SELF HELP TIPS for managing uncertain times for people with learning disabilities

SELF HELP TIPS for managing uncertain times for people with learning disabilities

What does Lockdown and the Coronavirus Pandemic mean for people with learning disabilities?

Our accessibility blogger Dan has written these tips which he has found helps him in these uncertain times…

Tips for people with Learning disabilities to help them manage this period

I know staying at home can be hard for adults with learning disabilities in this strange time, but I have some tips to help them manage this period.

My tips are:

1)      Try and make sure you have some kind of structure to your days – for example mine is: TV in a morning, bit of work in the afternoon, more TV on a night.

 

2)      Talk to someone at least once a day  whether it be a carer you have, support worker, parent if you have one, or just even ringing or texting a member of staff of a group you go to, can be helpful.

 

3)      Try and make sure you exercise at least once a day so that you have some fresh air inside your lungs, and gets you out of the house for half hour, an hour

 

4)      Don’t watch too much news as it can scare you

 

5)      Do something you enjoy doing every day to help you feel more relaxed

 

Dan also wants to share why he claps for carers on a Thursday…

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Every Thursday evening for just a minute, people all across the UK step onto their doorsteps or balconies and they clap, not only for the NHS staff who are keeping the country going,  but they’re also clapping for the carers who are having to work through these tough times.

I have lots of people who I see as carers: my parents, staff at CoActive, In the Sky,  GT Care whether that be in the group or on a 1:1 basis, doctors, dentists when I have appointments.

I’ll explain why I see each of these are carers, and what they do for me.

Why I see my parents as carers is they take me to a couple of my groups in normal times, and they don’t mind dropping me off and picking me back up again,  they make my food for me, and they do loads of other stuff for me, so that’s why I see them as carers.

Why I see staff at CoActive as carers are:  they’re really helpful and ask if I’m OK with activities we do,  and if they don’t think I’m doing something right they explain to me what I should be doing in a simple way , and then I do it again. They’re all fantastic at their job as well which helps.

In the Sky staff are carers, as they ask me what I’ve been up to during the week, and they listen to me.  Performance wise if I’m in the wrong place on stage or I get a line wrong, they let me know and they let me do it again.

GT Care staff  are carers as it’s in their name , and when I’m in a group which is on a Tuesday and Saturday night, they come and pick me up, take me to wherever we go, so on a Tuesday that’s for tea at a pub, followed by a game of bowling, and then they take me home when it’s time, and on a Saturday they take a group of us to Carlton Social Club where there’s darts, bingo, a singer usually although occasionally there’s something else e.g. a comedian, and then when it’s time they drop me off at home and they ask me sometimes if things are OK. I also have a 1:1 on a Friday who picks me up, goes with me to In the Sky, and then drops me off home at the end when it’s time.

Doctors and dentists are carers as they do check-ups so  doctors is usually a health check every year and just a general checkup.  Dentists are either for check-ups or for fillings if needs be.

How my Cares are helping me through this Covid 19 crisis… 

The groups I used to go to have all got some kind of way of keeping members of the group connected in some sort of way. Whether it be via Zoom or an online chat group or DVD (such as CoActive charity who are making the DVD to hand deliver to their members each week as not everyone can get online. The DVD includes the normal sessions that the creative arts charity would normally put on for adults with learning difficulties).

So that’s a list of carers I have and why I clap for them.

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BEST YORKSHIRE DAYS OUT USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Leeds by bus, train and water!

BEST YORKSHIRE DAYS OUT USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Leeds by bus, train and water!

A lot of families want to explore the best Yorkshire has to offer but without a car… so we thought at Yorkshire Families that we would start to share some of our favourite days out using public transport… beginning with Leeds, West Yorkshire.

I myself (Sophie Mei Lan) have a driver’s licence but no vehicle and I am determined to do what I can using public transport or by walking. Not only can it save money but it is better for the environment too and at times, I have found, it is less stressful than driving a car (YES I have been stuck on Leeds Ring Road a number of times!). So what is there to do in Leeds via public transport?

There are so many but here are some of the recent places we have visited and loved in Leeds City Centre!

Train  

As we live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, we often get the train into Leeds if I have the energy to face the busyness of Leeds Train Station (that said the kids love it and it looks super pretty after its recent makeover). The train station itself is equipped with a few shops and lots of eateries from coffee shops to McDonald’s (the children’s favourite along with Subway), Pret a Manger (great for an affordable filter coffee), Wetherspoons (cheeps and cheerful but not child-friendly), Leon (my absolute favourite) and a Sainsbury’s (perfect if you forget picnics and snacks like I always do).

From Leeds Train Station main entrance you can easily access the city centre shops and Trinity Leeds and it is just a 10 minute walk to Millennium Square where you will find the brilliant Leeds City Museum (such a great free day out for little ones) as well as Leeds Art Gallery. Nearby there is also The Core Shopping Centre where we like to grab a slightly quieter bite to eat, The Merrion Centre and for a treat we love The Light Leeds.

Or if you come out of Leeds Train Station’s South Entrance you can easily access the city’s waterfront (River Aire).

The entrance has two escalators up to the concourse which provides access to either side of the river for passengers to get to Granary Wharf and Little Neville Street, or Holbeck.

Granary Wharf has lots of places to eat but the children’s favourite are Leeds Water Taxis. The boats (called Twee and Drie) ferry passengers from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock. At Leeds Dock you will find Royal Armouries Museum which is well worth a visit.

Bus 

My favourite way to get to Leeds is via bus although it does take a lot longer this way (approximately one hour on the 110 Arriva bus from where we live in Wakefield to Leeds City Bus Station, which is only 20-30 minutes on the train).

Once arriving in Leeds City Bus station, there are lots of places to visit locally.

The bus station itself is nothing to shout about but at least it is quieter that Leeds Train Station and it has a Greggs and corner shop as well as vending machines.

Leeds City Bus station is literally next door to Leeds Kirkgate Market which has a huge array of fruit and vegetable stalls as well as an accessible food court with lots of independent food and drink vendors (you can get delicious fresh food cooked for you at an affordable price).

The bus station is also across the road from Victoria Leeds which is home to John Lewis and some higher end shops and eateries. It’s great with a pushchair or with older children.

Not only that, Leeds Playhouse theatre is also across the road with a new city facing entrance which makes it even more accessible (previously West Yorkshire Playhouse). We love going to the theatre to see family friendly shows such as The Bear which was on during half-term.

Yorkshire Families review of The Bear at Leeds Playhouse: 

“Charming and captivating! My 5 & 8 year old daughters were so engrossed, they forgot to ask for the sweets I’d brought them. I’m not sure I could give higher praise!?

This production is everything children’s theatre should be: beautifully made, witty, charming and light-hearted.

The Bear is adapted from the picture book by Raymond Briggs, the same writer behind The Snowman. Here, a relatable and enchanting little girl, Tilly is delighted when a polar bear climbs through her bedroom window. Despite the bear making trouble, in every toon in the house, her parents remain blissfully unaware and assume the ‘bear’ Tilly constantly charters about is part of her imagination. Which my girls found hilarious, as the bear is huge!

We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the experience, from the welcome at Leeds playhouse, the wonderful acting on show, the seamless scene changes to the perfect duration and atmosphere for my girls. I’d thoroughly recommend for a family trip!”

Also nearby you have Yorkshire Dance and Northern Ballet who both run classes for children and adults. We recently attended a free family festival at Yorkshire Dance where we did a Bollywood Dance Workshop.

 

So whether you’re visiting Leeds by bus, foot, train or even boat… there are so many things to do! Let us know your favourite day out on social media @yorkshirefamilies on instagram/facebook and @yorkshirefams on twitter.

NATIONAL COAL MINING MUSEUM OF ENGLAND: Spend a night shift down the pit to help local families

NATIONAL COAL MINING MUSEUM OF ENGLAND: Spend a night shift down the pit to help local families

Pop on a hard hat, a lamp and go an adventure 140 m underground into England’s last deep coalmine. Chat to charismatic former-miners as they tell the tales of their mining careers and the men, women, children, animals and equipment that worked the coal mines for centuries before them. Hear how mining lingo, hardships and dangers shape how we live our lives today…

PLUS FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY… You can experience a night shift down the pit in to raise funds to go directly to provide emergency winter fuel grants for local families suffering the harsh effects of the cold weather.

Community Foundation Wakefield District are looking for teams of people to Spend a Night Shift down the Pit with BBC Look North’s Harry Gration.

Your team will go underground at 11.00pm on Wednesday 5th February before resurfacing at 1.00am.

Nightshift (rev)

Following a successful launch of this year’s Winter Fuel Challenge, where £16,600 was raised, you’re invited to join us and Yorkshire Families to go on this adventure in aid of a great cause!

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This unique event has already received support from Chadwick Lawrence, Direct Marketing, OE Electrical, Jolliffe Cork and the National Coal Mining Museum. You will be going underground with TV presenter, Harry Gration and others who are happy to start the New Year helping keep local families warm this Winter.

If you and your friends/family/colleagues are interested in taking part in the event please contact: jon.ingham@wakefieldcf.org.uk. Alternatively, it is easy to sign up or donate via: https://www.justgiving.com/team/NightShift

Spend a Night Shift down the Pit  Wednesday 5th February 2020  11.00pm – 1.00am at National Coal Mining Museum of England. 

 

What’s on for families at National Coal Mining Museum of England?

 

The National Coal Mining Museum for England provides a unique day out filled with grit and charm:

  • Go 140m Underground to experience England’s last deep coal mine. This is free although a voluntary donation of £5 is recommended per person.
  • Explore 14 galleries and buildings for free.
  • A free soft play area for younger children.
  • An outdoor adventure playground.
  • Meet the Pit Ponies!
  • Watch and chat to real life Blacksmiths doing metal work.
  • Go on the woodland trail.
  • There’s also a cafe, shop and picnic area too.

It’s all free to enter and a full day out for the whole family!

For more information, go to: https://www.ncm.org.uk

Where do you love going for a free family day out?

We’ve been eyeing up some activities and free things to do in York, from the Museum Gardens to the National Railway Museum.

 

HUDDERSFIELD PANTOMIME: Sleeping Beauty at the Lawrence Batley Theatre – Review

HUDDERSFIELD PANTOMIME: Sleeping Beauty at the Lawrence Batley Theatre – Review

Christmas isn’t Christmas without a trip to the Pantomime… and Huddersfields’ favourite Panto is back at the Lawrence Batley Theatre for the 4th year running. This year’s Christmas panto is Sleeping Beauty, Oh yes it is and, they just keep getting bigger and better with sumptuous costumes, brilliant foot-stomping tunes and an outrageous Dame, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Blogger Amy Downes went to review the show for Yorkshire Families… 

With just a week left until Christmas, things are really getting busy and between the school plays, festive parties and gift shopping it’s easy to forget to have some fun with your family!

So, I was grateful for the opportunity to attend the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s production of Sleeping Beauty last week. My little boy is 3 years old, so I wasn’t sure if he is old enough yet for the evening performances and much-loved storyline, but there really was something for all of us to enjoy.

Harry was engrossed by the songs and the dragon, 3-month-old James by the lights and colours and Mummy and Daddy couldn’t help but chuckle at ‘Nanny Fanny’ (Robin Simpson). When my other half laughs at a joke, you know you’ve hit the nail on the head with the Dad jokes.

sleeping beauty lawrence batley theatre huddersfield

Director Joyce Branagh has written four pantomimes and lives in West Yorkshire, while playwright Andrew Pollard specialises in writing for families (he also appeared as John Bune in Emmerdale!). Henry Filoux-Bennett, Chief Executive and Artistic Director oat the theatre said of the duo:

‘I’ve heard so much about our audiences’ fantastic reaction to previous productions and this is set to build and excel upon their previous triumphs.’

The opening performance from the cast of Sleeping Beauty was stunning.

From the moment the curtain lifted there was a proud Yorkshire theme which helps set this story apart from the huge offering of pantos that we have on offer every year. From Hester the Jester (Nicola Jayne Ingram) with her thick local accent to the references of nearby towns and suburbs.

The songs too made this a high-quality show, from amazing routines choreographed around well-known hits like Robbie Williams’ ‘Let Me Entertain You’, to originals by like ‘When We Grow Up’ and ‘I’m Stuck on You.’

Nanny Fanny’s ‘Yorkshire Haka was the highlight of the show for me!

Finally, pantos are known for their corny jokes, but my inner feminist is all too often prickled by the uncomfortable stereotyping of larger women, the transgender community and ‘damsels in distress’. Happily, Sleeping Beauty defied this with a cast of strong female leads who stole the show and a challenge to typical parenting roles.

Nanny Fanny’s ‘Yorkshire Haka was the highlight of the show for me!

King Herbert the Hesitant (Richard Hand), who was left as Princess Aurora’s primary caregiver after her mother passed away, was dishing out parenting jokes, Aurora (Alyce Liburd) was seen practicing football in between her lessons, and Hayley Russell was sensational and strong as the evil Belladonna Bile.

Luke, Harry, Baby James and I had a wonderful family evening which got our Christmas celebrations off to a fun start.

We walked out into the rain with smiles on our faces and festive cheer in our hearts, chuffed to have made memories to add to our first Christmas as a family of four. Nanny Fanny will always be a part of that!

Luke, Harry, Baby James and I had a wonderful family evening which got our Christmas celebrations off to a fun start.

So, if you’re looking for something to do with your kids over the next few weeks, this panto is on until Sunday 5th January. The perfect Christmas gift for you all to share is some time together to remember forever.

With thanks to The Lawrence Batley Theatre and Bonner and Hindley for the gifted family ticket.

THE CORE LEEDS: Dining with Santa at Kaspa’s Dessert Bar and Subway – Review

THE CORE LEEDS: Dining with Santa at Kaspa’s Dessert Bar and Subway – Review

Venturing into Leeds City Centre with kids at this time of year can be chaotic, so we were pleased to be able to escape the crowds and head into The Core Shopping Centre on The Headrow for a Dine with Santa Experience at Kaspa’s Dessert Bar.

The Core Leeds has a range of places to eat and drink, shop as well as a good health and fitness offering, perfect for active families like ours.

the core leeds eat drink shop city centre

At the weekend we had been invited to review the sold-out Dine with Santa Experience which takes place at either Subway or Kaspa’s Dessert Bar depending on time slots.

We opted for the later slot at Kaspa’s Dessert Bar so we had ample time to get there as we had been staying at The Holiday Inn Leeds Bradford on Tong Lane (near Tong Garden Centre).

Immediately off the hustle and bustle of The Headrow at Christmas, we arrived at the downstairs food court with Kaspa’s being a separate outlet on the left. It’s a plush-looking pink and black decorated diner with a range of hot and cold desserts – from a tempting ice cream bar to the welcoming aroma of freshly cooked Waffles. It feels very family-friendly, stylish yet cosy at the same time as we made our way into a booth.

We were greeted by friendly ‘elves’ aka The Core Shopping Centre staff who explained that we would be served Waffles and Ice Cream then Santa would pay us a visit. As a parent, we all know how important it is to get the kids fed and watered first!

The elves gave out festive-themed goody bags which contained crafts for my daughters to do whilst they waited for their Food and Drink. My kids, aged 4 and 7, enjoyed decorating party hats and writing their list to Santa. I was surprised (and proud) to see that my 7-year-old had written “Toilet Twinning” (where you donate money to help fund a toilet being built in a poor community) at the top of her Christmas List.

The tempting hot waffles and ice-creams then arrived which were huge portions so plenty for a parent and child to share.

As the kids tucked in, they then heard Santa entering singing Carols. He was a brilliantly realistic Santa with a tuneful voice. The kids then all took it in turn to speak to Santa who  also did a magic trick and gave them a gift.

The Father Christmas impersonator really spent a lot of time with each child and made a big fuss of them and chatted through their Christmas list which was lovely to see. I enjoyed basking in the comfort of the booth too with a nice Soya Latte.

the core leeds eat drink shop city centre yorkshire families

Once the kids had unwrapped their teddy bear gifts they were ready to move around and spotted some mo-ped style seats at the front of Kaspa’s.

We then used the large family-friendly toilet facilities before venturing into the shops.

 

The Core Shopping Centre is nice and small perfect for family outings and a good place to grab something to eat with the kids when shopping in Leeds City Centre.

I also spotted the gym and Yoga studios as well as outdoors shops… something I’ll try when I don’t have kids tugging on me.

Kasha’s too makes a lovely family-friendly treat and would be a perfect place for a birthday party or sweet treat (and bribe) when out and about in Leeds!

How to get to The Core Leeds 

 

The post code for your sat nav is LS1 6AD

The Core is based on The Headrow and is situated in Leeds City Centre. It is easily accessible by Albion Street, Albion Place and Lands Lane. Car parking is available right by the centre and is operated by NCP.

By Car

Car parking is available for more than 300 cars. Use LS1 6AD as the post code. For more information on car parking, including charges, please click here.

By Train

The centre is close to Leeds train station. Upon leaving the station, make your way towards the city centre via New Station Street, and follow Albion Street, turning right at Albion Place. The Core is on your left hand side.

By Bus

Leeds City Centre is easily accessible by bus. Use the map on this page to navigate your way to the centre and click here for bus timetables.

 

The official lowdown

The Core is in the heart of Leeds City Centre, offering a huge range of options for visitors to enjoy.

From the various shops in the centre, to the range of flavours on offer from cafes, restaurants and kiosks, there are plenty of reasons to plan your day at The Core. You can even get fit for less with our health and fitness options!

Parent & Baby Facilities

We have a dedicated parent & baby room, situated within our Public Facilities area, equipped with changing mat and bottle warmer. There is also a bottle warmer available at Graveleys Fish & Chips.

Changing Places Toilet

We are proud to have an accessible Changing Places toilet at The Core Shopping Centre.

Our Changing Places toilet features:

  • A height-adjustable adult-sized changing bench
  • A ceiling tracking hoist system
  • A privacy screen
  • Adequate space for disabled person and up to 2 carers
  • A large waste bin for disposable pads
  • A non-slip floor

Our Changing Places toilet is available alongside 2 standalone accessible toilets and a separate baby change facility.

How can I access the Changing Places toilet?

You can use a Radar Key to access our Changing Places toilet.

If you do not have a Radar Key, please speak to a member of staff patrolling the centre who can give you immediate access.

 

DISCLAIMER: WE RECEIVED THIS EXPERIENCE FREE OF CHARGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW.

ABBEY HOUSE MUSEUM: School holidays at Leeds Galleries and Museums – Review

ABBEY HOUSE MUSEUM: School holidays at Leeds Galleries and Museums – Review

We had been stunned by Kirkstall Abbey but we had never ventured inside Abbey House Museum which is opposite the Abbey across the road and connected to the Gatehouse Cafe. 

We had been expecting an old house to look around but what we found was an immersive Victorian experience where we could have spent the best part of a day. 

After collecting the tickets through the museum shop we then took the stairs past the cafe to enter the museum. 

A family-friendly museum exploring social history and childhood in Victorian era Leeds

Instantly we were transported to Leeds 100 years ago with a life like Victorian street complete with shops and homes. 

The kids had been given an adventure trail so they were focused on that. It was lovely to see them interweaving through the shops, getting dressed up in the photographic studio and then take part in some of the craft activities laid out. 

As it was Christmas when we visited, we also went to see Santa in his grotto which was nicely tools away in one of the Victorian side streets. 

We thought we’d finished the museum until we saw some stairs leading to a Victorian bedroom. After seeing the glass enclosed bedroom and my kids comparing it to their own.. we walked into the “Danger Zone” exhibition which was really interesting.

Abbey House Museum in Leeds near kirkstall abbey danger zone

My kids were drawn to the dressing up part in the Danger Zone Jungle and then onto the Victorian Penny Arcade. 

We were surprised to find another section too of more interactive exhibits where the kids enjoyed dressing up again in the Childhood Galleries. 

I had only scheduled an hour and a half for the museum but my daughters could have easily spent three hours exploring and playing. 

childhood galleries at Abbey House Museum in Leeds near kirkstall abbey

We then finished off our morning in the stunning Gatehouse cafe. 

Abbey House Museum in Leeds near kirkstall abbey gatewhouse cafe

We would have wandered across the road to revisit Kirkstall Abbey but we didn’t have time. We could have easily spent a day across both sites. The car park also has a playground next door if the kids want to let off more steam… although wrap up warm for the Abbey and playground if visiting this winter!

Abbey House Museum

OPENING TIMES

Monday: closed

Tuesday to Friday & Sunday: 10am–5pm

Saturday: 12pm–5pm

Abbey Walk, Kirkstall, Leeds LS5 3EH

Phone:
0113 378 4079
(10am – 4pm)

Email:
abbey.house@leeds.gov.uk

 

Facilities

  • Baby change
  • Toilets
  • Visitor centre
  • Picnic area
  • Café
  • Education facilities
  • Play area
  • Shop
  • Free parking

 

Prices

abbey house museum Kirkstall abbey admission prices

How to get to Abbey House Museum 

Rail

The nearest train stations are Kirkstall Forge and Headingley, both 1 mile away.

Bus

Bus numbers 33, 34 and 757 from Leeds stop outside Kirkstall Abbey.

Parking

A large free car park is situated next to Abbey House Museum on Abbey Walk. This includes disabled parking. There is an additional disabled access parking space immediately outside the museum entrance.

DISCLAIMER: WE RECEIVED OUR VISIT AND REFRESHMENTS FREE OF CHARGE FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIES REVIEW.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Festive family show for young children at Leeds Playhouse – Review

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS: Festive family show for young children at Leeds Playhouse – Review

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Leeds Playhouse with its fun festive family show, The Night Before Christmas, perfect for young children. 

Yorkshire Families went along to the Courtyard Theatre in Leeds Playhouse for the latest production at the new facilities.

After marching through the hustle and bustle of Leeds City Centre at Rush Hour, we were relieved to be able to escape into the stunning purpose-built building that is Leeds Playhouse’s new home. The city facing entrance helps to make the theatre feel more accessible. The bright lights were a welcome aim in the darkness.

We made our wait into the Courtyard Theatre to review The Night Before Christmas, perfect for 3-6 year olds (there’s also Snow Mouse on at the moment for 0-3 year olds and The Wizard of Oz for older children).

My friend and I had brought along our there kids straight from school, so we were all a bit stressed and rushed as we took to our seats.

But within moments, we were transported to the gentle land of Carol and Elf at home on Christmas Eve.

The show is all in sign language and rather than it be an addition it is an integral part of the characters;’ communication on stage, which was great to see.

All the stresses of Christmas seemed to whirl away into the twinkling stars above Carol’s house.

Lladel Bryant (Elf) and Alexandra James (Carol) in The Night Before Christmas at Leeds Playhouse. Photographs by Anthony Robling (2)

The setting is simple and the show features two main characters who communicate through sign language, speech and “Elvish.” I wasn’t sure how the kids would react to such a calm production but surprisingly they were engulfed into the beautiful friendship between Carol and elf.

There were nice touches of dancing and costume changes too as well as lovely parts where the characters came into the audience.

As the snow settled on Carol’s house ready for Christmas Day, we too felt relaxed and in the Christmas Spirit for the big day.

The Official Lowdown

Production images give a glimpse of the twinkly Christmas Eve sky above the small, neat home of Carol (Alexandra James) as she prepares for another ordinary day in her ordinary life. But then something extraordinary happens. Elf (Lladel Bryant) drops in – literally – and turns her world upside down, leading to rooftop adventures, ice dancing, a search for Santa and, best of all, a firm festive friendship.  

The Night Before Christmas by Robert Alan Evans(Crumble’s Search for Christmas, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) proved a big hit with audiences of all ages when it was first staged at Leeds Playhouse in 2015. Now, director Amy Leach (A ChristmasCarol, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) has added a dynamic new dimension for Christmas 2019, introducing creative use of sign language to make every performance D/deaf friendly, while giving Carol the perfect tool to communicate with Elf, who only speaks Elvish.

The Night Before Christmas, Leeds Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre

30 November 2019 – 28 December. 

Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online: leedsplayhouse.org.uk

WIN A family ticket for The Night Before Christmas in the Courtyard at Leeds Playhouse, West Yorkshire

WIN A family ticket for The Night Before Christmas in the Courtyard at Leeds Playhouse, West Yorkshire

The Night Before Christmas at Leeds Playhouse – a magical festive adventure for all the family… and you can win four tickets with Yorkshire Families! 

 The Night Before Christmas is the fabulously festive family show that will be lighting up the Courtyard Theatre at Leeds Playhouse from 30 November – 28 December.

Leeds-based actor Lladel Bryant, as Elf 30046, is an old friend ofthe Playhouse. He was one of ten northern actors who formed Leeds Playhouse Ensemble, a dynamic repertory company who performed a series of productions during the 2018-19 Pop-Up Season. He joins Alexandra James as Carol, who is not as Christmassy as her name might suggest – at least until she meets Elf when he tumbles down her chimney.

The Night Before Christmas by Robert Alan Evans (Crumble’s Search for Christmas, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) proved a big hit with audiences of all ages when it was first staged at Leeds Playhouse in 2015. Now, director Amy Leach (A Christmas Carol, Kes, Leeds Playhouse) has added a dynamic new dimension for Christmas 2019, introducing creative use of sign language to make every performance D/deaf friendly, while giving Carol the perfect tool to communicate with Elf, who only speaks Elvish.

Amy Leach, Leeds Playhouse Associate Director, said: ‘We’re so excited to bring The Night Before Christmas back to the Playhouse. Elf and Carol’s inspiring friendship shows how learning, understanding and communicating across so-called language barriers is not only possible, but essential and enriching. Our new production is a Christmas show for all – it’s accessible and completely captivating.’

Carol and Elf set off on the festive adventure of a lifetime in a magical world created by designer Amelia Jane Hankin (Rudolph, Leeds Playhouse; The Tiger’s Bones, Lakeside Arts, Polka and Leeds Playhouse), with lighting design by James Whiteside (Sleeping Beauty, Chichester Festival), sound design by composer Dom Coyote (The Story Fishers, National Theatre), and movement by Leeds-based associate choreographer Pauline Mayers based on original choreography by Lucy Cullingford.

Expect nifty rooftop antics, eccentric dance routines, timeless tunes and fabulous festive fun. However you communicate, The Night Before Christmas is the show everyone will be talking about.

PRIZE: Win a family ticket (for four) for The Night Before Christmas in the Courtyard at Leeds Playhouse at 4.30pm on Friday 20 December.

To win a family pass just go to our Instagram post and make sure you’re following us on instagram and Leeds Playhouse.

The Night Before Christmas, Courtyard Theatre, Leeds Playhouse, 30 Nov – 28 Dec

Box office: 0113 213 7700; www.leedsplayhouse.org.uk

 

 

SLEEPING BEAUTY PANTOMIME: Huddersfield Panto is back at Lawrence Batley Theatre

SLEEPING BEAUTY PANTOMIME: Huddersfield Panto is back at Lawrence Batley Theatre

All the fun you could wish for this Christmas, as Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield presents its magical family pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

Go on a magical adventure with their new pantomime Sleeping Beauty!

In a castle high above Huddersfield, a wicked fairy has cursed Princess Aurora to sleep for 100 years. With the Princess watched over by her nursemaid, a kind fairy sets out to find a hero who can break the spell, but who will be the one to rescue our Princess?

Spun together by director Joyce Branagh and playwright Andrew Pollard the creative team behind the hugely successful Aladdin, Jack & the Beanstalk and Cinderella, expect thigh slapping, toe tapping, rib cracking fun from this year’s family show. Bursting with spectacular costumes, hit songs, audience participation (and in true panto tradition) it’s shaping up to be Huddersfield’s biggest pantomime yet.  (Oh, yes it is!)

Henry Filloux-Bennett, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the LBT, said:  “Having seen last year’s panto I am incredibly excited about SLEEPING BEAUTY – it’s my first pantomime since joining the Lawrence Batley Theatre and I am really looking forward to seeing packed houses full of families enjoying a fabulous, festive show full of magic and fun, throughout the run.”

 “We are delighted to welcome back Joyce and Andrew, the creative force behind some of the best pantomimes across the UK and we are very excited to see what magic they have created, together with our talented cast, for Sleeping Beauty.  I’ve heard so much about our audiences’ fantastic reaction to previous productions and this production looks set to build and excel upon their previous triumphs.”

Sleeping Beauty new V8

 SLEEPING BEAUTY brings together faces old and new for this fantastic production.  Robin Simpson (Aladdin, Jack & The Beanstalk) makes a welcome return as Nanny Fanny.  Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty),will be played by talented local actor and LBT favourite,Alyce Liburd (Aladdinand Unsung).  She will be wooed by handsome Sebastian Prince, ably portrayed by Thomas Cotran (Aladdin, Jack & The Beanstalk).  Also making a welcome return is Nicola Jayne Ingram (Aladdin,A Tiger’s Tale) as Hester the JesterandRichard Hand (Aladdin,The Ruck, Cinderella) returns in the role of King Herbert the Hesitant.  Gamely stepping in at the last minute, LBT is thrilled to welcome Esther-Grace Buttonas the fabulous Fairy Falalala -la-la-la-la-la, (The Sand House, Beauty & The Beast, Jack & The Beanstalk, Sleeping Beautyfor CAST)Making her LBT debut isHayley Russell (Vampires Rock(UK Theatre and Arena Tour)); and The Meat Loaf Story (UK Tour)as Belladonna Bile.  Hayley is also a professional singer and has worked all over the world on cruise ships for over 17 years, supporting artists such as Billy Ocean and Gareth Gates and even had the pleasure of performing for Oasis front man Liam Gallagher.   The professional cast are supported by a company of talented young performers, aged between 9 – 17 years old, from across Kirklees.

Director, Joyce Branagh, says: “We’re very excited about Sleeping Beauty and audiences can expect to be wowed by the cast, gorgeous sets, and amazing choreography bringing to life Andrew’s cracking, comical script.  Expect rousing songs, outrageous outfits and hilarious antics from the team. 

 “It’s a privilege to work with such a talented bunch and we’ve brought back some audience favourites as well as some new faces to the exceptional cast!  We have something special on order for families to enjoy and we can guarantee a great Christmas outing at LBT.

Joyce Branagh has been a professional director and writer since 1995 working with theatres across the UK and Ireland including Watford Palace Theatre and Salisbury Playhouse, where she has directed panto as well as productions at the Orange Tree Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Oldham Coliseum. Based in Yorkshire, her recent stage credits include Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Rose Theatre), Boomtown Gals (winner of Manchester Theatre Awards best performance) and The Ruck. She lives in West Yorkshire, has written four pantomimes and is the co-author of the book Creating Pantomime.

Playwright and actor Andrew Pollard specialises in writing pantomimes and for families; he regularly writes, directs and appears as the Dame in Greenwich Theatre’s pantomime, where he is performing this Christmas in Robin Hood. He played Phileas Fog in the national tour of Around The World in 80 Days and previous credits includes working with Northern Broadsides, New Vic Theatre and in 2007, regularly appearing as John Bune in Emmerdale.

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Since producing its first pantomime four years ago, Lawrence Batley Theatre is becoming firmly established as one of the top destinations to enjoy a traditional family panto in Yorkshire.

Tickets for SLEEPING BEAUTY are now on sale and are priced from £12.50.  A family saver of four tickets for £65 is also offered (conditions apply). To buy tickets contact the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s Box Office on 01484 430528 or online at www.thelbt.org.

 

Produced by Lawrence Batley Theatre; Director: Joyce Branagh; Writer: Andrew Pollard.

PONDEROSA ZOO: A family-friendly attraction in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire – Review

PONDEROSA ZOO: A family-friendly attraction in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire – Review

Ponderosa Zoo in Heckmondwike is a hidden gem housing over 120 animals from Lemurs to reindeers and reptiles. 

We went on our first trip to the West Yorkshire based Zoo, formerly known as Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre, during the school holidays to experience a family day out. 

Visiting Ponderosa Zoo 

The zoo is located off Smithies Lane Liversedge, Heckmondwike WF16 0PN. I hadn’t realised it was there until recently as it is tucked away. 

 

We parked up before checking in at the wooden hut-come-gift shop. We were greeted and showed the treasure trail which was there for Halloween. As it was Halloween when we went you could also pay £3 extra to get a pumpkin carved. The zoo is very reasonably priced compared to larger zoos we have been to. 

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I hadn’t realised how much there was to do from visiting animals to an indoor playbarn, outdoor play area, zip wire and talks on animals. There’s also spaces to eat a picnic or there is plenty of food and drink available to buy on site.

The zoo is compact with lots of paths making it easy to get around. There’s also a sand pit, so it’s a good idea to wear wellies especially when the weather is cold and drizzly like it was when we visited. 

My daughters aged 4 and 7 enjoyed exploring the zoo and filling out the treasure hunt. My Step brother Oscar, who is autistic, also enjoyed the zoo which is off the beaten path and felt a lot more tranquil than other attractions we have been to. 

We sought shelter in the large Lakeside Cafe which is also an events and wedding venue. It’s a cafeteria style eaterie with hot & cold food and drink available to buy. I had a nice tomato sop whilst the kids opted for jacket potatoes. 

We then ventured back outside for a last look around at some of the animals, before picking up our pumpkin which had been specially carved for us, suing our drawings. The kids had a few last goes on the zip wire before we returned to the car. 

I hadn’t realised there was a small indoor play barn as well, so next time we will definitely try that too. 

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We had a lovely half-day at the zoo with friendly and accommodating staff. My mum and I really appreciated the emphasis on education, nature and endangered species. 

It’s a down-to-earth Zoo which is affordable and perfect for the whole family. 

ALL ABOUT PONDEROSA ZOO

Ponderosa Zoo (originally Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre) was created in 1991 by Maureen Cook with the aim to ‘bridge the gap’ between disabled and able bodied people through the care of animals as a form of therapy. At the time the centre held a variety of domestic animals including pigs, goats and cattle.

Since its conception Ponderosa Zoo is now home to over 120 animals from lemurs to reindeer. They are a dedicated team of hard working and passionate individuals who aim to promote animal welfare, in addition to educating the public on conservation efforts and the threats many species now face in the wild. In 2017 we took another step in journey by becoming provisional BIAZA members.

Although they are now a much bigger facility with their primary focus being on welfare, education and conservation, they still hold a ‘Bridge the Gap’ vision by ensuring our zoo is always disabled friendly and offering a variety of grounds keeping roles for disabled individuals to gain valuable work experience in a friendly and welcoming environment.

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DISCLAIMER: We received a free family pass for the purpose of this review.