NEWS: Evening of Creativity to headline Artume String Quartet on Friday 15 July

Words by Ed King

Artume String Quartet will be headlining this month’s Evening of Creativity event, to be held at Oikos Café on Friday 15 July – as organised by the Erdington Arts Forum.

Made up of classically trained musicians, the Artume String Quartet have been performing together for nearly seven years – since they first met and began playing together whilst studying at the prestigious Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Now touring across the UK, playing classical concerts, weddings, and high profile corporate events, Artume String Quartet’s line up consists of Leonie Plummer and Lucy Armstrong on violin, Holly Coombes on viola, and Jo Rottenbury on cello.

Coming to headline the Evening of Creativity, the quartet will be playing music from their favourite folk repertoire; a series of original arrangements based on Nordic folk tunes.

Cello player, Jo Rottenbury, told: “We are really looking forward to performing tracks from the Danish String Quartet: ‘Wood Works’ and ‘Last Leaf’. It’s not often we get the opportunity to play folk music together amid our busy schedule.

“There’s a bit of everything in this set – some calmer pieces that build up and then just outright crazy ones. They’re so much fun to play, and we hope we can get some of you stamping along and dancing.

“We’re really excited to bring these beautiful and exciting pieces to the Oikos Evening of Creativity. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.”

The Evening of Creativity is Erdington’s long running monthly music and Art showcase, which has scene acts form all across the world come to play in Erdington.

Launched in 2017, the Evening of Creativity has never missed a month – making it one of the longest running music and arts promotions in the city.

Even during lockdown, organisers established a live streaming service and filmed the events on a closed set the Secret Art Studio Space on Erdington High Street.

Now a permanent fixture on the city’s cultural calendar, the family friendly events at Oikos often sell out – with organisers encouraging people to buy advance tickets through a special Eventbrite page: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/evening-of-creativity-july-2022-tickets-377819808217

This month’s Evening of Creativity will be held at Oikos Café on Erdington High Street from 6:30pm on Friday 15 July, with advance tickets costing £4.90 to £5.98

The event will also be broadcast live via the Erdington Arts Forum Facebook page.

Artume String Quartet showreel 2022

Evening of Creativity – promotional video

For more on the Evening of Creativity and Erdington Arts Forum visit www.facebook.com/ErdingtonArts

NEWS: Commonwealth Games 2022 mascot Perry the Bull visits Wilson Stuart School

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics supplied by Wilson Stuart School

On 18 May, Wilson Stuart School were lucky enough to be visited by Perry the Bull – the official mascot for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, to be hosted in Birmingham this summer.

Perry was well received by all as he moved around the school meeting and greeting both staff and students.

Perry first visited Bluesky nursery and Primary, dancing, skipping, and giving out ‘hi-fives’ with the students at every given moment before then making his way across school to secondary where he was greeted with yet more cheers and happy faces.

Wilson Stuart School in Perry Common is a special school that caters for 229 pupils aged 2-25 years.

The SEND students fully embraced the experience and were able to get photos with the Commonwealth mascot ahead of the Games. Students further took part in an action packed morning of activities, including a ‘find Perry’ orienteering course, medal design and athlete growth mindset workshops.

The visit from Perry the Bull “helped capture the family, fun and friendly feeling of the games and to get the students geared up to Birmingham hosting the games later this year,” said Tom Elmes, Associate Head of Secondary at Wilson Stuart School.

He added: “There was a real buzz of excitement from the students about our special visitor, it was great to see both staff and students interacting with Perry and the projects that we are part of are now starting to take shape ahead of the games this summer.”

Perry the Bull is a unique mascot for the Commonwealth Games 2022, named after both Perry Barr – where the main bulk of the Games will be held – and the Bull Ring Market.

His appearance is based upon the design of 11-year-old Emma Lou, winner of a national design competition that took place in 2020.

Artist in residence at Wilson Stuart School, Benny Semp, has also been working with students on a wall hanging to act as a legacy piece for the Games.

The Commonwealth Games will take place in venues across Greater Birmingham, the Midlands, and London between 28 July and 8 August.

For more on Wilson Stuart School visit www.wilsonstuart.co.uk

For more on the Commonwealth Games visit www.birmingham2022.com

NEWS: Castle Vale to host first Neighbourhood Festival Site for Commonwealth Games 2022

Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan

Castle Vale will host the first in a series of Commonwealth Games Neighbourhood Festival Sites, as organisers set up suburban satellite events across the city to allow those who can’t attend the main events to enjoy the Games.

On 28-29 July, Farnborough Fields will host the very first Neighbourhood Festival Site event, coinciding with the official opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games 2022.

Further Festival Sites will be set up in Victoria Square and Smithfield – the current site of Birmingham’s Wholesale Market.

The Neighbourhood Festival Sites will celebrate the sport and culture of the Games, whilst providing food, drink, and entertainment – allowing a citywide audience to access and enjoy some of the key sporting moments on a big screen, alongside a programme of live performances from artists and community groups.

Organised by Birmingham based ‘female-led, multidisciplinary arts and events producing house’ OPUS (Outdoor Places Unusual Spaces) each Neighbourhood Festival Site is being produced by professionals who either live or have strong links to the location.

Festival producer for the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Festival Site, Lateesha Johnson, told Erdington Local: “We really want to see the Festival Sites reflect the spirit and culture of the neighbourhood they are located in.

“We’re encouraging all local residents to come and participate with workshops, celebrate a variety of art and culture and enjoy some fantastic cultural cuisine. All sites will act as a welcoming space to enjoy the Games and give local people an opportunity to embrace and celebrate this historic event.”

As Farnborough Fields is the first location in a series of seven Neighbourhood Festival Sites, and running alongside the official opening ceremony for the Games, the theme for the Castle Vale event is ‘The Warm Up’.

The Farnborough Fields festivities will be a local starting point for people to ‘discover a new interest, skill or local artist and spend two days immersed in the excitement of the Games’.

Recently elected Caste Vale Councillor Ray Goodwin, and CEO of Spitfire Services, said: “the Commonwealth Games mean a lot for the people of Birmingham, not just because it is bringing in a lot of new career opportunities and revenue streams but because sport is extremely important for our people.

“I am looking forward to Castle Vale becoming the first Festival Site wherein people will be able to play, enjoy music, meet each other, all in the friendly name of international sports”.

Castle Vale resident Tracey Barrington added: “I love seeing exciting things on the Vale, and a big thing like a Festival Site is just what we need after the difficult time of Covid. Praying for good weather to see Castle Vale come alive.”

The Commonwealth Games, or the ‘friendly games’, were first held in 1930, and take place every four years.

Birmingham will host the main 2022 event at Alexander Stadium, Perry Barr, which like much of the city has undergone extensive renovation, predicted to have cost around £72 million.

As well as other large outdoor spaces and indoor sports venues in Birmingham, the Commonwealth Games will also use venues in Solihull, Coventry, Cannock, Leamington Spa, Warwick, and Wolverhampton, with the furthest venue being at Lee Valley VeloPark in London.

Louise Martin CBE, Commonwealth Games Federation President, adds: “Birmingham is truly the Commonwealth’s city, and we look forward to showcasing its humanity and pride over the coming months and years.”

More details about the Castle Vale Neighbourhood Festival Site are to be announced, for updates direct from the Commonwealth Games visit www.birmingham2022.com

NEWS: Woman arrested on ‘attempted murder’ following vehicle attack on Reservoir Road – man remains in critical condition

Words by Ed King / Pics by Jobe Baker Sullivan

Reservoir Road was shut down today following a disturbance late on Friday night, leading police to cordon off the Erdington/Stockland Green thoroughfare whilst searching for clues.

As confusion grew across the area, with traffic brought to a standstill, West Midlands Police were reticent to issue any information other than the situation “was not fatal.”

Later on, it emerged there had been an ‘attempted murder’ using a vehicle – a 44 year woman has been arrested, whilst a ‘man in his 40’s remain in hospital in critical condition.’

People across the area had seen police presence arrive on Friday night, one Stockland Green resident told Erdington Local: “I saw some flashing lights late last night… but I didn’t think anything of it, there are flashing lights around here all the time.”

Another local resident speculated it may be a hit and run, with someone having wandered into traffic whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

They said: “Most nights, all round the shops, the druggies come and hang out.”

Terry Bracher, who lives on nearby Bleak Hill Road, told Erdington Local: “Whilst walking the dog I saw police and taped off area, but didn’t know what it was.”

Local artist Jennette Hill said: “I saw the police last (Friday) night as I drove through on my way home, at about midnight. I thought it must have been bad.”

Following requests from Erdington Local and other concerned parties, West Midlands Police issued the following statement earlier today: “A woman has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a man has been seriously injured after being hit by a car in Erdington.“

We were called to Reservoir Road at just after 10pm last night (8 October) and found a man with significant head injuries.

“The vehicle left the scene but has since been recovered and a 44-year-old woman has been arrested.

“The woman – who is known to the man – has also been detained on suspicion of driving while unfit through drink or drugs and remains in police custody for questioning. The man in his 40s remains in hospital in a critical condition.

“The road remains closed off while our enquiries continue and anyone with information is urged to get in contact.”

As investigations continue, West Midlands Police are calling to members of the public to come forward with any information that might help shed light on the case.

Stockland Green has just received £432,000 from the Government’s Safer Street initiative, which will be used to tackle street level crime, anti-social behaviour, and public disorder.

Stockland Green stakeholders are in the process of engaging with the community to formulate a Neighbourhood Plan.

The strategy will see local residents, police, strategic partners, and Birmingham City Counmcil join forces and work together to make positive changes in thre area.

West Midlands Police have stated anyone with information about the attack on Reservoir Road can get in touch via Live Chat at www.west-midlands.police.uk or call 101 and quote 20/1792022/21.

NEWS: ‘Hampers by Rosie’ – local mum raises money, lifts spirits, and builds a business during Covid

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics supplied by Rosie Kaur

During the coronavirus pandemic, local NHS nurse and mother of two, Rosie Kaur, has been making luxury baskets and hampers to raffle off and raise money for charity.

Filled with things to pamper and lift people’s spirits, including luxury chocolates and eco-friendly Body Shop products, the care packages quickly became in high demand after Rosie took the first one into work to help raise funds for a local charity.

Now, through the encouragement of family and friends – as well as the demand from colleagues and co-workers, Rosie has now turned her charitable endeavours into her very own business.

Rosie told Erdington Local: “I wanted to do something to cheer people up. It’s been really hard at work for some people, and I noticed that people don’t always think to treat themselves or care for themselves.

“I created hampers filled with candles, chocolates, teddy bears, and creams that I would recommend people in my capacity working as a home consultant [for The Body Shop].”

Rosie has worked as a nurse since 2007 and has been on both the Covid and cancer wards at Queen Elizabeth (QE) hospital in Selly Oak. It was her experience at the QE which inspired her to start creating gift packages.

“You see some horrific cases – I’ve seen really low staff morale. All the nurses were thinking of was Covid, Covid, Covid. The hampers were so people can think of themselves for a bit, in a good way.”

Starting around December 2020, Rosie’s Christmas hampers were raffled off at work and she raised around £80 for Cancer Research UK.

Following an overwhelming response from friends, family, and colleagues, Rosie started to explore the idea of turning her gift baskets into a viable business.

Rosie added: “My dad said to me ‘why don’t you get some business cards?’

“That’s when I started making them (the hampers) for special occasions, for Easter time, birthdays, baby showers – my neighbour Richard for his colleagues at work to raffle for a mental health charity.”

Whist many people have lost their jobs or are struggling to find employment, due to the widespread difficulties faced by businesses during Covid, Rosie has weaved a new enterprise called ‘Hampers by Rosie’ – having recently been working on orders for Father’s Day.

Rosie continues to raise money for charities such as University Hospitals Birmingham and Acorns Children’s Hospice.

To find out more about ‘Hampers by Rosie’ email Rajbinder.sohal@icloud.com  

LOCAL PROFILE: Judy Tullett

Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan / Pics by Ed King

Working in housing for 50 years, Judy Tullett is currently the Community Support Officer for Spitfire Services, Castle Vale.

Known for her work with the social enterprise Upcycle Birmingham and the profitable asset management transfer of Castle Pool, Judy has managed a portfolio of successful endeavours.

Erdington Local caught up with the prominent project manager to find out what inspired her community focus.

Judy was born in the historic town of Bodmin, Cornwall, and graduated from Swansea University with a degree in economics and social sciences.

In 1973, she moved to Birmingham for a course with Birmingham City Council in Housing Management Training.

“It wasn’t as common in those days for a woman to go to University,” remarked Judy. “I worked in environmental health, at a depo, all various different divisions of the housing department. It was a really good grounding.”

After working for Birmingham City Council, Judy did a stint at Tamworth Borough Council’s housing department but soon became “quite frustrated with the local authority set up” – moving to a job with the housing association Trident Group. There she worked on many projects, establishing the first ‘youth foyer’ in Birmingham, a type of housing for people aged 16-25.

“I always think if I didn’t work for Trident I wouldn’t get to work on so many exciting projects,” told Judy. “In your working life – and I’ve been working 50 years – you come across inspirational people.

“I had a role model in an inspiration chief exec at Trident called Nick Morton. I learned so much from him about risk and project management, how to develop something from nothing. He used to say to me ‘if you talk about something long enough, often enough, it will happen’”.

Judy’s role in housing led her to work alongside the Home Office on a special project to support Birmingham’s older Chinese community: “The home office had established there were loads of older Chinese people who could no longer live with their families, that now needed to have supportive elderly accommodation.

“I met amazing people, had to do all sorts of research, getting involved with Chinese networks in Birmingham.”

Working across cultures was something Judy developed a knack for, finding herself in a pivotal role supporting Japanese Toyota engineers who moved to the UK in the mid-90s.

“Japanese people have a completely different culture to the Chinese,” remembered Judy. “We had to learn things that would make the development successful and create an environment of trust. They would call me ‘Judy-san’.”

Judy’s other passion in life is swimming. Erdington Local featured her work with Castle Pool in an article last August, exploring the local authority asset transfer that turned the failing council run swimming baths into a ‘national success story’ run by local residents.

Judy herself is a swimming instructor and she has travelled to competitions in Cyprus, Dubai, France, Tenerife, Spain, and Malta. Judy became a grandmother in March and is looking forward to “teaching our Sienna to swim when she is old enough.”

About to reach the age of 70, Judy explains she has no intention of stopping: “I did try retirement when I was about 65. It wasn’t for me. I found it a difficult challenge. I empathise with people who retire and then think ‘oh, what happens next?’”

In her work for Spitfire Services a lot of Judy’s tasks revolve around Upcycle Birmingham – a charitable initiative set up “to solve the conundrum of people who wanted to get rid of household goods and furniture, and to help poorer families who had just moved to the Vale who didn’t have those things.”

Having been based at Castle Vale Business Park from inception, Upcycle has since moved to St Gerard’s old social club building.

One of the downsides of working at an Upcycle is supressing the inner hoarder. “It is a danger at working in these sort of projects that you take things home you don’t need,” Judy admits.

“We received a Georgian-style side table, painted by one of our volunteers. I thought I’ve got to have that; it would fit nicely in the hall with a few family photos. Although I am under strict instructions from my husband who says: ‘don’t start bringing any more stuff home.’”

Lockdown was difficult for Upcycle as they couldn’t take a lot of donations, having to sanitise and quarantine those that they did.

But as restrictions ease and places start to open again Judy has two words to get the business back up and running: ‘sales’ and ‘donations.’ And never one to rest for too long, Judy’s next mission is to set up a community café from Upcycle which is looking to open in July this year.

“We get regular customers that come in every day,” told Judy. “I can’t wait until they can have a mooch, and then have a brew.”

For more on Upcycle visit www.upcyclebirmingham.org.uk

LOCAL PROFILE: Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan

Rasaq Ibrahim is lead pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington, which formed its first congregation 13 years ago last month. He is also vice chair of Erdington Churches Together, treasurer of Erdington Food Bank, and has recently launched the Street Pastors scheme in Erdington.

Erdington Local caught up with the prolific pastor to learn more about his life and community work across the constituency.

Now in his late 50s, Rasaq Ibrahim is originally from Lagos, Nigeria – born into a Muslim family, he and his father converted in Rasaq’s early life. He trained as a chartered accountant, achieving a first from University of Lagos and a master’s in accountancy and finance at Birmingham City University.

Whilst successful in his studies, Rasaq worked hard at his education: “In Africa, you are either rich or poor – no middle class. I’m from a poor family. I really went through a lot. I struggled to come out of the woodwork, to become somebody.”

Moving to the UK in 2005 under the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, Rasaq Ibrahim came to Britain: “because of my children. I was doing work in Nigeria, I was okay. I became a Chief Inspector for banks, gained a senior career.

“But I wanted my family to have a better future and education. I didn’t want my two boys to go through what I went through.”

Helping to establish the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington in 2008, Rasaq Ibrahim was ordained as a pastor the following year. Originally founded in 1952 in Lagos, RCCG now has over 5 million members worldwide – Pastor Rasaq explains the church’s humble Birmingham beginnings.

“We started at the old swimming baths. After about eight months, we moved to Six Ways Baptist Church and were based there for 10 years.

“We would be there praying, having our service in the afternoon, and then raised some funds for our own church building. The Christadelphian Hall in Erdington was closing down, so went to the housing market to bid for the building – and now we are based there, on Orphanage Road.”

With 100 adult members in Erdington, RCCG has also founded three further ‘Church plants’ across Birmingham – wherein other Christian churches in the same denomination are created thanks to the mother church.

“We are a friendly, family church where everyone is welcome,” explained Pastor Rasaq. “We’re a Pentecostal, evangelical church – we want to show the love of Christ. We show this through our lives, not just through the things that we say.

“We gave birth to RCCG Kingstanding, Sheldon, and our Bulgarian Church.”

With many churches relying on the gathering of people to one place, the coronavirus crisis and lockdowns have drastically affected how they reach their congregation.

The RCCG has continued to meet where it is safe and legal to do so, but also adopted online services to stay in touch with their community.

“We can only have 20 adults in the building on a Sunday for a ‘hybrid service’, livestreaming to Facebook and Zoom as well. We tend to leave two seats for first-time visitors. But we have services Tuesday and Thursday online.”

Outside of his own church, Pastor Rasaq is co-founder of Erdington Food Bank and remains its treasurer. From an initial investment of £1000, the Food Bank has become a breadbasket for Erdington, from its two outlets at Six Ways Baptist Church and George Road Baptist.

“The foodbank started with Churches Together,” told Pastor Rasaq. “Nine years ago, we started very small – 10 churches contributed £100 each. Now we feed 300 people every week in Everyone Erdington. This is a blessed project!”

Pastor Rasaq is also project manager for the RCCG BAME Project, which assists: “those affected by Covid – stress, out of work, troubled, worried, going through challenges.” It employs two external councillors running four sessions per week.

He explained that whilst the RCCG BAME Project has a particular calling to help Black and Asian minorities, it is for everyone: “We council Chinese, Caribbean, Indian, African, English… We’ve never turned anyone down. The project also gives food, separately from Erdington Food Bank.”

Through his role as vice chair of Churches Together, Rasaq has connected and launched many other projects – including most recently the Erdington Street Pastors scheme, covered in the community pages of this newspaper.

Asking him about his hopes for the future, Pastor Rasaq told Erdington Local: “I want to see Erdington come back to life. Everything used to be prosperous, when I came 13 years ago – now I see so many charity shops on the high street, and most businesses are closing.

“16 years ago, I would come to the UK on holiday. On Sundays, on the road, we could feel the presence of God on the street. I want the churches to be filled again.”

For more on the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Erdington visit: www.rccgcraerdington.org

LOCAL PROFILE: Vera Gilbert

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics by Ed King

**Read our LOCAL PROFILE with Vera Gilbert in the March edition of the Erdington Local newspaper, out now**

Once viewed on television screens across the UK, Vera Gilbert is a former broadcast journalist and passionate Erdington activist. Previously working for newspapers and radio, alongside her career in TV, Vera has found a happy home supporting her local church and animating events and festivals in Erdington. Erdington Local took up the chance to relive some great moments with her.

Vera was born in St Vincent and the Grenadines, her home country made her “very happy – I still retain that atmosphere as my little heaven. That sense of community… We were poor, but the people were very loving, very kind.”

Vera moved to Birmingham during her primary school years, first living in Washwood Heath. She attended Hodge Hill Girls School in the 1970s.

Vera’s interested in journalism stemmed from her love of engaging with people. “To this day, I enjoy telling people’s stories. They were always a focus – and because they were a focus for me, it was a real privilege. I loved it. All the quirkiness, the different accents, the peculiarities.”

She studied her undergraduate degree at Birmingham Polytechnic, with her thesis concerning ‘Community Newspapers’. She was prodigious and noticed for her talents early on.

“I remember always having offers. I had an offer from the Evening Mail – I even got a front cover scoop for a local newspaper in Luton! I ended up at BRMB. Ed Doolan was there at the time – Les Ros was there. I was a reporter, sent out with a tape recorder, the old style, and I remember covering the Fireman’s strike.”

Vera continued to work for broadcast companies, including ITV and BBC. She went on to become a much sought-after freelance journalist, presenting content for Nationwide, a news and current affairs programme that ran between 1969 and 1983.

“It was excellent, doing pieces to camera. I did a lot of main stories and many ‘and finally’s. I remember doing something on a nudist beech… and I had to report a piece to camera… I won’t tell you how I managed it!”

Travelling the country in search of stories, Vera visited many places and met many people, including celebrities. One such celebrity was the popular English comedian Rodd Hull, best known for his mischievous hand puppet named Emu. Vera notes being very confused when first meeting him, with Rodd Hull’s material today relying on the same celebrity-embarrassing energy seen in the characters of Sacha Baren Cohen.

She recalled: “He had the bird, which I really saw as a prop. Then I started noticing that this bird was moving. I don’t know why, but I took it was real. If ever the bird moved, I would jerk.

“The bird started to get what I thought as ‘aggressive’ and I backed away – the bird came forward, and I ran and I was screaming! This was all on live TV. I was shouting ‘control the bird! Somebody come to my help!’ I didn’t realize that the crew was filming it all. There are some people that remember that to this day.”

But life in broadcasting was not all glitz and glamour, and Vera lived through a dark times in British history. Black Britons were subject to waves of racism, with slogans such as ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ cemented in the national mindset as an example of such intolerance.

Black women were likely to be only seen in lower paid jobs, as Vera comments: “Back then, as a black woman, the best job you could hope for was nursing, and not even the highest echelons of that.” Vera felt that she had to be “a role model – not like people speak as it now – but, as a black person, you felt you were putting the community on show.”

Vera stopped working as a journalist some 20 years ago but turned instead to her local area. She writes the newsletter for the Erdington United Reformed Church where she takes great pride in finding interesting stories and putting people’s good deeds on higher pedestals.

“I love Erdington. I love the people. I want to do what I can to uphold the area.”

On March 26 at 7pm, Vera is organising an online event called ‘Truth to Tell’ which she says the purpose is “to have conversations where black people talk about their experience, for them to say why they feel supportive of Black Lives Matter and so that people know about racism.”

For more details on ‘Truth to Tell’ email: everyoneerd@gmail.com

LOCAL PROFILE: Lady Sanity

Words by Jobe Baker-Sullivan / Profile pics by Kristine Lakontra

From the Birmingham Music Awards to the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony on Australia’s Golden Coast, Lady Sanity has been performing her songs across the world. With a new single coming out at the end of February, Erdington Local talked to the Birmingham-based musical artist about her Erdington roots and global ambitions.

Lady Sanity has always lived in Erdington, attending Stockland Green School for her secondary education. Despite being passionate about music from an early age, Sanity told how “I have no musicians in the family – me being a musician was a little bit of a curve ball for everyone… Although my grandfather used to take out his harmonica every now and then.”

Her family did, however, expose her to many different musical genres – encouraging the artist to embrace a variety of genres in her own music. “My cousin was showing me Hip Hop over in America. My sister was listening to bands in the UK. Another cousin was listening to Indie and Rock music… A lot of the music I was listening to were fusions of rap.” Sanity even notes Linkin Park as being an early influence.

At aged 12, Lady Sanity got a guitar from Home Bargains – bought for her by her older sister, which was a “cheap, crappy guitar with nylon strings.” Sanity was self-taught, using ‘tabs’ – a type of musical notation system.

Sanity ‘went electric’ aged 14, which was also around the time she was performing her own original music. She fondly remembers her music teacher, Mr Scott, as “very much encouraging me to rap and play guitar…. I was quite a reserved and quiet kid at school!”

Lady Sanity is one of many great musical artists to have come out of Birmingham – producing music inspired by Jazz, Hip-Hop and Grime.

Having played at many venues and events across the city, including Handsworth/Hockley based urban festival The Flyover Show and the Shard End Park hosted Shardfest, Lady Sanity’s first major festival appearance was at Glastonbury 2016.

Sanity entered into a competition called ‘Glastonbury Emerging Talent’, which although she didn’t win, she benefited from immensely: “I was picked up by other bookers to perform smaller stages of the festival – I had three different slots during the weekend. It was an amazing experience”.

She also recalls performing as part of a Hip Hop conference called ‘New Skool Rules’ in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “There were people from America, Canada, UK,” told Sanity. “Artists who came from all around the world – it’s a great weekend to really jam and connect with people.”

A crowning moment for Lady Sanity was performing at the Gold Coast Australia-Birmingham handover ceremony for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, although it came as a surprise for the young artist. 

“I was asked if I was free for a couple of days. I went down to the Hippodrome for an interview and they said they had a gig for me – the Commonwealth Games gig! That was only the second gig that me and the band played together! They offered me a house-band but I wanted to keep my own musicians.”

Covid has been adverse for many musicians, making live gigs impossible – an important source of income for a touring musician like Lady Sanity. She estimates she had some “20-30 gigs cancelled” and numerous, potential last-minute requests unaccounted for: “I finished touring with Sound UK before lockdown, and I even performed with Pee Wee Ellis – he was James Brown’s saxophonist… Some gigs were postponed – I was supposed to tour Belgium.”

Nonetheless, Lady Sanity adapted to cyberspace, performing on many livestream gigs – including one facilitated by The Sunflower Lounge which she took part in “to support this amazing venue so it can stay open”. It wasn’t as enjoyable as the live experience, but for Lady Sanity it was still “good to get out to gig, although it’s not the same as interacting with a crowd”.

But the web is indeed worldwide, and during the coronavirus lockdowns Lady Sanity has “been in contact people around the world. I’m working with an Italian power ballad singer I met over the Internet… Now is the time I can sit down and work on EPs, because I’m not up and down doing shows.”

On a personal level, Sanity also believes the lockdown has allowed her to “slow down… It’s helped me be grateful for my life and family.”

Lady Sanity is now looking forward to a year of gigs-that-should-have-happened, as well as releasing her new single, ‘Love’ – coming out at the end of February 2021.

“It’s about the different aspects of love,” explained the Erdington born and raised artist, “your family, friends, and yourself.”

For more on Lady Sanity find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OfficialSanity

NEWS: Team Cat Rescue and Emre – Erdington’s amazing ‘cyborg cat’

Words by Jobe Baker Sullivan / Pics supplied by Jo Baldwin

Erdington’s very own “cyborg cat” is the new poster boy of a local charity which rehomes abandoned moggies.

Emre, aged four, was adopted by musician Jo Baldwin in 2016 after he was left for dead on the side of a road in Marmais, Turkey.

Prior to this he experienced neutering, the loss of his right eye, and was rapidly using up his nine lives.

Currently recovering well from his latest operation to his humerus, which was restored with a metal rod, Emre is now a marvel of modern science and due to amount of metal in his head has been dubbed a “cyborg cat”.

Jo said: “Although I may have saved his life, it’s fair to say he saved mine; he is boisterous cat, and very popular with the female cats of his neighbourhood.”

Emre has also found a new best friend in Josie, Jo’s black Labrador. Lockdown has been a pleasure for the two.

Jo said: “They both receive lots of attention from their mum, as she’s not out gigging as much anymore – Covid’s meant I’ve had to stay at home.”

You don’t need to go to Turkey to adopt a cat like Emre, however. Team Cat Rescue (TCR) is a Birmingham-based charity that works on “neutering, rescuing, and re-homing abandoned and needy cats and kittens.”

Coordinator, Lynne Buffery, told Erdington Local: “We work closely with local vets to ensure that all the cats in our care are given the best possible start.

“The charity has rehomed around 140 cats since April 2019. The TCR van, or the ‘catmobile’, has clocked-up hundreds of miles more in 2020 than in 2019. No wonder I’m appealing for more support with driving.”

Lynne added: “Covid-19 lockdowns have meant more people had time on their hands and more were working from home.

“But this has been a real positive for TCR, resulting in new volunteers coming on board – joining the various arms of the already 20 plus strong team – fostering, fundraising, publicity, and admin.”

For the purr-fect way to support Team Cat Rescue, or if you would like to rehome a cat yourself, contact: 0121 373 4596 or visit www.teamcatrescue-bham.weebly.com