National Trust prepares to celebrate its gay history


The long happy marriage and the very separate bedrooms of Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicolson, will be celebrated at their Kent home as the National Trust turns its attention for the first time to the gay history locked within the walls of many of its properties.

The Nicolsons were a famously devoted couple, and had two sons, the writer and publisher Nigel and art historian Benedict, but both also had passionate relationships with partners of the same sex. More

Senior Church of England clergy ‘not diverse enough’


A number of leading Anglicans have complained about the lack of ethnic minority clergy who make it to senior levels in the Church of England.

The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, the chaplain to the speaker of the House of Commons, blamed institutional racism.

On Tuesday, a new suffragan bishop of Woolwich was named – the first black man to be made a bishop in 20 years.

The Church is hiring a minority ethnic vocations officer to attract more black people into the clergy.  More

Moonlight: The small-budget film that is sweeping Hollywood awards


It’s been hailed by critics as diverse film-making at its best, but the director of Moonlight, which has six Golden Globe nominations, says the film is not a response to the #OscarsSoWhite criticism of last year’s award season.

Miami-born filmmaker Barry Jenkins wrote and directed the film, based on a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, about a young African American boy named Chiron coming to terms with his sexuality as he grows up in a tough Florida neighbourhood.

However, while the shoot took only 25 days, Jenkins says he conceived the project “at least three-and-a-half years ago”.

He explains: “That’s fairly average because it takes a long time for a film to get made.

“So all these movies we have this year – Birth of a Nation, A United Kingdom, Loving, Fences – which are being framed as a reply to the campaign about the lack of diversity in the system, probably began about four years ago.  More

Laura Kenny named Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year


Four-time Olympic gold medallist Laura Kenny has been named the 2016 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year.

The Great Britain hockey side who won gold at Rio 2016 have been named Team of the Year.

Cyclist Kenny won team pursuit and omnium gold during the summer.

The 24-year-old beat fellow cyclist Sarah Storey, who has won 14 Paralympic gold medals and Jade Jones, who successfully defended her Olympic taekwondo title, to the prize.

Nicola Adams (boxing), Charlotte Dujardin (equestrianism) Johanna Konta (tennis) were the other nominees.  More

Margaret Thatcher tops Woman’s Hour Power List

mrs-tMargaret Thatcher has topped a list of the women who have had the biggest impact on women’s lives over the past 70 years.

Fictional heroine Bridget Jones and singer Beyonce were also named on the list, which was compiled by BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.

Seven people were picked for the Power List to mark the show’s 70th birthday.

While Thatcher topped the list, the other women who appear on it were not ranked in any order.

Feminist academic Germaine Greer also made the cut, as did Helen Brook, who set up the Brook Advisory Centres in 1964 offering contraceptive advice to unmarried women.

The other names listed were Barbara Castle, the Labour MP who brought in the Equal Pay Act in 1970, and Jayaben Desai, who campaigned against low pay and poor conditions for women workers.  More_92954312_castle_bbc

Rogue One’s Felicity Jones says female action heroes are now ‘the norm’


Rogue One actress Felicity Jones has said the number of lead roles for women in action films is a “a wonderful moment for cinema”.

Jones, who plays Jyn Erso in the new Star Wars spin-off, said “it means a huge amount” to be the first woman to have top billing in a Star Wars movie.

She said: “It’s absolutely time that we had female leads and as many females leading films as we do men.

“It’s a very exciting time to be an actress.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had its UK premiere in London on Tuesday and is released around the world this week.  More

Don’t buy pink toys for girls, parents told


Parents are being warned against buying pink, gender-stereotyped toys this Christmas, so as not to deter girls from getting into science.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology claims such stereotypes could be putting girls off engineering and technology.

Its analysis of top retailers and search engine results found 89% of toys aimed at girls were pink.

Only 11% of girls’ toys focused on science, technology or engineering.

Conversely, nearly a third (31%) of toys aimed at boys had a such a focus.  More

Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month – December 2016

derek-pictureInternational Day of Persons with Disabilities is on 3 December and with that in mind we have chosen Derek Paravicini as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.

Derek, now in his late twenties, was born premature, at 25 weeks, and weighing just over half a kilogram. As a result of the oxygen therapy required to save his life, Derek lost his sight, and his development was affected too. It later became apparent that he had severe learning difficulties. However, he soon acquired a fascination for music and sound, and, by the age of four, had taught himself to play a large number of pieces on the piano, of some melodic and harmonic complexity (such as ‘Smoke Gets in your Eyes’). Almost inevitably, with no visual models to guide him, his technique was chaotic, and even his elbows would frequently be pressed into service, as he strove to reach intervals beyond the span of his tiny hands!

At this time, his enormous potential was recognised by Adam Ockelford, then music teacher at Linden Lodge School for the Blind in London. In due course, weekly and then daily lessons were arranged, in an extensive programme of tuition that was to last for several years. Painstakingly (through physical demonstration and imitation) Derek acquired the foundations of technique that were necessary for him to move forward. His natural affinity for jazz, pop and light music soon became evident; together with his improvisatory talents, ability to play in any key, and flair for performing in public!

Derek’s first major concert was at the Barbican Halls in London, when he was just 9 (in 1989). He played jazz with the Royal Philharmonic Pops Orchestra. Numerous national and regional television appearances followed, in the UK and overseas. Most recently Derek featured in the series Extraordinary People (Channel 5, UK), on the Discovery Channel (Health) in the United States and on RTL in Germany. His increasing maturity both as a person and performer enabled him to give concerts in venues across England, in Europe and the United States; among them, Ronnie Scott’s renowned jazz club in London and the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

Derek’s talent, love of music, and – above all – the ability to communicate through sound means he will continue to thrill audiences for years to come in the UK and abroad.

To find out more about Derek or the International Day of Persons with Disabilities see here