Women now ‘too old’ to have kids?

The news today was constantly banging on about the ‘risks’ associated with women having children a little later in life.

Let’s get this into perspective: Women one hundred years ago (and for centuries before that) were dying in childbirth on a regular basis because they were married off and impregnated too young; and children dying young was also very common. Now we are evidently too old to have kids.

Medical advances mean problems in pregnancy and birth are considerably less and we are also living longer. I had my eldest child when I was 29 and actually deemed ‘young’ even for a first child.

It makes sense, particularly in the current economic climate, that women will work longer hours and years before having a family to ensure they can financially look after their children. The days when women could stay at home without working and rely on their partner’s income are over. For good. That is the luxury of the few these days.

Women are regularly criticised for their choices over career and family. We are often berated for giving priority to a career before children. Obviously we can do no right when it comes to our own choices over our careers and bodies.

Maybe if the UK made childcare more affordable and working hours more flexible, then women would not have to put off having children? However, we are also fitter and healthier and quite able to have a healthy pregnancy and birth into our 40s in the 21st century.

The media should take note of these points and lay off. The choice is ours and always will be.

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Why I am a journalist who runs a publicity company and not a fluffy PR agency: Some tips:

Why I am a journalist and publicist and NOT a typical PR peep:

The ‘alleged’ top five annoying things journalists do – by a PR company -and my replies to them and exactly why I am a journalist who runs a publicity company:

PR questions under blue headings – my replies in bold black:

Demand answers to 50 questions with an hour’s notice
We appreciate that magazines are often on tight deadlines. But please give us poor PR bods a chance! It normally takes us more than an hour to go through your questions, see which ones we can answer immediately, pass the others on to the relevant client, await a response, chase the client for a response, receive the response, check the response, edit the response and send the responses back. A little bit of flexibility is greatly appreciated.

My response: Journalists are on deadlines all the time – we don’t have time (literally) to wait for your ‘client’ to get his or her crap together for an answer to a probably simple question. You don’t answer on time you don’t get the coverage.

Chase us non-stop for comment for a feature – then not use it

Of course, not everything journalists receive from PRs for a feature or story is going to be useful or relevant. But a little consideration for all the hard work that has gone in to preparing some answers to your questions is always welcome. Just a token quote would do wonders for making us feel appreciated!

My response: News is news and it changes by the minute. If something else comes up which overseas your ‘feature’ then it will be left out. Also papers are limited to pagination. That’s the way newspapers work.
Get something wrong then refuse to run a correction

Mistakes happen – we’re all only human! Sometimes it’s our fault, and sometimes it’s yours. But if it happens, let’s talk about it like the grown up professionals we all are. In some cases, there’s no need for a correction, and in others, it’s really the only way to smooth the ruffles and keep all parties happy.

My response: All press has a duty to publish a correction if there is a real need and complete legal mistake in the next available issue/programme. That will happen, but where it is printed is up to the publication.

Ignore us for weeks then bombard us with five voicemails in a row

Suddenly, you’re returning our calls! That bit is great, it’s the urgency and persistence with which you are now contacting us that grates a little. I hate to break it to you, but we’re not (most of us) waiting patiently by the phone for you to call us, especially if the last time we heard from you was 2010. Also – one voicemail is enough. When we’re available, we’ll call you back.

My response: Hello! We report and make the news and we report it when it’s time to report it. Therefore journos will get back to you when they think what you have is relevant and timely. We don’t wait for calls from PRs – most of the time we dread them. Believe it or not, we have many other news sources which are much more relevant and interesting than those from PR agencies.

Ignore us entirely

Ok, ok. We get the message. You’re not interested, we’re of no use to you, and we’re probably just annoying you a bit by now. But a far easier way to get us to stop contacting you is just to send us a nice quick email saying, ‘thanks but no thanks’.

My response: Yes, your calls and emails should always be appreciated and acknowledged – and responded to. Journalists who don’t do that don’t care, are too busy or are just unprofessional. Saying that, if the material PRs send is constantly crap, then no, you won’t get a response. Simple as.

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Local business owner chosen to judge national industry awards

white hot vansWheathampstead van business owner chosen to judge UK’s best vehicle manufacturers

THE DIRECTOR of a van sales and leasing company has given his rating to the top vans in the market for trades people and small businesses.

Richard Bunn, 42, from Wheathampstead, who runs White Hot Vans, is one of five judges appointed by online website, Business Vans, to rank the best vans and van programmes from makers such as Renault, VW and Mercedes Benz. These include best small trades van, best crew van, best green van and best van finance package for SME businesses. The results will be announced at a lunch in Mayfair, London in January.
Richard, who set up White Hot Vans in 2010 after leaving the corporate world of vehicle leasing for names such as Ford and LeasePlan UK to spend more time with his young family, offers any make of new van at discounted rates owing to bulk buying, as well as a whole range of finance which allows the business to find exactly the right deal for the customer.
He said: “Obviously it’s great to be chosen as one of the judges because hopefully it shows I do actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to the world of vans. We give our honest opinion on our experience of the market and with total impartiality.”
White Hot Vans prides itself on its range of fleet discounts of up to 40 per cent from a range of manufacturers and being able to offer independent advice to help find the best van for the job at the best price.
It is also able to supply sign writers, roof rack and accessory suppliers and ply lining fitters among other services and offer a refreshingly honest and educated opinion on any van.

Ralph Morton, editorial director of the website www.BusinessVans.co.uk, said he asked Richard to take part owing to his experience and expertise in both the small business and trades sectors of the van market.

“Richard really has the handle on what small businesses and trades want from their vans because this is whom he deals with on a day to day basis. His expertise in this area, plus his extensive experience in the leasing industry, made him an ideal judge for our awards, which are based around van use and not van size. They are the only van awards for the small business sector.”

Publicity by The Laura Berrill PR Agency, St Albans, Hertfordshire

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‘Cherry Lips’ mum creates new way of sending sweet messages through the post

Say it with retro sweets – not just flowers

A HERTFORDSHIRE mum has taken on the tradition of sending flowers and chocolates to friends and family and replaced it with sending a box of retro sweets.

Lisa ‘Cherry Lips’ Gomm’s business, tucktuck, was inspired by – somewhat unfortunately – a friend being unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend.

She said: “I wanted to do something to cheer her up which was a bit different, to send a message through the post which was more than just a card, but more affordable than a bouquet of flowers and less standard than a box of chocolates. So I struck on the idea of sending sweets which could be packaged to fit through letter boxes, making sure there’s no ‘come and pick it up’ note left on the doorstep.”

Lisa, 40, explained that the name, tucktuck, came from her travels to Thailand where a tuc tuc is a form of public transport, combined with the old fashioned name for a sweet shop – the tuck shop.

“Sticking with the old-fashioned theme, which I think brings back happy childhood memories for a lot of people, I decided on the old sweet shop style treats such as bon bons, cola bottles, rhubarb and custard and pear drops as they are easier to package and send through the post. Besides, who doesn’t like sweets?” she said.

Customers can choose two types of sweet variety from a selection, weighing up to 100g, along with one of the many cards with individual messages on, from Suck Cess to Bah Hum Bug and Yummy Mummy. There are up to 32 different designs available. The parcels containing the sweets are completely letter box friendly.
Lisa went on: “The sweets can be sent to anyone or any business for absolutely any reason, they’re not just for birthdays or anniversaries, although we can do cherry lips for Valentines and candy canes for Christmas, for example.

“You could, as I did when I started, send a parcel to a friend who’s been dumped, to say sorry, or to say get well, thanks or just hi. Also if someone you know has pranged the car, had a baby or basically just had a crap day at work! It could also be a first day in a job or new school or the cat died – the list is endless.

“It’s more like a gesture than a gift, like a hug in the post to try and brighten someone’s day. One of my favourites is ‘suck on these’, added Lisa.

A former graphic designer, Lisa lost her mum tragically when she was a teenager and wanted to have more flexibility when her children were born and spend as much time with them as possible – hence starting up and building the tucktuck business.
And as for keeping a lot of sweets in the house around two small children, Lisa said she warned the boys that if they helped themselves they would end up with spots like they did when they had chicken pox.

“It sounds naughty, but it seems to have worked,” laughed Lisa.

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Recycled wood makes perfect surface for back friendly chairs and desks

St Albans Wood RecyclingRecycled wood makes perfect surface for back friendly chairs and desks

The UK’s distributor of the back pain-fighting Back App chair has used a table top made from reclaimed timber to show off the chair at exhibitions.

Mike Dilke, owner of Relaxback UK, chose St Albans Wood Recyclers to design and make the table top to go with the adjustable height table which works well with the Back App chair.

A supporter of green principles who ran this year’s London Marathon for the BackCare charity, Mike said:

“To use the Back App you usually need a slightly higher desk, so a good way of doing this is to use wooden blocks and St Albans Wood Recycling has been providing them for me. On my last visit I noticed a great desk top they had made so I ordered a similar one and have been using it at exhibitions as I now sell desks as well.”

He went on:

“Then a customer of mine wanted some special desk tops to go with the adjustable height desk frames I supply. I supplied the first frame and the team made a scaffold board top and delivered it the same day and I set it all up. It looks great. It is 2.4m long and 0.85m deep so is a pretty special desk – the whole thing moves up and down.

“The same customer has now ordered a desktop made from marineply with exposed end grain. Again this is big and will be on the sleek looking adjustable frame that I import. He will now be using the Back App chair with the desk.

“I really think that there is a good chance that companies would like the tops for meeting and conference tables and using my frames they can get a large table that is adjustable in height, so they can meet standing up or sitting at any height.”

St Albans Wood Recycling is a not for profit social enterprise which collects disused wood from building sites and the like,  make it safe and sell it on for a wide variety of uses, or designs and makes bespoke furniture from the timber.

It also offers volunteering and training opportunities to the unemployed and those from troubled backgrounds, helping them to learn different skills and getting them back into paid employment.

Mike added: “I chose St Albans Wood Recycling as I really liked the idea of them doing something useful to help people having trouble finding a job and Geoff the rest of the staff are great to deal with.”

Founder of the St Albans Wood Recycling, Geoff Deans, who gave up a City career in IT to launch the business, said:

“There really are a 1001 uses for reclaimed timber out there and it’s always good to put our wood to use in any kind of area. We have already made a large conference table for a London media company so it’s great the table tops also work well with Mike’s desk frames and chairs.”

Public Relations by The Laura Berrill Agency, a St Albans based Hertfordshire Media and PR Agency

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Skating on reclaimed wood – recyclers help London community project

Community skating project in east London helped by St Albans business

A COMMUNITY skate park built on the site of a disused warehouse in Hackney, London, has sourced a range of its materials from St Albans Wood Recycling.

The project, which has been widely advertised on television and on YouTube was built by its designer, Andy Willis, who used a selection of reclaimed timber from the city’s not for profit social enterprise.

Andy opened the Frontside Gardens project in Rothbury Road, Hackney Wick, in September 2012 after his idea to open a sustainable skate park was chosen in a competition run by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

The popularity of the park with local users has now led the LLDC to continue to use the site for local and other residents.

Mr Willis built the park from scratch having sourced the reclaimed, cost effective materials from St Albans Wood Recycling as well as the Olympic Park.

Geoff Deans, who set up the business three years ago after leaving a career in IT, said he was pleased that yet more uses for their wood had been found.

“What we provide really can be used for 1001 different things and when it’s used to benefit a local community such as Hackney then obviously we are more than happy to help out.”

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Winning streak for client continues

Winning streak continues for St Albans plumbers

A ST ALBANS-based husband and wife plumbing business has racked up its second award in just a few months as Best New Business.

Anne Timpany and husband Raff Agalliu, who run On Tap Plumbers, won their latest award at a ceremony held at the Tewin Bury Farm Hotel, Hertfordshire, on October 17th.

On Tap Plumbers, a Gas Safe registered company, was created from scratch in 2010 when Anne pooled her background skills in hospitality and customer service with Raff’s plumbing and heating qualifications and experience.

The couple already have another Best New Business gong under their belts from the FSB awards in June, as well as being runners up in the St Albans Business of the Year category at the same time.

Anne, who is originally from New Zealand and Raff from Albania, who are both now British citizens, said:
“Obviously we are over the moon to get a second award so quickly in recognition for our hard work over the last few years, when starting from scratch in what was a foreign country was pretty daunting. It shows that we have strived to run a viable, responsible and effective business and give a first class service to our customers.”

The East of England Business Champion Awards is open to SMEs based in Norfolk, Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire which have annual turnovers of between £25,000 and £5million.

Damian Cummins, from Events and PR which runs the awards, said: The Best New Business category was one of the most hotly contested this year with entrants from across all 7 counties. On Tap Plumbers did extremely well to win against such diverse and strong competition.

Anne added: “Our approach to working in what is often seen as an unreliable and hazardous industry means we provide a guarantee with all of our work, we are fully insured, our prices are totally transparent and reasonable and our staff are helpful and reliable. I would like to continue to help change how that works here in the UK and restore more respect, reliability and responsibility to this arena.”
On Tap Plumbers provide all the services expected from a plumbing company and also installs plumbing, heating and above ground drainage services to home owners and commercial clients; specialising in installing new heating systems and creating householders’ dream bathrooms.

Their work has been used in building the Samuel Ryder Academy nursery in St Albans, Martins Wood Primary School, Stevenage and several schools in Hackney.

They have also worked on the conversion of high-end, luxury offices to flats in Portland Place off Oxford Circus, which included intricate marble bathrooms, needing great attention to detail.

Their latest large scale projects include Revive Fitness and Spa in Potters Bar and 5-6 Connaught Place, Westminster.

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My client’s exposure: How to deal with back problems

Healing back problems

A first-time mum, who had suffered back problems since her teens, was very aware that her problems could be exacerbated by pregnancy, combined with her daily commute to London from Brighton, writes Laura Berrill. Here’s how she used alternative therapies to heal.

Years of commuting to her job as civil servant working for the Department of Energy & Climate Change and constantly sitting at a desk had taken its toll on her back and resulted in severe upper back and neck pain. She had on-going treatment for this, but when she became pregnant, decided to seek help from an osteopath and fellow mum who specialised in treating pregnant women and young children.
Rita Wadey, 35, now mum to Wilfred, eight months, also suffered Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction – instability in the pelvic area – which developed during her pregnancy. That meant any treatment could not to create too much of a release to the area as it may have lead to more pain and instability.
But she said the insight her osteopath, Camilla Murphy, had, from her years of specialising in pregnancy-related problems and the fact that she was a mum as well, helped her through this worrying time.
“This was quite a worrying and painful time as I knew that rarely, SPD can make a vaginal delivery impossible and your practitioner may opt for a C-section instead. And in even rarer cases, apparently SPD can worsen after delivery, requiring medical intervention,” said Rita.
“But Camilla and I discussed all of this and she made the treatment changes accordingly. She was able to help me and my body cope with all the extra strains that the pregnancy – hormones, extra weight, how to stand, sit and sleep correctly – put on my body. And as the weeks progressed, Camilla adjusted the way that she worked with my body, using different positions that were more comfortable for me during the treatment itself, and also changing the intensity of what she was doing to take account of the hormone Relaxin in my body, which made my joints and muscles more elastic than before. “I also found Camilla’s advice and experience as a mother herself to be invaluable and reassuring. At all times I have felt that Camilla understood the changes that were happening to my body – both as a professional and as a mother, and that it was safe in her hands.”
Camilla also gave Rita suggestions as to how she could approach the birth in a way that would not stress the body too much, and would be useful in dealing with theSPD. She recommended doing some pregnancy yoga or Pilates, and the ‘Active Birth’ method.
Wilfred was born safely and naturally at a healthy weight of just over seven pounds.
Treatments after the birth have focused on the position of the uterus and the alignment of the pelvis and continuing treatments Rita is receiving are helping her cope with new strains – aches and pains caused by breastfeeding and handling/carrying an increasingly heavy child.
Rita added: “Wilf was also checked over once since birth and it was reassuring to have Camilla do this, particularly as the pushing phase of the birth had been quite long, with some bruising on the head for him. I was pleased to hear that this hadn’t left any lasting effects on his head/neck which might have led to further problems.”
Camilla, who works at her clinic in Hertfordshire as well as Victoria, London, said specialising in pregnant women, babies and children was important due to the many complications which can potentially appear pre and post-partum, as well as in newborns and with children as they grow.
She said: “I work with women who are trying to conceive, through to helping women with their pregnancy, helping to gain optimal foetal positioning, aiding the mother’s lower back, neck tension, mid back pain and reflux, among other associated problems.
Also, Endometriosis is fantastic to treat, as I am helping women who are in pain with adhesions in their reproductive organs and to the gut, which I can help to physically unwind and help increase the mobility and motility of an organ.
“This goes on to work with their babies when they are born. They may have been delivered naturally, with ventouse or even with forceps, as well as by C section. I have treated babies with huge skull deformities such as Osteosclerotic skulls, which can be a life threatening condition, to babies who have colic, hemiplegia, feeding difficulties and who are generally unsettled.
“Then I treat the mums for post partum problems. Then it’s lovely to see, as after I have treated a patient for conception, pregnancy, post partum and her baby, I get to continue to treat her child as he or she grows.
“Older children can be presented to me with neck, shoulder upper back pain due to poor posture, school bag issues and poor school equipment issues. Then there are others such as tinnitus, glue ear, ADHD, growing pains, tummy ache and headaches. So as you can see, there are many areas affecting pregnancy to postpartum, to growing children which can be helped with the help of professional,” said Camilla.
About Camilla Murphy:
Camilla qualified at The British School of Osteopathy in 1999 with a BSC Hons degree in Osteopathy and has worked at the Redgrave Clinic, alongside Lynn Redgrave, doing cranial, mainly babies. After having her first baby in 2002, she started working purely at Posture Dynamics in Victoria, London, mixing cranial work with structural. In the last 6/7 years she has just concentrated on the cranial. She also diagnoses biomechnically at her new Hertfordshire clinic, where she will offer a unique cranial treatment, in a relaxed, homely environment. The treatment will be offered to babies as young as one day old up to any age, giving gentle structural osteopathy to the older clients. See www.posturedynamics.co.uk or contact@posturedynamics.co.uk 0207 828 6888 for more information.

Laura Berrill is a St. Albans based, highly-experienced, former nationals journalist and public relations expert. She has a wealth of experience of writing for a wide variety of publications on a broad range of subjects. Visit http://www.lauraberrill.co.uk/ for more details.

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Global travelling made easier with 24 hour phone line

Couple’s global travels eased by talking on the telephone

A COUPLE who are undertaking a five-month adventure from the UK through Europe to Asia have solved several travelling challenges by using a telephone interpreting service.

John and Cait Hearn, from St Albans, set off through France earlier in 2013 and are now on their way to South East Asia via Russia, Mongolia and China.

Anticipating there may well be some problems with the different languages on their trip, they found out about a 24-hour telephone interpreting service which comes in the form of live phone interpreting on demand, in any language, wherever and whenever it’s needed, provided by the city’s Atlas Translations.

John said: “We’ve used it several time already and it has definitely saved us a lot of time and hassle.  Our French isn’t great, so in Lille, France, we needed to book a hostel in Brussels for our next stop over the phone. We rang up using the Atlas service to ask them to confirm everything was booked up with no confusion. In Munich we had a tour guide whose English wasn’t so good, so we rang up and put the interpreter on loudspeaker. The guide was happy we could understand what he was saying, as were we!

John went on: “When we got to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina we discovered the train line that used to link Sarajevo and Budapest had been discontinued in December and we had no idea how else we could get there. When we asked in English we were just given a shake of the head, so we rang up the phone service and were able to arrange a bus alternative to get us up to Hungary.

“In St Petersburg and Moscow we had to book our Trans-Siberian rail tickets at the Russian stations where no-one spoke much English. As our route was quite specific it was invaluable to have the phone service to communicate exactly what we wanted. We got the correct tickets and the ticket office people were pleased too.”

Clare Suttie, who runs Atlas Translations, based in St Albans where the couple sourced the service, said it is popular with businesses as well.
“This has become a hugely popular way to speak with clients, suppliers, colleagues and any other contacts anywhere in the world. For example, if you are importing, exporting, surveying customers, doing market research, whatever, you can phone anyone, anywhere, in any language. This helps with gaining new business and solving problems quickly.

“For example, if you have someone in Germany who wants to buy your product, you can give them a call, tell them about it, take the order number over the phone and build a good relationship with your customers. It avoids writing emails in English, then getting them translated into German, waiting for the response and then having to get that translated back into English. And as we all know, time is money.”

Advantages are avoiding struggling with an unfamiliar language or cumbersome written translations, but replacing them with a one to one conversation in everyone’s native tongues, overcoming any language barriers easily.

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Clients know how to save you money in light on energy price hikes

Fuel price hikes can be alleviated by some simple household tips, say award-winning St Albans plumbers

WITH today’s ‘surprise’ hike in gas and electricity prices by one main supplier, an award-winning husband and wife plumbing company has offered some tips to help people keep warm and keep their costs down this winter.

In an announcement this morning, one supplier, SSE, will raise gas and electricity prices by an average 8.2% from 15 November – three times the rate of inflation. The energy firm said the rise reflected higher costs of buying wholesale energy and paying to deliver it to customers’ homes, plus government levies.
The price rises will affect about 4.4 million electricity customers and 2.9 million gas customers, not including those on fixed-price tariffs.

SSE’s average annual standard dual-fuel energy bill will rise to £1,224. It is expected other firms will follow with similar rises in the next few weeks.

Anne Timpany, who runs On Tap Plumbers with her husband Raff Agalliu and who won Best New Business in this summer’s FSB Awards, said: “With the announcement today about the rise in energy prices, it is becoming more and more important to be energy smart in our homes. Make an energy assessment of your home before prices go up because by making a few adjustments you can save up to hundreds of pounds a year.

“Properly preparing your home for cold weather can save energy, help keep your winter energy bills under control, and keep you and your family warm when temperatures drop.”

She offered the following tips to householders and businesses alike:

  • Adjust the Temperature

Adjust the temperature by turning down your thermostat by just a few degrees you could save up to 10% on your heating bills. By wearing warmer clothing and losing these few degrees you will save money, you will probably not even notice very much of a difference in the temperature. At night or when not in the house, your thermostat could be set even lower to make additional savings.

  • Find and seal leaks

Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.

  • Flush your water heater

Your water heater works harder during winter months. Flush it out and remove sediment build up, which causes corrosion, shortens life span and reduces heating efficiency. Drain several gallons from the tap near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the tap and direct water into a nearby drain. Check your water heater manufacturer’s website for specific instructions concerning your make and model.

  • Service your Boiler

If  you are a home owner, get your boiler serviced once a year as preventative action will save you money in the long run.

  • Insulate your loft

Insulating your loft can prevent heat from escaping and cold air from entering
your home therefore lowering your heating bills.

  • Don’t Block your Radiators

Don’t block your Radiator with furniture or curtains as this will stop the heat

  • Always keep doors to unused rooms closed.
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