Friday 25 March 2016

Rotherham Victims

This week the Drew Review found that South Yorkshire Police's handling of child sexual exploitation was 'inadequate' and the force 'regularly missed' opportunities to tackle the problem. I've been speaking to survivors and their families at an art therapy group on the outskirts of Rotherham to find out what they make of the way they were treated by the police...

BBC Copyright

Sunday 13 March 2016

Parler en Français

I'm determined to be very comfortable speaking in French because I'm a quarter Belgian, studied French A Level and love France, especially le Tour!

A few months ago I started taking weekly conversation classes. The last time I studied French was as an additional subject at university twelve years ago. The big difference this time around is how useful I've found new technology in helping me learn.

I've come across Radio France Internationale's (equivalent of the BBC's World Service) excellent news programme, Journal en Français Facile. It's 10 minutes of daily news in simple French and is available as a podcast. The transcript of each programme is available on the website too so you can listen and read at the same time to aid comprehension.

Secondly, Google Translate on the desktop and the app on my mobile is really handy. It's quick to look-up  words, detecting the language of the word you're typing in and want to translate. I can also use my phone's camera to scan a French text and immediately see the translation of it in English. The website and app work better as a dictionary though, with more detail about the words you're looking up.

For years I've been emailed a French word of the day. which has been really good way of learning new words and reading a bit of French every day.

Google Translate,, the Journal en Français Facile podcast and the French word of the day email have really helped my learning of French.

My brother Pascal who is skilled at learning languages emailed me recently from Portugal where he's moved to:' Try to learn is an many different ways as possible: Read, listen, speak, write - get all parts of the brain working so it casts a web around the language' Great advice!

Do you know of other websites or apps that you use to improve your foreign language skills? Do comment below if so.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Fundraising for Tommy's

The last 12 months have been tough for my wife Emily and me. I’ve decided to try to do something positive by taking on the challenge of Ride London, cycling 100 miles in London and Surrey in July and Sheffield Half Marathon in April. I’d like to ask for your support in the form of a donation, however small.

Emily and I have suffered two miscarriages in the last year. It’s hard to put in to words how devastating it is to lose a baby, however early. The excitement and anticipation you feel when you’re expecting is abruptly and cruelly brought to an end. And once you’re done at the hospital you’re just left to get on with life and to try again despite the fear of how you’ll cope if the same happens yet again. It’s a lonely experience.

Until you have three miscarriages in a row the NHS isn’t interested in investigating what might be the cause. Even then, very little is understood about why so many women miscarry – around 1 in 4 women lose a baby during pregnancy and birth – this devastation impacts on so many couples. This is where the charity Tommy's comes in. They fund research into pregnancy problems and try to end the stigma around miscarriage.

Tommy’s and its supporters refuse to accept that a baby's death is just 'one of those things'. Their target is to halve the number of babies that die during pregnancy or birth by 2030.

You can donate here: