Author - Stuart | YLF

Destination Milton Keynes and McDonald’s help Keep Up the Clean Up on #LoveMK Day

For the seventh annual #LoveMK Day, being held this year on Thursday 2 May, official tourism and information service Destination Milton Keynes is teaming up with local McDonald’s franchise, Kaizen Restaurants, to help keep up the clean up in Milton Keynes.

Each year, the day not only promotes Milton Keynes as a leisure and business destination but it also harnesses the pride that many people have in their city, and what better way to do this than extend the existing ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign that Team Kaizen already runs regularly.  Last year, the litter picking group took on estates near Westcroft and Kingston, along with Central Milton Keynes, with over 75 people taking part throughout the day.

Now, Team Kaizen and Destination MK are asking members of the public to vote on their Facebook page for which three areas within Milton Keynes are in need of a litter pick; then anyone can volunteer to help on the day.

The six areas shortlisted for this year’s #LoveMK Day litter picks are:-

  • Central Milton Keynes
  • MK Hospital
  • Wolverton
  • Broughton and Brooklands
  • Fenny Stratford
  • Shenley Wood and Medbourne

Ken Tomkins, owner of local McDonald’s franchise Kaizen Restaurants, said “We are really proud of the work we have done to improve the landscape in Milton Keynes through our litter picking events, and particularly how we brought the community together last year through the #LoveMK Day litter picks which the public voted for.”

“Now, we are delighted to extend this even further with a series of litter picking events in new locations on #LoveMK Day, in partnership with Destination Milton Keynes.  We hope local residents will rally to keep up the clean up in their local areas, and show how much they #LoveMK on Thursday 2 May.”

But don’t worry if you can’t help on the day, you can still support #LoveMK Day by downloading the #LoveMK poster, or just get creative with the hashtag and photograph yourselves spreading the love.

On the day you can also follow @DestinationMK on Twitter for your chance to win prizes as they run ’12 competitions in 12 hours’ where you could win by just using the hashtag.

For more information on the work Destination Milton Keynes undertakes follow on Facebook search ‘Destination Milton Keynes’ or visit

Kids’ fashion upcycling workshop to hit intu Milton Keynes!

intu Milton Keynes has teamed up with clothing alteration service The Zip Yard and fashion upcycling business The White Rabbit Workshop to run a workshop for youngsters to upcycle a piece of clothing that they no longer love.

The workshop, on Thursday 28 March from 6-8pm, will be the perfect chance for budding artists aged 8-16 to get creative while upcycling a piece of clothing that they might otherwise have thrown in the bin. Whether they bring a denim jacket that they feel looks dated, or a hoody that they’re just plain bored of, they’ll leave this workshop with something ‘new’ and fabulous to rock out in SS19!

The Zip Yard – intu Milton Keynes’ garment-altering store located at the top of the escalator on the first floor (near the frog!) – and The White Rabbit Workshop – which upcycles clothing and holds fashion upcycling workshops – will collaborate with attendees to breathe new life into their old clothing.

With no sewing experience necessary, this workshop promises to be fun, creative and informative. All premium haberdashery materials – including sequins, trims, buttons and fabric – are included in the £15 ticket price. The youngsters will also learn how small actions – such as upcycling a jacket rather than throwing it away – can make a positive impact on society and the environment.

Owner of the Zip Yard, Russell Golding, said: “Upcycling garments is something we’ve been doing on a small scale for years. Even before it was fashionable to upcycle, customers were bringing their clothing items in and asking us to update them in some way! We can’t wait to host this workshop for young ladies and lads – it will be great to hear their ideas and see their creations. Don’t forget, we can upcycle, restyle, resize, mend or customise any clothing garment you like here at The Zip Yard – pop and see us on the first floor of intu Milton Keynes to find out more.”

Carly Byrne, owner of The White Rabbit Workshop, said: “You don’t need any sewing experience at all. Fashion has become very throwaway, so it’s important to teach the younger generation how to upcycle!”

Kirsty McGiff, marketing manager at intu Milton Keynes, added: “This is going to be such a fun workshop and we love the idea of these young people leaving with a ‘new’ item of clothing to wear this season. Book for your kids to give it a go if they’re interested in fashion upcycling or if they’re creative types, it’s guaranteed to leave them smiling!”

The Zip Yard is one of many retailers in intu Milton Keynes that’s dedicated to recycling and protecting the environment.

To book tickets, visit


Find out more about intu Milton Keynes at You’ll find White Rabbit Apparel on Instagram @thewhiterabbitworkshop and The Zip Yard online

Arriva launches contactless payments on its services in Milton Keynes

Mark Lancaster MP joined Milton Keynes Council and Arriva Midlands as the bus operator celebrates the introduction of contactless payment technology on all its local buses.

Following a multi-million pound investment, Arriva officially unveiled the high-tech ticketing machines in MK taking the opportunity to showcase how the new tech will improve customer experience for passengers travelling across its MK fleet.

Kieran Lawson, General Manager for Arriva Milton Keynes said: “As a business, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our customers’ journey. These new machines promise passengers quick, easy and secure payments via either debit and credit cards, or Apple and Google Pay and are a step forward in opening up bus travel for those who do not find cash payments convenient.

“As UK moves even closer towards being a cashless society, the introduction of this technology on our buses will offer our customers with a greater element of choice when boarding. It also has the potential to help us speed up boarding time and improve the overall customer experience, which is a significant step for us as we aim to reduce congestion on our country’s roads by making bus travel a more attractive and accessible alternative to cars.”

Mark Lancaster MP, added “I was pleased to be invited to the launch and see for myself how Arriva are exploring more innovative ways in which to make passengers travel as easy as possible.  No more concerns about having the right change, no need for paper tickets, it is as simple as registering for your Connect Card and away you go!”

The contactless system is brought to Arriva by Ticketer ETMs, the industry’s most innovative ticketing solution, and is designed to give passengers the widest possible range of payment options.

A spokesperson said: “Milton Keynes Council strongly supports initiatives that make it easier for more people to use buses as the city continues to grow. These new ticket machines were a commitment from Arriva within our new partnership agreement and are an important step as we work with them to transform bus travel in Milton Keynes.”

For more information services and timetables, either download the free Arriva Bus App via the Apple Store or Google Play, or visit

Over half of primary teachers in their second year in profession are thinking of quitting

Dissatisfaction worse than for new entrants, new research shows

Despite the Government’s proposals to tackle teacher recruitment and retention, new research shows that it still has its work cut out to keep young teachers in the profession. And while NQTs (newly qualified teachers) are often thought to be most at risk of quitting, new figures show that even more of those in their second year have their eyes on the exit.

In January, Education Secretary Damian Hinds published a strategy to attract more teachers and address the high number quitting the profession, citing workload as the key reason.

Between 2016 and 2017, the rate of new entrants to the teaching profession actually declined.

In England, the number of pupils in our schools is set to rise by about 500,000 over the next five or six years and unless more people can be tempted to join the teaching profession, and stay in it, it is hard to see how schools will cope.

There is now a shortfall of 30,000 teachers in the teaching workforce as a whole.

But according to new research by education experts PlanBee, while nearly half (45 percent) of NQTs in primary schools are considering quitting, the figure rises to 57 percent for those one stage further on in their careers, RQTs (Recently Qualified Teachers).

One in six teachers identified lesson-planning as one of the most onerous parts of their workload.

While 38 percent of NQTs cited planning as their number one bugbear, the figure was even higher – 43 percent – for RQTs.

In the survey of nearly 300 teachers carried out by leading education resources company PlanBee, marking also appeared at the top of the list of concerns, with 15 percent devoting 10-12 hours a week to it.

When asked for their reasons for considering leaving the profession, one NQT commented: ‘It’s a profession in which the demands and expectations are exceptional yet, yet the societal negativity and dismissiveness is relentless. Not a great combination, really.’

RQTs reported already feeling workload stress, having to take work home and regretting the impact on family life.

One teacher who had been teaching less than three years said: ‘If you’re a teacher and have never thought this[considering leaving], then I don’t believe that person is doing an outstanding job. The amount that this job requires is unimaginable. I spend hours on end planning. Every day I work, even Saturday and Sunday.’

A comment from a senior member of the profession summed up the frustration felt by almost all those who took part in the survey, stressing that they got huge satisfaction from teaching itself but were dragged down by the excessive workload: ‘I love being in the classroom and teaching. It is the planning, marking and recording that get me down.’

PlanBee Director Becky Cranham said: ‘Our survey should really set alarm bells ringing. One would hope that young teachers are becoming less overwhelmed by the demands of their career as time goes on, but this clearly isn’t the case. The Government needs to get its skates on when it comes to implementing proposals on workload reduction.’

Teams race to sign up for the Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival!

Companies, clubs and organisations from across the region are getting their teams together and signing up to take part in the eagerly anticipated Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival which celebrates its 18thanniversary this year. The Dragon Boat Festival takes place at Willen Lake on Sunday 23rdJune in aid of MacIntyre and there’s plenty of time to get a crew together and guarantee a place on the start line.

Each year the Festival attracts a complete mix of new and returning crews. The dragon boats and qualified helms are provided by organisers Gable Events, each team is guaranteed a minimum of three races and no previous experience is needed, just plenty of team spirit. One of the first companies to sign up this year was Kuehne + Nagel who have entered three teams representing their various sites. The Kuehne + Nagel ‘Brinklow Barbarians’ crew will be defending their title having won the event for the first time last year, narrowly beating the ‘Dragondoliers’ from Little Star Media into second place.

Based in Magna Park in Milton Keynes, crew manager Tracey Theobald explains why the Dragon Boat Festival is one of the highlights of the year for Kuehne + Nagel staff and their families. “It’s a great way to bring the workforce together and a tradition as Kuehne & Nagel have entered many boats over the years. Our very loud captain Ady Smith, who you can hear shouting across the lake every year, will be joined by new captain Michael Moyle who got the buzz last time and now wants to win the whole festival! We are hoping to enter one mixed boat as well if we can drum up enough interest from the ladies onsite. The event lifts staff morale, shows teamwork pays off and most importantly raises a lot of money for charity”.

Other early entrants include Gold entries from SMC Pneumatics with two teams, The Paterson Group and Little Star Media plus EDW Technology and Team (EAA Ltd). All crews are encouraged to raise sponsorship for Festival charity MacIntyre, a national charity based in Milton Keynes that supports over 1,200 children, young people and adults who have a learning disability or autism. The top fundraisers for MacIntyre will win the Charity trophy plus a special prize meal, sponsored by Merinvest, at highly rated Melis Restaurant in Central Milton Keynes.

MacIntyre’s Head of Fundraising, Claire Kennedy, adds, “MacIntyre is delighted to again be the official charity for the 2019 Milton Keynes Dragon Boat Festival. Last year’s event was amazing and we’re really looking forward to doing it all again! Every penny raised at this event will be used to benefit people in the Milton Keynes area. The funds raised will support our sports projects which aim to make sport equally accessible for people with a learning disability and other complex needs who want to participate.”

For further information and an entry form visit: call Gable Events on 01780 470718. For information about MacIntyre, visit www.macintyrecharity.orgor call 01908 230100

A celebration of disability sport and activity Saturday 25th May

One of the reasons that the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were awarded to London was the emphasis on the legacy that would be left after the Games were concluded. In Bedford considerable effort has been made to ensure that the legacy continues.  Over 150 Paralympians from 14 different nations spent the weeks before the Games training and acclimatising in the Town at what transpired was a very successful training camp.  Many of the athletes visiting Bedford gained medals at the Games and all spoke very highly of the welcome they received during their stay in the Town.

Howard Darbon, who organised the training camp, and a group of Rotary Club members from the area who had volunteered to assist, set up and ran an annual Wheelchair Relay event which in the past 6 years has raised over £30,000, all of which has been invested in the promotion and development of disability sport. This year it has been decided to undertake the organisation of a Celebration of Disability Sport which will showcase opportunities for those with a disability to become involved in sport and physical activity.  The emphasis will not be so much on fund raising, but on the promotion of the opportunities that exist.  Equally, it seeks to break down some of the barriers that many disabled people perceive make it more difficult for them to take that first important step into sport.

Riverside Square will be the venue and everybody is encouraged to come and visit the event which runs from 10.00 am until 4.00 pm.  There will be demonstrations, have-a-go activities, challenges, information stands, opportunities to meet Paralympians and entertainment.

It must be stressed that this is not an event just for people with a disability – able bodied people are promised an entertaining day.  They will be able to appreciate the amazing ability that disabled people possess, applaud the performances on stage and even try out a sports wheelchair to appreciate the challenges faced by the disabled..

The Celebration is probably the first event of its nature to be held in the country and is attracting interest from groups and organisations from far afield.  Its success will doubtless lead to more disabled people playing sport and being engaged in meaningful physical activity.

So, come along on the 25thMay to Riverside Square to support the event and have a rewarding and enjoyable day.  We are looking forward to seeing you!


For full details please click here


MP Mark Lancaster celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) with a visit to long-standing employability charity Works for Us.

Formerly known as Women in Work, Works for Us has a rich history in supporting local women in to employment and training. The charity is hoping to continue its success in serving the local community, having celebrated 40 years of service last year.

The charity, located in the iconic Point building in central Milton Keynes, provides local men and women with free careers advice, training and support. With gender equality a key business issue, Works for Us continues to play a pivotal role in helping local women return to work after taking a career break.

Mark’s visit gave the charity the opportunity to share their ambitious plans for the future, alongside a discussion of how the lack of flexible working opportunities in Milton Keynes is impacting upon local employment opportunities.

During his visit, Mark met with clients, volunteers and staff to understand how the charity supports local people improve their lives and employment prospects.

Mark said: “Meeting the team and those who they support, only endorsed my admiration for their tenacity to continue offering training, guidance and most importantly confidence to those wanting to find employment, despite all the challenges they have faced over the past 40 years.”


Stony Stratford’s award winning Indian restaurant, Calcutta Brasserie are preparing to welcome an award winning performer to recreate the magic of the King of Rock’n Roll on Thursday 21st March.

Mark Goddard is officially Great Britain’s Best Elvis Tribute and has appeared on TV countless times including This Morning, Loose Women and Trisha.

Diners will be able to enjoy outstanding live music and an award winning 3 course curry banquet for £27.95 as part of a series of live music events which will also include tributes to Michael Buble on 16thMay, plus Frank Sinatra and some modern icons in coming months.

The restaurant recently won the Best Asian Restaurant award at the prestigious MK Food and Leisure Awards and celebrated its tenth birthday.

Calcutta Brasserie General Manager Ali Ajmol said: “We are famed for our lavish banquets and bringing great performers to entertain our customers and I can’t wait to see Mark’s famous tribute to Elvis.”

More details can be found on the website

To book a table for a night to remember, diners can call the restaurant on 01908 566577.

Mark Goddard has been a huge Elvis fan since the age of 12 when he became aware of the publicity surrounding his sad passing brought the amazing voice and charisma of undoubtedly the world’s greatest ever performer.

His first ever paid performance was at the royal wedding in July 1981 when he sung Elvis songs among others in his band.

Mark has sung twice on the TV show ‘Trisha’ as Elvis as well as appearing on ‘This Morning’, ‘The Other Half’, Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’, ‘The Really Usefull Show’, ‘Loose Women’, and many more, also presenting ‘Hello Campers!’ and ‘ArtyFacts’ for Anglia TV.

You may also have heard him sing on many local radio shows.

Lavendon School Lobby’s MP

Mark Lancaster MP for Milton Keynes North spent an afternoon with the Year 6 students of Lavendon School last week.

Each one of the students had written a personal letter to Mark, highlighting that Key Stage 1 students receive a free snack during the school day, however, they felt that this should be extended to Key Stage 2.

The 30 youngsters presented a number of reasons as to why they felt they were as deserving, one of which was that energy levels dropped between breakfast and lunchtime, impacting on their learning.

Mark commented, “On reading each of their letters it became clear that the students had done their research and felt very passionately about the need for a snack during the school day.   It was a great piece of lobbying and I will be taking this up with the Department of Health on their behalf.”

Milton Keynes Hospital Charity announces new partnership

Milton Keynes Hospital Charity is delighted to announce their Charity of the Year Partnership with Woughton House MGallery by Sofitel and the Mercure Milton Keynes.

Amali Diaz, Cluster Business Development Manager for Woughton House and the Mercure Milton Keynes Hotels said: “We have chosen to support Milton Keynes Hospital Charity and will be raising funds for the cancer centre appeal.

“We are all touched by cancer in our life, whether it be us or a member of our family or a colleague. By supporting this vital campaign, we hope to create a more relaxing and comforting atmosphere, for both patients and their families. The team at Woughton House MGallery by Sofitel and Mercure Milton Keynes are very excited about the year to come and will have pride and passion in supporting this local cause.”

Dawn Clark, Corporate Fundraiser for Milton Keynes Hospital Charity met with Amali to show her the Cancer Centre site.  She said: “Crucially, the new centre will bring most treatments under one roof. We want people to receive the best care possible, so by raising funds locally we’ll be able to enhance the gardens, furniture and family rooms to create the best environment.

“We have planned some fantastic fundraising events including afternoon tea and a lunch during our Be Seen In Green focus in June 2019.”

The fundraising target for this project is £2.5m with £600,000 raised to-date.

Should people wish to support Milton Keynes Hospital Charity they can visit for more information.