Thursday, 29 November 2012


Socatots is the world’s first football specific play programme for pre-school children from the age of 18 months old to school age.

It is a unique fun based concept aimed at giving children their first start with the ball and is equally suitable for both boys and girls.

We encourage children to develop basic football skills; dribbling, passing and control of the ball. We also include throwing and catching, balance and team games.

Currently, we run classes in Southwater and Lindfield on a Monday morning, Horsham and Cuckfield on a Tuesday morning, Turners Hill and Patcham on a Friday morning and Mannings Heath, Turners Hill, Patcham, Lindfield and Hurstpierpoint on Saturday mornings.

Our classes on Saturday are extremely popular with Dad’s as it provides a unique bonding experience.

We also provide 1 or 2 hour football fun birthday parties up children up to the age of 6 years old.

Please contact us for a FREE trial quoting ‘ABC Magazine’ and we will put your child’s name into our monthly draw to win 6 free Socatots sessions at a venue of your choice.

For more information please contact Marianne & Fiona on 01444 440234 or or visit:

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Gymboree certainly know how to put the ‘fun’ into fundraising!

An imaginary skydive, winning a gold medal and baking a cake for a party through song?

Gymboree sites across the UK have been fundraising since September 2011 for our chosen charity, the world-renowned children’s hospital, Great Ormond Street children’s Hospital, with the aim of raising £10,000 to purchase a crucial piece of equipment that treats little patients with abnormal heart rhythms. We don’t like just meeting targets at Gymboree, we love to smash them and have raised an incredible £12,285.44!

To thousands of children all over the UK and in over 30 other countries across the globe, Gymbo the Clown is the soft, smiley, all-dancing mascot of Gymboree’s interactive and exciting classes for 0-5 years. This year, however, they saw a whole new side to Gymbo – as he was involved in so many fundraising events in aid of Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity!

Parties and events around the UK have raised thousands, including over £2000 donated after the owners and a teacher at Gymboree Brighton ran the Brighton Half Marathon in February and the Gymboree UK director braved the London Marathon dressed as Gymbo himself.

Gymboree staff and members have been dancing, singing, baking, throwing raffles and partying for the cause over the past year, with Superheroes and Princesses partying it up one day, Halloween fancy dress parties spreading (un)happiness on another, festive carols and celebrations and lots of Valentines events sharing the love and helping to ‘kiss it better’. Some of our brave Gymboree teachers took part in a Skydive and parents who’d forgotten to bring socks to wear in class have made donations to borrow socks and that’s all added up too!

A super special event filled with fun was held at our master Gymboree site in Surbiton to handover our fundraising efforts to the charity. We were joined by Debbie Goddard from the Community Fundraising Team at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, who came along to our Level 6 Play & Learn class. The class theme was ‘Gymboree’s fundraising efforts’ and involved a morning of imaginary skydiving, running the London Marathon and travelling on the party bus to a Gymboree fundraising party. We also baked a cake and danced with Gymbo the clown! During our fun and fabulous parachute time we handed Debbie an over sized cheque which some of the Gymboree art class children made!

Debbie said, “We would like to thank Gymboree for all their support in 2012 and choosing us to benefit from their fundraising. The money will help us continue to work with children across the UK and indeed the world, with serious and often life threatening conditions. Great Ormond Street Hospital is a world-class children’s hospital, with the broadest range of paediatric specialists under one roof anywhere in the UK. The hospital welcome around 200,000 patient visits each year, treating patients with the most complex, life-threatening or life-limiting conditions We need to raise £50 million every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. We would like to thank Gymboree and all their staff for supporting us; we couldn’t do it without you.”

Gymboree Managing Director, Susannah Alexander says “I am delighted that our members and our team have raised so much money for GOSH and have had so much fun in the process. It’s a win-win!”

For more information please contact: Jo Keaveney, PA/Administrator, Gymboree UK, 0208 288 9727,

Monday, 19 November 2012

Supporting the reading habit - by Stephen Rickard

Are your children avid readers? Do you often see them, book in hand, quietly enjoying a good read? Or perhaps, like many others, your children don’t read much. Maybe they don’t read at all. If they aren’t reading, should you be worried? Should you be doing anything about it?

First, let’s be clear: being able to read is important. It’s not just about being able to pick out the words on a page, to know what the words say. ‘Reading’ is a more complex skill, involving decoding, comprehension, improving vocabulary, and many other things. It’s all put in a basket called ‘literacy’ - and the only real way to improve a child’s literacy is for them to read. Reading is important and it is necessary. There are two main reasons why children aren’t reading - or aren’t reading much: either they can’t read or they don’t want to read. If a child can’t read, that’s really an issue for school. The cause could be poor or inappropriate teaching methods (it does happen), or it could be something more fundamental, such as dyslexia. However, whatever the cause, don’t panic. Schools are pretty good at picking up and addressing these issues (experts call them ‘barriers to literacy’) at a relatively early stage. If you child isn’t in the habit of reading, I’ll wager that in 99% of cases it’s because of the second reason: they don’t want to. Most children who read do so because they want to - not because they feel obliged to. In other words, a child who reads chooses to read. Yet many children - boys especially - somehow always manage to fi nd better things to do: computer games, TV, the Internet. So much to do, so little time! The problem is that if children aren’t reading, their reading ‘muscle’ isn’t getting any exercise. Their reading skills don’t develop - which makes books even less appealing. It becomes a vicious downward spiral. So here’s a few pointers to help you get your child more engaged with reading. Rule one: (And this one is a rule) - don’t confront them. They probably already have reading battles with their teachers at school; if you also defi ne it as a battle, you’ve lost already. Many children perceive that reading is something you do at school. Like maths and science, they do it because they have to. Many don’t enjoy it. Children are taught to read, but people don’t always teach them that books can be enjoyed. Rule two: Make sure that anything they are exposed to, in the way of possible reading material, is on a topic that they are interested in. Introduce it because of the subject matter, not because it’s a book. Try to ride on the child’s enthusiasm for the topic, so that they want to read it ‘even though it’s a book’. I knew of one child who defi ed all attempts by teachers to teach him to read. Eventually he learnt to read using a ‘Haynes’- style tractor manual. The reason? His real passion was stripping and rebuilding tractor engines (he lived on a farm). Suddenly, he had found a reason to learn to read. Rule three: Be seen reading for pleasure yourself. Set a good example. Boys (especially) tend to perceive reading as solitary and uncool. Try to send out messages to the contrary. Rule four: Think laterally about what constitutes ‘reading’. It needn’t be a book. It could be an e-book on a smartphone, a comic, a magazine, a website, trading cards (Bin Weevils, Match Attax and so on), shop signs, computer game instructional texts. Anything to start them on the road: text has meaning and offers rewards. Non-fi ction is equally as valid as fi ction. Rule fi ve: Keep it short, sweet and simple to begin with. As Chairman Mao said, "The long march starts with a single step’" Some book publishers specialize in producing so-called ‘high low’ books. These are books with a higher ‘interest age’ and a lower ‘reading age’. They are designed to appeal to a particular reader - say an eight, or twelve or fourteen year old - but what teachers call the reading age of the text is lower - say a reading age of six or seven. This means that the books appeal directly to the reader, without in any way being patronizing or babyish, but the text level is that bit more accessible for the reluctant or struggling reader. The books are also a lot shorter, so the satisfaction of completing a book is more easily achieved. These books, which are usually readily available in schools, are simply great for those not in the habit of reading. Two new ‘high-low’ series show how this can work. Pig (That’s Peter Ian Green) is a series of six books written, like the popular Wimpy Kid books, in the fi rst person diary form. But the Pig books are much shorter (only fi fty pages) and the reading age is lower. They’re also UK, not US-focused and they’re a bit more edgy (I think they’re funnier, too). Similarly, Spook Squad is a ‘high-low’ series for girls, with an interest age of seven to twelve years and a reading age of eight years. The books feature four bright and sparky girls who together save the world from ghoulies and ghosties from the Otherworld. They are safe, fun, spirited, beautifully illustrated and empowering for upper primary level girls. And most important - both series, like all good books - show what pleasure can be had from a really good read.

Stephen Rickard is author of the forthcoming book Motivating Reluctant and Struggling Readers, available from Ransom Publishing  

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Birth matters!

Birth matters!                             by Tamara Cianfini, Birtheasy

Imagine being the unborn baby floating comfortably in the warm, soft, dark, fluid space of your mother's womb, drifting in and out of sleep, surrounded by muffled sounds and heartbeats.
Then imagine the sudden shock of being awakened suddenly, and pushed and squeezed into the harsh, stark, and noisy outside world, amid your mother's pained shrieks, racing heart, and adrenalin charged system! Add to that the strain of an unusually long labour, painful forced delivery, or a life-threatening situation. Then add the inevitable distress of the mother, to whom the baby is psychologically and energetically linked, and you have birth trauma. Now try to imagine, on top of all that, the added distress on the newborn infant of being removed from the mother for emergency treatment without the all important skin to skin contact or the initial bonding between mum and baby. What an incredibly cruel, loveless, unpredictable and scary place the world would seem to the distressed newborn. That is the experience and sensation that is imprinted onto the traumatised baby’s untainted mind. A newborn's immature nervous system is purely unconscious mind, combined with life or death driven emotion, so it does not have the cognitive capacity to be able to sort experiences and make sense of the world in a logical, conscious way. Its mind is like a blank sheet on which is printed the fi rst experiences. And this imprint becomes a vital part of the child's life and future experiences. What are the long-term psychological effects for children who have had traumatic births and are they more likely to be anxious or aggressive than their easy-birth counterparts? Of course genetics and many other factors come into the equation too, but, if all else was equal, the child who was traumatised at birth would be more vulnerable to psychological problems. Separation from the mother at birth, as well as the mother's own post-trauma stress response, can affect the early bonding between the mother and child, which is another major factor in the child's psychological development. As a HypnoBirthing practitioner and doula, whenever I am presented with a highly anxious, angry, or oppositional child, I always ask the parents about the child's trauma history, including their birth experience. Actually I do this with my HypnoBirthing couples too. And very often the links are obvious. I have two very different children. My first birth was very traumatic resulting in an assisted delivery with baby needing to spend the fi rst week of his life in the special care baby unit. For my second birth I had found HypnoBirthing and how lucky did I feel. What a beautiful, amazing birth experience I had.There is a definite difference in the nature of my two children and I put this down to their birth imprint. My first birth resolved in a baby with sleep problems,colic and learning diffi culties.Ten years on I can say that my child can be extremely anxious, lacks confi dence and shows obsessive behavour. My daughter on the otherhand is balanced, calm, relaxed and happy and has always been that way since her gentle natural, drug-free HypnoBirth. The way we birth our babies matters! I run coffee mornings with my HypnoBirthing couples and sometimes there are fifteen babies in the room at a time. They are calm, chilled and relaxed and I am sure this is because they have been bought into the world in the best possible way using HypnoBirthing. There really is no better gift to give your baby than a traumafree birth and do everything in our power as parents to prevent any physical and psychological damage right from the very start.
Birtheasy teaches Hypnobirthing in Herts, Essex and London. 
Please contact or phone 07951102213 for details of your nearest HypnoBirthing course.   

Friday, 16 November 2012

Best of British sporting luncheon in Crawley raises over £12,000 for Chestnut Tree House

Football legend, Sir Geoff Hurst, was the celebrity guest of honour at the first Best of British sporting luncheon held in Crawley in aid of Chestnut Tree House, the children’s hospice for Sussex.

The luncheon, which took place on Friday 9 November 2012 at the Copthorne Hotel, Crawley, attracted over 300 businessmen and businesswomen from the local area and raised at least £12,000 for the children’s hospice, with more funds still to come in.

Guests heard from Dave Poke, father of Alice, one of the young people cared for by the hospice, what it means to have a child with a life-limiting illness and how much the support Chestnut Tree House provides means to his family.

The hospice is currently caring for over 260 children and their families with around 50 of those families coming from Crawley and the surrounding area.  It costs over £2.5 million each year to provide this specialist care yet the hospice receives just 8% of its funding from central government and has to raise the remainder from charitable donations and events like the Best of British.

The Best of British sporting luncheons have also been held in Brighton and over the last three years over £250,000 has been pledged and raised for Chestnut Tree House.

The organisers said, “Chestnut Tree House is a local charity, helping local children and it is extremely heart-warming to see how the generosity of businesses in the Crawley area really can make a huge difference to these very deserving families.  we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone for their support – it was amazing.”

Sunday, 11 November 2012


The South East’s most beautiful winter ice rink will be the UK’s first ever ‘green rink’, using a green energy tariff to freeze the ice and power up the attraction which opens this Saturday [November 10] at 10am, organisers announced at the VIP launch party last night.

Brighton & Hove City Mayor Bill Randall welcomed the move, saying: “I am pleased that the rink will be green this year and hopefully in the years to come.  Ice rinks do use a lot of energy, but this is a wonderful attraction for visitors and people who live in the city and it just makes it even better to know that green energy will power it.”

Entertainment for guests was hosted by Andrea Fox, kicking off with a jaunty ice dance from 21-year-old former British figure skater Kirstie Newbrook, who has signed up as an ice marshall at the rink for the winter season. Other acts included Actually Gay Men’s Chorus, Euphoria Steel Band and The Argus Appeal’s Father Christmas, whilst guests enjoyed tasters from the menu of Jamie Oliver’s Fabulous Feasts rinkside restaurant before taking to the ice. 

This year’s rink has more exciting features than ever before with a line up of events and special visitors to be announced soon and ‘beginner-friendly’ skate sessions from 10am to 11am daily, with skate marshalls on hand to offer top tips on learning how to skate, from the winter ice rink’s opening day on Saturday.

With the former Royal pleasure palace as backdrop, the 800 square metre rink has space for 250 skaters per session, with a beginners area and skates from ‘just walking’ to adult sizes, extra penguin stabilisers for kids this year and an extended hour of off-peak on weekdays until 5pm offering seasonal fun and a unique and special Christmas experience.

Jamie Oliver recently announced his involvement, saying: “I’m really excited to be teaming up with Brighton’s Royal Pavilion Ice Rink to add some festive flavour! Fabulous Feasts will be serving up a whole range of gorgeous festive drinks and dishes made from great-quality British produce. With the incredible Royal Pavilion as the venue, it’s going to be a beautiful place to celebrate Christmas and get together with friends and family. Make sure you come and see us and get involved in all the festivities”.

Royal Pavilion Ice Rink tickets cost from £10 for adults and £7 for children under 12 and the one-hour skate times run from 10am to 10.15pm daily. This year off-peak prices run from 10am to 5.15pm, one hour longer than last year and schools can buy tickets for £4 per student. Box office is open from 9.30am to 9.45pm, but it is advisable to book tickets in advance.

Buy your tickets now from or call 0844 8472352 or for group bookings of ten or more call 0844 8471512.