11/11/2011 Midlands Today


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Hello. Welcome to Midlands Today with Sarah Falkland and Nick Owen.


How we remembered them. Thousands pay silent tribute across the


region to the war dead on Armistice Day. And very emotional. Because it


is hard, but proud at the same time. Jobs joy in the Potteries as a


ceramics firm announces 200 new posts. I am pleased to say that


this year the business is doing even better.


Six schools to be bulldozed under plans to transform education in


Telford. And Port Vale help a former player


who lost his leg after becoming a Good evening. Welcome to Friday's


Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight: thousands pay tribute to


our fallen servicemen on Armistice Day. At eleven o'clock this morning,


the West Midlands fell silent for two minutes to remember those


servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their


country. The biggest Armistice Day parade in England was at Bedworth,


in Warwickshire, with more than 5,000 people attending. From there,


Giles Latcham reports. Bedworth was busy from early


morning. The young, and the not-so- young, civilians and ex-servicemen


and women gathering to remember. This is the one town in the country


that abides it by the original day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of


the 11th month. I think it is great. Proud to be Bedworth. We grow up


here, and it is a proud day for us. Pipe and drums led the way on the


parade through the town centre. Falling in behind, veterans from


across the Midlands and units of 30 Signal Regiment and the Royal


Fusiliers both based locally. is no doubt about it, there is a


feeling of strength, of camaraderie, of community. Among those at the


war memorial, the mother of a Bedworth soldier, Sergeant Simon


Valentine, killed in Helmand two years ago. For her, a difficult day.


Very emotional, because it is hard. Proud at the same time. A beautiful


town. He shared the support it year in, year out, not just because of


my boy, but the town is well known for its Remembrance and pride.


At eleven all over the Midlands people stopped to pay their


respects - judges and barristers doffing their wigs outside Stafford


In Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent they gathered to remember the campaign


in Burma, two veterans now in their nineties honouring the comrades who


They are not as bad as they think we are when people turn up to pay


their respects to the fallen comrades. In Worcester they


gathered in the shadow of the At Rubery on the outskirts of


Birmingham, commemoration mixed Poppies showered at the opening of


a new market in an area blighted by the collapse of the Rover car works


In Bedworth, schoolchildren prepared for the service at the war


memorial by writing poems with the theme of remembrance. In Flanders


fields of poppies grow, and now we remember the Saunders that have


died and the spirits that lie in the sky. It is marvellous. We had


350 children. I had to turn 70 away because it was just too big.


Not only is it the 11th day of the 11th month, but for once in many


generations, the year ends in 11, too. This was the biggest parade


since they began in 1921 - in a town proud to remember.


Another major focus of today's commemorations was the National


Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where the names of 16,000


servicemen who've died since 1945 are engraved on the Armed Forces


Memorial. It's designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of


the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight shines through its walls,


poignantly hitting the bronze wreath sculpture in the centre.


Prince William is patron of an appeal to raise �12 million to


build further facilities at Alrewas, and last night a fundraising dinner


The National arboretum has become in just a few years the iconic


focal point for the nation's remembrance of British heroes. It


is a place of sanctuary for those who come to remember, a place at a


quiet pride in the selflessness and sacrifice of those who have gone


before. We can cross live now to The


National Memorial Arboretum where we can join chief executive Charlie


Bagot Jewitt. Thanks for joining us, Mr Bagot Jewitt. Another very


special day for you at the Arboretum. What are your thoughts


on the day? It is always a very moving day. The 11th of the 11th of


the 11th, 11 o'clock, certainly a very special time farce. Sadly the


sunshine did not come through the aperture in the memorial today, it


was just too dark. But I don't think that mattered. Everyone was


remembering their own loved one. Visitors numbers are climbing


dramatically - hitting 300,000 a year. What do you put that down to?


I think there is an national mood for remembrance. We have been in


conflict. But I think there is also a national mood to learn and


understand what our armed forces do and what they do for us and our


freedoms. What we have here is not just better facilities for the


visitors, but also interpretation and education facilities so that we


can really explain what Remembrance is about and why it is so important.


We heard earlier from Prince William - how vital is his support?


Absolutely vital. To have the Duke of Cambridge on board supporting


our appeal in such an active way and taking such an interest in the


site really gives an element of leadership, leadership to the


country and to asked to make sure that we really do our best to


honour of fallen. And what plans do you have for


Remembrance Sunday? We will have a standard service here. I would


advise anyone who does want to come here to arrive shortly after 10


o'clock. The service will be a normal one with a silence at 11


o'clock. And then just after lunch there will be a further thought,


prayer and a band concert at sunset. Thank you very much indeed. And on


Remembrance Sunday, the Politics Show will be talking to the


Coventry Labour MP and former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth,


who claims British troops are now benefiting from decisions about


equipment that he made while in charge at the Ministry of Defence.


In recent years, Snatch Land Rovers, body armour and night-vision


goggles have all needed improving. Mr Ainsworth admitted delays in


replacing kit were very frustrating. There can never be enough. There


were improvements before I was Defence Secretary, improvements


during my time, it pushed the expense up quite a lot, but it was


what was needed. But the time lag is enormous.


Also on Sunday's programme, the mid-Worcestershire MP and Defence


Minister Peter Luff will be quizzed by an Army mother on what more he


can do to help her soldier sons. That's on The Politics Show on


Sunday at ten past three on BBC One. A gang of eleven men have been


convicted of setting up what police believe was set to be one of the


country's largest cannabis factories. The group, mostly from


the West Midlands, were arrested following a five-month


investigation by Staffordshire Police. At the conclusion of the


trial, the judge commended detectives for an operation he said


had brought to justice some serious criminals. Here's our Staffordshire


reporter, Liz Copper. This was what police discovered


when they raided the farm at the centre of this investigation. There


were more than 800 plants. They'd have produced cannabis worth an


estimated �2.75 million. Detectives also uncovered generators, fans and


lighting equipment. This is the gang behind the plan to build what


police believe was one of the larges and most sophisticated


cannabis factories in the UK. Amongst them, Neil Bridges from


Hammerwich and Peter Bassett from Rugeley in Stafford. Also convicted,


Paul Hicks from Solihull. Professional plumbers, electricians


have been used to set this up. So we feel that it is a long-term


operation which potentially was going to benefit a number of


individuals for some considerable years.


This is the farm in rural Lincolnshire where the drugs were


cultivated. The barns here had undergone extensive adaptations,


costing around �1.4 million. Cannabis use and its supply have


been targeted by both the police and agencies combating drug abuse.


Even the ones who use it as a recreational drug, which is a


phrase sometimes used, and they use it on an occasional basis, it is a


very dangerous path to go down, because some people may not go


further down the rocky road of harder drugs, but I'm afraid an


awful lot of people do. Police say the gang behind this


cannabis factory had criminal links nationwide. The men who have been


convicted will all be sent to Inst later. Police say they were living


a lavish love * -- sentenced later. Police say they were living a


lavish lifestyle funded by their drug dealing.


Four men have been found guilty of stabbing to death a shopkeeper in


Birmingham in an attack witnessed by his four young children. Suppiah


Tharmaseelan's children, who saw his murder via a security camera in


the family home, appealed for strong punishment for his killers.


The gang who attacked him at his shop in Kingstanding had been


drinking heavily nearby and were caught on CCTV leaving a pub. Twins


Ian and John Meenan and brothers Anthony Bayliss and Liam Ryan were


all found guilty of murder after a month-long trial. A fifth man


pleaded guilty to robbery. He is a family man with four young children


who has done very well to establish a business, we know how difficult


it is to run a business these days. And it was all taken away by five


thugs coup came in, stabbed him and number of times and stole


cigarettes and alcohol. There's been severe disruption to


train services across the Midlands today owing to signalling problems


at Wolverhampton. Virgin Trains, London Midland and Cross Country


trains have all been affected. Passengers have been able to use


their tickets on some National Express bus and tram services


instead, but there are still problems and delays across the rail


network. Some more positive news about jobs now - there's fresh


evidence this evening that Staffordshire's pottery industry


could be heading for better times. 200 new jobs have been announced in


Stoke-on-Trent in an industry that's seen massive decline in


recent years. Laura May McMullan reports now on a growing belief


that the good times could be There's little sign of economic


struggle at Steelite International in Stoke-on-Trent. In fact they


seem to have a handle on their business, and sales are currently


glowing. Last year we did have record sales behind a very


difficult economic backdrop. I am pleased to say that this year the


business is doing even better. put it down to their products still


being made in the Potteries. Last year production increased by 24%,


and last year's turnover was �60 million. Now they're looking to


recruit more staff. We were successful in winning a regional


growth fund. The grant will be up to �2 million. What it will do for


us is able to enter new markets with new products, and the great


thing for the City is that his plans to create around 200 jobs.


But can the industry its own two feet? Well, figures show it's good


news for the tableware sector. Sales last year were up by �31


million compared to the previous year. And industry experts at this


ceramics fair believe companies are starting to turn a corner. Firms


that have got their strategy is right and go for the overseas


markets are seeing their sales increase. Shouldn't the Council


have protected and promoted its industry way before now? Yes,


definitely.That's why we're now starting to bang a drum and say


Stoke-on-Trent is open for business. The red carpet is open for any


business. Smaller companies like Valentine


Clays have seen a substantial growth since attending the ceramics


fair last year. They've seen their profits increase by 10%. I think


there is a positive attitude in the industry at the moment. We are all


working together, and they think it is beginning to pay dividends now.


There are currently around 350 ceramics companies in the city,


employing more than 20,000 people. This year the forecast is likely to


show that the industry turnover The football club supporting one of


their former players who lost a leg in a workplace accident.


And if this gloomy, cloudy, murky week of weather's been getting you


down, I've got some good news for the weekend. There's rain tonight -


but then it brightens up. The full Six schools are to be demolished


and rebuilt under plans to transform education in Telford in


Shropshire. The plans will cost �200 million and mark the return of


the Building Schools for the Future programme. The aim is to replace


ageing classrooms and cater for a rising birth rate. This report from


Ben Godfrey. Year Seven pupils at Charlton


School were learning about heavy weights in their science classes


today. Within four years, their classrooms could be flattened and


replaced with a new school. Something really bright and airy to


encourage kids to learn. They have said they will be built bigger


classes, and we will be more spaced around. We have covered many


stories about building schools for the future on Midlands Today. But


this one is not about dilapidated buildings. We have almost 1,200


students in a building built in the Sixties and was meant to take 750


children. It is a large student population a relatively small


school. We have outgrown it. plan was devised by the last Labour


government to improve schools. But it was put in detention by the


coalition government. But Telford and Wrekin Council has a Labour


leadership and last night agreed a revised �200 million rebuilding


package. We did have a cut in the funding last year in November, but


I'm pleased that this has allowed us to continue. The building


schools for the future programme is essential. It'll be in the


classroom that school leaders hope to see a real difference. Take a


look at Telford's main Catholic college, erected in the '60s and on


the list to be demolished. A new Christian faith academy will


replace it in Priorslee, taking pupils from a Catholic and Anglican


background. It wouldn't really change what we do on a day-to-day


basis. We might have to look at aspects of worship, but we are a


pretty broad church already. plans are not a very advanced. We


were shown this farmer's field where one could be built. A public


consultation starts later this month.


It's time for sport now on FA Cup weekend. Dan Pallett's here, and we


start with something that'll touch everyone, whether they like


football or not, Dan. Yes, a very poignant tale. Andy


Shankland played just 26 games for Port Vale. He once played against


Manchester United at Old Trafford. But he never played in the FA Cup.


That's because Andy's career was suddenly cut short by injury. But


his bad luck was to turn even worse, as Ian Winter reports.


10.30 this morning, and the Port Vale players are off to training.


Just like Andy Shankland used to do. But those days are long gone.


Because Andy's life has followed a very different path since he first


dreamed of hitting the big time in professional football. He was a


talented left-winger. 30 years ago, aged 17, he scored on his debut.


But five years later, an ankle injury killed off his football


career, and worse was to follow. He to come window-cleaning, fell off a


ladder, and surgeons had to amputate his left leg.


What is your attitude towards life now? Just get on with it! I have


always had that attitude. These things happen to you. Things


happened other people. You have to make the best of what you have got.


Fans of Stoke and Birmingham will remember Jeff Scott, whose career


was also ended by injury. He is now helping Andy and thousands more ex-


professional to cope with the legacy of old injuries. I am glad


we caught Andy, because my fear is that he could have got lost in the


community and lost to football. Football needs big stories, and it


needs to be seen to be doing something good. I'd like to see


football stand up and take some responsibility here. He is part of


the Port Vale family, and it highlights that not everybody is a


John Terry Oras Steven Gerrard. There are lots of footballers out


their dealing with a lot of hardships. Andy grew up in Stoke,


and live with one leg isn't easy. With a loving family and supportive


friends, he still has plenty to be thankful for. Here today, gone


tomorrow. He take it for granted sometimes, you don't always


appreciate it. It can be gone just like that. Tomorrow, Andy is hoping


Port Vale avoid a banana skin against non-League Grimsby, but


experience tells him it won't be the end of the world if they lose.


And don't forget all the football action tomorrow will be covered by


our colleagues on BBC local radio. What a story about Andy there, and


I know that Jeff Scott does a wonderful thing. Tell us about the


Birmingham boxer Khalid Yafai. A big day for him.


Bizarrely, Britain has to fly wades who could potentially go to the


Olympics, and there is only one place. He's fighting for his place


at the London Olympics today. Yafai, who's a flyweight, will fight


Andrew Selby from Wales for a place in the British team. The winner


will be decided over the best of three fights starting this


afternoon at York Hall in Bethnall Green. Unfortunately he lost today.


So he has to win the next one. If he doesn't win tomorrow, the dream


is over seven months before the Olympics.


What pressure! Good luck to him. Now it is time to have a look at


what the weather is going to do. There are some brighter skies to


come through the weekend. It should be mostly dry, and it is going to


feel mild, I unseasonably mild for the time of year. But before we get


to that, we have some reign to get out of the way -- some rain to get


out of the way. That band of rain will push east through the course


of the evening. Once it clears away, things will dry up. This is how


things look as we start the day tomorrow. This is the weather that


brought the rain tonight. This area of high pressure starts to exert


its influence, and that will give us some brighter weather through


the day tomorrow. One or two isolated showers, but otherwise it


is a mainly dry day. In the sunshine, feeling pleasant with a


high of 14 or 15 Celsius. A lovely day to head off to the races at


Cheltenham. It should be fine and dry, with some sunny spells.


Temperatures up to 15 Celsius in a light southerly breeze. Plenty of


coverage of that on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Through the night,


some are missed and a Merc creeping There should be some sunny spells


developing for Sunday, so it should be fine and dry for any remembrance


events you're heading to. The temperatures will lift again to 14


or 15 Celsius on Sunday. The start of next week, the days follow a


similar passion -- fashion, cloudy The cast and crew from E 20, the


new internet spin-off from EastEnders, it is written by a team


It is Albert Square all right, but younger, edgier and with more punch.


You won't catch this on your telly, but online. And this is face. --


Faith. She is hilarious, she wants her own way. The gruelling schedule


is no surprise, but there was a surprise from some of the students


when they were asked to have a go at scripting. They managed to put


together a very gritty script, Peter hears from Melbourne and has


worked on it neighbours. Somebody suggested that she was a gay


character, I think they said it to get a laugh, but actually it was a


good idea. You have to just have your imagination and be creative.


Where is our crew? Time to film what they have written, and


starring alongside the 20 and their characters is one of our own local


students. It has made me think differently about TV and what goes


on behind the scenes. Will Walford ever be the same with Faith and her


It is going down very well with the kids, very popular apparently.


More than 4,000 people have visited the Staffordshire Hoard on display


in America. Among the hundreds of items on show in Washington DC are


some of the most valuable pieces in the collection. They have been


carefully restored and put together by experts in Birmingham. The


exhibition is due to last until March next year.


Now, if you haven't heard of Movember? It is spelt with an M.


Ates a month when men are grow a moustache to raise awareness for


prostate and testicular cancer. This year there will be around


37,000 new cases. I have been affected through family, and they


feel this is a chance for me to try and help in raising awareness for


men's prostate and testicular cancer. Let's have a look at


tonight's main headlines again. Across the UK, millions of people


have been marking Armistice Day, with communities falling silent in


memory of those who've lost their lives for their country. That's all


from us this evening, on Armistice Day. So much of today's focus has


been on the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire - which


is where you'll find a special series of photographs taken by


visitors to Alrewas. We leave you with some of those images. A day


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