults and children, but only the coach will be allowed to handle the tennis balls, according to guidance from the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA). Indoor courts and gyms remain closed for now, but outdoor courts are back in play, with the first sport of the summer season ready to be served up. Carefully. Source: BBC

12 May 2020

Prince Harry Shares Message Of Hope

“This too shall pass” was the message of hope Prince Harry had for teenagers, in a video message to members of OnSide Youth Zones. The charity has been supporting more than 50,000 young people remotely via phone calls and over social media with their state-of-the-art youth centres out of action due to the pandemic. “Hats off to every single one of you for surviving but also for thriving,” he said. “These daily challenges that you guys are coming up against are unbelievable and so many people will never understand. But you guys have the strength to pull through and you have the support of the OnSide community, the OnSide family to help you through that process. I can only imagine the last six weeks has made it even more challenging. This too shall pass. And before you know it, you will be back together again, probably in a youth zone, running around having the best time ever.” Source: Evening Standard

Warburtons Secret Crumpet Recipe Revealed

Forget banana bread and move aside, sourdough. Lockdown baking is about to enter the age of the crumpet. Warburtons has unveiled its crumpet recipe after 30 years of secrecy, allowing bakers to give it a go at home. The recipe, which has stayed the same since 1988, was published on the bakers’ Instagram account and calls for plain flour, water, salt, sugar, baking powder and yeast. Are you up to the challenge? Source: Instagram

11-Year-Old Skateboarder Breaks World Record

An 11-year-old skateboarder from Brazil has broken a skateboarding world record by landing the first ever 1080-degree turn on a vertical ramp. Gui Khury has been making the most of school closures to practice, more than 20 years after Tony Hawk completed the first 900-degree-turn. Source: BBC

Missing Dog Turns Up Well After 54 Days

A tornado that caused devastation in Tennessee resulted in the loss of one family’s beloved dog Bella, after she potentially saved the family from the storm. The miniature Australian shepherd woke the family and alerted them to the danger allowing them to hunker down together in the bathtub, but when the storm passed, she was nowhere to be found. But 54 days later, the family received a call from a friend at church who had found Bella in an alleyway.  “I got a call from [her] and she said, ‘Eric, I know where your dog is, can you be here in 15 minutes?’ I said, ‘Absolutely,’. When I got there], I called for her and, amazingly, she knew exactly who I was.” Source: Good Morning America

Euro96 Reruns Have Started

OK, it’s not quite the Euro 2020 tournament planned for the summer, but football fans can relive a European football tournament this month as ITV replays the 1996 Euros in full. The action started last night with a rerun of England Vs Switzerland and will continue every night until the final on 29 May. And no VAR to worry about. Source: ITV Hub

skateboard Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash

Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash

11 May 2020

Can You Cook A Five-Minute Feast?

If the #Run5Donate5 challenge wasn’t quite up your street, this one might be rather more palatable. Only A Pavement Away charity, which supports the homeless, ex-offenders and vulnerable veterans into jobs within hospitality, has teamed up with chef Tom Aikens for a new fund-raising initiative. The #FiveMinuteFeast challenge will support the  Hospitality Against Homelessness campaign, encouraging people to cook a meal in five minutes (Ready Steady Cook style), share it on social media, donate £5 or whatever you can afford, and nominate five friends to do the same. Ready, steady, #FiveMinuteFeast! onlyapavementaway.co.uk

Captain Tom Moore To Receive Freedom Of The City Of London

It’s been at least a week since we shared a story about Captain Tom Moore, so if you’ve been missing him, here’s an update just for you. The WWII veteran, who raised £33million for NHS Charities Together, is to be given the Freedom of the City of London in a virtual ceremony. The 100-year-old is to be honoured in the centuries-old tradition following a special nomination by William Russell, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, and Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation. Captain Tom said: “I am deeply honoured to be granted the Freedom of the City of London. I remain humbled by the love and gratitude that I have received from the British public, and this honour is something that I will truly value for the rest of my life.” The ceremony will be livestreamed on the City of London Corporation’s YouTube channel on Tuesday. Source: iNews

Britain Goes Longest Without Coal Since 1882

Great Britain has gone for more than 28 days without using coal for the first time since 1882, with the lockdown contributing to keeping power consumption low. The use of coal has been on the decline for some time, but the warm April weather and lockdown have contributed to the long spell without using the power source. The previous record stood at 18 days, which was set last year. Fintan Slye, director of National Grid ESO said: “Within a matter of days we’ve seen a new solar generation record, and the longest period of coal-free operation in Britain. And that follows two of the greenest months on record at the start of the year, underlining the progress that’s being made towards our target of being able to operate the electricity system entirely with zero carbon sources by 2025.” Source: Sky News

Seattle To Permanently Close Streets

If you’ve been enjoying quieter streets during lockdown, you’re not alone. One city across the pond has found the impact of the lockdown to be so positive in terms of traffic reduction, they’ve decided to make it permanent. Seattle has decided to permanently close 20 miles of streets to traffic so residents can exercise and bike on them. The Stay Healthy Streets initiative was brought in in April to help people to get out and exercise while maintaining social distancing and the major has announced the closures will be made permanent. “Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. Source: CNN

Nottingham Public Make Visors For Attacked Police

A member of the public in Nottinghamshire has spent hours making 200 visors at his home for staff at Nottinghamshire Police’s custody suites, following an incident of an officer being spat on while on duty. Home Printer Paul Mosley from Warsop Vale in Nottinghamshire worked with a team of like-minded individuals in the area to make the visors, which took over an hour each, with Paul’s printer running 24-hours to meet demand. Inspector David Wilkes said: “We’d like to thank Mr Mosley who made this incredible gesture and has spent hours to ensure they have been made. There is a fantastic community spirit in and around Nottinghamshire at the moment and we are delighted to receive the donation. The visors are re-usable, so will be marked-up with individuals’ names and will be given to officers and staff in our custody suites in Mansfield and the Bridewell. Police Constable Anthony Brice organised the donations, working closely with Mr Mosley. Source: Nottinghamshire Police

Furloughed Staff Doing Good

A new non-profit project is connecting furloughed employees with charities who need their support. Furlonteer.com is a community initiative aiming to connect furloughed workers with remote volunteer opportunities for charities and good causes. More than 50 charities have been matched with ‘furlonteers’ over the past week with more than 1,000 people signed up already. Volunteers are matched with charities based on their skills and availability, with nearly all work suitable to complete from home. Furlonteer.com has also partnered with Champion Health to support wellbeing in offering free online mental health training to those who register. Charities involved so far include UN Women, Duty to Care and Meals for the NHS. Visit furlonteer.com for more information.

7 May 2020

Banksy Creates New Work For Hospital

A new Banksy artwork featuring a boy playing with a nurse action figure has appeared at Southampton General Hospital. The painting has now been hung in the hospital’s foyer near the emergency department. The boy in the painting has cast aside his Spiderman and Batman figures to play with a nurse toy, with a red cross emblem on her uniform, the only colour to feature in the work. A note accompanying the work read: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if it’s only black and white.” Paula Head, CEO of the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our hospital family has been directly impacted with the tragic loss of much loved and respected members of staff and friends. The fact that Banksy has chosen us to recognise the outstanding contribution everyone in and with the NHS is making, in unprecedented times, is a huge honour.” Source: BBC

View this post on Instagram

. . Game Changer

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

First Space Film Planned

Tom Cruise is set to make history by shooting the first action film in space. The 57-year-old actor is working with Nasa on the project to film aboard the International Space Station. The report in Deadline stated that Cruise is also working with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which will transport astronauts to the ISS this month. Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter: “Nasa is excited to work with Tom Cruise on a film aboard the Space Station!” Source: BBC

Harry & Meghan Share Video Of Archie

In celebration of Archie’s first birthday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a video of their son listening to Meghan reading his a story for a Save The Children campaign. Prince Harry filmed the video, of Meghan reading Duck! Rabbit!, one of Archie’s favourite books. The video is part of Save The Children’s Save With Stories campaign, helping to support vulnerable children around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic with learning packs, food vouchers and protective equipment. “Thank you #DuchessMeghan for helping us to raise urgent funds for our coronavirus appeal by reading “Duck! Rabbit”” the charity said on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

"Duck! Rabbit!" with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex (and Harry, The Duke of Sussex behind the camera), read to their son Archie for his 1st birthday. Happy Birthday, Archie! . Thank you #DuchessMeghan for helping us to raise urgent funds for our coronavirus appeal by reading "Duck! Rabbit" by @akrfoundation, illustrated by @tlichtenheld (published by @chroniclekidsbooks). . As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, children’s lives are being turned upside down. By donating to Save with Stories, you can support the most vulnerable families in the UK and around the world by helping to provide early learning packs, supermarket vouchers, essential household items and virus protection. . Please donate today by visiting our website. Link in bio. . Or you can text STORIES to 70008 to give a one-off donation of £5. . Together, we can help families get through this. . You can only donate via text from a UK mobile. You’ll be billed £5 plus standard rate text message. We receive 100% of your donation. By texting STORIES you agree to calls about fundraising appeals, campaigns, events and other ways to support. Include NO PHONE to opt out of calls. Queries? 02070126400. Read our Privacy Policy savethechildren.org.uk/privacy The Save the Children Fund is a charity registered in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570) . #SaveWithStoriesUK #SaveWithStories #GrowingThroughThis

A post shared by Save The Children UK (@savechildrenuk) on

Essex Dad Returns Home To Street Applause

An Essex street gave a recovered coronavirus patient a warm welcome home after six weeks in hospital. The 31-year-old dad of two Omar Taylor was intubated, put in a coma and suffered a stroke, but has recovered enough to return home with wife Kaitlyn. Neighbours help banners in the street and gave Omar a round of applause to celebrate his turn to his family home. “He still can’t speak, it’s very hard for us to understand him. But he’s done so well at home,” said Kaitlyn. “It’s just going to take time.” Source: BBC

Game Of Thrones Actor Becomes Asda Delivery Driver

Game Of Thrones actor Michael Condron, who played Bowen Marsh in the HBO series, is doing his bit in the battle against coronavirus, signing up to work as an Asda delivery driver. Speaking to Belfast Live, the actor said: “every single person has a role to play in these times. People now should really appreciate the hard work that everybody does – I think people who work in supermarkets have often been taken for granted. A friend of mine said Asda were looking for people to work there so I got in touch. I came down, got a job and I absolutely love it. The job means I can continue to have that interaction with people like I get in a theatre. It’s kept me mentally in a good place and it continues to do so.” Condron, who has also appeared in The Tudors, is making up to 18 calls a day with demand higher than ever. Source: Independent

India Pledges To Save The Sea Cucumbers

India is readying the world’s first safe zone for sea cucumbers. The sea creatures are endangered and often the target of poachers for the seafood industry and illegal trade operations in the Indian Ocean region, most recently 172 cucumbers were seized in January this year. In response, Lakshadweep administration announced the creation of the world’s first conservation area for sea cucumbers across an area of 239 sq km, with further areas planned.  Source: Quartz India

Wembley Park Unveils Inspirational New Artwork

Home to the UK’s largest stadium, Wembley Park has today unveiled its latest public art commission created in partnership with mental health charity Mind. Comprising a series of 12 vibrant and abstract portraits coating the park’s emblematic Spanish Steps, One in Four by spraycan artist Frank Styles hopes to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, a reminder that the comprehension of emotional well-being often calls for ‘a shift in perspective’.

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

6 May 2020

100-Year-Old’s Ramadan Walking Challenge

Inspired by the success of Captain Tom Moore’s mammoth fundraising effort, centenarian Dabirul Islam Choudhury is also raising money for coronavirus appeals with a sponsored walk. The 100-year-old is facing an added challenge, since he is completing the 100 laps of his community garden while fasting for Ramadan. Choudhury’s was hoping to raise £1,000 for the Ramadan Family Commitment (RFC) Covid-19 crisis initiative but has already raised more than £60,000. His son told BBC London: “When we started, we started at a small pace but he’s been increasing his number of laps he’s doing. The problem we have is that we have to try and stop him because he wants to carry on.” You can donate at: justgiving.com Source: The Guardian

Beer For Heroes

Camden Town Brewery has launched a new Camden Heroes lager to celebrate the work of healthcare heroes, with all proceeds going to charity. In addition, all NHS workers will be able to sign up to claim a free six pack of the Camden Heroes Lager by signing up at the web shop using their NHS email address. The brewery is also donating 20,000 cans directly to frontline staff to enjoy when they clock off from their shifts.

Disabled Artists Bring New Skills To Home Schoolers

Run out of home-schooling ideas and looking for something creative? How about being inspired by the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists, artists who paint with their mouth and feet due to physical disability. The artists have created fun online tutorials to inspire a new skill, including a ‘Rainbow Hedgehog’ tutorial from Rosie Moriarty Simmonds, OBE. mfpa.uk

The Puglia Hotel Kick-Starting Business

One Puglia hotel is hoping to kick-start business while giving back to health heroes with a ‘Buy One, Give One’ initiative. The Paragon 700 Boutique Hotel & Spa in Puglia is joining in with MMGY Global’s initiative to allow people to advance book a holiday to get money going back into the tourism industry and in return for every two night guest booking the hotel will be gifting a one-night hotel stay to a healthcare worker. Find out more about the initiative at buyonegiveonestay.com.

Hope Around The World

Hong Kong has contained its second wave of Covid-19, with zero local infections for more than two weeks. The country has recorded just 15 new cases since 20 April, all of which were people who had recently travelled. (Source: CNN). Meanwhile, New Zealand Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has announced a second day of no new cases or deaths from Covid-19 in the country. (Source: RNZ)

5 May 2020

Could This Unlock A Malaria Cure?

Scientists in Kenya have discovered that mosquitoes there carry a special microbe that could stop the spread of malaria. The microbe – named Microsporidia MB – completely prevents mosquitoes from being infected with malaria or transmitting the disease to humans, according to the findings from the team at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya. Lilian Mbaisi, a Kenyan scholar involved in the study said: “We were excited to find that the Microsporidia MB symbiont is transmitted from mother mosquitoes to their offspring, and that the microbe does not compromise the ability of mosquitoes to survive.” Source: iNews

How To Watch Tomorrow’s Rare Meteor Show

A meteor shower associated with Halley’s Comet is happening this month, with the peak of the display expected tomorrow, 6 May 2020. The Eta Aquariids should be visible to the naked eye so if there are clear skies tonight or tomorrow night, you might look up to see a shooting star. The display will be clearest in areas with the least pollution and no cloud cover, with the optimum time to see the display predicted for the hours just before dawn. A silver lining for a sleepless night? There’s plenty to wish on a star for, right now. Source: iNews

Siblings Camp In Garden For A Month

A Derbyshire brother and sister have completed a month-long camping expedition… in their back garden. The teenage boy and his seven-year-old sister completed the challenge in aid of Treetops Hospice Care, raising £2,200 in the process. William Lacey said: It was cold sometimes and water sometimes got in from the sides but it was all good otherwise.” Julie Heath, chief executive of Treetops Hospice Care in Risley, said: “We are so grateful to William and Sophie for their incredible camp-out challenge and raising so much money for Treetops. Between them they’ve raised enough for the hospice to provide three more weeks of overnight nursing care for some of our most poorly patients out in the community.” Source: BBC

White-Tailed Eagle Spotted In England

The largest bird of prey in the UK has been spotted in England for the first time in more than two centuries. A small number of white-tailed eagles were taken from Scotland by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England and placed on the Isle of Wight and have since been seem in Norfolk, Kent and Somerset. “Four of the birds have learned that the Isle Of Wight is their home,” said Roy Dennis, of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. “The two on the Isle Of Wight already behaving like a pair. If those two survive, they might breed on the Isle Of Wight. It’s a long journey, they don’t breed until they’re four and they are truly wild birds so we’re not in control.” The white-tailed eagle has a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres (8 feet 2 inches) and hasn’t been spotted in England since 1780. Source: Newsweek

New Star Wars Film Announced

Good news for Star Wars fans, announced on ‘Star Wars Day’ the fourth of May, Oscar-winning film-maker Taika Waititi is to direct and co-write a new Star Wars film, which will be released in cinemas. Joining Waititi on the screenplay will be Academy Award nominee Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Source: Star Wars

‘Bundles of Joy’ Make Their Way to Covid-19 Patients

Joy, an organisation working towards increasing life expectancy through better social health in partnership with University College Hospital, has launched a new initiative to help those currently battling Covid19 in hospitals. Acknowledging that the fight against the virus can be a lonely and daunting experience, the organisation is offering the chance to donate ‘bundles of joy’ to patients. These gift boxes can be personalised with pictures and uplifting messages of support to show these patients that they are not alone. Send a bundle of joy via bit.ly/SendABundle

eagle Photo by Lars Kuczynski on Unsplash

Photo by Lars Kuczynski on Unsplash

4 May 2020

Violinist Benedetti Offering Free Music Lessons

House feeling a bit quiet at the moment? Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti is here to help. The Ayrshire-born musician has assembled a team of musicians to offer three weeks of free online classes, which will culminate in a huge online concert at the end of the month. Sessions will be free, but donations are welcomed and so far nearly 800 people have signed up to teach or play. “I feel like I can do it well,” she said. “I have the capability of being a galvanising type of person, I can convince a lot of people to get involved with something and I’m really serious about getting a message across to young people. I think if you have the chance to do something well, you have a responsibility to society to at least try and put some time and effort into the thing you have some talent for.” Source: BBC

Garden Eels Get Video Calls

The garden eels at Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium have been feeling the effects of the lockdown since its closure on 1 March. Keepers are starting to worry about the sensitive creatures, who are used to seeing hundreds of faces peering into their tanks. The garden eels have started diving into the sand whenever their keepers walk past, making it difficult to check in on them, so the aquarium has put out an emergency plea for some h-eel-ing. “Could you show your face to our garden eels from your home?” they said on Twitter. “Creatures in the aquarium don’t see humans except keepers and they have started forgetting about humans. Garden eels in particular disappear into the sand and hide every time the keepers pass by.” Source: BBC

Kate Middleton Surprises New Mum With Video Call

The Duchess of Cambridge has been lifting spirits with video calls, with a new mum amongst those she spoke to ahead of Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week. Mother Rebecca Attwood and father John Gill were amongst those surprised by the Duchess with a virtual visit, having just welcomed their second baby, Max. “Hello! Very nice to meet you! This is definitely a first, I think!” she said. “He is so sweet. When did you have him?” The post on the Kensington Palace social media accounts accompanying the video said: “The Duchess of Cambridge has spoken with midwives, health visitors, parents and leading sector experts about the challenges and impact that COVID-19 is having on new and expectant mothers and their families. [The film] aims to create wider awareness of maternal mental health, and signposts support for parents.” Source: Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_s0yq2lB7d/?utm_source=ig_embed

Tiger King Of Kent Turns Out To Be 85-Year-Old Artist

OK, this might not technically come under the ‘good news’ category, but it did give us a laugh, something we all need in these times. Armed officers and a police helicopter were deployed to help find a tiger on the loose in the Kent countryside this weekend after some walkers in the countryside reported spotting the animal. On arrival, however, the officers discovered a life-size sculpture made by Juliet Simpson, 85, some 20 years ago. Speaking to KentOnline, the artist said: “I had heard the helicopter overhead earlier. I walked up the lane to the policemen coming across the field and I said ‘do you want to be introduced to the wild tiger? It caused us all a great deal of amusement.” Source: iNews

Lockdown Entertainment Made Easy

Today marks the release of the second episode of our new podcast with our Culture Editor Ed Vaizey, who is broadcasting from his bedroom to bring you a roundup of all the online entertainment highlights you’ll need to get you through another week of lockdown. This week he raves about BBC’s Normal People, discovers Classic FM’s 100 top pieces of music going back 1000 years and tells us where to look out for artists’ work in response to Covid-19. Listen now on iTunes or Spotify

1 May 2020

One Million Coronavirus Recoveries

More than one million people across the world have now recovered from Covid-19, according to data from John Hopkins University. While more than three million cases have been confirmed, data suggests the vast majority of these will recover from the virus. Source: John Hopkins University

Jamb Launch Charity Auction

Charlotte and Will Fisher, owners of Jamb, have selected 10 reproduction mantels to sell via Ebay auction for the Shelter Charity. The proceeds will benefit the charity’s emergency appeal to help people facing housing issues and homelessness because of coronavirus. Amongst the chimneypieces in the charity auction are a fine Portland stone Georgian chimneypiece, a pure Siena marble bolection and a late 18th Century style French chimneypiece. charity.ebay.co.uk

New Coronavirus Test Begins Trials

A new coronavirus test that delivers results in just 75 minutes is being trialled at London hospitals and may be available for purchase within weeks. The test’s inventor, Professor Chris Toumazou, has plans to expand production to 300,000 tests a month by July with a home delivery service to enable companies and staff to return to work. The tests are to be provided to the NHS on a not-for-profit basis and could cost about £40 if sold privately.  Source: Evening Standard

London Hospital Creates Mural Of Hope

An East London hospital is adding bees to a mural to represent patients who have beaten coronavirus. The Tree of Life picture graces the ground floor wall of Queen’s Hospital in Romford and now has more than 380 bees featured. Local resident Jean Maile, 72, said: “Oh it’s wonderful, it gives people so much hope. You hear about all the people dying but when you live in a small community to see more than 300 people have come through – well it’s quite a big number in a small area.” Source: Evening Standard

Spain Eases Lockdown Measures

In the first measure toward lifting lockdown, many of those who have faced the toughest lockdown restrictions will be allowed to exercise outside for the first time in six weeks. Health authorities in Spain have allocated time slots for specific outdoor activities to avoid confusion, when adults are allowed out on Saturday. The country’s death toll fell to its lowest level in nearly six weeks ahead of the announcement. Source: The Guardian

Donations Boost Women’s Support Organisations

De Beers Group has donated $200,000 across its four producer partner countries of Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa to assist women’s shelters and support organisations to respond to an increase in gender-based violence resulting from the pandemic. This is in addition to the $5million already pledged by the brand to support response efforts. These new funds will support the capacity of women’s shelters and organisations in host communities to meet the increase in immediate needs, as well as beyond lockdown periods. Anne Shongwe, UN Women Representative, South Africa Multi-Country Office, said: “As economic and social pressures and fear have grown over recent weeks, we have seen a significant and deeply concerning surge in domestic violence throughout the world, what UN Women has termed the ‘Shadow Pandemic’, that is already being felt in Southern Africa with calls of distress from women more than doubling. Current restrictions on movement – locking women in with their violent intimate partners – is exacerbating the situation, so we must ensure women can continue to access essential support services safely as we work to beat COVID-19.”

Clean Air In Europe Leads To Fewer Deaths

The air quality improvements resulting from the coronavirus lockdown have led to 11,000 fewer deaths across Europe, according to a new study. There have also been 1.3million fewer days of work absence, 1,900 avoided emergency room visits, 6,000 fewer children developing asthma and 600 fewer preterm births, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air. The study gives hope of how lifestyle changes post-lockdown could positively impact the environment and human health worldwide. Source: The Guardian

The Cartier UK Over the Rainbow Challenge

Cartier is inspiring us all to get creative and partake in an uplifting brand-new campaign, ‘The Cartier UK Over the Rainbow Challenge’, an accompaniment to the Maison’s charitable initiative for NHS Charities Together. Get involved by creating and submitting your very own rendition of the NHS rainbow. Paint, sing, write, photograph a real-life rainbow – how you capture the rainbow is entirely up to you. All entries are due by 15 May 2020. RSVP to take part: rsvp.cartier@cartier.com

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

30 April 2020

Happy Birthday Captain Tom

Captain Tom Moore turns 100 today, having raised more than £30 million for the NHS with his 100 laps walk around his garden. His initial fundraising target was £1000. Captain Tom has been made an honorary colonel in recognition of his efforts. The war veteran has received an estimated 140,000 birthday cards, including one from the queen, to mark the occasion. The cards are being opened by volunteers and are on display at Bedford School, where his grandson, Benjie Ingram-Moore, is a pupil. Other birthday celebrations for the new national icon included a military flypast with three loops of Captain Tom’s home, and a train named in his honour by Great Western Trains, which made its first journey today. All of us at Country & Town House wish Captain Tom the happiest of birthdays.

A Separate Peace Reading

Platform Presents is co-producing a virtual play reading of A Separate Peace by Tom Stoppard to benefit those in need in the creative industries and The Felix Project. The performance, scheduled for 2 May at 7pm, has a full creative and production team behind it and will be directed by award-winning film and theatre director Sam Yates. It will star Jenna Coleman, David Morrissey, Denise Gough, Ed Stoppard and Maggie Service. All profits from ticket sales will be split between a donation to The Felix Project, and the creatives and technicians forced out of work by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tickets available at eventbrite.co.uk

Carlton The Cuckoo Breaks Migration Record

Just in case you’re feeling smug about how much you’ve achieved in lockdown, here’s a cuckoo named Carlton II to put you to shame. The gutsy bird has smashed a migration record by flying 4000 miles from Africa to England in just seven days. The average flight time for the journey is between two and three weeks but Carlton II has set a new record for his journey from the Ivory Coast to the marshes in Suffolk. He is likely to have encountered high winds, sand and hailstorms, thunderstorms, drought and long sea-crossings on the 5500-mile journey. Congratulations, Carlton II. Source: Evening Standard

Visor Boost For NHS

In partnership with its printing partner ProCo Print, thortful is donating 500 PPE visors a day to the NHS frontline. The partnership is utilising laser cutting and assembly technology to produce the vital supplies. Furthermore, in honour of Captain Tom Moore’s birthday, thortful is donating 100% of profits for every 100th birthday card sold in the run up to today.

Celebrity Raffle To Raise Funds

This is not your average school raffle. Forget the usual collection of bath bombs, sparkling wine and Susan’s old pashmina, this is a charity raffle worth putting your name on a ticket for. StockX’s ‘Campaign for a Cause’ supports COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organisation and features items donated by the likes of Karlie Kloss, Usain Bolt and Lionel Messi. There are designer bags, signed training tops, limited edition furniture items and even a fine art print from renowned contemporary graffiti artist, Futura. To make a donation and enter a chance to win, visit stockx.com

Send A Postcard To A Loved One

In a time where we feel further from our friends and family than ever before, the art of letter writing or the simple act of sending a postcard is making a comeback. Photo printing specialist CEWE is offering everybody the opportunity to create a postcard for a loved one or send a message of thanks to an everyday hero free of charge, including delivery. cewe-photoworld.com

Noel Gallagher Discovers Lost Oasis Song

We’ve all been finding unusual and unexpected things during the lockdown spring clean. Most of them have gone straight in the bin, but not so for Noel Gallagher. He has discovered a previously lost Oasis song and, rather than binning it, plans to release it at midnight tonight, 30 April. The track is a demo of a song called ‘Don’t Stop’, which was never released or recorded in a studio. He said: “I’ve had infinite time to kill lately so I thought I’d finally look and find out what was actually on the hundreds of faceless unmarked CDs I’ve got lying around at home. As fate would have it, I have stumbled across an old demo which I thought had been lost for ever…Hope everyone is staying safe and trying to ride out the lockdown with a minimum of fuss. You’re welcome by the way.” Source: Guardian

Jenna Coleman

Jenna Coleman on the Cover of Great British Brands 2019

Want this good news delivered straight to your inbox every day? Sign up to our daily newsletter.

Featured image: Jeka Demidov on Unsplash

Quantcast