Preparations are being made by the Bagot Arms Golf Society ahead of their charity golf day on 21 July 2023, where organisers hope to raise over £5000 for a men’s mental health charity.
The event, which is taking place at Bromsgrove Golf Centre in Worcestershire, is in support of ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ – a nationwide campaign ‘which uses sporting themes to encourage people, particularly men, to talk about how they feel.’
According to the charity’s website, 5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders, for example anxiety or depression. The website further states suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst males aged 15 to 29, and that three out of four of all suicides are men.
The Bagot Arms Golf Society, now operating out of Hollyfields Conference & Sports Centre in Pype Hayes, formed in 2009 out of the old Bagot Arms pub less than a mile away from Pype Hayes Golf Club.
The society have a history of organising and being a part of fundraising events and charity days, including a ’72 holes in one day’ challenge in aid of MacMillan which saw four members raise over £5,000 for the cancer charity.
They have also raised money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
Tony Roche, founding member of the Bagot Arms Golf Society told Erdington Local: “Mental health issues can affect anyone and can be caused by several factors. Suicide continues to be three times more common in men than in women.”
Steven Smith, also a founding member and Pype Hayes resident, told: “Since our inception in 2009, we have always felt it important that we try to raise money for charities. It is an important part of our society.
“We have a day upcoming in July, which is fully booked, with 60 golfers in attendance and all 18 holes of the course generously sponsored by local businesses.”
The society are still actively raising as much as they can as the event nears.
Steven added: “We have recently set up a JustGiving page. We set an initial target of £1,000 and we have already hit £735 and it would be great if any of your readers could help.”
Words by Ed King / Pics by Claire Taylor – with additional images of Taking Flight by Andrew Moore
On Saturday 17 September, The Festival of Flying came to a close on Castle Vale – following months of community engagement, creative workshops, and inspiring sessions encouraging people on the North Birmingham estate to realise their ambitions and reach for the skies.
Told through high energy dance, music, smoke, fire, and aerial movement, Taking Flight tells the tale of the evil ‘destroyers’, a wild bunch of greedy wrongdoers who are stealing all the natural resources from the planet. But just as a butterfly emerges from its cocoon, destruction never truly wins where hope lies…
For a sneak peak of the Taking Flight, check out the PICTURE GALLERY below for images from the spectacular show that closed The Festival of Flying on Saturday 17 September.
Led by Active Arts, The Festival of Flying was a continuous programme of community engagement on Castle Vale – encouraging people across the estate to explore exciting new ideas and creative adventures, combining arts and engineering.
The Festival of Flying followed the foundations stones laid by The Butterfly Effect project in 2015, where Active Arts Castle Vale explored how small actions on the estate can lead to big changes
Ending on a day of family fun and spectacle, The Festival of Flying closed with a one day event on the grounds on Greenwood Academy – starting with an afternoon Community Showcase with local talent performing on stage, including Castle Vale dance groups Centre Stage and Mini Movers.
Then at 7pm, hundreds of people gathered for the world première of Taking Flight – produced by critically acclaimed performance company Highly Sprung, in partnership with Active Arts Castle Vale and commissioned and written as part of The Festival of Flying project.
Taking Flight featured a cast of trained acrobatic performance theatre professionals from Highly Sprung, alongside local dancers and performers – including Castle Vales’s own Charlotte Dodds, who has travelled the world performing in theatre, film, and TV shows from the UK to New Zealand.
Charlotte Dodd told Erdington Local: “I have lived on Castle Vale most of life, and when I worked with Highly Sprung I gained a lot of confidence in myself and my work as a performer.
“They showed me that it is possible to have a career in the arts, and at the time that was a big thing for me. They believed in me.
“Coming back to perform on Castle Vale (at The Festival of Flying) and give something back to the community with feels very rounded. It feels like a journey has been complete.”
Check out the PICTURE GALLERIES below for a look at The Festival of Flying Community Showcase, and the live debut performance of Taking Flight.
Watch Taking Flight online today at 7pm:
PICTURE GALLERY (1): The Festival of Flying – Community Showcase / Claire Taylor
PICTURE GALLERY (2): The Festival of Flying – Taking Flight / Claire Taylor and Andrew Moore
To know more about The Festival of Flying and other projects from Active Arts, email Active Arts Project Director Claire Marshall on www.activearts.wordpress.com
It was sad to say farewell to our greatest and longest serving monarch last month. Queen Elizabeth II was loved by the people of our country and the Commonwealth, with her incredible reign lasting more than 70 years.
In my tribute speech in Parliament, I praised her devotion, integrity and service that should be an inspiration to us all. On behalf of the people of Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale, I extended our deepest condolences to the King and the Royal Family. As the Elizabethan era ends, the dawn breaks on the reign of King Charles III. God save the King.
Now that the period of National mourning has ended, politics is back on the agenda. The rising cost of everyday household goods and energy bills is being felt across our community, and more increases are expected.
The impact is already being felt. I’ve been hearing some heart-breaking stories as local families struggle to cope with soaring costs. A father told me how he keeps his gas and electricity off so that he can save the money to keep his daughter and grandchildren warm.
Recently I delivered food parcels to someone who had been forced to choose between heating and eating. The challenges our community is facing are echoed across the country, and we desperately need real leadership to steer us through this crisis.
In early September, Conservative Party members chose Liz Truss to become our new Prime Minister. Hard working families across Erdington, Kingstanding and Castle Vale will be looking to her new Government for help.
But the Tories’ ‘trickle-down economics’ does nothing for our local community and it is scandalous that our new PM has chosen to prioritise tax cuts for the richest.
The Government’s recent mini budget completely fails struggling families who are trying to cope with the cost-of-living crisis.
The cost of their decision to cut taxes and borrow more, instead of raising money by taxing the huge profits that are being made by energy companies, will be felt for generations to come.
A campaign is underway to give local MMA fighter Leon Edwards a ‘historic figure of Birmingham’ blue plaque and official key to the city – after the Erdington raised and trained athlete became UFC World Welterweight Champion earlier this year.
Since winning the world crowing fight in August ’22, a portrait of Edwards has been painted onto the old Maplin site mural by Six Ways Island – which identifies all the aspects of Erdington people can be proud of.
But now an online petition wants to further recognise the athlete’s local ties and global achievements and see the ‘real life Rocky’ and ‘inspiration to everyone’ honoured in his adopted hometown with a key to the city and a blue plaque installed in Erdington.
Leon Edwards was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved with his brother Fabian to Birmingham when he was a teenager – training at the now closed MMA gym on Erdington High Street.
In the early hours of Sunday 12 August, Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards created sporting history by beating Kamaru Usman to win the coveted UFC world title in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Previously Edwards had suffered set back on his was to become World Champion, with four key fights cancelled due to the athlete testing positive for Covid-19.
His last fight with Belal Muhammad in March 2021 was also halted after Edwards accidentally poked his opponent in the eye in the second round – with the injury causing the fight to be stopped and declared ‘no contest’.
But after beating Californian Nate Diaz in June 2021, the UFC announced Edwards would be in line for a title fight with Kamaru Usman. The pair had met in the Octagon before, with Edwards eventually being outwrestled by Usman – but after the August fight the Brummie brawler left with the coveted champion’s belt.
The UFC Welterweight Championship is one of the most keenly contested belts in combat sports, with Leon Edwards the only UK champion and the second UK fighter ever to win a UFC belt.
‘Leon is a role model for the younger generation to show dedication, being respectful and hard work determination pays off.
‘I propose that Birmingham City Council install a historic figure of Birmingham blue plaque for Leon Edwards only the 2nd ever British World UFC Champion. Also Leon should be given a key to the City of Birmingham.’
Commenting on the petition page feed, Rachel Walker states: “I’m Erdington born and bred, this Gentleman is an inspiration”. Whilst John Howard adds: “Hats off to the world champion from Erdington.”
There are over 100 blue plaques dedicated to people and places across Birmingham, awarded by The Birmingham Civic Society. Other blue plaques in Erdington have been presented in recognition of GP and physician George Boddington, and the world renowned Mothers rock and live music venue.
The blue plaque scheme, which runs nationally, has also come under recent criticism in Birmingham for its significant of lack of people with Black or Asian heritage being recognised.
Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by The Recovery Foundation
On Monday 10 October, people across Erdington will be finding special shoe shaped keyrings –attached to a postcard telling someone’s real life mental health story, with a message of hope from them to others.
Organised by The Recovery Foundation, an Erdington based mental health charity, the ‘I walked it… you share it’ campaign was launched on World Mental Health Day 2022 – marking the international awareness day with 50 colourful packages of hope hidden in accessible public places.
According to the World Health Organisation, ‘close to 1 billion people have a mental health disorder’ – with limited accessibility to resources, support, and ‘quality mental health services’.
Using first-hand stories, The Recovery Foundation’s ‘I walked it… you share it’ campaign aims to encourage an open discussion on mental health – and show people dealing with mental health issues there is always ‘hope’ and ‘living well’ with mental illness is a possibility.
The shoe shaped key rings are a nod to the journey people go on when facing mental health challenges, with the postcards containing personal and inspiring accounts of how they can be overcome.
Anyone who finds a keyring and postcard will be invited to take a picture of their discovery and share it online, tagging in the social media information for both The Recovery Foundation and Erdington Local – alongside the campaign hashtag #trfwalkedit
Janelle Smith, The Recovery Foundation Youth & Community Director, previously told Erdington Local: “I had this idea about six months ago, and now with World Mental Health Day around the corner it’s a great time to help people share their stories with the world.
“I’d love this to encourage people to share their stories and find hope.”
Registered with the charity commission in 2020, The Recovery Foundation was set up after founder Emma Sitole overcame her own mental health challenges following a diagnosis for Schizo-Affective Disorder in 2007.
With the charity’s key message being one of ‘hope’, Emma Sitole explains on The Recovery Foundation’s website: ‘…if I was able to ﬁnd hope and use it to grow my recovery, maybe others could too?’
The Recovery Foundation recently ran a series of successful art workshops in both Sorrell Park and at the Secret Art Studio Space (SASS) – led by the charity’s Creative Arts Director, Angela Chapman.
With their art showcase still on display at SASS, located downstairs at the Central Square Shopping Centre on Erdington High Street and displaying over 100 pieces of original artwork, The Recovery Foundation are looking to continue their engagement and art programmes.
Speaking to Erdington Local at the launch of the exhibition, Emma Sitole told: “We trialled Art in Parks last year, which was really successful, and off the back of that people were saying they’d love something that explored different techniques and looked into different things.
“Angela (Chapman), our Creative Arts Director, put together a programme and we’ve seen about 50 people come through our doors with these workshops.
“It’s a privilege to walk alongside people and see them discover they’re really creative.”
Witton Lodge Community Association’s (WLCA) plans to redevelop the old Erdington Baths into a vibrant ‘Enterprise Hub’ are set to receive £795,000 from Birmingham City Council.
Announced today, the City will be allocating over three quarters of a million pounds from its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) fund – to help repair the old public bath’s roof and allow WLCA to manage operations from the site.
The significant investment from Birmingham City Council follows a recent £2m commitment from the West Midlands Combined Authority, who pledged the money as part of its 2018 brownfield and housing delivery programme.
With further support from Birmingham City Council, the ambitious project – which would create jobs and opportunities for new business in the heart of Erdington – will be part a key of the revised Levelling Up Fund application which could bring millions to Erdington High Street.
As he approved today’s grant, Birmingham City Council Leader Cllr Ian Ward said: “For generations, the baths were a much-loved facility for the people of Erdington, and this is an important step in the efforts to give this historic building a new lease of life right at the heart of the community.
“I’m delighted we are working alongside Witton Lodge Community Association to transform the old baths building on Mason Road and this exciting project is a key part of the overall Levelling Up Fund bid for Erdington High Street, which will bring the community together, support local businesses and improve accessibility to wider employment opportunities for the residents of Erdington.”
Erdington MP Paulette Hamilton, who has worked with the City Council to develop the Erdington High Street Levelling Up Fund bid, added: “This funding is fantastic news. I hope it will kick start our plans for a brand new community and enterprise hub in Erdington run by Witton Lodge Community Association, who do amazing work locally.
“The new hub would bring enormous benefits for local people by providing employment opportunities, helping to develop skills and offering space for small businesses to develop and grow.
“The Council’s decision to help fund this project should send a message to Ministers about how committed we are to transforming Erdington High Street. We want to make the area a destination again, and now we need the Government to back our Levelling Up bid to make that a reality.”
Witton Lodge Community Association Chief Officer Afzal Hussain told Erdington Local: “We’re deeply grateful to the Council for its support and funding to kickstart Phase 1 works on the Erdington Enterprise Hub.
“The funding will enable us to refurbish the roof and entrance area and actively engage local residents, entrepreneurs and businesses to showcase and shape plans on the ambitious project.
“We have already secured funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority and with planning approval also in place, we’re now only waiting on the Government to approve Erdington’s Levelling Up bid. Fingers crossed!”
For more on the new Enterprise Hub visit www.erdingtonbaths.webflow.io
“If there is a refugee, we are all going to welcome him or her in our school – because we support refugees and we want more refugees to join our safe and caring and loving country.”
On Friday 23 September, children at Abbey Catholic Primary School in Erdington took part in a nationwide campaign to ‘Fill the Skies with Hope’ and send a message to the newly appointed Prime Minister, Liz Truss, over the UK’s policies on refugees.
The whole school engaged in the special event, making orange paper aeroplanes carrying messages of support and solidarity and sending them into the skies at the same time.
Led by Abbey Principal, Mr McTernan, all children and classes gathered together in the school playground at 2:30pm – launching 420 paper aeroplanes in unison to show the school’s support for refugees and displaced people.
The ‘Fill the Skies with Hope’ campaign – coordinated by the national coalition Together with Refugees – saw schools, community groups, and local organisations across the country make their own paper aeroplanes and launch them in a ‘Day of Action’ on Friday 23 September.
Together with Refugees organised the ‘Fill the Skies with Hope’ campaign to directly challenge the British Government about the colloquially called Rwanda Plan, where people identified by the UK as illegal immigrants or asylum seekers are relocated to Rwanda.
The Rwanda Plan was signed into law by the then Home Secretary Priti Patel, and Rwandan foreign minister Vincent Biruta on 13 April 2022 – with the current Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, now overseeing the scheme.
Together with Refugees was founded by Asylum Matters, British Red Cross, Freedom from Torture, Rainbow Migration, Refugee Action, Refugee Council, and Scottish Refugee Council.
Abbey Catholic Primary School is part of the Birmingham School of Sanctuary Network, committed to ‘promoting welcome, inclusion and awareness of the problems faced by people seeking sanctuary.’ – with the school’s curriculum embracing the issues around refugees and displaced people.
Ahead of the paper aeroplane launch, children from Year 4 had been involved in lessons and learning around refugees all day – including reading Kate Milner’s illustrated children’s book, My Name is Not Refugee.
“It (My Name is Not Refugee) was about a boy who had to flee his country because of war and his mum was saying they will call you refugee,” explained Henry Bradington (4LD).
“At the start we learned what our names mean, so we could not call refugees refugees, but to call them by their name,” told Benedict Abraham (4LD). “I learnt not to label people but to call them by their own names,” added Ava White (4CC)
“We also learnt how people in India, 5 million people, had to flee because of natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and droughts,” told Victoria Gabriella (4LD).
Year 4 Teacher and Year 3/4 Pastoral Lead, Miss Doyle, added: “We’re a school of sanctuary and they’ve (the children) have been immersed in that entire journey.
“I think it’s so important in this multicultural society not only do they understand refugees and their position, but that they are embracing it and they are welcoming… that they don’t have those stereotypes and are not afraid of it.”
Children at Abbey Catholic Primary ‘Fill the Skies with Hope’ – Friday 23 September
St Barnabas Church in Erdington are inviting members of the public to attend a public consultation to discuss plans to renovate the churchyard.
Held at St Barnabas on Thursday 29 September, the drop in session will be free to attend – with the Erdington High Street based church keen to hear from as many local residents as possible.
Plans to renovate the churchyard have been discussed internally at St Barnabas for several months, with ambitious ideas on how to turn the dilapidated areas into vibrant public spaces that better serve the local community.
A poster advertising the public consolation explains how St Barnabas want to create ‘a safe and beautiful place that benefits people and wildlife’.
St Barnabas’s churchyard has been known as a hot spot for street drinkers, drug taking, and anti-social behaviour, with the plans for renovation hoping an ‘improved churchyard means better links for local people to use and visit it.’
Current plans include a special memorial tree, a stone ‘labyrinth’ and ‘focal space’, art murals, and areas for the public to sit and reflect.
Reverend Emma Sykes at St Barnabas told Erdington Local: “Our church sits at the heart of the High Street and we want the churchyard to be a place of peaceful reflection as well as a safe and green space that benefits all those who use it.
“We know there are challenges ahead as it’s going to be a long and costly project to restore the currently unsafe parts and reform the whole area, but we are excited that we’re already making positive steps and there are reachable goals in sight.
“We’ve engaged with specialist consultants and with help from our support partners, ideas for the future plans include living memorials, wildlife areas, education trails for children, historical insights, improved lighting, benches and a community space which could be used for outdoor church services, activities and other events.
“All this is against the backdrop of respecting all those who are at rest in the churchyard and their families and loved ones.”
First built as a chapel of ease in 1823, St Barnabas is a Grade II listed building designed by Thomas Rickman – a self taught architect who was a major figure in the 19th century Gothic Revival movement.
Badly damaged in a suspected arson attack in 2007, which destroyed the roof and all but one of its famed stained glass windows, St Barnabas underwent major renovation work to its building in 2011-12.
The churchyard is no longer available for public burial and contains 66 graves to service men and women from both the Great War and World War II.
Reverend Emma Sykes added: “The public consultation will be an important opportunity for people to come along and tell us what they think of the plans and we can answer questions.
“We continue to be grateful to all those who have supported us so far and we want to bring on board more people from the local community as we move forward as together, we can make very positive changes.”
For more on St Barnabas visit www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk
123 new homes have been officially launched on Castle Vale this week, at an event honouring the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) women and girls that supported the WWII war effort at Castle Bromwich Aerodrome.
The Point, a new housing estate built on the old Greenwood Academy site, has been delivered through a partnership with Birmingham City Council, The Pioneer Group, and commercial property developers Lovell Homes.
Selected roads on the new estate have been named after the ATA women and girls who bravely flew the Spitfires, bombers, and fighter planes from Castle Brom during the Second World War – often learning to fly each new plane from basic training and pilot notes handed to them on the way to the aircraft.
Those honoured include Mary Ellis – one of the last surviving British women pilots from the Second World War, who flew over 1,000 planes of 76 different types, including Harvards, Hurricanes, Spitfires, and Wellington bombers.
Eleanor Wadsworth – one of the RAF’s ‘Spitfire women’, who became a member of ATA at 25 and flew 22 different types of aircraft, including the Hawker Hurricane and Spitfire, amassing 590 flying hours, 430 of which were solo.
Also remembered was Joy Lofthouse – who flew Spitfires and bombers for the Air Transport Auxiliary and learnt to fly 38 different types of aircraft after joining ATA in December 1943.
In honour of these brave women, whose long unrecognised role in the WWII war effort changed the face of the UK’s modern military, roads on The Point estate have been named: Ellis Crescent, Wadsworth Knoll, and Lofthouse Vale.
The late Robin Corbett, Baron Corbett of Castle Vale, was also remembered with Corbett Boulevard named in his honour.
Friends and families attended a special event at The Point’s marketing office, on School Close, off Farnborough Road, Castle Vale – joined by Squadron Leader Chris Wilson (RAF Cosford), and representatives of the Air Cadets, Royal Airforce Association, and the partnership organisations responsible for delivering the development.
Opening the launch event, Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust Principal Housing Officer Gill Beveridge was joined by Castle Vale Cllr Ray Goodwin (Lab) – handing flowers to the first BCC and Pioneer Group residents, Antoinette Thompson and Aston Russell, and celebrating the “heroes” of WWII and “what they did to bring peace to this world.”
Speaking on behalf of Mary Ellis, who “started to learn to fly whilst she was still a schoolgirl”, her family further recalled how: “The Spitfire was Mary’s favourite plane, it was beautiful for her to fly and she had wonderful memories.
“She used river and roads for navigation, and it’s wonderful that we’ve used roads (named after the ATA women and girls) to come here and see this development.”
In a message from Joy Lofthouse’s daughter, read by a family friend and representative of the Fly to Help charity, people at the launch event heard how the 18 year old Lofthouse answered a call out for female pilots despite having “never been near an aeroplane in her life.”
Her daughter’s message continued: “Joy was an inspiration to me; her motto was ‘I can, I must, I will’ – and into her mid 90’s she did just that.
“I hope that if a young gild sees the street name, she might be curious as to who Joy Lofthouse was, and when she reads the story she might look up into the skies, see an aeroplane, and think – I can do that.”
Squadron Leader Chris Wilson, whose base at RAF Cosford would have fitted many of the planes coming off the Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, told the crowd:
“During the Battle of Britain we were always short of pilots, so what we needed to do is find other people who could fly the aircraft but who maybe couldn’t fight on the front line.
“So, the Air Transport Auxiliary came into being… and these amazing women would get in these aircrafts and fly them wherever they were told to fly them.
“They would walk to that aircraft with the pilots notes for that aircraft type – telling them things like stall speed, handling characteristics, what did it tended to like to do on take off. How would it bite you… and potentially kill you.
“So, to be here today and to know that you are taking the steps to keep recognising these people, is really, really, really good and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The Point is a partnership development of 123 new homes on Castle Vale, with over 50% of the houses allocated to address the city’s growing social housing crisis.
Out of the 123 new homes at The Point, 64 will be made available for social housing – addressing the waiting lists held by both Birmingham City Council (BCC) and The Pioneer Group. The remaining 59 will be sold on the commercial market.
The Pioneer Group Chief Executive Officer, Simon Wilson, told Erdington Local: “We all know social housing is in huge demand – Birmingham City Council’s waiting list is mirrored by our own – so to provide beautiful new build homes in the heart of Castle Vale feels fantastic.
“We’ve got an allocation policy which does prioritise local people; we recognise people on Castle Vale want to stay on Castle Vale.
“But equally we know there’s a huge demand and need, and we’re really happy to get this development over the line.”
Squadron Leader Chris Wilson at launch of The Point, Castle Vale