Today’s local news: March 8th

Daisy Smith brings us today’s local news from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

Facial palsy awareness: Freya’s journey to a smile

Freya Beaumont was born without a smile, and now she is helping to shine a light on facial palsy as part of an awareness week.

20-year-old Freya has unilateral congenital facial palsy, which affects the nerves and muscles in the left side of her face.

Her condition meant that she couldn’t smile or close her left eye, and in essence had no movement on the left side of her face at all. When she was younger, she underwent two surgeries in London with the intention of giving her a smile, and it worked.

Now, she, and others who have facial palsy, are raising awareness of the condition, and have launched a petition asking the government to do more to support those affected.

Key messages they are hoping to share are the difficulties people have accessing healthcare, the psychological impacts of the condition and the day-to-day struggles faced.

Over 100,000 people are thought to have facial palsy in the UK. However, there aren’t many nationally funded investigations for treatments or cures, so support is limited. There are over 50 causes of facial palsy, and it can happen to anyone at any time in their life.

Previous campaigns have shared the message that people can be happy without expressing it as a lot of people with the condition are unable to smile.

This week they launched a Twitter campaign called ‘#facemyday‘ for people to share their own experiences.

The condition seriously affected Freya’s confidence and self-esteem when she was growing up, and school was not an easy experience for her. She said:

“It hasn’t always been easy. When I was little I didn’t appreciate that my face was any different from other children’s faces, but when I started school, it soon became more apparent.

“Other children would tease, point, stare and laugh at me. I felt like I didn’t fit in. At secondary school, I was bullied a lot about my appearance and I struggled making friends. I would go home crying.”

Sharing her personal experience to help shine a light on facial palsy is important to Freya, and she wants more to be done in the country:

“I have always wanted to raise awareness of facial palsy because I want to help others who have facial palsy so that they do not feel alone and insecure about themselves.

“I have also just written a petition and letter to my MP to raise more awareness by asking the government to encourage greater awareness of the impact of facial palsy in the UK.”

The campaign hopes to not only raise awareness, but also help people with the condition. Freya’s advice for anyone who is facing similar issues is that they are not alone and being different is a good thing because it makes you unique. Her final message is to not measure beauty by your external appearance because real beauty lies within.

The petition for the government to do more with awareness and support of  facial palsy can be found here.

BREAKING: US offers $1 million reward for Bin Laden’s son

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The USA government is offering $1 million for help locating Osama Bin Laden’s son, Hamza Bin Laden.

He is believed to be emerging as a key leader of the Islamist military group, Al-Quaeda, and the US state department are offering a reward for information on his whereabouts.

The reward will be paid for helping to locate him as part of the American Rewards For Justice programme.

He has released audio and video messages calling for attacks against the US and its allies.

His father, the former leader of Al-Quaeda, was killed in a US military raid in Pakistan in 2011.

A statement read: “Hamza married the daughter of Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker and a mastermind of Al Qaeda’s September 2001 airline terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

“Osama bin Laden’s letters seized from the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound where bin Laden was killed indicate that he was grooming Hamza to replace him as leader of Al Qaeda.”

Any information about Hamza Bin Laden and his whereabouts should be sent to the nearest US embassy or to info@rewardsforjustice.net.

Young photographers launch renewable energy exhibition

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The photographers: Magnus Kermack, Michaela McStay, Rachel Gilliver and Anna Batey (Credit: Bia Collective)

A group of young photographers, known as Bia collective, are launching a four-part exhibition focusing on the subject of renewable energy.

The four students, based in Edinburgh, have funded the exhibition themselves in order to display their work.

The topic of the exhibition is as current as ever, with recent figures showing that renewable power reached record highs in the UK last year, with renewable power supplying over a quarter of the UK’s electricity.

This week, Scottish Power announced that it will invest £2 billion in green energy. The company have closed or sold all of its coal and gas power pants, instead choosing to focus on renewable energy.

Each photographer has focused on a different area relating to renewable energy to showcase different ways that it is used in today’s society.

The week-long exhibition will be held at UNIONgallery in Edinburgh from March 13 and is free to visitors.

Here are the photographers:

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A piece of Gilliver’s work at Inverary Watchtower (Credit: Rachel Gilliver)

 RACHEL GILLIVER – 20 – COATBRIDGE

“My work focuses on wind power and will contain images from a wind farm, highlighting everything present at one of these parks.

“I chose this because I wanted to analyse the stigma around these large turbines and look into the controversial opinions surrounding them as many people are against wind turbines because they feel they ruin the natural beauty of the countryside, without taking into consideration the positive impact they have on the environment.

“I took my photos at Blacklaw II wind farm in South Lanarkshire, where there are 54 turbines with a capacity of 124 megawatts, making it one of the biggest wind farms in the UK.

“I think the main reason I chose my particular theme about the concerns for the natural beauty of the countryside, was to try and convey that if we completely turn our backs on renewable energy altogether, eventually there might not be a countryside for turbines to ruin.”

 

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A piece of McStay’s work from a documentary project with Narcissus Flowers (Credit: Michaela McStay)

MICHAELA MCSTAY – 21 – BRIDGE OF WEIR

“My project will be looking into the aesthetics of solar panels.

“It is commonly known that Solar panels and wind turbines are considered more of an eye sore than a benefit to the environment.

“With my project I would like to challenge this, by showing the comparison of solar panels and existing aesthetically similar structures in the urban environment.”

 

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Batey took this image for a previous project entitled Females in Agriculture (Credit: Anna Batey)

ANNA BATEY – 20 – CARLISLE

“I am creating a series of images exploring the positive impacts that the installation of anaerobic digester plants has had on several farms in Cumbria, and the benefits this has for the environment and surrounding community.

“I chose this topic as I felt it was quite an unusual form of renewable energy and not something that the majority of people will be familiar with.

“I have spent several weeks travelling to different farms, viewing and photographing a range of different sized anaerobic digester plants, with the hopes of being able to capture a broad spectrum of what they are really about and why so many farmers across the UK have taken the leap to install one.

“I think it is an important topic to cover as it highlights an unusual way of generating renewable energy, specifically in an industry that gets a bad press for their contribution towards a more sustainable future.”

 

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Kermack’s image from exploring different coastal towns in Scotland (Credit: Magnus Kermack)

MAGNUS KERMACK – 22 – ABERDEEN

“Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, is home to 55 people, but it was only in September that they got access to round the clock power.

“I travelled to Britain’s most remote inhabited island to try to find out the impact this new source of clean energy has had.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s local news: March 1st

Daisy Smith brings us today’s local news from Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.

Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Lady Gaga lead 2019 Grammy nominations

 

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Kendrick Lamar received eight nominations. (Credit: Batiste Safont)

Some of the biggest names in music will be gathering in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 10th for the 61st Grammy Awards.

The annual ceremony will see the last year’s chart toppers come together over 80 different categories including record of the year, album of the year, best new artist and best rock album.

Hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar has had a big year and leads the pack with eight nominations, including the coveted album of the year award.

He is closely followed by Drake who had a successful year with his album, Scorpions, and received seven nominations.

Lady Gaga is also expected to win big for the song Shallow from last year’s movie hit A Star is Born.

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This year’s show will be hosted by singer Alicia Keys and will feature performances from previous Grammy winners Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson, as well as nominees Travis Scott, Due Lipa and Shawn Mendes.

Former Lifetime Achievement award winner Diana Ross will also be taking to the stage to perform some of her greatest hits.

The lineup has been announced following news that nominees Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino all turned down the invitation to perform at the awards.

The awards will take place at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 10th. The show will not be televised in the UK but British music enthusiasts will be able to watch the ceremony on Monday, February 11th at 1am on CBS.

Rare pieces displayed at Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition

 

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The exhibition has a copy of the 2019 movie script. (Credit: Daisy Smith)

Rare treasures are being displayed for two days only at a Mary Queen of Scot’s exhibition in Edinburgh.

The exhibition showcases pieces from throughout the ages from childhood letters, to copies of movie scripts, including that of the 2019 release starring Saoirse Ronan.

The film has catapulted Mary Queen of Scot’s back into popularity since its release into cinemas.

Visitors will be able to cast their eyes on Mary’s Great Seal, a childhood book and engravings of her execution.

The display will run today and tomorrow at the National Library marking the anniversary of her execution on February 8, 1587.

Dr Annette Hagen, curator at the National Museum, said of the exhibition:

“One of the highlights is the sequence of engravings we have of her execution because today is the actual anniversary of the execution.

“The big thing about today is that we are showing them in one place and people can come and get some interpretation from them. The rarest pieces are obviously the unique items and that is the letters.

“We have a letter she wrote at the age of 11 to her mother Mary of Guise and we are showing the very last letter she wrote six hours before her beheading her brother in northern France.”

An array of historic sites from across the country with links to Mary Queen of Scots will be showcased in a tourism campaign following the popularity of the 2019 film.

An interactive map has been created featuring 19 different locations which were either visited by Mary, or by the moviemakers. This includes her birthplace of Linlithgow and Holyrood House, where she lived in the 1560s.

The exhibition is free to the public and is open today and Saturday, February 9th at the National Museum of Scotland from 10 am until 4 pm.

Trophies for Finlay: Student wins design competition

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Finlay Rintoul won a competition to make the trophies for the Offshore Achievement Awards. (Photo credit: Finlay Rintoul)

North East teenager Finlay Rintoul is making waves in the world of design, winning the opportunity to make the trophies for the 2019 Offshore Achievement Awards.

The 20-year-old won the competition, coming out on top following an intense race of researching, pitching and designing the winning model.

Finlay studies Three-Dimensional Design at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, where he is in his third year, and took part in the competition to go along with his studies.

The annual competition gives students the opportunity to experience what a professional job in the industry may require. During the process, the students had to pitch to industry experts and tailor their designs to their criteria. The standards were high, and submissions were put before a panel of nine judges.

Speaking about the process, Finlay, from Laurencekirk, said:

“We first went to a meeting with a number of experts from the Offshore Achievement Awards. They told us what they wanted and then I went and did my research.

“I started looking into the oil industry and how it was in Aberdeen, nationally, and globally. My main inspiration was oil rigs.

“I liked the complexity of them and I liked how they were just these towering structures in the middle of a very flat ocean. I thought this was a good contrast.”

The trophies are going to be different shades of blue signifying the ocean, highlighting the offshore awards. He has taken inspiration from the legs of an oil rig and made them elongated rectangles. The final trophy will be made of a liquid plastic which will give the look of water.

Currently Finlay is finalising the master copy of the trophy. He still needs to make silicone moulds, pour the resin and put the plaques on to them.

Finlay pipped other students from his course to the post. He said:

“Part of me really wanted to win but another part of me thought maybe my design wasn’t good enough.

“It was amazing to see everyone else’s designs to see what ideas they had come up with and because competition is healthy.

“When they were deciding the winner they said it was the hardest and longest decision they had made over the year’s they have been doing the competition, but here I am, almost with a finished set of trophies.”

Although the project has been intense, Finlay is very grateful for the experience:

“It is an amazing experience for a young designer to be able to have this sort of opportunity because it is difficult to get them.

“More than anything this has been a good learning experience because I have had to go through the process of things not working and having to quickly resolve the issues.

“It has given me a lot of experience and knowledge into how the design world really is outside of university.”

Finlay will be going into the final year of his course after summer. Following the experience of making these trophies, he has his sights set high and is hoping to start his own brand across a range of different disciplines.

The awards ceremony will take place on March 16th, at the Aberdeen Conference Centre where Finlay’s final product will be taking to the stage.

Photos by Finlay Rintoul

 

UncoverED: Exhibition showcases global alumni in Edinburgh

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Some of the student researchers who helped with the project. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

Students from the University of Edinburgh are shining a light on former graduates whose stories have been untold… until now.

For over 150 years students from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas have come to Scotland’s capital to study, however many have done so unrecognised for their work and achievements.

From William Fergusson, the first known black student at the University of Edinburgh to Kadambini Ganguly, one of the earliest female physicians from South Asia, the university has played a part in educating many world-leading figures.

The exhibition also features an array of doctors, writers, scientists, artists and more.

A group of student researchers, led by PhD candidates Henry Mitchell and Tom Cunningham, started the project last September and have spent hours reading through old student newspapers, reading biographies and talking to families of the alumni to create a database of successful former students.

Henry Mitchell who led the project said:

“Edinburgh has got this really long and diverse history which hasn’t really been looked at and it has got world thinkers who came to Edinburgh who haven’t been recognised.

“These are people who are famous and are recognised elsewhere, and a lot are in history books but haven’t been recognised in Edinburgh’s history.

“We  went through the archives of the Student which is this really old newspaper. So that starts in 1886 and goes up to the 1980’s. So we read 100 years of the student newspaper in a week.  It’s been really good collaborative research.”

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The exhibition will run from February 1, until June at the University of Edinburgh. (Photo credit: Daisy Smith)

There are two phases of the exhibition. The first, and current, features students from the 1940’s to the 1980’s, and will run until mid-April. The second phase will showcase students from the period between 1800 and 1940, which will run from mid-April until June.

During the research, the team found out more than just the careers of these people but also the lives they lived while in Edinburgh and the experiences they had. They found out what nights out were like, where they lived, what student fees they paid and more.

During the project, the team also found that many of the students did not complete their full degree due to a variety of factors.

Hannah McGurk, a second year German and English student, was part of the research team. She said:

“We found people who are really, really famous in their home countries  that the university just doesn’t really recognise.

“For me, Edinburgh is not a very diverse place and the university does not have a very diverse curriculum. I study English and we were doing all white male writers so for me this is really a way for me to connect with some of those histories.

“It’s an important exhibition because so many students and staff at the university are just unaware of the history, as well as people who just live in the city.

“People of colour have always been a part of the story of Edinburgh, and they still are. This is a really important way to uncover those histories and talk about it and have those conversations.”

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, Scotland’s first black professor, is featured in the exhibition. Born in Jamaica in 1940, he moved to London with his mother at the age of 14 as part of the Windrush generation. He did his PhD in Grain Science and Technology in Edinburgh in 1964.

Natasha Ruwona, an Intermedia student, was part of the team of researchers and wrote the biography of Sir Palmer. She said:

“I was so excited to be part of the project because it was branded as an imperial and colonial project and I am quite interested in the relationship between Scotland and black people.

“I think they are important to be told, because for people of colour like myself, it’s important to see people went to this university so long ago and compare their experience to ours now and how things have changed.”

The project aims to encourage the University of Edinburgh’s community to reflect on its imperial past and how it played a part in the university’s global status.

The free exhibition opens today, and will run until June at the Chrystal Macmillan Building at the University of Edinburgh.

Consumer confidence in Scotland lowest in over a year

Consumer confidence levels in Scotland have dropped to the lowest it has been in over a year, and below the UK-wide average, new research indicates.

According to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker, Scotland’s consumer confidence results have dropped to a net balance of  -9%, which is lower than the UK average of -7%.

Scotland’s result has dropped a whole four percentage points since the last quarter. This is the lowest it has been since the second quarter of 2017.

Some local business owners in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh responded to the research, and were surprisingly optimistic about their customers, despite the recent findings.

Gavin Elden, A La Carte owner, said: “Even when times are tough, people just want to have treats, so we haven’t noticed too much of a change.

A La Carte on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“However, there has been a huge change around here, and lots and lots of shops have changed hands.

“It is hard to tell with Brexit. I think the whole country is just uncertain at the moment about everything. It could be fantastic or it could be a disaster.”

Clementine Home and Gifts worker, Monica, said: “I would definitely think Brexit will have an effect. Everyone is talking about it and I will probably be affected because I am from Poland.

Clementine on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“My friends are all concerned and it definitely has an impact on how people view their future here and spending as well because people are saving instead of spending just in case.”

Cat Anderson, Edinburgh Bookshop worker, said: “I was talking to the boss the other day and she is really impressed with how much people are shopping and she puts it down to Brexit.

The Edinburgh Bookshop on Bruntsfield Place. Credits to Daisy Smith

“People are just like we don’t care anymore, we are going to live regardless, we don’t know what is coming next so we might as well just enjoy ourselves.

“I have certainly seen a massive increase in food prices and have changed my shopping habits accordingly. Brexit is definitely having an impact.”

In Scotland, five out of the six measures of confidence dropped compared to the last quarter. The measure which grew in confidence was regarding job opportunities and career progression which rose by four percentage points to -4%.

The main reason for the downfall in consumer confidence was plunging levels of optimism regarding general health and wellbeing. This category dropped 18 percentage points down to -16% since the previous quarter. This was closely followed by a steep drop in levels of confidence around household disposable income which fell to -24%.

Levels of confidence fell in all six categories for the UK-wide results. The sharpest decline was in the category regarding disposable income and personal debt.

Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart, related the downfall to Brexit and said: “The reality of higher inflation and August’s interest rate rise has dented optimism about spending power.

“Meanwhile uncertainty and the manner in which the UK exits the EU in less than six months’ time is creating an additional headwind for consumers.

He added: “That such consumer-friendly conditions have failed to boost confidence testifies to the headwinds from inflation, interest rate rises and Brexit.”

 The survey was carried out between September 21 and 29 and involved 3105 consumers across the UK, with 371 being in Scotland.

 

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