Jack hath returned

Two years ago was the last blog post I produced on this WordPress site. Now, I feel the time is about right to return. Why the long absence?

Coincidentally, my last blog post was about being an active student and how you could make the most out of distance learning; I am an Open University student and, contrary to wide belief, there are ways to get out and have some fun. In 2015, I set up the Open University Students Association Young Students group. The aim – a platform for OU students at the lower age of the spectrum. Around 25% of all Open University undergraduates are 18-25 years old. Add in to the equation that the OU has the largest number of students at one institution and you soon realise that’s a vast number of students. Many thousands, infact.

The focus of the group has been on making the OU more accessible for younger people and allowing students (those who may have previously not engaged with the university) to interact with the students association. Alongside, I created the blog site @YoungOUStudents which was another way to allow younger students to express their feelings and thoughts on the university experience through writing. I’ve not exactly been away from blogging.

I have, however, been practicing my presenting voice. I have been presenting on the OU Students radio programme (STUDIO) over the past 18 months or so. It’s a brilliant exercise and something that I am passionate about. Plus it is a laugh…not so much when things go wrong!

Two years later and my student life is drawing to its close; my final module concludes in June. Part of the reason for not blogging about my personal experiences and thoughts was simply time – it’s a fickle thing. You either have too much or too little of it. I had to focus on my studies and now I can return from the hiatus/wilderness/sinkhole to do something I love – writing and offering thoughts on one thing or another.

A lot has changed in the world in two years. Half of those faces who were ‘iconic’ – Corbett, Wogan, Rickman et al. have left us. The world has changed. In the UK, the land is led by women – May and Sturgeon. Though, heads seem to be clashing frequently. Cross the Atlantic and one finds a celebrity businessman at the helm of the “free world”. I use inverted commas since most times the media try to report on the “free world” they are accused of not doing so. It is an unusual and, at times, largely uncomfortable set up.

Television has changed too. Top Gear, possibly the most important programme in history, has undergone massive changes. It evolved in to The Grand Tour when Jeremy Clarkson and co left the BBC after THAT altercation. Back at the Beeb the rush to get the new Top Gear on screens,  the defensive mite was confident it didn’t need the self-diagnosed loudmouth. It was a poor show. Things have progressed but the BBC Top Gear is simply a car show now.

I have also read a book. The first in a couple of years (except university text books). It was written by Peter Sissons, a fellow proud Liverpudlian/Scouser. I liked his take on Liverpool of days gone-by and his first-hand accounts of reporting from war zones, and creating them in the newsrooms he has worked in.

An obsession (not a sadistic one) has developed too. I’m now a self-confessed gym-goer. Nearly 4 times a week. Though on beautiful spring days, I wonder why I am driving to a large, converted warehouse to run on a treadmill when the world and environment around me is so appealing. One of the psychological benefits of sport and fitness is how positive and fresh your mind feels after a workout. So much so that I do not feel guilty about an Indian or Chinese takeaway and thus I need to return to the gym to burn off the consumed calories. It’s a vicious circle.  Then again, without the gym, I wouldn’t be able to clamber in to the slim fit jeans I now occupy.

Feel free to follow my (not so) interesting thoughts on Twitter – @jackjevons_ – that’s another change. I’ll be updating this blog with my observations as and when they happen (or shortly after).

 

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Town remembers terrorist attack, 20 years on.

Bridge Street today. The River of Life serves as a permanent memorial to the victims of the attack.

Bridge Street today. The River of Life serves as a permanent memorial to the victims of the attack.

The scene on Bridge Street on 20th March 1993, when the bombs exploded.

The scene on Bridge Street on 20th March 1993, when the bombs exploded.

Hundreds of mourners have flooded the town centre of Warrington this week to remember the victims of the 1993 IRA bomb attack which claimed two lives and injured many more. A special service was held on Saturday 16th March to remember and pay tribute to those who were killed and injured in a planned attack which began a huge revolution in the process for peace.

The bombers struck on Saturday 20th March, the Saturday before Mother’s Day. A weekend which saw Warrington town centre busy with shoppers in the early Spring sunshine. Two coded messages were received indicating that bombs were planted outside a Boots store. Police had been put on alert, whilst emergency procedures took place at the Liverpool branch. The two bombs, planted in two separate litter bins, exploded within seconds of each other outside the branch in Warrington, sending panicked shoppers at the scene of first explosion into the path of the second attack. The bins acted almost like a large hand grenade, with shrapnel being blown in all directions.

Three year old Jonathan Ball and twelve-year-old Tim Parry were fatally injured in the attack; Both of these faces have since been the focal point of the programme for peace, not just in Warrington, but across the UK and The Republic of Ireland.
Speaking at the special ceremony held at the scene of the attack, father of Tim, Colin Parry spoke of how the ‘Peace Centre’, set up Tim and Jonathan’s memory, has helped his family. He stated how “good had come out of evil” and that the work of the Peace Centre had made a “real and unique difference” to the peace process.

On the Wednesday of the same week that the special memorial service took place, hundreds more people gathered to stand shoulder to shoulder, in silence, paying their respects, tributes and memories twenty years on. Balloons and white doves were released into the Warrington skies – a simple gesture which acknowledged the grief of victims’ families and the grief the town of Warrington felt and still feels today.

It has been an incredible exposure of strength that both families have shown in the aftermath of the terrorist attack which has shaped the history of Warrington. Not only is The Peace Centre a landmark in the town, but the centre for young people, is a landmark for peace in all four corners of the UK.

The Bridge Street area of the town has been transformed into a street of remembrance of the victims and the day that shook Warrington. The ‘River of Life’ which runs the length of the street recognises the history of the town but also serves as a permanent memorial to the two young victims and the dozens more who were injured.

54 people were also injured in the attack. An attack which still dominates the minds of those who were in Warrington at the time of the attack and those who live in and around Warrington today. Twenty years on, the victims are not forgotten, the process for peace continues.