Two Post Office branches in County Tyrone have been successfully shortlisted for the prestigious award of Best Post Office in Northern Ireland in the 2009 People’s Post Office Awards, in association with NS&I.

Customers’ have voted them the best in the region because of the exceptional service offered by the Post Office teams in providing people with a wide range of services they can trust and rely on, combined with an understanding of individual customer needs and requirements.

The two short-listed branches which are in the Best Town and City category are Campsie (Omagh) and Scotch Street (Dungannon).

Mark Gibson, Post Office Ltd’s Head of Area for Northern Ireland said:  “These awards are a great opportunity for our customers to tell us which branches are the very best in the region.  Whether people visit our Post Office branches to pay their bills or pick up their travel money, we’re delighted that they feel these teams should be recognised for their hard work and excellent customer service.”

Jane Platt, NS&I’s Chief Executive added: “To be shortlisted for the Best Post Office award is a tremendous achievement.  Those branches nominated have quite clearly outperformed the expectations of their customers in all that they do, and we wish them the best of luck for the day of the awards.”

The winners of the award for Best Post Office in Northern Ireland will be announced at the end of April.  The winners will go through to the national final on 21 May where the overall winners of the 2009 People’s Post Office Awards will be announced.

As well as awards for the UK’s Best Post Offices, special recognition will be given to branches and other outlets which demonstrate unique ways of providing services and who make a real contribution to the local community.  Examples of commendable service by individual staff members will also be acknowledged.

The Post Office operates the largest retail network in the UK and offers customers a host of great value products and services, ranging from the more traditional stamps and mail products to a wide range of travel and financial services, such as zero per cent commission foreign currency, and home and travel insurance, which people can trust and rely on.

Research published by the Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland (HPA) details for the first time the extent to which children here are exposed to second-hand smoke.

The study, which investigated children’s exposure before and after the April 2007 smoke-free legislation, found that the legislation has had some important impacts on children’s exposure to second-hand smoke. This includes decreased self-reported exposure to second-hand smoke in public places and greater restrictions on smoking within the home.

Dr Brian Gaffney, Chief Executive of the HPA, said: “Second-hand smoke is a threat to the health of children and babies – with demonstrated links between second-hand smoke and respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear disease and asthma.1, 2

“Our research found some encouraging results following smoke-free legislation. In particular, rules preventing smoking in the home were shown to have a positive impact on reducing children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.”

However, the proportion of parents who continue to smoke in the home remains alarmingly high and equates to over one third of Year seven children having a parent who smokes in the home. Despite this, there has been a decrease in the proportion of smoking parents who smoke in the home since the legislation was introduced (from 80% to 75%).

“Parents are a major source of children’s second-hand smoke exposure, and over 40% of all parents in Northern Ireland smoke. Children are particularly vulnerable to second-hand smoke in the home as they often cannot remove themselves from the source and may have little or no influence on whether smoking occurs in the home or around them. Therefore, more work needs to be done to promote smoke-free homes and cars and to raise awareness of the damage second-hand smoke is having on children,” said Dr Gaffney.

Summary of key findings

There was no significant change in cotinine (a measurement of second-hand smoke exposure) concentrations in the children post-legislation, dispelling fears the legislation would adversely impact on children’s exposure by increasing the levels of smoking in the home.

Children in manual and jobless households were more likely to have parents who smoked, to be subjected to smoking in the home, and to be exposed to smoking on a daily basis.

Children who had no smokers within their family have specifically benefitted from the prohibition of smoking in public places. For these children, there was a significant decrease in cotinine concentration after the legislation.

The proportion of children who said they were never in a smoking location increased from 8% (pre-legislation) to 12% (post-legislation).

Restrictions on where smoking is allowed in the home have increased since the introduction of the legislation, with an increase in the percentage who said smoking is allowed in certain places (24% pre-legislation and 30% post-legislation) and a decrease in those who indicated smoking is allowed anywhere in the home (15% pre-legislation, 10% post-legislation).

Cotinine concentrations were higher both pre and post-legislation when a mother figure smokes, and higher again when both parents smoke.

Children who are more exposed to second-hand smoke may be more likely to view smoking as socially acceptable and may be less adverse to taking up the smoking habit.

The Denny Irish Junior Surf Team to compete at the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is scheduled to depart Dublin airport on Wednesday 25th March. The team will be travelling to Salinas, Ecuador to join over forty surfing nations form around the World for this prestigious surfing event.

A team of twelve will represent Ireland at the event. Seasoned international competitor, Aaron Reid will fly the flag for Ireland in the U18 Boys division along with new caps, Rory Tuohy and Cillian Ryan.

The U18 Girls division will include the Irish U18 Girls Champion, Tahlia Britton along with Amy May Garvey and new cap Sarah Mc Gowan.

Iarom Madden Travers and James Garvey will lead the charge in the U16 Boys accompanied by two new caps, Conor Maguire and Cian Logue.

The team will be led by Manager, Zoë Lally and coached by Pascal Devine.

The Denny Irish Junior Surf Team will have a number of days training prior to the contest to adjust to conditions. The team will have to acclimatise to air temperatures of 35C and water temperatures of 28C. The event will kick off on Saturday 28th of March with the opening ceremony and parade of nations. Heats will commence on Sunday 29th March running all week with the grand finals on Sunday 5th April. With such exceptional talent the Irish Surfing Association expects these young athletes to do Ireland proud at the World Junior Surfing Championships.

Denny Irish Junior Surf Team 2009

U18 Boys

Aaron Reid, Sligo

Rory Tuohy, Castlebar, Co Mayo

Cillian Ryan, Fethard on Sea, Wexford

U18 Girls

Tahlia Britton, Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal

Amy May Garvey, Castlederg, Co Tyrone

Sarah Mc Gowan, Strandhill, Co Sligo

U16 Boys

Iarom Madden Travers, Bundoran, Co Donegal

Conor Maguire, Bundoran, Co Donegal

James Garvey, Castlederg, Co Tyrone

Cian Logue, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal

Manager

Zoë Lally, Easkey, Co Sligo

Coach

Pascal Devine, Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone

RSPB CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO INCREASE COMMITMENT TO ONSHORE WIND

BWEA, the UK’s leading renewable energy association, welcomed today RSPB’s “Positive Planning for Onshore Wind” report, which sets out how to significantly expand UK’s onshore wind capacity. Evidence shows that it is possible to develop onshore wind farms, without damage to wildlife.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of BWEA says: “Research on wind farms has consistently shown that wind turbines have a minimal impact on wildlife. On the other hand, it is now beyond doubt that climate change could have a devastating impact on bird habitats, if we don’t act soon. RSPB’s call for a step change in onshore wind deployment is timely and well judged.”

The report recognises that as a part of a wider mix of renewables, a significant increase in onshore wind capacity, meaning a greater number of turbines, will have to be deployed in order for the UK to meet its objectives under the EU 2020 targets on renewable energy.

The report emphasises that the Government must ensure the national and local planning process is well resourced, in order to handle an increase in the number and scale of renewable energy projects. BWEA also pointed out that the issue of spatial planning raised in the report must not be used as an excuse to tangle wind farm applications in red tape.

“BWEA feel it is important that the RSPB report is followed with action on the ground. Government now needs to provide better resourcing for local authorities to deal with wind farm planning applications,” concluded McCaffery.

Loving sons and daughters in Strabane can see their mothers jump for joy this Mother’s Day (Sunday 22 March 2009) by giving the uniquely exhilarating gift of an RNID skydive on the weekend of her choice.

RNID Northern Ireland, the largest charity representing the 219,000 people in Northern Ireland who are deaf or hard of hearing, is inviting families to sign up for tandem skydiving at an airfield in Garvagh and enjoy the adrenaline-boosting experience of falling through the sky from approximately 10,000 feet.

Places will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, and are free to fundraisers who raise a minimum of £390 for RNID’s research programmes and services for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Caroline Jupe, RNID Events & Community Fundraising Manager, says: “Don’t ‘keep mum’ about RNID’s skydiving and make Mother’s Day extra special this year by signing up your family for a memorable jump on one of the weekends that follow!”

As places are limited and will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, anyone who wants to take part should register their interest as soon as possible. Parental consent is required for 16 and 17 year olds signing up.

For more information about RNID’s skydiving, visit www.rnid.org.uk/skydiving or contact Caroline Jupe on telephone / textphone: 0845 634 0687 (local rate) or email: events@rnid.org.uk

More than 100 MPs (106 at the last count) have now signed Early Day Motion 123, calling on the government to put its weight behind the development of concentrating solar power (CSP) in desert regions and a ‘supergrid’ of low-loss transmission lines spanning the whole of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Dr Howard Stoate MP, who posted the EDM, said “I’m delighted that these ‘DESERTEC’ proposals are winning support. CSP in desert regions has colossal potential as a source of clean energy for the world. In the light of increasingly urgent warnings from climate scientists about the need for action to cut worldwide emissions of CO2, we cannot ignore what is probably the single most effective means of cutting those emissions.

“Plentiful supplies of clean energy will increase energy security for everyone. Countries throughout the whole of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East can begin to benefit quite soon from this source of energy via the existing transmission grid. As quantities increase, the grid may be upgraded by removing bottlenecks, and by installing ‘HVDC’ technologies and smart electronics.”

Dr Gerry Wolff, Coordinator of DESERTEC-UK, said “It has been calculated that less than 1% of the world’s deserts could generate as much electricity as the world is now using. And it is feasible and economic to supply 90% of the world’s people from this source via low-loss transmission lines. The whole of the USA and the big cities in Canada may be supplied from the sunny south west of the USA, all of China may be supplied with electricity from CSP plants in the sunny north and west of the country, all of India and Pakistan may be supplied with electricity from the Thar desert. There is similar potential in the south and west of Africa, in Australia, South America, and more.”

The Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) is holding a one-day conference entitled ‘Living Well with Cancer’ to provide information and support to all those affected by cancer.

The conference will take place on Saturday 28th March at the Glenavon House Hotel, Drum Road, Cookstown.  The conference has been devised to provide relevant and up-to-date information for cancer patients, their friends and families, carers, health professionals and anyone concerned about cancer.

The conference has a full and varied programme and the morning sessions will cover subjects such as cancer in Northern Ireland and the development of cancer drug treatment.  The conference will also be examining how scans and other imaging techniques are used in the diagnosis of cancer and the role of social workers in supporting cancer patients and their families.  Creative approaches to cancer support will examine UCF’s complementary and therapeutic services for patients and their families and ways in which patients can thrive following a diagnosis of cancer, rather than just survive.

The keynote speakers include Dr Julian Cole, Head of Medical Affairs with Roche Products Ltd and Dr Simon J Hughes, Consultant in Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital.  They are joined by Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention and Liz Atkinson, Head of Care Services, both the Ulster Cancer Foundation; the oncology social work team at Belfast City Hospital and counsellor Mary-Kate Kelly.

The Living Well with Cancer conference starts at 10.00am – 3.30pm and lunch is provided.  The conference is free of charge for patients and carers and costs just £20 for health care professionals.  A limited number of places are still available and anyone wishing to attend should register with Joanne Myles at UCF as soon as possible on 028 9066 3281.

Alliance Party European Election Candidate Ian James Parsley today addressed a meeting of Alliance activists. He said that given recent events Northern Ireland needs unity and positive leadership here, and in the European Parliament.

Ian James Parsley stated: “People across the community have hope for a better future. They want leadership that will show this region in a positive light.

“Given recent sinister events it is all the more important that there is unity across Northern Ireland. We are in a new generation in Northern Ireland – one that wants only peace and has the resolve to come together to protect that peace.

“We need a strong voice for peace now and need a strong constructive voice in Europe. I want to make Europe work better for Northern Ireland as there is much potential as yet untapped. As the unity candidate, people from the new generation in Northern Ireland will find voice in our message of hope.”

The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) are raising awareness of its Smoke Free Policy for this year’s National No Smoking Day on 11 March 2009.

From 10 March 2009, the Western Trust became a totally smoke free Trust. That means that smoking is no longer permitted on any of the Western Trust’s hospital sites. This includes the hospital buildings, the grounds, the bus stops and car parks.

Dr. Maura O’Neill, Head of Health Promotion for the Western Trust explained: “The Western Trust Smoke Free Policy aims to protect the health of staff, visitors and service users. The policy states that smoking is not permitted in any Western Trust building and only within designated smoking areas.  Patients and service users are only allowed to smoke in these designated areas.”

•    For staff the policy means – Western Trust employees are not allowed to smoke in any Trust building, grounds or Trust vehicle. They may only smoke in their cars provided another member of staff does not accompany them.
•    For patients and visitors the policy means – You are not allowed to smoke in any Trust building – you can only smoke in the designated smoking areas, which are clearly sign posted

Dr. McNeil Consultant Cardiologist, Western Trust added: “This is a major step forward in the Trust’s attempt to protect our staff from the harmful effects of smoking. We recognise the benefits to be gained by introducing the policy and with the help of our colleagues in Health Promotion and Smoking Cessation Specialists, we can offer an extensive range of initiatives to support those staff that wish to stop smoking. It is encouraging to have already received a positive response from staff regarding the policy direction.”

The Western Trust would like to take the opportunity on National No Smoking Day to ask people to kindly refrain from smoking when on Trust premises and grounds. Please help us to make the Western Trust a healthier place for patients, visitors and staff by not smoking. If you would like to see a copy of the policy or require more information please contact the Health Promotion Department: 02871865127.

PLM Promotions has just released the full line-up for Live In The Park in Newcastle on Friday 19th June.

A collection of some of the most individually creative, genre-defying and original acts in electronic music will support headline act The Prodigy in the Co. Down town.

They are Hot Chip (DJ set), Zane Lowe (Radio 1), The Japanese Popstars (Live), Noize Control and a very special guest who will be announced on 1st May. Cool FM golden boy Pete Snodden will host the concert, along with Zane Lowe.

Radical performers Hot Chip – creators of the famous ‘Ready for the Floor’ – will keep the Newcastle revellers entertained with an exclusive DJ set that is sure to mash together some of the freshest and most diverse music available on the planet. The London band exploded on to the international music scene with their debut EP Mexico in 2000 and have taken the industry by storm with a host of original and groundbreaking productions ever since.

Zane Lowe might just be the coolest DJ on BBC Radio 1 right now, broadcasting his show every weekday from 7pm-9pm. The show covers a spectrum of music from hip-hop to dance to rock and The Prodigy stood in as hosts for Zane Lowe in one of the recent broadcasts! The radio star also regularly plays festivals around the UK and is widely regarded as one of the most popular acts on the mainland.

Local artists The Japanese Popstars are currently touring the world with live performances and DJ sets following the release of their critically acclaimed debut album We Just Are. Blending together elements of indie, dance, rock and anything else that feels right at the time The Japanese Popstars appeal to fans of a multitude of genres and excel on big stage occasions like festivals and outdoor concerts.

And Dublin-based band Noize Control – hand picked for this show by The Prodigy themselves – add some Southern Irish flair to the gig after becoming the first ever unsigned Irish band to have their mu sic picked up by Disney Interactive for the award winning video game ‘Pure’. Currently working on their debut album, Noize Control have already supported some of the biggest acts in the industry including Underworld, Bassment Jaxx and Mylo.

The incredible line-up for Live In the Park is completed by one of the biggest artists on the electronic music scene today – but you will have to wait until 1st May to find out who it is as PLM Promotions is keeping the act’s identity securely under wraps for the next few weeks. But expect a major player in the world of electro!

The Prodigy headline Live in the Park in Donard Park, Newcastle Co. Down on Friday 19th June with support from Hot Chip (DJ set), Zane Lowe, The Japanese Popstars (Live), Noize Control and a very special guest (TBA).

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