News Round Up 2021/ 2020


Tilting willows produce increased biofuel efficiency

A team of researchers at Imperial College London, in collaboration with Rothamsted Research, have used medical imaging techniques to explore why making willow trees grow at an angle can vastly improve their biofuel yields. Using micro-CT scans, the team showed that the trees respond to being tilted by producing a sugar-rich, gelatinous fibre, which helps them stay upright.


Willows are suitable for widespread cultivation as biofuels because they produce large quantities of accessible sugar, are fast-growing and can tolerate harsh environmental conditions, such as windy slopes and poor soil. In fact, trees grown in harsher conditions or polluted soil can even produce better biofuel because the sugar they produce is more accessible, requiring less energy to harvest it.


Growing the willow trees at a 45-degree angle simulates this natural stress, encouraging  the trees to produce up to five times more sugar than plants grown normally. But exactly why and how this happens has not been clear until now.


Rothamsted researchers, in a study lead by Imperial College London, worked with experts at the Natural History Museum, and the University of Surrey to use X-ray micro-computed tomography (CT scanning) to examine the willow’s growth through high resolution 3D images.


This enabled them to see the changes in the willow at a cellular level and how they affected the plant’s growth. They found that tilted willows prolonged the life of certain cells in order to produce a sugar-rich, or gelatinous, fibre, to help them stay upright. The team were able to measure how much longer the cells needed to stay alive to produce the special fibre.


“It was difficult to see why the trees were releasing so much more sugar when stressed in nature or grown at an angle. Being able to visualise the differences occurring at a microscale, or cellular level, allowed an insight into the biology behind the macroscale effects on the whole tree,” explains Dr Nicholas Brereton, from Imperial’s Department of Life Sciences.


“Willows are naturally very variable, and this includes the degree with which they respond to tilting or bending in the wind. We will be able exploit these new findings in the breeding programme at Rothamsted to produce better willow trees for industrial uses without the need for any genetic engineering “ explains Prof. Angela KarpDepartment of Agroecology, Rothamsted Research.


“Willow is a great crop because it grows in really inhospitable places. It can add value to marginal land and is also useful for helping to clean up areas of polluted land,” adds Dr Brereton. “Our research will help the biofuel sector select and use growing sites and conditions where no other crops can survive.”


The research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and published in BMC Plant Biology, was part of the Perennial Biomass Crops Programme, one of six hubs making up the BBSRC Sustainable Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC). The next step for the team will be to use even higher resolution CT scanning to investigate the gelatinous fibres in more detail. The aim will be to measure how much of the fibre is produced by different plants, which will help identify which species of willow are likely to be the world’s best 2nd generation biofuel producers.

For more information about the Willow breeding programme at Rothamsted Research please contact: Professor Angela Karp.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:

The first GM oilseed crop to produce omega-3 fish oils in the field

In a landmark paper published today in the journal Metabolic Engineering Communications, scientists at Rothamsted Research have announced the first year results of the field-scale trial of Camelina oilseed plants genetically engineered to make omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.


Omega-3 fish oils specifically long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 LC-PUFA) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are acknowledged by the medical community to be beneficial components of the human diet. The primary dietary sources of EPA & DHA are marine fish, either wild or farmed (aquaculture). Although some types of omega-3 fats are available from other sources in the human diet (such as flax seeds), the nutritionally-beneficial omega- 3 LC- PUFA EPA & DHA are only available from marine sources. Fish, like humans, accumulate the omega-3 fish oils by feeding on other organisms in the marine food chain or, in the case of farmed fish, through fishmeal and fish oil in feed.


Farmed fish is a rapidly growing sector, and today over half of the fish consumed worldwide comes from aquaculture. As the production of fish through aquaculture increases so does the need to find alternative sources of omega-3 fish oils. Rothamsted's new data - which demonstrate an important proof of concept that a crop plant can be engineered to synthesise these beneficial fatty acids in seeds - provide hope for sustainable land-based sources of omega-3 fish oils, thereby releasing pressure from the oceans.


Dr Olga Sayanova, the senior Rothamsted Researcher who developed the GM Camelina plants, commented: “We are delighted with the results of our first year field trial. Finding a land-based source of feedstocks containing omega-3 fish oils has long been an urgent priority for truly sustainable aquaculture. Our results give hope that oilseed crops grown on land can contribute to improving the sustainability of the fish farming industry and the marine environment in the future."


Rothamsted scientists, strategically funded by the BBSRC, have already shown that they can successfully engineer Camelina sativa plants to produce non-native EPA and DHA, by introducing a set of seven synthetic genes based on the DNA sequences found in photosynthetic marine organisms. Although previous experiments in glasshouses had given positive indications for the performance of this trait, this trial demonstrated the stability of the trait and the ability of the GM Camelina plants to synthesise useful quantities of fish oils without any negative effects on yield. Monitoring of the plants grown in the field showed no obvious phenotypic differences in the growth, flowering or seed-set of the GM Camelina plants when compared to the non-GM control plants.


Professor Johnathan Napier, leading the GM Camelina programme at Rothamsted Research, said: “The omega-3 fish oil trait that we have developed is probably the most complex example of plant genetic engineering to be tested in the field. This is a globally-significant proof of concept and a landmark moment in the effort to develop truly sustainable sources of feed for fish farms.”


The field trial conducted at Rothamsted Research’s experimental farm continues this year.  In the field this year two GM Camelina lines are sown as well as the non – GM controls.  One line is the same as the one described in the current publication making EPA and DHA. The second one is a GM Camelina line that makes only EPA. Analyses and comparisons will be conducted between the two lines.


The field trial and the associated laboratory analyses are funded by the government-supported Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).  The scientific paper to be published tomorrow Tuesday 7th July 6pm (full details below)will be available in open-source format from the journal Metabolic Engineering Communications.

For an extensive Q&A on Rothamsted Research’s GM Camelina project see

Harpenden population 32,500+

Harpenden’s 3 GP Surgeries registered patients = 43,274.

What’s going on??

A chance visit to the NHS Choices web site on May 6 revealed the following registered patient numbers:

Village Surgery = 15,983

The Elms = 14,749

Davenport House = 12,542

SO if the numbers are accurate where do all these people live? (Redbourn and Wheathampsted have their own surgeries.

OR are the numbers duplicated OR are they simply out of date?

WELL, on average GP Surgeries are funded at £136 per patient so the numbers generate high income.

THE average number of patient visits per year is 7 giving a cost per visit of £19.42.

YES it’s obvious that very young patients and elderly patients have more than the average number of visits.

These figures do not cover the prescription costs.

AND YES we know averages disguise the actual numbers BUT something is amiss?

WITH more and more homes bing built in Harpenden how will GP Surgeries cope with this  influx?

More to come on this story.

Scroll down to read all the exciting editorials below

Feb 2021. Rothamsted’s iconic Russell building now open for agri-tech businesses

The Russell Building at Rothamsted, Harpenden, has been newly refurbished to provide much-needed business space for high-growth agri-tech SMEs.

The historic red-brick building, which had lain empty since 2014, has been transformed with the help of a £1.7m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Herts Innovation Quarter (Herts IQ), which is boosting agri-tech growth in the county.

The building, which house 22 offices, will enable high-growth, high-tech companies to join a thriving ecosystem of agri-tech, food tech and innovation businesses based on site, with excellent transport links to the rest of the UK as well as international airports. In total, the building will accommodate up to 118 people in spaces ranging from 200sq.ft. to over 1,200 sq.ft. These will include an open plan innovation space, where early-start entrepreneurs can work together before prototyping their ideas and testing on site, to grow-on spaces and offices for these early start-ups and related businesses.

Peter Oxley, CEO at the Lawes Agricultural Trust said: “We are thrilled to see the Russell Building brought back to life. Our other tenant spaces are full, so this will allow us to attract more new businesses to the Rothamsted estate. Not only is this hugely positive for the campus, but also for agri-tech entrepreneurs, for Harpenden, and for the county, as we bring more jobs and businesses to Hertfordshire.”

“We’re delighted that this iconic building is now back in use as a hub for agri-tech businesses,” said Nicole Sadd, CEO, Rothamsted Enterprises. “We very much look forward to welcoming lots of innovative businesses to the Rothamsted ecosystem.”

Prof. Angela Karp, Director and CEO, Rothamsted Research, commented: “What makes the Rothamsted campus unique is the opportunity that our world-leading scientists have to interact with the growing number of agri-tech businesses on site. The refurbished Russell Building will not only boost the potential for this creative collaboration, but also bring back to life a central part of our heritage.”

Demand for more office space has also been boosted by the recent launch of the privately-funded accelerator programme ‘Shake Climate Change’ and the AgRIA Project, providing entrepreneurs and SMEs with funding and on-site entrepreneur support to encourage cross-working of various sciences.


“We are delighted by this development,” said Angela Karp, Rothamsted Research Interim Institute Director and CEO. “Bringing together entrepreneurs on campus with our world-class scientists, I am confident we can look forward to a new era of ground breaking innovation in agricultural science and technology at Rothamsted.”   

“The Russell Building has been an iconic landmark in Rothamsted for generations and this £1.7 million of investment from the Government’s Local Growth Fund will give it a new lease of life as a world-class base for businesses in the growing agri-tech sector, which will create jobs and boost the local economy.”

Businesses in agri-tech, agri-food, agricultural science and research looking for new office premises in Hertfordshire should contact Claire Wolstencroft on 01582 938500 or email


Dec 2020.  SADC to start afresh with

new Local Plan

following rejection by

Government Inspectors

After two previous failed attempts to secure the Plan’s approval

including a failed Judicial review in late Spring 2017 ( where it

lost over failure in its duty to co-operate)  you would have thought

the Council’s officers and politicians would have learned from their

errors of judgement. OBVIOUSLY NOT!

An 18 page letter expressed many key issues of concern:

*The decision to assign the Radlett rail freight terminal site for housing.

*The alteration of the district’s Green Belt boundaries without submitting adequate evidence.*

*The Plan had not been produced in accordance with the council’s statement of community involvement.

*Failure of the Sustainability Appraisal to consider some seemingly credible and obvious reasonable alternatives to the policies and proposals of the plan;

*Failure of the plan to meet objectively-assessed needs;

*Lack of evidence in support of policies**

Cllr Jamie Day, portfolio holder for planning said; “we will be responding to the inspector’s letter to address the concerns raised. “It’s extremely important that the council progresses this Local Plan so that it is able to manage the district’s growth in a sustainable and positive way. Over recent years, the council has made improved efforts to work with its neighbouring councils and Herts County Council to demonstrate its commitment to cooperating with our neighbouring authorities, so it’s disappointing to be called out by the inspectors on that point.”

David Lane of local agency DLA Town Planning said: “This is disappointing news. I appreciate the council has a difficult job on its hands in producing a Local Plan but it is hugely frustrating that the process has been delayed again. The ongoing uncertainty benefits nobody and will only delay the delivery of much-needed new homes.”

*Green Belt queries:

1. In light of the large number of homes that would need to be accommodated, the Council decided that only strategic scale Green Belt sites would be taken forward in the Plan.

2. In looking at Green Belt releases we have concerns about the narrow focus that has been placed on only strategic sites. This has ruled out a number of sites that have already been found to impact least on the purposes of the Green Belt.

3. Whilst the Council indicates in the May 2018 PPC report that small sites in the Green Belt are not needed (and so have not been assessed) this position appears at odds with the context of the identified shortfall situation.

4. Additionally, we see no reason why the identification of some smaller sites would unacceptably spread the adverse impacts of development on Green Belt purposes.

5.We accept that large scale urban extensions would provide significant amounts of new infrastructure which both the new and already established communities would benefit from. On the other hand, a range of sites including smaller sites could also provide benefits. For example, they could be delivered more quickly without requiring additional infrastructure, provide choice and flexibility in the housing market and secure affordable housing more immediately.

6.We accept that large scale urban extensions would provide significant amounts of new infrastructure which both the new and already established communities would benefit from. On the other hand, a range of sites including smaller sites could also provide benefits. For example, they could be delivered more quickly without requiring additional infrastructure, provide choice and flexibility in the housing market and secure affordable housing more immediately.

Lack of evidence queries:

1. The Framework indicates at paragraph 31 that the preparation and review of all policies should be underpinned by relevant and up to date evidence. This should be adequate and proportionate, focussed tightly on supporting and justifying the policies concerned, and take into account relevant market signals. There are number of key documents missing from the evidence base.

2. There is no Heritage Impact Assessment as required by Historic England in relation to the Broad Locations.

3. The Broad Locations are not supported by a Transport Impact Assessment even though it was evident from our site visits that most of them would be likely to require significant road improvements as many are currently accessed via relatively narrow roads.

Harpenden Academy’s Young Chef’s project 2020

“This is the second year that we’ve participated in the wonderful Young Chef’s project and it was hugely successful both times. The children were so engaged learning new skills and creating their own menus inspired by a hero. The best part of the project is giving the children a real life project to put their culinary skills into practice. Last year we created a restaurant in the school hall and this year children prepared and presented their menus to their families as part of their leavers’ event. The beams of pride and joy on their faces as their parents praised their culinary creations was amazing to see.”

ABOVE:Kate Watson – Year 6 teacher

ABOVE RIGHT: A Y6 pupil sharing her three course menu inspired by David Attenborough with her family.

Find out more about the Young Chef of the Year Awards for Schools by visiting: 

The calendar for the year 2021 has been agreed and the following dates of meetings can be put in your diary!

The meetings in the first half of the year have been

planned to take place on ZOOM given the pandemic

restrictions will prevent us returning to Roundwood

Park School probably until September at the earliest.

Meeting dates (all Tuesdays evenings 7.45-for 8.00pm)

or 2021. April 13..May 11..

September 14..October 12..November 9..December 7

The two Outings that could not take place in 2020 have been rescheduled for 2021 assuming restrictions will have been eased.

May 21Anglesea Abbey and Cambridge Botanical Garden

July 7Lamport Hall Gardens and The Old Rectory Haselbech

Details and booking forms will be emailed to you shortly.

We are pleased to welcome back for our first meeting of 2021 the ever popular Timothy Walker, Botanist, Lecturer and Author who will talk about ‘Plants, Borders and Gardens.

Our second meeting in March sees Simon White of Beales Roses give us a complete run down on the A-Z of Roses.

We await final confirmation of our April speaker but the May 11 meeting will feature Andrew Ward of Norwell Nurseries whose subject will be Fabulous Foliage:a Foil for flowers.

The AGM will take place prior to the November 9 meeting.

The Society would like to take this opportunity to welcome Renata Rybczyk-Savage to the committee and to thank George French for his many years of solid  service to the Society and wish him well in his well earned retirement.

Membership fees are being rolled over for 2021 for existing members but £12.00 per annum is the fee payable to new members joining this year.

We welcome new members. If you would like to join us please contact Douglas Knowles on 01582 769831.

See you soon!

Covid delays the development plans for the Red House & the opening of Harpenden’s Health & Wellbeing Centre.

A report from The Harpenden Society.

January 2021.

The Harpenden Society have for many years, been leading the campaign to ensure that the Red House site is developed with an ongoing medical service for the Harpenden community. And in support they established the Red House Forum in 2012, a ginger group with across-the-board membership, to steer the campaign. Key organisers, still active being Chris Marsden, former Harpenden Society chair, as chairman, with Eric Midwinter and Cllr Teresa Heritage.

This saga shows no sign of resolution despite promises from various NHS providers in the last decade. The Covid pandemic is of course a legitimate reason for delayed action of significance so it is worthwhile to remind ourselves at how we arrived in the current situation. The last 3 years have been traumatic.

April 2018. The owners of the site Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) finally presented their plans for a redevelopment of the whole of the existing Harpenden Memorial Hospital site. They would create a new Health and Wellbeing Centre in the existing Stewarts building (ready for use’ by late 2020) funded by the sale of the remainder of the site for a new housing development and the Red House building being converted into apartments.

January 2019. The future of the Red House development (including the Health and Wellbeing Centre ) was thrown into doubt by fundamental changes in NHS operating structures. Ownership of the site was transferred to Central London Community Healthcare Trust (CLCH) as the new provider for adult community health services in west Hertfordshire from the Autumn.

September 2019. CLCH announced that the planned opening of Harpenden’s Health & Wellbeing Centre would now be delayed until 2023. As the new guardians of the site they have had to assess all the previous work by the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, much of it complex, before rationalising and submitting their plans and budgets to Government. The revised plans were due for approval in 18 moths time ( March 2021) with the opening now planned for 2023.

December 2019. A site meeting at the Red House revealed further delays. Two representatives of Capita on behalf of Central London Community HealthCare NHS Trust advised the following:

*They are reviewing the whole concept proposed by HCT including using the site for house building.

*They presented us with floor plans of the Red House building to show Phase 1 of the upgrades which will allow for additional services such as Podiatry, Tissue viability, Bladder and Bowel to be introduced, subject to internal sign off.

*Works were due to start in early March 2020 and they hoped to complete phase 1 by June.

Further information on the critical development of medical services will be advised going forward. The COVID pandemic curtailed most of the activity and all communication during the year.

January 2021. Email contact was made with the Capita contact as per Dec 2019. They advised that the Covid difficulties had caused delays but some progress had been made in the areas we have upgraded. The Main Red House building is currently rolling out the Vaccine to NHS staff & Care Home Staff, and CLCH NHS Trust have continued to carry out the upgrade works to the building so this is ready for the services once we are able to stand this back up.

We have to date in the Red House, CLCH have:

Carried out a new roof extension

Installed New Fire Alarm

New Boilers

New electrics

New Air Condition units.

The main corporate management team have now relocated into the 1st floor, with additional transformation plans to be rolled out when it is safe to do so. The Stewarts is now owned and managed by another NHS Trust - Hertfordshire Mental Health trust so it does not feature directly in their plans. WE AWAIT FURTHER INFORMATION.

NB. Blood test are still being carried out on site

An artist’s impression of the proposed Health and Wellbeing centre

Feb 8. Covid crisis exposes Luton Borough Council’s dependency on the Airport for ongoing financial stability.

In July 2020 Luton Borough Council  agreed a “horrendous” package of spending cuts after the airport operator it owns declared it could not make an expected £16m dividend payment due to Covid-19.

Then in September LBC borrowed £60m which it on-loaned to the airport to help it remain solvent following national lockdown measures.

And now the council’s proposed budget for 2021-22 outlines a rise in council tax rise by 4.99% plus other huge savings.

Commenting on the budget, Andy Malcolm, portfolio holder for finance, said: “Although there is uncertainty regarding future dividends from our airport company in the short to medium term, there remains significant confidence in the ongoing long-term success of our major asset.

“Luton airport will be key to our town’s recovery from Covid-19 and we are collectively responsible for steering a course through the pandemic’s devastating impact in the best interests of all Luton’s residents.”

Unite Trade Union representative for the Airport Jeff Hodge said the situation at London Luton Airport was "dire" and 250 of their members had lost their jobs. Unite represents some airport employees including security workers, baggage handlers and check-in staff.

Mr Hodge said: "The situation is just absolutely awful. It is dire. Those that are in jobs are in fear of their long-term future.

"The airport was booming... and now I am being told it could take two years to get back to where it was.

"Whilst passenger numbers may increase, in order for companies to maximise profit, existing employees will be expected to 'give 150%' before recruitment takes place.

"But we need people to get back on planes and be confident it's a safe environment, for the airport and the town to survive."

EasyJet, which has major operations at Luton and at London Gatwick, had previously said it would cut about 4,500 jobs from its 15,000-strong workforce. They  predict that levels of market demand seen in 2019 were not likely to be reached again until 2023.

London Luton Airport said 105,000 people used Luton in November, down from just over a million in the same month in 2019. December will see an 80% reduction in passenger numbers and a 70% reduction in flights compared to last year.

The airport operator said it had made 50 compulsory redundancies, 59 voluntary redundancies, 23 people were taking sabbaticals and 50% of its staff were on the latest furlough scheme.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We recognise the impact national restrictions have on the travel sector and we will continue to keep doing everything we can to help this critical industry.

Richard Fuller one of Bedfordshire's Conservative MPs has said the council had "more than enough money to plug its gap" and could sell some of its stake in the airport

“As the majority shareholder in Luton Airport, the council usually benefits from an annual dividend of about £27m, but it said with aviation at a virtual standstill since March, it had been placed "in the painful situation of having to propose severe cuts to a number of key front-line services".

Labour council leader Hazel Simmons said: "The council has repeatedly called on central government to provide adequate emergency funding, but so far these pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

"If they continue to adopt this stance of indifference we will be forced to implement extreme savings measures to avoid the possibility of bankruptcy, which itself would have an even more destructive impact on services."

Information above sourced from trusted published media.

Diabetes Treatment Plan wins national

award for local pharmacist. Graham Philips

was awarded the Chemist and Druggist

Health Initiative of the Year 2020 for his work

on ProLongevity.

This took place at The C+D Awards, its first

ever digital ceremony on November 26th for

its 13th year, celebrating excellence across

16 categories. It was hosted by celebrated

comedian Stephen Mangan.

Graham, the owner of Manor Pharmacy Group  founded this prevention treatment plan a few years ago and has been treating patients successfully ever since.

ProLongevity can reverse type2 diabetes using a unique, customised treatment plan starting at just 8-weeks. Our program eliminates the root causes of the epidemic of diabetes and other serious life-limiting conditions like obesity, hypertension, heart disease, strokes, dementia and even some cancers.

Learn more at

Helping today’s students to

be better leaders and

navigate tomorrow’s


TEDxYouth brought together 3  industry

professionals and 3 student speakers ably

managed by Roundwood Park School

student Alastair Holmes on Friday March 12

at a webinar attended by 250 guests.

All 6 speakers delivered their views followed by a series of Q&A’s.

TECHNICALLY the event was a joy to watch. Speaker images and audio were clear and concise with everyone adhering to their allotted times.

CONTENT was all highly relevant with key issues explained and delivered with proposals leading to improved policies that were being enacted now to protect the future OR could be implemented without too much delay.

ORGANISATION was impressive in bringing the event together and managing it during the afternoon.


First to speak was Nick Beighton CEO of ASOS

He joined ASOS as CFO in 2009, since when ASOS has grown successfully into one of the leading fashion retailers, trading in almost every country in the world. Nick, now CEO  is passionate about sustainability, championing a shift in the fashion industry to address key ethical trade and working to overcome the hurdles that improving sustainability poses to 21st Century businesses. Key issues from Nick were: “we don’t do fast fashion, we do fashion fast...we look after all staff, worldwide...85% of our cotton is grown sustainably...we aim to be carbon neutral in 10 years...the High Street has a future 50/50 with online.”

Elizabeth Slater was next. Elizabeth is a Year 13 student at St George’s School, where she is Deputy Head Girl.

She is currently studying English Literature, Geography and Politics, and will be doing her talk on sustainability. This is a topic which has been growing in importance in recent years and has been pushed to the forefront of the business and political agenda. She has enjoyed bringing in her studies to give a new perspective of this important topic, as well as linking it to ways in which young people can make a difference, to herald in a new era of sustainable business. Key issues from Elizabeth were: “we need to know how clothes are made...what are they made from and are they sustainable...too much goes to landfill...Influencers give bad impressions.”

Craig Bennett CEO of The Wildlife Trusts followed.

Craig started as CEO of The Wildlife Trusts in April 2020, with the ambition of putting a third of the UK’s land and sea into nature recovery by 2030. He has been described as “one of the country’s top environmental campaigners”, by The Guardian as “the very model of a modern eco-general” and has been listed as one of the UK’s top “social media CEOs”. Craig was previously CEO of Friends of the Earth where he worked to empower communities to take action to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. He also has vast experience contributing to leadership programmes at numerous universities and business schools like the London Business School. He is an Honorary Professor of Sustainability and Innovation at Alliance Manchester Business School and has earnt an Honorary Doctoral degree from University College of Estate Management. Key issues from Craig were: “we need to stop burning fossil fuels...get Nature working again...reverse declines by thinking global but acting local...make your garden a wild life haven...introduce a legal framework to protect Nature and sustainability.”

Emma Carney was next. Emma is a Year 12 student at Roundwood Park School. and She is currently studying biology, economics, and psychology. She will be giving a talk on environmental protection, a subject into to which she has enjoyed bringing in her studies of economics, to help give her a broader understanding of the subject at large. She has experience in public speaking through her success in the Rotary Youth Speaks Competition, where she got to the Regional Final, and furthermore aims to utilise this talk to help her pursue standing up for those who do not have a voice, especially through human rights. Key issues from Emma were: “a lack of action to protect Brazil’s rain forest...stop deforestation and cattle ranching...protect the Amazon and it’s with Brazil.”

The penultimate speaker was Bim Afolami MP. He was first elected to the Harpenden and Hitchin constituency as a Conservative MP during the 2017 election, being re-elected in 2019. Prior to this he had a successful career as an Executive at HSBC and as a Lawyer in the City. In his time in Parliament, he has championed a number of local causes such as protecting the Green Belt and helping local businesses. His interest in his topic of Pathways into Work has been sparked by a desire to give back to his country, and help others have the same opportunities as he has had. Key issues from Bim were: “ historic ways of doing work are changing, actions but no global are being automated in all sectors...AI and skills are now essential, NOT an option.”

Last on screen was Elizabeth Bratton. She is in year 13 at Sir John Lawes School, where she studies French, German, and English Literature. Next year, she hopes to study German and Arabic at university. Elizabeth is ultimately striving to become a journalist with an especial focus on human rights; she runs her own news site with more than 40 writers from across the globe, and aims to make current affairs more accessible to young people. She is passionate about equality of opportunity, and advocates for a world where diversity of talent and skill are embraced. Key Issues from Elizabeth were: more independent thinking on career pathways in the Arts for future employment...avoid be driven by parent’s expectations...don’t conform be creative...source fun and enticing subjects to follow...don’t be overwhelmed by pressure to succeed.”

Event organiser Alastair Holmes

Alastair is in the Sixth Form at Roundwood Park School, where he studies A Levels in History, Politics and Economics. He enjoys public speaking and has won debating competitions at the House of Commons. Alastair is a keen follower of politics and current affairs – he wanted to organise a TEDxYouth event in Harpenden to give more young people the opportunity to speak and also to bring experienced professionals to Harpenden to share their views on topics which are important to young people.



Nick Beighton

Elizabeth Slater

Craig Bennett

Emma Carney

Elizabeth Bratton

Bim Afolami MP.

Alastair Holmes


Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story" | Official Teaser |

Directed by Academy Award® winner Steven Spielberg, from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award® winner Tony Kushner, “West Side Story” tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City. This reimagining of the beloved musical stars Ansel Elgort (Tony); Rachel Zegler (María); Ariana DeBose (Anita); David Alvarez (Bernardo); Mike Faist (Riff); Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino); Ana Isabelle (Rosalía); Corey Stoll (Lieutenant Schrank); Brian d’Arcy James (Officer Krupke); and Rita Moreno (as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works). Moreno – one of only three artists to be honored with Academy®, Emmy®, GRAMMY®, Tony® and Peabody Awards – also serves as one of the film’s executive producers.

The film is produced by Spielberg, Academy Award®-nominated producer Kristie Macosko Krieger and Tony Award®-winning producer Kevin McCollum. “West Side Story” has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway show, with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and concept, direction and choreography by Jerome Robbins.


This is absolutely unreal. The gratification from something fulfilling every single fiber of an expectation and looking like an actual best case scenario is so rare. This is stunning... from the look of the cast to the vibe of the world and most notably; to the incredible love note to the legacy of West Side Story that is every choice in this trailer. Go Rachel! Go Rita! Go Spielberg! Go... every single person involved! This looks like it's made with pure love. Level 10 hyped.

Considering the fact that Spielberg has never done a musical, I think this looks astonishingly beautiful. It also sticks closer to the original Broadway version than the 1961 film so I’m3

really excited to see what different directions they take

This trailer is the BOMB!!   The silhouettes of the two rival gangs as they approach each other is stunning.  Every shot is dripping in the glory of Hollywood and looks amazing.  I CAN NOT wait!  Let's go back to the theatres and celebrate art!

This looks absolutely stunning. Spielberg has done it yet again. Cannot wait to watch this movie and soak in the beauty of it all and for next years Oscars nominations and wins with this masterpiece.

This is my favorite musical of all time and I cry every time I hear the music. The stark darkness with the glimmer of love lost is just so heart-wrenching. I loved Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno in their roles...this one looks to be an incredible experience.

If I'm not mistaken, Rita Moreno appeared in the original version and got an Academy Award for her performance as Best Supporting Actress. And now she's in the remake. Wow. Maybe they'll give her another one!


I had the pleasure of meeting Leonard Bernstein at a Classical Music concert my company sponsored in 1982. This for The Royal Philharmonic Society.

“Just call me Len” he said as we chatted about his performance conducting the orchestra during the post concert drinks with many of the organisers and musicians.