Thursday, 26 May 2011

Young designers sowing seeds of flower power

Caption: The winning designs by (from top) Angel Holmes, Emily Paynter and Katie Ann Banks will now be turned into flowerbeds in the city centre

The garden designers of the future have taken their first steps on the road to stardom by winning a competition in Leeds.

Over 2,500 pupils aged 4-14 from 46 primary and secondary schools across the city took part in this year’s Leeds in Bloom ‘Design a Flowerbed’ competition with three winners and three runners-up selected.

The six leading designs were announced at a special ceremony at Temple Newsam, with the designs now to be turned into flowerbeds on public display in the coming weeks at Park Square and York Street in the city centre.

The winners chosen were nine-year-old Emily Dorothy Paynter of West End Primary School in Horsforth, seven-year-old Katie Ann Banks of Kippax Greenfield Primary School and six-year-old Angel Holmes of Pool CE Primary School in Otley.

The runners-up were named as Jade Dixon of Whitkirk Primary, Niharika Manu of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary and Chloe Baldwin of East Ardsley Primary.

The Leeds in Bloom ‘Design a Flowerbed’ competition is managed by Leeds City Council’s parks and countryside service in association with Leeds Floral Initiative and Evans Property Group Leeds.

Chair of the Leeds Floral Initiative Alderman Frank Robinson said:

“It was great to see the designs and meet the winners – the standard of entries was really impressive with some really imaginative designs. You could see how pleased and proud the winners were, and it will be fantastic to see their ideas turned into reality for people to enjoy seeing this summer in Leeds.”

For more information on Leeds in Bloom, visit


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Leeds gets ready for Latino fever

Caption; Salsa Celtica will be performing at Leeds Loves Latino

Millennium Square will be a hive of activity this weekend as the UK’s biggest outdoor Latino party comes to Leeds.

From 2pm-10:30pm on Sunday 29 May, the city centre venue will be transformed into a celebration of all elements of Latin music, dance, colour, style and culture.

Organised by Leeds City Council, ‘Leeds Loves Latino’ with support from the Yorkshire Evening Post, Park Plaza Hotel and Viva Cuba will run from 2pm-10:30pm and will feature a mix of live music, DJs and dance - including the biggest-ever Zumba class seen in Leeds.

The musical performances will be led by the UK’s best-known salsa band Salsa Celtica, while Glastonbury regulars Latin Dub Sound System will be bringing their range of electro-Latino beats.

Leading salsa band Salsa Celtica said:

“We’re really looking forward to playing Millennium Square on Sunday. Leeds knows how to party and it’s going to be a pleasure playing on a bill of such great latino music.”

Cuban funk band Wara and samba rock group Afrosamba complete the line-up of live bands, while leading salsa and samba DJs Silvao, Fabio Bahia and Lubi will be playing the finest in Brazilian samba and Latino music.

A variety of dance styles will also be on show, with Basement Jaxx collaborators MC Magico and the Meuve Dancers bringing the spirit of Colombia, while the UK’s premier female Latina dance company Element Dance and urban Latin dancer Ella Mesma will also be on hand.

Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“Leeds Loves Latino is an exciting new event for the city which is going to be a fantastic day of dance, sensational sounds and vibrant colour. Hopefully the weather will be kind so it would be great to see people of all ages enjoying the fun and having a wonderful time.”

One of the highlights of the day promises to be the biggest-ever Zumba class held in Leeds, as the dance and fitness craze comes to the city centre with leading instructor Julia Lawson putting those attending through their paces on the square.

Admission will be available at the event or can be secured in advance priced £11 or £9 concessions at and can also be booked through the City Centre Box Office on 0113 224 3801, Leeds Visitor Centre and Viva Cuba on Kirkstall Road.

The previous day will see Aire on the Square take place on Millennium Square, with anyone attending being offered a place at this year’s Party in the Park if they have proof of Leeds residency.

For more information on Leeds Loves Latino visit, or for information on Aire on the Square go to


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email:

Catherine’s turn-around has been a work of art

Pictured is Catherine Emery with some of her artwork.

A schoolgirl who made headlines when she received an ASBO to curb her drunken and aggressive behaviour is looking forward to a brighter future after gaining a place at Leeds College of Art.

Catherine Emery was just 14 when she was given the antisocial behaviour order after a string of incidents often linked to excessive drinking.

Two years on Catherine has turned her life around with the help of her school, Leeds city council’s youth offending service and antisocial behaviour team – and her own passion for art.

She is currently taking GCSEs at Wetherby High School and her paintings are on exhibition at Meanwood Valley Farm. In January this year a judge was so impressed by her improved behaviour that he lifted her ASBO six months early.

After Catherine was given the ASBO staff at Wetherby High School worked closely with the youth offending service to provide her with the all-round support she needed. Catherine was taken out of school for six months and sent to a special education centre. She was also given help to manage her anger and her drinking. The school also arranged for art therapy – which proved the ultimate turning point for Catherine.

Catherine said:
“I used to be very scared and angry with myself. I thought I was an idiot. I didn’t care about myself. I wasn’t bothered. But my youth offending worker talked to me about my feelings, and about what crime was and what could happen if I carried on.

“Once a week my art therapist came and we did drawing and painting. It was all about letting my feelings out on canvas. Art makes me happy and relaxed. Even just doodling a pattern calms me down.

“I’ve had help from the school and my mentor here too. When I got the ASBO I was really scared. It was the strictest order that I had and it meant couldn’t see some of my friends. But looking back the ASBO did me a favour. It stopped me drinking and it helped my health.

“Since I’ve been good life is great. Now I just need to get my schooling, get to college, decide who are my friends and get on with life like normal people.”

Catherine’s head of year at Wetherby High School, Peter Muddiman, said:
“We’re very proud of Catherine. At one point we did consider excluding her from school permanently but we knew that then there would be no way back for her. At times we felt we were cling on by our finger nails but she has rewarded us, she’s come a million miles and it’s great.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said:
“Catherine’s achievements in what were very difficult personal circumstances are an inspiration to us all and she should be very proud of herself. Catherine received invaluable help and support from Wetherby School, its teachers and the joint working between the council’s youth services team and anti-social behaviour team. This work ensured Catherine had the boundaries and support she needed to turn her life around in the way she did. She is a credit to the school, to all those who supported her, and to her own amazing drive and determination."

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Massive celebration of families across Leeds this half term

There will be no time to rest this half-term with hundreds of family fun events taking place across the city.

All over the city, Leeds City Council leisure centres, children’s centres, museums, libraries, galleries and theatres are all putting on special events to encourage families to have fun together as part of National Family Week.

Monday 30 May to Sunday 5 June 2011 is national family week, and there are loads of fun family events taking place across Leeds. National family week is the biggest annual celebration of families and family life in the UK. It’s a great opportunity for families to get together, get involved and have fun.

Media opportunity:
When: Wednesday 1 June at 11am
Where: Leeds City Museum, Millennium Square
What: ‘Tiger Day’ – Councillor Jane Dowson will be joined by the museum mascot ‘Rory the Tiger’ and children enjoying the tiger based activities. Children are being encouraged to dress up and have their faces painted like a tiger.

There are lots of opportunities over the half-term break – starting on Saturday 28 May, to try something new including a family boot camp at Morley leisure centre or a circus skills workshop.

Lots of different activities will be taking place all across Leeds, from country park walks and barn dances to family story time sessions at local libraries. There is even a drive-in movie screening, a sponsored walk and picnic, and an environmental volunteering celebration.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“Spending time together as a family is so important but so often overlooked in our busy lives. Family week is a great excuse for families get together and take part in some fun activities, and maybe try something new.

“There are activities and events suitable for children and young people of all ages, and they have been specially organised for families to take part in together.”

Nigel Richardson, director of children’s services said:
“Our greatest ambition is to make Leeds a totally child friendly city so it is fantastic that this half-term the whole city will be awash with events and activities dedicated to children and their families.”

To find out about all of the fantastic family week events going on in Leeds visit the family hub website at:

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Robin Hood Primary School judged as outstanding by Ofsted

A Leeds primary school has been judged as one of the best in the country.

Robin Hood Primary School was recently assessed by Ofsted as an outstanding school which has gone from strength to strength in recent years.

In a glowing report many aspects of the school were praised including the leadership, teaching, pupil behaviour, achievement and the school’s contributions to the local and wider communities.

The inspectors stated Robin Hood Primary School provided ‘outstanding value for money as pupils of all abilities and backgrounds… learn and progress exceptionally well’ and that ‘outstanding outcomes for pupils stem from high quality teaching, an exceptional curriculum and first-class care, guidance and support for all’.

The inspectors’ praise for the children stated that ‘pupils achieve outstandingly well’ which is reflected in their ’above average and rising attendance’. They are proud to be part of the school and ‘give it more than 10 out of 10’.

They concluded that leadership at the school is ‘motivational’ and that staff ‘share in the school’s success and work towards the highest possible outcomes for all’. Equality and tackling discrimination were praised and the inspectors found that ‘outcomes which are less than the anticipated best are forensically analysed to ensure that a different, more successful approach is adopted’ which has ‘led to the school’s impressive improvement over recent years’.

Mark Wilson, head teacher at Robin Hood Primary School, said:
“This is a fantastic Ofsted report which reflects the hard work and dedication of everyone at the school. We are committed to providing the best opportunities for our talented and enthusiastic children, a combination which has helped make Robin Hood Primary School the success that it is.

“We are proud that our school has gained a widespread reputation for excellence. In recent years we have hosted visits from, amongst others, Australian school principals, Swedish academics and the President of Iceland who saw first hand how we work.

“This achievement is not the end of the story though and we will continue to work with Leeds City Council to build on these successes and ensure we maintain these high standards for future generations.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, chair of governors at Robin Hood Primary School, said:
“This is a proud moment for the school and is the result of hard work and determination by the staff and children. It is an honour to be judged as outstanding and everyone connected to Robin Hood Primary School should be proud of this achievement.”

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services at Leeds City Council, said:
“Robin Hood Primary School has set exceptionally high standards for itself and it is wonderful that this has been recognised by the outstanding Ofsted inspection. This is an excellent achievement and I’d like to congratulate everyone connected to the school for making it happen.”

An area highlighted for improvement by the inspectors is in nursery and reception classes where the school has been advised to plan more creative opportunities to improve children’s creative skills across the Early Years Foundation Stage.


For media enquiries please contact:
Jon Crampton, Leeds City Council press office, 0113 3951577

Fun times for Richmond Hill families

Families in Richmond Hill are being invited to a day of fun games and activities with their local children’s centre, next week.

There will be activities for everyone to enjoy between 1pm and 3pm on Wednesday 1 June at All Saints Primary School playing field on Cross Aysgarth Mount. Members of the media are welcome to attend.

Everyone is welcome to the Family Fun Event which will celebrate families in Richmond Hill. With children's games and activities, a bouncy castle, face painting, donkey rides, exotic animals and a play bus, there will be plenty to keep children of all ages busy.

Nicky Richardson, Richmond Hill children’s centre manager said:
“This will be a great opportunity for the whole community to get together and maybe meet some neighbours they didn’t already know. People can take part in the activities, try some new experiences and have lots of fun.

“We especially hope people who don’t already use the children’s centre will come along and meet the team and find out what services and activities we offer every day.”

The fun event will support National Family Week and the Stephen Lawrence Education Standards Awards.

People attending the fun day will be able to find out more about what the centre provides for families with children aged 0 to 5 across the Richmond Hill area, including toddler groups, parenting courses, workshops, a lending library and a new home learning scheme. The centre also offers childcare for children from 6 months to four years old, from 8am to 6pm. People interested in finding out more about childcare can contact the centre on 2400564.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Fostering - keeping it in the family

Picture caption: "(l-r) Tracy Addy and her parents Peter and Margaret Hudson along with Tracy's husband Jonathan Addy showing their support for the council's campagin to recruit more foster carers."

Being great foster carers has passed down the generations of one Leeds family after both daughters followed in their parents’ footsteps.

Margaret and Peter Hudson from Bramley, who have looked after around 200 children since they became foster carers 23 years ago, have obviously passed on their caring genes to their daughters Tracy and Carol, as they have both continued the family tradition and became foster carers. Now, Margaret and Peter have taken the difficult decision to retire, but are safe in the knowledge that their daughters are carrying on their caring ways.

At a special awards ceremony last week for Leeds foster carers who are either retiring or celebrating special anniversaries, Margaret and Peter, and their daughter Tracy Addy and her husband Jonathan were recognised for their commitment to fostering. Their other daughter Carol is a foster carer in Hull.

Around 20 Leeds carers, who between them have racked-up over 250 years of service fostering for Leeds City Council, were rewarded at an event hosted by the Lord Mayor of Leeds.

Councillor Jim McKenna, Lord Mayor of Leeds said:
“It is great to be able to have an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the invaluable service our foster carers give to the children and young people of Leeds. I was very honoured to be able to meet these people who have dedicated so many years of their lives to helping some of the most vulnerable children in our city.”

Margaret and Peter, who mainly fostered children on a short term basis including emergency and respite foster care are keen to encourage others to consider if they’ve got what it takes to be a foster carer. Margaret says: “You must go into fostering with your eyes open, the children are sometimes challenging but what you get out of if far outweighs the problems. All it takes is patience and someone with a lot of love to give. You will get all that love back from the children and much more. It really does change your life.”

Peter added: “You have to make sure the kids become part of your family and treat them exactly the same as your own kids, no matter how long they’re with you for. It is great when they go on to be adopted and you know they’re going to have a good life.”

Tracy and Jonathan, who’ve been fostering for two years are also keen to encourage more people to foster.
Jonathan says: “The biggest reward is that you see children who come to you with so many difficult problems and behaviour issues, and just by giving them a little bit of love and support and attention you can really make a massive difference. They leave with much better life chances and aspirations.”

Both families are keen to support the council’s current campaign to recruit more foster carers called ‘Do Something Amazing!’ which has been featured on local radio and across a range of outdoor advertising. The council is calling for more people to come forward to find out how they can make a difference to the lives of looked after children in Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services said:
“We have so many great foster carers like Margaret and Peter, and Tracy and Jonathan, and we know there are lots more children and young people in the city who are in need of a loving home and the support that being part of a family can bring.

“Foster carers in Leeds make an invaluable contribution to supporting vulnerable children and our campaign is a great opportunity to encourage more people to join them. Together we can help transform the lives of children and young people in the city.”

Those interested in finding out more about fostering can register their interest online by visiting or contact 0113 2474747 for advice and an information pack.

For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713