Edition number 33; 30 October 2009

Welsh sport: saying no to the afterglow
The Sports Council for Wales has launched its annual review called Raising Our Game. They seem very chipper about it, with chair Philip Carling claiming: “It has been a great year for Welsh sport and our athletes. Now we must look ahead to 2012 and maximize the benefits that the London Olympic and Paralympic Games will bring.” Chief executive Huw Jones weighed in with: “Grassroots initiatives are going from strength to strength and are succeeding in getting more and more youngsters into physical activity.” Jones the Sport also reckons: “As a progressive organisation, the Sports Council will not stand still in the afterglow of these successes. We have jumped the first hurdle of a long race to activate the nation and we are committed to carry on with that assignment.” Way to mix metaphors, Huw bach.

Two British institutions walk into a museum
The Cartoon Museum in London is hosting two concurrent exhibitions, the combination of which serves to demonstrate the breadth of British humour. First up is a display of cartoons from The Oldie, Richard Ingrams’s monthly magazine that purports to stand as “a veritable Private Eye for grown ups”, including work by some of the most celebrated cartoonists of our times. Opening on 4 November is a major exhibition commemorating thirty years of Viz, a magazine first published by Chris Donald, his 15-year-old brother Simon, and old school friend Jim Brownlow from the back bedroom of the Donald family home in Jesmond, Newcastle. Featuring such modern heroes as Roger Mellie – the Man on the Telly, Sid the Sexist, the Fat Slags and Johnny Fartpants, Viz became a publishing and cultural phenomenon. The ‘30 Years of Viz’ exhibition celebrates the art, irreverence and brilliant bad taste of Viz Comic, and includes more than 80 original drawings featuring all the key characters. While Viz continues in the tradition of Hogarth to, as the museum puts it, illustrate “the human capacity for squalor, self-destruction and self-delusion”, the Viz team is under no illusions of their place in history. As Graham Dury, one of the longstanding artist/editors admits, “We pride ourselves on the fact that you're no cleverer when you’ve read Viz. You might have had a few laughs but you’ve not learned anything.” www.cartoonmuseum.org

Growing a business under glass
Twig Trading of Lamberhurst in Kent recently won the contract for the maintenance of what has been heralded as “the largest, most high-tech commercial greenhouse complex the UK has ever seen”. The 91 hectare site represents “an £80m investment in the production of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers” for owners Fresco Group. “We have planted in the region of 150,000 trees and shrubs,” said Twig’s David Eyre. “We also seeded much of the site with native calcareous grasses to encourage wildlife and to help reinstate a large area of chalk grassland which is in decline in the UK.” And he’s bought a new tractor.

Good grass in Norfolk
King’s Lynn can boast three state-of-the-art 3G artificial turf football pitches thanks in part to the Football Foundation and WREN. The £307,000 project only took ten weeks to complete and, in a move surely designed to counter today’s celebrity culture, was opened by the mayor who kicked balls past the Lynn FC reserve goal keeper for the camera(s). 

Water under a bridge for the ODA
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) is letting everyone know it is still here with the release of pictures that show “the good progress being made in the construction of a world-class white water canoe centre in Broxbourne for the London 2012 Games”.  After the Games the venue will be owned, funded and operated by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority as a sporting and leisure facility for canoeing and white-water rafting, as well as a major competition and training venue for elite events. ODA chief executive, David Higgins, said: “We are making good progress at Broxbourne.”

Four wheels good, two wheels a possibility
Organisers of the International Caravan and Motorhome 2009 held at the NEC in Birmingham were buoyed by an increase of more than 10% in footfall on last year, with the top five caravan manufacturers all reporting strong sales. One of them, Jim Hibbs of Coachman, went so far as to claim that the revival in the industry’s fortunes is benefiting many sectors of the UK economy. “Caravanning is a UK success story,” he said. “We are starting to use British businesses for components because the euro exchange rate means that overseas suppliers have lost their cost advantage.” And the boom in sales will only be good for tourism, if clogging up the nation’s byways can ever be a selling point. 

The Australian male: officially under threat
Myths surrounding the bronzed, surf-savvy Aussie may be killing Australian men, who are nine times more likely to drown than women during a seaside trip, according to a new report from Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA). Their spokesman Matt Thompson reckoned: “Men just never seem to learn when it comes to surf safety. Arrogance, bravado and an inflated sense of their surf swimming ability are a lethal combination and the statistics speak for themselves. Australian men need to learn the limits of their ability.”

Affordable swim school package from the STA
The Swimming Teachers’ Association has introduced a new affordable support package for its STAmark quality accreditation programme. From 1 January 2010 the STA will be offering swim schools the opportunity to sign up to the STAmark programme and be accredited for complying with recognised industry standards from £30 a month.


News only just in

In his role as mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced plans for a £7.5 million programme of investment in community sports facilities as part of his aim “to make Londoners more active and healthy”. Leisure-net Solutions, a provider of “customer insight to the active leisure sector”, is taking its mystery shop and call services into the spa and therapy industry. A company called Beach Hut Resorts has announced plans to develop a scheme of luxury beach huts that will sleep between four and six people, each with a separate bedroom, fully fitted kitchen, bathroom, sitting area and 24-hour concierge service. And the location of this riparian nirvana? Whitley Bay. Esporta Health and Racquets Club, Lichfield will be using ZigZag dance mats in the club’s newly refurbished family area. Wave Leisure Trust Ltd, which is based in East Sussex, has published its five-year vision plan, which is titled Wave Goodbye to Inactivity, on its website at www.waveleisure.co.uk.

Meanwhile, in Olympicland…

The combined total construction workforce for the Olympic Park and Village ‘big build’ is now 7,270. Boris Johnson and the Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson, have met to discuss and share ideas about the Olympics, climate change and the challenges faced by big cities in a global economy. The first building on the Olympic Park has been completed: a new primary electrical substation. LOCOG is inviting expressions of interest from live events production companies to provide “the production services” for the opening and closing ceremonies for Olympic and Paralympic Games. Saturday 31 October marks 1,000 days to go until the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. The Olympic Park power lines project has been awarded the Project of the Year award by the Association for Project Management. Construction has begun on the basketball arena. Thomas Cook becomes a Tier 2 supporter and LOCOG’s 23rd domestic sponsor. Biometric hand and iris scanners have been installed for workers to access the Olympic Park construction site as part of planned measures to enhance safety and security. The Olympic Board has agreed the proposal to use existing facilities at Wembley Arena to host badminton and rhythmic gymnastics rather than build a temporary venue on the North Greenwich Peninsula but good progress is being made on the white water canoe centre in Broxbourne. More than 300,000 wetland plants are being grown in Thetford, Norfolk for the 100 hectare Olympic Park. Results of a survey of Greenwich residents carried out by London Assembly member Gareth Bacon showed that 68% of respondents were opposed to the equestrian Olympic events in Greenwich Park.


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PUT YOUR IT ON YOUR SHIRT: The 38 pictograms that will be used to represent the sports and disciplines at London 2012 have been revealed as part of the many events marking the ‘1,000 days to go’ point on the London 2012 timeline. The diagrams will be used for signage, on tickets and on the field of play during the Games and the London 2012 organisers are confident that the  pictograms will become “an important ‘wayfinder’ tool for spectators”. Pictograms were first used at the 1948 Games in London and have become a regular feature of the Olympic movement since the Tokyo Games in 1964. They will come in two formats – a silhouette design and a “dynamic design” – and a full set for the Paralympics will be launched later in the year. Pictured sporting their new daywear are David Davies Alastair, Brownlee and Simon Matell, Lisa Dobriskey, Phillips Idowu and Christine Ohuruogu.


MOORING RIGHTS IN THE DIARY FOR 2010: Over 80 people representing 22 organisations attended the recent launch of the Inland Waterways Association National Festival and Boat Show. The show will be held at Beale Park at Pangbourne on the River Thames during the August Bank Holiday weekend 2010, not a peacock’s cry from Lower Basildon, the base of former industry leviathan ILAM. West Berkshire Council’s Geoff Findlay OBE welcomed the organising team and said that the council was honoured to have been chosen to host the festival and the launch. The Leisure Review hopes to have its own craft at the event and may even be offering trips from Goring, past ILAM House (as it now isn’t), to the festival site for members of the First 500.

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