January-June 2007

Youngsters make a smart move


Babies dive in to new class

Published by the Wakefield Express on 10 January 2007:  NOT every mum would willingly throw their baby into a swimming pool without armbands. Unless, that is, their 10-week-old bundle of joy is already a competent underwater swimmer and enjoys the experience as much as a swing in the park. Flippers Swim Babes is designed to use a baby's natural affinity to water and their early gag reflex to introduce them to water confidence and safety from an early age.  And thanks to a new course launched in Wakefield, mums and babies can now reap the benefits of baby water safety training.  Instructor Louise Evans, 40, of Wingates Croft, Sandal, said: "I started taking my daughter Jessie to classes when she was eight weeks old and from the first lesson I knew I just had to teach it.

 "I qualified as an instructor with Flipper Swim Babes in September 2005 and am really passionate about what I do. We have now gained a contract with Sandal Endowed School to run lessons.”  Mrs Evans explained why babies are literally thrown into the pool.  She said: "If a baby were to fall into water they would not do so gracefully or gently, as if their parents were placing them in the pool, so we try and mimic what would happen if they fell in.

"The babies love it and tend to giggle before they are thrown in. They seem to know what's coming next and the parents laugh as much as they do.  The skills a baby picks up in class are essentially life-saving skills so set them up for life. This means when they are old enough they can confidently get themselves out of a dangerous situation, using techniques learned in class like holding onto the side or floating on their back. Everyone has an inborn 'diving reflex' which allows us to automatically hold our breath under water, but this is strongest in babies up to six months. Babies can join the Flippers Swim Babes programme from six weeks up to 18 months of age, but the general consensus is the earlier the better. For more information contact Swim Babes on 01484 682311 or visit their website at www.swimbabes.co.uk 

Journal records World War memories

A SMALL red diary brought back to life the memories of a former Wakefield mayor who served on the Western Front during the First World War. The journal of George Henry (‘Harry’) Stead was discovered by his daughter Betty Henderson, 83, of Manygates Lane, Sandal, who was mayoress of Wakefield when he became mayor in 1967. And his memoirs inspired former councillor Norman Hazell so much he decided to serialise them in his Sandal correspondent’s column for the Wakefield Express.

 Harry was born at Heath Common in May 1895. He attended Crofton Council School and as a youngster was in the choir at All Saints Church, Crofton. He left school at 14 to start work at Nostell Colliery and seemed destined to spend his life as a coal miner, but at 16 he moved with his family to Kettlethorpe and became a gardener at Kettlethorpe Hall.

 In 1916, at the age of 21, he joined the Royal Artillery at the Rescue Station in Ings Road. He trained at Clifton Park, Rotherham, Studley Royal, Ripon and then Salisbury Plain before boarding a ship in Southampton destined for the First World War battlegrounds in France.

He saw action at Thiepval, the Somme, Lens, La Basse and Ypres. After hostilities ended and a short holiday in Paris, he returned to Wakefield and resumed his old life. He became second gardener at Walton House, Thornhill, marrying his sweetheart Laura Tweedle at Sandal Church on Boxing Day 1921.  He later moved to Castle Lodge and recalled exhibiting his plants at Newmillerdam, Walton and Crigglestone shows.

He joined the Civil Defence during the Second World War and became a bomb reconnaissance officer at the siren post at Portobello. In 1955 he was elected as councillor for the Sandal ward and served on many committees and sub-committees for the next 20 years, helping young Conservative members with their formative political careers. He was mayor of Wakefield in 1967-68. At the conclusion of his mayoral year he was appointed secretary to Wakefield Conservative Association. He died on October 24, 1978, at the age of 83, but his diary remains testament to a full and active life.

Author-doctor backs newspaper campaign

A Wakefield GP was backing the Wakefield Express Reading Campaign in February 2007 to mark the launch of his new book.  Dr Keith Souter, who lives in Sandal, again turned super-sleuth for his second crime novel, Deathly Wind. He said: “Being able to read books is stimulating, inspiring and pleasurable. That is why the Read on Wakefield campaign is so important and needs our support.” Writing under the pen name Keith Moray, the author takes readers back to the fictional island of West Uist where Inspector Torquil McKinnon again finds himself trying to unravel a number of mysterious deaths. Dr Souter said: “My latest book is set against a background of windfarms, which is a very topical issue at the moment. It was very good fun to write. In some ways it was harder to write than Gathering Murders as I had to maintain the characters and the timeline, but in other ways it was easier. The essence of the genre is to keep people reading so there are plenty twists and turns in the plot.”

Dr Souter is already well underway on his third crime novel, Murder Solstice, but the multi-tasking writer had even more stories up his sleeve and was working on a medieval murder mystery centred on Sandal Castle. He added: “I am a bit of a night owl so usually writing is the last thing I do on a night, it is the best time for me to work.” 

Barbara’s bridal brilliance

Published by the Wakefield Express on 20 March 2007: A BRIDALWEAR business retailer, who has spent 50 years helping brides-to-be choose that perfect outfit, is celebrating after winning one of the profession's most prestigious awards. Barbara Scott, who is semi-retired, won the solid glass Bridal Buyer magazine trophy, inscribed with her name, for her dedication to her profession. She is still enthusiastic about her job and still enjoys working two days each week at Hoops A Daisy bridal shop, on Barnsley Road, Sandal, where owner Karen Noden described her as “amazing”.

Mrs Scott is definitely a product of old-school retailing and says she always puts the customer first, after being instilled with good habits through a City and Guilds course taken when she first began in the business. Retailers throughout the UK contest the annual Bridal Buyer award, but the modest Mrs Scott played down her achievement. She said: “It’s very nice to win this award but I am only its custodian and feel it’s not just for me but is also a trophy for the fantastic team I work with. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have received this.

“The person who runs this shop, Karen Noden, is a great person to work with and for, and I have known her since she was a child, having worked here for her mum, Valerie Foster. I always try to put customers at their ease from the moment they come into the shop, as the bride-to-be is sometimes quite nervous and I try to ensure they get the perfect gown and accessories to suit them.. Over the years, I have seen quite a few changes in this business, but the most significant one is that brides sometimes find the sheer choice of gowns overwhelming.

“Of course, many aren’t the perfect size 12 model in a magazine, and they need guidance about what dress suits them best. I have tried to carry the same principles of treating the customer well throughout my career, but it helps that I enjoy my job so much.” Mrs Nodden praised Mrs Scott for her dedication to her job and said she counted her as a friend as well as a trusted colleague.  She said: “I feel that Barbara is amazing and, although all the staff deserve to win an award, I’m sure we all agree that she is one-in-a-million.”

Molly, aged 7, helps keep her friends safe

 Molly Pearson came up with the idea of setting up a safety club at her school, Castle Grove Infants, Sandal, and it snowballed into a great success. She and her club members met every Friday break-time to talk about safety issues and how they could look after themselves. And in March 2007 she earned coverage in the Wakefield Express when the seven-year-old invited some special visitors to reinforce her message. The police popped into the classroom to expand on the good work that young Molly had already done. Headteacher Nichola Russell said: “It was Molly’s idea to invite the police and it was a great, informative day. “The school is very close to Manygates Lane and Barnsley Road, which are very busy, so these issues are extremely pertinent. Molly set this club up off her own initiative. It’s a great idea and she has about 15 pupils go along every week. She will go far in life.” PC John Simpson said: “It’s nice that the children have invited us to be part of what they are doing and it’s admirable that they are taking an interest in their own safety.”


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