Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Leeds ready to start Olympic countdown in style


Caption: Seacroft Village Green will become a sea of 10,000 flags as part of national arts project Dysarticulate2 to celebrate the London 2012 Open Weekend

A range of free events and activities will be taking place this weekend as Leeds celebrates a year to go to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

As part of the national Open Weekend celebrations, events will be taking place in Leeds on Saturday 23 July with the focal point being the city centre.

Shoppers on Briggate and Dortmund Square will be greeted by performances of music, dance and entertainment from 11am-5pm as the ‘Planet Leeds’ festival takes place.

Taking place every year since 2007, Planet Leeds showcases the diverse sounds and cultures from every corner of the city with previous performances including Irish jigs, Iranian guitar music, Eastern European ‘klezmer’, poetry, acclaimed local rock bands, classical Indian music and performance, Chinese lion dancing, rap, Congolese drumming, and much more.

This year’s performances on the two stages will also feature appearances by one of the potential local stars of the 2012 Paralympic Games in swimmer Claire Cashmore and previous Leeds Olympians Tracey Morris and Tandi Gerrard. For more information visit www.planetleeds.org.uk

Leeds City Museum off Millennium Square will also be hosting a special open day for young people aged 14-24 from 11am to 3pm. The event featuring stalls, the chance to handle historical objects, dressing up and a competition with the prize of winning an ipod nano by following a trail around the museum is part of the ‘Precious Cargo’ element of the Cultural Olympiad which aims to use museum collections as an inspiration for young people to explore and have a role in developing local cultural attractions as part of the Olympic celebrations. For more information email esther.amishughes@leeds.gov.uk

The sights and sounds of African dance will be celebrated through the Bloom Festival with a range of free and ticketed events. Open classes in contemporary, Caribbean and Zulu dance will take for people of all ages at Phoenix Dance Theatre in Quarry Hill from 12pm-2:15pm. The action then switches to The Carriageworks from 6:30pm-8:30pm, where an open stage session will take place for any aspiring dancers to show off their skills for free in front of industry professionals. For more information on the Bloom Festival go to www.adad.org.uk/bloom.

Anyone keen to take on a series of sporting challenges including a rowing challenge to race against the clock to win a prize should head to Briggate from 11am to 4pm on Saturday. There will also be advice and information on hand for anyone interesting in getting involved with community sport in Leeds. For more information, contact Julie Lewis at julie.lewis@leeds.gov.uk

Saturday evening sees a free open-air production of Dante’s Inferno in Millennium Square from 8:30pm. The literary classic, which follows the teenage Dante’s journey into hell, is being given a contemporary multi-media treatment by 30 young actors from the University of Leeds in a 40-minute production. For more information contact Steve Ansell at s.ansell@leeds.ac.uk or call 0113 343 8731 with those attending asked to bring their own seats.

The weekend’s events continue on Sunday when Seacroft Village Green will be visually transformed into a sea of 10,000 flags from 11am to 4pm. Organised by West Yorkshire artist Jo Verrent, the event is open to anyone to take part by making their own flag and adding it to the display. The event forms part of national arts project Dysarticulate2, which will see similar flag fields created at 11 other venues around the country as part of the Open Weekend. For more information email Jo Verrent at joverrent@adainc.org.

All of the events in Leeds for Open Weekend are supported by Leeds City Council and Leeds Gold, the brand set up by the council and its partners to maximise opportunities around the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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

“The excitement is really starting to build now about London 2012 and the range of activities going on for Open Weekend is the perfect example of how the Games can inspire people of all ages to get involved and try new things. We look forward to seeing lots of people taking part and having a great time.”

The weekend is preceded by a free event around business opportunities for London 2012 which will be held at the Rose Bowl from 9am-3pm on Friday 22 July. The event will include an update on the opportunities offered by the Olympic Torch Relay which will be coming to Leeds in the run-up to the Games. For more information on the conference send an email to email@square5online.co.uk.

For more information on Leeds and its work towards the London 2012 Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk.

Notes to editors:

The London 2012 Olympic Games take place from Friday 27 July to Sunday 12 August 2012, with the Paralympic Games to follow from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September 2012.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Lotherton Hall improvements set for go-ahead


Caption: Lotherton Hall set for range of improvements

Plans to make improvements to Lotherton Hall and its surrounding estate this summer are to be discussed by senior councillors in Leeds next week.

At the meeting of the executive board at Civic Hall on Wednesday 27 July, councillors will be asked to approve investing £160,000 in a range of improvements to the estate and also a new pricing structure to be introduced from 1 October.

The first phase of a wide-ranging plan to greatly enhance the visitor experience at the Edwardian country house and grounds in Aberford near Leeds will see improvements to the gardens, doubling the amount of estate to be open to the public, improved car parking and a widened entrance road to allow for traffic to enter and exit the estate the same way.

Under the plans, the majority of which would be completed before 1 October, the hall would also switch to being open on Mondays as well as in January and February when it is currently closed with events being held all-year round.

The current parking system would be revamped to make the house and estate more accessible as well as safer for children using the play area. The area of the estate currently open to the public would be doubled, with restoration work carried out on the Edwardian gardens, the Japanese rockery and the walled gardens while themed walks for visitors would be introduced and improved picnic and play areas. In addition, the impressive collection of coaches and horse-drawn carriages will also be more prominently on display.

The current exit system would be relocated, with the current entrance road being widened to allow for two-way traffic flow which means when leaving visitors would no longer be passing the children’s play area and other pedestrians making the site safer overall.

Improved signage, navigation and interpretation would be introduced throughout the estate, while drainage issues would also be resolved.

Customer service improvements would see a new pay and information point introduced, managing the new simplified pay structure which means visitors would only pay once to access all of the facilities as well as car parking. Season-tickets would remain for regular users offering access for a 12-month period.

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

“We are confident these plans would make a real difference to Lotherton Hall being seen as a fantastic full day out by visitors who would be keen to tour the house, the bird garden and the grounds in the same visit.

“We have listened to what people have told us so far and that two-way communication continues as the end result is that we all want Lotherton Hall to be one of the leading visitor attractions in the region and we are striving hard to make that happen.”

Public consultation has been carried out and continues with visitors, local councillors, season-ticket holders, parish councils and other community groups able to give their views. Drop-in sessions have taken place as well as having display boards and comment cards at the hall, information in libraries and one-stop centres as well as on the Lotherton Hall website www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall/ in addition to the council’s museums and galleries website at www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/

Research has also been carried out to ensure the new pricing structure compares favourably with other similar attractions in the region, with anyone attending organised events such as weddings, conferences or meetings not having to pay any entrance charge.

The initial £160,000 investment by the council for phase one will be returned from a projected rise in the income generated by increased numbers of visitors from the current figure of approximately 400,000 per year due to the improved visitor experience.

Further possible future improvements have also been discussed, such as the historic courtyard houses being open to the public as period rooms, and the development of the courtyard area to create conference and banqueting facilities as well as a new shop. Continued restoration of the Edwardian gardens, a potential new learning area and the possibility of a semi-permanent marquee to host weddings and civil ceremonies are also all possible options for the future.

For more information on Lotherton Hall, visit the website at www.leeds.gov.uk/lothertonhall/

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Degree of major Euro success for five-star swimmer Claire


Caption: City of Leeds swimmer Claire Cashmore (image courtesy of City of Leeds Swimming Club)

City of Leeds swimming star Claire Cashmore is on the crest of a wave after claiming five medals and helping break two records at the recent IPC European Championships in Berlin.

The 23-year-old Great Britain international enjoyed a stunning week of success in Germany, winning two gold medals, a silver and two bronze, as well as setting an individual British record and breaking world and European records in the medley team relay events.

The Kidderminster swimmer’s personal achievements were further boosted as during the event she discovered she had secured a 2:1 in her linguistics and phonetics degree at the University of Leeds.

While completing her degree Claire has lived in Leeds for the last three years, training as part of the City of Leeds squad at the Aquatics Centre at the John Charles Centre for Sport.

Her first medal in Berlin came from being part of the 4 x 100metre freestyle relay team which set a new European record in winning gold. A silver medal and British record followed in the individual 100m breaststroke events, before claiming bronze in both the 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Her week of success concluded in style with a gold medal and new world record in the 4 x 100m medley relay event, before things got even better when Claire discovered her degree result.

Great Britain and City of Leeds swimmer Claire Cashmore said:

“I’m really happy with my swims at the European Championships and it shows I am in great shape a year before London 2012. Finding out about my degree result too means it has been a very good few weeks for me.

“This year has been really tough trying to juggle third year of university and swimming so to have the medals in my pocket is a great feeling. The Europeans were a stepping stone for the Paralympics so it is very exciting and a bit scary to think the next major event will be at London 2012!

“Next year being the Paralympic Games I want to do everything possible to ensure I that I am in the best shape of my life.”

The City of Leeds Swimming Club is supported by Leeds City Council’s Swimming Training Scheme, and senior age group coach Richard Denigan said:

“Major congratulations to Claire for her tremendous success in Berlin. Together with her degree result it was a great week so all credit to her for being so focused and dedicated in doing her best in both aspects of her life. Claire is an inspiration to all of her teammates, she leads by example each day at training and encourages them to make the right choices so they can succeed. Her contribution to the City of Leeds swimming team goes beyond her own success in the pool, as Claire motivates and offers advice to our younger athletes.

“With the support of Leeds City Council, City of Leeds Swimming Club and the coaching staff we have at Leeds, Claire will hopefully have the best opportunity to continue her successes this year and on to London 2012 - it is a really exciting time for her and the team.”

To find out more about Leeds City Council swimming training scheme call co-ordinator Sarah Reed on 0113 395 0154 or email sarah.reed@leeds.gov.uk.

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk