Local news



On July 27th, a LEGO® Brick extravaganza complete with a giant LEGO® Brick play pit is coming to The Victoria Shopping Centre to give families of Southend the chance to unleash their creativity with the nostalgic toy.


To celebrate the world’s favourite toy, on Saturday 27th July, families are invited to unleash their creativity and let their inner-builder run wild at The Victoria Shopping Centre as Southend-on-Sea plays host to a brick-tastic LEGO® extravaganza. Transforming the Centre into every little builder’s dream, visitors will have the chance to build anything they can imagine in the Centre’s giant LEGO® play pit, which will be filled with thousands of the famous little bricks! PLUS, kids can create their very own lion badge out of LEGO® to take home with them as a memento of the day in one of the Centre’s ‘make and take’ workshops.

If that wasn’t enough, there will also be the chance to snap a perfect photo for Instagram at the Centre’s very own LEGO® themed selfie station complete with a giant lion sculpture and a stunning monkey built completely out of LEGO® bricks!

Dennis Baldry, Centre Manager at The Victoria Shopping Centre, commented: “We are delighted to welcome such an iconic and nostalgic toy brand into The Victoria Shopping Centre, we’re sure the event will appeal to shoppers of all ages. We can’t wait to see what everyone creates.”

The event is from 11am to 3pm on the day.

For more information visit the website or visit follow us on Twitter @TheVictoriaSC.


Essex’s original farm park celebrates 35 years of telling the farming story


This week Essex’s original farm park celebrates 35 years in business sharing the food and farming story. Barleylands, near Billericay, first opened to the public with a small farm museum in 1984 and has grown to encompass an extensive farm park, award-winning education programme and artisan retail village welcoming over 800,000 visitors and 17,000 school children through its gates every year.


The business, owned by the Philpot family, has expanded over the years to include venue and showground hire, horse livery and camping, while retaining its core values of bridging the gap between farming and the public. One of the sons in the family, Chris Philpot, said:


We are so proud to have been sharing the story of agriculture and food production with school children and families for so many years. With urbanisation and the rise of the supermarkets, children are increasingly removed from farming and where their food comes from. At Barleylands we can give them an interactive connection with this through the farm animals, cooking and the history of farming through the ages. The farm park started when I was the same age as many of our visitors. My father opened to the public with a few pieces of vintage machinery from the farm and I have seen how it has developed and thrived. None of it would have been possible without the loyal staff who have dedicated themselves to delivering a great experience to those who visit us.”

The Farm Park, which is constantly evolving with new recreational and educational additions, is home to a variety of farm animals as well as a reptile centre and birds of prey. The vintage machinery formed the basis of what is now the Discovery Centre telling the story of farming through the ages through visual educational displays, and there is a wildlife walk with beehives as well as outdoor and indoor play areas.


At its heart remains education, which has consolidated year on year. The education team works with 17,000 school children, and in 2018/19, 70 new schools, offering fully immersive and memorable learning experiences. Two new classrooms have recently been completed. Head of Education, Karen Watson, said:


We tailor-make days to support different subjects in the curriculum from maths to history, literacy and science up to Key Stage 3. We love to be creative and enjoy the challenge of bringing food and farming into any topic, which has brought schools back year after year. The growth of education is full credit to the team who make it such an immersive and interesting learning experience for children of different ages.”


The Village, the retail element initiated by Chris Philpot, is an integrated network of 40 small businesses including independent retailers, creative makers, office space and function rooms for hire. Well-known jam maker, Tiptree, has a café and restaurant on-site, and the Magic Mushroom restaurant offers a fine dining experience. Many businesses have thrived here, including start-up Ashes Into Glass which transforms cremation ashes into glass jewellery and paperweights, and retails all over the world.


Barleylands plays host to a variety of different events throughout the year from toddler fireworks to food and music festivals.

EAT. builds national partnership with children’s charity initiative, Fit and Fed, to reclaim the summer for children at risk of


From 19th June, four Fit and Fed hero products, including a Wiltshire Ham & Piccalilli Bloomer, will be on sale at all EAT. stores across the UK, with 25p from the sale of each product donated to the charity, changing children’s lives one bite at a time.



EAT. is proud to partner with Fit and Fed, an innovative holiday programme led by StreetGames, to launch a summer campaign, highlighting the importance of providing real food to real people, and the relationship between nutritious food and fitness during the summer, which will run from 19th June until 31st August, aiming to raise over £25,000 for the charity.


Devastatingly, an estimated 3 million children are at risk of experiencing holiday hunger in the UK. The triple threat of hunger, isolation and inactivity means that many children are losing 80% of fitness built up over the school year and are more likely to be obese and suffer from poor mental health.


Fit and Fed works to reclaim the summer by supporting projects in the heart of local communities across the UK, giving them free access to sports and healthy meals.

Across all of its UK stores, EAT. will hero four ‘Fit and Fed’ stickered products, including a new Wiltshire Ham & Piccalilli Bloomer, and Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato Baguette, to raise money for the charity, donating 25p from the sale of each product to Fit and Fed, in addition to charity boxes to raise further donations.



A number of EAT. shops will have smoothie bikes, allowing customers to actively blend their own fresh fruit smoothie, all for a £2 donation which will go straight to Fit and Fed.


EAT. is already working closely with some of Fit and Fed’s London-based projects, including one project which is based on the edges of the largest Housing Estate in London where 7,500 people live.  


Executive Chef at EAT., Arnaud Kaziewicz, and MasterChef: The Professionals finalist in 2016, comments: ‘We are so proud to work with StreetGames on their Fit and Fed initiative and have experienced first-hand the benefits their projects bring to children during the holidays – from social interaction with others, delicious, healthy food, sports activities and fun. The funding goes towards making sure projects like these can continue to be run, and also allow other projects to be set up.’


EAT. will sell four ‘Fit and Fed’ stickered products to drive donations, giving 25p per product sold:


NEW Wiltshire Ham & Piccalilli Bloomer (from £3.85) - Chunky Wiltshire Ham & Tangy Piccalilli with Garlic Herby Mayonnaise and Lettuce in our Dark Rye Bloomer.


NEW Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato Baguette (from £3.85) - Creamy mozzarella and juicy tomatoes with Genovese pine nut pesto and cracked black pepper on a soft white baguette.


BEST-SELLING Mexican Chicken, Guacamole & Quinoa Salad (from £5.50) - Our Chef's favourite! Guacamole, chilli chicken, wholesome quinoa and grilled peppers with crunchy corn... everything you expect from a Mexican inspired dish.


NEW Summer Berry Pot (from £2.75) – a fruit pot of Strawberries, Blackberries and Blueberries.


Holly Oades, Customer Director, EAT., said: ‘We are delighted and proud to build on our existing relationship with Fit and Fed.  In 2018 we raised over £10,000 through our charity box collections in store, and since then have been working closely with Fit and Fed on how to build on the support for this fantastic charity and help in their goal to reclaim the summer holidays for children across the UK. Our ambition for this summer alone is to raise over £25,000 and generate as much awareness for Fit and Fed as we possibly can.’


Mandy West, Head of Corporate and Major Donor Fundraising, adds: ‘We’re tremendously excited to be involved in this campaign. The team at EAT. all have an enormous sense of enthusiasm for this work, and we are absolutely thrilled to be collaborating with them to do more for young people with less. Together, we can put a stop to holiday hunger, inactivity and isolation’.


EAT. will aim to support the charity across all channels in store and online to encourage customers to donate and send squads out of their shop environment to collect further donations and offer samples of the new ‘Fit and Fed’ stickered products on sale.  Through EAT.’s Charity Committee there will be opportunities for EAT. employees, from shop to head office, to get involved through fundraising and volunteering.


Anderson Sinclair releasing new ranges

We are a family business that has been designing and fitting kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms in Loughton for around 10 years, making us one of the longest serving kitchen showrooms in the area. We also offer whole house redesigns, starting at colour schemes, moving into space planning and going all the way to building your dream kitchen extension.

Being an independent company we have lower overheads than the high street brands allowing us to offer the best prices to our clients. Our kitchens are British made which we are very proud of and we only sell brands we would use ourselves.

We have some new kitchen door ranges being released soon, from liquid metal doors, to new wood finishes, to sand blasted doors. We aren’t restricted by anything and can follow and often create new design trends for the area.

Along with the new doors, we are also proud to announce we are the local dealer for Kuppersbusch appliances. Allowing you to add colour accents such as copper, gold and red to your kitchen to compliment or stand out. Their unique products make a great addition to our designs.

Come and see us today to discuss your dream kitchen, or call us on 0208 508 1941. We’re looking forward to working with you soon.

Essex-born student announced as winner of National Accident Helpline’s legal award

A student from the University of Surrey has emerged as the overall winner of Future Legal Mind 2018 – National Accident Helpline’s award to find the brightest legal talent in the country.

Gbemisola Obolo, who currently studies Law with International Relations, has won a cash prize of £5,000 plus a coveted work experience placement at a top law firm.

The 19-year old, who is originally from Harlow in Essex, could barely contain her excitement when she got the call to say that she was the winner of the sought-after award:

"It feels amazing. On hearing the news, I was surprised as I never thought such a thing could happen to me. Now, I feel a sense of pride in my work and I am just grateful.

I want to say thank you very much to National Accident Helpline. Thank you for providing a channel where students like me can showcase themselves and be recognised and rewarded for it. Thank you for boosting my confidence and enabling me to be more than just a law student but the winner of the Future Legal Mind award."

When Gbemisola isn’t studying for her degree, she works part-time in the St Elizabeth’s Centre care home, and participates in a range of choirs.  She is also a published poet.

Her entry and consequent win for Future Legal Mind has earned her a cash prize and valuable work experience at a top law firm. She said:

“I am excited about gaining practical work experience, as words can only go so far on what it takes to work in a top legal firm. I am still early on in my legal career, so having this opportunity is an excellent head start to set myself apart in a competitive industry.”

Gbemisola was chosen by a panel of industry experts, above seven other students who were also shortlisted. National Accident Helpline’s Managing Director Simon Trott said:

“Gbemisola’s essay demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of the personal injury sector and tackled the perception that Claims Management Companies are ambulance chasing lawyers seeking to promote a compensation culture.

National Accident Helpline congratulates Gbemisola on a well-deserved win, and we wish her the best in her career aided by Future Legal Mind.”

The seven other finalists were spanned from across the UK, with notable entries from the University of Edinburgh, Durham University and the University of Oxford, who all answered the essay question:

The personal injury legal sector is frequently attacked by government, insurers and media as ambulance-chasing lawyers seeking to promote a compensation culture.  What can organisations in the personal injury legal sector do differently in order to dispel the misconceptions and bring integrity back to claiming compensation?


To find out more about Future Legal Mind visit: