How to get the best from your Drone

LIZZIE JAMES offers up advice and handy hints on their use

What exactly is a drone and who can fly one?

Drone is the common term used to describe a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) which is anything that can be remotely operated to fly. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights; with fixed wings (like a remote-controlled aircraft) or multi-rotor (like quadcopter or hexa-copter). The most common drones used by consumers are quadcopters.

Do I need a licence?

If you are buying a drone for recreational use such as capturing holiday moments or family days out, videos and photos for personal use, then you do not need an official pilot certificate. It is good practice however to register your drone with a third party body such as the Drone Safety Register to demonstrate that you adhere to safe use of your drone in publish spaces.

If you want to use your drone professionally, such as for wedding photography, aerial shots of an estate or for film production, this would be classed as a commercial gain and you would need relevant training (on a CAA-approved course which is typically two days long) plus the relevant permissions in place from the local aviation authority where you will be flying. In the case of the UK this would come from the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).

For both uses you need to follow the CAA drone code.

Are there any new rules amateur drone users should be aware of?

Yes, from November 2019 flying any drone weighing over 250g (which is most drones) will require you to register as an operator which means taking an online course first. More information on this will be released soon by the CAA. We would strongly recommend you keep yourself familiar with all the rules on flying drones. The latest Drone Code information can be found via this link:

Does it come with a camera attached?

Entry level drones generally come complete with camera gimbal attached. For more professional models, the camera gimbals are sold separately. This allows you to create a bespoke drone package to suit your photography needs.

How much do they weigh?

This can vary. From 80g to 3.4kg and up.

How long does the battery last?

Battery life depends on the model, wind speed and type of use. The average time you can expect to get is around 20 minutes per charge. Battery life is usually displayed on your smartphone or monitor, so it’s easy to keep track of.

How do I control it/see what I am filming?

Most drones are controlled via a remote controller that links to your smartphone; this allows you to connect to the drone via Wi-Fi and view on your smartphone screen the image and controls for the drone. Because of this not all drones come with a joystick remote control as standard. Some drones also allow you to ‘tap fly’ which essentially means you can just tap on an area of your smartphone screen and the drone will fly in that direction.

What’s the maximum height I can fly?

120m or 400ft. On the display you will always be able to see how high or far you’re flying your drone. This is usually displayed on the bottom of your screen. If you’re worried about getting too carried away and flying higher than 400ft, you can go into your settings and set a maximum height. Once this height is set, no matter how hard you push on the controls, once it’s reached its max height it won’t fly any higher. It is strongly recommended that you do this to make sure you’re always flying safe and legal.

How do you stop it colliding with obstacles like trees or overhead wires?

This takes a bit of common sense and care for your drone when out flying. If you’re following the rules of the Drone Code then the drone should never be out of your sight which allows for more control by you, in being able to avoid flying into any obstacles. As a safety measure most drones come with an ‘obstacle avoidance’ system – this is made up of a variety of obstacle sensing and obstacle avoidance sensors located on the drone. The number of sensors varies model to model. The obstacle avoidance will either detect an obstruction and stop moving or detect an obstruction and fly around it safely. All of this will be displayed on your smartphone.

Can I use my drone on holiday?

If you plan on using a drone on holiday it’s essential that you check the local laws first. If you’re having a staycation then familiarize yourself with the Drone Code (, remembering to stay under 400ft and within line of sight. Wherever you are in the world though, the rules should be simple to find by searching.

Locking onto subjects – how important is this?

Locking onto your subject can be helpful if they are moving, so that you can keep them in the frame. It’s a great feature to use if you’re just getting to grips with using a drone for the first time.


Can a gust of wind blow my drone away?

Drones use GPS to fly and are very good at keeping in the same location when the wind blows. All manufacturers will have a recommended maximum wind speed where they can guarantee the drone will still operate as it should – it’s advised to check this and the wind speed and strength before you take off.

How fast do they fly – and why is this useful?

Speed varies depending on model type. Varying usually within 30-45mph for hobbyist drones and then up to 60mph for some professional ones. Speed is useful for being able to make it to the location you want to film or shoot to maximise the length of time in the air shooting. For best results, slow and steady makes for a more cinematic-styled shot.

What if I run out of battery when it is too far to return to base?

Fortunately, this shouldn’t be a question you have to ask! Drones will have a pre-set battery warning level where the drone will kick itself into ‘Return to Home’. Usually it’s set at 30 per cent so it will be able to return home safely. You can change the battery warning to be higher than 30 per cent to give you more of a comfort zone. This is done in the settings option.

When might you want to fly indoors?

If you have a small drone like the Ryze Tech Tello drone, then flying indoors is something you can do easily. The other times you would want to look at flying indoors would be for commercial work – so maybe you’re filming a scene for a film by flying through a window or carrying out an indoor survey of a property etc. It takes good skill, training and control to be able to do this safely and it’s advised that prop guards are used to limit the risk of damage to the drone, property or yourself.

What does a normal hobbyist who wants decent quality videos/stills use?

Kit used by professionals can vary depending on the type of work being carried out. For a lot of professional filmmakers, they would use custom built drones or FreeFly – drones designed to carry heavier cameras like RED or Arri. Some professionals will also use the DJI Inspire 2. Mavic 2 drones can be used for commercial projects but are also very popular with hobbyists who want to capture high quality video and stills. If this is what you are looking for then the DJI Mavic 2 Pro is the drone to look at, with a 20mp 1″ Sensor Hasselblad camera included. Mavic 2 Pro – £1,349.

Lizzie’s Drone Jargon Buster:

3D Sensing System – A combination of sensors used to detect obstacles and the environment around the drone.

4K Video – A quality of video recording. A 4k display is exactly 4 1080p displays in a 2×2 array from a size standpoint. The name 4k is derived from the fact the horizontal resolution is roughly 4000 pixels.

10-bit HDR – HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. This is essentially the amount of detail you can see in the shadows and the highlights of an image. 10 bit relates to the amount of information and data gathered by the sensor. With more information gathered you will have far better detail.

Active Track – A pre-programmed mode available on more sophisticated models allowing you to automatically follow your subject and capture footage at the same time.

CMOS Sensor – This stands for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. This is an electronic chip inside the camera which converts protons into electrons for digital processing – essentially this is what captures your image.

FPV Goggles – First Person View Goggles, used to display the footage coming from a camera (usually mounted to a drone).

Gimbal – Commonly used to keep a camera stabilised with no vibration from the person holding it. A 3-axis gimbal ensures that the motion of the camera mounted on it is stabilized even if the person holding it is moving up and down or turning left and right. This is usually referred to as the pan, tilt and roll stabilization.

UAV – Unmanned Aeriel Vehicle.

UHD – Ultra high definition.

Did you know your dog can be a blood donor?


IT is well known that people can donate blood. Indeed, it is an esential service that helps save people’s lives every day.

But did you know that dogs can also give blood?

Unfortunately, as is the case with human donations, not enough canines are offered up by their owners to donate which could lead to pets missing out on life-saving treatments, particularly during the summer.

The reason is quite simply that most owners are not aware that their dogs can make the vital donations.

Currently only 40 per cent of pet owners know their dog can give blood, according to new figures.

But the lack of knowledge varies dramatically across the UK with people in the North East most likely to be aware that dogs can give blood (57 per cent), whilst those in Wales were the least likely (30 per cent).

The charity Pet Blood Bank UK is now working with Vets4Pets to encourage more owners to register their dog to give blood, as the charity faces challenges over the summer months which lead to lower stock levels of blood during this period.

The focus is also on dogs with the negative blood type, as these supplies are often particularly low because only 30 per cent of dogs eligible to give blood have this blood type.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Just like people, sick and injured dogs may need blood transfusions, and, in most cases, it is literally the difference between life and death.

“The reasons for needing a blood transfusion can be very similar between humans and dogs, as it is used to treat anaemia caused by anything from auto-immune diseases to emergency cases where severe trauma has resulted in dramatic blood loss.

“We recently focused on the topic of pet blood donation in our 2019 Vet Report, with the aim of educating pet owners, but we also wanted to understand what the current awareness was across the UK.

“That’s why we put together our latest research, which has found that awareness is unfortunately still low, with 60 per cent of people being unaware that pets can give blood, and only two per cent of 45-plus year-olds own a dog that has donated blood.”

Vets4Pets and Pet Blood Bank are hoping owners who give blood will help increase the number of dog blood donors, as the research revealed only 13 per cent of respondents have had, or currently own, a dog that has given blood, compared to 51 per cent who said that they have donated blood themselves.

Pet Blood Bank is the UK’s only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for vets, but the team often face issues with owners cancelling appointments and the heat effecting dogs being able to donate. This means stock levels of blood reduce throughout the summer.

The charity works with more than 50 UK veterinary practices, which act as donation centres where the Pet Blood Bank team can hold sessions, visiting each venue between three and six times a year.

The team is also on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to dispatch blood, ensuring this is always readily available to help save the lives of pets in need.

Wendy Barnett, clinical director at Pet Blood Bank, said: “We hope by working with Vets4Pets it will help increase the numbers of people registering their dogs as donors, particularly negative blood type breeds, so we can continue our work of helping to save pets’ lives.

“We often have problems getting blood in the summer and keeping stocks from being critically low, as the number of no-show appointments increases.

“Dog owners often cancel last minute, due to the weather or going on holiday, and then we find it difficult to book appointments in.

“Unfortunately, we currently have a lack of negative blood type dogs donating, and our research shows that only 30 per cent of dogs eligible to donate are this type. Labradors are one of the most common dogs we have registered with us, but they generally tend to be positive blood type.

“Breeds that are most likely to have a negative blood type include Dobermans, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Weimaraners, Greyhounds, Pointers, Lurchers and German Shepherds.

“We currently have over 10,000 registered dog donors; however, this doesn’t mean that all 10,000 are still active donors.

“On average we have 1,000 new registrations a year, but for many reasons dogs stop donating over time, such as moving away, a change in health status, or retire due to age. This is why it is so imperative that we have a constant steady stream of new donor dogs, as stocks can diminish quickly.

“We can also see that demand for blood is increasing across the UK. Last year we sent out over 5,000 units of blood to vet practices across the country. And, as negative blood can be used for all dogs in an emergency, these stocks decrease at a faster rate. It is an ongoing challenge to keep stocks up.

“We have recently launched our first mobile donation unit, which is really helping as it allows us to reach more donors. We can hold sessions at short notice and visit areas where we don’t have a donation centre nearby.

“One of the most important things for us is to ensure that people know that their dog can become a donor and that any concerns around the process are addressed.”

According to the new research, 27 per cent of respondents think giving blood would hurt their dog, whilst a third think their dog would be scared when giving blood and one in five think their dog would be unwell afterwards.

However, ensuring donating blood is a safe and enjoyable experience for every dog is something that Pet Blood Bank prides itself on achieving with every donation,

“Our primary concern is always the happiness and safety of the dog, and we have a strict welfare first policy with any donation,” said Wendy.

“We ensure that all dogs who come in to donate are weighed, that their blood is screened, and they undergo a thorough check-up to evaluate if they are fit and healthy enough to give blood.

“The dog also has to meet a set of stringent criteria. They have to weigh over 25kg, be on no medication other than preventative flea and worm treatments, be between one and eight years old and have had the core vaccinations. They also can’t have travelled abroad or have been imported from outside the UK or Ireland. These criteria help to ensure the safety of the blood supply for both the donor and recipient dogs.

“We also have to ensure that both the dog and the owners are happy and stress-free, and we try to alleviate any fear. If there are any concerns, we won’t take the blood, but on average 75 per cent of dogs that come in for a session will donate.

“Whilst people may have a fear of needles, this is not something that extends to dogs. With reassurance from the Pet Blood Bank team and their owner, who is encouraged to stay with the dog during the donation, we find our donors are very relaxed and happy throughout the process.

“It only takes around five minutes for each unit of blood to be taken and we use local anaesthetic cream to prevent any discomfort. There are plenty of treats on offer, as well as lots of fuss and belly rubs. We make it a very positive experience for all our donors, so much so that many of them come bounding through the doors, full of excitement for what lies ahead.”

Each donation is split into two components – packed red blood cells and plasma, and each of these can be split in half meaning one donation can help to save the lives of up to four other dogs.

Red blood cells can survive for up to six weeks, whilst plasma can be frozen for up to five years.

Dr Stacey said: “Some of our practices have been working with Pet Blood Bank as donation centres for years. We are always keen to help organisations and charities that share our goal of working hard to improve animal welfare.

“We hope that this helps to raise awareness of the important initiative and that more dogs sign up to become donors. This really can help to save thousands of pets’ lives every year.”

Breeds that are more likely to be negative blood type:

  • Airedale Terrier
  • American Bulldog
  • Border Collie
  • Boxer, Doberman
  • Dogue de Bordeaux
  • English Bull Terrier
  • Flat Coated Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Greyhound
  • Lurcher
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pointer
  • Weimaraner

Going to school by staying at home


DURING his run in office between 2010 and 2014, ex-Education Secretary Michael Gove introduced a number of schemes into UK schools that are now deemed neither effective financially nor educationally.

Years of unnecessary changes to the education system has resulted in an overstretched and notoriously inflexible one, it is claimed.

Studies from 2016 show that around 40,000 pupils in primary schools were part of a class size of 36 or more, even though the legal limit is 30. Now add an excessive amount of exam stress, limits of the National Curriculum, and an increase in mental health problems to the lack of student-teacher interaction, and you might begin to grow a highly unappealing perspective of state schooling.

However, the presumed path of a child attending primary and secondary school is not the only route to a successful education.

Home schooling not only offers a last resort for children with special educational needs that are not being met by state-funded schools, but offers an opportunity for unhappy children to escape the ‘one size fits all’ education system.

With a rise in home schooling by 20 per cent each year over the past five years, it is believed that around 41,808 children and young people were home schooled in 2017/18 – over double the figure that was collected in the year 2013/14.

The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, highlights four overarching reasons why parents and children might opt for a home education. The phrase encompasses a wide range of parenting styles including philosophy, ability, special educational needs and off-rolling.

For some parents, sending their children to state-school is not a choice, but a forced response to the difficulties their child faces fitting in at school.

Children with special educational needs often don’t get the specialist help that they may need by being in an overcrowded classroom and little possibility of thriving in a rigid environment.

Likewise, students that are ‘illegally excluded’ from schools fall under the category of home schooled pupils as a result of being off-rolled. Ofsted defines off-rolling as “the practice of removing a pupil from the school roll without a formal, permanent exclusion.” In this case, the removal of the child is solely in the interest of the school.

However, the process of actively removing a child from state education, or not even registering them in the first place, is on the rise.

‘Off-grid’ parents Adele and Matt Allen featured on ITV’s This Morning in 2016 with their sons Ulysses (eight) and Ostara (one). Their philosophy of parenting is to provide a natural lifestyle for their sons outside of a stressful and technologically oppressing society.

Alongside their views on natural health and a no-rule approach to their children, they have opted for an unconventional style of education.

They explain their approach to learning as “home education but it’s freestyle. You don’t follow the National Curriculum, you follow [your child’s] lead. Whatever Ulysses is interested in, we provide opportunities for him to learn about it at that time.”

The philosophy that a child determines the structure of his education provides a tailored learning programme fuelled by enthusiasm and passion.

Former primary school teacher Catherine Lynch, of home schooling resource company PlanBee, said: “From the age of five, all children in the UK must receive a full-time education, but it does not have to follow the National Curriculum.

“One of the main benefits of home schooling is that you can follow your child’s interests and be led by them.

“However, it is expected that your child will develop their knowledge and skills in English, Maths and Science.”

At the end of a child’s home education, it is expected that they will possess a standard of knowledge that can be placed against a child of the same age taught in a state school. However, by focusing on subjects and topics that the child is interested in, they practise learning based on stimulation and self-motivation.

Home schooling can provide an opportunity to harness a child’s interests and educate deeply in a flexible curriculum.

Of course, recognising a child’s ability and capacity to learn plays a huge role in deciding whether or not home schooling is a suitable method of educating them.

Special educational needs present themselves in children in multiple ways. A child who struggles to learn in a stressful environment such as an overcrowded classroom where one-to-one interaction with a teacher is restricted would greatly benefit from an educational experience such as home schooling. The undivided attention of a tutor or parent would mean that any difficulties regarding the learning can be properly addressed, and quickly. Time can be spent helping the child to understand a concept and in a way that is accessible to them.

The relaxed environment of a personal study desk or even kitchen table reduces the pressure of keeping up with peers, providing a better opportunity to succeed in their education.

In addition to those who struggle with the standardised learning environment are those who find the National Curriculum unchallenging and tiresome.

Lyn Kendall, British Mensa’s gifted child consultant. recalled Channel 4’s Child Genius contestant Jocelyn, daughter of Jo Gower-Crane and Chris Butler. Where Jocelyn proved to have an exceptional capacity to learn (as shown by her reading age of 12 at the age of five), her step-brother struggled in the education system due to severe dyslexia.

Both children demonstrated special educational needs which could be met through the experience of home schooling.

A home education seems to provide a depth of interest in learning and support for children that simply can’t be found in an overpopulated classroom.

For those who worry about the social aspect of home schooling, there are active home education networks nationwide which provide opportunities for home schooled pupils to meet fellow peers. Children are able to interact with others who educationally operate in a similar way, while subconsciously strengthening their ability to converse with adults in their day-to-day life.

With issues surrounding mental health being aggravated by peer pressure, use of technology and coercion surrounding expected success, schools are increasingly viewed as a breeding ground for stressed-out children. The pressure of exam performance starting at the age of 11 could be seen to restrict a child’s freedom to enjoy what they learn. The ongoing discussion of whether or not SATs should be banned reiterates the controversy of the value of childhood and why education is currently viewed as an oppressive and restricting system.

Home schooling can be considered a refuge from the unnecessary stresses of state education which improves a child’s confidence in learning, their enthusiasm, and the satisfaction of recognising their own capabilities.

Whether to opt for home schooling is a difficult choice to make for parents who only want the best for their children.

Home schooling lesson planning experts PlanBee offer six benefits and disadvantages of a home education, which gives parents something to think about –

Six Benefits of home schooling

1 – You decide what your children learn so you can cater their needs and interests. You can also be as flexible as you need to be.

2 – You can spend longer on a topic if it captures your child’s imagination. If something is proving a tricky concept to grasp, you can move on only when your child is ready to. You have the freedom to decide how and when your child learns.

3 – There is more one-to-one attention for your child than at school.

4 – You can go on as many educational trips as you want to, giving your child more opportunities for real-life experiences.

5 – Home schooling communities tend to be very active allowing you and your child/children to meet lots of new people and make friends.

6 – You are not bound by school holidays and can take family holidays whenever you want.

Six disadvantages of home schooling

1 – Responsibility for your child’s education means taking on the roles of teacher, mentor, curriculum designer and careers advisor. This can feel very daunting.

2 – You don’t get a break, which can be difficult if you are finding some aspects of life or behaviour challenging so it’s important that you guard against burn-out. Constantly adapting to meet your child’s needs can be difficult and feel relentless at times.

3 – Creating opportunities for your child to meet their peers is likely to cause some parents anxiety.

4 – The local authorities have a duty of care to the children living in its area so it will carry out checks, which may feel like undergoing an inspection.

5 – Applying to sixth form, college or university may prove tricky without standardised test results such as GCSEs and A-Levels. Providing references will also be more complex.

6 – It can be expensive. Take into account of your potential loss of earnings as well as the expense of the educational resources and trips you will need to complement your child’s learning.

With this ring…


IT’S that time of year when many a blushing bride will be walking down the aisle with her beau.

Hopefully, a lifetime of contentment – or near enough – will lie ahead.

The couple will make decisions together but a new survey has suggested that one of the major question marks prior to the wedding can be controversial.

In the past it has been the groom’s job to go out and buy the engagement ring but evidence suggests that the bride wants her input into the decision.

Two thirds of women now believe that men should not be allowed free rein when choosing the design of the ring that they will have to wear.

And more than half of Brits believe that men should also wear engagement rings to broadcast their commitment.

And in these days of greater equality, who can argue with that?

Heritage jewellers William May conducted a survey of 2,000 British women to find out what they would describe as the perfect engagement ring – and it was found that a spot of feminine input into the decision over the band was needed.

There are so many different rings to choose from out in the jewellery marketplace that it can be a daunting task for a man to choose a ring alone.

In the past he may have gone for a traditional design but nowadays rings can be as varied as the women who will be wearing them and so finding something to suit a character could be a challenge.

Not all women have the same taste!

In order to offer some assistance to potentially baffled and bewildered blokes, William May carried out the extensive survey and found that women wanted to have a part in deciding on features such as the material of the band, the setting, the feature stone and the cut.

British women overall described their dream engagement ring as having a white gold band (25.4 per cent), with a round cut (27 per cent) half-carat diamond (24.6 per cent) in a solitaire setting (36.3 per cent).

Some of the other choices the women could pick from included platinum, yellow or rose gold bands; sapphires, rubies or opals; three-stone, vintage or halo settings; and oval, marquise or emerald cut stones.

When broken down across the UK, the perfect engagement ring design changed styles slightly.

Women in Rotherham, for intance, described their perfect engagement ring as having a yellow gold band (30.7 per cent), with a round cut (32.5 per cent) two carat diamond (47.2 per cent) in a solitaire setting (44.8 per cent).

To help inspire those currently in the market for an engagement ring, but with no idea where to start, William May had the UK’s ‘perfect’ engagement ring designed using the latest Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques and then rendered to photo-realistic quality.

The survey found that British women know exactly what they want. Almost two thirds believe that men should not be allowed free rein when choosing the design.

But the one asking for the hand in marriage shouldn’t get down on one knee without the ring either as more than one third (38 per cent) of Brits say that when proposing it is necessary to have the ring in his or her hand.

If you have already popped the question, can you be entirely sure that your partner really confessed what they thought about your choice of ring?

A staggering 54 per cent of women admitted in the survey that if they didn’t like the ring their partner chose, they would keep quiet and pretend they liked it.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of women admitted that hey had lied to their friends about liking their ring when in truth they really didn’t.

One in 10 women said they would post a photo of their engagement ring online – so that’s a bit of added pressure to the person buying!

The survey also found that engagement rings are not exclusively to be worn by women – 52 per cent of Brits believed that men should also wear engagement rings.

And the women in the survey didn’t always want to leave it up to the men to propose. William May found that 42 per cent of women believed they should be equally responsible for getting down on one knee.

A spokesperson for William May said: “Proposals are joyous occasions for all parties involved. At least now those in doubt have some guidance when it comes to making the right decision for their significant other.”

Ofcourse these days, engagement rings are not just given by men to women. All partnerships are keen to show a commitment before a marriage, civil partnership or long-term relationship.

But what the survey shows has changed is that both sides want to be a part of the process.

One engaged bride-to-be said: “My future husband decided that he wanted to buy the engagement ring himself and then surprised me by popping the question after a romantic meal.

“It was a lovely surprise and felt really special as he opened up the ring box.

“It was a lovely ring. He had gone along the traditional route which I personally appreciated. I liked the fact that he had gone to all the trouble and challenge of choosing the ring himself.”

But another bride-to-be had a different stance: “No way would I let him choose the ring himeself. After all, I have to wear it so it should fit in with my style.

“I don’t dress up in so-called normal clothes so why would I want a normal-style ring?

“Luckily my partner admitted that he was finding buying the ring difficult because he knew I was a bit quirky, so he asked me to help him.

“I thought that was nice because it shows we’re committed to the same thing and want to work together.”

As with all things, it seems there are some who like the old-fashioned way of doing things and those who want a new approach.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and it’s great that couples want to work together.

One argument might be that the one doing the proposong will lose the element of surprise by not having a secretly-purchased ring to hand over, but surely asking the question would be a surprise in itself and then going off to buy a ring is an added bonus to the experience?

Having both people choose the ring means that a perfect item can bought which both partners adore, and if both are going to wear an engagement ring then a joint choice brings them closer together.

But, ofcourse, the most important thing is making the commitment. Ring or no ring, that is the real point.

Helping children get nifty with the numbers


A schoolboy is frustrated with his maths homework

NOW that parents, grandparents and carers are spending more time with their children over the summer holidays, this could be the perfect time to boost their interest in numbers.

There are plenty of opportunities to encourage young people – and some older ones! – to have fun with maths.

Developing numerical skills will help youngsters at school and encourage them to see the relevance of maths in everyday life, something which isn’t always made obvious in the classroom.

Indeed, young children often take a dislike to maths and it can be hard to get them interested again in a subject which is vital to modern life and the workplace.

But even fractions, equations, logarithms and geometry can have real-world applications. And numbers can even be (dare I say it?) FUN!

Shelley Allen, a teacher at Burgess Hill Girls School in West Sussex, has put forward great ideas to help parents explain maths ideas and principles through everyday activities.

Whether it is a child working out whether they have enough pocket money to buy a toy or an adult grappling with a recipe that uses ounces instead of metric measures, everyone encounters mathematics in their daily lives.

It is a subject that can strike fear into the hearts of young and old – but the perception that ‘I can’t do maths’ can be overcome.

Parents can help children acquire the tools they need to tackle mathematical concepts in both the classroom and in the big wide world.

Children, particularly infants, often have a very set view that mathematics is something that happens in maths lessons. Many adults will remember being turned off maths at school because it never seemed to be particularly relevant to real life.

But by exposing children to the mathematics that is all around them they can see the value of learning the subject.

So use numbers and show their relevance where you can. It doesn’t have to be like a formal lesson – it can be made into a bit of fun.

Try it out and see how important numbers are. Adults might even find that the children end up teaching them!

Five ways to change your child’s mindset on maths:

1 Telling the time – This is an opportunity to talk to your child about what is happening and how long it is until the next event in the day.

2 Cards and board games – At pre-school level and well beyond, traditional board and card games are a great way to introduce mathematical concepts. In old favourites like Snakes and Ladders, a child is required to recognise that dots on a dice represent a number, count the number of spaces with their counter and consider which direction to travel on the board. A pack of playing cards can reinforce recognition of numbers to 10 and the ways in which they can be represented. Junior versions of games such as Monopoly require children to count out money and begin to consider doubles as well as developing strategy and reasoning skills.

3 The value of money – The supermarket, or any other shop for that matter, is a fantastic source of mathematical investigation. For younger children, simply reading the price of an item on the shelf and comparing it with the price of another provides a real-world context for exploring greater and less. Older children can estimate the total price of the shopping using rounding and estimating to get a sensible answer, with perhaps even a prize for the closest. Product labels are full of information and encourage children to work out the best value product by looking at the price by weight or volume. Contactless payment now means that money doesn’t even need to change hands at the till, but utilising cash can give children opportunities to use coins to count in twos, fives and tens, explore place-value including decimals and to investigate the ways in which different combinations can be added to make one amount. Older children can work out and check change given.

4 DIY – Home improvements offer another great opportunity to access some real life maths. From counting screws to measuring lengths for younger children to working out the area of a wall or floor to calculate the amount of paint or carpet needed, there are plenty of ways to enhance a child’s learning.

5 Food preparation – Cooking of any sort requires counting, weighing and measuring. For older children it is a chance to explore ratio and proportion by doubling or halving mixtures or to convert between different units of measure, whether metric or imperial. It can also be a way to develop an understanding of fractions. Sharing pizza or cake is a way to explore anything from simple fractions such as halves and quarters to the more complex ideas of equivalence and comparison.

New attraction will have a dramatic impact

Cast Theatre, Doncaster. 190916


DRAMA lovers are in for a treat next month when Doncaster’s first-ever pop-up theatre is set up.

The idea comes from the town’s famous Cast Theatre and will be called Roundabout.

It will take place in Doncaster’s Market Square and is set to offer an array of interesting productions.

Created in partnership with Paines Plough, the UK’s national theatre of new plays, Roundabout will bring new plays, comedy, music and community events to the heart of the town centre.

Set over four days, Roundabout’s highlights will include an evening of drag, cabaret and burlesque from top local performers, and four new plays exploring adoption, life as a carer, the Black British experience, and a family-friendly detective adventure.

A variety of local creative organisations are also set to take to the stage, including b:friend, Doncopolitan, Cre8ive Dance Academy and Hall Cross Academy.

Roundabout will be based in the Market Square, next to the Wool Market, from Thursday, September 19, to Sunday, September 22, with events happening all day and night.

Tickets are on sale now. More information and a full schedule of events are available by visiting or telephoning 01302 303959.

Rosie Clark, associate producer at Cast, said: “We are buzzing with excitement to be bringing this project to Doncaster.

“It is a really brilliant venture for Cast and a great opportunity for us to connect and reach local people who might never have been into the theatre before or even know the building exists.

“Our goal is to programme a wide variety of different types of work and represent some of the best local creative projects taking place in Doncaster.

“We have aimed to keep ticket prices as affordable as possible and are piloting a Pay What You Decide ticket option for many events, which allows audiences to decide what to pay after seeing a performance.

“Recently there has been much discussion over how Doncaster can come together to make the town centre an enticing destination for both locals and tourists. We hope that Roundabout, with its exciting design and local talent as headliners, will be a great asset to the town centre both day and night, continuing on from the successful launch of the new Wool Market, which has seen thousands of locals through its doors.”

A way for community businesses to get vital funding


ENTREPRENEURS in Yorkshire and the Humber aiming to create a community business can now apply for cash from a £3.2 million pot.

The Bright Ideas Fund – run by Power to Change, an independent trust supporting community businesses in England, and delivered by Locality in partnership with Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation and Groundwork UK – is being launched for new applications on August 6.

The fund offers tailored support and grants of up to £15,000 to community groups, associations and organisations across England who have a good idea for a community business but need help developing it.

Over three years, the fund will give community groups the early stage finance they need to carry out consultations with local people to develop a community business idea, and will also give them support and tools to start setting it up.

Between September 2016 and December 2018, the Bright Ideas Fund supported more than 80 groups with £1.85m of grants. This year alone 30 applicants have been accepted onto the programme.

One organisation which benefiited from the Fund was Equal Care Co-op, a tech-friendly co-op in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, West Yorkshire, which received funding in January of £15,000 to help build a digital platform to match care givers with care receivers.

Emma Back, from the Equal Care Co-op, said: “Bright Ideas has been instrumental in bringing us to a point where we’ve been able to launch our community share offer, build our community groups and help our transformation into a fully sustainable community, digital, caring co-operative.

“Every idea needs its seeds – Bright Ideas is where it’s at.”

Locality chief executive Tony Armstrong said: “Whether you aim to start a local bus service, or set up a health and well-being centre, community businesses generate jobs, tackle social isolation and boost the local economy, we want you to apply.

“People all over England are bursting with bright ideas and we are really keen to find them in the areas that need them most like Bradford, Leicester, Hartlepool, Plymouth, Grimsby, Liverpool and Bristol.”

Kate Stewart, director of programmes at Power to Change, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing Bright Ideas, to provide crucial support and funding for local people who have a great idea but need some support to make it a reality.

“We’ve had some incredible applications come in already but we believe there are even more bright ideas out there so please do get involved and apply.”

The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund will close on Monday, September 30.

For information about the fund, visit

Step inside the house of haunted objects


Lee Steer with his ‘Ash Doll’ made from human ash. 184741-7

IT might look like an ordinary shop but to the paranormal investigators of Rotherham it is a well-known haunted hotspot.

A poltergeist has apparently been making its presence felt for years at 70 Broad Street in Rawmarsh with documented tales of objects being mysteriously moved.

Most people would probably avoid taking on such an establishment but for Lee Steer and Linzi Sheeran it was a definite draw.

The pair run paranormal investigation group Project-reveal, have two successful websites and film their experiences for a large online audience.

Their Ghosts of Britain and The Haunted World Facebook sites are followed by thousands and they regularly explore supposedly haunted sites to see if they can gather evidence to prove or disprove the presence of spirits.

They have built up a collection of scary objects such as devilish dolls, firestarting paintings, a possessed ouija board and a genie in a sacred container – and have even taken them out on tour across the country.

Lee Steer with the Victorian haunted doll. 171328-1

But now they have opened a Haunted Objects Museum in Rawmarsh in Rotherham where people can get up close and personal with the weird wonders.

But don’t expect a visit to go without incident. People have reported objects moving and strange experiences.

Lee and Linzi are both sceptics but willing to find out more about the paranormal, and some of what they have experienced has left them unnerved and baffled.

The Rotherham-based group has investigated locations for unusual activity far and wide.

And people are interested with 250,000 followers online and their videos of investigations receiving one million views per month.

Lee said: “We have got a lot of items and toured them around various cities, such as Manchester. But touring was causing wear and tear on the items so we thought we needed to stop moving them around and put them in one particular area so that people who wanted to see them can come to see them.

“We decided to open it as the Haunted Object Museum.

“We were scouting for a location for the museum and what are the chances of getting a property to let that had documented hauntings?

Linzi Sheeran and Lee Steer, paranormal investgators. 184741-1

“The fact that it has a poltergeist drew us to it.”

The premises on Broad Street is an old bridal and fancy dress shop where, a decade or so ago, the Rotherham Advertiser reported that the scared owners were experiencing objects being moved around, a radio being turned on and other poltergeist-like happenings.

They had also seen a ghostly lady on the premises.

This strange activity has still been happening today, even as Lee and Linzi have been setting the museum up.

“When we were setting up the CCTV cameras we walked into the shop area and as we were walking out there was a chair blocking our path, even though we did not leave it there,” said Lee.

While the building was still an empty shell, paranormal investigators were allowed in to do research.

“Eleven teams have been in and all found evidence of paranormal activity,” said Lee.

“Some were sceptics and came out of the museum changing their mindset completely.”

The museum consists of one room on the ground floor with a cellar and then rooms across three houses on the top floor, providing 11 rooms through which objects can be displayed.

The museum has already sold out until mid-December for private bookings and opened to the public last month with an official opening event.

A schedule for opening to the public hasn’t been decided yet but it will cost £5 to enter the museum, although the shop will be free to visit.

Lee said: “It will be the only shop in South Yorkshire that sells things to do with the paranormal.

“It will be selling things such as spiritual cleansing products and so on. If you are interested in the paranormal, you need to see this shop.

“The museum is clearly of interest for people who are interested in the paranormal.

“Because we have got a large following and because it’s appealing in a strange way, the museum is going to stay.
“I think it will be a surprise to a lot of people. The only people it will not be a surprise to are local paranormal investigators who know the history of the house.

“Lots of people are showing interest in the museum already. We have already been approached by a TV company.”

Lee and Linzi’s paranormal mission is set to continue, but now the public can get involved too.

Linzi Sheeran with the ‘Freddy firestarter’ doll. 184741-3

THE CELLAR: Discover a possessed ouija board and a vicar’s haunted mirror on which writing is supposed to appear.

THE CRYING BOY ROOM: Look at pictures of the Project-reveal investigations and see evidence of the poltergeist activity in the building itself.

Lee said: “What we do know is that in this house there was a documented death where someone burnt to death in that room. We have had the crying boy picture in that room which supposedly has a curse that burns down houses. We didn’t know about the fire death when we put it in the room. What a coincidence it was that we put it there.”

THE CONFUSION ROOM: This is full of haunted dolls, such as the 125-year-old Samuel which has been accused of causing headaches. Recently its head fell off and smashed even though there was no one around. There are also the terrible twins which supposedly induce sensations in people’s legs and make people hear laughing sounds. Lee said: “People who have been in that room have reported that phenomena even when we have not told them about it beforehand.”

THE BRIDAL DOLL ROOM: This includes the bridal doll Elizabeth which was recently studied by paranormal investigators who took a thermal scan of her head which revealed a red heat source. Lee said: “People think it indicates there is something going on there, that there is activity in the brain.” The room also contains a wedding dress which, according to Linzi, isn’t haunted but tells a sad tale: “A lady had it made 70 or 80 years years ago for her wedding. Unfortunately the man she was going to marry went to war and died, and the woman used to wear the dress every day.” The room also contains a curtain which moves of its own accord and a lamp which goes on and off. A medium has been in and said that two children’s spirits are behind the activity.

THE SINISTER ROOM: This contains The Sinister Painting which was made specially for a film production based at Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire. But strange things started to happen and the film crew refused to work with it so it was dumped. The caretaker of the abbey offered it to Project-reveal. Lee said that a paranormal investigator used a crystal skull to investigate the painting and the skull turned round of its own accord, and he himself claimed that his own research using a random word generator heard the painting saying it wanted to be “in the woods”. When the picture went on tour in Gloucester, a woman collapsed in front of the painting and Lee said that many people can’t stand looking at it. There are other items in the Sinister Room such as a haunted doll kept in a glass case called Scarlett who swears.

THE EVIL ROOM: This room contains a dybbuk box which supposedly contains a demonic entity, a djinn – or genie – in a special sacred container and dolls made with human ash. There is also a mannequin which Lee said was put in merely as a prop but which seems to now be displaying weird behaviour of its own. An investigation team saw its arm moving and another group saw it move too. Project-reveal investigated and saw the mannequin’s hood move off its head. Lee said: “We have had people running out of that room because people have said they have seen it moving.”

THE BEDROOM: If wandering around the museum and seeing the unnerving objects isn’t enough, the bedroom is being refurbished to give people the opportunity to sleep overnight at the premises. Whether they will get a good night’s sleep isn’t guaranteed!

Putting their best feet forward


Rotherham Rambling Club take to the footpaths

FOUR decades on and a popular rambling club is still going strong.

The group – which has around 120 members – has just celebrated its 40th anniversary and has treks planned for every weekend, as well as longer trips away.

But it is certainly more than a chance to ramble in this country’s stunning rural places – it is an opportunity for people to get together and have fun.

Rotherham Rambling Club was started by three men who thought the town should have a walking club to get folk out and about.

Little did they expect the response on the first meeting when dozens turned up all ready to ramble.

One current member is John Bashforth, of Firbeck, who joined Rotherham Rambling Club relatively recently three years ago with his wife Julie.

He said that they have not regretted signing up and regularly take to the footpaths with other members.

“Although it’s called a rambling club it’s a walking group really,” said John, who spoke to Chase on behalf of the club.

“But it’s a walking group with a big social side. All walks finish at a pub, for instance.

“People have made lifelong friendships out of this club and they are a really nice bunch of people, They all bend over backwards to help you.”

There are walks every Sunday and some midweek walks, as well as holidays both in the UK and in Europe.

All walks are pre-visited to make sure they are safe and organisers of each trek make sure that safety is paramount for all participants. Somebody leads walks and there is a back marker to ensure that no one is forgotten.

“So it means that people who cannot read maps too well can still come along,” said John.

“No one gets left behind.”

The 40th anniversary of the group was celebrated in style with a big bash at Firbeck Village Hall in June which was attended by 70 members.

Membership comes from a wide area but mainly in the Rotherham district and is varied in terms of people’s backgrounds.

The age range of the group ranges from around 40 to people in their 80s.

“Members range from ex-miners to a college professor,” said John. “There is every walk of life there.

“People are not obsessed by walking, they have got lots of interests.

John Bashforth

“There are some members now who just do the social thing. There are some who go on the holidays but don’t do the walks”

“It’s a social thing really, Everyone is really nice. People spend time talking to each other.

“It’s great for people who have lost partners because everyone talks to everyone else.

“We would like to attract more members. You do need a reasonable level of fitness and anyone who does come has to wear walking boots.”

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit the club’s website at or just attend one of the walks, for free.

The club is run by a committee of eight and its 120 members keep in touch via the website. They also receive a book showing walks for the year and can attend as many or as few as they wish.

Membership costs £6 per annum.

The club was started by three men who worked together in Rotherham’s wire industry — Alan Davis, Glyn Mansell and Adrian Wall.

They designed their own posters to promote their new club.

“They came up with the idea as there was no walking club in Rotherham so they decided to set one up,” said John.

The posters urged anyone interested to meet for the first event at the Bridge Inn in Rotherham. To their surprise, 80 turned up — and the seeds were sown for success.

Glyn returned to give a speech at the 40th anniversary celebrations.

The club has raised money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Mountain Rescue because, said John, these organisations have helped people who enjoy the great outdoors like the club’s members do.

John said that more and more people are seeing the health benefits of walking and enjoying getting away from the hurly burly of urban life.

He said: “There are numerous walking clubs now.

“Healthwise people who do outdoor stuff will stick to it but the people who go to a gym often get bored at looking how big they are.

“There are 80 year olds in the club who are so fit. I would defy younger people to keep up with them.

“When people do get ill they get better quicker because they are fit.

“People want exercise and fresh air all year round so you cannot beat it.

“The main thing is that it empties your head especially if you have lots going on in your life.

“When you finish a walk you feel tired but it’s a very relaxing way of feeling tired.

“Well-being has always been a part of the club. The social side of it is as important as the walking.

“Anyone who comes along will feel really welcome.”

John said that members of the group enjoy doing what they do and encourage others to join in.

When they go out on trips, he said that they set a good example.

“They are a good asset for Rotherham because whenever members go abroad they are promoting the district,” said John.

It is good news that more and more people are choosing to spend their leisure time outdoors exploring the countryside.

The Rotherham Rambling Club wants people to get involved, particularly younger people who will be the outdoor enthusiasts of the future.

So, leave the concrete, noise and traffic behind and explore the mountains, hills and lowlands of our stunning countryside.

And make some great friends on the way!

A season of great classical music lies ahead


A POPULAR music society has revealed who will be performing top quality classical sounds during its 2019/20 season.

Tickhill Music Society has seven concerts running until April.

The concerts will all take place at Tickhill’s St Mary’s Primary School on St Mary’s Road, except for the opening concert which will be at St Mary’s Church. They all start at 7pm.

The first concert is on September 13 when Bel Canto are in concert performing Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Karl Jenkins, Howard Goodall, John Rutter and melodies of stage and screen. The conductor will be Robert Webb.

On October 18, Lithuanian pianist Ugnius Pauliukonis will perform works by Haydn, Chopin and Debussy and on November 8 Tessa Seymour (cello) and Joseph Haviat (piano) will perform works by Debussy, Shostakovich and Brahms.

December 13 sees Change for two Tenors and February 7 will feature the Barcian Quartet playing works by Mozart, Bartok and Schumann.

On March 13, Emma Halnan (flute) and Daniel King-Smith (piano) are in concert and the season ends on April 24 with Rob Burton (saxophone) and Christine Zerafa (piano).

A subscription for seven concerts costs £60 (concessions for those aged 60-plus £55). A subscription for four concerts costs £40. Non-members pay £12 for each event on the door, with accompanied children (under 16) and students (16-19) getting for free.

More information is available by contacting Adrian Hattrell on 07776022713 or visiting