Posted: 30/08/2011 13:06:23 by Nigel Nixon

STUDENTS have been advising Westmorland General Hospital on how it can provide more cost-effective and ‘greener’ heating.

Sixth-formers from Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy in Lancaster worked with Morecambe Bay NHS Trust on the ‘Hands On’ project for eight months.

The pupils investigated the hospital’s annual energy consumption to see how it could be done differently to cut carbon emissions and suggested using local suppliers as one option.

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Posted: 20/08/2011 11:37:14 by Nigel Nixon

TWO crashes on the cycling track drew concerned gasps from a crowd of 3,000 people who turned out to enjoy the traditional Ambleside Sports at Rydal Park.

In the first collision a young rider came off his bike and was winded. But in the true spirit of the sports, he got up and was back on his bike for the next race.

This was followed by a more serious incident which resulted in a rider cracking his ribs when a cyclist hit him as he crossed the track.

The forecasted rain came for just half an hour but it failed to dampen the atmosphere as spectators were treated to a feast of traditional sports including Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, hound trailing, fell racing and cycling.

Maryport’s Ricky Lightfoot smashed the course record in the nine-mile Heart of the Lakes Rydal Round which takes in much of the Fairfield Horseshoe and 3,000ft of climb. He came home in 1 hour 17 minutes and 39 seconds, which was two minutes and 50 seconds faster than Alastair Dunn’s best mark set in 2009.

Lightfoot, running for Ellenborough, edged clear of the field after the first climb and finished three minutes clear of Borrowdale’s Jim Davies with Howgill Harrier Carl Bell in third. Fiona Hughes was the first lady back in 1.38.07.

“It was a bit windy but getting up on the field on top of Fairfield I was able to pull away,” said Lightfoot. “I had been injured on and off for the last month but I got some training in and it was a big test. I took a few wrong turns at the start but managed to get back and then I just pulled away from the pack.”

The senior men’s guides race was won by the Isle of Man’s Lloyd Taggart (Dark Peak) in 14.24. He was shadowed closely by Helm Hill’s Mark Addison (14.33) who was unable to hang on as the pair dropped back into Rydal Park with Alastair Dunn finishing third in 15.05. First lady was Helm Hill’s Mel Hyder (18.50) who led home Moorfoot’s Scout Adlin (19.10) and Rossendale’s Emma Flanagan (20.00).

Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling has a new world champion in James Hall, 17, of Langwathby.

Hall, who trains at the Milnthorpe Boxing Academy, beat Ben Brocklebank in the final and was thrilled to win the championship at his fourth attempt.

“I have tried to win for a few years and only came fifth last year, so to win now is something else,” he said.

“Ambleside Sports is one of the most traditional games around and it offers a really good contest.”

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Posted: 20/08/2011 11:29:41 by Nigel Nixon

SPACE pirate and alien life forms could soon be seen zooming around the Lake District – thanks to a new million dollar movie.

Old Hutton writer and director Rick McLeod has teamed up with a group of American producers to make a science fiction film based on cult television series Firefly.

The US consortium, one of whom has done sound-tracks for Mr McLeod in the past, originally began filming experimental sequences in county – but then the idea turned into a feature-length film.

Although $1 million is a relatively small budget for a movie, Mr McLeod said he was ‘shocked’ when the group gave the figure.

“Last year was a good one for us – we’re still reeling from that – so when they approached me my first question was ‘Are you serious?’

“It’s not easy to make films in Cumbria, especially with the UK Film Council gone. When we had Leslie Grantham here, he was unpaid because he loved the script.

“It’s great to know that our hard work is starting to pay off.”

The film, called Lost Transmission, follows the lonely adventure of Blake, captain of a mining ship, with no-one but his computer to talk to after war breaks out on Earth. But he leaves the planet to find life on other worlds.

Filming is expected to start in early 2012, and will be split between Cumbria and America.

CGI effects are already being worked on by the studio, which created a castle in the middle of Windermere in a previous flick.

Before filming begins in earnest, Mr McLeod is shooting a short promotional video with action sequences in Old Hutton.

And he is looking for ‘23rd century pirates’ to star as extras in a fight scene on Sunday, to be led by a trained fight choreographer.

“We’re seeking punks, goths and heavy rockers. Long or short hair, tattoos and piercings are a bonus but not essential. The more outrageous the look the better,” said Mr McLeod.

Filming will last for between two and three hours and anyone interested can email

Participants are requested to send a head shot with their email.

Discussions with actors to play the role of Blake are still going on.

Tagged with: Film, Lake, Move, district

Posted: 02/08/2011 08:37:56 by Nigel Nixon

A LANDMARK Forestry Commission conservation project has entered a new chapter with the arrival of 30 more birds of prey in Grizedale Forest.

Red kites were successfully reintroduced to the heart of the Lake District in the summer of 2010. Now their numbers are set to double with new hatchlings arriving from the Forestry Commission’s flagship breeding site in Rockingham Forest, Northamptonshire.

The latest group of juvenile raptors are spending a month gaining strength in a custom made pen at a secret location in the forest.

An expert Forestry Commission team is caring for the young birds and feeding them until they are ready to fly and fend for themselves.

Forestry Commission wildlife ranger Iain Yoxall, who has led the project to reintroduce red kites into Grizedale, said: “The release of the first 30 birds last year was a momentous sight and has given us cause for great confidence in the project.

“We are feeding the new arrivals on a variety of food, with the staple diet and nourishment coming from dead grey squirrel, rats and mice. The birds of prey are primarily scavengers in the wild and feed mostly on carrion.

“We will care for the hatchlings for three or four weeks until they have grown strong enough to take wing, giving them the best possible opportunity to thrive in the wild.

“Before release, we have a vet on hand to give each of the birds a full health screening which includes delousing, worming, visual inspections and blood tests.

When the birds are released, they carry tags on each wing, an orange one on the left to show they are from Grizedale, and one on the right to indicate the year of release – white ones for 2011.

The Grizedale birds also carry radio transmitters to allow the forest’s rangers to monitor their progress and the scheme’s success, but the Forestry Commission is keen for people to report sightings of the birds to help judge their movements and support the project.

The Forestry Commission North West England has been granted a special licence to release 90 red kites in Grizedale Forest over a three year period. The latest arrivals mark the second phase of the landmark final reintroduction of the birds in England. There will be another 30 birds released in 2012.

Red kites were almost eradicated from the UK following changes in farming practices and human persecution between the 16th and 19th centuries. The UK population is now expanding and there are thought to be over 1,000 pairs of the birds in the country.

There have been sightings of the tagged Grizedale birds in Dumfries and Galloway to the north and as far away as East Sussex in the south.

The arrival of the birds co-incides with a critical report by the Veterinary Association for Wildlife Management which describes re-introduction programmes as “potential man-made threats to biodiversity.”

Bird experts from organisations like Natural England, the RSPB and the British Association of Shooting and Conservation have come together to form a special advisory group to help ensure the project’s success.

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