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Tag Archives: funds

Reindeer Ride to raise vital charity funds

A CityConnect Charity Reindeer Ride will raise vital funds for the Lord Mayor’s Appeals in both Bradford and Leeds.

Kersten England, chief executive at Bradford Council, joined Tom Riordan, her counterpart at Leeds City Council, to launch the event, which will take place on December 21.

They will be joined by 60 outriders, including a number of invited guests, to create a “magical procession” along the Cycle Superhighway that connects the two cities.

Local artists Nicola Murray, from Sponge Tree, and Tim Curtis, from Proper Cycling, have collaborated to create bespoke and life-like reindeer heads to adorn a range of adaptive bikes.

Sports stars, including former New Zealand Rugby League International Robbie Hunter-Paul and former England cricketer Ryan Sidebottom, will participate in the procession, with support from Bradford Bulls and Yorkshire Cricket Club.

They will be joined by invited members of the cycling community and other guests, with even Santa and his elf coming along for the ride.

Riders will meet in Leeds city centre at 2.30pm, with a festive Grand Depart at 3.30pm waved off by Leeds’ Lord Mayor, Councillor Jane Dowson. The ride will proceed along the Cycle Superhighway and will be greeted with a civic reception on arrival in City Park by the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Abid Hussain.

In Bradford, the ride will raise money for Down Syndrome Training & Support and the Wishing Well Appeal, with the Leeds appeal supporting Candlelighters, the children’s cancer charity.

Ms England said: “This event is a cracking way to celebrate the festive season, promote the award-winning Cycle Superhighway that connects our great cities, and raise funds for the charities of our Lord Mayors.

“It’s also the first time I’ve managed to get my good friend and colleague Tom Riordan on a bike which is a result in itself!”

Cllr Hussain added: “I look forward to welcoming the reindeer riders in to Bradford at the end of their ride from Leeds.

“This is a wonderful event bringing together people from our two great cities and I am delighted that they’ve decided to raise money for our Lord Mayors’ Appeal charities. I’m sure those taking part will have a great time.”

To donate towards the event, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/CityConnectReindeerRide.

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Tortured by Syrian extremists ‘who received UK aid’

The extremist Syrian group Nour al-Din al-Zinki took funds through a UK-backed foreign aid project, a BBC Panorama investigation has found.

Taxpayers’ money was diverted to Zinki via the Free Syrian Police scheme.

The government has suspended funding while it investigates the allegations.

UK users can watch the full BBC Panorama investigation on BBC iPlayer.

UK foreign aid money ‘diverted to extremists’ in Syria

Gaziantep in Turkey.
Image caption The Free Syrian Police project is run from Gaziantep in Turkey, just across the border from Syria

The government has suspended a foreign aid project after a BBC Panorama investigation found taxpayers’ cash was being diverted to extremists in Syria.

Officers from a UK-backed civilian police force in Syria have also been working with courts accused of torture.

A UK government spokesman said it takes allegations of co-operation with terrorist groups “extremely seriously”.

Adam Smith International, the British company running the project, said it strongly denies the allegations.

The Free Syrian Police (FSP) was set up following the uprising in Syria, to bring law and order to parts of the country that were controlled by opposition forces.

Adam Smith International (ASI) has been running the project since October 2014.

Britain was one of six donor countries paying for the project, which provides community policing to the rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Idlib and Daraa provinces.

It is intended to be an unarmed civilian police force, and not co-operate with extremist groups, but Panorama has found examples where that was not the case. Some of Panorama’s allegations against the project include:

  • Police cooperating with courts accused of torture and summary executions – including a case where two women were stoned to death
  • Police are being paid in cash and then being forced to hand over funds to an extremist group controlling the area
  • Police officers are being handpicked by an extremist group
  • Dead and fictitious people are on the police payroll

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced in April that the UK would commit a further £4 million to the UK-funded Access to Justice and Community Security (AJACS) scheme that supports the FSP.

ASI says the FSP is an unarmed community police force that brings the rule of law and safety to millions of people in a war-torn country.

An ASI spokesman said it “strongly refutes Panorama’s allegations”.

“We have managed taxpayers’ money effectively to confront terrorism, bring security to Syrian communities and mitigate the considerable risks of operating in a war zone,” he said.

“ASI has managed the project successfully alongside our partner in an extremely challenging, high-risk environment under the close supervision of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and five other governments.”

The company says it uses cash to fund the police because there is no practical alternative – and that the British government is aware of the payments.

Image caption A police station in Koknaya was supposed to be the base for 57 officers – but ASI staff could not find any police officers during a visit in 2016

Panorama has obtained ASI documents that show dead and fictitious people were on the police payroll.

One police station in Koknaya in Idlib province was supposed to be the base for 57 police officers. But the documents show that when ASI’s staff visited in September 2016, they couldn’t find a single officer.

ASI said officers were accounted for on subsequent visits. The company has now suspended the payment of all salaries at the Koknaya police station.

It said it had identified very few examples across Syria where deceased officers had remained on the salary list.

The documents also show how some police officers in Aleppo province were forced to hand over cash to the extremist group – Nour al-Din al-Zinki – in control of the area.

The Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement has been linked to atrocities including the beheading of a young prisoner in 2016.

An ASI report from July 2016 warned that 20% of all police salaries were being handed over “to pay for the military and security support that Zinki provides to the five FSP stations located areas under its control”.

As well as handing over a cut of British aid money to Zinki, the police had also worked with a Zinki court “by writing up warrants, delivering notices, and turning criminals over to the court”.

‘Wholly abhorrent’

The police cooperation has continued despite allegations of torture and summary executions involving the court at al-Qasimiyeh.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt, former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the FSP should not be supporting extremist courts.

He said: “You’ve got people being sentenced to death for homosexuality.

“Clearly that is completely and utterly unacceptable by any standard and the idea that British taxpayers’ money was associated with that would of course be wholly abhorrent.”

ASI says it has strict guidelines in place to ensure detainees are treated fairly and humanely, and that payments to the police stations which were paying Zinki were stopped in August 2016. It says donor governments were kept fully informed.

Image caption A road near Sarmin – where two women were stoned to death in the presence of FSP officers

Panorama also discovered that the Free Syrian Police provided support for courts run by the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda – Jabhat al-Nusra – which handed out extreme punishments.

Police officers were present when two women were stoned to death near Sarmin in December 2014. Sources have told Panorama the officers closed the road so that the execution could take place.

ASI says the police officers who attended the stoning were not formally under FSP control and have since been removed.

Panorama has also seen evidence that al-Nusra handpicked police officers in two stations in Idlib province.

ASI says that the officers imposed by al-Nusra were detected in under two months and that payments to the station were then stopped.

The company says the payments in question only amounted to $1,800 (£1,340) and did not come from British government funds. But ASI didn’t explain how they could be sure when the whole project is funded by cash.

A UK government spokesman said: “We take any allegations of co-operation with terrorist groups and of human rights abuses extremely seriously and the Foreign Office has suspended this programme while we investigate these allegations.

“We believe that such work in Syria is important to protect our national security interest but of course we reach this judgment carefully given that in such a challenging environment no activity is without risk.

“That’s why all our programmes are designed carefully and subject to robust monitoring.”

You can see more on this story on Panorama, Jihadis You Pay For on BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday 4 December and afterwards on iPlayer.

Drama school gets Coldplay’s blessing to record hit Fix You for hospital charity

ROCK band Coldplay have allowed their hit Fix You to be released by a drama school to raise funds for the Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity.

The Christmas charity single, by DM Academy in Shipley, will be performed at the Alhambra this week – and Coldplay have been invited to join the young singers on stage.

It was during a carol concert for Haven Breast Cancer that DM Academy principal Deana Morgan had an idea for a charity single.

“The children sing carols every year for Haven, where I was supported when I had breast cancer. They sing so beautifully and I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to release a single?’” she said.

“Because our Christmas show is in aid of the Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity, raising money to help children to feel better, we thought Fix You would be the perfect song.”

The children worked with vocal coach Charlotte Jones and a professional sound engineer on the recording, which Deana sent to Coldplay’s management.

“I thought, ‘What’s the worst they can say?’ To our delight, the band heard the track, thought it was great and said we could release it as a Christmas charity single,” said Deana.

“All the licences have been approved and I’m waiting for the go-ahead for it to be downloaded on global platforms, with proceeds going to the charity. I just thought we’d burn a few CDs but it’s turning out to be huge. The children are so excited. They loved the experience of recording the song and shooting a video to go with it.

“The track is absolutely beautiful, I’m moved to tears every time I hear it. It starts with little voices then gets bigger, with the children singing in immaculate harmonies, and ends with Maisy Padgett and Amy Greenwood, both eight, singing together. It’s joyous and powerful.”

Now Deana is in discussion with Coldplay’s management about an appearance at DM Academy’s It’s Christmas Words show at the Alhambra. “It would be fantastic if Chris Martin or any of the band could join us on stage, or record a good luck video message for the children,” she said.

l DM Academy’s recording of Fix You is on cdbaby.com-cd-deanamorganacademy.

It’s Christmas Words is at the Alhambra on Thursday, December 7, at 7.15pm. Tickets are on (01274) 432000. The children will sing Fix You at Leeds Minster on December 14.

VIDEO: Bradford drama school enters race for Christmas number one with charity cover of Fix You – with Coldplay’s blessing

ROCK band Coldplay have allowed their hit Fix You to be released by a drama school to raise funds for the Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity.

The Christmas charity single, by DM Academy in Shipley, will be performed at the Alhambra this week – and Coldplay have been invited to join the young singers on stage.

It was during a carol concert for Haven Breast Cancer that DM Academy principal Deana Morgan had an idea for a charity single.

“The children sing carols every year for Haven, where I was supported when I had breast cancer. They sing so beautifully and I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to release a single?’” she said.

“Because our Christmas show is in aid of the Bradford Hospitals Children’s Charity, raising money to help children to feel better, we thought Fix You would be the perfect song.”

The children worked with vocal coach Charlotte Jones and a professional sound engineer on the recording, which Deana sent to Coldplay’s management.

“I thought, ‘What’s the worst they can say?’ To our delight, the band heard the track, thought it was great and said we could release it as a Christmas charity single,” said Deana.

“All the licences have been approved and I’m waiting for the go-ahead for it to be downloaded on global platforms, with proceeds going to the charity. I just thought we’d burn a few CDs but it’s turning out to be huge. The children are so excited. They loved the experience of recording the song and shooting a video to go with it.

“The track is absolutely beautiful, I’m moved to tears every time I hear it. It starts with little voices then gets bigger, with the children singing in immaculate harmonies, and ends with Maisy Padgett and Amy Greenwood, both eight, singing together. It’s joyous and powerful.”

Now Deana is in discussion with Coldplay’s management about an appearance at DM Academy’s It’s Christmas Words show at the Alhambra. “It would be fantastic if Chris Martin or any of the band could join us on stage, or record a good luck video message for the children,” she said.

l DM Academy’s recording of Fix You is on cdbaby.com-cd-deanamorganacademy.

It’s Christmas Words is at the Alhambra on Thursday, December 7, at 7.15pm. Tickets are on (01274) 432000. The children will sing Fix You at Leeds Minster on December 14.

Mental health: ‘I was offered help two years later’

At 16, George Hodgson was severely ill with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

His GP referred him to adolescent mental health services – but was told there was at least a 40-week wait for treatment.

Two years later, just before his 18th birthday – the cut-off point for adolescent care – George got the call to say help was available.

Fortunately, he had already been seen because his parents could afford private care.

George has now made a full recovery and uses his illness to raise awareness and help others through his fashion label, ‘Maison de Choup’

He said: “It raises funds and awareness for mental health, spreading a positive message of empowerment and showing that we are stronger than our mental health.”

New Zealander bowled over by cricket club’s flood recovery

A CRICKET Club’s £200,000 renovation work following the Boxing Day 2015 floods has impressed visitors from New Zealand.

Tong Park Esholt Cricket Club fell victim to the Storm Eva floods after the River Aire burst its banks, sweeping caravans from the adjacent field onto the cricket ground, and leaving three feet of standing water on the pitch.

The damage led to changing rooms needing to be gutted, the total refit of the club steward’s flat and umpire changing rooms, practice nets being destroyed and sight screens and scoreboards being wrecked.

The club’s outfield and wicket was damaged by caravans being dragged across by the force of water, and boundary fencing and seating was destroyed.

Scott Mehrtens, a New Zealand-based tour operator, visited the site weeks after the floods and again last summer – and was impressed by the way in which the club had bounced back.

Mr Mehrtens, who works for Leisure Time Tours/Travel Time South Pacific, in Hamilton, said in a letter to the Telegraph & Argus: “In early 2016, I was appalled by the damage done to Esholt and being a cricket fan, it broke my heart seeing the state of the Tong Park Esholt cricket ground.

“We have been again and I had to go down to the cricket ground to see what progress had been made.

“Wow – it looks fantastic. I really appreciate all the hard work to bring it back to this standard.

“Well done to all for bringing triumph from the brink of tragedy.

“We frequently visit Esholt village during our travels.”

The work was funded via a grant of £170,000 from the England and Wales Cricket Board, with remaining funds coming from sources including Sport England, Yorkshire Cricket Board, insurance payouts and Bradford Council.

David Young, Tong Park Esholt Cricket Club treasurer, said he was grateful for Mr Mehrtens’s tribute.

He said of the damage to the Meadowside Road, Baildon, club: “It was horrendous. All of the work is done now but it will take 12 months for all of our pitches to get back to how they were before the floods.

“It has been a difficult two years not playing at home. We played half of our home fixtures last season, but will be back to normal next season.

“It feels very good to get that praise from Scott. He has relatives who play for us, so he is a friend of the club.”

Peter’s set to light up Christmas in Idle

THOUSANDS of festive bulbs will light up the sky in Idle later this week when dad-of-two Peter Downes flicks the switch for charity.

Mr Downes, who runs his own cleaning company, is expecting hundreds of visitors round to his house in All Alone Road between Friday and the New Year to be dazzled by his lightshow in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.

This will be the 11th year he has raised funds for the charity by decking out his home and garden. Last year the family broke with tradition to go skiing in Austria.

“We missed it so we won’t be going away at Christmas again!” said Mr Downes, who has raised more than £12,000 over the years with his twinkling snowmen, penguins and more. Celebrities including soap and sporting stars have been invited to do the switch on in the past but this year Mr Downes is doing it himself at about 4pm on December 1.

Police station staff help raise money for brave little boy’s leukaemia treatment

A BRAVE little boy has said thank you to a team of Bradford police staff for their support in helping him to get the treatment he needs.

Staff at the Prosecutions and Casualty Reduction Unit at Dudley Hill Police Station have been raising funds for four-year-old Toby Nye from Leeds, who has the most severe form of neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer that mostly affects babies and young children.

Toby’s family are trying to raise around £100,000 to pay for his treatment and the team have contributed towards the total by holding charitable events such as dress down days and raffles at their offices in Dudley Hill.

Earlier this week they were invited to the station to collect a cheque for £705.

Toby’s mother Stacey Worsley said: “I would like to thank Chris and the team at Dudley Hill Police Station for everything they have done to help Toby.”

Charity football match and fun day raises £1,330

A FUN day and football match helped to raise vital funds for two charities.

The event, which was held at Goals, King’s Road and the Malt Kiln, Idle Road, Undercliffe, raised £1,330 which will be split between Marie Curie and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

It was organised by landlord Ronnie Parker along with Darren Phillips and Dave Long.

They thanked all those who donated time and raffle prizes for the day.

Mr Phillips said: “We organised everything in two weeks and had fantastic support from them and the people of Undercliffe too.”

The charity football match, which attracted 31 players, was won by ‘Hogg’s Heroes’ and Goals allowed the use of one of its pitches for free for two hours.

The fun day (pictured) included a bouncy castle, donated for the day, an Elvis tribute act, face painting, pool, a disco and karaoke.

Organisers now plan to put on the event every year.