Inspirational Athletes Take Part In City Centre 10k Race

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Worcester City Centre hosted a 10k race and 50k run-bike-run event yesterday.

Thousands took part in the 50k event, which comprised of an open 10k run, a 35k bike race, and a further 5k run.

Runners who took part in the 10k include women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, and Anthony Whiteman, former Great Britain Olympian and European and Commonwealth medallist.

The route, which boasted beautiful views of the river and Worcester Cathedral, started and finished at the racecourse for both events.

Radcliffe, who ran her first race since 2012, is hoping to make her comeback in Worcester. She told BBC Sport that [the race] ‘will give me a chance to see how my fitness is developing’. Radcliffe plans to finish her career at next year’s London Marathon and is taking part in the Worcester event to ‘ease herself back into racing’.

Races for children ran alongside the event yesterday, and Radcliffe took her 7-year-old daughter Isla to take part in a 1 mile run for under-11’s.

Whiteman, hailed ‘the world’s fastest man over 40-years-old’ by a website for sporting events in Worcester, worcestercityrun.com, explains in an interview with the Worcester City Run website why he ran the Worcester 10k. ‘My parents live in Worcester and I have a very close relationship with the city’, he says, ‘so I fancied taking part in the race, especially as it is across my route that I have ran so many times’.

Many roads in the City Centre were closed off yesterday to make way for the enthusiastic participants. Many families and running enthusiasts in Worcester took alongside the inspirational athletes, including Sam Carey, who told Worcester News he tackled the 10k race to raise money for charity Tearfund, and raised money to secure his ticket to Bolivia where he wants to help raise awareness of HIV.

Carey says this was his first 10k race. ‘In an ideal world, I would like to keep up with Paula Radcliffe’, he says.

Article by Georgie Bull.

Photo by Worcester City 10k.

Executive Officer Positions Still Up For Grabs In The University’s By-Election

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The University’s main elections were held in March, but there are still three positions available on the Executive Committee for 2014 – 2015. The positions up for grabs are Diversity Officer, Sustainability Officer, and Welfare Officer. All students, including first years, are welcome to stand for a position or vote in the by-election.

These are part time, voluntary roles that students can take alongside their studies. As an elected officer you will be a full member of the Executive Committee and Student Council, and the hours you spend contributing to fellow students’ welfare can be logged as volunteer hours.

As an Executive Officer you’ll have the opportunity to make sure every student’s voice is heard and gain new skills and experiences that can enhance your CV and employability.

Voting will take place from September 29th until October 3rd. Campaigning may begin immediately following the Candidate’s Briefing Session, which takes place on the 26th September at 16:45. You may campaign until voting closes on Friday 3rd. Candidates will have a small campaigning budget which they may spend on materials to aid their campaign.

To stand as a candidate you must submit a 250-word-maximum manifesto – a public declaration of you intentions should you get elected – in a word document, and a separate head-and-shoulders photograph as a JPEG to studentsunion@worc.ac.uk. The deadline is midday on September 25th.

If you have any questions about the roles and responsibilities, contact Ruth Christie or Paul Johnston, or call into the SU Welcome Desk to make an appointment. The SU has also compiled a booklet with more information about each role and the election process, which you can find at the Welcome Desk.

You can email Ruth at r.christie@worc.ac.uk, and Paul at p.johnston@worc.ac.uk

Article by Georgie Bull. Picture by Bianca Stefaunt

Why Should You Travel Or Work Abroad?

Not only does working or volunteering abroad look good on your CV, it comes with a whole host of other benefits. Living in a different country, where you possibly don’t speak the language, might be overwhelming and a bit lonely at first, but it can also be tremendously exciting. Moving away from everything familiar is a huge step, but it’s the quickest way to learn independence and to learn to trust your own abilities. Your experience abroad may leave you feeling much more confident and ready to tackle any difficulties at university. You’ll learn to make decisions quickly, manage your time and money, and solve your own problems without your parents or friends to lean on. You’ll adapt to communicating and working with strangers, and be able to make friends quickly. Plus, being able to stay in a foreign country for a longer amount of time will allow you to really immerse yourself in their culture, and to discover what’s it’s really like to live there.

As a student, you’ll need your trip to be fairly cheap. The Voice has interviewed students from all over the world in Bucharest, Romania, to find out how they have funded their travels.

Montreal medical student Philippe found volunteer work at a hostel in Bucharest, which he found through workaway.com. Philippe says the website, “has lots of choices for volunteer work abroad, and you get accomodation and food in exchange. There’s loads of options in every country and is a good, cheap way to travel if you don’t mind the work.” But he warns, “Be careful of how many hours you are expected to work, unless you really enjoy the work you don’t want to spend all of your holiday working.”

Tina from Switzerland has just finished her nursing degree and is spending a year travelling Eastern Europe. She has organised her own trip. Tina says, “It took maybe two, three years of saving from my part-time job to afford my trip. I worked so I could travel.” She is traveling with her boyfriend Adam, and says they enjoy having the freedom to take things at their own pace, which you might not have as a volunteer. “We like having a lot of time away, and having the freedom to do whatever we feel like doing every day. We don’t plan, we just go.”

She told The Voice how her family encouraged her not to travel, but to start working after university. “In Switzerland, everybody worries about money and wants to have a good job… but travelling around the world is something I have always wanted to do. Travel while you are young, you have the rest of your life to work.” To keep the cost down, Tina recommends, “Stay at a hostel, where there are other young people, it’s cheaper… and buy your own groceries to make meals if you can. Eating out every day can get really expensive.”

If you really want to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, try swapping your McDonalds for the local cuisine. Philippe says, “You can usually find the ingredients for anything they serve in a restaurant in the supermarket.”

Daniella, a Masters student from Germany, studying History, is travelling to re-ignite her interest in her subject. She says, “I have studied a lot, and it isn’t as interesting when you study because it is hard work. I think people find themselves when they travel and find out what they want to do. Who knows, I might study something else!” She recommends planning ahead: “Plan some of your trip before you leave… what you want to do, and how to get there, or you waste a lot of time planning at the hostel, and you can book train tickets in advance and save some money.”

Australian student Anthony is funding his year-out by working on cruise ships and finding odd jobs while he is travelling. “I had to do the usual bar work and waiting on tables, but I’ve been an artist’s model once, and I had a job painting a house in Italy!” He says he has never found it hard to find a job. “There’s loads of work out there, usually stuff you would never even think of.” He has also taught English as a foreign language in Thailand, and recommends teaching as a good place to start. “Loads of opportunities out there for teaching English… you could pick anywhere in the world.”

No matter your intended destination, there’s always a way to make your travelling dreams a reality on a student budget!

Article by Georgina Bull

Finding the perfect student house

Worcester

Many first years have already signed for a house or have been looking, but if you have not yet found a house, do not panic!

The University of Worcester released the password to studentpad.com on the 12thFebruary. The website lists available student houses and landlords that have been approved by the University, and is a good place to start looking.

The Voice has compiled a list of tips to help University of Worcester students find their perfect student house. Happy hunting!

1. Live with people you like!

Hugh Slater, a first year student who has just signed for a house, says: “Make sure its people you know you can tolerate for a year, possibly two, and who you know you can get along with. If you know you have even one person in the house who is going to disrupt you, that will cause friction for you and the rest of the house.”

A second year student, wishing to remain anonymous, advises against moving in with people that you do not know well: “I only met them once before I moved in, and we should have met up more. We quickly found when we started living together that we have nothing in common and don’t get on. Definitely live with your friends or at least people you know fairly well.”

2. Look early

Jo Ninham, a second year studying Graphic Design, says that she and her housemates looked early for a house: “Look early and look at a lot. Don’t wait for the university to release their website – if you find a good deal, go for it!”

However, SU President KyntonSwingle advises against panicking and quickly signing up for a house that is not very good, out of fear that you might not find a house at all.

“There’s a misconception that if you don’t get a house quickly you won’t get one at all, but there are plenty of houses out there, and more student houses than students. Take your time with it and see as many properties as you can. Ask all the important questions and don’t get bullied into accepting anything by landlords. At the end of the day, you’re the ones that have to live there.”

The location of the house is important too, and second year Drama and Screen writing student Jade King says: “The location of the house is important. A house in St. Johns near to the university is better for getting to lectures and makes it easier to walk back from late lectures. But living in town is better if you go out a lot.”

3. Meet your landlord

Second year students, Jeremy Weighill and Jade King, say they were lucky to have a good landlord.

Jeremy says, “It’s good to meet your landlord. Make sure they’re a reasonable person and are clear on fines and rules of the house.”

Jade adds, “If your landlord seems friendly it should be easier to get on with them, and easier to deal with things that go wrong in the house.”

4. Check the condition of the house

Kynton advises students to check houses thoroughly and ask all of the questions that they need to ask of the landlord: “Ask how much utility bills cost if not included, and the house’s energy rating because that will affect how much you pay for bills. Make sure it’s got things like phone lines for broadband, double glazing, and fire doors.

Check if the radiators are working and if there are enough bathroom facilities for the number of occupants. The best people to speak to are Accommodation. They can help you with a housing checklist.”

Jeremy says, “Make sure the house is in good condition, and check for mould and damp, those are the big ones.”

5. Bills – To be included or not?

Andy Marfell, a third year student, says bills in his house are not included and they have a system to make sure everyone pays their share. “We worked out a system that gives everyone responsibility for the cost of bills and shared items. We have a Facebook group for our house to keep up with it all and so everybody knows when bills are due.”

However, second year student Dan Smyth says having bills included in the rent was essential for him. “Needing as much money as I can get to live off of, it helps when you know exactly what you’re paying for bills. I like that it’s already taken care of and I don’t have to worry about any extra costs.”

6. Read your contract thoroughly

Many students can get stitched up because of things that they missed in the contract. Hugh Slater explains the importance of reading your contract before you sign for a house: “We really liked the first house we saw, but the one we’ve got now had a much better contract. It had less of a deposit, no retainer and we didn’t have to pay the first month’s rent when we signed the contract.”

Kynton warns, “Be careful if the house looks like it needs some TLC, Landlords have a habit of saying they will fix things over the summer, but it doesn’t always get done. If they do say they will make improvements make sure it goes into the contract.”

He says, “You can speak to the accommodation department and get them to go over any housing contracts with you. It’s also a good idea to use Student Pad because all the landlords are accredited and approved by the university.”

Article by Georgie Bull.

City flooding causes disruption and damage

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A fortnight of severe flooding disrupted university services, travel and business in Worcester last month.

The flooding began to escalate from the week of the tenth of February. That week saw the most disruption to travel within the city with all the bridges in Worcester closed and access into the city from outside of Worcester severely reduced. Sabrina Bridge was closed on the twelfth by police as the River Severn continued to rise and re-opened on the fourteenth, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The closure of the busy footbridge meant that for many the only way to travel between the City Centre and the residential area of St. John’s was by shuttle bus, provided free by Worcestershire County Council.

Although lectures were cancelled on the twelfth and fourteenth and some of the University buildings closed, the University of Worcester remained mostly unaffected by the flooding.

John Ryan, University of Worcester Secretary and Pro Vice Chancellor Students, said the closure of university buildings, including the Arena, Riverside and the Hive were ‘unfortunate’ but explained, ‘the Arena and Riverside were closed not because they were inaccessible but because emergency services could not get access due to the flood gates. The Hive was closed because some water flooded into the plant room, however, this was quickly resolved’.

University campuses were unaffected by the flooding, however lectures had to be cancelled due to staff and students being unable to get there. John Ryan noted, ‘the people most affected by the floods were staff who live outside of Worcester who drive and were forced to cross the river outside of the city.’

He also stated that ‘the 2007 flood was much worse and led to both staff and students being forced to stay the night on campus and in hotels’.

Councils have estimated that repairing flood-damaged roads across Herefordshire and Worcestershire will cost millions BBC News Hereford and Worcester reports. Worcestershire County Council has ring-fenced £700,000 while Herefordshire Council estimated it would cost £2.85m to fix potholes and other defects.
Businesses in Worcester have ‘really suffered’ due to the closure of Worcester bridge, making it difficult to visit the City Centre form the west and south, says Adrian Gregson, Leader of Worcester City Council.

The City Council’s website states that Gregson called for action after Prime Minister David Cameron visited Worcestershire to see the flood damage for himself.  The Council hopes that the government will pay for and build a second traffic bridge in Worcester ‘so that the city can keep moving when the River Severn floods’. Plans for a second traffic bridge have been discussed since 2010, but there has been no progress on the proposal.

BBC News Hereford and Worcester issued a health and safety warning to Worcester residents whose homes had been flooded. ‘Contaminated water in an area of Worcester affected by flooding contains bacteria levels nearly 60 times what is considered safe’, the website reports. But Public Health England said: ‘the levels were not unusual after flooding’. Worcester resident Kirsty Baxter told The Voice, ‘the water in the streets looked disgusting and was starting to smell really bad. In calls on the radio people were saying they had seen sanitary towels floating in the water’.

BBC Hereford and Worcester reports that more than forty houses were flooded in Worcestershire and nineteen in Herefordshire. In addition, Western Power Distribution said about 3,600 homes in Worcestershire and 2,000 in Herefordshire were without power.

Worcester News reports that households in the Malvern Hills district that have suffered flood damage will be eligible for a £250 emergency flood grant from the council. The grants will be available to residents whose houses have suffered flood damage to habitable rooms.

Article by Georgina Bull with additional research and photography by Matt Soanes.

Review: The Desolation of Smaug

Smaug

The Desolation of Smaug is certainly a lighter film to its predecessor. The long-winded songs have been dispensed with, the action moves at a much quicker pace, and our heroes have found other ways to travel than walking!

While An Unexpected Journey assumed a dark and malevolent tone reminiscent of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the second film matches the light-hearted tone of the books, becoming a wonderful, action-packed, fantasy-adventure romp. The barrel sequence in particular stands out as a good laugh, where our heroes escape the Wood-Elve’s Kingdom through the rapids in barrels, comically taking out an army of Orcs (that appear to be as good of a shot as stormtroopers!).

The actors are, once again, spot-on. Who could fail to smile at Martin Freeman’s charm as Bilbo Baggins? Richard Armitage adds a touch of suspense as the conflicted Thorin Oakenshield and Stephen Fry adds some wonderful comedic villainy as the Mayor of Dale. But the real star was newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch, the voice of Smaug. Fans were worried if any actor would be able to pull off the dragon’s honey-toned voice, but Cumberbatch nailed it and kept audience’s attention firmly focused on the screen.

A noted difference from Lord Of The Rings is that Peter Jackson has attempted to give more characters a background and context in the movie. The dwarf troupe each have their own distinct personalities, rather than just ‘being there’. Thorin is a stand-out character in this sequel, whose love of the arkenstone almost mirrors Bilbo’s love of the ring. But the characterization can be a bit rushed, such as with Beorn, and more time should have been spent introducing a new important character, Tauriel, who unfortunately only seems to exist in this film for the purpose of a cliché and predictable love triangle.

The problem with this film is that it introduces many plot points but doesn’t resolve many. It introduces characters that are assumed to have an important role in the final film, then they disappear very quickly. Unfortunately, like most middle films in a trilogy, it feels like a great deal of filler and set-up for the final instalment. The film attempts to make links to Lord Of The Rings as well, bringing back a familiar character, but has a little too much name-dropping to not feel forced.

The CGI is excellent, as expected for this series. The dragon looks fantastic, but what is really impressive is the attention to detail in the landscapes. The CGI additions to the scenery are blended so seamlessly with the real locations that you can forget it’s just a fantasy. Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth is incredible to look at and it’s so refreshing to see a film where CGI has been used wisely and the creators haven’t gone overboard. And a last note, the costumes in these films are stunning and awesome to look at, another of the film’s achievements, which, all combined, bring together a spectacular visual treat on-screen.

Review by Georgina Bull.

Screen production society’s 24-hour Halloween competition goes down a treat

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On Saturday November 2 the Screen Production society held a 24-hour filming competition for Halloween to write, film and edit a short horror film – all within 24 hours!

The competitors met up at 2pm and split into two teams – each comprising a director, camera-man, actors, and editor – picked their topic out of a hat and, armed with lots of fake blood, set off to create their horror short!

I took part as well and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Having to get everything done so quickly certainly put the pressure on, but I am proud with what we managed to achieve, and had one of the best evenings I have had since coming to university.

The event was certainly a lot of fun, and from the feedback of those involved, a success!

Andy Marfell, who took part in the event, said: “It was good to meet people from other years and courses. I thought it was fun and well-organised; I would like to do another one.”

Nicole Pott, who also took part, added: “It was great to collaborate with a lot of different people with different ideas. It’s a good experience for someone who wants to work in the industry.”

Screen Production society is all about bringing film-makers, writers, actors, directors and editors together to collaborate on film projects. I have been involved in three projects through the society so far, and have organised my own short film with the help of other people from the society, and I honestly believe I couldn’t do it without them!

Nate Garlick, a second year who has been part of the society since his first year, and now co-chair, says he has found lots of work to enhance his showreel through being a part of the society.

“I managed to get involved in several 3rd year shoots last year towards the end of semester two. This year, I’ve been in high demand and have instantly got recruited onto several projects. I’m currently working on around ten short films. I’m very proud of the work that I’ve managed to produce and I find my skills getting better all the time. If I wasn’t a part of the society, I wouldn’t have known about these projects or managed to get involved in many projects outside of university modules.

“You get a large variety of crew available to make successful looking films. It gives people plenty of opportunities to work on several external projects and enhance their skills.”

Nate said of the event: “I enjoyed it, we tried to put a lot of organisation into it, so getting a lot of people interested, putting up several advertisements to get external people who aren’t members of the society to come along and try it out to see whether they would like to join. I definitely thought it was a lot of fun, getting to know other people well and learn of other’s talents, putting all ideas into one mashed up piece.”

The next 24-hour filming event is on Valentine’s day, and the theme will be, of course, romance! If you’re interested in any aspect of filming why not take part in the event for a taster of what making a film is really like, and a lot of fun!

Story by Georgina Bull.