Jo Ward

Jo Ward has 150 articles published.

Keep your Summer Essentials Topped up

in Health & Beauty

It’s summer and it’s hot and the last thing you want to do is exercise, but you are determined to carry on with your usual workout routine. With a few adjustments you can still exercise safely during the hot weather. The first thing to remember is to keep hydrated. If you become dehydrated it could affect your ability to regulate your temperature and also can put pressure on your heart. You are at risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which at worst can be life-threatening. The NHS says you should drink 6-8 cups or glasses (1.5-2 litres) of fluid a day. However, they recommend drinking at least 2 litres during a heatwave. Remember to drink enough before your workout, not just during. If you’re dehydrated when you start exercising, your heart needs to work harder to do its job. Get your body primed and motivated with PE Nutrition Pre-Workoutrefreshing and fruity pre-workout drink from Holland & Barrett.

Once you’ve worked out you will most probably be hot and sweaty and a good deodorant is key, especially if you don’t have time for a full shower or wash before you continue with your day. Have you thought of switching from your usual antiperspirant to a natural deodorant? Some antiperspirants use aluminium salts which dissolve into your skin and form a coating that “plugs” part of your sweat glands. Natural deodorants aren’t antiperspirants. Instead, they use ingredients that help prevent odour while still letting your body sweat when it needs to. Salt of the Earth, available from Holland & Barrett, has a range of 100% natural products that are vegan friendly and come in either a spray or roll-on deodorant for long-lasting and effective protection from body-odour.

Sunscreen is for life, not just for hot days! It’s especially important to make sure you’re wearing an SPF of at least 30 and topping up every 2 hours (sooner if you’ve sweated a lot or used a towel). It’s worth investing in a sweat-proof sunscreen if you’re exercising outdoors. Try HB Mineral Sunscreen SPF50+ from Holland & Barrett and feel safe in the knowledge that you have effective protection. 

If you do get sunburnt, the first thing to do is get out of the sun. Go inside, find shade, and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. To soothe the burning sensation, take a cool shower or bath to calm your skin. Then, over the next few hours, continue this cooling process using a damp towel as a compress. Alternatively, use a bag of ice wrapped in a towel – this helps to drain the heat from the skin. As well as soothing the sunburn, this can help reduce further redness. Aloe vera is often recommended as a hydrating gel to help soothe affected skin. In fact, you’ll probably find many after-sun products contain aloe vera as a key ingredient. You should continue to use a cooling gel or cream for a few days to keep burnt areas moist and hydrated. Dr Organic Aloe Vera Gel with Tea Tree from Holland & Barrett ensures that the plant’s beneficial polysaccharide levels are captured and maximised to help soothe, moisturise and restore dry and sun exposed skin.

Many of the most popular and fun festivals are held in the months of August and September. Aside from the obvious tent, wellies and sleeping bag, there are a few festival essentials that you may not have considered when putting together your packing list. No festival essentials list would be complete without the inclusion of some immune system-supporting vitamin C! Holland & Barrett High Strength Effervescent Vitamin C tablets are an easy to take and easy to pack orange flavoured effervescent Vitamin C food supplement.

Another tip to make sure you enjoy the summer safely and healthily is to remember that it is all about balance and that sometimes it can be stressful to decide when to say yes and when to say no. Treats are more than just “healthy” or “unhealthy”, some provide your body with nutrients and others taste good and make you feel good. Sometimes, treats are more about joining in with everyone and doing the things you love. It’s fine to overindulge every so often but listen to what your body is telling you. 

If you do over-do it, try Kombucha – a fermented drink made from tea, sugar and a bacterial culture called a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Holland & Barrett Energy Kombucha drink is formulated with Ashwagandha, Vitamin B12 and Live Cultures. Vitamin B12 contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue. Ashwagandha is known for being an adaptogen, a natural agent that reportedly can potentially help with everyday pressure and Live Cultures are a type of good bacteria that come in the form of microbes associated with foods and drinks helping the normal function of the gut.

Finally, embrace every moment of summer… try not to spend it nursing a headache or suffering with a bad gut. Take some simple precautions to ensure you stay healthy and remember that the best advice is to stay hydrated and don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink water


in Health & Beauty

You may be frightened by the mere sight of a spider, but rest assured – you’re not alone. 

You may be frightened by the mere sight of a spider, but rest assured – you’re not alone. About one in fifty people suffer from a severe form of an irrational fear of spiders, otherwise known as arachnophobia, and a good tip here is to remember that a spider is more terrified of you than you are of it. 

Phobias and fears come in all shapes and sizes. So just what is a phobia? It is a type of anxiety disorder that manifests itself in an uncontrollable, irrational, and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. However, whatever your phobia, it is unlikely to cause harm. The word itself comes from the Greek word “phobos,” which means irrational fear. The good news is that there is no need for anyone to continue to suffer from phobias. 

Phobias are different from regular fears because they cause significant distress, possibly interfering with life at home, work, or school. There may be little threat, or even no threat at all, but you could experience symptoms of anxiety. Fear, on the other hand, is an intense emotion in response to a threat in the moment.

What causes phobias? If you perceive something as a threat, even though it may not be a threat, stress hormones are released and there is a fight-or-flight response, with symptoms such as an increased heart rate, breathing and sweating. This can lead the person to fight, flee, or freeze.

Other phobias include agoraphobia, a fear of places or situations that trigger fear or helplessness, which can make it very hard to lead a normal life. Social phobias, which are fears related to social situations where you may be scrutinised and observed by others, can cause people to avoid them, especially in the case of a fear of public speaking (glossophobia). There are a lot of myths surrounding the fear of public speaking, with one recommendation being to imagine your audience naked, because supposedly a naked audience is less intimidating! This advice may not be the best strategy to follow and to calm your nerves you are better off using ‘cognitive reappraisal’. Research has shown that people who deliberately re-evaluate their nerves as excitement rather than anxiety perform better than those who try to calm themselves down.  

Phobias typically fall within five general categories: fears related to animals (spiders, dogs, insects); fears related to the natural environment (heights, thunder, darkness); fears related to blood, injury, or medical issues (injections, broken bones, falls); fears related to specific situations (flying, riding in a lift, driving); and other fears such as a fear of choking, loud noises or drowning.

There’s also such a thing as a fear of fears (phobophobia), a fear of being afraid, which is actually more common than you might imagine!

So how can you overcome a phobia? Before resorting to medical help, there are some self-help strategies that you could try, including exercise, visualisation, and breathing techniques.

Breathing: Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. 

Visualisation: Take a moment to imagine how proud you will feel when you successfully handle your phobia. Now imagine yourself in a situation where your phobia arises, and picture yourself handling the situation with confidence. Imagine feeling free of anxiety and picture your life without the fear and limitations of your phobia. 

Exercise: exercise can refocus you (your mind can only focus on one thing at a time). Whether you go on a short walk, head to a gym for an all-out sweat session, or turn on a 15-minute yoga video at home, exercise is good for you and it will ground you and help you feel more capable.

Courage: appreciate your courage. Every time you don’t allow fear to keep you from doing something that scares you, it will make you stronger and less likely to let the next panic attack stop you. 

If self-help techniques to overcome phobias aren’t successful, you can seek the help of a healthcare professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is the primary treatment option for phobias. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a commonly used technique. One specific method is a type of CBT called exposure therapy that involves confronting the fear in small steps, in a controlled and safe environment.

Exposure therapy is the term for repeated exposure to the event(s) that created the trauma which can help the anxiety subside. For example, the treatment for fear of flying (aviophobia) is often exposure therapy that involves slowly and repeatedly being exposed to the object that is feared in a controlled environment, and there are several airlines that offer ‘Fear of Flying’ courses. Hypnotherapy is another popular method for treating this fear. 

Short term medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, beta-blockers and antidepressants may also be used along with talk therapy. This type of treatment does not help the person overcome the fear, but it can relieve some of the symptoms.

Remember though that It is recommended that you make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible if you are troubled by phobias, fears or anxieties that are disturbing your peace of mind; interfering with your personal relationships; or preventing you from functioning normally at home, school or work.

Christmas Markets in Europe

in Features/Travel

Some of the best Christmas markets in the world are in Europe. Where better to go for a relaxing break and to take advantage of the opportunity to buy gifts, presents and decorations that are a bit different from those that you can find in your home town. Look out for local and home-made products that will bring a smile from your loved ones when they open them on Christmas Day. Something that can’t necessarily be picked up online that will evoke the sense of the holiday season. 

It’s a good idea to book early to get the best deals available and there are plenty of Christmas market breaks that include a hotel stay with breakfast, transport to and from each Christmas market plus an all-inclusive itinerary for your enjoyment. Choose from destinations that include Tallinn, Bruges and Budapest. Here are a couple of our best recommendations:


Lithuania may not immediately spring to mind as a destination for a Christmas market but Vilnius has become renowned for holding one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The capital of Lithuania, Vilnius boasts some of the most exquisite examples of Baroque period architecture. Discover the historic landmarks and countless churches of the medieval Old Town which looks especially festive in the months leading up to and beyond Christmas. Cathedral Square features the largest Christmas market in the city and a beautiful giant Christmas tree. Stroll around the square with a glass of mulled wine or a cup of hot chocolate and admire the decorated wooden chalets. Stop at one and buy some of the delicious homemade local foodstuffs, such as cheeses, preserves and sweet pastries. 

There is another Christmas market located near Vilnius Town Hall which is smaller and more modern with stunning glass igloos. A good way to see everything that Vilnius has to offer is to hop on the Christmas train, which leaves every half hour, stopping at the best-decorated locations throughout the city centre.


Situated on river Daugava near the Baltic Sea, Riga is the capital city of country of Latvia. The most popular Christmas market is at Dome Square (Doma laukums) in the middle of Riga Old Town. According to Latvians, Riga was the site of the world’s first decorated Christmas tree. Men of the local merchants’ guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then set fire to it. The legend is kept alive each year in the town square, where an illuminated tree stands at the heart of Riga’s Old Town Christmas Market. Today a commemorative monument marks the approximate spot in Town Hall Square, just outside the House of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads where the first Yuletide tree originated. 

Wander through the streets of Riga taking in the sights and smells, including the sweet odour of mulled wine, roasted nuts, glazed gingerbread and local handcrafts. There are various concerts and workshops taking place each day, not forgetting Santa Claus, of course, who will be there to welcome the children.  

The magic of taking a short break and visiting a European Christmas Market cannot be underestimated and is something that definitely arouses the Christmas spirit. It is the quickest way to get into the festive mood, especially if it snows. 

Many of the Christmas markets include concerts, ballets and live festive performances that display the local way of celebrating, and if you’re lucky you might find an ice rink! Don’t forget to pick up a bauble, ornament or topper to hang on your own Christmas tree that will remind you of your special trip.  

Keep Hydrated and Healthy in the Sun

in Features

Hydration to Avoid Dehydration

Hydration is always important especially in the summer months when we experience hot and humid weather as this is when we tend to lose a lot of our body fluids through sweat, but although we know that we should drink plenty of water, what are the benefits of hydration that we may not know about and how do you know if you are dehydrated?

Heat Exhaustion vs Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious health conditions, but they can be avoided. Heat exhaustion isn’t usually a medical emergency if you can cool the person down within 30 minutes. However, it can develop into heatstroke if it gets worse.

Heat exhaustion happens when the body gets too hot and dehydrated and you can no longer sweat to cool yourself down and your body temperature can rise until it’s dangerously high. Some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion include: a high temperature; tiredness and weakness; dizziness; feeling or being sick; becoming very thirsty; fast breathing or heartbeat; muscle cramps; and clammy skin, paleness (on lighter skin tones), or excessive sweating. 

Heatstroke or sun stroke also occurs when the body gets dangerously hot, however, it’s potentially life-threatening and should be treated as an emergency. Symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion at first, like sickness, dizziness, and extreme high temperature, but if you, or someone else, has not recovered after thirty minutes of being in a cool place and drinking fluids, then seek medical assistance. 

So how do you stay hydrated? Start by drinking six–eight cups a day of fluid, particularly water which is a healthy and cheap option. Another good tip is to eat foods with high water contents like watermelon, cucumber, lettuce and tomatoes. If you engage in high density workouts and lose a lot of sweat, then electrolytes (minerals that conduct electricity when dissolved in water) could be crucial in managing your fluid balance. Try PE Nutrition Electrolyte Formula tablets available from Holland & Barrett which are made up of the 5 major electrolyte’s and helps to enhance your natural energy sources within the body to better your performance whilst aiding muscle contractions prolonging your exercise without premature muscle cramps. Alternatively, SiS Go Hydro Tablets Lemon tablets are designed to ensure you are effectively hydrated to produce your best performance.

Protect your Hair and Scalp

The scalp is often overlooked when it comes to protecting our bodies from the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, it needs to be protected during the summer and on sunnier days. Sunburn is damage to your skin caused by UV rays from the sun or a sunbed. Scalp sunburn is the same as any other type of sunburn. Symptoms of a sunburned head include: redness; soreness; hot skin; flaking and peeling after a few days. 

There are several ways to protect your scalp, the easiest of which is to add sun cream application to your morning routine, especially on any exposed skin. 

There are specific sun protection products you can use on the scalp to give an extra layer of protection or you can use ordinary sun cream – it’s up to you! Holland & Barrett SPF 15 Mineral Sunscreen provides immediate broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection once rubbed into the skin. You can also get sunscreen for your hair! 

Staying Safe with Nut Allergies

If you or a member of your family suffers with nut allergies, then going on holiday can be a nightmare. If you are flying abroad, be aware that if the airline hands out bags of peanuts and each passenger opens their bags at roughly the same time, the peanut dust thrown into the air might be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Contact the airline in advance to ask for a note to be added to your booking, alerting check-in staff, security and cabin crew of the allergy, and of your need to carry EpiPens – it’s also a good idea to have a spare set of these in case of emergencies. 

Mosquito bites

These can bring misery to any holiday. The majority of mosquito bites simply cause a little discomfort and a small, red lump or swelling that itches. However, mosquito bites do affect different individuals in different ways, and some people experience more severe symptoms of swelling and itching than others. There are several natural remedies that you can try at home.

Clean the bite and apply surgical spirit to the wound with a cotton pad. Although you’ll experience a stinging sensation for a couple of seconds, that will subside, and due to the drying effect of the surgical spirit, the itching will too.

Honey is a natural antibacterial which has anti-inflammatory properties. However, don’t use honey if you intend to head back outside, as insects will be attracted to the sweetness.

Aloe vera gel, either bought or extracted from within an aloe vera leaf, has cooling properties which can reduce swelling. You can buy Holland & Barrett Aloe Vera Gel with 100% naturally derived ingredients to help soothe the mosquito bite, or try incognito Insect Repellent from Holland & Barrett which is a 100% natural anti-mosquito spray that provides protection from biting insects such as mosquitoes. 

Basil leaves contain chemicals which work as a natural balm to resolve feelings of itchiness and skin discomfort. Make a rub with blended basil leaves and a neutral oil to soothe the skin. 

Garlic has natural anti-inflammatory compounds. However, a minced garlic bulb on its own is too potent to accelerate healing and may exacerbate skin irritation. Combine minced garlic with a few drops of a neutral oil, such as Miaroma Lemon Pure Essential Oil from Holland & Barrett, to create a salve for mosquito bites.

John Adam Mascarenhas – A Life in Music

in Features

Gibraltarian composer and musician John Adam Mascarenhas has been recognised for his contribution to the musical arrangement for a song that featured in a short film entitled ‘Referéndum’.

John was born in Gibraltar and started playing the piano at age six, singing and playing different instruments such as the guitar, flute and bagpipes before going on to write his first composition at the age of thirteen.“Like most, I formed bands just for fun to play for friends but always dreaming of becoming an international star.

John explains that in collaboration with his wife Teresa they mainly compose Celtic Music but that they also write in different styles. “Teresa usually writes the lyrics of the songs and helps me with the arrangements. She also writes poetry and she has a poetry book published called ‘Latidos’.

They work together with other composers from Costa Rica and Nicaragua and have many more projectscoming up in the near future. “Another song of ours is going to be used for a documentary in Spain.

At an exclusive awards ceremony at the IX RACCORD Gala held in Zaragoza on Saturday 3rd June 2023, third and fourth year students from the Audiovisual Communication degree course at the San Jorge University were recognised for their entries in different categories. 

‘Referéndum’ was the big winner of the night, receiving 5 awards:Best Director of Photography to Iván Martínez together with Alejandro Garín from Habitación 112; Best Editing, Best Direction and Best Short Film to Javito.

The original song “Paz, Amor, y Libertad” (Peace, Love, and Freedom) by John Adam Mascarenhas that featured at the end of the short film was highly acclaimed by the distinguished audience, along with the soundtrack by Fernando Rouco.

The lyrics of the song were written by the playwright, international columnist and composer, José Luís Ortiz Güell, who has spent many years writing books, including ‘Soledad: querida dictadura’under the pseudonym of Paolo Da Santos and “Puente de niebla”, which bears his name. As part of his work as a journalist he has just received the world prize for excellence in journalism ‘Cesar Vallejo’. 

Jose Luis has also been recognised for the brilliant role he played in Referéndum, which reflects his great acting skills. Among the different nominations at the IX RACCORD Gala, Fernando Bernués co-star ofReferéndum, was amongst those that stood out. 

Referéndum will continue to participate in the main Spanish and international festivals and it is expected to be one of the best short films of the year 2023 in Spain.

Beautiful Balearics

in Features/Travel

Apart from great beaches, a wonderful climate and a wealth of culture and history, the Balearic Islands offer a whole host of attractions for those looking for a destination with a difference. There’s something for everyone, from families looking for relaxing beach holidays to true sports enthusiasts with a wide range of activities for walkers, cyclists and divers.

The Balearic Islands are part of an archipelago located in the Mediterranean Sea lying off the eastern coast of mainland Spain. They consist of four main islands, Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera, with over one hundred smaller islets. 

If you want to avoid the crowds, the best months to visit the Balearics are May, June, and September. If you’re not flying in from the UK or other far off climes, the best way to get to the islands from Gibraltar is via Spain with local airlines in Barcelona and Madrid offering daily flights to Ibiza, Menorca, and Palma de Mallorca Airport and from Malaga to Mallorca and Ibiza. If you don’t want to fly, you can go via car ferry with some major ferry carriers offering various overnight routes that connect mainland cities like Barcelona, Valencia, and Dénia to the islands, many of which operate every day. If you want to island-hop, ferries run daily between the four main isles.

Mallorca, the largest of the islands, is the favoured destination for some of the many celebrities who either own homes there or for the rich and famous who enjoy following in the footsteps of royalty. This is where the Spanish Royal Family spend their holidays in August at the Marivent Palace on the outskirts of Palma and is where Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III kicked off their honeymoon cruise in 1956. 

Hiring a car or using your own makes exploring the island an easy option, but public transport is also available. From west to east, Mallorca is 100 kilometres wide and around 75 kilometres from north to south. 

Palma is the capital and home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals that I have visited.  The 14th century Cathedral of Santa Maria, more commonly referred to as La Seu, is one of Europe’s tallest Gothic structures and features sixty-one stained-glass windows, the most spectacular being the central rose window. Make sure to take in Miquel Barceló’s contemporary installation in the right-hand apse of Saint Peter’s Chapel.  Next to La Seu stands the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, which dates back to the 14th century, the official residence of the Royal Family in Mallorca. Both these buildings sit on top of a hill affording magnificent views over the Mediterranean.

If you want to head outside the capital, a trip on the Tren de Sóller is a must. This narrow gauge railway line opened in 1912. The train, made up of mahogany lined vintage carriages with wooden seats and large windows allowing passengers great views of the stunning scenery, departs from its own station in Palma, Plaça de l’Estació. The train journey takes approximately 40 minutes and covers a distance of around 25 kilometre. There is one stop at Bunyola before the train arrives at the Art Deco station in Sóller, from where you can jump on the tram to explore Port de Sóller. 

Other must-see places in Mallorca include: Petra, famous for being the birthplace of Friar Fray Junipero Serra who founded the first Spanish mission in California; Alcúdia the former Roman capital of the Balearic Islands; and the Cap de Formentor peninsula situated at the north-eastern tip of the island which is accessed via 18km of winding roads and hairpin bends. This is where you can visit the Far de Formentor lighthouse built in 1863, at an elevation of 119m above the sea level. 

Mallorca’s smaller sister island Menorca has been a Unesco Biosphere Reserve for nearly three decades. While it only measures around 30 miles from west to east, the island has more than 125 miles of coastline, and with its breath-taking white sandy coves and incredible turquoise waters it is the perfect place for leisurely beach holidays. There are plenty of small fishing villages where you can sample the local cuisine, including a traditional lobster stew (caldereta de langosta). 

The port of Mahón is the second largest natural port in the Mediterranean. It has been a key port on trade routes since it was first used in the 3rd century B.C. and because of the city’s deep harbour and strategic position in the Mediterranean, the British dominated the island for much of the 18th.  Pay a visit to the Xoriguer gin distillery to sample some of the world-renowned Mahón gin and then if you can find your sea legs take a trip around the harbour on one of the many boat trips and find out more about the naval history. 

At the western end of the island is the old town of Ciutadella, the ancient capital which lives up to its nickname of Vella i Bella, (old and beautiful). We stayed in one of the many burgeoning boutique hotels and wandered the narrow cobbled streets, stopping for coffee in plazas and soaking up the atmosphere in the Main Square, Plaça des Born, bordered by architecturally interesting buildings such as the neoclassical Palau Torre-Saura and fortress-like Ajuntament which sits opposite the Santa Maria Church, built in the 13th century on the site of an old mosque. In the centre of the square is the twenty two metre high obelisk dating from the 19th century which commemorates the resistance and final defeat of the city at the hands of the Turks in 1558. 

Ibiza, known as the nightlife destination of the Balearic Islands and for its hedonistic clubbing scene is frequented by world-famous DJs and celebrities, but it has much more to it than just party vibes. The island is a great place for family holidays. If you want to get away from the crowded resorts, check out the southwest coast which has some of the most beautiful sandy coves on the island where there is plenty of opportunity for snorkelling or kayaking. 

Ibiza’s old town called Dalt Vila, “the city from above”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing museums, medieval houses and narrow streets. In the west of the island is the resort of San Antonio which may be synonymous with the nightlife scene, but travel 25 kilometres north to visit Can Marçà, a cave discovered by groups of smugglers who used it to hide their contraband. Since the 1980s the cave has become one of the island’s major tourist attractions.

A short boat ride from the glitz of Ibiza lies the small island of Formentera, just 20 km long and at the most narrow point 2 km wide. This idyll is very different to the other islands, with a bohemian vibe that still resonates from the 1960s hippy days. This is the island to come to if you want to experience a relaxed, laid-back holiday. Although the smallest of the islands, Formentera has a lot to offer, with highlights including unbeatable pristine beaches and delicious fresh seafood available at the island’s restaurants and chiringuitos. Birdwatchers should visit the Ses Salines Natural Park, one of the most important marine and land reserves located to the north of Formentera. The natural park is an example of the richness of Mediterranean biodiversity and is a stopover and nesting area for migrating birds. 

The Posidonia meadow of Ses Salines is considered the biggest and oldest living organism in the world, at 15 kilometers in size and 80,000 years old. It is thanks to the presence of the Posidonia Oceanica, an underwater grass, that the waters around the island are so crystal clear. The Posidonia meadow is so vital that it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

If you’re feeling adventurous, take a boat trip and explore the caves of Punta Rasa which can only be accessed by sea. If diving is your thing, or maybe something that you’ve always wanted to try, then the island is the perfect place to start with the sea reaching summer temperatures of around 25ºC.  If you’d rather not go quite so deep, Formentera is a fantastic environment for snorkelling and the rocky cove of Es Caló des Mort, although popular and sometimes crowded, is the perfect place to try this sport. 

Cancer Relief Gibraltar Celebrates 40th Anniversary

in Features

Recently described by the Governor Sir David Steel as the ‘jewel in the crown of charities in Gibraltar’, Cancer Relief Gibraltar celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year.

 Marisa Desoiza, Chair of Cancer Relief, explains how the charity was started back in 1983. “The Governor’s wife at that time, Lady Philippa Williams, and Maureen Stansfield who had experience of hospices in the UK, wanted to see if they could bring the same care to Gibraltar.” In the early 80s there was no property available so a committee of community and faith leaders, including Bishop Caruana, Dr Fitzpatrick, Momy Levy, Maribel Chiappe and Lillian Pitaluga, together with Governor Admiral Sir David Williams, set up the Gibraltar Society for Cancer Relief with a view to providing certain services. 

“These services included day support, lending nursing equipment to patients in the home and giving financial assistance, and from there the charity started very slowly,” Marisa says. “I remember the previous Chairwoman told me that the first donation they got was a mop and bucket for a room they were given by the Transport and General Workers Union in Transport House for a peppercorn rent.”

It was also decided to send a State Registered Nurse for training. Mary Dolding, who worked for the Medical Department, was approached to train as the first paid hospice nurse and went to the UK to become a Macmillan nurse.

“Mary happened to be the Commissioner of Girl Guides as well, so when we needed to move to a bigger place Mary arranged for the lease on a hut in Devil’s Tower Road to be shared between Cancer Relief and the Girl Guides,” Marisa states, going on to say that Cancer Relief had much better fundraising potential than the Girl Guides and the charity raised money to build a prefab by St. Theresa’s Church which was called Lady Williams Centre. “The Girl Guides had upstairs and Cancer Relief had downstairs and there was a lovely big patio.”

Marisa, a nurse by training, came on board and along with others set up a Support Group for people affected by cancer. “We provided complimentary therapy, continued with financial assistance, lending equipment and we set up a bereavement group – there were various activities that were based down at the centre and other nurses from the medial department went to train in the care of people with advanced cancer.”

This continued for twenty-eight years until it became apparent that the building was getting very dilapidated and in 2011 the Gibraltar Government donated a beautiful colonial building in South Barracks Road, which is where the charity is to this day. 

“The building allowed for expansion of services to include a more comprehensive modern day care centre with provision for a larger number of specifically tailored clinics and therapies. Following a local survey the society decided that along with the fresh new building and enhanced services, a change of name was required, which is what we are known as today – The Cancer Relief Centre.”

Marisa says that they were able to set up a group called Living With and Beyond Cancer (LWABC) which is for people with chronic illness or who are cured and want to continue a relationship with the Centre.  “Patients come along and have an individualised assessment by a nurse to look at their specific needs because not everybody is the same, and then we try and fulfil what their support needs are,” Marisa comments. “It is not just the patient, we consider that the unit of care is the patient and family or their loved ones, they are significant people.”

Amongst the services available is Head Smart for anyone who has suffered hair loss as a result of cancer treatment with a specially trained hairdresser who can provide support and advice. There is also a full wig fitting and wig care service.

“Every year we support about five hundred individuals,” Marisa states. “At the moment in Centre Services we have two nurses and a Health Care Assistant, we also have an array of therapists, including beauty therapists, massage, art therapy and counselling, who have service level agreements with us.” 

There is also the Hospice Outreach Service (HOS) which is funded solely by Government. Marisa explains that the Charity has two income streams. “Everything that I have described above which we call Centre Services is funded by the community and by fundraising events.”

The Hospital Outreach Service established in 2019 provides hospice care for people in their home, in the evenings in shifts and over weekends. “We realised that it would be impossible for the Charity to fund that on charitable funds because we need to generate £400,000 for the Centre Services at the moment, and we also need £400,000 for the Hospice Outreach Services, so the second stream of income comes as a Government grant – so that is sustainable and that is where we are now.”

Although Cancer Relief has its own fundraising events, they also depend greatly on the generosity of others who raise money for the charity. 

One such fundraising event, in aid of the Cancer Relief 40th Anniversary Gibraltar and Centro Contigo in La Línea de la Concepción, is being held in July by former golf professional and European Tour player David Steele, well known in the golfing fraternity along the Costa del Sol and in Gibraltar. 

The David Steele Charity Golf Marathon Challenge 

This will take place on Wednesday 5th July 2023 to be held at the San Roque Golf Club Old Course. Sign up to play nine rounds of golf with David Steele in an Am-Am format with par as your friend. There are only twenty-seven slots available and the San Roque Golf Club Captain is an alternative option if more than twenty-seven slots are taken to play with David Steele. For non-members of San Roque Golf this is an unbelievable opportunity to play the Old Course. You can enter individually or as a team of three. Members €100 per round per person donation for the charities. Visitors: €172 per person (€72 green fee including buggy and €100 for the charities) or €500 per team. This is marathon speed golf and the idea is not to take any more than two hours per round.  

On Saturday 8th July 2023 a Champagne Texas Scramble will be held at the San Roque Golf Club Old Course in the following format: Teams of four players (enter individually or as a team). 

The package includes: golf, cocktail party, charity donation and prizes. Members €50 per person, or €200 per team. Visitors €157 per person, €628 per team. 

There is also a ‘Beat the Pro’ competition to beat San Roque Golf Professional Gonzalo Sanchez Garcia. €10 per person on the Par 3 12th Hole and a New Course Pro-Am on Saturday 8th July for a Pro and three amateurs. Visitors can enter individually or as a team for €100 or €300 per team. 

How to donate:

GO FUND ME: Donations can be made on the David Steele Charity Golf Marathon Go Fund Me page: 

Donations can also be made via Bank Transfer: 

La Caixa – Sotogrande, Account No. ES65 2100 9020 7922 0034 0191Name: David Thomas Steele

For more information contact David Steele: 

Your donations will go a long way to achieving David’s fundraising goal this year of €10,000.

Interrailing through Europe

in Features/Travel

You may have heard of ‘Interrailing’, the act of travelling through Europe using the extensive rail network with a train ticket known as an Interrailing pass. What you may not know is that Interrailing has been around for over fifty years. 

The first Interrail Passes were sold in March 1972 and started a revolution for affordable travel, with ‘Interrailing’ quickly picked up by young people as the tickets were limited to travellers aged 21 or under, allowing them buy a £27.50 ticket for unlimited travel across Europe by train for a full month. Interrailing for young people was a rite of passage and often the first big trip away from home without parents!   

The Interrail pass was dreamed up by the International Union of Railways (UIC), a body overseeing Europe’s railways at that time. Last year Interrail celebrated its 50th Anniversary and as more travellers are making the sustainable choice to travel by rail, moving away from short haul flights where possible, it is sure to carry on for another fifty years. 

For those of us that Interrailing passed by in our youth, never fear, you can buy an Interrail pass as it is now open to anyone, whatever your age, as age limits were dropped in 1998. Nowadays, there’s also a greater range of Interrailing options that you can choose from, based on the number of travel days and class of ticket.

There are now thirty-three countries currently serviced by Eurail: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Some of the trains in Europe require a reservation (a guaranteed or ‘reserved’ seat), meaning you need it to board the train. This includes high-speed and night trains and many trains in France, Italy, and Spain.

If want to explore just one country like Italy or France, then the one country pass is your best option, or if you’re looking for the true travel experience, then a Global Pass is the ticket for you as you can access up to 37 railway and ferry companies in 30 countries.

So where would you go on your Interrailing trip round Europe? How about the Balkans, visiting Croatia, Belgrade, Montenegro and Split, or maybe a journey through Scandinavia: Copenhagen; Denmark; Oslo and Bergen?

European Cities – Paris to Zürich

Night trains are a great way to journey through some of Europe’s major cities. Not only are they a comfortable way to travel, but you can go to sleep in one city and wake up in another. 


Start off in Paris, pass by the Eiffel Tower, visit the Louvre (make sure you book ahead), say hello to the Mona Lisa and then take a stroll through the Tuileries Garden before heading down the Place de la Concorde. Walk across the Pont Neuf, one of the oldest bridges in the city spanning the River Seine, even though its name means ‘new bridge’.

There are two islands that sit in the middle of the Seine, the Île Saint-Louis and the Île de la Cité, both of which have some of the finest monuments in Paris. Île de la Cité, renowned as the birthplace of Paris, is where Sainte-Chapelle, a Royal chapel in the Gothic style with an amazing interior of golden Gothic arches and 1,113 stained glass windows, is situated. Unfortunately the Notre Dame Cathedral was destroyed by fire recently so you won’t be able to visit, but you can still admire the façade. Once you’ve had your fill of Paris, you can take the Thello night train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Venice Santa Lucia in a journey that will take just over fourteen hours.


There is plenty to see during one day in the ‘Floating City’. It goes without saying that you should visit St. Mark’s square, (Piazza San Marco) surrounded by restaurants, museums and shops. Visit the grand pink Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale), and take a lift up to the top of the Campanile di San Marco, the large bell tower at the corner of the square, for some incredible views. Wander over the bridges and canals, maybe take a ride in a gondola, and then head back to the station. The ÖBB Nightjet will take you from Venice Santa Lucia to Vienna Centrale in just under eleven hours. 


Wake up in the beautiful ‘City of Music’. If you visit during the winter months of November and December you will be able to explore some of the best Christmas markets in Europe. The city is home to some majestic buildings, including the famous Schönbrunn palace and St. Stephens Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in Vienna, where you can climb the north tower for an amazing view of Vienna’s skyline. Make your way over to the exciting art area near the Imperial Palace. The MuseumsQuartier (MQ) is one of the largest cultural quarters in the world featuring a group of classic and contemporary exhibition spaces joined together around a public piazza, and includes renowned museums such as the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Top off your stay in style with a night at the Vienna State Opera House, one of the most famous and fabulous opera houses in the world, and then board the ÖBB Nightjet and sleep tight from Vienna Centrale to Berlin Hbf which will take just over eleven hours. 


Berlin is a buzzing, modern city with a rich history. A must-see is Museum Island located in the city centre containing a unique ensemble of five museums. The entire complex is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The East Side Gallery is the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall and is where more than 100 artists from over 20 countries decorated this stretch of the hinterland wall with their art works in 1990.  Other key sites in the history of Berlin are Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate. 


The final destination on your Interrailing trip could be Zürich. The ÖBB Nightjet will take you from Berlin Hbf to Zürich HB in around twelve hours. Visit the charming and picturesque Old Town, take a leisurely boat trip on the River Limmat past some of the most beautiful sights of Zürich. Walk along the promenade for the best views of Lake Zürich and make sure you end your European Interrailing with a visit to the Lindt Home of Chocolate with the world’s highest free standing chocolate fountain and a chance for some delicious chocolate tasting. 

An Interrail Pass, ( can be used by European citizens. Non-European citizens can use a Eurail Pass instead, ( for the same price as an Interrail Pass. Reservations are required and can usually be booked several months in advance. 

Kevin Bossino

in Features/Travel

Ambitious for Gibraltar Tourism

Jo Ward chats to Kevin Bossino, CEO of the Gibraltar Tourist Board, about how he has found his new role since he took on the position in September 2022 and asks what his vision is for Gibraltar tourism. 

“Hitting the ground running is an understatement,” Kevin says. “The tourism umbrella is quite wide ranging and there is a lot to look after; from the Cruise Line industry, the Airline industry, Hotel and Hospitality, the MICE sector, travel agents, tour operators and wholesalers, OTAs (online travel agents), corporate sector, sports and cultural sectors, marketing including digital marketing and social media, plus all the day to day challenges, so it has been hard work but very exciting.”

Asked how he is dealing with the repercussions of tourism in a post-pandemic world, Kevin says that the market has gathered momentum and is similar to pre-pandemic levels. “The silver lining is that that is without having China and most of Asia returning to their full capacity and when they do start filling up the gaps, we will have the full spectrum of the recovery – we are well on track.”

Tourism is a vital part of Gibraltar’s economy, and Kevin stresses that whenever a tourist spends a pound in a certain place, it has a multiplier effect and it ripples amongst the wider economy.

In a competitive market, does Gibraltar provide enough for tourists, whether that is the day tripper from Spain, the cruise liner tourists or the longer term holidaymaker?   “It is important to showcase what Gibraltar has to offer, which is an incredible amount,” he comments. 

“Of course you can always do better,” Kevin states. “What we already have on offer is incredibly interesting, including a whole variety of tours and different experiences, but I think that there is plenty of room to expand and enhance this greatly. We have ambitious plans for Gibraltar tourism.”

Plans to open up the Northern Defences are underway and this is an area of immense importance and could be yet another of the unique and top tourist attractions available on the Rock. There is also Parsons Lodge, which sits next to the old victualing yard, which is earmarked to open as a Natural History museum and an extension to the Gibraltar museum in town.

“The maritime sector is another area that can be explored, especially at the likes of Rosia Bay where in 1805 Nelson’s body was placed in a casket filled with brandy and transported on HMS Victory into the bay, after his demise in the Battle of Trafalgar. The potential for story telling has no end,” Kevin explains. He gives further examples of the Stay Behind Cave and Operation Tracer. “Whenever I tell anybody that 007 author Ian Fleming was involved in the Top Secret operation whereby a team was recruited to hide in the cave and spy on the Nazis in the event of what was considered to be an imminent invasion during WWII, they are astounded.” There are other interesting stories to be told such as the fact that the acclaimed author of the famed Game of Thrones series, George RR Martin, has said he was inspired by the Rock when developing his ideas on the mythical Casterly Rock. 

“We need to use immersive technology, featuring all the senses such as audio, visual, smell and touch, to create a special experience and enhance what we have to offer,” Kevin says. 

Although the history of Gibraltar stretches back all the way to the Neanderthals there is a huge amount of modern day history that can be incorporated into visits for tourists. Kevin gives an example of how even in unexpected areas such as the development of Gibraltar’s water system there are hidden treasures of information. From Nun’s Well traced back to the Moorish occupation to the water catchments area constructed in 1903 at the East side which was a system unique in the world and considered an engineering achievement of considerable merit. “Then you have the narrative around the mass evacuation of the civilian population during the Second World War,” he states.

Special interests is an important area that the Tourist Board is exploring. “Bird watching is an example – Gibraltar is a really amazing place for bird watchers because this is where the channel lies for migrations from Africa into Europe, so if you are into bird watching this would be one of the places you would want to be.” Kevin is also keen to remind tourists about scuba diving with 34 wrecks around the Rock and of course, there is the ever popular dolphin safari where it is almost guaranteed that some of the hundreds of these friendly animals that reside in the bay area will pay your boat a visit and put on a masterful display. “If you fancy a swim from one of our lovely beaches, where else can you swim in the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean on the same day?”  

“We are reliant on the relevant stakeholders for some of these projects,” Kevin explains, going on to say that the job of the Tourist Board is primarily to market our product. “We need to make sure that we shout the Gibraltar name as loud as we can.”

These new initiatives sound exciting, but I ask Kevin if Gibraltar’s infrastructure can cope with them? “At the moment we have around 10 million tourists coming to our shores annually, and we can cope, but we are constantly looking into improving the logistics and transportation network.”

“My desire is to push Gibraltar into the premium level,” he says. “The important volume market is what we get from the land border crossings and from the cruise liners, and I say that with the utmost respect because people from the cruise liners, especially the smaller, luxury liners, are in that boutique space and need special attention and more bespoke tours.”

Kevin tells me that one of the things he experienced a couple of weeks ago was the Eisenhower Room, housed in a data centre deep inside the Rock where General Dwight Eisenhower directed the successful invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. “It is not open to the public at large at the moment but we need to see how we can develop bespoke tours for small groups of people,” Kevin comments.  

“We can become a niche destination because we don’t have massive capacity in terms of room stock or meeting spaces etc. so we need to go for what we can comfortably provide to ensure that we can provide the best service possible to our visitor,” he states. 

“You have got to plant the seed and then let it grow – and sometimes it grows organically if you plant it properly.”

Asked in the absence of a Treaty how it will affect tourism, Kevin admits that it remains to be seen. “If we get a Treaty then obviously there will be a fluid border, if we don’t get a Treaty we need to be prepared to ensure that we can still have tourism without that total reliance on the border, which is why the cruise business is so important.” 

Kevin says that together with the Hon Vijay Daryanani, the Minister for Business and Tourism and the Port, he has been working very hard to try and promote Gibraltar wherever and whenever possible. 

“It is sometimes hard to imagine that such a small destination can pack in so much but once people visit they have that ‘Aha! Moment’ and therefore it is very valuable to have people in the trade responsible for selling the destination to experience and understand it, which is why we are looking at boosting our familiarisation trips as an area that we need to push and invest in. 

Event led tourism has achieved success over the years by bolstering off-peak season activity. Gibraltar has become a destination of choice for a much wider clientele, from sport enthusiasts and culture lovers to superyacht owners, history buffs and birdwatchers. Kevin explains that they are working with different departments in both the Government and private sector to promote these type of events. 

“We have the Rugby Sevens coming up at the end of June and we want to see it gain some traction and become a mini version of the Rugby Sevens held in places such Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai where it is a big event,” Kevin comments. 

“People coming in on the cruise liners want to have different experiences, whether that is the rugby, the literary festival or the recently held European Division 3 Squash Championships.”

Weddings are another crucial sector that Kevin thinks could be expanded. “We are working on The Mount, the former residence of the Royal Navy’s senior officer, which is an amazing piece of land and venue, so if we can get that right that could be a perfect environment for weddings.”

As well as promoting Gibraltar as an experiential destination, Kevin says they are also working on attracting more super yachts, private jets and boutique luxury cruises. “The hotel scene is developing as we speak in a calibrated fashion to make sure everybody is looked after in an appropriate way,” he says. “Sometimes we do need assistance from the retail sector to ensure that they are kept open when we are busy during the weekends and after hours as well, because in many destinations they are kept open later, but it is a bit of a chicken and egg situation because if that doesn’t happen you can’t attract evening or weekend tourism and we want to encourage the retail sector to do that.”

In Kevin’s view Gibraltar could be a boutique destination because of its size, quaintness and the convenience of getting around. “You can walk everywhere, whereas in other destinations you can’t – the convenience is next to none.”

Kevin’s closing words are: “Gibraltar is a unique and experiential destination which can be made into a premium destination.”

Vitamins for all the Family

in Health & Beauty

Why should you take vitamins? You should be getting all the vitamins and minerals you need by eating a healthy, balanced diet, but vitamin and mineral supplements can be extremely useful to fill in nutritional gaps in your diet, and there is evidence that some supplements can benefit your overall well-being.

There are vitamins that will benefit all age groups, so if you want to keep your family healthy take a look at some suggestions from Holland & Barrett Gibraltar. 


From foetus through to breastfeeding, to toddler through to teenage years and beyond, omega-3s are critical for growth, brain development, and may even influence behaviour.

Omega-3s are fatty acids, which are vital components of yours and your child’s cell membranes. Taking omega-3 may help kids with concentration, could enhance brain function, improve mood, help their immune system, could reduce symptoms of asthma and aid problems with sleeping. 

Try Holland and Barrett Kids Omega-3 chewy capsules which are a yummy blackcurrant flavour suitable for your little ones 3+ years and above. These chewable capsules contain omega-3 with Vitamins A, C, D and E – and help to support brain health, heart and vision. Alternatively, Holland and Barrett Kids Multivit and Omega 30 Gummies are juicy & chewy softies with Omega 3 and Vitamins D, A, B6, B12, E & C.


If you’re already a vegetarian or flexitarian, there may be one question stopping you from going vegan: will I get enough vitamins and minerals? Having a vegan diet has many health benefits, including being low in saturated fats, lower in sugar and having higher levels of antioxidants. However, excluding certain food groups can cause deficiencies in certain nutrients and minerals.

The nutrients you can go short of include: protein; zinc; vitamin B12; iron; vitamin D; calcium; omega 3; selenium; iodine. For non-vegans, most of these nutrients come from meat, fish and dairy products, so as a vegan, it’s important to find alternatives to meet your needs.

H&B Vegan High Strength ABC-Z has been specially formulated to support a vegan lifestyle. The improved formulation provides all the essential vitamins and minerals including extra Vitamin B12 as this is an essential vitamin that can’t be obtained from a vegan diet.

Vitamin D

Regardless of the season, a daily dose of vitamin D is always important in staying healthy. Vitamin D’s main job is to regulate our calcium and phosphate levels, which keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. A vitamin D deficiency can result in some people developing bone deformities – so it’s only natural to want to top up. 

Taking one tablet a day of Holland & Barrett Vitamin D3 contributes towards the maintenance of normal bones, muscle function and the immune system.

Iron Supplements

Iron isn’t just good for you. As the mineral responsible for healthy blood production, it’s essential for your basic bodily functions. How much iron do you need? The average male adult (age 19-50) typically needs 8.7mg iron each day. For women in the same age range, the recommended daily intake is 14.8mg and for women over 50 the recommended level is 8.7mg a day. It’s not always possible to maintain healthy iron levels simply by following an iron-rich diet. Sometimes our bodies need a boost and that’s where iron supplements can be valuable. They can particularly help if an iron deficiency is something that you need to manage.

Holland & Barrett Gentle Iron vegan capsules deliver the benefits of iron whilst being gentle on your stomach, or try Spatone Apple with Iron Supplement Liquid which comes in convenient, one-a-day sachets packed with the taste of juicy, ripe apples to make iron supplementation not only easy but tasty too!

Vitamin Gummies 

Have you heard all the fuss about gummy vitamins lately? But what on earth are they? Do they work and how do they work? Gummies are basically (and just like you guessed) jelly sweets with dietary vitamins and nutrients added. 

Nature’s Way Alive! Womens Energy 60 Gummies are a complete multivitamin which supports the female body by providing the essential vitamins that it needs to feel great and work at its best. The 2020 Healthy Awards winner works to benefit women’s energy, immunity, hair, skin and fertility.

Immune System

One of the best ways to support your natural immunity is to nourish your body with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive (the ones your body can’t make by itself). It’s worth noting that you need a dose of some water-soluble vitamins and minerals every day as your body can’t store them, e.g., you can’t eat 20 oranges one day or pop a load of vitamin C pills and be covered for a few weeks; you need vitamin C every day. Holland & Barrett Elderberry Immunity Gummies with Vitamin C and Zinc (containing 2,400mg of black elderberry) supports the normal function of the immune system. 

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.

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