A relaxing Ragdale Hall break

“Can I stay an extra night?” Nancy pleaded with the receptionist at the end of her short break at Ragdale Hall spa. Nancy has been a regular visitor there for 25 years, but with all the best will in the world, her wish could not be met as the spa was full! I was stunned to hear this; after all, aren’t we still meant to be feeling the pinch from the economic decline? Yet...
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Clones, Darwin’s granddaughter and a popular politician

Reading about Britain’s first cloned dog today reminded me of what the celebrated literary critic, Prof John Carey, said at the splendid Cambridge Literary Festival last weekend where he was giving his new book, The Unexpected Professor, a plug. He was asked to name his favourite contemporary author and the reply he gave, this lover of Milton and Shakespeare, was not what I expected. One...
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The Sunday Times Cancer Campaign

I count myself lucky to live near Cambridge. If I ever need treatment for cancer, I feel confident that I would be given the best care by oncologists at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. I certainly wouldn’t want to go to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn which is on special measures and failed my father. The challenge for cancer patients is to have a doctors to correctly...
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Why we need patient data sharing for medical advancement

All around the world scientists are collaborating to discover early diagnosis for diseases and new therapies which will enable us to live longer, healthier lives. To enable this researchers need to access as much patient data as possible to learn from. George Freeman MP, founder of patients4data was today hailed Reformer of the week by the Reform think tank (and not for the first time) for his...
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The PR Masterclass

It’s great to read a PR book by a fellow journalist, and in The PR Masterclass, Alex Singleton gives some useful insights into the right way for PR professionals to approach hacks. At first Alex, a former Daily Telegraph journalist, is scathing about PR ignorance, stating that out of 60,000 people in full-time PR jobs in the UK, perhaps only 15,000 are highly skilled. That’s a...
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The new Paddocks House Hotel, Newmarket | House Collection

I love the fact that the new Paddocks House Hotel in Newmarket was financed by Eastern Counties Finance, a private lending company which supports agricultural and rural businesses. Why worry about seeking support from hostile banks when savvy Matthew Smart and his team are willing to help, believing in the House Collection vision with its launch last year of Poets House in Ely, and now Paddocks...
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Breaking news – Heidi Allen makes generous statement

On Friday South East Cambridgeshire Conservatives – of which I am a member – voted to reaffirm Lucy Frazer as their parliamentary candidate, while seeming to concede there had been an error with the final count at the open primary last month, which went in favour of her opponent Heidi Allen. Heidi has made the most generous natured statement which I am confident will win her many new...
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Lucy Frazer reaffirmed as Tory candidate

After what has been an unsettling three weeks for South East Cambridgeshire Conservatives, Lucy Frazer was this evening reaffirmed by members as their candidate for the next parliamentary general election. A special meeting was held following uncertainty over the final count at the open primary held last month when Lucy Frazer was declared the winner over Heidi Allen; they were both stunning...
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Our runner-up BioNewsRound Award

I am delighted that my public relations work with Abcodia announcing their major collaboration with Cancer Research UK was runner-up in the BioNewsRound award at the Genesis 2013 conference this week. The award was based on our press release announcing the creation of the new Early Diagnostics Consortium to discover and validate cancer biomarkers for their eventual use in cancer screening. Each...
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Lucy Frazer QC – the Tory’s ‘future star’ selected for South East Cambs

South East Cambridgeshire could have a brilliant woman MP if, hopefully, the new Conservative candidate Lucy Frazer QC wins the next general election. Lucy, deputy chair of Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Association, was today selected as the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate following the retirement of our excellent and highly respected MP Sir James Paice. But choosing his...
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Abcodia’s two royal encounters

Congratulations to Dr Julie Barnes, CEO of Abcodia, for winning the 2013 prestigious WISE award for Enterprise and Innovation which was presented by HRH The Princess Royal at the Science Museum in London. The WISE Campaign encourages women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and has been inspiring females to take up opportunities in these sectors for nearly 30...
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Please donate to Typhoon Haiyan | Tyhoon Haiyan

To everyone reading this post, please, please donate to Typhoon Haiyan. As I sat eating my  breakfast in my warm kitchen this morning, watching in horror the suffering of thousands of helpless people on television who lost their homes and families and have no food or shelter, only an inhumane person could not be moved and reach out for their bank card to make an instant donation to the Disasters...
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Topsy and Tim’s CBeebies debut

Topsy and Tim make their television debut this evening on CBeebies - and I only wonder it took so long. For anyone reading this who does not have children and may not know who they are, Topsy and Tim are young twins whose childhood experiences were recorded by Jean Adamson, in partnership with her beloved husband Gareth up until his sudden death in 1982. Moments of fear and apprehension that a...
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Where are all our missing children?

Why do we have so many missing children in Europe? Where are they all? Who is searching for them? Up until the last few days, the only missing child that anyone really knew of was Madeleine McCann. Yet now, according to the Greek charity looking after Maria, the four-year-old at the centre of a European search to find her parents after she was found with a Roma family in Greece, they have been...
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How Abcodia is catching cancer early

Cancer affects every family at some time in their lives, but the dream of scientists is that it is diagnosed early enough to make it a manageable disease, rather than an early death. Visionary scientists and global collaborators working with Abcodia hope to achieve this, and today their pioneering work has been given fantastic coverage in the Sunday Telegraph by Enterprise Editor Rebecca...
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My P & O recipe for Pina Colada Soup

I promise you it tastes better than it looks! I couldn’t resist ordering pina colada soup during my P & O cruise this summer. I loved its creamy coconut flavour with an added kick from the Malibu. It was gorgeous, and I asked our head waiter for the recipe. I tried it at home, and it was fab-u-lous. If you want to try it too, this is the recipe, courtesy of P & O: 500 mil pineapple...
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Iain Dale and Sir Edgar Speyer

Despite having troubles of his own, Iain Dale has written a glowing review of a fascinating book written about the life of Sir Edgar Speyer who had strong Norfolk links and political connections. I knew that Prof Tony Lentin’s excellent book, Banker Traitor Scapegoat Spy? The troublesome case of Sir Edgar Speyer, would appeal to Iain, and agree with him totally when he concluded. “It...
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Hyperbaric oxygen and chronic osteomyelitis

My son David is almost half way through his latest treatment to cure the chronic osteomyelitis which has plagued his young life for almost ten years; it is a last resort really, and we are pinning all our hopes that hyperbaric oxygen therapy will work. David suffers from the painful infection in his jawbone which causes it to swell and the bone is now scarred. He has had a rotten time of it, and...
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ROCA and ovarian cancer screening

Congratulations to Abcodia, the biomarker validation company I work with, which has been granted world-wide exclusive license for ROCA, a test which has the potential to be a major breakthrough for the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. ROCA, which stands for the Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm, is being validated for the screening of ovarian cancer. It has been used in studies involving more...
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Wisbech’s illegimate princess, Jane Stuart

This is the riveting story of how Jane Stuart, an illegitimate daughter of King James 11 the last Roman Catholic to rein over Britain, came to live in a cellar in Wisbech, selling thread on the market place. It would surely make a best seller for Hilary Mantel or Philippa Gregory. I learnt about it during a visit to the town’s Friends’ Meeting House, home of the Quakers, during the...
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The plastic bag levy in England – too little too late

I believe the plastic bag levy planned in England is too little too late. The Republic of Ireland successfully introduced it 13 years ago and attracted worldwide admiration for reducing its use of plastic bags by 80%. Environmental officers from all over the world have visited them to learn the secret of their success, including China. I went to the Republic when this charge was first introduced...
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Edgar Speyer and Marin Alsop – the last night of the Proms

When Marin Alsop sensationally lifts her baton on the last night of the Proms this Saturday, making history as its first woman conductor, I wonder if she will spare a thought for Sir Edgar Speyer, a great British benefactor who saved the Proms from bankruptcy – yet whose magnanimous generosity has been ignored in this country. Having learned about Speyer during visits to his former...
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Why Improved Screening for Ovarian Cancer is Urgently Needed

While it is tragic to think that today, 19 women in the UK will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, they could be considered the lucky ones as this deadly disease can be easily misdiagnosed when women complain of bloating and abdominal pain. I hope that their cancer was diagnosed at its early states so it can be successfully treated. This is why there was global media interest following the recent...
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How being a carer changed Jackie Ashley’s life

I have reprinted Jackie Ashley’s excellent report on caring for her husband Andrew Marr following his stroke. I saw Jackie at Cambridge Wordfest earlier this year and asked how Andrew was, and she replied that he was doing well and getting lots of physio. As someone who is currently helping to care for an elderly mother and father-in-law in different towns, while holding down a full time...
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Alan Turing and Lionel, the “maths genius”

I am very much looking forward to seeing the film Codebreaker when it is released, describing the brilliant talent and shameful treatment of Alan Turning. A postcard of Turing’s sculptured slate image taken from his statue which has pride of place at Bletchley Park, is fixed on the wall by my desk and adds to the collection of photos of  people who capture my imagination. Turing’s...
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