Doncaster Literacy Project @DonMinster

Words: Louise O’Brien
Photography: Louise O’Brien

Like many people in 2015 — and before that — I watched the news with mounting frustration and sadness. People fled a range of conflicts, genocides, oppressions and more
for perceived safety in neighbouring countries. In some cases, they attempted to travel to Europe to claim asylum. Then the death of a little Syrian boy called Aylan Kurdi, drowning on the route to Greece from Turkey, seemed to change how people felt about this phenomenon, if only for a short time.
I watched the news with a personal interest; migrants of all kinds hold a special place in my heart. I am from an immigrant background in Liverpool; immigrant and proud, I could relate. So it was that, in September 2015, I travelled to Greece with my friend Zahida. We had a lot of money we’d raised and, having made contact with local charities, we touched down in the holiday centre of the island of Kos. What we saw there was profoundly affecting, not just because of the sheer number of refugees: the babies, pregnant women, the very elderly and the disabled. Even with the best efforts of volunteers and organisations based on the island, it wasn’t enough, not nearly enough.
I had never felt such powerlessness. This situation was, and is, replicated in countless other locations across Europe and beyond.
Within hours we’d decided how to spend the money. We negotiated with a hotel to let us block book rooms in their hotel for the most vulnerable cases. We also paid for ferry fares to Athens, food for hundreds of people per day and clothes, backpacks, shoes and socks. We were working alongside volunteers from all over the world and local Greeks, an incredible network of people who — like us — had thought
‘there’s got to be something we can do to help’. While we were there, I started to think about what the refugees we’d met would need most when they arrived at their destination — their new home. I concluded that not only was it being able to speak the language of where you live, they would need to gain enough confidence quickly to become part of the society they had joined, to avoid further social isolation and depression.
I’d started talking to colleagues at the Minster about what we could do to help in this complex,worldwide situation. We went to meet the people who run Doncaster Conversation Club at the Quaker Meeting House, who suggested that the most useful thing we could do would be an English language project. I took a group of potential volunteers from the Minster to the Conversation Club and I could hardly get them back out of the building. This idea has always had the fullest support from the Minster team. In January 2016, after 3 months development, we held our very first English class at the Minster with direct support from the Conversation Club. Some of the lead volunteers are retired qualified teachers, but not all. The main thing volunteers need is the wish to support learners on an equal footing as they improve their English. We do paired reading, grammar, group work, writing, learning games, we use maps and books and even the building itself in teaching people how the English language has changed over time. We have never wanted to set up a mini-school, we aim to stay ultra-flexible and able to respond to needs ‘on the hoof’. We don’t turn people away, we just pull up more chairs and tables. We receive no direct funding and the project works on donations and volunteer efforts.
If someone needs one-to-one assistance because of either a very low level, very high level of English literacy or simply lack of confidence we can accommodate that, thanks to our volunteers. People of any faith or no faith are welcome to use the project. As a direct result of the Literacy Project, the Adult, Family and Community Learning team at DMBC partners with the Minster to deliver certificated ESOL courses through a qualified ESOL tutor at St George House. This allows some people to move from the informal groups to a structured course, without having to pay. We work with CAST, Heritage Services and others on collaborative projects, extending opportunities to people who might miss out on high quality cultural experiences otherwise.

The Literacy Project takes place from 1-2.45pm each Wednesday, closing only for Christmas, New Year and
Easter week. The group has worked with people from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Congo, Bahrain, Nigeria, Somalia, Albania, Algeria, Poland, Slovakia, Romania, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Ghana, Pakistan, Japan, Palestine, Spain, France, Ethiopia, Kuwait and Eritrea. The project is free to attend and the refreshments are also free. For more information about the Literacy Project or about our partners, please contact: office@doncasterminster.org.uk 01302 323 748 www.doncasterminster.co.uk Facebook: facebook.com/DonMinster/ Twitter: @DonMinster

Why We Love @TheRegentHotelDonc

Words: Michelle Beck
Photography:John Fuller

Being a massive Beatles fan, I was more than enthused to get the opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the night the boys stayed at Regent Hotel, what I wasn’t perhaps expecting was how this legend intertwined with the rich family history of the Longworth’s and their perseverance and dedication with the rise and rebirth of the Regent Hotel.
The inspiration for the Abbey Road Bar is the Beatles memorabilia collected from one of their infamous gigs in Donny. On the 5th February 1963, The Beatles performed at Doncaster’s Gaumont cinema, they stayed at the Regent Hotel after that very performance – the Abbey Road bar displays a copy of the sign-in registrar (the original is in a safe) and the drum kit Ringo played on that night. Simon Longworth, the owner of the Regent Hotel remembers his Grandma telling him about the night The Beatles stayed, she said the street outside was swarming with girls and that she was shooing them off at the front door as they tried to come into the hotel. Simon’s dad, then just a whipper snapper swapped his morning paper round so that he could make breakfast in bed for the lads from Liverpool (which in those days was a piece of toast and a mug of tea) as he went into their room John Lennon and Paul McCartney were sat on the bed strumming a guitar and writing songs.  A little under two months later and The Beatles had their first number one record with “From Me To You”, “Please Please Me” had reached number two in the January 1963 before the Donny gig in February.
The Regent Hotel began its life in 1935 when Simon’s great-grandma Nellie rented the building; Number 1 Regent Square from the doctor next door. Simon’s great-grandparents began the Longworth’s entrepreneurship, realising they were situated alongside which was then the old A1. As they began to make money they installed a bathroom on every floor where guests could share the bathroom facilities, bearing in mind in those days most people’s bathroom were outhouses in the back yard. It soon became a busy and successful guest house. Simon explained:
“Grandpa Colin and Nanna Peggy took over in the 1950’s, Grandpa Colin then bought Number 2 from the doctor. He then acquired Number 3 and added sinks in every bedroom at which point it became a hotel but they still shared a bathroom on the end of each floor”.

By the 1970’s the hotel was hugely successful but Simon’s Grandpa was looking to retire so there was a family meeting to discuss if they were going to keep it in the family or if they would sell it. Grandpa’s three sons were all asked. Michael (Simon’s dad) nominated himself and quit his job as an insurance broker to take on the fourteen hour long, gruelling days as the hotel manager. Michael opened the Parade bar in (1976) which is the main bar now and opened – what we now know as the Abbey Road bar (2002), its predecessor O’Grady’s (1990) then called; The Archives or Cellar bar (1981).
During the 1980’s Simon’s dad Michael and mum Sharon ran the Regent Hotel, which was then two very busy bars and a restaurant with bedrooms above. Simon had started helping out at the weekend in the kitchen age 9, scrubbing potatoes and washing pots. His eyes light up as he remembers;
“It was great fun”.
This experience as a youngster set him on his journey through college studying Hotel Management. In 1986 he went to France to work as a chef, in 1987 he worked in Hong Kong, later moving to Switzerland in 1989. In 1990 Simon came back for what he thought was a brief visit home to Donny before he would venture back off to Canada.  In November 1991 Simon’s dad called him and asked if he’d help out at the Regent over the busy Christmas period. Simon rekindled the same love for the Regent he’d experienced as a young boy and has been there ever since. His dad retired in 2010 and Simon has managed the Regent with the help and guidance of his mum Sharon, keeping him focused through the difficult times and changes, he expands;
“We’ve worked through some very hard times, the recession of 2008-2009, when no one had any money. We had to rethink our business plan. We changed the traditional À la carte menu to the Bar and Grill approach. We have had to adapt and regenerate. My mum helped me any way she could from making seat covers to curtains for the rooms, she was always there.”
The future of the Regent is safe in the Longworth family hands, Simon’s wife Eileen and three children Connor (19), Mary (17), and Shane (15) have all worked at and continue to work at the Regent Hotel.
“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make”
Is the closing line from the song ‘The End’ from The Beatles album Abbey Road. Its significance is steeped in the Longworth family history and the heart of their family is the Regent Hotel.
To find out more about the The Regent click HERE 
Follow writer and poet Michele Beck on Twitter HERE

"From Flowers to Coal Mines" New Painting Retrospective By Janet Buckle

For this piece, James Phaily talks about Janet Buckle who is a painter and artist that has created artwork representing the impact of coal mining in Doncaster 
Words:  James Phaily
Artwork:  Janet Buckle

Born in Bradford in 1945, Janet Buckle has been exhibiting regionally and nationwide since 1980. Taught by an eccentric and inspirational art teacher, she never wanted to be anything but a painter. Her portfolio won her a place at The Slade School of Fine Art and she has since developed work that spans drawing, painting, mixed media and printmaking.
Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery will host a retrospective of Janet’s life work entitled From Flowers To Coal Mines between April 21st until July 1st. It promises to show some real gems from all stages of this fantastic artist’s career.
Over the past fifty years, Janet has worked on both canvas and wood to express her keen interest in shape, colour and pattern. During this time she has created artwork representing the impact of coal mining on the Doncaster landscape, housed across Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery and the National Coal Mining Museum of England. She has also displayed art in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, a series of solo touring exhibitions and The European Biennial of Contemporary Art in Limburg, Belgium.
Janet admits that she works slowly, taking months to complete a medium sized painting. Using simple and dramatic shapes with strong harmonious colours, her art reflects her surroundings whether they are a coal mining landscape or flowers in her studio.
The beauty of Janet’s work lies in the photographic realism and her adept and painterly brushstrokes. In her hands, the downtrodden landscape of our once thriving coal mining community can be transformed into true beauty, urging us to see the picturesque in our communities and our everyday lives.
Doncaster Museum & Art Gallery, Chequer Road, Doncaster DN1 2AE 21st April – July 1st | Admission – Free

No Words Needed… Only One … Imogen

Here we talk about Imogen’s artwork and what types she has made over the years.
22/03/18 marked the opening of Doncopolitan’s new art exhibition featuring the works of one amazingly talented, local artist, Imogen Carline. Except, there is more to it than this – Imogen is just 17 years old, she has ‘Classic Kanner Autism’, and is subsequently non-verbal. Art is the main way for her to express her world to those around her.

The collection of work is massive, having spent years building it up. What is currently displayed at Doncopolitan is only a small part of what Imogen can do.
A lot of her work takes inspiration from children’s TV shows, there’s a series around Clifford the Big Red Dog, Angelina Ballerina and Funny Bones, to name a few. The shows are from all different eras and rendered in all different mediums. From photographed and screenshot stills – you can see hundreds of tiny print outs arranged into collages on kites. To paint, pencil, felt tip and computer enhanced. You can see how her drawings of foxes and racoons have progressed as she has experimented with a new medium in each representation.

She has an envelope series that took inspiration from actual deliveries sent to her house – considering the appearance of the envelopes as well as their contents. There is a series on boys and girls, all wearing colourful dungarees, rows and rows of mice after mice sporting pretty bows, aesthetically pleasing pages of words that blur into one, like a complicated poem and plates adorned with patterns of precisely placed Blu-Tac. Then there are my personal favourites, the thick black painted line drawings of a rabbit, a cat and a bear – so simple yet so effective, these graphic designs wouldn’t go amiss as logos.

The art ranges from the bright and colourful to just black and white, giving the overall exhibition a very feel-good mood – reflecting two heart-warming moments experienced on the opening night. First, when Imogen’s brother, James Carline, read a poem he’d written for his sister called “Talking Is Overrated”. Then second, when Imogen heard the news Doncopolitan and Rachel Horne were putting her art into a show – she uttered the words: “Rachel Artist”. What we can only imagine is an indication of just how much this exhibition has truly meant to her.
The exhibition is on now until the end of April due to a visit from Ed Miliband on the 20th of April. After seeing what we’d done on opening night, we happily watched Imogen make the live alterations it needed – adding brand new pieces to her already expansive collection.
We are also selling Imogen merch. This includes prints, t-shirts and mugs – get yours quick before they’re gone!

Boyos With Vision

We celebrate Lewis Beasley and Lewis Joel Fairmen who are transforming Doncaster’s nightlife offer.
Words: Rachel Horne
Images: Nick Dhokia

To really understand Donny’s night life you need to be on the front line of the fight and experiencing what’s going on for yourself.  Over the last 12 weeks, with the exception of a night out in Nottingham and Leeds, I’ve gone out most weekends and even some school nights in Doncaster Town Centre. I’ve been to gigs, poetry nights, comedy nights, exhibition launches, performance art. I’ve also seen drag and burlesque at the Hallcross pub and danced to both Northern Soul and Tech House in the same weekend.
I’ve heard some of the best indie bands coming out the UK right now from our friends at Hot Mustard and witnessed two impressive female fronted bands Bang Bang Romeo and Kizah and The Kings play a free entry gig on my doorstep.
Doncaster is full of gems when it comes to nightlife and – trust me, I would have done more if my liver and purse could handle it.
The biggest night for me in 2018 thus far, was the third of a new monthly House night headlined by Tech House DJ Mella Dee at Vintage on Silver Street.
Mella Dee, if you’ve not heard of him, is  a massive name in dance music. Recently gracing the pages of Mix Magazine his track Techno Disco Tool has been pushed by huge names in dance such as Annie Mac, Danny Howard and Black Madonna.  Only a few weeks ago Nick Grimshaw of the BBC1 Breakfast Show, choose Techno Disco House as his track of the week. Nick Grimshaw, was one of the judges on Britain’s Got Talent and has 2.1M Twitter followers.
It truly saddens me many people in Doncaster don’t even know who Mella Dee is, even though the signature  artwork for Techno Disco Tool is a vector of none other than the notorious Doncaster Warehouse and yes, this has been shared to millions of people online. Mella Dee is a boyo proud of this iconic venue even if many Doncastrians aren’t.
To deepen my understanding of the night-time economy, I decided to reach out to two young promoters/artists hosting this new night.  Founded in 2017 Vision aims to bring headliners to Doncaster, alongside intimate parties. Basically they’re  promoting the music they love. Meet Lewis Beasley and Lewis Joel Fairman …
Firstly, how did you meet and how did you get into all this?
LJF. We’re know each other through School and we both live in Town Moor.  I had these really back decks, years ago and I practiced for like a year, my mum worked at Boiler Rooms before it was Vintage. My mum got me a few gigs even though I was under age. I just kept practicing and practicing and that was it really.
LB. had decks years old, when I was at school but sold them, but we started going out in Nottingham which is where I started for us. The scene there was just great, we’d all go out. We went to Ibiza from being 18. I’m doing music tech now at college and in September I’m going to be studying at Point Black Music School in London. It’s a music and creative media training school founded in London. It offers a variety of courses in electronic music production and sound engineering, DJing, singing and songwriting.
How did you get Mella Dee to Doncaster?

LJF To be honest, he likes playing here, it gives him a chance to come home and his friends and family can attend too.
How was it for you guys on the night? It was a great night for me, I didn’t stop dancing…
LJF. We think it was overall, surprising from both the customers point of view and ours. Doncaster hasn’t had regular listings and headline DJ acts from House and Techno scene for over 10 years so to bring that back felt pretty good, we always knew there was once a scene – so our vision was to bring it back and on Saturday we felt we accomplished that.
The vibe from when Mella Dee came on was just wicked, everyone really got involved, danced and had a great time. For us we felt this was the first event that’s had a really strong connection with the DJ. From this we’re only going to progress and continue with monthly headline acts at Vision
So what’s  the future for Vision?
LB. Plans are to keep it a monthly event with headliners at most parties. We are now working with Huellas to do a terrace event but keeping our monthly events at Vintage on Silver, as we have a really good relationship with the venue. We have Del-30 a Yorkshire based DJ duo for the upcoming event on March the 3rd. Then we have mad villains headlining our Bank Holiday gig on April 1st.
Is it costing you guys at lot to put on each event? You’re clearly putting loads of hard work into the event to make it all happen?
LB. We’re doing pretty well to be honest. The money we make, we’re  just putting everything back in to making each event happen. We’re not in this for the money. We want to make something special happen in our hometown.
If you love house music as much as we do follow the boyos HERE and see you at one of there future events.
#BigUpDonny <3