Buckingham Palace, Westminster
Elizabeth Cross Honors Battle Dead
THE QUEEN has announced the creation of the first new military honor since the George Cross for civilian heroism in 1940. The Elizabeth Cross medal will be given to the families of the 8,000 British troops who have been killed in military action since World War II. Made of sterling silver, the Elizabeth Cross bears the Royal Cypher, carrying symbols of Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. The next of kin of those who have died in conflicts including Korea, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan will receive the new award.
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Oxford Road, Manchester
Britain’s Largest Children’s Hospital
FIVE years under construction and 30 years in the planning, the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital has opened in Manchester. The new £500 million facility combines the resources of two existing children’s hospitals. With almost 400 beds, the new Royal Manchester fully intends to be the best children’s hospital in the UK. One transferring nurse described the new facility: “I’m very shocked at the size of it, but the equipment and the space—it’s just five-star.” The new hospital expects to treat up to 35,000 children a year from across the Northwest.
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And Just in Passing
A Witch for Wookey Hole
Seeking a career change? The popular Somerset caverns of Wookey Hole are willing to pay £50,000 a year for a resident witch. The job entails living in the cave, being a witch and doing the things that witches do. The advert said applicants must be able to cackle and can’t be allergic to cats.
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Beavers Return After 400 Years
Some 400 years after their disappearance from Britain, a total of 11 beavers brought to Scotland from Norway have been reintroduced into the wild. The Scottish Wildlife Trust released the beavers in Knapdale Forest, Argyll, where they will be carefully studied over the next five years.
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Comic Actress Mollie Sugden
The world mourns the passing of much-loved actress Mollie Sugden at 86. A staple of British comedy for more than 30 years, Sugden was best known for her role as Betty Slocombe on the 13-year run of Are You Being Served? (1972-1985). Mrs. Slocombe’s purple-rinse coif, double-entendres and affectation of gentility became comedy legend. Among her other memorable roles, Sugden also played pub landlady Nellie Harvey on Coronation Street.
Pub Landlord Invents Glowing Babygrow
Chris Ebejar, of Long Melford, Suffolk, spent six years developing the heat-sensitive ink pigment and embedding it in 100 percent cotton babygrow. The one-piece stretchwear for babies up to 24 months changes from white if the baby has a fever. Look for Babyglow on the market this autumn.
Prince Charles Nixes Chelsea Barracks
ONCE AGAIN the Prince of Wales has become embroiled in controversy over modern architecture. After two years of planning consultations, Prince Charles at the last minute persuaded the Qatari royal family to scrap plans to turn the former Chelsea Barracks site into a huge 13-acre glass-and-steel complex of flats and shops. The royally-owned Qatari property company will now work with the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment to create a design more sympathetic to the setting—across the road from Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital.
The Prince has been criticized for his involvement and of dangerous political interference in London’s planning process. His direct conversations with an overseas royal family have been seen as a “feudal” subversion of the normal democratic process. The question really is whether Prince Charles is free to express his opinions and use his influence to support his convictions. Or not.
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Culloden Moor, Inverness
Disrespect at Culloden Battlefield?
THE DEFEAT of the Jacobite clansmen at Culloden in April 1746 was the last battle fought on British soil. Thousands of Highland dead were swept into shallow graves marked only by their clan. This summer Queen Elizabeth became the first British monarch to visit the battlefield.
Now, the National Trust for Scotland, which cares for the site, has received complaints that visitors are not treating the war graves with due respect. One objection was to a family picnicking on a grave mound: “The father was leaning against the headstone eating a Scotch egg and smoking a cigarette.” NTS is having signs made up which explain that the battlefield is a war grave and encourage appropriate decorum.
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Widow Leaves Windfall to the Village
EVERYONE OF Solva’s 800 villagers will get a share of the more than £400,000 estate of Margaret Allen as her thank you for the welcome she received there in her retirement. After dying at the age of 90, Allen has left generous bequests to practically every organization in the small Pembrokeshire town—local churches and the local memorial hall, cat and dog charities, the football club, the village surgery and £5,000 to the Solva Luncheon Club to be spent on drinks at Christmas. In addition, each of the town’s 120 or so residents who are over 60 will receive £500 per person. Folks are toasting her all over town.
Great Malvern, Worcestershire
Bells Could Fall Silent at Great Malvern
THE BELLS of Malvern Priory in the Worcestershire hill town of Great Malvern have rung since the 14th century. They may cease to ring hereafter because the frames on which the ancient bells rest high in the belfry desperately need to be replaced.
Though the active parish at the historic church wants to replace the worn Victorian frames (with huge public support), English Heritage has stopped the move in the Grade I listed building, claiming that the A-frames from 1887 needed to be preserved. Without replacing the belfry parts, bell ringers say it’s just a matter of time before the bells fall silent. Ironically, the Victorian A-frames being preserved are now accepted to have been a bad design and weren’t in use long. Campanologists fear EH’s ruling may end in other historic bell towers falling silent as well.
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And Just in Passing
Banger and Mash Top Comfort Food in Credit Crunch
Yes, humble bangers and mash has proven the most popular comfort food during the current economic downturn. The survey by TV channel Good Food found fish & chips in second place, followed by beans on toast. It also claims most Britons are gaining weight during the recession.
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Scottish Parliament Selects Official Tartan
In a competition to celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Scottish Parliament selected the design of Teri Scott, a textiles student from Leven, Fife, as the new official tartan of the Scottish Parliament. The winning entry Scott describes as, “heather tones and vibrant thistle colors taken from Scotland’s beautiful landscape.”
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And Just in Passing
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Ospreys in Northumbria
In the 18th century, they were called “fish-eating hawks,” but the osprey hasn’t been seen in Northumberland since. Once common in Britain, ospreys had been hunted to extinction by the mid 1800s. They’ve been recolonized in Scotland and the Lake District and now have settled on Kielder Water. The nesting pair will be constantly monitored.
Changes at Burke’s Peerage
For the first time in the 173-year history of the annual publication, Burke’s Peerage and Gentry is actually changing. Beginning this year, the definitive genealogy of the aristocracy will include illegitimate blue-blood children and list offspring in the order born rather than males first. Just a bit of a 21st-century makeover.
And They’re Off at Ffos Las!
Britain first new turf horse racing course in 80 years has opened to great success on a former opencast mine near Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire. The Ffos Las course, grandstand, stables and infrastructure of the flats and hunt turf are expected to compete with the best courses in Europe.
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Reagan Honored with London Statue
WESTMINSTER CITY COUNCIL has granted permission for a sculpture of late president Ronald Reagan to be erected in Grovesnor Square near the present U.S. embassy. Suspending its usual policy of allowing only memorials to people who have been dead for more than 10 years, according to council spokesman Steve Summers, the council concluded: “Regardless of politics, nobody can dispute that President Reagan was a true ally of this country. During his presidency the term ‘special relationship’ reflected not just the close working partnership of our respective governments, but helped reinforce Britain’s unquestionable cultural and historic ties with the United States.”
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Meet the Javelin—at 140 mph
TEST RUNS HAVE been completed on the new 140 mph Javelin—Britain’s next generation train. The super-fast commuter train cuts the Ashford to St. Pancras run from 80 minutes down to 37. Canterbury is now under an hour. Javelin service is expected to carry 2012 Olympic travelers from St. Pancras to Stratford’s Olympic Park in seven minutes. As new Javelin services are fully implemented between now and December 13, some 200 daily services on 29 trains will connect the city with Kent and the Medway. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis toasted the new high-speed train as the “future of the railways.”
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Buckingham Palace, Westminster
Queen Snubbed on D-Day Anniversary
THERE WAS FURY at the Palace and dismay from the public. It was noticed around the world. The Queen was not invited to the D-Day 65th anniversary commemorations in Normandy. The French failure to invite the Queen is an inexplicable snubbing. The British Government have been criticized as well for failing to procure a Royal invitation from France. The absence of the Queen is all the more poignant as she is the only surviving Head of State who actually took part in the war. It was widely recognized that this would be the last formal gathering of the aging veterans who were part of that historic assault on Fortress Europe. At the last minute, Prince Charles did procure permission to attend with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and represented his mother well. The French have egg on their face.
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Record Crowds at Stonehenge Solstice
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MORE THAN 36,000 people turned up at Stonehenge for the summer solstice this year. Beginning in the early evening, the crowd and the party gathered steam all night. The A303 was closed to traffic, and they had parked 6,500 cars by 3 a.m.
An eccentric mix of druids, Morris dancers, assorted pagans and visitors from around the world cheered the arrival of the sun at 4:58 a.m. Despite 25 arrests for drugs and disorderly conduct, police and English Heritage officials are content with the peaceful nature of the revels. The record crowd, however, left behind record rubbish strewn across Salisbury Plain in the solstice’s aftermath.
FOR THE RECORD
London taxis voted world’s best
A broad survey of frequent international travelers has come up with a conclusion many have known informally for years: London taxi drivers are in a league of their own. Some 1,400 travelers polled by Hotels.com concluded that London’s cabbies are the friendliest, safest, cleanest, most available and most knowledgeable of their city. John Thomas, chair of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, credits the extensive training drivers receive as the key to good customer service: “London’s taxi drivers must dedicate three years to completing the knowledge training to qualify as a London taxi driver and that commitment is vital to offering the very best customer service.” ‘Tis a well-deserved accolade.
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