Jo Ward

Jo Ward has 83 articles published.

Sunshine Sessions for Bereaved Children

in Features

When somebody dies, whether from a long term illness, an accident or whether they died by suicide, those left behind can experience overwhelming emotional trauma. This can be especially true for children and it can often have devastating effects on a child’s psychological and physical behaviour.

Carla Borastero knew from personal experience how important it was to support a child along their grief journey by providing a safe space for them to talk about their emotions. “There is a massive need for early intervention and it is not just here, it is everywhere. 

With a degree in Early Years Education, Carla managed a nursery setting in the UK before working for the Preston Domestic Violence service as an Early Intervention specialist. “I relocated to Fuente de Piedra in Spain with my husband Rob and family where I did some teaching, but we went back to the UK on holiday in 2016 and sadly this was where my late husband completed suicide.” 

Carla is now married to a Gibraltarian and last year gave birth to a baby boy, but she soon realised that there was a need for child bereavement support. “It was just before lockdown when I spoke to Jackie Linares, Welfare Education Advisor at the Department of Education, and she thought it was a fantastic idea and something that was definitely lacking in Gibraltar.” Carla says that she was prepared to put all her time and energy into it but didn’t have the funds to support her idea. “I worked together with the Department of Education to devise the programme that we now deliver.”

At the moment eighty percent of referrals come from parents, with the rest from teachers, Cancer Relief, the GHA, and Children’s Psychology. “Digital marketing company PaperCloud have kindly sponsored me and have designed some great leaflets, but at the moment promotion has mostly been via word of mouth and on school websites.”

Sunshine Sessions launched in March, with sessions taking place every second Tuesday from 4 – 5.30 pm for children aged from four to twelve years of age in a Department of Education classroom in Upper Town.  “We use a lot of resources from Child Bereavement UK that we have had brought in, but it is about collating it and making it age appropriate which is what has taken lots of time and it is now in session order and I am pleased to say that it runs beautifully,” Carla explains.

Carla is ably assisted in running the sessions by colleague, and now friend, Giselle Isherwood. “We do a lot of craft activities, we talk about emotional regulation and about how to manage their negative feelings more positively,” Carla says. Grief resources include books and YouTube animated short videos such as Lucy’s Blue Day. “We undertake bereavement specific activities such as blowing bubbles to blow away our worries outside and we also ask the children to talk about their worries, write them down and ‘feed’ them into the Worry Monster’s mouth.”

Carla explains: “We know that children will often experience an increase in their worries after the death of a loved one. Sometimes children already know what they’re worried about, sometimes that worry is just a big blob of pain in their stomach and they need help finding the words to talk about it. That’s where the Worry Monster comes in.”

“We have had some Worry Monsters knitted and very kindly donated by Wendy Reeves-Russell for our current group of children. However, these are extremely time consuming to make and we would welcome any monster contributions for our Sunshine Session children.”

Results are evidenced by feedback from parents and from seeing children with their peers. “The first time they walk into the session they know why they are there and that is because someone has died and the bonds that have been formed as a result of that are amazing,” Carla states.  “We are facilitators in that we enable the children to open up and speak to each other.”

Courses run for six sessions over twelve weeks with a group of up to ten children who are dropped off by their parents or carers. “We very quickly realised that it couldn’t be a drop-in, drop-out, youth club type session because I wouldn’t be able to staff it appropriately, so Giselle and I work on a one-to-four, possibly one-to-five basis.”

Once the children have completed the programme a party is held the week after to celebrate the fact that they have met new friends. “We have a WhatsApp group and we all keep in touch – I still get phone calls and messages from parents now – and we also keep in touch with the kids.”

Sometimes parents are wrapped up in their own grief, meaning that it can be very difficult for them to help their children. “We give the children a safe space to open up and talk about the person who has died,” Carla says. “We are really conscious that we think we are being kind when we say to children that their loved one is in heaven, or that they are a star in the sky, but that is actually not helpful because they think they are going to come back, but they aren’t.” 

Going forward Carla would like to facilitate sessions for older kids as well as initiating another programme to revisit the children who have already attended sessions, but in twelve to eighteen months’ time.  

“When Rob died I managed to find resources for my girls, and although it is very sad I feel privileged that I have got the personal experience combined with a professional background that has enabled me to help the children in Gibraltar that need grief support.”

Carla also wants to mention suicide support group Walking Together for adults. “Without them I wouldn’t have been able to do the Sunshine Sessions,” she states.

More information can be found on the Sunshine Sessions Facebook page or to donate knitted Worry Monsters please contact: sunshinesessionsgib@outlook.com or 54087502 for patterns

Winter Wellness – Improve sleep & Relaxation

in Features

As we move between seasons when the days get shorter and the night becomes longer, you may notice that less daylight hours can affect our sleeping patterns and have an influence on our sleep quality. Anything that upsets our 24-hour cycle, such as the clocks moving forwards or backwards, jet lag, shift work, or even just a very late night, can have a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns, leading to problems like insomnia.

There are things that you can do to help you attain a better quality of sleep and one of these is take into account what you are eating. Did you realise that there are sleep-inducing foods that can help us to fall and stay asleep? For example, if you are not consuming the vitamins and minerals needed for your hormonal system to function normally, your body may not create enough melatonin- the hormone that signals sleep.

Melatonin, only available on prescription, is a hormone that’s produced within the pineal gland of the brain, to help us maintain our circadian rhythms. When it goes dark, the gland releases melatonin, making us tired. As the sun rises, melatonin production stops, and we awake.

However, there are some foods that contain melatonin and research studies show that foods high in melatonin could significantly increase the melatonin concentration in blood and help to improve your sleep. Some of the most popular natural melatonin foods include: eggs, fish, nuts, cereals/grains, seeds, legumes and other plant foods. 

If you have trouble relaxing, try valerian, a traditional herbal remedy which may help with temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to mild anxiety. The safe and naturally relaxing root is still used today by some people who struggle to ‘switch off’ at night. Try Valerian capsules from Holland & Barrett

Magnesium is an essential mineral which has been shown to both help people fall asleep and stay asleep for longer. Make sure you get enough Magnesium by eating foods like tofu, spinach, almonds, avocados and dark chocolate to keep your levels up, or try taking a supplement such as Floradix Magnesium, a pleasant tasting magnesium liquid formula with herbal extracts & fruit juice concentrates available from Holland & Barrett.

If you are struggling to go to sleep, you should give caffeine a miss, but don’t worry, you can still enjoy a nice cuppa – just choose decaf or switch to herbal teas. Holland & Barrett have a selection of herbal teas that will help you to nod off easily. If you’re still struggling to get to sleep here are some simple techniques that could help you. 

Firstly, get your bedroom ready for sleep by keeping clocks out of view and removing electronic devices from the room. Allow yourself to fully switch off and choose a blackout blind or curtains that can help darken your bedroom. Wearing an eye mask can also be helpful in blocking out artificial light. The temperature of your room can make a difference and by keeping to a temperature of around 16-18°C you’re reinforcing your body’s natural instinct to sleep. Some people find it useful to wear earplugs to block out noise. Others find playing gentle music or white noise helps them to drift into a more restful state of mind.

Secondly, get your body ready for sleep. As we’ve already mentioned, you should avoid drinking caffeine close to bedtime and try to reduce your consumption of (or cut out) stimulants such as alcoholic drinks. Leaving enough time for your stomach to digest food before you lie down for the night is a good tip, so move your dinner time to an earlier start and limit your calorie intake to earlier in the day so there’s more time to use any excess energy.

Take a warm bath or shower before bed. The dip in your body temperature post-bath can fool your body into thinking you have gone from daytime into night-time. Some say this can increase the urge to sleep. Finally, add some regular exercise into your routine. Exercise is great for relieving stress and anxiety, which can help with how to get to sleep fast. However, if you’re exercising in the lead up to bedtime, choose relaxing, low-impact exercises, such as yoga.

Lavender, one of the more popular essential oils, is most commonly used for relaxation and sleep. When used before bed, studies have shown that lavender oil can not only help you fall asleep but also improve the overall quality of rest. If you are searching for a perfect night time sleep, then look no further than the Dr Organic Lavender Pillow Spray from Holland & Barrett. A truly unique night-time spray helping to diminish sleepless nights while promoting deep sleep and tranquillity.

Researchers have found that low levels of vitamin D are linked with poor sleep quality. Vitamin D is important for serotonin production, and serotonin is important for many functions including our sleep-wake cycles. Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight, meaning when we don’t get sunlight we miss out. Research has shown that a lack of sunlight can increase feelings of depression and fatigue and increase carb cravings as serotonin levels are affected. Make sure you keep your vitamin D levels topped up with Holland & Barrett Vitamin D Supplements. Whether you prefer to take Vitamin D Tablets, Vitamin D Chewy Gummies, or use a Vitamin D Spray, there is something for everyone. Look out for Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 25Ug Lemon and Lime Flavour Effervescent Tablets.

Sleep is so important for all of us, both mentally and physically, because this is when our bodies repair and recuperate, and getting a regular good night’s sleep is essential if we want to lead happy and healthy lives

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.

It’s never to early to get ready for Christmas

in Features

No sooner than Halloween is over, there will be some of us who are already putting up our Christmas decorations. Others may prefer to leave Christmas preparations until the last minute, but in times such as these it could make sense to get your home ready a little bit earlier this year. 

Planning ahead is an effective way to save money and also to take the stress out of what should be a magical time. 

Declutter

Clearing out things that you no longer need or love can not only save you time later on but could also help you to make some extra cash from your unwanted items by selling them online. You may even come across some nice things that you could re-gift!

Budget Plan

Build a budget plan that takes account of all the costs that you will incur over the holiday season including food, presents, travel and decorations. Work out what you can afford and make a list of how much you want to spend on each person. Think about giving presents to the children in the family only and not the adults. 

Stock Up

We’re not suggesting that you panic buy, but stocking up on items each week will take the strain off doing a big shop nearer to that special day. Look out for special offers on non-perishable goods and store them away. 

Freezer Meals

Make the most of your freezer and cross off some of the Christmas food from your to-do list leaving you more time to enjoy the festivities. Did you realise that gravy freezes well and you can make and freeze it up to 3 months ahead? The same goes for bread sauce which you can make, cool then freeze in a freezer bag or sealed container and when needed, fully defrost and stir in a splash of milk. For vegan members of the family, try cooking up a vegan nut roast which can be frozen then reheated on the day. 

Decorations 

When do you put up your Christmas decorations? Whether that is the night before Christmas or two months before, now is the time to make some beautiful DIY Christmas decorations that you can use year after year. Do you remember paper chains? Well, they’re back in fashion. Get the children involved and create some sustainable homemade items that are both affordable and pretty. 

Christmas Playlist

Write down lists of your favourite Christmas music or create a playlist on one of the music streaming providers. Do the same with films and television programmes that you don’t want to miss. 

Wrapping Station 

If you have space you could set up a dedicated wrapping station, maybe on a desk or a chest of drawers, where you can keep, scissors, ribbon, tags, pens and wrapping paper ready to wrap presents as you buy them. If you can’t find a permanent area for a wrapping station, a genius idea is to use an ironing board. All you need to do is set up your ironing board so that it is at the right height for sitting down. This clever idea is also the perfect remedy for aching backs.

MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE

Sometimes Christmas can feel overwhelming but if you start early, put everything on paper and add to the list as you think of more ideas and presents, Christmas will, hopefully, be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Christopher Lloyd

in Features/Literature week

It can’t be literature week without Christopher Lloyd, the fabulous author and co-founder of children’s non-fiction publisher what on earth books, making an appearance. Yes, he’s coming back to captivate audiences, young and old, with his exuberant storytelling, fascinating facts and to talk about two of his best selling publications and another exciting book about to be launched.  

On Friday 12th November at the John Mackintosh Hall Theatre Christopher will be hosting a school’s day dedicated to his new book on climate change entitled It’s Up to Us.

‘I am thrilled to be returning to Gibraltar – where I have made so many friends over the years. It’s also great timing with the launch of It’s Up To Us – A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet. It is a huge honour to have worked on this book in conjunction with HRH The Prince of Wales, who has written the foreword, and his charity, The Princes Foundation. I can’t wait to show the school children in Gibraltar how we worked with 33 artists from all over the world to tell the story of climate change and what we can do to help make the planet fit for the future!” 

Christopher explains how the idea for the book came about. “It was with great interest that in January this year I read about HRH The Prince of Wales’ announcement of Terra Carta – a new treaty for business leaders that includes a series of pledges to put the planet first. The Terra Carta is part of HRH’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, and has more than 400 corporations already committed. 

But are middle-aged business executives really the most important audience when it comes to mitigating the long-term impact of climate change? I found myself reaching back to the Magna Carta Chronicle. What if we could make these brilliant pledges accessible to a much wider audience – 6-106 as well as their siblings, parents, grandparents, teachers, uncles and aunts?”

“The magic of children’s picture books is that, if done skilfully, they can convey really complex topics in ways that are accessible to young minds. If read outload with adults, they can impact them, too,” Christopher says.

It’s Up to Us will be launched alongside the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, taking place from October 31 until November 12. A copy of the book will be donated to every primary school in Scotland and half of all proceeds from sales will go to The Prince’s Foundation to support its charitable work.

The beautifully illustrated book features artists from all over the world – ranging from Siberia to Kenya and Vietnam to Aboriginal Australia. “As it turned out, the approach could not have been more in keeping with the Terra Carta concept of everyone being in this climate change conundrum together, regardless of background, wealth, ethnicity or geography,” he says. 

Christopher states that it was of the utmost importance that the book was sustainably produced: “It was printed in the UK with vegetable inks on revival paper in a way that also enabled measurement of the carbon emissions from the materials used.”

“We have a certificate from the World Land Trust to show that the carbon footprint was 280 grams per book, an impact that has now been offset, but more interestingly on the back of the book we show that 280 grams is the equivalent to producing five apples, a third of a glass of milk or a fifth of a plastic toothbrush,” explains Christopher. 

The experience of publishing It’s Up to Us has prompted Christopher to consider how What On Earth Publishing itself might work to meet the Terra Carta pledges that also appear in the back of the book in their original form. “I’m thinking hard about every aspect of our business. Not just what books we do and what we print on and where the books are printed, but also how we can work as an organisation in a way that will minimise the impact we have, while also maximising demand from consumers.”

On Saturday 13th November Christopher Lloyd will be hosting two other events in the Lower Exhibition Room. 

In the morning, Christopher will be taking the audience on a thrilling ride through 13.8 billion years in the history of Absolutely Everything! Using 15 everyday objects, he will combine the story of nature, the stone ages, ancient and human history in a series of themes that help makes sense of us all – human and nonhuman, past, present and future!

“I wanted to find a book that would help connect everything together from nature and ancient history to science and religions, but nothing suitable seemed to exist, so I decided I’d write that book and the result is Absolutely Everything!”

The book, for age 9 years old and over, is subtitled A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things too Numerous to Mention, and it aims to answer as much as it possibly can about the history of the universe from the Big Bang right up to the  21st-century population explosion – and all in only 337 pages.

Join Christopher in the afternoon as he becomes a dynamic quiz show host in a contest to discover who will be crowned Gibraltar Literary Week Britannica Brainbox! Compete through eight quiz rounds, one for each chapter of the Britannica All New Children’s Encyclopaedia and witness a battle of brains in a grand finale to reveal the prize winner – it could be you! Ideal for all ages 8- 108. Please bring an internet-connected smartphone or tablet to compete in a family team or as an individual.

“I shall also relish the chance of hosting a live version my Britannica Quiz Show which I have only been able to share on Zoom with schools until now. Who will be the Gibraltar Britannica Quiz Champion? It could be you – as long as you come along on Saturday 2pm in the John Mackintosh Theatre!”

Clive Beltran

in Features/Literature week

Clive Beltran has had a distinguished career in politics and education in Gibraltar and now the former Education Minister and Mayor will be taking part in ‘An Audience With…’ as part of Literature Week when he will be talking about his book celebrating local customs, practices and sayings: ‘Yodo Morao and all that…’.

For those of us that don’t know what the title refers to, Clive tells me that it has become a part of local jargon for Gentian Violet, an antiseptic dye that was used to put on cuts and grazes. “In my younger days, children were always out and about in the streets and if we fell down it was Yodo Morao that was reached for to disinfect out wounds,” he explains. 

Clive was prompted to write the book from a combination of nostalgia and the wish to pass on to his children and grandchildren some of the thoughts and emotions that he treasured from his childhood and adolescence. “The idea was born during my stay at Calpe House some eight years ago when I had to spend about six months there,” he says. “It was a time of quiet reflection and introspection and that Christmas we had a wonderful festive season in the English tradition at my son-in-law’s family house in Suffolk.” Clive goes on to say that it was very different to the Christmases that he remembers as a child and he began to think about the Spanish Christmas carols that they used to sing back home. “I’m 72 now,” he comments, “and I decided that as soon as I felt up to it I would write those carols down and produce a booklet that I thought my grandchildren should know about and to show them what Grandad’s Christmases were like.”

“From the Christmas carols booklet, I carried on thinking and reminiscing about life in Gibraltar in the 1950s and 60s and they just remained as ideas because for quite a long time my treatment precluded me from pursuing and developing them, but gradually I gained strength and I began to make a list of traditions, practices, sayings and objects that I remembered.”  Those vague snapshots of times gone by turned into a list that kept on growing and before he knew it, Clive had over one hundred bits of information which he then developed into the book.

“Unless we write down what is known as folklore, meaning oral traditional customs, practices, songs, proverbs and riddles, they will only remain in the collective memory of people of my generation,” Clive states. “They will either die with us or, if you pass them on by word of mouth, they run the risk of being transformed and distorted by all sorts of social influences and they will eventually die out.” 

“Our culture is very much a combination of many other different cultures,” Clive remarks. “For instance, dance is a very popular part of our culture in Gibraltar, but there is no one particular dance but more a combination of influences ranging from the South American Tango to Spanish and English dances.” 

“We do have a patriotic song about Gibraltar which people often sing at National Day and that is Llévame Donde Nací (Take Me Back To Where I Was Born) attributed to Gibraltarian guitarist and composer Pepe Roman.”

The book includes photos looking back at social life on the Rock in the 50s and 60s and if there is one thing that comes to Clive’s mind from those days it is how everybody used to go about their business at a much more leisurely pace than nowadays. “Children played outside because their homes were too small and overcrowded,” he says. “The vast majority of houses were tenement flats and you would have families of four or five people living in a one room with a kitchen and a shared outside communal patio area.”

“Something that I strongly remember are families sitting together for lunch and dinner every day. As soon as Dad came home from work, Mum would shout out of the window and children were called up from wherever they were playing to wash their hands – that was almost a religion.”

‘Yodo Morao and all that…’ is available to purchase from John Mackintosh Hall reception and at City Hall. It has proved to be extremely popular, prompting a re-print, with all proceeds from sales of the book being donated to the Friends of Calpe House Charity. In October Clive Beltran presented the charity with a cheque for six thousand pounds. 

Jeffrey Archer

in Features/Literature week

His own life story could come straight from one of his books – the rise, then fall, then rise again of the boy from Weston-super-Mare who became a politician and was then made a life peer but who has also spent some time during his life in prison for perjury and perverting the course of justice. “I didn’t start writing until I was thirty-five,” he states. “At school I was a raconteur, I enjoyed acting, the stage and words.” 

Calling himself a storyteller, not a writer, Lord Archer comments that anyone who is well educated and well-read can be a writer, but that storytelling is a God given gift. 

The road to becoming one of the world’s most popular authors wasn’t a smooth one. Jeffrey Archer says that it wasn’t until he got himself into terrible financial problems and had to stand down as an MP in 1974 that led him to write his first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, thinking that it would become an instant best seller and solve his financial problems. “It was turned down by sixteen publishers and the seventeenth publisher sold only 3,000 copies in the first year, so if you want to get out of debt, don’t write a book.”

“The breakthrough came with my third book, Kane and Abel, which sold a million copies in the first week,” Lord Archer tells me. Since then he has gone on to sell over 275 million books in 97 countries in more than 37 languages. 

As any successful novelist, Jeffrey Archer has a disciplined writing process. “I arise in the morning at 5.30 am, working from 6-8 am, then I have breakfast and take a two hour break before writing again from 10-12, then I have another two hour break when I may go for a walk, then lunch, then back to writing from 2-4, then I will have a break before my final session from 6-8 pm and I’m in bed around 9.30,” he explains. “I always write the first draft in longhand and that will take roughly 34/35 days, 300 hours, and then I take a much longer break and go back for the next draft.”

Where does he get his inspiration from when starting a new book and how does he sustain an interest in his characters? “I wish I could tell you the answer to that,” he replies, “but I seriously can’t because I don’t know how I do it.” Inspiration can strike at any time, but many of his plots are based on personal experience. For instance, the first book in the William Warwick series, Nothing Ventured, features the world of art and antiques. “I have been a collector for forty years and I love art, and in fact I have just been to a major home in London and spent most of my time looking at the pictures whilst everyone else was talking to each other,” he remarks. “I always say to young authors, write what you know about because then the reader will feel at ease and realise that you know what you are talking about.”

Characters in Jeffrey Archer books are often drawn from interesting people he has met. “In the Clifton Chronicles, the main protagonist Harry Clifton is based on myself,” he admits. “William Warwick was first introduced to readers as a fictional detective created by Harry Clifton and I started to write the William Warwick series after several readers wrote to me saying they wanted to know more about him.” 

“I decided to take on that challenge and create a new series with William Warwick as the central character, but I didn’t want to write a detective story, rather a story about a detective,” he says.

“In the William Warwick series, William is based on my chief researcher, former Detective Chief Superintendent John Sutherland (rtd) who sadly had a mental breakdown and retired from the police after what he described in his autobiography as ‘one murder too many’.”

“The women in my novels are so often based on my remarkable wife who is a very strong woman, and I like strong women, so they often make their way into my books.”

It is evident that there is more than a passing likeness to his wife in the character of Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the fictional Fitzmolean Museum that William falls in love with in Nothing Ventured. 

Once heralded by a judge during her husband’s 1987 libel trial as a vision of ‘elegance, fragrance and radiance’, Dame Mary Archer is a very distinguished scientist in her own right. Does she read her husband’s books I ask? “She does, but not until the fourteenth or fifteenth draft, and then she does offer her views,” Jeffrey Archer says. “Mary wrote a very important book on solar energy but I didn’t have a lot of views to give on that!” he laughs. 

The William Warwick series follows the protagonist through the ups and downs of his career as he battles against a powerful criminal nemesis, expert art thief Miles Faulkner, and aspires to become Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force. “We meet him as a Constable on the beat before he becomes a Detective in the Art and Antiques Squad, then in the second book he goes on to become a Detective Sergeant dealing with drugs and in the third book he is a Detective Inspector dealing with police corruption,” Lord Archer explains. Had he always planned the novels to be a series of eight from the outset? “No, I always planned that William Warwick would rise one rank and I had always planned that it would be a totally different subject so that it wouldn’t matter which book you picked up, but I rarely know three pages ahead what will happen.”

In Over My Dead Body William Warwick has become a Chief Inspector and has been moved to the Murder Squad.  “If I live long enough, because I am now 81, he will become a Superintendent, a Chief Superintendent, a Commander and finally he will be Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, but I have to live to the age of 86 for William Warwick to achieve that.”

Three of the novelist’s books have already been adapted for film and television, but would he like the William Warwick series to reach the big screen? “There have been a lot of approaches and I will believe it when I see it, but I would love to see a William Warwick character,” he exclaims eagerly. “One actor could play William as he is in the first four books with someone else taking over the last four.”

The first book, Nothing Ventured, is set in the 60s at a time when technology was very different and they didn’t have mobile phones. “DNA didn’t exist, that is the biggest thing that changed crime,” Jeffrey Archer comments. “Agatha Christie couldn’t have written a novel the way she did, she would of course have adapted herself, but DNA didn’t exist as many other things didn’t exist in her time, and I have to watch very carefully which year I am in, but my two police advisors are on hand to remind me what they did themselves in any given year,” he says. Will DNA appear in future William Warwick books? “The answer is possibly, but I haven’t got a clue where I am going with those yet.”

Apart from John Sutherland, Jeffrey Archer relies on Detective Sergeant Michelle Roycroft (rtd) who has just left the force after thirty years having worked in both the Murder and Drugs Squad. “Michelle brings her own flavour and a woman’s angle,” he states. “They read the book when it reaches about its fourth or fifth draft and check every fact to make sure I don’t make a fool of myself, because between them they have got sixty years’ experience in the Metropolitan Police so they can tell me what I can and can’t do.”

How he finds time to read books himself is a mystery, but Lord Archer claims to be an avid reader. “I do read regularly – I take recommendations and if someone tells me ‘you ought to read a particular book’, I am on to it straight away, and although I do find an exceptional book now and then, it is not that common that I do.”

One book which Jeffrey Archer recommends to me is Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity. “It’s among my favourite books. I am a huge admirer of Stefan Zweig and I think Beware of Pity is a masterpiece and he combines the genius of being a great storyteller along with being a very fine writer.”

What would he consider to be his greatest achievement in life? “I am very proud of the fact that I ran for my country, and that I have raised over 60 million pounds as a charity auctioneer – but I think having sold over 275 million books is definitely my greatest achievement.”

Finally I ask Lord Archer if he has any
regrets in life. “Too many to spend talking to you about today,” he replies.  

Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council Gibraltar

in Features

Former Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar, Lieutenant General Edward Davis CB CBE has been appointed Chair of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) which opened its Gibraltar-based office in Casemates Barracks in June this year with Jared Peralta as CWEIC Gibraltar Country Director.

Insight talks to Lieutenant General Davis about his new role. 

“The architect behind CWEIC was Lord Marland who is the Chair of the overarching organisation which is headquartered in London in the Guildhall,” Lieutenant General Davis explains. 

“Lord Luce, the first Chancellor of the University of Gibraltar, recommended me to Lord Marland who then approached me and asked if I would be interested to take on the role of Chair because of my Gibraltar connections and my desire to stay connected with Gibraltar and to help in any way which is useful going forward, and this seemed to be a good way of doing that,” he says.  

CWEIC was set up in 2014 as a private non-profit Commonwealth affiliated business and government networking organisation with the remit of providing business to business, government to government, sometimes government to business contacts for commercial entities across the Commonwealth to better understand where business opportunities are, to get into those markets, develop detailed business plans and then deliver competitive services or goods.

“With Gibraltar the focus is mostly on services, but there are still goods that Gibraltar might want to market, whether that is a vehicle or gin, there are places interested in such products,” Lieutenant General Davis states.

“We have set up two fora under the auspices of Gibraltar’s CWEIC Office – one is the Commonwealth Advisory Forum and that consists of the Government of Gibraltar, a variety of the professional business organisations and other affiliated Commonwealth organisations such as the Gibraltar Royal Commonwealth Society, with the idea being to bring all of those organisations and government departments together that are Commonwealth facing so we can gain a common understanding of what everybody is doing in order to synchronise collective efforts.”

He goes on to say that this enables the CWEIC’s Gibraltar Office to understand where Gibraltar’s business ecosystem is and thus best support the second forum, the Strategic Partners Delivery Group in developing and delivering their business objectives in the Commonwealth market place. 

“A Strategic Partner from our perspective is a partner who values this office’s ability to effectively contribute to the business’s reputation, its market access and ultimately its business growth.” The CWEIC Gibraltar Office will be able to access business opportunity across 30 of the 54 Commonwealth Nations and associated overseas territories. “At this point there are members of the network that aren’t actually Commonwealth countries but they are part of the Commonwealth’s wider global business ecosystem, for example there is a similar office to this one in Dubai.”

The CEWIC Gibraltar office will support their strategic partners by helping them to establish, develop and sustain productive relationships across the Commonwealth’s business ecosystem to enable sustainable business growth. Lieutenant General Davis explains that they will do that by leveraging the CWEIC’s connecting power, its convening power, and its curating power to inform, facilitate and promote Gibraltarian businesses. At the moment there are six members of the Strategic Partners Group, three of them governmental and three from the business sector. “The Department and Office of Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia is a member because the Deputy Chief Minister takes the overarching HM Government of Gibraltar lead on Commonwealth engagement,” he comments. “Visit Gibraltar from the tourism side and the Gibraltar’s Finance Centre are also partners.”  The other three strategic partners are the Bassadone Automotive Group, the car distributors Capurro and Hassans Law Firm. “We aim to grow the number of strategic partners incrementally – not only in numbers but importantly across sectors – whether that is from the online sports betting and gaming industry, insurance, banking, or funds and investment, and we have also been talking to the Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses.”

Ideally, Lieutenant General Davis says, they want to have a cross-section of businesses in respect of goods and services that are a holistic and complete representation of Gibraltar’s business ecosystem. “My view is that Gibraltarian companies will join the CWEIC network for specific business objectives that we can help them to deliver.”

“Gibraltar has got an assured market back into the UK which we know has already been agreed and formally mandated, we remain to see what comes of the relationship with the EU through the ongoing negotiations regarding the agreement that is being brokered through the EU Commission for the future relationship between Gibraltar and Spain.  At the same time, and complementary to that, is the Commonwealth marketplace of 2.4 billion people, an economy of about 10 trillion which offers a great deal of opportunity for Gibraltarian businesses to partner with Commonwealth businesses.”  Whether that is bringing Commonwealth businesses into Gibraltar, whether it is Gibraltarian businesses setting up in Commonwealth countries or, indeed, a combination of both of these for mutually-beneficial joint venture development. “There is a great market place out there from which I think Gibraltar businesses, carefully considered, carefully targeted and carefully enabled can realise considerable business growth for the economy of Gibraltar.”

Earlier this year CWEIC took part in a focused webinar on the Port & Shipping sectors, featuring Minister Daryanani as a key panellist. In previous webinars, CWEIC has hosted keynote speakers ranging from Nobel Prize winners to former UK Prime Ministers covering a plethora of topics and issues. Next year the plan, Covid permitting, is to create a Gibraltar Plc team to represent Gibraltar at the Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) in Rwanda and to wave the flag on the Commonwealth stage.

 “I think that this is all about Global Gibraltar developing business opportunity alongside Global Britain.  Given Gibraltar’s ambition to have an increasing global business footprint, then the Commonwealth has to be a good place to develop this global business footprint,” he comments.

Asked if the Commonwealth is still an important entity, Lieutenant General Davis states that: “It is as important today as it was yesterday and I think it will be even more important in the future.”

Supporting and promoting young talent in Gibraltar

in Features

Sovereign Art Foundation, presented by Hassans International Law Firm, launches annual Prize in Gibraltar.

Gibraltar has been fortunate to be added to a lengthy list of countries to benefit from the annual Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF) Students Prize charitable competition. 

Aimed at students in secondary educational institutions, and already a success in Bahrain, Guernsey, Hong Kong, the Isle of Man, London, Malta & Gozo, Mauritius, Portugal and Singapore, the aim of the competition is to recognise local artistic talent, with financial prizes for both the entrant and their school, whilst raising funds for local not-for-profit art initiatives, working with children to assist them in accessing enrichment from the arts. 

The initiative, which closed for entries at the end of the last month, has received lead support from Hassans International Law Firm Limited. As avid supporters of the local arts and culture scene in Gibraltar over the last 80 years, Hassans has a strong commitment to the wider community and firmly believes that it is the duty of local organisations to support the development of our youth and that the opportunities open to Gibraltar’s next generation should be equal, no matter what disadvantage or disability the individual is facing. 

The twenty finalists will be announced on 11 November 2021. With an esteemed judging panel comprising Gibraltarian contemporary artist, Christian Hook; Gallerist and Curator Magda Bellotti, Arts & Heritage professor Gabriela Giménez, and Howard Bilton, Founder and Chairman of SAF, the works selected will no doubt be diverse and will potentially unearth Gibraltar’s next internationally acclaimed artist. 

The shortlisted artworks will be displayed at the Finalists’ Exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery, Casemates: 6-11 December and John Mackintosh Hall: 13-17 December. The exhibition will then tour in various Gibraltar venues including St. Bernard’s Hospital and Hassans’ impressive office space at Midtown, before being sold via silent auction. 

Support for the arts is more important now than ever, and this is also recognised by the additional supporters of the competition: Simmons Gainsford and Image Graphics as silver sponsors and bronze supporters: Brooks MacDonald, Silver Key, LGT Vestra, Schroders and the Ministry for Culture, Gibraltar. 

The winners will be announced at an Awards Presentation Ceremony on 15 December. There will be four prizes awarded to four different students. The winner of the Judge’s Prize will be awarded a trophy and £800; their school art department will receive £2,000. Visitors and online viewers will be invited to vote for the Public Vote Prize, the winner of which will receive a trophy and £400; £1,000 for their school. Furthermore, the Hassans Prize will award £300 each to both the student and their school and the Arts Society Gibraltar will award a £250 prize for a student aged 11-14. 

All winners will participate in an annual Global Students Prize exhibition, showcasing their talent on an international stage and facilitating cultural exchange. Examples of previous finalists’ work for this category are shown here. 

We look forward to showcasing this year’s finalists’ work in Insight in the coming months.  For more information about The Prize, please visit:
https://tinyurl.com/SAFGIB


Hassans welcomes four new trainees

Hassans is proud to welcome four new trainee lawyers to its 2021-23 training programme.

Joseanne Bear graduated with a First Class law degree from the University of Sheffield and completed the BPTC at City University London, Jerome Compson graduated in Business and Marketing from the Manchester Metropolitan University and completed a Graduate Diploma in Law at The University of Law, Michael Garson completed the Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP followed by the LPC at the University of Law and Samuel Marrache graduated with First Class Hons. at University College London (UCL) before completing the BPC LLM with a distinction.

The four trainees will work across various key sectors and practice areas to build experience and develop their skills before deciding which area of law they will specialise in at the end of the two-year programme. 

James Levy QC, Senior Partner, commented:

“The programme our trainees follow allows them to develop into well-rounded lawyers of tomorrow. 

Being a great lawyer isn’t about just providing great advice, it’s also about learning to understand your clients, identify opportunities or challenges that they may not have considered, to provide support above and beyond the immediate task at hand. 

Lawyers need to be excellent listeners, as well as communicators. The training our latest intake will receive, and the experience they will receive from shadowing seasoned lawyers, will allow them to become trusted advisors, not only excellent lawyers, and we wish them all a happy and lengthy career.”

Javier Chincotta, Managing Partner, added:

“We extend a warm welcome to our latest cohort of trainees. Over the next two years, as part of our training programme, they will hone their skills and acquire invaluable experience.  We look forward to watching them thrive amongst the many highly skilled professionals at Hassans, and help us continue to offer an unparalleled level of client service.” 

Menopause: What exactly is it?

in Features

All women go through it, but how exactly can you get through it? For many women, the menopause can be a real pain and have a significant effect on both your mind and body.

What does ‘menopause’ mean?

Technically, ‘menopause’ is simply the end of your periods, when you’ve gone at least a year with no menstrual bleeding. Physical changes begin years before the final menstrual period, and this transition phase is called perimenopause, when levels of the main female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) start to rise and fall erratically. On average, perimenopause lasts for around four years, although for some women, it can go on for up to 12 years. It’s likely you’ll begin to notice signs of perimenopause in your forties, or even your thirties and only 10% of women report their periods stop suddenly, with no noticeable changes in their cycles beforehand. The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55.

What are the most common menopause symptoms?

Not every woman has significant symptoms and you may find you barely notice the transition. Here are the most common menopause symptoms and how to tackle them:

Menstrual changes

A persistent change of seven days or more in the length of your cycle – making it shorter or longer – can indicate you’re in early perimenopause. A stretch of 60 days or more between periods usually happens later in perimenopause. Menstrual changes are caused by ovulation becoming unpredictable as your supply of eggs dwindles.

Hot flushes

Hot flushes and night sweats are collectively known as ‘vasomotor symptoms’ and affect between 60 and 85% of women, varying in severity and frequency. They usually last around two years but for 10% of women, hot flushes can last as long as 15 years. Experts still don’t know exactly what causes them, but it’s thought hormone fluctuations affect the way the brain controls body temperature.

What you can do: ask your doctor about HRT (hormone replacement therapy). This replaces your missing hormones and is the most effective way of stopping vasomotor symptoms, as it treats the underlying cause. Taking HRT can also lower your risk of conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis that increase post-menopause. 

Some menopausal women may prefer to use alternative remedies to tackle their symptoms, such as agnus castus, red clover or soy isoflavones. Look out for Holland & Barrett Femlieve Agnus Castus or Holland & Barrett Soya Isoflavones with Vitamin B6. Why not try Vitabiotics Menopace Plus plus active botanicals from Holland & Barrett to provide support during and after menopause.

Adopt simple lifestyle measures, like wearing natural fibres and try to reduce stress. Reduce (or cut out) alcohol and spicy foods which can often make hot flushes worse. Consider a course of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which has been shown to reduce the frequency and duration of hot flushes.

Mood problems

Anxiety and depression are more likely to affect women during perimenopause; if you have a history of depression, you’re likely to experience it now. Changes in hormone levels may affect the neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that control mood. Of course, your mood can also be affected by other factors at this time, such as loss of fertility and negative social stereotypes around menopause, along with worries about children, work and elderly parents. Holland & Barrett Menopause Mood Relief 30 Tablets is a traditional herbal medicinal product for the relief of symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes and contains 300mg St. John’s Wort & 6.4mg Black Cohosh

What you can do: self-help measures can ease depression and anxiety, including yoga, meditation and regular exercise. Speak to your doctor about a course of CBT too. HRT may be useful, but antidepressants are not recommended as there’s no evidence that they work for low mood associated with menopause. Some women find herbal remedies, such as St John’s wort or valerian, may be helpful for low mood or anxiety during the menopause. Try Holland & Barrett Maximum Strength St John’s Wort Capsules or Holland & Barrett Valerian capsules containing Valerian root extract, but always read the advisory information on the packet beforehand. 

Sexual issues

Falling oestrogen levels can thin and dry vaginal walls, leaving you prone to infections and making sex uncomfortable. You may also experience irritation and soreness, even if you’re not sexually active. On top of this, you may find you have a reduced libido. Stress and relationship problems can contribute to lower sex drive and loss of lubrication too.

What you can do: vaginal dryness can be treated very simply with topical oestrogen, used either as a cream, pessary or vaginal ring. It can be used on its own or with HRT. Or you could try over-the-counter vaginal moisturisers and lubricants. Holland & Barrett Sea Buckthorn (Omega 7) can help to increase production of mucus in these linings.

Post-menopause

After menopause, a lack of oestrogen means you’re more susceptible to developing osteoporosis and heart disease. You may also find you gain weight and your skin starts to become dryer. You can support your bone health by upping your intake of calcium and vitamin D while omega-3 can help reduce your risk cardiovascular disease and combat dry skin. Holland & Barrett Calcium 600mg with Vitamin D3 or Holland & Barrett Extra Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil may help with post-menopause issues. 

Advisory Information:

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking any medications or are under medical supervision, please consult a doctor or healthcare professional and always read the label before use.

Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society Lighthouse weekend

in Features

Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society (GARS) activated Europa Point Lighthouse ZB2LGT (GI 001) for the International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend (ILLW) on the 21st & 22nd August this year. This annual 48 hour amateur radio event is held on the third full weekend in August and involves participants setting up portable stations at, or as close as possible to, lighthouses and lightships around the world. Amateur Radio started in Gibraltar shortly after the Second World War and today GARS is a small but active society representing the interests of Amateur Radio both locally and internationally as a full IARU member society and the club is also affiliated to the Radio society of Great Britain.

Secretary of GARS, John King, explains that the club has been going since the late sixties. “In those days radio was quite popular because there was no such thing as Skype or WhatsApp and it was the only way to be able to talk to people without having to pick up a phone.”

Amateur radio (often called Ham Radio) is gaining in popularity throughout the world now, and year to year the number of licenses issued is increasing, which is not what most people would tend to expect in the age of smartphones which makes communicating with others much easier. Once thought of as a ‘geeky hobby’, John explains that it involves radio operators (called ‘hams’) talking to each other over HF/VHF and UHF frequencies.

“It used to be quite difficult to get involved,” John says. “Before 2003, to get a full UK amateur radio licence, you had to take the City & Guilds RAE exam, but from 2004 it became much easier with the dropping of the Morse code part and a new three way examination system – Foundation, Intermediate & Full – and since then a lot more people have taken up this hobby.”  This was evident in around the world during the lockdowns when people were stuck at home and looking for things to do.

The ILLW takes place as close to the Europa Point Lighthouse as members of GARS can get. “This year we operated from an old bird watching shack and over the course of the two days we managed to talk to about one thousand five hundred different stations around the world, including approximately thirty lighthouses who were taking part in the same event,” John states. Countries that made contact with Gibraltar were from most of Europe and the UK and included places further afield such as Uruguay, Canary Islands, Barbados, Zambia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Chile, Algeria, South Africa, Eswatini, Tunisia, Israel, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Saudi Arabia, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Lebanon, Bonaire, Brazil, America, and Canada.

GARS has been involved in the Lighthouse event for the past twenty years and Gibraltar is unusual amongst the other countries taking part because there aren’t that many stations that are actually licensed here. “There are probably about fifty,” John says, “but of those there are only a handful that are actually active, so this means that when we call out everyone wants to talk to Gibraltar and we have to be very disciplined in how we operate.”

Something that ‘hams’ enjoying doing is collecting QSL cards which is a written confirmation of a two-way radio communication between two amateur radio or citizens band stations. A typical QSL card is the same size and made from the same material as a postcard, and most are sent through the mail. “If someone talks to us we will send them a QSL card with the station name on the front,” John comments. “The particular station for the lighthouse is ZB2LGT and this call is issued every year.”

A lot of people don’t understand amateur radio but it can be an incredibly social activity. “People see us down at Europa Point, sat on a chair, talking into a box and they have no idea what we are doing,” John laughs. As it says on the club website: “There is no better way to explore the fascinating world of radio communications than by becoming a radio amateur, and Gibraltar is a great place to do it from.” Amateur radio can be fun, social, and educational and there are many reasons why people become involved in the activity. These include being able to contact people all over the world by radio, to compete in international competitions, to engage in technical experimentation, to communicate through amateur space satellites or with the International Space Station and to act as a lifeline and to provide communications at times of emergencies. 

GARS is situated on Coaling Island and the club meet every Wednesday at 8 o’clock until 9.30 pm. John is keen to attract new members as well as welcoming any visiting radio amateurs. “If you are interested in learning about amateur radio and obtaining a Gibraltar licence, please pop down and have a chat with us and listen in and hopefully you will find a new hobby.”

Find out more about GARS from their Facebook page: Gibraltar Amateur Radio Society or from their website: www.gibradio.net or send an email to john_m_king@hotmail.com 

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