Failing Families: Health Visitor Clinic Closures

It’s been 8 years since I started NorthHantsMum in June 2011.

I’ve seen a lot of changes during that time. Unfortunately many of those changes have negatively impacted local families, especially Mums with babies and small children and families with SEN children.

Yesterday I saw that the Health Visitor clinic schedule has been changed again so that now the Drop In’s are only Monday at The Ridgeway Centre and Friday at the Discovery Centre. The others are by appointment only.

Many of the clinics that have been running for at least 8 years (I know because I used them) have now been cancelled, such as Christchurch Chineham, Overton, Hatch Warren, Whitchurch and Bramley.

I understand that we are living in times of “austerity” but why is it that families, especially Mums and young children, are targeted with any cuts first?

What you can do!!!

If, like me, you are pissed off/ fed up  (I don’t swear on NHM but I feel it’s appropriate in this instance!) with the way local families are being repeatedly let down then this is what you can do:

Specifically email ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut.

Please cc. me in any emails that you send (NorthHantsMum@gmail.com).

  1. Email the head of Southern Health: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net
  2. Email Maria Miller: maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk
  3. Email your local councillor. You can find your local councillor here by using your postcode: https://democracy.basingstoke.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx

(You can copy and paste all of the emails from here: hp-tr.complaints@nhs.net;  maria.miller.mp@parliament.uk; NorthHantsMum@gmail.com)

Specifically tweet ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut:

  1. Tweet the head of Southern Health: https://twitter.com/NickBroughton4
  2. Tweet Maria Miller: https://twitter.com/MariaMillerUK
  3. Tweet your local councillors

The remaining clinics also have feedback forms, so please complete these as well.

Please make sure you add comments as to why it matters to you that the clinics have been cut as the way these things work is that individual letters/emails count more than group ones.

What to write about

You could write about how disappointed you are that so many clinics have been discontinued because they were so important to you when your baby was born as they were somewhere for you to go for support.

You could write about how annoyed you are that funding cuts are impacting new Mums and thus putting them at more risk of post natal depression.

You could write about how angry you are that new Mums and future new Mums are being failed by the services that are supposed to be in place to support them.

You could also write something similar to this which I’ve been sent by another local Mum: “in recent years in our area parents have lost specialised breastfeeding support when grant funding was not extended and have had closures of Children’s Centres (11 remain out of 64 in Hampshire I think). To say that support for parents has been decimated is an understatement. I understand that money is tight but the latest blow will affect those parents who are only just coping and in turn these women and children will need to access more services via their GPs for example or as mental health referrals. I consider these additional closures will knock on to the health and well being of ordinary families and will cost the whole system more in the long run. We were promised more Health Visitors in the call for action – instead it seems we have fewer with just a skeleton service remaining. I worry for those families who in the past would have got early support from a trusted Health Visitor – who now will go under the radar. If a GP visit costs around £45, a hospital overnight stay more like £500 and a child taken in to care around £50K per annum… we can see how cutting services for families to the bare minimum will soon knock on to these other budgets. We are calling for a joined up approach to services in the county.”

You can obviously write whatever you would like but please put why it matters to you that the Health Visitor Clinics have been cut.

On Social Media you could use the hashtag #FailingFamilies.

Summary of Closures

If you have a bit more time and feel like you really want to “go to town” on how local families are being let down, then please see my summary of closures and cancellations in the past 4 years….

2015

2016

(There is now direct evidence of how children’s centres saved the NHS millions of pounds: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/04/sure-start-saved-nhs-millions?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook&fbclid=IwAR38KyULT_ELrGweVxT_rNIHgJIK4RKL491e0MVUbcHjaVmsiC99gW3lRC8) Thank you to Danielle for sharing with me).

2017

  • 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, meaning many Mums are being forced back into working much earlier than they would want too.

2018

  • Closing of Little Play Town in Nov 2018
  • Manydown Family Fun Closed
  • Absolute Karting Basingstoke Closed
  • JJ’s (softplay) Closed
  • Beenham Wolf Sanctury Closed
  • Reduction of funding for school buses – August 2018
  • Removal of school buses for children with disabilities – August 2018
  • National Playday at Eastrop cancelled in 2018. This was a free day for children that had been running for years in Eastrop but now runs in a few of the local community centres instead. It’s not the same. At all.
  • Reduction in funding for the newborn courses at the remaining Children’s Centre, Westside – 2018
  • Cancellation of the EHCP process in Nov 2018 for SEN parents
  • Closing of ParentVoice and switching to Red Rose: https://www.hants.gov.uk/news/Nov27-SENDIASS
  • Changes to Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support in Hampshire

2019

  • Kids N Action Softplay Closed
(If there is anything that I have missed off this list, please let me know).

Impact of these changes

All of these changes are impacting many, many local families.

Even more so with the increase in housing of an extra 10,000 houses to be built in the local area by end of 2020, so more families are moving to the area but services are being reduced that don’t support existing families, let alone new families.

As I said above, I understand that we live in times of “austerity” but it’s very, very worrying and I try not to dwell too much on the impact these changes will have on my 8 year old daughter, her generation and future generations.

I try my best to be positive and upbeat on NHM but I think we need to try to do something to ensure that at least the Health Visitor clinics are better represented. Any help you can give with this will be greatly appreciated. If we ALL send the emails, the impact the NorthHantsMum Community could have would be huge!

Comments from other Mum’s

who have put it far more eloquently than I have!

Sarah: Sadly it Seems like this government would rather waste money hosting a £40million trump visit and push through brexit at any cost rather than look after it’s vulnerable citizens. After brexit more services like this will be cut as we will all be poorer – Apparently it’s “the will of the people”.

Genevieve: As well as writing letters, you may also wish to comment on Maria’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (or here https://www.facebook.com/159961377372565/posts/2184994638202552?s=532163237&sfns=mo – she’s very good at attending awards, not so good at helping people!).

Eleanor: Prevention is better than cure … health visitor clinics are so useful to local people in their own communities. Mums don’t think ‘oh I’m struggling, I know I’ll book a health visitor clinic’ they just keep struggling, until something breaks or nothing happens but just struggle.
I’m so sad to see the Bramley clinic cancelled. The stay and play sessions were so valuable to me. Sadly the funding is ridiculously short I presume. I’ll defiantly be emailing as you suggested. Taking away support for parents is only ever going to cause problems for parents and children in the future. Even if it’s the subtle kind of problems that don’t translate into hospital admissions etc.

Elisa: The unfortunate truth is that they are down on 5 full time health visitors for Southern Health. The reason they are not able to recruit is that most of their time is spent dealing with safe guarding issues. The role of the health visitor has sadly changed and nobody wants to do the type of work they are doing now. Add to this, the fact that the remaining staff are over worked and stressed, it’s not an environment anyone else wants to join.
So as desperately sad as it is about the decreasing availability of them, writing to anyone will sadly make no difference. The jobs are available but sadly nobody wants them ☹️.

Emma: When I had my first I could walk around to chiltern school and see a HV every other Tuesday. He was regularly weighed and as a first time mum I could ask all my questions. Fast forward 4 years and I had a prem baby. Zero support. I was told I’d have more contact because he was premature- I didn’t. When I went for weigh ins the HV’s didn’t all understand how to record his weight!! You have to plot it twice for actual and corrected. The library was the easiest one to get to but queues were horrendous and then you felt rushed because you could feel the strain. Needless to say I stopped going. It was too much effort with two children and with my baby being so little. I can’t believe they’ve reduced this even further. If I was a first time mum now I’d be very worried.

Wendy: Emma, such similar story, my first was weighed once a fortnight at first, then once a month in the Popley 5 drop in that was walking distance for all of Popley, Oakridge and South View. Then they moved it to Popley Fields for my second, no longer walking distance, not at a time that was convenient for nursery/school run. He got weighed about 4 times. He had eczema and allergies but going to the drop in meant missing out on other things or struggling with the car park, so we didn’t bother. Parking charges, town being busy, all things that would have put me off going to the library. I can only imagine what it’s like for those using public transport.

Angela: It’s thoroughly saddening to see such valuable support (emotional to individuals and economic to the wider public health system) being stripped away. I hope people remember this feeling of hopelessness during the next general election and vote for a party that is going to help the public. (I’m really sorry to make this political, but in the words of a great 90s rock band “everything’s political”. We have the power to choose a government that won’t strip the first line of support from us.)

Charlotte: It’s so sad. I used to work on a HV team and the work they do really cannot be underestimated. Yes, you can still see a HV without a clinic but as mentioned above, the clinic is such a convenient and quick way to see them, without having to book an appointment. Some parents don’t have to confidence to book an appointment, or they aren’t sure if they are wasting someone’s time (they never are wasting anyone’s time). I think the cutting down of these clinics alongside the closure of the children’s centres we really come back to bite the Government in a few years when there are increased social issues and late diagnosis of problems that could have been resolved with early intervention 😢.

Mary: To be a HV, you have to be a qualified nurse. They can’t find nurses because they cut the support for people to train. Lots of nurses stop nursing because its not compatible with being a parent unless you are lucky enough to work in a day service. Nurses, however, aren’t paid enough so free childcare is vital to contribute towards the cos. It’s more problematic that childcare support doesn’t start until age 3 so working parents have to struggle through age 1 and 2 first – or not work and then have to pay to reregister or train for their jobs. It’s all connected.

Nicole: I got my almost 3 month old weighed yesterday at Discovery Centre and I was shocked at how much it had changed since I took my first there in 2016. There was a queue out of the door to get in, and then you now weigh your baby and record it in your red book yourself. I didn’t need any support from the HV on this visit, but I’m not a healthcare professional and it would have been nice to just have them oversee it and my baby’s progress. To be honest I won’t be attending again. I feel sorry for the HVs because they look so stretched when you see them trying to get around the room, but most of them were extremely friendly and pleasant, and even found me a seat to feed the baby before I left.

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NHM Readers Recommend: Inspiring Presents for Father’s Day

In June 2018 I asked the Friends of my “Louise nhm Smith” profile on Facebook “I’ve suddenly realised that it’s less than 2 weeks until Father’s Day….EEEKKK!!! It always sneaks up on me, every single year! So, I’m looking for inspiring presents for Father’s Day. Any suggestions?”

Many thanks for all your responses, listed below in no particular order:

NHM Readers Recommend: Inspiring Presents for Father’s Day

Natalie said “Something World Cup football related??? The first England match conveniently happens to be the Monday after Father’s Day!”

Kate said “We can highly recommend Lisa and Phil’s Longdog Brewery Real Ales”

Marion said “Shabby Gourmet Curry”

Charlotte said “Got my partner matching Game of Thrones T-shirts for him and my 2year old boy off Etsy. Will be so cute!”

Tracey said “Paint a pottery gift at Pots to Doodle Do Cliddesden”

Stacey said “Lilliepads Delicious Delights 1kg Mixed sweetie boxes yummy treat. That’s what my hubby is getting with a goody bag of random other bits including men’s sliders, socks lol”

Wendy said “You give your child £5, take them to Poundland and hand them a basket, let them sort it out. Teaching life skills!”

Susie  said “https://www.my-picture.co.uk/ great quality canvas prints from photos & bargain prices too”

Ruza said “What about something for the man shed?”

Leah said Buyagift.co.uk, Notonthehighstreet.co.uk, Red letter days, Chocs, Socks, Red5.co.uk, Men-kind in town, Gadget shops lol”

Kirsty said “Racetrack tshirt The Personalisation Parlour

Mel said “The Home of Hearts Look at my Father’s Day collection for inspiration or give me the details and I will create a keepsake for you!”

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New Group Starting in June: Baby and Me, Westside Community Centre

Sessions will involve light sensory based activities using music and movement to help you get to know your new baby. Through informal social activities you will have the opportunity to understand your baby’s development and world around them.

Sessions focus on emotional and physical health,
practical support and improving attachment.

This course is perfect for any new parents who want to
improve their confidence and increase their social network.

Any donations towards the cost of this course would be welcomed.

**Please note all sessions need to be attended. **

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NHM Readers Recommend: Free holiday activities for families 2019

In July 2018, a NHM Reader asked: “Do you have a list of free activities over the holiday which includes older siblings?”

Thank you for all your responses, they are listed below in no particular order. All opinions are the readers own and are not that of NHM.

NHM Readers Recommend: Free holiday activities for families 2019

Jools said, “Basingstoke children and families page has loads of free stuff or very inexpensive including things at Westside cc, viables community centre, Popley fields and Streetz which happen across Basingstoke and caters for older children. Things on every day mon-fri.”

Vicky said, “We did pets at home workshop. Had booked both girls in, who are 6 and 9, but my 9 year old backed out my my 6 year old got to hold a rat, bunny and guinea pig which she loved then there was a small activity box to take away with you. There were mainly younger ones but only half an hour and free! You do have to book online though as max of 12 kids. The lady was very knowledgeable.”

Becky said, “Good question. With a 4 yr old and a 12 year old it is difficult to find things on offer that allow both younger and older children.”

Louise said, “Blackberry picking?” Also check out the free sessions at your local Apple Store. They do educational sessions twice a day that you can book on for free. 

Rebecca said, “Hobbycraft do lots of free craft activities which both kids might like. Included slime making today and you take home the slime you make, that is good or bad depending on how you look at it!”

Hannah said, “We took our three (eldest 10/youngest 3) to the splash pad in popley (Chineham Splash Park) today….they all loved it and didn’t want to come home. Normally I struggle to entertain the 10 year old but he came away having had the most fun and asked to go back. Best bit was it costed nothing!!!!! The library are also running various craft bits too.”

Kate said, “A trip out to local woods (such as Micheldever) to go exploring?”

Hannah said, “Check out viable community centre as they have lots going on at the mo.”

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Friends of Old Basing Schools Summer Fair, Sunday 7th July 12-3pm

Come and support your local schools, this year we have an African drummer, drumming work shops, arena performances, fun inflatables, an assault course, water play, archery, face painting, a variety of games and stalls for everyone. BBQ, Beer, Pimms, hot & cold drinks, cakes & ice-cream.

Entrance £1.50 per adult, accompanied children free.

At St. Mary’s Junior School Belle Vue Road, Old Basing.

https://www.facebook.com/events/415552792539080/

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NHM Readers Recommend: Punishment at School as well as at Home?

I recently had a question from a Reader that I asked the NHM Community to help with: “After some parenting advice; if your child misbehaved at school and was punished at school would you punish at home as well or not?”

Many thanks for all of your responses, listed below in no particular order.

NHM Readers Recommend: Punishment at School as well as at Home?

Katie said “I think it depends on what they did. I’ve just gone through this and decided punishing at school wasn’t enough so he also got punished at home.”

Chloe said “I had this issue before, I was unhappy that the school didn’t tell me, luckily my child is honest with me, but because she had already been punished, I chose to talk to her about it but not punish her, I make her reflect on what she does, it always depends on how often it happens and the situation”

Becki said “I don’t usually. If the school has dealt with it, I’d talk to the child about it and see if we can get to the bottom of why it happened so it doesn’t happen again. School won’t punish for bad behaviour at home!”

Jennie said “It’s already been dealt with”

Lorah said “Depends what it was!”

Wendy D said “Agree depends on what they did. If they broke school rules then the school punishment is normally enough but if they broke life rules then I would consider revoking a few home prvillages too. Also depends if they are sorry.”

    • Lorah said “Wendy yes agree with this!!”

Kathryn said “I’d have a chat with them at home about it, there is always 2 sides to a story and discuss different ways they could have dealt with whatever they were feeling but not punish them again.”

Catherine said “There’s not really a lot of punishment the school can doll out. It depends on what it was but I think if it was something you considered serious you should back up at home with a consequence to support the school.”

Rachael said “Depends what happened and the reasons it happened. I would always sit down and talk to them about it so they know that I communicate with the school, also so I can pick up if they are acting out because they are upset, stressed etc”

Kerri said “No. I work in a Pre school and we tell parents when their child misbehaves but only for their information. Depending on the age of the child once a certain amount of time has passed the ‘punishment’ won’t be relevant. I think parents should discuss what’s happened and the fact it’s wrong/they’re disappointed etc and to affirm the fact school have chosen to take it seriously. But not necessarily to punish themselves.”

    • Catherine said “Kerri I wouldn’t consider punishing a preschooler at all, other than sternly saying no and explaining why it’s wrong.”

Emma said “Yes!”

Hayley said “Personally punishment should be done at the time of incident.. else they won’t associate the punishment with the wrong doing. I’m with those who say the school should tell parents and when the child is home to sit down and talk about it.. punishment has been given so a stern talk when home about it is best.”

Amber said “If the child has already been punished at school then I dont punish again at home. I want my child to know that he can tell me anything that happens at school without fear of being told off again. Obviously we do talk about any incident but it is a conversation rather than punishment.”

Wendy S said “No, they’ve already been punished, I’d just say that I know about it.”

Karen said “No. Not if it’s been dealt with. Consequences are much better though…https://www.empoweringparents.com/…/punishments-vs…/

Marion said “If it’s a school rule they broke, no. If they’ve been a proper little for and done something unacceptable to another child, absolutely.”

Ruza said “Well it does depend on what happened. School rules, and discipline at school. However if this is something that you really think needs further dealing with then you need to find out why and then look at what you need to do further. Also remember sometimes something happens that has an underlying reason.”

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Play Yoga

‘If the children are happy, then we’re happy!’ – a phrase widely used by parents! As a mum of two daughters myself, I am a total advocate of this! However, in more recent years, the importance of good mental health in children has come to the forefront of the news and media.

I have worked for over 20 years in the childcare and education sector, ranging from nurseries, to primary schools, to working closely with children with Special Educational Needs. I feel that there is no greater reward than working with children. But, as any parent will tell you, it is also one of the hardest jobs in the world. In the past few years there has been significant change in our society, causing more and more children great anxiety, and an inability to cope with their emotions so well. Research has shown that if the concept of wellbeing can be introduced at an early age, it will provide the child with the strategies to cope with life at a later age.

Play Yoga is a preschool class (2 ½ to 5 years old), dedicated to promoting healthy children, with happy minds. All classes are designed as an introduction to Yoga and Wellbeing. The sessions are all devised by myself, using techniques and experience from my childcare background.

All sessions use props, games and songs to help us to learn such things as breathing techniques, calm down strategies, and mindfulness activities that help us to calm ourselves in moments of high energy and anxiety. Yoga moves are introduced to the group, with the help of Buddy Bear. This is not always a ‘calm’ time, but a great introduction to the concept of Yoga for future use. Creative time plays a huge part in our sessions too. If children are allowed to be creative and express themselves now, they will be more confident at expressing themselves in years to come.

Each session ends with a time for ‘reflection’, which encourages children to talk about what they have enjoyed about the session, thus increasing their confidence and giving them security that they are being listened to and valued by others.

Some weeks are themed to suit the time of the year or even the interests of the children. One of our group last term was keen to show off some dinosaur yoga moves that he had created at home! Our Mother’s Day session included baking a pretend cake for our Mummies, and using our breathing techniques ‘to blow out the candles’. We practised some partner poses with our grown-ups, followed up by decorating some biscuits for our Mummies!

Finally, for our mindfulness activity, we cuddled up with our grown-ups under a blanket to play a listening game. We listened to short and long sounds, noticing when the sound actually finished, encouraging the children to take note of the sounds around us in everyday life.

Play Yoga is preparing to roll out our new Monday sessions from 3rd June to 22nd July 2019. We will be at Viables Community Centre, Basingstoke, starting at 10am. I am a small, independent, local business which started operating in February 2019, and I am keen to meet lots of children and their parents.

If you are interested in joining us, a trial session is £4.50. If you wish to continue then your space can be booked for the remainder of the half term at a rate of £6 per session.

Please take a look at my Facebook page – http://Facebook.com/AlisonPlay.Yoga or feel free to email me with any queries at Play.Yoga@yahoo.com. (You can message me also directly through Facebook.)

Thank you for taking the time out to read my post.

Alison

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Baby Sleep the Night

Having trouble getting your baby / toddler to sleep? Let me help you as I have been there too.

I am currently working towards finalising my certification and am offering a 2 week package which usually would cost £250 for £50 in exchange for an honest review of my service and a testimonial if you’re happy with the results at the end of our time together.

It is worth mentioning that I do not use the ‘ cry it out ‘ method, which many frazzled parents may possibly have tried and found not successful in the past. I use a very gentle approach taught to me by one of the leading baby sleep consultants in the UK which allows you to be there every step of the way to help provide comfort to your little one whilst they learn this new and important skill. I am incredibly passionate about sleep having suffered sleep deprivation with my own children and I know that healthy sleep habits mean healthy happy children.

If you know of anyone who this may help, please pass on my details or share to your entire address book!

www.babysleepthenight.com

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New information evening for Mums making a choice for birth after Caesarean

A new information evening for mums making a choice for birth after Caesarean will be on the second Wednesday of every month at 18.30hrs at alternating maternity sites.

It continues on Wednesday 12th of June at Basingstoke in the Blue room, downstairs in the Sherbourne building.

The purpose is to give consistent advice regarding the options for women having had a caesarean and help them to achieve the birth they would like , either and elective repeat Cs or a VBAC.

For more details, please contact me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com and I will put you in touch with the relevant Consultant Midwife.

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25 Live – The Anvil Celebrates its 25th Birthday

The Anvil concert hall celebrates its 25th birthday this year.  Basingstoke’s key arts venue is renowned as one of the top five concert halls in the country and has a great reputation in Hampshire and beyond, as well as internationally.

The Anvil was built by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and opened in May 1994.  It has become one of the country’s leading venues, putting Basingstoke on the map and bringing to the town audiences from all over England.  With seating which sweeps from the stalls to the circle without a break, audiences have a great view from wherever they sit; there is an intimate feel no matter how far from the stage you are.

The Anvil is highly thought of by both audiences and performers alike.  The last survey undertaken showed a 96% audience satisfaction rating for the third year running, and people who first came to The Anvil as children in 1994 are now bringing their own children to the venue.  The Anvil is also a favourite venue for artists and those giving enthusiastic compliments range from Dara O’Briain to Sir Simon Rattle.

The Anvil is run by Anvil Arts, a not-for-profit trust.  As well as the performance programme, Anvil Arts works in the community taking musicians into mainstream and special schools, residential homes and hospitals.  Every year more than 30,000 children perform on its stages.

The Anvil will be marking this special anniversary on Friday 3 May with a spectacular birthday concert performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Jonathan Mayes, the orchestra’s Concert Director, said “The Philharmonia is delighted to have a long-standing relationship with The Anvil as Orchestra in Partnership.  Since our first performance in Basingstoke in May 1994, the same month that the hall opened, we have continued to bring many of the world’s great conductors and soloists to Basingstoke.  Our players love performing in The Anvil’s outstanding acoustics and we are thrilled to be participating in the 25th anniversary celebrations. Here’s to the next 25 years!

The programme will feature Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and the world premiere of Breathing Space, a new commission by highly-rated British composer Samantha Fernando.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – credit Lars Borges

Samantha Fernando

Speaking about the piece, Samantha said “The Anvil was the place I saw some of my first orchestral concerts as a child so it is particularly meaningful to be writing a piece for a performance there“.

Over the last 25 years, The Anvil has helped to transform the image of Basingstoke.  With the continued support of its audiences, funders and artistic partners, the next 25 years look set to be even more exciting and successful.

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