New cathedral garden for Lichfield City station

The creativity of a London Midland train technician and the support of London Midland business partners, colleagues and the local community have helped to bring colour to Lichfield City station through a new platform garden inspired by a local landmark.

The garden planter installation, designed in the form of Lichfield cathedral, has come to life through creative planting by green-fingered London Midland colleagues with bay trees and a variety of flowers. Created with the aim of celebrating the station as a gateway to the City and the famous annual Lichfield Festival, the eye-catching new display has also been entered into the Blooming Lichfield competition.

Ben Williams, a technician at London Midland’s Soho depot, pioneered the creation and with the help of Soho colleagues Shaun Wright and Clair Smith Wright built the planter from wood generously donated by Marshdale Construction, with volunteers from Carlisle Cleaning, colleagues and London Midland’s Property Services supporting the installation.

Richard Lewis, president of Lichfield Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and chair of the Blooming Lichfield Committee, commented:

"It really has been a community affair. Blooming Lichfield has jumped at the opportunity to support London Midland to brighten up the station by supplying hanging baskets for the front of the building. Additionally, the Tourist Association & Lichfield District Council has helped to install attractive planters on the platform areas. I’m sure that passengers will benefit from a cheery addition of colour to their journey."

Brian Pretty, Chair of the Lichfield District Tourism Association, added: “Congratulations to both London Midland and Blooming Lichfield for all their hard work in getting this project off the ground; it is an excellent example of partnership working.”

Going forward, the ‘cathedral’ display will be tended by a new Lichfield City station adoption group, which is currently being formalised, and the adoption project will be expanded to include artwork by local schools for the station.

Tawhida Yaacoub, London Midland customer service manager for Cross City North, said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed by Ben’s creativity; well done to him for being an outstanding colleague and going the extra mile. This project would not have been possible however without the staunch support of so many partners and the London Midland team, so many, many thanks to them all for coming together to make Lichfield City a station to be proud of.”

Faye Lambert, head of community rail at London Midland, added: “The support of London Midland colleagues reflects our passion for sustainable engagement with the community to make the journey experience better for customers. Ben is an inspiration and a true advocate of community rail. His ideas and support for Lichfield City station have given a sound footing for an enjoyable and sustainable station adoption project by the local community.

“If you would like to join the new adoption team at the station and take pride in tending this fantastic platform garden, full details on how you can get involved can be found at

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Lichfield Jazz

Lichfield Jazz continues it’s sessions at the George IV Bore Street, Lichfield on Wednesday 17th May with ‘A Night of Swinging Standards’ performed by Nick Drew, saxes, Nick Dewhurst, trumpet, and an outstanding rhythm section of Billy Weir, drums and rapidly rising star Dave Ferris on hammond organ. The gig starts at 8pm and entry is just £5.

Details of all Lichfield Jazz gigs can be found on

Lovers of swing and jive    can enjoy the legendary ‘ Jive Aces’ at the guildhall on Friday May 12th or 01543-262223

Not forgetting the Lichfield Blues and jazz Festival June 2nd-4th check out programmes now available



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‘All that Jazz’…in Lichfield!

Visitors to this year’s Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival can look forward to a veritable feast of jazz performed in venues across this historic city by local, regional and national favourites.

Opening the Jazz programme on Friday 2nd at the George Hotel are the Lichfield Jazz All Stars, outstanding young musicians and city favourites who promise an evening of exciting, mind-blowing jazz …mixed with plenty of humour! 

Saturday 3rd sees the launch of the Festival’s novel Pop Up Blues and Jazz Stage from 3pm at Lichfield’s popular city centre music venue, George 1V. Expect impromptu blues and jazz from fine local musicians and surprise visits from professionals!

 The big band sound threatens to blow the roof off at Lichfield’s historic Guildhall from 1.30pm, when the 18 piece brassy  Dunnett Baxter Big Band and a cracking rhythm section perform original music, plus other big band music from Count Basie to Loose Tubes. They are followed by the Callum Roxburgh Swing Orchestra. Formed in 2011 by young jazz students from Birmingham Conservatoire, audiences will hear unbelievable classic swing band arrangements from Glen Miller, Sinatra to Bon Jovi.

At 7.00pm Wade Street Church hosts two unmissable bands. Chris Gumbley & Anything Goes, a very creative quartet performing a cornucopia of classic music from American songbook, traditional French song, shades of Jimi Hendrix to originals. Lichfield favourites - Blast Off – a talented band of 30 local musicians well-known for creating a funky jazz groove storm finish the evening off at the wonderful Wade Street Church.

Sunday June 4th will see a great day of swing music from the 20s to the 60s performed by some of the country’s top bands.

The day starts with a festival service at Wade Street church before the Remi Harris Trio take to the stage at Lichfield’s Guildhall.  A national figure on the music scene, Remi Harris has performed at Buckingham Palace, Montreal Jazz Festival and the BBC Proms. For those who want to learn all the Lindy Hop dance steps, ‘Dance with me Henry’ will  be running a workshop, followed by master drummer Sticky Wicket with his Swing Orchestra plus star vocalist Linda Morris - a great finale to the festival.

For the full programme of blues and jazz concerts and tickets visit:   Programmes are now available from the Lichfield Arts Office, Donegal House, Bore St, Lichfield, Staffs. WS13 6LU. Contact box office 01543-262223.

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The third Lichfield Blues & Jazz Festival is fast approaching with the line-up confirmed and programmes hot off the press!

Headlining this year’s festival, which takes place in and around the historic city of Lichfield, is the ever-popular Climax Blues Band - local favourites who delight audiences across the world with their unique combination of jazz and blues.

After 18 albums, the classic world-wide hit ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’ and tours of the UK, Europe and the US, the band is still on the road performing blues in the creative way that has always been synonymous with their name.  Climax Blues Band are on stage at Lichfield Sports Club on Friday June 2nd at 7.30pm supported by popular Midlands four-piece blues band, Northbound, who open the Festival with their modern take on traditional delta blues - a great start to the weekend!

The strong blues influence of the Festival continues with the sounds of the Emma Johnson Boogie Woogie Quartet who have wowed audiences at the Birmingham International Jazz Festival and were tipped as the best find in 2016. They take to the stage at The Guildhall in Lichfield from 7pm on Saturday June 3rd.

To complete this great night of Blues is the unmissable Masai Blues, a Midlands based band who bring new energy to ‘deep south blues’. Singer Judy Blue creates a new surge to the songs of Joe Williams, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Keb Mo to name just a few! She is supported by a powerhouse rhythm section who create the essential dynamics of the amazing Masai Blues.  

Visitors will be able to enjoy a wide range of blues and jazz performances in pubs and historic venues right across this picturesque city.

For the full programme of blues and jazz concerts and tickets visit:   Programmes are now available from the Lichfield Arts Office, Donegal House, Bore St, Lichfield, Staffs. WS13 6LU.

Day Stroller tickets are available this year.

For further information please contact Lichfield Arts Office: 01543 262223;

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Mr Turner Comes to Lichfield – Views of Lichfield Cathedral

Monday 24 April – Sunday 11 June

This exciting exhibition has, as its centrepiece, a watercolour of Lichfield Cathedral painted by the world renowned artist J M W Turner in 1832 (pictured). Until recently this painting has been in a private collection since the early 1990s.

Alongside it will be Turner's sketches for the painting, kindly loaned by Tate Britain. The Turner exhibits are joined by 22 pictures showing how artists have portrayed the Cathedral over five centuries, seeing the same building in their own distinctive ways. These include paintings from the collection of the city’s Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum; from other private collections and a new work by Peter Walker, Lichfield Cathedral's artist-in-residence. Also included are the winning entries from the Cathedral's 2016 art and photography competition.

Other activity during the exhibition period includes a showing of the award winning Mr Turner film and a number of related talks.  

There is also a Midlands premiere of the play ‘The Painter’ starring Iain Fletcher, for more information and booking click on the following link

This exhibition is FREE but Lichfield Cathedral rely on your generous donations to stay open. Please visit for more information.

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Latest News on Lichfield Jazz Gigs

Dear Jazz Lover

Welcome to the latest news on the Lichfield Jazz gigs at the Guildhall and George IV

Next one up is this Sunday 9 April at the Guildhall with swing and Gypsy Jazz from Fret and Fiddle book online or 01543-262223

Next gigs at the George IV are April 19, award winning pianist Olly Chalk, brings along his outstanding trio to perform exciting originals. A switch in style to some fine jump and jive from the aptly named ‘Jive Aces’ happens at the Guildhall on Friday 12 May or 01543-262223

This is followed on May 17 with ‘A Night of Swinging Standards’ performed by some of the Midlands finest youngest musicians.

Then it’s the Lichfield Blues and Jazz Festival June 2-4, please see attached the new programme, if you would like a hard copy or posters please contact the office 01543-262223 or

Finally a big thank you for your support over the past twelve months, also to all the musicians who have supported us, not forgetting Russell Tomlinson landlord of the George IV

If you or your friends would like to be on our e-mail list just contact Nick or Brian on or

Thanks again for your support

Nick Dewhurst                           Brian Pretty



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Lichfield Festival programme announced

7-15 July 2017 Box Office 01543 412121

View brochure online

Public booking from 10 April

Members’ priority booking from 27 March

 Ballet Cymru | BBC Concert Orchestra | Black Voices & Lichfield Gospel Choir | Hal Cruttenden | Dame Evelyn Glennie | Rich Hall | The Hallé | The Malachites | Mr McFall’s Chamber | Orchestra of the Swan | Oz Clarke & Armonico Consort | Seth Lakeman | Sir Tony Robinson | The Sixteen | Juliet Stevenson| The Swingles

 Extraordinary talent, amazing events and unique experiences are the hallmarks of the 2017 Lichfield Festival which runs from 7-15 July and features a vibrant mix of music, film, theatre, comedy, dance, family events, walks, talks and visual arts.  One of the most eclectic multi-arts festivals in the UK, Lichfield is 9-day melting pot of world-class entertainment, creativity and family fun set in the glorious surroundings of the beautiful Staffordshire city. 

 Headline performers include The Hallé orchestra, folk violinist Seth Lakeman, famed percussionist Evelyn Glennie, comedian Rich Hall, author Tony Robinson, actress Juliet Stevenson, theatre company The Malachites and Ballet Cymru. Festival themes investigate aspects of America and trans-Atlantic journeys and there are celebrations marking the anniversaries of Jane Austen and Lichfield’s own David Garrick.  Community and family events include a Hare and Tortoise city art trail, Festival Friday and a chance to join a giant choir in the Big City Sing.

For the Festival first night on 7 July, The Hallé orchestra perform Beethoven’s Third Symphony and are joined by young American pianist Andrew Tyson for Rachmaninov’s glorious Paganini Variations.  Other classical highlights include percussionist extraordinaire Dame Evelyn Glennie, wine writer Oz Clarke and Armonico Consort in an entertaining exploration of the links between wine and music, and a welcome return for The Sixteen’s Choral Pilgrimage following their sell-out appearance in 2014.  A recital series features today’s best young musicians and there are three concerts by artists-in-residence – the versatile Scottish ensemble Mr McFall’s Chamber – including a new commission by Henning Sommero.  Seeing out the festival in style, the BBC Concert Orchestra play great movie and film scores of the last century for a Radio 2 broadcast. 

Festival focuses include a look across the pond to America with a celebration of Broadway legend Richard Rodgers featuring a cast of West End and opera house singers and Chethams Symphony Orchestra.  Europe’s finest female a capella group Black Voices are reunited with Lichfield Gospel Choir – the community choir they created in 2009 – for an evening illustrating the wide appeal of African American Spirituals. There’s an American-inspired programme from Orchestra of the Swan including Dvo?ák’s New World Symphony and Gershwin’s jazzy Rhapsody in Blue played by 18-year old pianist Thomas Nickell, dubbed ‘The American Mozart’.  The Ferio Saxophone Quartet’s programme spans almost five centuries and both sides of the Atlantic, while Mr McFall’s Chamber perform music by American composers teamed with film projections by Lichfield-based Luxmuralis and include Steve Reich’s Different Trains featuring interviews with train passengers recorded before, during and after the Second World War. 

Closer to home, the bi-centenary of Jane Austen’s death is marked with a reading of Pride and Prejudice by actress Juliet Stevenson given in period costume in a drawing room setting and interwoven with music by Carl Davis from Matthew Trusler (violin) and Ashley Wass (piano).  There’s a chance to re-live the BBC’s famous Pride and Prejudice with an all-day screening of the entire six-part series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.  Author Professor Emma Clery delves into new research on the Austen family relationships and Rebecca Vaughan brings 13 of Jane Austen’s heroines to life with illuminating observations of Austen’s Women.   

2017 is also the 300th anniversary of Lichfield’s own David Garrick.  His theatrical legacy is marked by a staged reading of the two winning plays selected from nationwide entries to the Garrick 300 Playwriting Competition. The Malachites theatre company return to the festival with a performance of Richard III (the role in which David Garrick made his name) and Garrick landmarks feature in several walking tours.

Other highlights include top comedians Rich Hall, Hal Cruttenden and Zoe Lyons, regular faces on TV shows such as Live at the Apollo and Have I Got News for You.  BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Seth Lakeman visits with acclaimed Anglo/Americana trio Wildwood Kin, and five-time Grammy winners, The Swingles’ musical tours around the world form the inspiration for their concert. On stage is The Pretend Men’s comedy blockbuster Police Cops and Ballet Cymru’s vibrant production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and, on screen, there are showings of The Jungle Book, Casablanca and Forest Gump

The city art trail returns by popular demand! This year’s decorated models are inspired by Aesop’s fable of The Hare & The Tortoise and will form a trail around the streets with associated activities.  Festival Friday marks the start of both Lichfield Festival and FUSE Festival (7-8 July) in Beacon Park and includes a Song Trail of local youngsters singing through the streets.  Another exciting collaboration with FUSE is Big Sing Day which involves a giant specially-formed community choir of experienced singers and beginners plus a performance by Estonian youth choir ESTuudio noortekoor.  The ever-popular Festival Market is back, and other events for families include Showstoppers for Kids – an improvised musical show where the audience decides where the show is set and what happens next – and an adaptation of David Walliams’s The First Hippo on the Moon with puppetry and music. 

A plethora of author talks includes actor and writer Sir Tony Robinson, acclaimed science writer Brian Clegg, round-the-globe adventurer Sarah Outen, historian James Evans on Emigrants: Why the English Sailed to the New World and the colourful history of Watling Street with John HiggsExhibitions feature jewellery and metal crafts, a tranquil art installation at Stowe Pool Boat House by Luxmuralis and children’s own superhero creations transformed into comic book art by professional illustrators. 

 Sonia Stevenson, Artistic Director of Lichfield Festival said, “It has been a privilege to put together the West Midlands’ premier multi-arts festival which, once again, brings extraordinary talent, amazing events and unique experiences to the city.  With a rich programme, brimming with cultural goodies, I hope everyone will find a must-see event (or five!).  Join us in July for this summer’s hottest ticket and a fantastic day out in one of Britain's most picturesque cities."

Lichfield Festival enjoys the support of many contributors including its principal sponsors London-Midland and Cristaline, as well as Arts Council England, Lichfield District and City Councils, Staffordshire County Council, many local companies, individuals and over 500 friends of the Festival.

Lichfield Festival 2017 runs from 7-15 July.  For full details visit

Festival Box Office 01543 412121

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LDTA Networking Meeting at The Guildhall – Rachael’s Update

Located in the heart of the city, the Guildhall is a charming historic Grade ll listed building. This was the setting for the LDTA networking meeting on Tuesday 14th March 2017. On arrival members had the opportunity to network while enjoying refreshments including an array of delicious cakes, provided by Sue Khan proprietor of Comfortin’ Food Café. We were pleased to welcome some new faces to the Association. Marie Garnett from The Lodge @ Cannock Chase B&B along with husband Lee, have recently joined the Association. Jane Pallister from Blue Orchid, offers business coaching, consultancy, advice and training. Jane, came along to the meeting to discover more about LDTA. Finally, Jonathan Oates from Jono’s Tourism. Jonathan is a new member but an old face! Many of you may know him from his time working at Visit Lichfield. Jonathan has now set-up his own business providing independent tourism services.

Lichfield has had a Mayor since 1686 and the present Mayor of Lichfield is Cllr Mrs. Sheelagh James. We felt extremely privileged when Cllr James offered to show us the Mayor’s parlour. Located next door in Donegal House and reached through connecting doors, the room is elegant and cosy with many artifacts depicting the traditions of the City. The Mayor described her many important roles and duties and the interesting guests she has received in the lovely parlour. LDTA partners were then invited to sign the visitor’s book for posterity!

Everyone was then sent down to the old prison cells! Surprisingly, there were several people who said they had never visited this part of the Guildhall. This was the perfect opportunity to discover the stories about debtors and felons and the history of law and order, from the martyrs burned on Lichfield Market Square in the 17th century to the fates of John Neve, William Wightman and James Jackson who were found guilty of forgery and were the last lawbreakers to be publicly hanged at Lichfield gallows in 1810.

It was then back up to the main hall on the first floor for another welcome cup of tea and cake. This room has a beamed roof and is perfect for displaying the banners of the various old wards of the city, made in 1975 by students of the Lichfield School of Art. The Hall is exceptionally versatile, frequently used for civic events, it can also be hired for meetings, wedding receptions, dances and craft fairs.

I was fortunate that this was the second time I had heard Ken’s talk about life as a Town Crier and there were still plenty of new anecdotes I hadn’t heard. The wealth of stories relating to this position and the history of the role is presented in an interesting and amusing way. If you haven’t already heard the talk, I would recommend doing so – you won’t be disappointed!

Ken was born in Aston and is very proud of his roots, something he refers to regularly in his talk. One of his ancestors was a rag and bone man, which may explain his commanding voice. After a successful teaching career Ken took over the role of Town Crier, Sword Bearer and Master of Ceremonies from Lonzo Atkin in 2009. He is employed by Lichfield City Council for 13 days per year -this does not include holidays!

The historic post of Town Crier goes back centuries to the first town crier, Thomas Roberts who came from Cirencester, which was an elected post. Town Criers ring a hand-bell before making a public announcement then shout the words Oyez, Oyez, Oyez which means ‘listen to this’. Dressed in a red coat, black breaches and a tricorne hat Ken explained that not many Town Criers wear leggings. Having to do up 11 buttons could be the reason. His consort Marilyn has the job of doing up buttons 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11!

Ken, a regular competitor around the world has many prizes under his belt. Competition rules are stringent and a shout has to begin with three oyez’s, and ending with God Save the Queen. Competitors are judged on volume, clarity, diction, confidence and accuracy. In 2015 Ken came out top in the World Town Crier competition in New Zealand and this year he is competing in Bermuda and Nova Scotia. For the third time in a row, he has won the Competition at Haslemere and taken the Tennyson Trophy home to Lichfield. The trophy is a bronze statue of a 17th Lancer of the Light Brigade, immortalized in the poem ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’.
If you would like Ken to speak at one of your events, he can be contacted on 07760523406 of via email                       

The next LDTA networking meeting will be held on:
Tuesday 11th May at 11am
Claymills Pumping Station



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Neil Morrissey: Why I Love Staffordshire

TV celebrity Neil Morrissey has thrown his weight behind Enjoy Staffordshire’s drive to attract more visitors into the county.

The Stafford-born actor, currently starring in ITV’s The Good Karma Hospital, spoke of his love for Staffordshire and his favourite places to visit, including Cannock Chase and The Trentham Estate, in a video for Enjoy Staffordshire’s YouTube Channel:

The two-minute interview, filmed at the Men Behaving Badly star’s pub, The Plume of Feathers in Barlaston, will be part of the campaign to promote Staffordshire Day, which takes place on Monday 1st May 2017.

Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth at Staffordshire County Council and Vice Chair of Destination Staffordshire said:

“We all know what a wonderful county Staffordshire is to live, work in and visit, with something for everyone. We are all looking forward to our second Staffordshire Day on 1 May which gives us a great opportunity to tell the world what a great place Staffordshire really is.  Plans are going incredibly well with more and more events and activities being added each day.  Last year we had a special video message from Robbie Williams and now it’s great to have Neil’s backing too. We want everyone to be able to join in the celebrations, so the more people that know about it the better.”

A number of events, special offers and competitions have been organised with key attractions like World of Wedgwood, the National Brewery Centre, and the National Memorial Arboretum, with more to be added to the programme as the day approaches.

Enjoy Staffordshire is urging community groups to get involved in the celebrations by putting together their own events, which will be promoted on the Enjoy Staffordshire website and social media.

Details on Staffordshire Day, including listings of local events, are available at

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Serco Business Training

Serco are offering a wide range of  training available to businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent - Click on the link for more information




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