First Person Article Assignment

My Daughter Could Have Died Without Heroic Story

The floods of 2007 had a dramatic affect on Louise Beech and her family reaching far beyond the devastation it caused for other victims of it, now, long after the waters have subsided and life has returned to normal, they are still having to cope with a completely unrelated but potentially deadly problem that reared its ugly head at the same time that Hull was under water.

We had to move out of our house after being flooded and the stress seemed to have a dramatic affect on my daughter Katie but I knew there was something else wrong with her that was nothing to do with the flooding. She was 7 at the time and I had noticed she was always thirsty so she was drinking more, going to the toilet a lot and she was losing so much weight that she almost looked gaunt.

My husband Joe had also noticed something wasn’t right so between us we decided we had to do something to get to the bottom of it and taking her to the doctor was the obvious thing to do.

So I took her to the doctor, he did a finger prick test and that day our lives changed forever as he confirmed that she had Type 1 Diabetes. She was taken into hospital and kept there for three days, they were the longest three days of my life up to that point.

The whole time I was worrying, wondering what life was going to be like from now on, I didn’t want to let her out of my sight, she was my little baby girl and I wanted to protect her from this horrible condition, but at the same time I didn’t want to ‘just see the condition’ as they say.

When she came out of hospital Katie had been told to take insulin injections to keep her diabetes under control which was a routine that she soon settled into although she clearly didn’t like it.

After about three years though she started rejecting her injections, she was fed up of them and she kept saying she didn’t want diabetes anymore and didn’t want to take her injections and didn’t see why she should have to. I knew if I couldn’t get her to have her injections she would go into a diabetic coma and eventually she would die so I had to think of something to persuade her to have her injections.

The one thing I know I can do for children is tell stories, ever since I was 3-years-old I have been able to make up stories and since I was eight I’ve been writing them down on paper, so I made a bargain with Katie, if she would have her injections each day I promised I would tell her a story, either made-up or true.

At first I told her a few made-up stories, and she said they were a load of rubbish, so then I decided to tell her the true story of my grand-dad. Each time she had her injection I would tell her a little more of the story about his survival floating in a lifeboat in the South Atlantic sea for 50 terrifying days in 1943 when German U-Boats hunted in packs trying to starve Britain into submission by sinking the ships carrying precious and much needed food and other supplies.

At the time it seemed like the story of his survival after being picked up by HMS Rapid was what was keeping Katie alive but once I had finished telling her the story I knew I had to go further and tell this amazing story to the wider public.

First I wrote the short story about it then I wrote the play but I knew eventually I had to write it as a novel. It was when I went to see a psychic with my brother and sister that I was convinced to write the book, it was just as we were leaving that the psychic said to me: “What is it that you’re thinking about writing?”

So in 2013 I started writing the novel called How To Be Brave, based around my experience with Katie and the story of my grand-dad that convinced her to keep taking her precious, life-preserving injections, I finished it in early 2014.

After I had written it How To Be Brave was submitted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary Award, it got shortlisted into the final 10 but didn’t win. I had also been following Karen Sullivan on Twitter and she had been talking about starting her own book publishing business called Orenda Books so I contacted her.

After a bit she agreed to get it proof read, after that she read it twice herself and said she loved it and agreed to publish it.

Since then my life has been transformed, I’m extremely busy in a very good way, I still do the day job as an usher at Hull Truck Theatre, but I’m also doing stuff like book signings all over, I’m heading to London to do a book signing tomorrow, appearing in the Humber Mouth Literature Festival and I’m currently writing my next novel for Orenda Books which will be published next September.

All I’ve wanted to do since I was eight is tell stories and now I am whilst juggling that with marriage, kids, home life, articles, Q&A’s and being one of BBC Radio Humberside’s Mum’s Army and, of course, ensuring that Katie still has her injections.

Journalism and the Monarchy- Reflection

The session about reporting on the royal family was another eye-opening and very interesting power point presentation from our newlywed lecturer and was our last teaching session of this semester.

We learnt that the nations relationship with the monarchy has totally changed since the silver jubilee in 1977 and is indeed absolutely unrecognisable from the days of the Queen’s coronation.

However it was mooted that the media seems to want to take the British people back, Canute fashion, to our more royalist past.

We were made aware that at least a quarter of Brit’s believe we would be better off without the royal family, more than 50% want an end to its state funding and 2/3rd want the royal household opened up to more scrutiny.

Apparently media now reports on members of various royal families in much the same way as it reports on celebrities.

It was asked whether journalist’s celebrate or just report on royal events like the jubilee, a royal wedding or a royal birth which threw up some interesting discussion about what would be expected of us in that situation.

It was somewhat expected when we were told that there are strict rules and regulations when it comes to reporting about the royal family and that they have PR Officials who oversee the families media activities and that someone like BBC Royal Correspondent Nicholas Witchell spends time nurturing professional relationships with press officers.

A royal rota allows a small group of journalists to follow the public engagements of Queen Elizabeth 2nd, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry ‘Close Up’ reporting for TV, Radio, Print and Online on a pool basis.

Almost all TV footage of the Queen is filmed on behalf of the main UK broadcasters by a palace appointed camera person. You can request interviews but they don’t usually do them they normally do documentaries.

There are two press offices, the one at Buckingham Palace represents the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal.

The Clarence House/St. James’ Palace press office represents the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

Finally we learnt that if we’re ever researching a royal story we should start with the websites of the royal press offices where most questions will probably be answered.

Courts and Legal System- Reflection

The Cats lecture about reporting on court cases of all kinds in courts such as Crown, Magistrates and Coroner’s Court began with talking about showing emotion like Graham Satchell showed on BBC Breakfast when reporting from Paris yesterday.

We discussed this and mentioned other emotional reports like Martin Lewis in the bulletin when Diana Princess of Wales had died and Murray Walker getting emotional as Damon Hill won his Formula 1 World Championship title as other examples of when it is fair for a journalist to convey emotion rather than appearing to be like an emotionless robot.

It was also interesting to discuss the seemingly inevitable effects of cutbacks the BBC are going to suffer in the coming months/years like the loss of many red button services.

Learning about the courts and the rich vein of stories we can garner from them was something of an eye-opener even after we had all passed our law journalism exam with Telegraph court reporter Nicky Harley last year.

We knew that it was important that, as journalist’s, it’s essential we understand the way the courts work, right down to making sure the door closes quietly when proceedings are underway.

We learnt that summary offences are dealt with by the magistrates court and there might be three lay magistrates who have no legal qualifications, they are all criminal cases but the maximum custodial sentence they can hand down is 12 months for each offence, up to a maximum of 65 weeks.

The main differences between magistrates and crown court are that a crown court can hand out the maximum sentence allowed for a particular offence but a jury must decide that the charge has been proved beyond all reasonable doubt.

A coroner’s court investigates death in particular circumstances and doesn’t determine innocence or guilt but the verdict by the coroner can lead to a trial and criminal prosecution.

The coroner is either a doctor or a lawyer who is responsible for investigating deaths in particular circumstances such as a sudden, violent or unexplained death.

Contempt laws still apply in the coroner’s court and a coroner can give what is called a narrative verdict which is a summing up of the circumstances surrounding a verdict.

Talking about the Coroner’s Court also brought back very upsetting memories for me as I talked about my experience of being at a Coroner’s Court when we had the inquest into my sister Heidi who passed away in December 2006, it was all I could do to hold back the tears especially this close to the anniversary of when we lost her.

We can also tweet from a court although it must be kept to just fact and a journalist must NEVER be drawn into conversation about something they have tweeted from a court.

Government Minister- Michael Gove MP

Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

Responsibilities, The Secretary of State has oversight of all Ministry of Justice business and is responsible for making improvements to the criminal justice and prison system so that it better serves the public. Other responsibilities include, Resourcing of his Department, Functions of the Lord Chancellor, Overall Strategy and delivery of particular priority programme’s, EU and International business, Corporate Services, public appointments and judicial policy including pay, pensions and diversity.

He receives a salary as Lord Chancellor and is unpaid as Secretary of State for Justice.

Educated at Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen and Lady Margaret Hall Oxford University.

Elected Conservative MP for Surrey Heath in 2005, appointed Secretary of state for Education in May 2010 served as Government Chief Whip and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury July 2014 to May 2015.

Appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice on 10 May 2015.

Became a journalist after leaving university, worked as a reporter for the press and journal in Aberdeen, a researcher and reporter at Scottish television and a reporter at BBC television. He was later Assistant Editor of The Times.

Michael Gove

Government Minister- Baroness Stowell of Beeston

Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal.

Responsible for organisation of government business in the house, providing assistance to all Lords and offering advice on procedure. The leader also expresses collective feelings of the House on formal occasions, such as motions of thanks or congratulations.

Before July 2014 this role was covered by Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Baroness Stowell was appointed Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal on 15 July 2014. She was raised to the peerage in 2011 and is a Conservative member of the House of Lords.

Educated at Chilwell Comprehensive School and Broxtowe College of Further Education.

Entered House of Lords in January 2011 promoted to front bench as Government Whip in September 2011.

Promoted to Conservative Deputy Chief Whip in September 2012 and became government spokesperson for Women and Equalities and for Work and Pensions.

Appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 7 October 2013.

She was a Civil Servant between 1986 and 1996 including at Ministry of Defence, British Embassy in Washington and 10 Downing Street. After leaving Civil Service she worked in the private sector for a couple of years, mainly in the Media Sector. She also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the leader of the Conservative Party between 1998 and 2001.

Moved to the BBC and spent time in various roles including as Head of Corporate Affairs between 2008 and 2010.

Awarded MBE for services to the Prime Ministers office in 1996.

Baroness Stowell

Dancing Through the Shadows- Review

If there is a better show at Hull Truck Theatre in the coming months, even years, I would very much like to see it. This latest Hull truck production, written by the masterly Richard Vergette is an absolute masterpiece in every sense of the word.

A superb cast of Laura Aramayo, Marc Graham, Christine Mackie, John Elkington and Jim English make this an absolute must-see treat of epic proportions.

Beautiful direction from Mark Babych and wonderful set and costume design from Dawn Allsopp just add to the grandness of this visually stunning story.

The effervescent opening with Neville Chaimberlain claiming ‘Peace In Our Time’ in September 1938 sees the cleverly written start of the budding relationship between Sylvia (Aramayo) and Tom (Graham) as they celebrate the good news that everybody at that time had been hoping for.

The relationship between the two young lovers is beautifully and masterfully developed early on and then of course came the moment of the declaration of war with Germany and suddenly the whole dynamic was changed as if the stage was balanced on a sixpence.

The music in the background set the tone absolutely expertly and the story became a genuine roller coaster of emotions and huge respect, not only for the full cast which included a community ensemble, but also as we were given a ride through it, for the people who lived through this most awful part of Hull’s history.

But along with the very powerful heart rending moments there was also some fun and comedy on offer that just lifted the mood in the auditorium and set people giggling. The class divide between Hessle and Hessle Road is also perfectly acted as rich (Tom, Grace and Gilbert) are brought together with rough and ready (Sylvia, Maurice and David) by the now blossoming relationship and the destruction of World War 2.

The part of Brian (also played by Graham) is perfectly pitched as the wide boy looter and black market Spiv, just adding to the character that the production exudes. John Elkington gives a wonderful performance as both Maurice and Gilbert, he and Graham seemingly handle playing two roll’s with great poise and minimal effort, a true indication of their prowess.

The desperation of war is superbly established and extremely effectively communicated, no more so than when Hull is hit by a stray bomb after the all clear has sounded, killing a young mother and her baby despite Maurice’s attempts to save them.

The interval is also perfectly timed leaving a big cliffhanger caused by the blitz of 7 May 1941 when Hull City Centre was virtually flattened.

You barely have a moment to settle back into your seat before you are shocked with the opening to the 2nd half beginning where the 1st half left off.

There is a big change in the emotional state on stage after the interval and it’s not just caused by David signing up and going off to fight, but once again the hopelessness of war is very well expressed and the occasional one-liner from either Sylvia or Grace does just nicely lift the mood again.

The way the set is designed and the sound effects of the bombing give you a sense of what it must have been like to live through this tragic period as you are left emotionally tested while always hoping for the best for the characters who you really identify with and develop feelings and emotions as powerful as a speedboat on the Humber Estuary.

The characters are thoroughly believable and lovable all at the same time and the ensemble cast are not just merely there to make up the numbers they are there as an essential part of the storyline and used to great affect by the director.

After the literally heart-wrenching moment of an incident caused by the war, particularly on the Normandy Beaches on D-Day, there is genuine shock and bewilderment, followed by some harsh words which then eventually give way to thankfulness.

After the abject failure of the BBC to include this ‘North-East Coast Town’ in its recent series about Blitz Cities, Hull now has a very proud answer to that snobbish failure, the next UK City of Culture can be outstandingly proud of its traditionally iconic theatre that was founded by Mike Bradwell almost out of protest.

After the performance Marc Graham said: “It’s a really good cast, they’re lovely to work with.

“The ensemble cast are older members of the youth theatre here so they really know what they’re doing as well.”

Speaking about playing two characters, including a lead, he said: “I loved it… It was really great to be able to tap into the two characters, Brian is obviously the secondary character who is quite a wide boy, while Tom really gets down and serious.

“With the injury that Brian suffers I just kind of thought about how would somebody like that react to losing something like a leg.”

Speaking about working on this particular project with Laura Aramayo he said: “It’s great to be able to work with her on something like this, I’ve worked with her before but only on small stuff so to work with her on this, with the run it’s having is great.

“We had a good talk before about what our characters are going to do and what it would be like for them and of course with the class divide which was a real struggle and still is a real struggle unfortunately.”

I then spoke to the writer Richard Vergette about this premiere performance after the three previews last week.

He was obviously very happy with how it had gone, saying: “We let it go tonight and it seemed to go well and the audience response was very enthusiastic so yes I’m a very happy man and a relieved man tonight.

He then spoke about his delight at how the cast had handled the story: “I think it’s really important that when you’re working with a company on a piece that is as emotionally intense as this is that you’ve got a group of people who are willing to invest themselves as enthusiastically and passionately as they did.

“I’m absolutely delighted at the way that the actors have responded to the challenges of the piece.”

Talking about the community ensemble who are involved he said: “I didn’t realise when I wrote it that the community would be involved but I’m delighted with them.

“They’re a real bonus and they are a very important part of it not just an add on.”

Clearly enjoying talking about the production he then said: “This play is about Hull, for Hull and it’s about one of the most desperate times in its history, which largely the population is not aware of.

“They don’t know that this was the most bombed city outside of London, 1200 people perished, 3000 were injured or maimed 90-95% of houses were destroyed or damaged at least once and that the city re-grouped and re-found itself is a testament to its courage and its ability to take care of each other.”

It is a play for Hull but the writer would also like to see it go outside Hull because “The themes are universal and people maybe don’t realise what a part Hull played in the war.”

You can buy tickets in the box office at the theatre on Ferensway, on 01482 323638 or online at http://www.hulltruck.co.uk/book-tickets/buy-online

The show runs until Saturday 24th October

Heritage Event At Annison Building And Courtyard

Hull’s most haunted building has flung its doors open to invite the public in to see round the building and a display of artwork by local artists as part of the campaign to save the iconic Lord Line Building.

Tony Hutchinson, owner of the Witham Pharmacy and Danielle White, Events Coordinator for the building invited guests including Lord Mayor Councillor Anita Harrison, BBC Radio Humberside presenter David Burns and local poet Audrey Dunne to a preview event last night.

The display in the hayloft of the building included work such as a massive model of St. Andrews Fish Dock and surrounding area, a fishing vessel and pictures of the Lord Line Building along with merchandise from Action For Hull who are campaigning to save the Lord Line Building.

Music was playing in the courtyard and there was some artwork set back a bit that can be seen while you’re there.

Other attractions during the heritage days that run until Saturday are guided tours which have been pre-booked and Bee Lady Jean Bishop will open the final day at 10 o clock on Saturday morning.

There is also a sneak preview of what is to come with the Hull Dark History Museum which is currently being expanded within the building by owner John Hemingway.

It is also known that Burnsy has suggested to City of Culture that they should go and see the building with a view to using it as a performance space.

Mrs White and Mr Hutchinson are also promoting the venue as a performance space with many events lined up for the remainder of this year and into 2016 including an alternative nativity play written by Pony Express Theatre Company.

wpid-wp-1441903399892.jpeg Annisons wpid-wp-1441904281882.jpeg wpid-wp-1441904182094.jpeg