YCs help with Test preparation

MCC Head Coach and former England international Mark Alleyne speaks to Lord’s TV about the role of the MCC Young Cricketers in Test match preparation.

Alleyne is in charge of the MCC’s Young Cricketers’, which gives the platform for talented youngsters from around the globe to utilise the world class facilities and intensive playing opportunities at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The MCC’s new generation have been bowling at the England and West Indies batsman, including former YC Darren Sammy, to gain invaluable experience and give the players ideal preparation ahead of the Test.

Alleyne, born and partly raised in West Indian nation Barbados, also assesses the chances of the tourists, who come to Lord’s after a valiant performance in a Test series against Australia.

Tickets for the Engand v West Indies Test match at Lord’s, starting on Thursday 17 May, are still available for each day’s play.

Sunday tickets can still be booked online, and there are tickets available on the day for each day’s play.

This feature was for Lord’s TV. Click here for the link.

How Lord’s gears up for a Test

Lord’s TV takes you behind the scenes as the Home of Cricket prepares for the Test match between England and the West Indies.

MCC Assistant Secretary Jon Robinson talks you through the work involved in the lead up to a major match, with exclusive insight into just what makes Lord’s the best place to watch Test cricket in the world.

From the preparation of the pitch, to the hospitality and food options available, to the famous book signers who meet-and-greet their fans during the Lunch intervals, coming to Lord’s is an experience like no other.

Tickets for the Engand v West Indies Test match at Lord’s, starting on Thursday 17 May, are still available for each day’s play.

Sunday tickets can still be booked online, and there are tickets available on the day for each day’s play.

This feature was for Lord’s TV in the build up to the test. Click here for the link.

Southampton vs Reading: 4 Key Battles That Could Decide The Title Race

Premier League football will be all but confirmed for the winner of Southampton vs Reading this weekend, and the match is sure to live up to its billing.

Championship leaders Southampton take on nearest rivals Reading at St. Mary’s Stadium this evening in a clash that could all but confirm Premier League promotion if one of these sides emerge victorious. Both sides lie six points ahead of heavy pre-season title favourites West Ham United with four games remaining and – with the lucrative goldmine of Premier League football, jobs, star players and all important momentum in jeopardy for one of these sides – here are the key battles that could mean Reading or Southampton have one hand on the football league’s top prize.

Rickie Lambert vs Kaspars Gorkss

Saints have had the most lethal strike force in the Championship season and Reading have the tightest defence, so one of those must surely give for this crunch match. Saints have been in the top two from day one this season, and a catalyst for this sustained streak of superb form has been down to Liverpool-born hit man Rickie Lambert, who has netted 26 times in the league this season, nine more than any other striker.

The all-important role of keeping Lambert quiet may rest on the shoulders of Latvian centre-back Kaspars Gorkss, who has helped Reading form the meanest defence of the division since his arrival in August. Since the turn of the year, Reading have won 14 matches compared to Saints’ 10 and, while they haven’t had one prolific goalscorer in the side, they have shared the goals evenly amongst the frontmen and ground out some crucial slender victories to maintain their fantastic form.

Jos Hooiveld vs Jason Roberts

At the other end of the pitch this evening, a big part of Reading’s attacking threat will form in the powerful frame of 33-year-old striker Jason Roberts. BBC pundit Roberts has caused a big stir in the media since arriving from Premier League strugglers Blackburn in January, and he has proven to be a revelation for the Royals. Eight consecutive wins after his arrival really ignited Reading’s automatic promotion charge. He’s a good finisher, a powerful target man and his years of Premier League experience have been invaluable for the club.

Saints put behind a tough turn of the year with a significant improvement in the side’s defensive performances. Central defensive pairing Jos Hooiveld and Jose Fonte have been vital, and it is towering Dutchman Hooiveld who I would say is best placed to deal with Roberts’ physical and aerial presence. But both defenders have been superb this season, and they will have to be at their best to keep out a confident Reading side.

Danny Fox vs Ian Harte

In such a massive game, the set piece delivery and crossing from full-backs is crucial, and the key for both sides making the breakthrough from set plays comes from left back. Southampton’s Danny Fox has contributed an outstanding 11 assists during his first Championship campaign on the south coast. Fox’s delivery from corners and indirect free-kicks has been quality throughout the season and, while Rickie Lambert is likely to be first choice from shooting range, Fox could be key to breaching the Reading rear-guard.

In blue and white, former Leeds full-back Ian Harte has been a big success. Perhaps more of a threat from shooting range with 14 goals in Reading colours since his arrival in 2010, Harte proved his importance in the side with a vital winner against Brighton on Tuesday night.

Steve De Ridder scored a late equaliser as Saints and Reading drew 1-1 earlier this season

Steve De Ridder scored a late equaliser as Saints and Reading drew 1-1 earlier this season

Adam Lallana vs Jimmy Kebe

In a game like this, both managers would look towards their main playmakers to produce something special – a bit of magic that could be the difference in a tight, tense encounter. In terms of quality that could be crucial in making that difference tonight, you don’t need to look much further than Saints’ Adam Lallana and Reading’s Jimmy Kebe.

Kebe, predominantly a winger with pace and power to terrorise Championship full-backs had a slow start to the season but he has certainly turned it round, scoring a few goals and providing a big threat on the right hand side. The Mali international scored twenty goals from out wide in his first two campaigns under manager Brian McDermott’s stewardship, and you wouldn’t be against him causing Saints problems at St. Mary’s this evening.

Nigel Adkins has described 23-year-old Adam Lallana as the most talented player in the Championship this season, and it is hard to argue otherwise. Lallana was nominated for the Championship player of the year, which Lambert won, and there is no doubt that the team look significantly stronger and more creative with him in the starting line-up. He has scored ten goals this season, but it is his movement, eye for an incisive pass and superb technical skill that has proved vital for the Saints this season, and he is definitely one to watch out for in front of the Sky Sports cameras at 19:45.

First vs second, the best home record against the best away side and the highest scorers against the league’s meanest defence; Southampton versus Reading has all the right ingredients to live up to its billing and have a huge say in the destination of the 2011/12 Championship title. Who fancies a drab 0-0?!

This feature was published in the Sabotage Times. Click here for the link.

Living the Dreem: On the record with DJ Spoony

As far as the UK Garage music scene, and radio DJing goes, there haven’t been many iconic figures as successful as DJ Spoony. After getting his first break on pirate station London Underground in 1997, Spoony went on to have spells on Galaxy Radio, Kiss FM and Radio One, where he presented a Sunday morning show, and the 606 football phone in on Radio Five Live for seven years.

Not only that, he’s DJ’d at nightclubs and venues all over the UK and the world. I spoke to the man himself about his career, his work with Timmi Magic and Mikey B in the iconic ‘Dreem Teem’ and his love for football and golf. The interview started with him telling me how it all kicked off 14 years ago.

This interview was published on column10.com, which I co-launched and edited from May 2011.

Six-figure sponsor deal secures Bournemouth’s ‘best ever’ financial position

A sell out crowd watch on at the newly named Seward Stadium

A sell out crowd watch on at the newly named Seward Stadium

AFC Bournemouth have secured the most significant sponsorship deal in the club’s recent history today, with Seward Motor Group claiming the naming rights to the Dean Court Stadium in a three-year move.

The lucrative six-figure boost leaves Lee Bradbury’s Bournemouth side in their best financial position in recent memory.

The news comes at an important time for the club, as they prepare for a two-legged League One Play-Off clash against heavy favourites Huddersfield Town.

A sell-out crowd is expected for the Cherries’ home tie against the Terriers on Saturday, as they look to secure a key advantage going in to the return match at the Galpharm.

I spoke to manager Bradbury and midfielder Anton Robinson on a very significant day for the club.

The Sports Hour on Nerve Radio, 87.7 FM

As Sports Editor of Bournemouth University’s student station, Nerve Radio, during my final two years of my degree, I launched, co-produced and presented a new show – the Sports Hour.

Last year, it was part of a special two-week broadcast on local FM radio that was also available internationally at nervemedia.org.uk. The show won ‘Best Talk Show’, among a wealth of competition, during the FM broadcast, and you can listen to both episodes I co-presented right here.

The Sports Hour’s FM Debut: March 14th, 2011.

Along with co-presenter Duggy, I launched the Sports Hour on to FM airwaves for the first time on March 14. The show included post-match reaction to AFC Bournemouth’s 3-1 defeat against local rivals Southampton, interviews with football commentators Dan O’Hagan and Clive Tyldesley, and an interview with former British Super middleweight Boxing Champion Cornelius Carr about his new Pheonix Mixed Martial Arts Gym in Winton.

The Sports Hour: March 21st, 2011.

This was mine and Duggy’s last show on the FM airwaves, and the action-packed hour included interviews with former Arsenal and Tottenham footballer Rohan Ricketts, ex Brentford manager Martin ‘Mad Dog’ on his new project ‘Pro FC’, more Six Nations reaction from Rugby correspondent Steve Johns and a second consecutive defeat for Bournemouth, this time after a 582-mile round trip to Carlisle. Four tickets for promotion-chasing Bournemouth’s crucial home clash against Tranmere Rovers were also up for grabs in a special competition.

Q & A: An expert’s insight in to Intensive Care

A road traffic accident can happen in an instant, but the consequences can be life long. And right from the moment a person with a severe head injury is fighting for their life in intensive care, until they are requiring physiotherapy and social care on a less frequent basis when they are trying to lead an independent life in their community, rehabilitation is critical.

Doctor John Hell, Director of the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital, knows more than just about everyone when it comes to treating someone in a critical condition and giving them a shot at leading a working, or independent, life once again – having worked at the neurology unit for eight years.

Jack Hyom spoke to Doctor Hell, who gave his expertise on the importance of intensive care and rehab.

Q: Following Headway’s fears of significant cuts to its services, are there going to be any changes in rehabilitation at Southampton General Hospital?

A: I think there are going to be changes to rehab all over the country. It’s becoming increasingly recognised that the most important determinant following major trauma and particularly following traumatic brain injury, in terms of getting people back to independent life and back to their work or study, is effective and timely rehabilitation.

Q: What are the main methods of rehabilitation here?

A: Our patients on the intensive care unit will get specialist neurological therapy right from the outset and they will have physiotherapy involvement in making sure that they maintain the maximum range of movement that they can, and get back to full strength and mobility as early as possible.  This will continue with the community physiotherapy that happens thereafter, and also the rehabilitation physiotherapists will carry on this in their own units.

Q: Just how important is the rehabilitation process?

A: Rehabilitation is vital in order to re-orientate the patients as to what’s happened, how it’s affected them, and how they are likely to deal with any disability afterwards. The disability may be physical which is reasonably straightforward. Much more worrying is the loss of higher functions and difficulties with memory and mood swings. This is where rehabilitation is very important in getting patients able to cope back in the community on their own.

Q: Does the rehabilitation, from the NHS, continue outside of hospital?

A: There are community rehabilitation teams around Hampshire that are very active in actually making sure that after the initial rehabilitation process, they will then go on and seamlessly continue their rehabilitation once they get back to the community.

Q: Do the seriousness of head injuries and the importance of rehabilitation get underestimated?

A: I think there is a historical perception of head injuries not making a particularly good recovery but I think that, with time, we are seeing this improve. As results improve and the word gets out, people are expecting more and more from the results following a traumatic brain injury. But if rehabilitation is not given the prominence that it deserves, then these patients will not make a full recovery.

Q: Is there a problem in terms of funding rehabilitation in the long term?

A: Long-term rehabilitation funding is always a problem because it is usually expensive and Primary Care Trusts struggle with meeting the needs of some of these patients. We try and assist in any way we can, in identifying which patients will benefit most from what type of care, and then we seek funding for all patients where it’s appropriate that they should go to a rehabilitation unit according to their needs.

Q: What do you think the future holds for the treatment of head injuries at Southampton General?

A: I hope that we will continue to go from strength-to-strength and we will continue to provide the best possible care we know of in this country and, in fact, internationally. I think that we are actually on a par with most centres, if not better. We are awaiting results of a national study in this country, called RAIN, which will look at the outcome for different neurological intensive care units around the country and, hopefully, we will see where we are in relation to other centres. But, whatever we do initially will need to be matched by appropriate funding for rehabilitation thereafter, to enable these patients to actually get a good result.

Q: Can you sum up how important the patient-nurse interaction is in their recovery?

A: I think that, even though it is nice to see very smart and tidy rehabilitation facilities, what really matters is much more related to the interaction between the patient and the staff, and how committed and dedicated all those staff are to improving their rehabilitation then exactly where the rehabilitation is done. But, certainly the model with the military at Headley Court is something that we can only aspire to in the NHS at the moment. The facilities and the money aren’t there to treat with the number of patients that we are trying to deal with, and I think there is still a lot of work to be done with regards to getting all of our patients effectively rehabilitated and back to work if we can.

Q: How difficult is it to assess the needs of a patient upon arrival?

A: The difficulty we have when traumatic brain injury patients are admitted is that, regardless of what we can see on their scan, although somewhat influenced by their mechanism of injury and also their initial Glasgow Coma score, which is an indication of how severe their brain injury is, we cannot actually predict what sort of outcome they are likely to get. The best prediction we can make is that some of them will die and, of the ones that survive, they will have had a life changing event and there will be some disability going forward, which we cannot predict with any accuracy at all at the outset. Unfortunately, the only way of predicting outcome is to wait after the initial treatment and see how the patient starts to recover.

Q: Do people tend to have a different mindset after rehabilitation and change the way they look at life?

A: In my experience, when patients have made a good recovery, even if there is no obvious disability to the outside world, their family will have seen a change in the person, and that is not necessarily a change for the worse. Under circumstances, the patient can actually have changed their mindset and feel very differently about life after their head injury and they can go on and actually have a very satisfactory quality of life and enjoy life to the full, despite the fact they are not exactly the same as they were before they actually suffered their traumatic brain injury.

There does seem to be this sort of feeling that they have survived something catastrophic and they want to get the most out of every day thereafter. It is very variable. But certainly, patients do have a life changing event when they suffer traumatic brain injury and it is not always for the worse. Occasionally, patients will actually be better afterwards then they were before their injury.

Life-changing experience

David Hyom, 24, who was a passenger when a van collided with his colleague’s car at Lee-on-the-solent four years ago, has been indebted to intensive rehabilitation after suffering a near-fatal head injury. He has gone on to go back to his old job, own his first home and will be travelling worldwide with girlfriend Becky Wiltshire, who is a nurse at the Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital. They spoke exclusively to Buzz news about the importance of rehabilitation.

Major brain injuries charity fears ’50 per cent’ cuts

Brain Injuries Association Headway fear heavy cuts

Brain Injuries Association Headway fear heavy cuts

A major brain injuries charity fears heavy cuts to its funding which could put the future of their service in jeopardy.

Headway, an association that treats people who have suffered head injuries in over 100 branches across the United Kingdom, could see as much as 50 per cent of their funding cut by some local authorities when the local government budgets are finalised in March.

The organisation works to improve the lives of around 10,000 people every year, many of which suffer moderate or severe injuries and may never work again.

Headway UK Communications Manager Luke Griggs admitted that the funding provided by grants from Local Authorities could be reduced by 50 per cent in many drop-in centres and day-care centres across Britain.

Griggs said: “Local Authorities have until March to finalise their budgets, so a lot of branches haven’t actually found out that they are going to be cut yet, but they have had information through, including 50 per cent cuts in the budgets they have previously relied on.

“And, as you can imagine, any organisation losing half of its funding is going to struggle significantly.”

The Coalition government’s proposal for the restructuring of the NHS will mean an £80bn budget will be devolved for patient care to GPs. The reform will see more than 20,000 health service staff lose their jobs, and Griggs labelled it the “most radical restructuring of the NHS in a generation.”

He added: “It is not only the restructuring of the NHS that is of great concern, but also social welfare reforms as a whole.

“There is a great concern from Headway, groups and branches across the UK and indeed service users of Headway that the services provided by headway are under great threat on a local level.”

Councillor Lynda Price, Conservative Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care at Bournemouth Borough Council, admitted that there is concern about the new structure of the NHS.

She said: “It is a bit worrying, because anything that is new is always worrying. But I think it is a good step forward that needs to be monitored closely, and it will be.

“It’s really a way of utilising money in a better way, rather then having huge management structures trying to move the money to the front, where it is needed, in the actual services themselves.”

Cllr Price also heavily criticised the previous Labour Government, who led Great Britain into a recession under the leadership of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“People seem to forget that we have had 12 years of the previous Government spending, spending, spending.

“We end up with this and some ridiculous man left a note saying there is no money left. I never found that very funny.

“I thought that was an appalling attitude to take, just to be so flippant about it. The end result is that we, the public, are hurting from that.”

Bournemouth Borough Council has also seen a 15.2 per cent reduction in Government grant, on top of the Supporting People Grant being reduced by 44 per cent.

This council’s reduction in government funding reflects the squeeze on the NHS, with the government tightening the finances and saving money through efficiencies.

Southampton General Hospital is one of the leaders in treatment to traumatic brain injuries and intensive rehabilitation, and some neurological staff think that it would be a false economy to reduce funding in rehabilitation and therapy.

‘Rehabilitation is vital’

Dr John Hell, Director of the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at Southampton General Hospital, said: “I hope that people will understand that active, aggressive management of traumatic brain injury early, followed by aggressive rehabilitation will actually, in the long term save money because it will allow these patients to go into independent living and hopefully back to work or study, rather than requiring long term care because they were unable to make any sort of reasonable recovery.

An estimated 1 million people are treated in Accident and Emergency (A & E) Units for head injuries in the UK, with 150,000 of those seen as moderate or severe.

At Southampton General, the mortality rate is approximately 12 per cent of patients that are treated in Intensive Care. Sadly, there is nothing the Doctors can do with the minority in this critical condition, but Dr Hell thinks the service is an important, life-saving service that gives patients a chance to lead independent lives once again.

Dr Hell added: “Rehabilitation is vital in order to re-orientate the patients as to what’s happened, how it’s effected them and how they are likely to deal with any disability they find afterwards.

“The disability may be physical which is reasonably straightforward. Much more worrying is the loss of higher functions and difficulties with memory and mood swings.

“And this is where rehabilitation is very important in actually getting patients able to cope back in the community on their own.”

The Coalition Government reform also means that people who have suffered from head injuries will be moved from an incapacity benefit allowance, which gives them necessary benefits for life, to an employment support allowance by 2014.

This means that they will have mandatory appointments at local job centres to see if they are fit to apply for work, and in turn move on to job seekers allowance.

Lynn Donaldson, an employee at Dorset’ Headway branch, said: “Most clients won’t ever be able to work again so that is why they are rewarded incapacity benefit, which is for life, just with medicals here and there.

“But the benefit is changing over, so that all clients have to go for appointments, and between now and 2014 they have to go for a medical.”

“It could mean reducing benefits. It could mean that it will put people on different benefits.”

“All I know is that our clients are getting very confused and very upset and anxious. They are receiving lettings that they don’t understand.”

The extent of cuts across the board will be revealed as local government budget proposals are finalised before the end of March, and it is sure to be an anxious time for Headway’s 9,000 employees and volunteers, with the organisation preparing to deal with a damaging blow to its services.

How Rehab Saves a Life: Ashleigh’s Story

Ashleigh (right), owing her amazing recovery to rehab, with mother Allison

Ashleigh (right), owing her amazing recovery to rehab, with mother Allison

The impact of one road traffic accident can change a person’s life forever, and for 22-year-old Ashleigh from Salisbury, she is living a life that even some of the country’s finest doctors couldn’t have envisaged.

Nearly four years ago, Ashleigh was travelling home from work one evening and collided into a Hampshire road’s central reservation after swerving to try and miss an obstruction. She was rushed to Southampton General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull, severe head injury and fractured facial bones.

Doctors initially decided not to resuscitate her, but she slowly came back to life and began an incredible recovery that was indebted to intensive rehabilitation and therapy at Southampton for three months, before she continued her recovery at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, before moving back home 15 months later.

She can now walk with a stick, speak, sing, go horse riding and even volunteer at a local charity shop – all with a beaming smile on her face. Her recovery over the past four years as owed much to charities like the Headway Brain Injury Association, who fear significant cuts to their local government funding that will put many regional services in jeopardy, when the funding of councils across the UK is finalised in March.

Ashleigh and her mum Alison spoke exclusively to Jack Hyom and told him how rehab saved her life.

Social care with a smile: Dorset’s Headway centre

Dorset’s Headway branch is one of over 100 in the United Kingdom that provide vital rehabilitation and social care for people who have suffered brain injuries.

Amid fears that the major head injuries charity is going to suffer significant cuts in funding when local government budgets are finalised in March, Jack Hyom caught up with volunteers, employees and clients to see how Headway brings a smile back to the faces of those who are looking to get back to work and regain an independent life.