Tag Archives: social

Nuneaton: Police dealing with ‘ongoing incident’ at Bermuda Park

Police cars at Bermuda Park, in NuneatonImage copyright @callumjwood98

Warwickshire Police have urged people to avoid a leisure complex in Nuneaton due to an “ongoing incident”.

The force tweeted that officers were attending the scene at Bermuda Park, which includes a cinema, children’s soft play centre and a gym.

Unconfirmed reports on social media said armed officers were dealing with a man who had taken hostages inside the bowling alley there.

Police have not confirmed what the nature of the incident is.

Image copyright @IanBrownuk

Eyewitnesses have said the area has been locked down by police.

Local media also reported that an air ambulance had landed at the scene.


Brexit: Expats given ‘no disruption’ pledge by Spanish government

English people in SpainImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Spain is the most popular destination for Britons living in other EU countries

Britons living in Spain will not have their lives “disrupted” after Brexit – even if there is no UKEU deal, the Spanish foreign minister says.

The two sides are yet to reach an agreement about how the rights of expats will be protected after Brexit.

Theresa May has called for “urgency” from the EU side in finding a solution.

And speaking on the BBC‘s Andrew Marr Show, Alfonso Dastis sought to reassure more than 300,000 Britons living in Spain.

“I do hope that there will be a deal,” the minister said.

“If there is no deal we will make sure that the lives of ordinary people who are in Spain, the UK people, is not disrupted.

“As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges.

“Over 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live here or retire here and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”

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Media captionBritish expats sum up Brexit in one word

According to the Office for National Statistics, Spain is host to the largest number of British citizens living in the EU (308,805), and just over a third (101,045) are aged 65 and over.

Citizens’ rights are one of the first subjects being negotiated in the first round of Brexit talks – which have moved so slowly there has been increased talk of no deal at all being reached between the two sides.

The role of the European Court of Justice in guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK has been a sticking point. The EU argues this must continue, but ministers say the EU court will no longer have jurisdiction in the UK after Brexit.

Ahead of last week‘s Brussels summit, Mrs May said the two sides were “in touching distance” of finding an agreement.

On Monday she is expected to tell MPs she will “put people first” in the “complicated and deeply technical” negotiations.

Borrow more to boost building, says Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid

The housing crisis should be tackled by borrowing more to fund construction, a senior cabinet minister has said.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said taking advantage of record-low interest rates “can be the right thing if done sensibly”.

The housing crisis Britain faced was “the biggest barrier to social progress in our country today”, he told the BBC.

The Budget on 22 November would contain more on housing policy, Mr Javid said.

“We are looking at new investments and there will be announcements.”

It comes as Mr Javid launches an eight-week review of housing, in which he has called on the industry to offer solutions to the home-buying and selling process.

Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid said he wanted to “make sure that we’re using everything we have available to deal with this housing crisis”.

‘Invest in the future’

He said between 275,000 and 300,000 homes a year were needed in England alone to help tackle the shortage in affordable housing.

“So for example… you borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing – take advantage of some of the record-low interest rates that we have. I think we should absolutely be considering that.”

He added he would “make a distinction between the deficit, which needs to come down – and that’s vitally important for our economic credibility…

“But investing for the future, taking advantage of record-low interest rates, can be the right thing if done sensibly. And that can help, not just with the housing itself, but one of the big issues is infrastructure investment that is needed alongside the housing.”

Image copyright PA

Theresa May pledged at the Conservative Party conference this month to fix the housing crisis, as she announced an extra £2bn for affordable housing to build an additional 25,000 social homes.

Brexit: Emily Thornberry predicts no deal with the EU

Emily ThornberryImage copyright JEFF OVERS/BBC

Brexit negotiations with the EU are heading for a “no deal” scenario, Labour’s Emily Thornberry has warned.

Shadow foreign secretary Ms Thornberry said the PM‘s failure to control her party was causing “intransigence” on the UK side, which was a “serious threat to Britain” and its interests.

But International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said a failure to agree a deal was “not exactly a nightmare scenario”.

The UK was preparing “mitigation” measures for such an outcome, he said.

Meanwhile, the Spanish foreign minister said the lives of UK expats in Spain would not be “disrupted” even if no Brexit deal is agreed.

Theresa May will update MPs on Monday on the progress made at last week‘s Brussels summit, where EU leaders agreed to begin scoping work on future trade talks while asking for more concessions from the UK on the opening phase of negotiations.

These talks, covering the UK’s “divorce bill”, the rights of expats after Brexit and the border in Northern Ireland, have failed to reach agreement so far – leading to a focus on what happens if nothing is put in place by the time the UK leaves the European Union in March 2019.

Speaking on the BBC‘s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Thornberry said: “I think what we may be seeing is the Europeans trying to make it clear that it is not their fault that there are these difficulties – the intransigence does not come from their side, it comes from Theresa May’s side.

“And in the end I think the reality is the intransigence is on Theresa May’s side, because she doesn’t have the strength or the authority to be able to control her backbenchers, let alone her cabinet. And I think we are heading for no deal, and I think that that is a serious threat to Britain and it is not in Britain’s interests for that to happen.

“We will stop that.”

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Media captionThree key points about how the Brexit talks are going

Labour is seeking to work with Tory rebels to amend a key plank of Brexit legislation – the EU Withdrawal Bill – so that Parliament has the power to reject whatever the outcome of the negotiations turns out to be.

Following last week‘s summit, European Council President Donald Tusk said that although not enough progress had been made to begin trade talks, reports of deadlock may have been exaggerated.

French President Emmanuel Macron said there was still much work to be done on the financial commitment before trade talks can begin, adding: “We are not halfway there.”

Speaking on ITV‘s Peston on Sunday, Mr Fox said a final figure for the UK’s financial settlement with the EU cannot come “until we know what the final package looks like”, later in the negotiation process.

‘People first’

He also dismissed President Macron’s suggestion that “secondary players” in the UK were “bluffing” about the possibility of a no deal outcome, saying this was “completely wrong”.

Mr Fox, who is responsible for striking global trade deals after Brexit, said he would prefer a “comprehensive” arrangement to be agreed – but was “not scared” of what would happen if this was not possible.

When she addresses MPs on Monday, Mrs May is expected to reaffirm her commitment to EU nationals living in the UK, saying she will “put people first” in the “deeply technical” talks.

Speaking on the Marr show, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said expats would be allowed to continue living in Spain even if no Brexit deal was reached.

“I do hope that there will be a deal,” he said.

“If there is no deal we will make sure that the lives of ordinary people who are in Spain, the UK people, is not disrupted.

“As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges.

“Over 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live here or retire here, and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”

‘Amazing results’ hailed as police crackdown leads to 20-plus arrests

MORE than 20 arrests have now been made as part of a police crackdown on suspected burglars and other offenders across Keighley.

The Neighbourhood Policing Team issued the figure via social media this morning.

Suspects have been held for various offences including burglary, robbery and theft.

West Yorkshire Police are not formally commenting on the results of the week-long operation until it has concluded.

But a force tweet today said: “Small team of officers at Keighley bringing in some amazing results.”

And Inspector Khalid Khan described it as “a top effort”.

He adds: “Where you have a team who are determined to clear our streets and make our communities safe, results speak for themselves.”

Why Tim digs NWA

JK Rowling RAM Album ClubImage copyright Rob Stothard
Image caption JK Rowling was among the club’s big-name guests

Ever wondered how gangster rappers NWA could find a fan in former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron or what JK Rowling thinks of the folk punk band Violent Femmes? Harnessing the modern world of streaming to re-examine the old-fashioned feeling of listening to a new LP for the first time, the RAM Album Club pairs the great and good with the music they missed out on the first time around.

Martin Fitzgerald’s club is based on a simple premise: get people to listen three times to an album they had previously overlooked, then ask them to come up with a score out of 10.

“The way of the world these days is you can have that idea, and then in literally an hour you have a website, social media accounts and you’re off,” he said.

Steering away from the competitive tendencies of know-all musos, like those memorably sent up in Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel High Fidelity, Fitzgerald wanted the club to concentrate on getting personal reactions to much-loved LPs.

Image copyright Matt Cardy
Image caption Tim Farron: Possibly the most unlikely fan of gangster rappers NWA

Whether it was arch-conservative commentator Peter Hitchens casting a critical eye over The Kinks, Rebus author Ian Rankin ranking Madonna’s debut, comedian Stewart Lee reviewing David Bowie‘s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust or actor and comic Chris Addison analysing Marvin Gaye, big names soon queued up to take their place as guests, and brought some of their own fans along for the ride.

In one of the most unusual episodes, Cumbrian MP and self-confessed “complete and utter pop music anorak” Tim Farron listened to NWA’s Straight Outta Compton – a slightly edgier group than the Liberal Democrat party he once led in Westminster.

“I think there were some people who thought I was trying to be down with the kids, but I just thought there was a good story behind NWA,” said the MP, who is more readily associated with evangelical Christianity than he is for his appreciation of mould-breaking hip hop.

“[Straight Outta Compton] came out while I was going to university, and I was intrigued about why I hadn’t listened to it at the time.

“We thought people would think it was funny that a then-party leader was reviewing a frankly quite offensive gangster rap album.

“I was writing about an album that I didn’t know about, that other people loved, so I was a bit terrified – writing as an amateur to experts is always terrifying.”

Image copyright Theo Wargo/Getty Images
Image caption NWA were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year

The idea for the club first came to Fitzgerald when, as a new user of music streaming service Spotify, his friend Ruth, a colleague at a ticket-selling company in Nottingham, suggested an album he’d never heard – Cassadaga by the American indie band Bright Eyes.

Realising they’d hit upon something, they soon cast around for friends and social media followers to join in and RAM (aka Ruth and Martin Album Club) was born.

As the enterprise took off and well-known writers, media personalities and even global superstars like JK Rowling got involved, Fitzgerald’s introduction pieces to each review developed into increasingly lengthy “adventure stories”, describing their early struggles before the acts being reviewed hit the big time.

Witty and wry, these intros are one of the most compelling elements of the album club.

In one memorable piece, written for TV personality Richard Osman’s review of Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure, Fitzgerald takes aim at those critics who derided lead singer Bryan Ferry’s work as “a soundtrack to some terrible wine bar that has since closed down”.

Image copyright Martyn Goddard
Image caption The Police were described as “a Geordie in a jumpsuit, an American who’s dad ran the Cold War, and a much older bloke with long fingers” by Martin Fitzgerald in one introduction

Fitzgerald said he was sick of the “socio-political commentaries” evident in much modern music journalism.

“I wanted to write pieces that people would laugh at and find funny,” he said.

“I felt I had a lot to say, and people responded to all these bands and the stories of their origins.”

For Your Pleasure: Guests and their albums

Image copyright Getty Images
  • David Aaronovitch, journalist and author – Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers) by rap group Wu Tang Clan
  • Jo Caulfield, comedian – Animals by seminal prog rock band Pink Floyd
  • Bonnie Greer, playwright and activist – Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys
  • Helen Lewis, technology writer and New Statesman deputy editor – Blackout by Britney Spears
  • Tom Watson, Labour MP – Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan

One high-profile guest drawn into the club’s unique spin on landmark records was Booker-shortlisted author Linda Grant. Having drifted away from the album charts in the late 1970s in favour of classical compositions, she reviewed – and found a place in her heart – for Anglo-Irish hell-raisers The Pogues,

Though the prospect of writing for an audience of music fanatics was daunting, even for an award-winning novelist, she said the club bucked the trend for social media backlashes against perceived slights and encouraged a variety of opinions.

“I was worried people would say I didn’t get this or that, that people might have thought that someone who writes literary fiction wouldn’t listen to The Pogues, but the responses were really great,” she said.

“One of the reasons that it works so well is that people could see Martin is a nice, funny, likeable guy.

“He’s not sycophantic, he’s very funny, there’s never any sneering, and even when people come back with low marks for classic albums, he never tells them they’re wrong.

“He let people say what they had to say.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Pogues and Shane MacGowan found an unlikely fan in novelist Linda Grant

David Quantick, a music journalist and writer for TV comedies such as The Day Today and Brass Eye, reviewed Foxtrot, an early album by prog rock band Genesis.

Despite posting a critical review of the album – something Fitzgerald said often worried guests – he enjoyed the experience of taking part in the club.

“I was interested in the idea of someone writing blind about a record, regardless of who they were or what the record was,” Quantick said.

“There’s something great about someone being parachuted into to something and having to find their way around it.

“It was hard to find records I didn’t know, because I’m a music writer and I’m also someone who’s interested in music I don’t like – just because it’s not my favourite band doesn’t mean I don’t want to know more about the people who made it or the story behind the band.”

Image copyright Graham Wood
Image caption Genesis may not have been best pleased by David Quantick’s views on their album Foxtrot

As the club grew in popularity, Fitzgerald went from idly surfing Spotify in bed to reading a book a week as research for his introductory pieces.

Known as a major music fan to his friends, one even recommended the club to him, unaware he was the founder – there is no image of Fitzgerald on RAM’s website as he prefers to keep the focus on the guests and the albums they review.

Eventually the heavy workload, regular turnaround and desire for a rest took its toll, and only one blog for the website has been written in the past year.

Image caption The idea for the club came after Fitzgerald finally listened to US indie band Bright Eyes

While there might be more “if there are the right guests and if there’s an audience”, nearly two dozen of the reviews and introductory stories have been released in book form, allowing a blog that was started in Fitzgerald’s bedroom reach living rooms across the country.

For the club’s founder, there is an unexpectedly simple reason for its success, beyond the fervour of devoted music fans.

“This is actually an idea that came about because of modern technology,” said Fitzgerald.

“People often think it’s a retro thing to listen to an album, but it wasn’t like I had to send albums out or send people to record shops – they could just stream and go.”

With a helping hand from modern technology, the club has certainly achieved its primary goal of introducing people to LPs they did not know they loved – with arguably no odder match-up than Straight Outta Compton and Tim Farron.

“It’s a shocking album and a great album, and I have listened to it since,” he said.

“There’s a wonderful thing about music – it’s something which people get passionate about.”

Yorkshire accolade for former Bradford police officer

A FORMER Bradford police officer who says his mission is to unite people of all ethnic backgrounds amid rising tensions, segregation and fragmentation was honoured at the recent Yorkshire Awards.

Kash Singh, of East Morton, near Bradford, was presented with the Richard Whiteley Award at a glittering ceremony at the Hilton Leeds City Hotel.

The award is not made every year but is given as a special accolade when organisers come across someone who, they believe, captures the spirit of Yorkshire.

Mr Singh set up his charity One Britain One Nation (OBON) in 2012 after a distinguished career in the police force.

The charity promotes patriotic events which have so far attracted about 50,000 people.

He said: “I am humbled and honoured that my work has been recognised at such a distinguished level and I feel privileged to be associated with the name of Richard Whiteley, such a great Yorkshireman.

“My life has been in Yorkshire – it is a fantastic place to live and work. The people are friendly and the scenery is beautiful.

“I have created a template for my work in Bradford and my goal is now to take it to every corner of the nation.”

Mr Singh moved to Bradford from the Punjab with his parents at the age of six and joined West Yorkshire Police when he was 20.

He rose to the rank of Inspector and in 2006 was tasked with restoring order to the Manningham area of Bradford, which had been hit in 2001 by what were described as the worst riots in mainland Britain.

Within 18 months he was presiding over one of the lowest crime rate areas in the district – an achievement that won him the West Yorkshire Police Oscar, the Criminal Justice Award, third position at a national competition for outstanding police work as well as the nickname “The Famous Bollywood Inspector” among his colleagues.

Yorkshire Awards committee member Canon Keith Madeley said: “Kash is an outstanding individual who is making a huge contribution to the social fabric of Yorkshire and beyond. He is a lovely man who is passionate about the UK and he has been a force for good during his police service and now with his One Britain One Nation charity.”

Mr Singh, who is chair and founder of the British Indian Association, said: “From an early age it was my desire to help people and make a difference, and I was always so proud to wear the Queen’s uniform.

“I want to encourage all our communities to love our nation and pull together as one people.

Mr Singh said he and his team of helpers at OBON now wanted to get people united under the national flag – not just during Jubilee celebrations or at the Olympics.

“People are shy about bringing out the flag and some people from white communities don’t do it because of how it might be perceived.

“Hate crime has increased by more than 50 per cent, tensions are rising, but I am trying to bring out the best in all communities, to bring people together to work in the interests of our country and instil an element of hope and inspiration in future generations,” he said.

Other award recipients on the night included Yorkshire and former England cricketer Ryan Sidebottom and former international cricket umpire Dickie Bird.

Rape accused Brad Conway is former teacher and martial arts fighter, court hears

A man standing trial accused of multiple counts of rape is a former teacher and mixed martial arts fighter, it has emerged in court.

Brad Conway, 36, formerly of Wibsey, Bradford, is on trial at Bradford Crown Court charged with nine counts of rape, two counts of sexual assault, two of voyeurism and single charges of harassment to commit rape and false imprisonment.

A jury has been shown a video interview with a woman in which she described teacher Conway as a “narcissist” with an anti-social personality disorder. She said: “He is very controlling. If he really wants it, he will do it.”

She described him as persistent, manipulative, and forceful, stating he was either “really, really nasty, or sickeningly nice”.

In the interview, she said Conway had forced her to make sexually explicit videos with him, even though she told him it was something she didn’t want to do, and would threaten to post them on her work’s social media accounts and say he was going to watch them with his friends.

The woman said she was “scared” by his behaviour, adding: “He will ply you with drugs and alcohol – it’s not like he can force you to drink, but it’s psychologically manipulating.”

In one incident, which she described as “the most horrifying”, Conway is said to have become angry over a message he saw on her phone while at a Bradford bar. The woman said Conway took her phone, before dragging her through town, locking her in his car and then drove “like a maniac” to his house, where he forced her to have sex with him.

The woman said she was “physically pinned down”, that Conway had put a pillow over her face and she was screaming.

Asked why she had not reported the allegations to police straightaway, the girl said events had left her “emotionally numb.”

Conway’s barrister, Stephen Uttley, told the jury at the beginning of the trial that his client’s defence was that all five women involved in the case had consented to sex.

Mr Uttley accused the woman – whom the jury saw had attended a mixed martial arts contest in which Conway was fighting – of “meddling” with the police investigation by pressurising another woman to come forward with allegations against him.

When asked whether her allegations were “payback” against Conway, now of Balmoral Place, Halifax, she said: “This is not payback by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t have any personal vendetta against Brad. I have a moral obligation to protect woman and children from him.”

The trial continues.

Drawing a line

Couple at partyImage copyright Getty Images

A proclamation of sexual attraction. A hand resting on the knee. A flirty text message.

From the right person at the right time, they can make you feel great.

But from the wrong person or at the wrong time, an innuendo-laden text becomes creepy and an unwanted touch can make you feel uncomfortable and ashamed.

As the number of women making claims against Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein grows by the day, women around the world have spoken on social media about their experiences of sexual harassment under the #metoo Twitter hashtag.

But, in a global debate, the question of how we define sexual harassment is not altogether clear.

And that line between flirtation and harassment is a very fine – and often blurred – one.

So how do you ensure you stay on the right side of it?

If you want to meet someone, you have to flirt, says relationship expert James Preece.

But it’s about doing it in the right environment, not when people are least expecting it, he says.

The problem is men can’t always read the signals and assume all women are interested in them, while women can be huggy and tactile, and they’ll say they’re just being friendly, he says.

He advises his clients – men and women aged from 23 to 72 – to play it safe by flirting in a playful – not a sexual – way.

“Treat them like your mother at the first meeting,” he says. “Be friendly and build up a rapport and trust.”

At the end of the first date, he suggests a friendly hug or peck on the cheek.

If you get a second date, try touching them on a non-sexual body part – such as below the elbow or towards the small of the back, he says.

If they don’t flinch, you can go in for the kiss.

When does flirting become sexual harassment?

When it’s unwanted and persistent, says Sarah King, of Stuart Miller Solicitors.

Dating expert James believes it’s when a man pushes things too far – whether through what he says or what he does – when a woman clearly doesn’t want it.

Sea Ming Pak, who goes into London schools to teach young people about sex and relationships, reels off a long list of what she thinks constitutes sexual harassment: non-consensual touching; feeling entitled to someone else; talking in a certain way; chasing girls down the street in order to chat them up; wolf-whistling and using a position of power or trust to talk in a creepy way.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines sexual harassment as “unwanted sexual advances, obscene remarks, etc”.

And the Equality Act 2010 says it’s an “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature” which violates a person’s dignity or “creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment”.

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Media captionWomen are speaking out about sexual harassment through one photographer’s powerful project

Is sexual harassment illegal?

Not specifically. It is not a criminal offence in its own right, says Sarah the solicitor.

However, the types of behaviour that amount to sexual harassment can be criminalised under different pieces of legislation. For example:

That said, anyone being sexual harassed in the workplace is protected by the Equality Act 2010. A case is considered a civil – not a criminal – matter and would be dealt with in an employment tribunal.

More than half of women say they have been sexually harassed at work, according to research carried out last year by the TUC.

Why is sexual harassment happening?

Sea Ming Pak, who works for sexual health charity Brook, blames Western society’s sex-sells culture which, she says, breeds entitlement and a blame culture.

Young people have been conditioned through films, music videos, TV programmes, access to porn and the normalisation of sending sexual images on phones, she says.

In school assemblies and classrooms, she tells them when it comes to sex you have to have freedom and the capacity to make the choice.

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Media captionA Thames Valley Police video is entitled “Consent: It’s as simple as tea”

But she admits she worries about how poorly informed our schoolchildren are – with many blaming the victim when a rape scenario is presented.

In some cases, it is a learned behaviour, picked up from those closest to them.

She describes spotting a girl from one of her classes at a bus stop with a boy draping his arm around her and being “handsy”.

“She did not look like she wanted the attention so the next week I told her: ‘You have the right to say no, it was not OK for him to touch you’.

“I explained consent, and she replied: ‘But they always grab me’.”

Image copyright Getty Images

Sea, who typically speaks to boys and girls aged between 14 and 17, thinks that until children are told they can say “no” at an earlier age, the problem will not go away.

We should speak to them in primary schools, says Sea.

That’s when it starts, she says, recalling her own schooldays when boys thought it was funny to rip open girls’ shirts, put their hands up their skirts, grab their bums and ping their bras.

“It was about shame and humiliation,” she says.

At that age, you talk about boundaries, she explains, and at secondary school they need to know about consent, how to read body language, negotiate situations and to think before sending sexual images of themselves.

Is the law likely to change?

Grassroots pressure is mounting.

A petition calling for the Crown Prosecution Service to make misogynistic incidents a hate crime has been signed by more than 65,000 people.

In Nottinghamshire, police took it upon themselves to start recording misogynistic incidents as hate crimes; until then there was no category for such cases.

The force defines those as: “Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”

It allows police to investigate the incidents as crimes and support the victims, as well as get a better picture of the scale of the problem.

Solicitor Sarah King says there is a gap in the legislation.

She points to the Crime and Disorder Act which includes an offence of harassment motivated by the complainant’s religion or race, but not when it’s sexual.

A specific criminal offence for sexual harassment would define the behaviour and create clear boundaries once and for all, she says.

Health hero

A 12-year-old boy from the Black Country has been announced as one of BBC Radio 1’s teen heroes.

Harrison Wright was told by school nurses he was obese, but he turned his life around through diet and exercise documenting his journey on social media.

He now inspires other children, creating healthy packed lunches and working with caterers at his school to make sure others are eating healthily.

The inspirational schoolboy, from Wednesbury, has also worked with health food campaigners Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks.