Insights into Sports, Memories and the Budget |

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This article first appeared in the February 22 Isle of Man Examiner.


Have any of you followed the Winter Olympics?

I particularly enjoy the disciplines of bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. To me, they’re as close to the adrenaline rush of TT racing as most other sports.

I think the inclusion of exciting big air freeskiing following the inclusion of big air snowboarding in 2018 helps keep the event fresh and relevant for the next generation.

It was good to see our own snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier on TV coverage commenting on the sport she has done so well in over the years as a four-time Team GB Olympian.

I have to say that I agree with those who thought the decision regarding the Russian figure skater sent the completely wrong message.

However, that aside, it has been some very exciting games.

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Are you looking forward to the TT and the Manx Grand Prix? My answer is obviously yes, the thrilling races and party atmosphere create a different island vibe for the TT fortnight.

Our welcome visitors will provide a much-needed boost, especially to the hospitality industry.

They also take the time to appreciate the beauty of our island and many are very interested in the variety of heritage, from Vikings to Victorians, that is on offer to them.

Unfortunately, there is currently an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with various decisions, but my message is clear: everyone who is passionate about our historic motorsport events must find a way forward to work together to secure their future.

It can be a very difficult situation and the closest I’ve been through was when David Jefferies lost his life in 2003. There was a very difficult period of accusations back and forth and I was in the middle trying to find a way out. I will always be grateful to Nick Jefferies, the DJ’s uncle, who was so supportive back then.

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Leading up to the TT, we have a number of returning events, including the Easter Athletics Festival, where it’s good to see a lot of excitement for this and other long-running events.

We were fortunate to be able to take advantage of the Parish Walk last year and online registration is now available at www.parishwalk.com. It was good to see that more than 700 participants have already done it.

Discounted tickets are available until March 31 for this major island event which takes place on Saturday and Sunday June 18 and 19.

Another important event taking place this year between July 28 and August 8 is the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. There have already been two announcements from the Isle of Man Commonwealth Games Association and another is due to be announced in April regarding the Isle of Man team who I am sure will represent our Island again with distinction.

In swimming, the team announced so far are Laura Kinley, Joel Watterson, Alex Breggazi and Emma Hodgson. In athletics so far selected we have Joe Harris, David Mullarkey, Sarah Astin and Ollie Lockley. So far cycling is represented by Mark Cavendish, Matt Bostock, Sam Brand, Mark Christian, Max Walker, Anna Christian, Lizzie Holden, Amelia Sharpe, Becky Storrie, Tom Mazzone and Ben Swift.

Tara Donnelly and Niall Caley triathlon represent gymnastics.

I really love the Commonwealth Games and I attended Edinburgh in 1970, the first time I went to this city for which I have great affection and I have returned several times since.

In 2002, I was able to go to the games in Manchester, a city I know very well, and people contacted me after seeing me excitedly waving the Manx flag on television during the opening ceremony.

Finally in 2014 I attended the Glasgow event which again gave fond memories of friendlies especially when I met heroes I remembered from 1970 including Kip Keino who won the gold in the 1500m and bronze in the 5000m. I would really like to go to this year’s event in Birmingham, a city I know very well, but I don’t think that will happen.

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My social media feeds were full of great reports from James Blunt’s concert at the Villa Marina last week.

It was the end date of his tour and friends said he communicated very well with the public and the scenes of him crowd surfing and then after the concert with his chosen drink to celebrate the end of his tour were widely shared.

You can’t buy such good publicity for your product.

I was told he was ably supported by Amy Bennett. Unfortunately, Texas the following night had to be rescheduled due to the weather forecast, but I’m sure we’re all looking forward to them showing up at the Villa on Tuesday May 3rd.

When it comes to weather, our emergency and other public services always deserve our heartfelt thanks, but especially during recent storms.

Once again, a very talented team from the Union Chorale Douglas entertained the crowds at the Gaiety Theater last week with their production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame – well done everyone.

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I worked many years ago at the Isle of Man Post Office and many former colleagues have remained friends.

One of them, Bobby Moore, whose father Johnnie was also a mail carrier, contacted me recently.

Bobby is now 82 and lives in Hillside Avenue, Douglas.

He was Willaston’s postman alongside Jim Wood among others.

As a young boy he was a resident of the Isle of Man Children’s Home in Glencrutchery Road for 16 years before joining the Royal Navy.

He shared with me the photograph at the top of this artcile, which he thinks dates from around 1950. At that time there were two houses, one for boys and one for girls.

He remembers that under the supervision of the head gardener, Mr. Vick, they grew all their own vegetables.

The matron and master were Mr. and Mrs. Brookfield. Bobby knows it’s a coincidence but would like to know if you were in the picture or do you know someone who was? He would like to speak to anyone on 618828 or by letter or email to myself. Thank you.

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Reports on the new administration’s first budget have been widely circulated, so I will resist the temptation to comment, except for two points which I believe are among the most important features.

This is the increase in carer’s allowance which will support 500 carers on our island. Currently, financial support is equivalent to £122.05 per week. It will increase to £140.35 per week or, as a percentage, a 15% increase.

This part of our island’s population constantly goes above and beyond in caring for their loved ones, often to the detriment of their own health.

There is a commitment to further increases in the times ahead, which many of us will warmly welcome. Even as it stands, the rate for the new exercise will put our carers in a position that will be 101% higher than in the UK where the rate is £69.70 per week.

There is also a 26% increase in the income assistance premium.

The other issue I wanted to show my appreciation for is the long-discussed sexual assault referral center for which capital and revenue has been provided.

When people are most vulnerable, this support is vital because without it there are other serious implications for mental health and personal safety.










































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