Monday, 13 April 2015

Yes2Chess: More Volunteers Ready For Action

Teesside Barclaycard Training Day


Two months on from our previous training day, we were ready for a return visit to Teesside Barclaycard to prepare a whole host of new volunteers for action.

As usual, the morning sessions with the new volunteers included lots of mini-games, designed to test out chess pieces one at a time, just as we would do in schools.

The mini-games saw Bishops take on three pawns...

...and Rooks battle five pawns.

10 children from two of CSC Teesside's schools - Ings Farm and Brambles Primary Academy - arrived for the afternoon sessions and they started off by taking on all-comers from the Teesside Barclaycard canteen.

Mark Singleton organised the day - and was not afraid of playing the eager juniors either...

...although he chose a very tough pair of challengers, who can be seen here in the last stages of administering a checkmate after chasing Mark's king from one side of the board to the other.

Mark then took the children on a tour of the Barclaycard offices, where the children recognised some of the volunteers who had already been into their schools.

A special and unexpected bonus saw the day finish in style; free lollies all round!

After a hard afternoon's chess, it was time to head off home, accompanied by Mrs Holmes (Ings Farm) and Mr Mayle (Brambles Primary Academy).

Thank you everyone - it was another very memorable day.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Yes2Chess: New Teesside Training Day Initiative

Teesside Barclaycard Training Day


The latest CSC training day at Teesside's Barclaycard offices took place last week and proved a worthy follow up to October's successful event (covered here).

Two groups of new Barclaycard volunteers were trained and are now ready to participate in curriculum sessions in our chess schools on Teesside. Indeed, Sue Ellis, who had no experience of chess whatsoever before the training day, was in action just two days later at Throston Primary School, where she worked with children from Y2, Y3 and Y4.

The new volunteers particularly enjoyed the challenge of the mini-games.

The afternoon sessions introduced a new initiative, with 10 of our children (five from Brambles Primary Academy and five from Sacred Heart, Middlesbrough) coming to the Barclaycard offices for the first time. This brought an element of role reversal, as its normally the Barclaycard volunteers who see the children in their place of work.

The children took on all-comers who dared to approach the chess tables we had set up in the dining hall.

Impressively, the impact of the children was such that 14 new member of Barclaycard staff signed up for the next training day. Comments from the staff were all extremely positive, with the exemplary behaviour of the children attracting particular attention. They were admirable ambassadors for their schools, for the CSC and for Teesside in general.

The children concluded their memorable experience with a tour of the Barclaycard offices, led by Teesside Barclaycard chess supremo Matt Allan, where they were delighted to meet some of the volunteers with whom they had been working earlier in the term.

We are hoping to repeat this particular initiative at the next CSC Teesside Barclaycard training day, which is provisionally scheduled to take place some time during the Summer term.

Thank you everyone - it was a fabulous day.

Monday, 1 December 2014

December Break

Marsh Towers will be hibernating over December due to time constraints.

We should be back in 2015.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Hugh Cornwell and Hazel O'Connor

Hugh Cornwell and Hazel O'Connor
The Arc, Stockton-on-Tees
The Arc came up trumps yet again last night with a very powerful double bill, featuring music from the 1970s all the way up to the present.

Hazel O'Connor was on first, flanked by Sarah Fisher (keyboards) and Clare Hirst (saxophone). It's the first time I'd seen Hazel (although, of course, her music made an impression the first time around) and she has a very impressive stage presence - emotive, with a strong sense of humour.
The songs included the likes of Will You and Decadent Days from the Breaking Glass era interspersed with much more recent material, such as I Give You My Sunshine, a song written by Hazel for her terminally ill mother.
The trio's set lasted about an hour and left us wanting more. Hopefully they will tour again in 2015. 
Clare Hirst (former Belle Star!)
Sarah Fisher
After a short break it was time for Hugh Cornwell, whose last appearance at The Arc was back in 2012 for a solo acoustic show. Shortly prior to that, he was in the North East to promote the reissue of Guilty in 2011. This time he was touring his latest album, Totem and Taboo.
The set list featured a fine mixture of tracks from Totem and Taboo (starting with the title track) and classics from the back catalogue of The Stranglers.

Hugh certainly plays it for real. He hasn't lost his edge or integrity even after all these years.
The band consisted of Chris Bell (drums) and Caroline Campbell (bass). It was a big, loud sound (useful these days, when some people turn up to gigs apparently just to talk to each other. Shouldn't they reserve that sort of behaviour for the cinema...?)
The Totem and Taboo tracks included I Want One Of Those, God Is A Woman and A Street Called Carroll; The Stranglers classics included Dagenham Dave, Skin Deep, Strange Little Girl, Duchess, Nice 'N' Sleazy and, of course, No More Heroes.

We'd already had an encore and the show looked to be over but then both trios took to the stage once more for a collective rendition of Hanging Around, with Hazel on lead vocals.
 Everyone certainly seemed to be having fun.
It was a rocking, upbeat finale that pushed the 11 p.m. curfew envelope to the limit.

Yes, another triumph for The Arc, who will have their work cut in 2015 to match this year's fine assortment of musical offerings.