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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

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

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Good News in Coronavirus Crisis

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 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.

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 Source:

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

bumble bee Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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.

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

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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).

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.

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:

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

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. 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


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Joanne Clifton

Joanne Clifton

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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.

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.

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.” 

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.

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

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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

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!

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. 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. 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 for more information.

bike against yellow background Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

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

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. . Game Changer

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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.

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"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 The Save the Children Fund is a charity registered in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570) . #SaveWithStoriesUK #SaveWithStories #GrowingThroughThis

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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’.

Spanish Steps


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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: 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.

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

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

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

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.

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:

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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

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

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.

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

29 April 2020

Bicycles Donated To Key Workers

Ever wondered what happens to those sad abandoned bicycles that get left at railway stations for months on end? Hundreds of them are to be renovated and donated to key workers to help make their journeys to work easier throughout lockdown. Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Southern Rail, has teamed up with repair service Handlebars to fix up the bikes and supply them to key workers free of charge. Andre Noble, a mechanic at Handlebars said: “We have seen a tonne of bikes in various conditions … Only the safe ones will go out to key workers and the rest will need a bit of love first!” Source: The Guardian

Ride A Virtual Rollercoaster In Blackpool

In need of a great British seaside weekender? Your usual Cornish haunts and Margate chippies might be off-limits for the foreseeable, but how does a quick spin on a rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach sound? Thrilling, no? VisitBlackpool has launched a virtual getaway package online, including an online collection of rollercoaster rides, water slides, tours of venues and attractions, educational videos and more. All that’s missing is a stick of rock.

Danish Designer & Fashion School’s Gown Drive

Danish bred, London based designer Julie Brøgger has worked with The Fashion School in London for years supplying them with leftover fabrics, and now the partnership is helping to fight Covid-19. Founder of The Fashion School, Caroline Gration launched a volunteer pop-up factory for Royal Brompton hospital to make min 5,000 PPE gowns and Julie Brøgger created the patterns and made card copies so that multiple could be cut at the same time. A second pop-up factory is now being set-up in NW3, and Julie has made digital versions of the patterns to allow them to be used nationwide. If you know anyone who would like to volunteer within the NW3 area that can safely get to the pop-up factory and is able to cut, sew or even just pack boxes, email

BBC Remakes Talking Heads

Filming has begun on a new productions of Alan Bennett’s award-winning Talking Heads monologues, which first aired in 1988 and 1998. Ten of the originals will be remade, with the addition of two new monologues written by Bennett last year. Stars will include Jodie Comer, Monica Dolan, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Sarah Lancashire, Lesley Manville, Lucian Msamati, Maxine Peake, Rochenda Sandall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Imelda Staunton and Harriet Walter. Alan Bennett says: “In such difficult circumstances, that the BBC should choose to remount both series of Talking Heads, and produce two entirely new ones, is a comfort and a huge compliment. I hope a new generation of actors will get and give as much pleasure as we did twenty and thirty years ago.”

Prince Harry Celebrates Thomas The Tank Engine

A special royal episode of Thomas & Friends has been created to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Thomas the Tank Engine. The Duke of Sussex has filmed a special introduction to the episode, which is titled ‘Thomas and the Royal Engine’, with both the Queen and Prince Charles featuring in the special instalment of the children’s programme. Prince Harry said: “Thomas the Tank Engine has been a comforting, familiar face to so many families over the last 75 years – entertaining, educating and inspiring children on important issues through exciting stories and characters. I certainly have fond memories of growing up with Thomas & Friends and being transported to new places through his adventures. I am very proud to have been asked to take part in this special episode. I wish Thomas & Friends a very happy anniversary.” Source: Telegraph

28 April 2020

Head Teacher Pumps Up Pupils

If you’re struggling to keep the children inspired to continue their home-schooling during lockdown, how about following the leads of this head teacher. Sally Maddison, of Sir John Sherbrooke Juniors, in Calverton, Nottinghamshire is keeping her students engaged by dressing in different inflatable costumes for online assemblies each week. Costumes to date have included a lion, a dinosaur, a chick and a rocket. “We wanted [the children] to know even though things are tough, there’s lots of fun and happiness out there for them,” she said. “They’re not just doing things about reading, writing and maths, they’re doing things about space, cartoon characters. It just makes them more engaged with what we’re doing and hopefully help them transition into school better when we come back.” Source: BBC

First Survey For Brown Hyaenas

Wilderness Safaris is supporting Emsie Verwey and the Skeleton Coast Brown Hyaena Project in the first official density survey for brown hyaenas in Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park. The vital conservation survey is the first of its kind, in one of the world’s harshest wilderness environments. Wilderness Safaris is also upgrading the Research Centre at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp. “Our aim is for the Research Centre to become a hub of knowledge, contributing not just to our own conservation efforts, but to the country’s as well,” said Emsie Verwey.

New Zealand Eases Lockdown

New Zealand has announced it is easing lockdown restrictions as a result of ‘eliminating’ coronavirus. The country reported one new case, four probable cases and one new death at a press conference on Monday. Ashley Bloomfield, New Zealand’s Director General of Health, said: “Our goal is elimination. And again, that doesn’t mean eradication but it means we get down to a small number of cases so that we are able to stamp out any cases and any outbreak that might come out.” Source: CNN

Visit The City From Home

City of London has partnered with Tower Bridge, Culture Mile, LSO, Barbican and Museum of London to create #VisittheCityfromhome. First up, discover The Enchanted Interior exhibition through a video tour with Guildhall Art Gallery Curator Katty Pearce  and check out Hannah Starkey’s remarkable new photography exhibition.

Bespoke Bedroom Giveaway To Raise Funds

Designer Laura Hammett, who tragically lost her father to Covid-19, is raising funds to support NHS Charities Together with an incredible giveaway. Laura Hammett Interiors is giving away a completely bespoke, furnished and styled bedroom with a total value of over £35,000. Laura reached out to her favourite suppliers, furniture makers and artists, who have generously donated pieces from their collections, as well as offering to make something completely bespoke. The total raised so far is more than £8000 and you can get involved here.

Victoria Falls At Highest Levels In A Decade

The Victoria Falls has reached its highest flows in a decade. Africa Albida Tourism created a video documentation of the flood via drone footage to allow us to enjoy the views from home. Ross Kennedy of Africa Albida Tourism said: “At a time when the world is in trouble the Zambezi River and the Victoria Falls display immense beauty, rugged power and a glorious snub to the current negatives.”

Recovering Covid-19 Patients Enjoy Some Sunshine

Patients recovering from coronavirus were able to enjoy some sunshine over the weekend thanks to staff at Queen’s hospital in Romford, Essex. Patrick Thoeung, Sharon McLoughlin, Mari Fantocchi and Katie Hayes, from the physiotherapy team wheeled two patients outside in their beds to let them make the most of the warm April day. Source: The Guardian

Victoria Falls Photo by Jason Zhao on Unsplash

Photo by Jason Zhao on Unsplash

27 April 2020

Chelsea Flower Show Goes Online

Been wondering how you’ll fill the Chelsea Flower Show-shaped hole in your May next month? The annual event is moving online, as the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) announces its first ever virtual Chelsea Flower Show. The show, which will take place between 18-23 May, will include virtual garden tours, a school gardening club and virtual floristry displays. Sue Biggs, RHS director general, said: “We’re lucky to live in a digital age where we’re able to bring aspects of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show online so we can continue to share the world’s best in horticulture and bring garden design inspiration, breath-taking displays and horticultural knowledge for the nation to enjoy during this difficult time. We really hope the virtual show will help fill the gap caused by the sad but necessary cancellation of this year’s show and will inspire more people to get growing.” Source: BBC

Could Coronavirus Inspire Generation Of Scientists?

Professor Brian Cox has predicted that the pandemic may lead to a new generation of young people aspiring to jobs in the sciences. When asked whether the prominence given to scientists by the Covid-19 crisis could result in increased interest in the subject from children, Cox said “I think so. Ultimately, I think this crisis will be solved by science in the sense that we need a vaccine and/or effective treatments.” Professor Cox is also part of the BBC Bitesize line-up offering science classes for 10 to 12 year olds. Source: iNews

Tour Buses For NHS

Tarrant Anderson, owner of Vans For Bands touring company, has donated his fleet of tour buses for use by the NHS. Tarrant told the BBC: “We had between 30 and 40 tours out on the road when the COVID-19 shutdown started to happen across Europe. Overnight, as the ban on public events came in, they all shut down. All our vehicles came back to the yard and they were doing nothing. We had all these buses gathering dust so we got on social media to see what we could do. The main thing we got back was that hospitals needed somewhere for staff to rest up, decompress and feel more human.” Tarrant and his business partner Ed Thomsom have arranged a virtual festival Bus-tival to raise funds to keep the buses available and frontline staff rested up. Source: BBC

Creating For A Cause

Following a surge of calls during lockdown, Paolo Moschino has launched a new campaign to help raise money for NSPCC to protect vulnerable children, with a design competition to keep kids entertained at home. To get involved, visit the JustGiving page, which will be matched by the team at Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam. Children can then design a ‘Patterns of Spring’ fabric print which you can send to  or on Instagram with the hashtag #fabricdesignforNSPCC by 20th May 2020 and tag either @nicholashaslamltd or @paolomoschino. The winning design will be worked on by the product design team to add to the collection and it will be named after the winning child. Furthermore, 10% of all future sales of the printed fabric will be donated to the NSPCC.

Baby Given Guard of Honour

A six-month baby born with a heart condition was given a guard of honour by nurses and doctors at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool after recovering from Covid-19. Erin Bates spent two weeks on a high dependency unit, but has now been moved to another ward for ongoing treatment for her ongoing conditions. Her mother described NHS workers as “truly amazing”. Source: The Guardian

Lockdown Culture Podcast Launch

Today marks the launch of Lockdown Culture, Country & Town House’s newest podcast series, with host, C&TH culture editor Ed Vaizey. For 20 minutes each week, the longest ever serving Minister of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and now C&TH’s culture editor, Ed Vaizey will be recording from his home in his old constituency of Wantage, giving us his frank, unedited opinion about what’s worth watching and listening to – and what’s not. Find out more here and download now on Spotify & iTunes.

24 April 2020

Coronavirus Vaccine Trials Begin

The first European coronavirus vaccine human trial has begun in Oxford. The first two of more than 800 people were injected yesterday in a trial where half of volunteers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, and half a control vaccine. Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at the Jenner Institute said: “Personally I have a high degree of confidence in this vaccine. Of course, we have to test it and get data from humans. We have to demonstrate it actually works and stops people getting infected with coronavirus before using the vaccine in the wider population.” Source: BBC

St Lucia Hotel Helps In Virus Fight

The Windjammer Landing Villa Resort in St Lucia has collaborated with other partners on the island in a number of initiatives to help less fortunate residents. The Resort team were involved in preparing 3000 meals for under-privileged St. Lucians, as well as contributing perishable food items for the St. Lucia Police Officers and to to NEMO (National Emergency Management Organization).

You’re Invited: Home House Live Events

Exclusive members club Home House is opening up its new online live events to Country & Town House readers this weekend, with two exciting workshops to choose from. This Saturday 25 April and Saturday 2 May at 10am, get involved with Home House Reinventing Yourself Through Change, with Dr. Nicola Bunting, international executive and personal coach, founder of La Vita Nuova Coaching, and author of “Who Do You Want To Be? How To Embrace Change And Live Your Dream”. Or on Sunday 26 April or 3 May at 10am, take part in Soul Sundays, where you can experience a Sound Healing Meditation with In-House Meditation Mentor Elizabeth Martin. Just what we need in these times. C&TH readers can get involved by RSVPing to  

Rolling Stones Release New Song

The Rolling Stones have released their first new single in eight years. The track, called Living In A Ghost Town, references the coronavirus crisis. “Life was so beautiful, now we all got locked down / Feel like a ghost, living in a ghost town.” Sounds about right, Sir Mick Jagger. The band has said they recorded the track a year ago, but that it has been completed in lockdown. “We thought would resonate through the times we’re living in,” Sir Mick said. “It wasn’t written for now but it was written about being in a place which was full of life, and then now that’s all bereft of life, so to speak. And when I went back to what I’d written originally lyrically, it was all full of plague terms and things like that. Keith Richards and I both had the idea that we should release it. But I said, ‘Well I’ve got to rewrite it – some of it is not going to work and some of it was a bit weird and a bit too dark’.” Source: BBC

French Accessories Brand Donates Masks

French accessories brand Le Colonel, usually known for its bow ties and hair accessories, has switched to mask making from its Lille apartment in an effort to help protect those working on the frontline. Le Colonel is distributing the masks through its first-floor apartment window where people in need are collecting them. The brand’s London store is in the process of making masks for the NHS, too. Thus far, Le Colonel have made and donated over 500 masks.

Big Poppa The Bulldog Goes Viral

Thought you were finding lockdown hard? Just wait until you see this picture of Big Poppa the English bulldog, who has gone viral after a dejected isolation photo was shared from his home in Atlanta, Georgia. Owner Ms Ellis wrote on Instagram from Pop’s perspective: “All I want to do is play with the kids in my building but due to Covid-19 I can’t. I just watch them from the patio. Flatten The Curve please.” Source: Evening Standard

More Hotel Breaks For NHS Staff

Yet more hotels are getting involved in campaigns to reward NHS staff for their service throughout the coronavirus campaign. Debbie Robinson, founder of 10 or More, has launched the #HotelsThanksTheNHS campaign, with over 100 hotels offering free hotel breaks across the UK. Hotels are donating complimentary dinners, lunches, and spa treatments in addition to the free accommodation in hotel rooms and suites. Hotels involved include The Standard, London, The Landmark, London, Nobu, Cliveden, Chewton Glen, The Lygon Arms, The Merry Harriers, Beachcroft Beach Huts and Hastings Hotels.

Get Creative With McQueen

Week four of Alexander McQueen’s McQueen Creators project series is here, and this week the challenge is to draw a silhouette and interpret a favourite look. Sarah Burton has chosen images from the women’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection and the men’s Autumn/Winter 2020 collections for inspiration. London based artist Howard Tangye, best known for portraits in a variety of mediums and Head of BA Womenswear at Central Saint Martins for seventeen years, shares his expertise in a tutorial, shown on the Alexander McQueen YouTube channel from this evening.

Toddler Hears For The First Time During Lockdown

An 18-month-girl has had her cochlear implant switched on remotely due to the lockdown, and has been able to hear for the very first time. Professor Helen Cullington from the University of Southampton’s auditory implant service switched on the device from home, linking remotely to Margarida Cibrao-Roque’s parents for the appointment. “Usually we do the switch-on of a cochlear implant at our clinic at the university, but with some technical creativity and some advice from colleagues in Australia, we were able to do everything necessary over the internet,” she said. “The session went really well and everyone was thrilled with the outcome.” Margarida’s mother Joana Cibrao, said: “The possibility of Margarida calling me Mummy one day would mean the world.” Source: Guardian

Home House

23 April 2020

Prince Louis’ Rainbow Tribute

Prince Louis has marked his second birthday by making a rainbow handprint poster. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son is pictured with his artwork and paint on his hands wearing a blue gingham shirt in the images released to mark his birthday. Prince Louis was photographed by mum Kate, who recently spoke about how they were coping with homeschooling and lockdown life. “It’s just having that bit of structure, actually. It’s great, there are so many great tips online and fun activities that you can do with the children so it hasn’t been all hardcore,” she said. Source: BBC

NHS Staff Receive Thank You Prizes

The Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds is running an initiative enabling people to thank NHS workers with regular “thank you” giveaways from their hotels. Members of the public can nominate NHS workers to win a prize on the Dormy House, The Fish Hotel and Foxhill Manor Facebook pages, with prizes including spa days, movie nights, dinners and afternoon teas, as well as overnight stays when lockdown lifts.

NHS Portrait Gallery Floods Instragram

Artists across the country are sharing portraits of NHS workers in a tribute to their fight against coronavirus. The #PortraitsforNHSHeroes project was started on Instagram by Tom Croft sho offered a free oil portrait to the first NHS frontline worker to message him. Now, more than 500 artists have contributed portraits in all styles. “It’s grown quicker than I could have imagined. It’s been amazing. It’s been moving to read all of the messages from NHS key workers about how this is brightening up their day, or at least giving them something positive to look forward to in these incredibly tough and challenging times,” said Tom. “I knew the art community would respond in this way but it’s still wonderful to see it happen in reality.” Source: Guardian

Jellyfish Spotted In Venice Canals

The big Venice canal clean-up due to lockdown continues with less boat and tourist traffic than usual giving the canals the chance to clear for the first time in years. The latest development? Jellyfish have been captured moving through the canals amongst schools of fish. Source: CNN

The Wool Hotline

Run out of people to call in the evenings? Zoom quizzes drying up? Allbirds is helping people stay connected with their free ‘The Wool Hotline’ number. Callers are invited to call to chat about absolutely anything for a little break from isolation or alternatively can opt to listen to to the “soothing” voices of sheep or birdsong to bring nature in. There will also be quizzes, special guests and stories, with the hotline up and running until mid-May. Call 0800 141 3370 to get involved.

The Most Expensive Onions Ever?

With a lot of us using our phones more than ever during lockdown, it’s only to be expected that younger members of the household would want to get involved. One-year-old Alice decided to have a go on her dad’s phone and ended up placing a Deliveroo order from some onions. The onions cost just £1.50 but due to the small order fee, the onions set the family back £19.99. You might wonder how some £20 onions have made it onto a ‘good news’ roundup but Alice’s parents have confirmed they have since used the onions to make a nice curry, so all’s well that ends well. Source: BBC

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jellyfish Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

22 April 2020

Potential Coronavirus Vaccine To Start Human Trials

A possible coronavirus vaccine in development at the University of Oxford will begin human trials this week, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “We are going to back them to the hilt,” he said. “In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I’m very proud of the work taken so far. The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it.” Source: Evening Standard

More Discounts For NHS Staff

We’ve previously reported on hotel offers and giveaways for NHS staff to look forward to once we’re through the pandemic. Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels in Mauritius is the latest to get involved, offering 50% off for all NHS and private health care workers to say thank you for putting themselves on the front line.

Three-Week-Old Baby Beats Coronavirus

A three-week-old baby, who was born eight weeks prematurely, has recovered from Covid-19. Peyton Maguire was delivered by C-section at University Hospital Wishaw on March 26 and at just 3lb 11oz was diagnosed with coronavirus on 15 April. “Peyton is the most precious person in the world to me and it shows the trust I had in the midwives and the other staff that I put her care in their hands – because that is that they are trained to do,” said Peyton’s mum. Peyton is now at home with her parents. Source: Evening Standard

Italian Football Club Adopts Young Fan’s Shirt Design

A six-year-old boy has reason to celebrate after his football shirt design was adopted by Italian club Pescara. Luigi D’Agostino entered a competition run by the club with the motto “give a kick to Covid-19″ and his shirt, featuring a dolphin and a rainbow, will be worn by the Serie B team next season. Source: BBC

‘Banksy’ Street Artist Revealed In Pontefract

Rachel List has revealed herself as the artist behind colourful NHS tribute murals in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, which some believed to be the work of Banksy. The 29-year-old self-employed artist creates the artworks early in the morning as part of her daily exercise routine and has been painting on businesses closed for the lockdown. “I want a bit of positivity for them. I want them to thrive again when all this is over,” she said.“I think people just want to show their appreciation for the NHS. Hopefully I have, in some small way, allowed that message to travel.” Source: Guardian

Get The Hotel Experience At Home

Missing the luxuries of hotel stays? Four Seasons is helping you get some home luxuries with their weekly Instagram series Four Season Connects At Home. From recipe tutorials to live meditation sessions you can get involved in daily workshops. We’ll be tuning into Sunday’s, in which Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC’s Brad Harrel will give tips for a full turndown service in your own home. Actually, get the kids watching that one.

Captain Tom Receives More Than 25,000 Birthday Cards

Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old war veteran who has raised more than £27million for the NHS with his garden walk, has been sent more than 25,000 cards ahead of his 100th birthday next week. Hundreds of thousands of cards are expected for the coronavirus hero, and staff at the South Midlands Mail Centre have re-programmed sorting machines to re-route his mail into a dedicated collection box. Source: BBC

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rainbow Photo by Harald Arlander on Unsplash

Photo by Harald Arlander on Unsplash

21 April 2020

Fightfighters surprise 100-year-old with birthday celebration

Warwickshire firefighters have rescued Betty Gutteridge’s birthday celebrations after they were cancelled due to coronavirus. Since her 100th birthday party had to be postponed, the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service set up a special surprise to help her mark the day, attended (with social distancing in operation) by fire crew and members of the local community. Happy birthday Betty! Source: BBC

Damien Hirst creates ‘symbol of solidarity and hope’

In support of the Evening Standard and the Independent’s charity food appeal, Turner Prize-winning artist Damien Hirst has created a new rainbow artwork. The design can be downloaded and printed from the artist’s website to be displayed in support of the NHS, and he will be selling limited edition copies of the design to raise money for charity appeals. Damien, who is self-isolating at home, said: “I am in  awe of charity workers and community groups across the country who are risking their lives and health to deliver food to the most vulnerable in this time of crisis. I want to pay tribute to them with this rainbow heart, a symbol of solidarity and hope, and support the Evening Standard and The Independent’s campaign to raise money for these vital organisations.” Source: Evening Standard

Not-for-profit platform supports new mothers

With many expectant mothers facing the prospect of giving birth in understaffed units or with no birth partners, Little Earth Baby has set up a not-for-profit Birth and Newborn Support Platform. The platform will offer support and advice from leading professionals including: midwives, doulas, Drs., lactation consultants, maternity nurses and more.

Hospital staff to receive St George’s Day tea

If an afternoon tea at The Lanesborough is sounding pretty appealing right now (we agree), NHS staff at St George’s Hospital are in for a treat. On Thursday 23 April, St George’s Day, The Lanesborough will delivering the NHS staff of St George’s Hospital, Tooting, the hotel’s limited-edition Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea to enjoy. Staff will enjoy egg and cress mayonnaise, mint yoghurt and cucumber, coronation chicken and cheddar cheese & pickle finger sandwiches, plain and raisin scones with strawberry jam plus ‘Peggy’s Pink Pavlova’, lemon & elderflower tartlet, strawberry and Champagne cupcake, and slices of Peggy’s famous lemon, raspberry and rose layer cake. The Lanesborough is also supporting the St George’s Coronavirus Appeal, which you can get involved with at

Football club donate stadium as maternity clinic

West Bromwich Albion has donated its stadium for use as a maternity clinic, to help expectant mothers avoid hospitals during the pandemic. The Championship football club is providing space in the East Stand suits to deliver antenatal and postnatal care. Helen Hurst, director of midwifery at the trust, said: “We wanted to provide an alternative space for women who are having antenatal and postnatal care. Women are slightly anxious about coming to hospital in the current climate, so we wanted to find a safe space away from the hospital.” Source: Guardian

Lanesborough Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea

20 April 2020

Number of Coronavirus Patients in London Falls by Nearly 1,000 in One Week

Covid-19 statistics show that there has been a ‘sharp fall in the number of London patients in hospital with the virus’. Whilst there were 4,813 patients recorded in the capital’s hospitals on 8 April, 3,445 were recorded on Saturday – a decrease of almost 1,000 following six successive daily reductions. Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said: “For London particularly, it demonstrates not only the very significant amount of work that our hospitals have been doing, particularly in the first and second weeks of April, but the success that is occurring now in the number of cases that is coming down.” Source:

BBC Bitesize Daily launches

The BBC opens its doors for virtual learning today with the arrival of BBC Bitesize Daily, with more than 200 teachers and a host of well-known faces. Professor Brian Cox will teach key science topics including force and gravity, Manchester City footballer Sergio Aguero will teach children to count in Spanish while music stars Mabel and Liam Payne combine music and reading for secondary school kids. The resource has been compiled in just four weeks and will offer 14 weeks of curriculum-based learning for kids across the UK. Danny Dyer, EastEnders actor and direct descendant of King Edward III, delivers the facts on another historic king, Henry VIII while Sir David Attenborough will help youngsters to learn about the oceans, mapping the world and why animals look the way they do.

Social Enterprise Launches Programme to Feed Vulnerable Residents

Award-winning social enterprise Goldfinger Factory in West London has launched a programme to feed vulnerable residents of Trellick Tower and surrounding tower blocks on Golborne Road throughout the pandemic. The programme launched yesterday, the 19 April and will run on ten Sundays, feeding up to 2,000 residents. You can donate meal tokens at ​

New York couples get go-ahead for weddings

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the go-ahead for online marriages, allowing couples to go ahead with weddings under lockdown. From now on, those living in the state of New York can apply for marriage licences remotely and clerks will be able to conduct ceremonies virtually. “You can do it by Zoom. Yes or no?” he said in his briefing on Saturday. Source: BBC

Hotel donates 190 overnight stays to #treatournhs

The PIG Hotels group will mark its reopening (whenever that will be) by giving the first night across every hotel to members of NHS staff nearby each hotel. The scheme is part of the #treatournhs initiative set up by Sarah White to encourage holiday letting companies or travel companies donate stays to frontline staff.

Spanish children to be allowed outside after six weeks of lockdown

Children in Spain who have been confined to their houses for six weeks are to be allowed outside following an emotive ‘free our children’ campaign in the media. Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau, a mother of two, started the campaign with a Facebook post which she signed off with “Wait no longer: free our children!”. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said that children may be allowed to go outside for “a little fresh air” as of 27 April, in what he described as “a small relief”. Source: Independent

Every Mind Matters

With more and more people finding it hard to stay positive throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Public Health England and the NHS has launched a national mental health campaign, fronted by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The couple have narrated a film in support of campaign to encourage people to look after their mental and physical wellbeing through the scheme. On the Every Mind Matters NHS website, people can take a tailored COVID19 Mind Plan which gives them support for specific mental wellbeing issues such as anxiety, stress, low mood and trouble sleeping.

Social enterprise supports homeless single mum in need

Social enterprise is enabling members of the public to fund emergency care packages for homeless families throughout the pandemic. Stefany, a 24-year-old homeless single mum was able to raise more than £500 from strangers to allow her access to essential items for her newbown. Stefany said: “Three years ago I was working, looking after myself and enjoying London life! That was until I found myself in an abusive relationship and became isolated. I tried to run away many times only to find myself running back to my ex-partner as I did not know where to go for help. It was only when I fell pregnant that I knew I had to protect the future of my unborn son. The biggest challenge Coronavirus has created for me is getting the essentials for my baby, as a lot of charities who were previously supporting me are now closed. His nappies are a miracle to find now – the same goes for baby food. These items will help me so much as I can’t afford anything at the moment.”

wedding Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash

Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash

17 April 2020

Cure for Heart Disease Could be Close

A cure for heart disease could be available within a decade after a gene breakthrough. Scientists have discovered that a gene that usually helps cancer to spread can potentially be used to regenerate heart muscle. “This is really exciting because scientists have been trying to make heart cells proliferate for a long time,” said researcher Catherine Wilson, of the University of Cambridge. “None of the current heart disease treatments are able to reverse degeneration of the heart tissue – they only slow progression of the disease. Now we’ve found a way to do it – in a mouse.” Source: iNews

Kitchen Garden Contents Help Gorillas

The Pig at Bridge Place is making the most of its fruit and vegetable glut from its kitchen garden by delivering the produce to those in need. The staff are serving up the food to the doorsteps of NHS workers, the high risk and the vulnerable. This vulnerable group includes the wild residents of nearby Gorilla sanctuary at Howletts Wild Animal Park, which is currently shut to visitors. The 29 Western lowland gorillas, which The Aspinall Foundation intends to re-introduce to the wilds of Central Africa, are currently enjoying ‘gone over’ parsnips, chard, celeriac and spring onions, that would otherwise go to waste.

Asprey Make Donation to NET

Asprey joins the legion of luxury brands doing their bit to support those fighting the pandemic, in the form of a beautiful charity pendant. The 167 Pendant (a version of which is often worn by the Duchess of Cambridge) has been created in sterling silver, with a inset amethyst in the centre and special engraving on the reverse with the National Emergencies Trust (NET) logo. All profits of the pendant will go directly to NET in the fight against Covid-19. Asprey is just one of the Great British Brands doing their bit in the fight against Covid-19. We’re rounding up all the initiatives currently underway, from Brompton Bicycles’s NHS loan scheme to Rolls Royce’s Visor Scheme. Read more about the Great British Brands’ projects here.

Small Business 4 NHS

Many small businesses are feeling the effects of Covid-19 right now, but that doesn’t mean that many aren’t pitching in to do their bit to help. The Small Businesses 4 NHS initiative involves weekly raffles, with prizes donated by small, independent businesses across the country, who have been adversely affected by Covid-19. Raffle tickets cost £5 and this week prizes include a gorgeous parasol from the East London Parasol company.

Take Part in the Alexander McQueen Print Challenge

Step away from the tie-dye. If your urge to spend lockdown getting creative is strong, channel your energies in the right direction. The third stage in Great British Brand Alexander McQueen’s McQueenCreators project is live, and this time they’re here with their very first video tutorial, hosted by Simon Ungless, long-time Alexander McQueen friend and collaborator and the creative behind the extraordinary prints for shows including The Birds and Dante. Watch Simon, who is Executive Director of the school of fashion at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, screen print two projects from his own home studio and then get involved yourself at home. Photograph and share your creations on Instagram by tagging @AlexanderMcQueen #McQueenCreators.

Lions Enjoying Lockdown Peace

Lions in South Africa’s Kruger National Park have been taking advantage of the lack of tourists. Park ranger Richard Sowry was on patrol this week when he saw a pride of lions sleeping in the middle of a road usually packed with tourists. “Lions are used to people in vehicles,” he said. “All animals have much more of an instinctive fear of people on foot, so if I had walked up they would never have allowed me to get so close.” Source: BBC

Captain Tom Moore Honoured in Clap for Carers

In what is fast becoming our daily Captain Tom Moore update, the 99-year-old war veteran was honoured last night during the weekly clap for carers. NHS staff were pictured holding up signs reading ‘Captain Tom! Thank you’. Tom’s total currently stands at more than £17million. A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Like millions of people across the country, the Prime Minister joined in the clap for carers this evening, to say thank you for the incredible efforts of the country’s doctors, nurses and care workers.” Source: Evening Standard

Harry & Meghan Deliver Meals to LA Residents in Need

Been wondering what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been up to since moving to LA? The couple has been delivering meals to LA residents through Project Angel Food non-profit that prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to chronically ill people. Source: CNN

Mind, Body & Soul

From the benefits of hugging trees (one of the only things we’re allowed to hug right now) to the ultimate spa guide to start dreaming of post-lockdown life, you’ll find a host of positive, uplifting features in our May/June issue of Country & Town House, out now. Read our interview with cover star Arizona Muse here.

16 April 2020

Banksy Creates New Lockdown Artwork

Lockdown might be keeping people off the streets, but that hasn’t stopped Banksy from creating new work, from the comfort of his own home. The artist posted on Instagram on Wednesday saying, ‘My wife hates it when I work from home’. The new work shows rats causing mayhem in the artist’s bathroom, knocking the mirror to one side and making a mess. See his new work at the bottom of today’s update. Source: Evening Standard

Tom Moore Breaks the £10million Mark

Earlier this week, 99-year-old war veteran Tom Moore broke the £1million mark with his NHS fundraising mission to complete 100 laps of his garden by his 100th birthday. His initial target of £1000 is now a distant memory as, at the time of writing, Tom has now surpassed £12million. What a hero. Source: Evening Standard

Algarve Hospitals Get a Boost

Quinta do Lago residents and business overs have raised more than 500,000EUR to buy equipment and improve working conditions for health professionals in the Algarve, following a 50,000EUR donation from the resort. The ‘Flattening the Curve’ fundraising group is donating money to the Algarve Biomedical Centre (ABC), the consortium which is leading many of the region’s initiatives to contain the pandemic.

‘You Clap for Me’ Film Celebrates Ethnic Minority Workers

A film celebrating black, Asian and ethnic minority workers working to tackle the coronavirus pandemic has gone viral. The film shows teachers, doctors and delivery drivers from non-white backgrounds who are playing key roles in the coronavirus efforts. Director Darren Smith says coronavirus has led to solidarity in society. Source: BBC

The Drumming BBC Weatherman Lifts Spirits

BBC North West Tonight presenter Owain Wyn Evans has gone viral by finishing his weather forecast by playing the BBC News theme tune on the drums. “When they said try working from home I didn’t realise they’d expect me to do the music too,” he said. Source: BBC

106-Year-Old Connie Recovers from Coronavirus

Connie Titchen, a 106-year-old great-grandmother, has become Britain’s oldest patient to recover from Covid-19. The retired shopworker said she felt “very lucky” to have fought off the virus as she was applauded by staff on leaving Birmingham City Hospital on Tuesday. Source: BBC

Royal Money Profits Go to Hunger Charity

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have requested that profits from their royal wedding broadcast be used to help feed children throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The £90,000 profits from the BBC’s broadcast are to be given to charity Feeding Britain on Harry and Meghan’s request. The pair are believed to have called the Archbishop of Canterbury, who married the pair in 2018 and is president of Feeding Britain, to make arrangements. Source: Evening Standard

National Park Animals ‘Having a Party’

The animal residents of California’s shuttered Yosemite National Park are said to be making the most of the quiet roads and lack of visitors, with video footage showing bears climbing trees close to rangers’ homes. Ranger Katie Patrick said: “The bears are just literally walking down the road to get to where they need to go”. When asked about what the animals have been up to since the park closure, she replied: “For the most part, I think they’re having a party”. Source: CNN

15 April 2020

Lockdown Spells Good News for Wildlife

The lockdown may be having a positive impact for some of the UK’s wildlife, according to conservationists. With fewer people in urban environments and less cars on the roads, our native mammals may be enjoying the quieter spaces. If you’re out running, keep an eye out for deer, stoats, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers who may be enjoying the quiet and venturing out more than usual. Source: BBC

Joe Wicks wins Guinness World Record

Joe Wicks, who has become the nation’s PE teacher while schools are closed, has become a Guinness World Record holder for YouTube views after one of his live-streamed workouts was viewed by 955,158 people. “I had no idea that when I went live on my YouTube workout on March 24, that we were actually setting a world record,” he said.“So, thank you to everyone that tuned in – I’m so proud that this is our record, and we can remember that day as the moment we got the most viewers for a live work out.” Source: Evening Standard

Barbour’s Medical Gowns Reach Hospitals

Medical gowns and scrubs made by outdoor clothing company Barbour have arrived at hospitals in the North East. Barbour started production of the PPE items in support of the NHS trusts in the region, and the scrubs have been “gratefully received”.  Lewis Atkinson, deputy director at Gateshead’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital said in a tweet: “Good morning from QE Gateshead Tactical Command. Much excitement at receipt of our first batch of ‘by royal appointment’ gowns from Barbour – thank you so much, we especially love the proper Barbour cuffs!” Meanwhile, microbiology consultant Dr Alice Wort said: “Thank you Barbour. You thoroughly deserve these royal crests.The quality of these new gowns is amazing. They mean so much to our staff. Proud of our British manufacturers.” Source: Chronicle Live

Virtual Race for the NHS

This weekend the UK’s first virtual Spartan endurance obstacle course will take place in homes across the country. The #HydrateOurHeroes initiative led by Spartan aims to aid the Covid-19 fight by donating electrolyte hydration drinks to NHS staff. For every participant, SOS Hydration will donate an SOS electrolyte drink mix pack. The competition takes place this Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 April is free to enter at

Flamingos Love to “Hang Out” with Friends

If social distancing was in practice in the animal kingdom, flamingos would be finding it just as hard as humans. A new five-year study has found that the pink birds form friendships that last for years, and that they choose to hang out with friends within their groups. Researchers at the University of Exeter even found that they have certain individuals they prefer to avoid. Dr Paul Rose, author of the study in the journal Behavioural Processes said: “Flamingo societies are complex. They are formed of long-standing friendships rather than loose, random connections. Flamingos don’t simply find a mate and spend their time with that individual. Some mating couples spend much of their time together, but lots of other social bonds also exist. We see pairs of males or females choosing to ‘hang out’, we see trios and quartets that are regularly together. It seems that – like humans – flamingos form social bonds for a variety of reasons, and the fact they’re so long-lasting suggests they are important for survival in the wild.” Source: Independent

England Lionesses Donate to #PlayersTogether

The England Women’s football squad, known as the Lionesses, have donated to the #PlayersTogether initiative set up by Premier League players to support the NHS and other staff working against the spread of coronavirus. A statement from the squad said: “After discussions with a number of Premier League players, we are delighted to confirm that the whole of the Lionesses squad will make a collective donation to the #PlayersTogether fund.” Source: BBC

flamingoes Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

Photo by Yucel Moran on Unsplash

14 April 2020

Opera-Singing Doctor Lifts Spirits

After training in medicine, Dr Alex Aldren ended up leaving the world of medicine to become a professional musician. But the tenor has now returned to the NHS to help during the coronavirus crisis and has been making use of his talents to lift spirits. The doctor has been singing to staff and patients at Royal London Hospital and Newham Hospital, and a video of him in action has gone viral.  Source: BBC

Duty To Care

NHS workers are under unprecedented levels of stress right now, and new initiative Duty To Care has launched to help provide staff with free mental health support. The service will be an online resource for NHS workers to go to for instant help and support when they need it most. Those in need will be able to book one-on-one online sessions as well as accessing advice from experts on how to manage their mental health independently on a day to day level. The service will provide access to CBT therapists; Psychotherapists; Mindfulness teachers; Meditation experts; Breath-work experts; Homeopaths; Immunologists; Nutrition coaches; Hypnotherapists and Healers. For more information or to donate, visit

Italian Tenor Bocelli Spreads Message of Hope

It’s usually one of the busiest weekends for Italy’s churches but with lockdown measures still in place and mass gatherings banned, the country’s churches remained empty throughout Easter Weekend. But Italian tenor Bocelli brought a message of hope to millions of homes as he sang at Milan’s empty cathedral. He finished his performance by singing Amazing Grace on the cathedral’s steps. Source: BBC

Drop in Air Pollution Leads to Mountain Views

The Himalayas have come into view for the first time in 30 years in northern India as the continued coronavirus lockdown has led to a drop in air pollution levels. Many Jalandhar and Punjab residents are viewing the mountains for the very first time and have been posting pictures of their new, smog-free views on social media. Source: Evening Standard

Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer Lights Up with Thanks

Brazil’s most famous landmark has been illuminated with a message of thanks over the Easter weekend to say thank you to those fighting against the coronavirus outbreak. The Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up to look like a doctor, recognising frontline workers facing the pandemic. It also showed video clips and the flags of the affected countries, plus messages urging people to stay at home to help against the spread of the virus. The city’s archbishop, Dom Orani Tempesta, held a mass at the base of the statue on Easter Sunday and said: “We are all praying for families that are hurt and that have sick family members, or the families who have loved ones who died. It is not time for divisions but unity, we are united against a common enemy that transmits the virus that is contaminating so many people.” Source: Evening Standard

A Zonkey is Born

It’s not a donkey, it’s not a zebra. It is, in fact, a zonkey. The rare zebra-donkey hybrid was born at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya, and according to local staff, both mother and baby are doing well. Source: CNN

Free Music for NHS Workers

Live music might be on hold for the time being, but NHS workers have a host of gigs to look forward to once the pandemic is under control. Liam Gallagher has announced a free concert for NHS workers at London’s O2 Arena on 29 October, with ticket applications opening on 15 April. Manic Street Preachers and Rick Astley have also announced free shows for NHS staff in October and November. Source: The Guardian

99-Year-Old Army Veteran Raises £2million, Smashing £1K Target

Tom Moore, a 99-year-old army veteran, who hoped to raise £500,000 for NHS Charities Together by completing 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden with his walking frame, has raised more the £2million so far. Tom originally set a target of £1000 to thank “magnificent” staff after treatment for a broken hip and cancer, but the campaign really took off thanks to social media support and a host of celebrity donations. “No words left…just thank you” he tweeted. Tom is ahead of schedule and hopes to complete the 2.5km (1.6 miles) by Thursday, instead of his initial target of his 100th birthday on 30 April. We wish Tom the very best of luck, and you can donate here. Source: BBC

Renowned Chefs are Hosting Virtual Supper Clubs

The Initiative has launched a new virtual supper club series, offering the chance to cook alongside acclaimed chefs from the comfort of your own home. Sign up online and 24 hours before the event takes place you’ll receive a package with all ingredients needed for the menu, alongside a paired bottle of wine. On the evening, tune in to be guided through the cooking process by that week’s guest chef. Robin Gill (The Dairy, Darby’s) kicked off the series last week, with many other top chefs due to be announced in the coming weeks. Tickets cost £40 each, with £5 from each ticket donated to The Initiative’s new food bank charity. Reserve your space at

Take a Virtual Tour of the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens

Coinciding with lockdowns and travel restrictions, the tulip season in the Netherlands is, sadly, effectively cancelled, but you can now enjoy a scenic wander amongst the spring blooms thanks to virtual tours of the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. The sunny scenes show a riot of colour guaranteed to lift one’s mood even in these most despondent of days. In the park’s other videos, earthy Dutch gardeners take you through the ins and outs of the parks and its many flower varieties. Watch all the Keukenhof virtual tours on the park’s YouTube

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Featured image: Jeka Demidov on Unsplash