Month: December 2017


A brand new “Check Yourself” free Testicular Cancer app has been launched by UK charity  With over 16,000 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, early detection means 95% of males will make a complete recovery. Encouraging users to check themselves regularly will be a different celebrity each month with Alan Shearer featuring this December and international rugby referee Nigel Owens in January 2018.


The charity also helps to fund a male health programme called “Offload”.  Run by the Rugby Football League, it is a twelve week programme designed to educate males on the importance of physical and mental health, with a week dedicated entirely to testicular cancer.


As the most common cancer in males aged 18 to 35, the app has already been welcomed by  international rugby teams, premier league football clubs and cricket clubs.


Below is a link to a short amusing instructional video on how to check yourself.  Once a month a reminder will flash up on your phone saying ‘check yourself now’.  Simple and easy to use.


Quote: former Premier League footballer & Patron of the charity, Stephen Harper said “unless we get a reminder, most of us just don’t think about it.  Most of us have our phones in our hands, so there is no excuse not to download the app.  It’s very simple, with a monthly reminder so you can’t forget.  This could save your life”.

How to:  Go to the App Store.  Type in Oddballs – check yourself into the search button.  Press OPEN.  Register your details in a few seconds.



Brits will throw out 108 million rolls of wrapping paper, 54 million platefuls of food – and use 189 million batteries over Christmas, a study has found.

But eight in 10 admit they don’t bother to try and justify the huge amount of waste they produce, with six in 10 saying they don’t feel at all guilty about what they throw away over the festive period.

A poll of 2,000 adults found the nation will also get through more than 40 million rolls of sticky tape and bin almost 100 million black bags full of packaging from toys and gifts.

Seven in 10 admit to buying far more food than they need, with two thirds saying at least some of the turkey usually ends up in the bin.

And rather than recycling where possible, many simply throw their wrapping paper, packaging and old Christmas cards out with the rubbish.

A spokesman for GP Batteries, which commissioned the research, said: “Christmas is a time of great celebration, but this can result in a huge amount of waste – many of which we don’t always do the right things with.

“And it seems many don’t worry about the amount of their Christmas produce that ends up in the bin, despite the nation as a whole trying to do all we can to cut down on waste at other times of the year.

“Reusing things, such as Christmas Cards or wrapping paper, or using rechargeable batteries are small things to most people but will drastically reduce the amount you end up throwing away.”

The study of 2,000 adults found the average household will get through four rolls of wrapping paper and throw away seven batteries over the Christmas period.

A roll-and-a-half of sticky tape will be used per household, while three-and-a-half black bags full of packaging will be thrown out.

The equivalent of a whole plateful of food will end up going to waste on Christmas Day, along with another plateful in the following days.

An average of 24 Christmas cards will also be discarded once the festive period is over, while 14 per cent will even be binning their fake Christmas tree this year.

But researchers, from, found many aren’t recycling or reusing their waste with one in five admitting to throwing their used wrapping paper into the bin.

More than one in four throw batteries into the bin, despite knowing they shouldn’t, while three in 10 still use disposables instead of rechargeables.

Others admit to throwing out leftover food rather than trying to use it in other meals and binning cards and packaging instead of recycling or reusing.

But one in six often try to justify the amount of waste they produce, with 34 per cent of those believing it’s just part of Christmas.

One in five think it’s OK as everyone else does it while 43 per cent believe it is impossible to avoid waste over the festive period.

It also emerged one in ten have even had rows with their family because of the amount of waste they produce.

As a result, many are trying to cut down on the waste they produce, with 48 per cent turning their Christmas dinner leftovers into other meals in the following days.

Forty-two per cent buy a fake tree instead of having to dispose of a real tree every year while a third simply buy less food than usual.

Others reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year, buy rechargeable batteries and even avoid wrapping presents at all.

A spokesman for GP Batteries added: “These days a battery is for life, not just for Christmas.

“A modern rechargeable battery can be used up to 1,500 times and over its lifetime – saving a fortune in cash and waste. Once you go rechargeable you never go back.”

Top ten things people have done to try and reduce their waste at Christmas:

  1. Turn leftovers into other meals

  2. Buy a fake tree to reuse every year

  3. Buy less food

  4. Reuse Christmas cards as gift tags the following year

  5. Use rechargeable batteries

  6. Order online but in one order to reduce the amount of packaging

  7. Send e-cards

  8. Buy fewer toys

  9. Order less online to cut down on packaging

  10. Don’t wrap presents at all                                                                                                                                                   Source: 

Dancing Durham officer takes to stage in ITV Christmas special

A DANCING Durham police officer who touched the hearts of millions will take to the stage this week in a one-off ITV show celebrating the emergency services.

PC Paul Taylor, of Durham Constabulary, was filmed dancing with a group of youngsters at the One Love Manchester gig in June, which went viral.

Now, he and ten of his colleagues will perform with Diversity in the Christmas special ‘A Night For The Emergency Services’ due to be aired at 9pm tomorrow (Wednesday, December 20).

PC Taylor, who is based in Darlington, said: “We did all the practice in our own time. Diversity came to Darlington to perform with us at the Dolphin Centre.

“It took a while but we got there. We just hope people enjoy the show.

“I don’t think any of us are quite ready to be their next team member yet.”

The show, presented by Ashley Banjo and Diversity, will feature talented members of the emergency services performing alongside special celebrity guests including Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, Leona Lewis and Tokio Myers.

Host Ashley Banjo said: “Our emergency services are incredible. They do so much for us and it’s fantastic to not only put on a show for them, but to perform alongside some of the talented people within the emergency services to show the nation’s thanks and appreciation for the work they do. It’s going to be a great night!”

A spokesperson for ITV said: “Following a year beset with national tragedy, the appreciation for the emergency services has never been higher.

“This show aims to both celebrate the incredible work they do, and thank them – the show’s audience will be made up solely of emergency service staff.

“As well as honouring their dedication and the life-risking work they do, the emergency services will also get to showcase some of their incredible talents performing on the show in orchestras, choirs, also singers, dancers and even a magician.”

Work safeguards popular path following storm damage

Work has been carried out to safeguard a popular footpath in Durham City following storm damage.

The banks of the River Wear beneath the footpath at Maiden Castle behind Durham City Rugby Club suffered extensively when Storm Desmond hit the region in December 2015, leaving the path at risk of falling into the river should there be a repeat of the storm.

Now, Durham County Council has carried out work to strengthen the riverbank, protecting the path against further storm damage.

The path which links Durham, Durham University’s sports centre at Maiden Castle and Shincliffe is popular with both walkers and cyclists, as well as the city’s running groups.

The work was timed to allow completion of a major rebuilding scheme at the site of a landslide across the river at Pelaw Wood, in order to ensure one side of the riverbank was always open for pedestrians and cyclists.

It involved the building of foundations at river level, beneath a stepped wall of stone filled wire cages. These have been finished with mats and willow planting.

The work was carried out over a nine week period and funded from capital money set aside for Storm Desmond footpath repairs across the county.

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We know how popular this path is with those who enjoy walking, running or cycling along this picturesque stretch of the River Wear. The damage caused to the riverbank in December 2015 left us in a position where any further storm damage could have led to the path crumbling into the river.

“The work we have done will hopefully protect the path against bad weather for years to come.”


Council ‘logs’ support for hospice’s fundraising reindeers

Rudolph and co will be brightening up homes and gardens this Christmas – thanks to Durham County Council.

Butterwick Hospice at Bishop Auckland was struggling to find the logs it needs to make the miniature wooden Reindeer it sells each festive season to raise much needed funds.

Aware of recent tree work carried out by the council in the area, the hospice wrote to the authority’s chief executive Terry Collins asking if it could donate some logs.

Taking up the story, Terry said: “We always try to help when charitable organisations come to us for help and we are aware of the really important work the hospice does in supporting those with life limiting illnesses and their families.

“So when we got the letter asking if we could donate some logs, we were only too happy to help.”

The reindeer are made by retired Bishop Auckland resident Ian Clark, who has volunteered at the hospice for the last ten years. He started making them three years ago.

In a letter to Terry, his wife Dorothy, who also volunteers at the site, wrote: “I write to call upon your generosity on behalf of Butterwick Hospice, Bishop Auckland.

“My husband and I make reindeer to sell to our supporters in the Christmas period to help raise money for our hospice.

“As we are finding it difficult finding the logs which we need, I wondered if we may ask to have some from the recent ‘tree felling’ please.

“We would really appreciate this… yours respectfully and hopefully.”

Ian said: “There are so many people in need of the kind of support provided by the hospice these days and that is why it is so important that funds are raised to allow it to continue its good work.

“I’m really grateful to the council for donating the logs and in turn helping the hospice.”

Helen Kirby, fundraiser at the hospice, said: “Ian and Dorothy are very dedicated volunteers who help us on a regular basis with projects and events.

“Everyone seems to love the reindeers and we’d like to thank both the Clarks and the council for what they’ve done for us.”

Terry added: “It’s great that Ian is willing to give up his time for what is a truly excellent cause and we hope the reindeer will add an extra touch of festive cheer to people’s Christmases.”

The reindeers have proved so popular that they have sold out. However orders can be placed for Christmas 2018 by contacting the hospice’s fundraising team on 01388 603003.


Don’t Tell The Bride is back in the New Year with some brand new episodes on E4.

The premise of the show is the groom plans a wedding in 3 weeks with absolutely no contact from his bride-to-be. Most grooms think this is easier said than done.

We’ve had some spectacular weddings over the years, from getting married in the air to going back to school, but the taste for something simple can be just as effective as well.

The new episodes showcase weddings underwater, on a rollercoaster, and a groom who loves to prank his bride-to-be. Thankfully she had a sense of humour!

The new series airs Wednesday 3rd January on E4. For press stills please email

We are also back casting for a new series with weddings happening throughout 2018.

Christmas and New Year appear to be engagement season, and what better time to get engaged than surrounded by family and friends ready to celebrate.

Couples can apply via the Channel 4 Take Part website or via this link

New Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer appointed for Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral has appointed a new Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer.  Amanda Anderson, currently Director of Strategic Development and Operations at Bradford Cathedral will arrive in Durham early 2018.  Her recruitment follows the announcement that the incumbent, Philip Davies, is retiring from the position in March next year.

Philip arrived at Durham Cathedral in 2009 and has been instrumental to recent developments such as Open Treasure, the Cathedral’s new exhibition experience designed to showcase the Cathedral’s internationally significant collections.

Whilst at Bradford Cathedral Amanda has simultaneously managed several capital projects including a successful Heritage Lottery Fund application and steered the Cathedral beyond compliance to best practice in areas such as Health and Safety and Human Resources.  She previously had a distinguished career in the Armed Forces that saw her serve with the Royal Irish Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps. Achievements in the Armed Forces include managing significant organisational change during the restructuring of the Army Medical Services to provide better support to serving personnel and their families in the UK and globally and project management of the introduction of a bespoke IT program used to track personnel both in the UK and in conflict torn states.

Amanda Anderson says, “To be a key player at one of Britain’s favourite cathedrals is a rare and fantastic opportunity that I could not resist applying for. I feel very privileged and humbled to have been selected to lead the talented management team in the truly magnificent and unique setting that is Durham Cathedral. I am looking forward to utilising my skills to work collaboratively with the Dean, Chapter and staff in order to fulfil Durham Cathedral’s vision to share our faith and heritage globally, and to empower people to transform the communities in which we live and serve.”

On Amanda’s appointment, the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “We look forward to welcoming Amanda to the Cathedral as our new Chapter Clerk and Chief Operating Officer. There was an extremely strong field of candidates with many applicants excited by the prospect of working at ‘the best Cathedral on planet earth’, as it is famously described by writer Bill Bryson.  Amanda presented herself as the outstanding candidate with a wealth of experience, in particular her knowledge of the working of cathedrals gained in her current post at Bradford Cathedral, as well as a career in the British Army stretching over 21 years.  Her undoubted skills in operations and senior HR management will have a positive impact on the life of the Cathedral and its future direction, and she will be a worthy successor to Philip Davies who retires on 31 March 2018.”

Amanda loves all outdoor activities especially hill walking, running and cycling. She has competed in triathlons, marathons and other running events. She has been fortunate enough to trek in beautiful locations such as Corsica, Morocco, Kenya and Turkey. Her most recent adventure was an expedition to walk part of the Camino De Santiago. Amanda is looking forward to moving to North East England and exploring the exceptional countryside the region has to offer.


Less than four months after setting up his own photography business, Jason Allison from Crook in County Durham has reached the final of the fiercely contested Guild of Photographers Image of the Year Competition.

Within that time, he has already won numerous regional and national awards including two of the guild’s prestigious gold bars but now, four of his prints have been shortlisted in three genre categories.

It’s been a whirlwind few months for the father-of-three who only launched his ‘Hidden Studio’ at the end of August on the first floor of the Barton Townley Building in Burnington Drive.

The 46-year-old specialises in family, individual and pet portraiture as well as commercial photography and is now only one step away from being internationally renowned. His black and white photo of Paul Smith has been shortlisted in the Classic Portraiture genre, Florence the Springer Spaniel photo has been selected in the Pets’ genre and two other prints have been selected by judges in the Avant-Garde Portraiture genre, which have all made it to the final.

His passion for photography started when he was only nine years old and despite working all his career in other industries and sectors, he knew he would eventually end up working as a full-time photographer. This became a reality when he joined the Guild of Professional Photographers a couple of years ago and realised where his talent lay.

The Guild is a highly respected UK-based association for photographers, which also includes members from overseas. Each year, it runs an on-line monthly photographic competition, judged by internationally respected judges with awards given to the best entries. During 2017, the competition has attracted around 1,200 entries per month from the most talented of photographers.

Jason commented: “Creating special images has always been a passion of mine. I love the whole process of getting to know people and dogs and then capturing and editing them in an artistic way, which tells the viewer a story.

“I have put a lot of work into developing my skills and the Guild is a great platform to learn from. The standard of photography is incredible, and it helps me to push myself and to be the best I can be.

“From the thousands of entries that are submitted across the whole year, I cannot believe I have been selected in not one but three genres by the judges, this really is a dream come true.”

Guild Director Lesley Thirsk said: “One of the Guild’s aims is to drive standards and creativity amongst photographers. Our monthly competition certainly does that, for the standard of the entries we see each month is quite staggering. To have an image recognised by the Guild in the monthly competition is difficult enough, so to have an image selected as being one of the best in a category for the end of year final is, without doubt an incredible achievement, and shows just how talented photographer, Jason is.”

Jason’s images will now be prepared for the final when highly regarded judges will come together from across the UK and overseas to select the overall winner. The final outcome will be announced on 3rd February 2018 at an awards ceremony in Cheshire.

Featured Image: Pets genre finalist, Florence the Springer Spaniel

Jason Allison from Crook has seen four of his prints shortlisted in three genres in the Guild of Photographers Image of the Year Competition 







Classic portraiture genre finalist, Paul Smith








Avant-Garde Portraiture genre finalist, topless Paul Smith








Avant-Garde Portraiture genre finalist, Steve









Source: Up North Communications

Festive food donations handed to Durham Food bank

Hundreds of boxes packed with festive treats have been donated to Durham Foodbank by generous council staff to help make sure no-one goes hungry this Christmas.

Over the last few weeks, staff from Durham County Council have been bringing in items which will be used by the food bank to create special Christmas hampers.

Pamela Glaister, senior enforcement officer at Durham County Council, has helped with the collection for a number of years and this week donated approximately 140 selection boxes on behalf of the planning and highways teams.

“Children are the innocent ones and simple selection boxes are something we take for granted at Christmas but are not always a necessity for families in need,” she said.

“It seemed a simple task to donate them for the children to help bring a smile to their faces and some normality to their Christmas day. We also want to say a special thank you to Wilko’s in the Arnison Centre for providing us with a special discount, meaning we could buy even more selection boxes for the children.”

The boxes from County Hall were passed by Cllr Jane Brown, Cabinet member for social inclusion to Peter MacLellan, CEO of Durham Christian Partnership which facilitates the foodbank.

“Christmas is a time for celebration but not everyone can enjoy the kind of things we take for granted,” she said.

“I haven’t heard of any other local authorities in the North East doing this – it’s a great thing to do and buying an extra item when we do our shopping isn’t a huge burden for most people.

“We are delighted to be able to give these boxes to the foodbank to help make Christmas a little bit brighter for those who might be having a difficult time.”

Peter MacLellan said: “December is a busy time for the foodbank and we know a lot of families struggle throughout the month.

“These hampers can make a real difference to people over the festive period and we are extremely grateful to staff at Durham County Council for their generous donation.”

Taylor Shaw – Durham County Council’s primary school meal supplier – also donated 40 tins of chocolates, tea bags and coffee while food supplier Batleys contributed 240 cans of tinned rice pudding and cartons of orange juice.

Collections will continue until January 19 2018 when any remaining items will be passed over to the food bank.

Time to go crazy with your imagination.


It’s time for another cake decorating competition , this time is all about Christmas.

The competition is for 11-14 year olds, ( no help from parents please -we can tell)
Leave your -Name, date of birth, contact details with your cake

The details:
Closing date- December 15th at 4pm 11-14yr olds
Round cake -10″
Go crazy , think outside the box , as Christmassy as you can make it.

The competition will be judged by our customers, in an anonymous judging.

It’s not about the cake flavour, so don’t worry about the taste , it’s all about the decoration.

We won’t be able to return the entered cakes, so take a picture for you to keep.

And the prize- a gift basket filled with cake decorating and sugar craft items similar to the one in the picture.

Please share with anyone you think may be interested

4B The Market Place
County Durham
DL13 2UL

 Twitter @CakesandMore