Friday, 26 March 2010

Guest stars get ready for young people’s film festival

Caption: The latest animated blockbuster 'How to Train Your Dragon' is the gala screening at the festival

Young film fans should head to the Hyde Park Picture House next week to see some of the latest releases and stars behind the movies as the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival begins.

Running from Monday 29th March to Friday 9th April, the UK’s most interactive film festival for young people organised by Leeds City Council and the award-winning group of young film enthusiasts MediaFish returns with two very special guests.

To coincide with the gala performance of DreamWorks’ latest animated blockbuster ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ on Wednesday 31st March, the author of the book the film is based on Cressida Cowell will be making a special appearance to talk about her career and signing copies of her books.

Monday 5th April is a must for all Harry Potter fans as all of the first four films will be shown back-to-back on the big screen. Not only that, one of the stars of the series, Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley), will be appearing to meet and talk to fans of the films. In honour of the series the day is also a day for fancy dress, with a costume competition for the best wizard’s outfit.

A superhero comes to town on Friday 2nd April, as Leeds’ very own Thermo Man will help promote the ‘eco day’ of films, talks and events devoted to protecting the environment.

Other guests to appear at the festival include directors and producers from Japan, India and Germany, while there will also be a range of free workshops all led by film industry professionals held in the Film Academy in Leeds Town Hall and in the Central Library.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter said:

“This year’s Leeds Young People’s Film Festival featured something for all young people interested in films and the film industry.

“We are thrilled to have such special guests as Cressida Cowell and Chris Rankin making appearances so make sure you claim some of the last remaining tickets so you can meet them and hear what they have to say.”

Aside from the screenings, there will also be a variety of workshops looking at all aspects of film being held in the Film Academy in Leeds Town Hall and in the Central Library.

Director of Leeds Young People’s Film Festival Debbie Maturi said:

“With films and guests from all over the world the Leeds Young People’s Film Festival is truly international and MediaFish, our young film group, are delighted to have put together an amazing programme that guarantees something for everyone. With special Golden Tickets that let you see all the films from just £10 the film festival is amazing value for families on a budget looking for something fun to do at Easter.”

Advance tickets for festival screenings can be booked by calling the Box Office on 0113 224 3801, while full details of the festival programme can be found at

The 11th Leeds Young People’s Film Festival is supported by Screen Yorkshire, LS Cash, Leeds City College, Find Your Talent and Education Leeds.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Free swimmers making a splash as Scott Hall pool gets ready to reopen

Caption: Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Cllr John Procter (left) and Sport England Free Swimming Development Manager Dave Mitchinson (right) looking at the work being carried out at Scott Hall

Free swimmers making a splash as Scott Hall pool gets ready to reopen
The swimming pool at Scott Hall Leisure Centre in Leeds is to reopen next month following the completion of a major £500,000 improvement project.

The pool will reopen on Monday 12th April after being closed since November to allow for a complete overhaul of the changing room areas. The changes have seen the creation of a modern ‘changing village’ along with dedicated group changing rooms ideal for use by school classes and large groups. There are also larger family changing rooms, a changing room for customers with disabilities, lockers for storage and a new heating and ventilation system has also been installed.

Poolside itself has also seen improvements, with an innovative new sound and light system installed to allow for lighting and music to be used to create the perfect ambience for users from the excitement of children’s parties to more relaxed sessions for older people. This system has also been put in place at Pudsey and John Smeaton leisure centres and will be operational for the first time in the coming weeks.

The major refurbishment at Scott Hall follows other improvements carried out last year as the Bodyline gym was extended and upgraded in November with a one-third increase in the exercise equipment available and a new sound system and televisions also put in place.

The improvements at Scott Hall, Pudsey and John Smeaton have been funded by Leeds City Council and Sport England through the national free swimming programme which has proved highly successful in Leeds.

In the first year of the programme which has offered free swimming for anyone 16 and under and 60 and over to encourage people to be more physically active in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, Leeds has seen the second-highest number of free swims taken up out of all the towns and cities taking part across the country.

In total there have been over 290,000 swimming sessions enjoyed for free by people in the two age groups in Leeds, with junior swimming in particular up by an impressive 34 per cent compared to the previous 12 months, while in the 60 and over age range the number of swimming sessions enjoyed in Leeds is 12 per cent above the national average.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor John Procter

“We are delighted with both the success of our free swimming programme in Leeds and that the pool at Scott Hall Leisure Centre will very soon be open again for even more people to go for a swim.

“We thank everyone for their patience while the pool has been closed, but we think customers will appreciate the improvements that have been carried out. As a council we are committed to providing the best fitness facilities we can to help people of all ages be physically active, and the upgrades at Scott Hall are part of an ongoing citywide programme to help us achieve that.”

Sport England Free Swimming Development Manager Dave Mitchinson said:

“Sport England firmly believe that investments like Scott Hall are an excellent example of what can be achieved by joint working and will further compliment the ongoing investments being made by Leeds City Council to its swimming and general leisure facilities.”

For more information on what’s on offer at Scott Hall Leisure Centre, call 0113 262 4721 or for full details on free swimming in Leeds visit and search for ‘free swimming’.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Learning and Leisure Media Relations Officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Crossgates retailers making it their business to be tidy

Cllr Paul Wadsworth (centre) helps out at the Big Tidy Up

A group of retailers in the Crossgates shopping centre in Leeds are making it their business to be tidy as part of a campaign billed as Britain’s biggest ever litter pick.

They joined in an event to tidy up the environment around the centre as part of the Big Tidy Up, a national campaign for which Leeds City Council has agreed to be one of a number of local champions.

Armed with litter-pickers, bags and special Big Tidy tabards, representatives from around 15 businesses in the popular shopping centre took time out of their day to clear the area of dropped drinks cartons, crisp bags and other bits of rogue rubbish not in bins.

They paid particular attention to the area at the back of the car park, which tends to trap wind-blown rubbish from all over the town centre. They were joined for the event by Cllr Paul Wadsworth.

Cllr Wadsworth, lead member for environmental services, said:

“We as a council are delighted to be leading local participation in what is a very worthwhile national campaign. By taking part in the Big Tidy Up, the Crossgates retailers are demonstrating a real commitment to doing something for the local community which supports their businesses.”

Dave Coulthard, assistant manager at the Crossgates shopping centre, said:

“All the staff here at Crossgates shopping centre want to do their bit to make the area a pleasant place to visit and shop. We also work with neighbouring outlets around the area to address environmental issues and we try to adopt the team approach that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep Crossgates clean, tidy and safe.”

A wide range of businesses supported the Big Tidy Up event, with staff from stores big and small, such as travel agents, food stores, clothing and electrical shops.

The Big Tidy Up is a national push organised by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. It is being supported by Kirstie Allsopp, presenter of the popular TV show Location, Location, Location, who is their new celebrity sponsor.

Rebecca Joinson from Keep Britain Tidy/the Big Tidy Up said:

“Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that the local area is clean and tidy so it’s fantastic to see the staff at Crossgates shopping centre making a real effort to look after the city by taking part in the Big Tidy Up campaign.

“We hope that other shopping centres and businesses across the country will follow their lead and join the Big Tidy Up to help ensure our country’s towns and cities are clean and attractive places to live, work and visit.”

To register for your free tidy up kit and express interest in further community Big Tidy Up events in Leeds, go to Leeds City Council also loans out litter picking devices for free- for further details call 0113- 395 1520.

Notes to editors:
2010 is the Leeds Year of Volunteering, an initiative led by the council and Voluntary Action Leeds. Its aim is to engage every citizen in a volunteering activity during the year. If you are interested in offering your help, contact the Volunteer Centre Leeds on 0113 395 0405 or go to

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335


Valuing those who make a difference

Do you know someone or a group of people that have made a real difference to you or your local community through voluntary work? If so, why not let them know how much their efforts are appreciated by nominating them for a volunteering award?

There are armies of unsung heroes in Leeds who give their time and energy for free to help charitable organisations, improve the lives of vulnerable people and put something back into the community.

2010 is the Leeds Year of Volunteering, and as well as encouraging more people to roll their sleeves up and get involved, we want to recognise people that are already making a difference by volunteering, and celebrate the work that they do.

That’s why the council and Voluntary Action Leeds have introduced the Leeds Volunteering Owls. It's an awards scheme that will allow any resident of Leeds to nominate a volunteer or group of volunteers that they feel deserve a pat on the back for the unpaid work they have done to the benefit of others. Volunteers can also nominate themselves or the group that they work with if they wish to.

Councillor Richard Brett, joint leader and executive member with responsibility for the 2010 Leeds Year of Volunteering said:
“There are a huge number of volunteers in Leeds, who dedicate their time and energy to making other people’s lives better and improve the environment that we all live in. The reason that they volunteer is not to be thanked and receive pats on the back; they just want to do their bit and help people that might be going through bad times or charitable organisations that need help to provide a service.

“We think its time to recognise the contribution that volunteers make to our city, which is why we’re holding the Volunteering Owl awards this December. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take a few minutes out to nominate volunteers who they feel are making a real difference to local lives and communities, so that we can acknowledge the vital contribution they make.”

The awards will be presented at a prestigious event at Leeds Civic Hall in December. There will be an award for each of the 10 volunteering themes taking place throughout the year, which are:
February - volunteering for health and wellbeing
March - volunteering in every neighbourhood
April - volunteering across the generations
May - volunteering in literacy and learning
June - valuing volunteering in Leeds
July - volunteering for leisure- sports, arts and culture
August - volunteering and environment, parks and wildlife
September - volunteering for a safer Leeds
October - volunteering for all
November - children and young people’s volunteering month

In addition to this, there will be awards in six additional categories:
Transform - recognises an individual who has continuously worked to make a difference and change things for the better.
Group - recognises volunteers who by supporting each other and using team work accomplish great things.
Inspiration - recognises an individual who has used creativity and passion to engage and inspire others to volunteer and get involved in a community.
Committed - recognises an individual who has regularly volunteered, devoting their time and energy to one or several projects and has made a lasting impact.
Newcomer - recognises an individual who is new to volunteering and in a small space of time has had a big impact.
Corporate - recognises people who volunteer through their work.

The closing date for nominations is 30 September 2010. Everyone who is nominated for an award will be sent a certificate of congratulations. Shortlisted finalists will be invited to the awards evening on 1 December at Leeds Civic Hall.

Anyone can make a nomination by visiting the year of volunteering website: and completing an online form. Alternatively, forms are available from Volunteer Centre Leeds, Enterprise House, 12 St Pauls Street, LS1 2LE.


For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578