More children to be put into temporary classrooms

Councillor Peter Martin

A booming population in Elmbridge meant that a lack of school places had become a major concern for the council. I interviewed Surrey’s education boss in March 2010 to find out what was being done. Here is the result, published in the Surrey Advertiser on March 19, 2010.

MORE children could be put into temporary classrooms as pupil numbers in Elmbridge continue to spiral upwards.

Councillor Peter Martin, portfolio holder for schools at Surrey County Council (SCC), admitted the borough was the worst-affected area in the county.

An increased birth rate, more houses being built and an apparent shift away from the private education sector had contributed to the problem, he said.

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Glamorous homes now out of reach for the stars

The Elmbridge area of Surrey is full of A-list celebrities. This story revealed that house prices were climbing so high that many of them were unable to afford to live in the poshest parts of the borough. The full story appeared in the Surrey Advertiser on Friday, January 15, 2010 and on the Get Surrey website later that day. Here is an excerpt:

RUSSIAN oil tycoons and hedge fund managers make up the bulk of owners on the exclusive St George’s Hill estate in Weybridge – a sign that the area may have lost some of the glitz and glamour of past decades.

The estate, once home to celebrities such as Cliff Richard, John Lennon and Tom Jones, is now filled with power brokers from the City and foreign billionaires.

House prices range from £1.5m to £13m and the estate is popular because it offers good security, huge homes on big plots and plenty of privacy.

But houses have gone beyond the grasp of well-known millionaire entertainers and are now being snapped up by expats and top performers from the City.

Simon Ashwell, a director at high-end estate agent Savills, in Weybridge, explained: “The entertainers and sport stars are all gone. We sold Cliff Richard’s house in 2006, Jensen Button has left – they have all gone.

“I think it’s because whereas in other places, houses have gone down in price, prices at St George’s Hill have gone on rising.

“It’s getting beyond the reach of most celebrities.

Buzz building over bee crisis

In this story, I found out that there was widespread concern about the the growing number of bees that have been dying off. This was one of the first stories I wrote for the Star/Courier when the Surrey-Hants Star merged with the Courier, both produced at that time by Guardian Media’s regional newspaper group. The story was published on the Get Hampshire website on November 13, 2008.

Here is an excerpt:

Beekeeping was taught and researched at agricultural colleges across the country, but after funding dried up, there is now only a single professor of apiculture — the study of bees — left.

“The government seems oblivious to the fact that losing bees in this country will affect all the crops, such as fruit crops, because they won’t be pollinated,” Mr Galliver said.

Aldershot barracks fill in for ‘Eastern bloc’ era Moscow buildings in Bond film

Filming for the 22nd Bond film, Quantum of Solace, took place in Aldershot and Farnborough while I was a reporter for the News & Mail. I interviewed local people after the production company gave the go-ahead for participants to reveal their involvement.  It was published on the Get Hampshire website on October 30, 2008.

Cinema-goers from the News area will be able to see some familiar sights when they go to the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

Farnborough Airport and the Bruneval Barracks, in Montgomery Lines, Aldershot, were used in the eagerly-anticipated follow-up to Casino Royale, due out in cinemas Friday.

The star-studded cast from the film, including Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, were all filmed in the area in January.

The barracks were portrayed as snow-covered buildings in Moscow.

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Groundbreaking filmmaker an adventurer at heart

The Interior News, July 21, 2004.

In 2004, Howard Ennis was living in the Kispiox Valley. He told me the story of how he first came to the north – to be one of the first people to film the First Nations people of British Columbia. This was published in the Interior News on July 21, 2004. It never went online, so the following story is published in full now:

WHEN Howard Ennis was a young boy in 1930s Pennsylvania, he used to read books by Canadian naturalist and author Ernest Thompson Seton, and dream about having similar adventures in the northern wilderness.

He was so keen he would plan small-scale, outdoor adventures and drag his older brother along.

Ennis says he was always the brains of the operation and his brother, the brawn.

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