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Monday 24 October 2011

MP Stephen Gilbert visits Outpost Housing Project, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

It was a pleasure and a privilege for me to meet Stephen Gilbert on Saturday 22nd October 2011 when he visited  Outpost Housing Project the charity of which I am Patron. 

Stephen Gilbert MP and Ellen Dean - Patron

Stephen was impressed to learn that Outpost (established in 1995) helps and supports young people aged between 16 and 25 who identify as LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans) and who are either homeless, have a housing need, or are facing discrimination.

Stephen met and talked with some of the young people who have been helped by Outpost and who are now doing very well.

Stephen Gilbert MP, Ellen Dean - Patron, Wendy Hodgson - Service Manager, Graeme Sawyers - Project Worker

Stephen is MP for St. Austell and Newquay and is currently a member of the Select Committee for Communities and Local Government and the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Housing. He is also one of 22 openly gay MPs in the House of Commons.

In Parliament, Stephen's policy interests include affordable housing and planning policy, as well as international affairs, civil liberties and the environment.

As a point of interest Outpost Housing Project is the only project of its kind in the UK. Stephen is keen to be kept up to date of the happenings with Outpost and I look forward to working with him in this respect.

Ellen Dean

Sunday 9 October 2011

Zip Slide in aid of Cystic Fibrosis - Gateshead to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

My niece Amy Addison and cousin Val Brennan Zip across the river Tyne from the top of The Baltic Art Gallery - Gateshead side - to the Newcastle Quayside in aid of Cystic Fibrosis. Well done to all who took part :-)

If you would like to support this charity please go to CF Trust

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Tuesday 13 September 2011

Lands End to John O' Groats Cycle Ride In Aid Of Cystic Fibrosis

On September 3rd 2011 my cousin - Paul Brennan - along with a small group of men and women set off  to cycle from Lands End to John O' Groats. A journey of 1000 miles.

Paul was doing this mammoth ride/journey in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Society.

Paul (right) his mum Valerie and nephew Ethan check out the route

They braved the weather, rain and high winds all the way to Penrith in Cumbria (Sunday 11th) where we met up with them on our way back from Aviemore. What we didn't know until we met up was that the day before (Saturday) one of the team had had a tragic and fatal accident. The group had been unsure of whether to carry on with their ride or not, but decided that they would continue in her memory.

They were past the half way mark when they stopped for a rest and a picnic at Langwathby near Penrith. The weather was not kind - it was raining and blowing a gale thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Katia starting to batter north east Britain and Scotland - but that didn't deter this team. They were not looking forward to cycling over the Forth Bridge today Tuesday 13th September and I can't help but worry about them.

Time for some carbs
From left to right
Catherine, Paul, their mum Val, Catherine's son Ethan and Ellen

I have never met a more determined and courageous group of people who intend to complete the ride in memory of their lost friend and for their charities. My hat goes off to all of them. If you see them on route please give them your support.

The team arrived at John O' Groats Saturday September 17th 2011. Well done all.

Saturday 3 September 2011

How to Make Porridge with Rosemary Shrager and Ellen Dean

Celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager shows Ellen how to make proper porridge 🥣 😀

Watch out for Rosemary's new book Yorkshire Breakfasts coming out October 2011

Thursday 4 August 2011

Diana S. Zimmerman - A Very Special Lady

Diana S. Zimmerman
America’s Foremost Lady Magician - Author - Entrepreneur and above all Friend
I admire Diana Zimmerman. I’ve admired her since we met in 2008. I think she is an extraordinarily amazing woman who followed her dreams ...
Like I said, we met in 2008 in September at The London Palladium. Diana is on the Board of Trustees for the charity MagiCares, the launch of which was part of the Siegfried & Roy Tribute Show and Diana had graciously invited us.  

Gloria, Diana and Ellen at The London Palladium 2008

Why do I admire her so much? It’s because Diana is a doer. And, she gives back.
How come she’s able to do that? Through guts, determination, hard work, rising above, and sheer genius.
Well, if you are America’s First Lady Magician and you created illusions for David Copperfield and Lance Burton then you must agree Diana possesses more than a sprinkling of fairy dust ... and this is only the tip of the iceberg. 
When we met Diana had just published her first book, Kandide and the Secret of the Mists: Calabiyau Chronicles. I hadn’t read the book before we met and assumed it was just a pretty story about fairies. I read it the week following our meeting ... and was knocked out by it. This is a brilliantly clever story about bullying, beautifully illustrated, that will appeal to all children and adults alike. And, where you would expect Kandide to be the victim, she is in fact, the bully who fears becoming a victim when she has an accident that destroys her perfect image. You could say the bully gets a taste of her own medicine.
I thought this story came from the heart. I was right. Diana had been bullied. And she wanted to help young school children who were being bullied. Kandide is the result and because of her story Diana tours schools explaining to children the terrible implications bullying has on lives.
How did Diane come up with the character Kandide?
Diana is an avid collector of faery art. Her collection of bronzes, clocks, paintings, sculptures, books, and porcelains is one of the largest in the world with pieces dating back to the 1700s. A painting by Australian artist, Maxine Gadd, now in her private collection, inspired Kandide. 
See what I mean about giving back? But ... that wasn’t the beginning. Oh no, this woman has a big heart.
In 1974, with the help of legendary actor Cary Grant, Diana founded—and still sponsors—a youth group at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle.
What started Diana on her magical journey? Destiny perhaps ... but since the age of eight Diana had dreamt of being a magician after she watched a magician produce money from thin air. She’d thought, Wow! Any job that can make money that easy is for me. So, aged eighteen, with her car filled with magic tricks, costumes, and a great deal of ambition, she left her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona and headed for Los Angeles with only $45 to her name!
The rest, as they say, is history. Diana starred in her own television show, ‘Enchanted Palace, as well as her own magical revue show in Lake Tahoe. Her success was global. She toured the world appearing on almost every major TV talk show and variety show. 
There’s more ...

Diana’s transition into the corporate world saw the creation of CMS Communications, Intl.—a marketing communications agency whose clients rank among the Fortune 500. Diana is CMS’ CEO. She is also the co-author of “Tactile Abyss,” a book on MarCom. Her dazzling road of business achievements is paved with equally impressive journalistic credentials having had nearly a hundred articles published in the high-end world of haute couture jewelry. Today, she is a much sought after speaker for schools and educators on “A Novel Approach To Ending School Violence.”
I mentioned Siegfried and Roy earlier. Diana co-edited and wrote the book Siegfried & Roy: Unique in All the World with Robert Gould. It was specifically designed for the Collectors’ market with a strictly Limited Edition of 500 copies.
I could go on but I guess you will understand now why I admire Diana so much. She’s not just a great inspiration, but a great role model too. She speaks from the heart. She is unique in all the world and I’m proud to have her as a friend. 


Wednesday 20 July 2011

Jan's Coming Out Premiere

The bubbly Jan Walker
© Gloria Fletcher

I’d had this event for Thursday 14th July pencilled in my diary for a while and was looking forward to going to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire to attend a very special film premiere . . . Jan's Coming Out
Sat Nav (Gloria) and I set off at 4pm and should have arrived in HB an hour and a half later. I say should have. We hit the M62 at 5pm - a busy time anyway - and all hell had broken loose. Back-to-back traffic to say the least and, when things started to move, it was at snails pace. One reason was due to an accident, a load spillage, and the other just the sheer unbelievable volume of traffic.  How do people get around in the south I wonder? I did say to Sat Nav at 3pm that we should perhaps get moving or we might hit heavy traffic, plus, it was a hot afternoon. Ho hum - hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Three long hours later we finally arrived at Bar Place - owned by Lesley Wood who we’d like to thank for making sure we had a refreshing cup of tea 🫖 Carolyn Reid, the film director, was waiting to meet us. She introduced us to her partner, Alison Thompson, the film producer, and to bubbly Jan Walker, the star of the show. It was good to sit, relax with a cup of tea and meet some of the other women who had taken part in or had a connection with the filming of Jan’s Coming Out. 
Being a northern lass I was thrilled to discover that partners Carolyn and Alison of Village Films Productions hail from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 

Carolyn, Jan and Alison
© Ellen Dean
So what’s this film/documentary about?
The film/documentary is about the spirited and vibrant Manchurian Jan Walker, a woman who came ‘out’ at 50 years of age. I asked Jan why she decided to come out aged 50. Jan told me that her husband’s infidelity, and their subsequent divorce, changed her life. She set out to discover her true self. ‘I watched all of the episodes of the L-Word in one week and that was it - I had my answer. And even though I’d worked as a physiotherapist at a hospital and met many lesbians, I’d never given lesbian life a second thought. I told my three children. They are very supportive. Then I started to go everywhere lesbian. To groups, clubs, Pride events and on Olivia cruises.‘
Karin from Pink Apple Film Festival, Jan,
and Liz from Pink Sofa. © Ellen Dean

How did the film/documentary come about? 
Jan, Carolyn and Alison met by accident on a Olivia Cruise. A lucky coincidence since Carolyn and Alison had been wanting to produce a film about real lesbian lives for several years. And not fictional characters or something full of angst, but a story that reflected a little of themselves; two happy and in love lesbians. But the right ‘lead’ woman had never come along to be their conduit so the idea had been put on the back burner for some time . . .  until they heard Jan’s voice on board the Olivia cruise ship! They chatted with Jan for over an hour, and both thought ‘she’s the one’. It all started in Bar Place in Hebden Bridge on a cold December day in 2009. From then on the film developed a life of its own and Jan talked with many ‘out’ women celebrities including Val McDermid, Zoe Lyons, Jen Brister, Julie Storey, Meredith Baxter, Jill Bennett, Cathy DeBuono, Jennifer Corday, Andrea Meyerson, Dana Goldberg (to name a few) both in the UK and the USA. She asked them about chat up lines, flirting, and their own stories about coming out.

Alison and Jan welcome a full audience
© Gloria Fletcher
The result? 
A fabulous, fun, uplifting documentary - with great music courtesy of Jennifer Corday - that carried the audience along at a lovely, happy pace from Hebden Bridge to Manchester and West Hollywood to Provincetown with several stops and detours along the way. We laughed, clapped, and we cheered. After the film it was back to Bar Place for the after show party 🥳
Congratulations Jan, Carolyn and Alison on a truly brilliant and inspiring film. More please . . . how about a fly on the wall documentary where we can follow Jan on her quest to find love?

Look Jan, you're a star!
© Gloria Fletcher
Jan chats with friends at the after show party
in Bar Place
© Gloria Fletcher

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Friday 8 July 2011

Outpost Housing Project - Newcastle-upon-Tyne UK

I am proud and honoured to be the first Patron of Outpost Housing Project, now Albert Kennedy Trust, based in Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the northeast of England, UK.

The following pictures speak for themselves. 

Please support this project.

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Friday 17 June 2011

Masham and Kirkby Malzeard Patients Support Group, North Yorkshire

On Wednesday 8th June 2011 Masham & Kirkby Malzeard Patients Support Group presented Dr. Steven Broadbent GP with a Heine Dermatoscope for use in the Practice.

Dr Steven Broadbent accepts the Dermatoscope from John Brearley (Chairman)

Dr. Broadbent thanked the Patients Group for their kind donation. He said that this piece of equipment would enable GP’s within the Practice to closer examine skin lesions, in particular moles. This is a new piece of equipment which should enable doctors to be able to determine which moles could be malignant.

Dr Steven Broadbent demonstrates on Jack Burk how the Dermatoscope is used.

The Dermatoscope works by using a bright light source and magnifying plate with a blob of alcohol jelly between the two to enable high magnification viewing of the skin and its relevant structures. This is a fairly new dermatological skill that Dr Broadbent and Dr Gardner are acquiring with the aim for prompt diagnosis and hopefully reduced referral rates. 
Members of the Patients Support Group were invited to try the Heine Dermatoscope using Dr Broadbent as a guinea pig. As a committee member I found this piece of equipment to be amazing.

Ellen Dean

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Introducing The Talented Marilyn Berglas & Deni Newton

Recently I received two Deni Newton music tracks, Imagine and One Dream, to play on my Durham Dales Radio Show. I was knocked out! Her voice is absolutely stunning. So stunning I was hypnotized and almost missed my cue to play the next song. And, the words - written by Marilyn Berglas - really grab you.

Deni Newton

Deni, now living in Omaha Ne., started her singing career early in Tulsa OK., where she had a recording contract with Shelter Records. Currently she is part of the multi platinum composer/lyricist Marilyn Berglas world team of music (cEmerald Lion Music) and working closely with Marilyn on all of her songs including several co-written with Harvey Mason of FourPlay. She is also recording for Marilyn’s Italian and Argentinian song writing partners.

Marilyn Berglas at The Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills Hotel

Marilyn has been recorded by Johnny Mathis and Deneice Williams, Billy Preston and has well over a hundred songs recorded internationally. She stopped writing for twenty years to pursue a performer career. She played at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel for six years (I actually visited the hotel while Marilyn played there, now that’s what I call a coincidence) and has played for almost everyone in entertainment, Christopher Plummer, Chevy Chase, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, etc.
Marilyn began writing again about sixteen months ago . . . after googling herself she was amazed to see that her songs had survived the test of time . . . and from that moment it has been music 24/7

This extremely talented duo met on facebook and the very first time Marilyn heard Deni’s vocals, she just knew Deni was the one to sing Imagine, a song she had written some twenty one years ago for a movie project that didn’t go into actual production. Imagine had been sitting on a shelf, so to speak, waiting for the right person to come along and that person is Deni. Now the song has been reborn. 

I asked Marilyn how they manage to work together living so far away from each other.
She said, ‘I record a track in my studio in LA . . . Deni gets it and we work on it via phone and chat on facebook. When it’s there she sends it back to the studio where I vocal edit and master it.’ Look out for a forthcoming album and I understand a Christmas one is in the making too.

I asked Marilyn if they would be open to perform at gay events and she said, ‘We have been working solely on the recording end so far but are open to performing at gay events in the future . . . that would be great.’

Deni is #1 OMAHA at reverbnation with over 10,600 plays and being played on many stations.

Marilyn said, ‘We are just thrilled with the love and support we are receiving.’

You can hear some of Deni’s music at Deni Newton

Monday 16 May 2011

Lady Gaga Performs in Carlisle - BBC-Radio 1's Big Weekend 15th May 2011

Talk about making an entrance! Lady Gaga was a tad late (at least half an hour) and when her dancers did appear they carried a coffin on stage with them. As you can imagine big hype and big drama . . . We thought is it Countess Dracula? When the lid eventually opened we had Lady Gaga standing in profile. Why? Because she was cleverly making full use of ‘stage props and costumes’ and purporting to be pregnant: to mega crowd reaction she began to sing her first fabulous number Born This Way. Hmm, a very interesting entrance. Rebirth!
She was ready to ‘deliver’ and ‘deliver’ she did. But you may be wondering who delivered the baby. Yes, it was (for those of you who have read Beautiful Strangers) Dr. Hyacinth Dickinson, obstetrician/gynaecologist, who just happened to be in the audience. Dr. D loves Lady Gaga, and (in the novel) she has a mother and baby home in Carlisle. So a match it was.

Poker Face and Bad Romance followed, along with Telephone and Alejandro, to name but a few. These are my faves. Don’t you think she has a look of Madonna and that her performance closely resembled Madonna’s when she was on stage? Not a bad thing. I love Madonna and think she will be well impressed that Lady Gaga is following in her footsteps. 

An Awesome Performance!

I love Madonna and think she will be well impressed that Lady Gaga is following in her footsteps

I have a question for you, Lady Gaga: Was it you having a brew and chocolate muffin in the Moto services nearby . . ? 
I’m sure it was 😀

Tuesday 10 May 2011

BBC Reel History of Britain Series

Last Saturday (7th May) my friend Anita Atkinson and I set off for Leicester. We were to be filmed as part of the BBC’s Reel History of Britain series which is to be aired in September. 
I had printed off directions from the AA Map but Anita said, “It’s ok, Ellen, I’ve borrowed a reliable sat nav.’ Wrong! Well, not totally wrong. We managed to get to Leicester all right, which was straight down the motorway and the hotel was in Blaby, only four miles from the motorway, so it should have been easy for sat nav . . .  Wrong again. 
Anita’s ‘reliable’ sat nav took us into a supermarket car park first. The female voice told us to turn around. ‘Yes,’ we said, ‘we hear you, but where do we turn around?’ Sat nav couldn’t answer that one. ‘Aha! Got you,’ we said in unison. So, Anita used her own initiative. When sat nav finally said, ‘You have reached your destination,’ we looked along a street of terraced houses, and I thought, hmm, I don’t think so. I wound my window down and asked two pedestrians for directions; hence we found our hotel.
The hotel was very nice, and Anita decided to take a dip in the pool. I don’t interfere with water unless it’s in a controlled environment i.e. bath or shower. 
I usually present my radio show on a Saturday night but, due to going to Leicester, I had to cancel my slot. However, thanks to the hotel’s free wifi and Anita’s Notebook, we were able to present a show. We sent out a facebook bulletin and within two minutes listeners were tuned in from around the world. Isn’t technology marvelous?  

The next morning we had to be at the village hall in Countersthorpe for 9 am. I knew it was only ten minutes by car; I’d checked on google earth. Anita said, ‘I’ll set the sat nav just to see what happens.’ Actually, it did get us to the village hall, but not the car park that we wanted. It took us to a cul de sac behind the village hall. So instead of leaving the car and jumping over a fence, again we asked a passer-by. Sat nav, you’re sacked!

We got there, on time; the BBC crew were already setting up. We were given tea and biscuits then introduced to Dibnah the producer, along with Lorna assistant producer, and Nick and Chris (crew). They explained what was going to happen, then we were ready and waiting for the next move.
Anita and I were taken to the red carpet to be filmed first, and then we were asked to wait in the hallway, with a group of six other people, until they were ready for us. I said to Dibnah, ‘Are you sure we’re not filming Dr Who? Because the last time I was in this situation it was when I was abducted by aliens!’ She laughed, ‘I knew I was going to have trouble with you two.’ We had such a great time.
We watched two short films in the cinema and then Melvyn Bragg joined us on the red carpet to chat about the 1977 Royal Silver Jubilee. He is such a lovely man, and good fun too. When it was my turn to chat with him (I can’t tell you what we talked about because I’m not allowed to give too much away) we had four takes (out takes). 
The crew, even though they were working very hard, had fun too. And, we met some loverly people from Countersthorpe while filming and look forward to seeing them again on the small screen. 
All-in-all a great experience 😀

Saturday 30 April 2011

Royal Wedding 29th April 2011

We thought we were in for a typical grey London day for the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton but the sun came out and shone down on our celebrations and everything was rosy.

The handsome groom, in his Irish Guards uniform, looked absolutely dashing. The bride, in her beautiful dress designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, looked radiant and calm as she walked down the isle on her father's arm to meet her handsome Prince waiting at the altar.

The service was perfect. And, the two kisses on the famous Royal Balcony at Buckingham Palace finished off a spectacular day.

People from all over the world flocked to London to wish the couple a very long and happy life together. And, those who couldn't be there watched and celebrated in their own way.

Apparently over 29 billion people worldwide tuned in their televisions to watch the wedding.

Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge 💍

Wednesday 23 March 2011

A Twist on the Scottish Play - Masham Players - Spring Production 2011

They say that when you're involved with the Scottish Play that things may go wrong. Well, Ron Smith decided to direct and act in Masham Players comedy version of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society's Production of the scottish play written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jnr.

Did I mention that this was his directing debut? Challenging is an understatement.

Now you're wondering what went wrong  - but where to start! Everything that could have gone wrong did but, Ron pulled it all together and the result was three brilliant performances.
Now he's sleeping at night again and has deleted his therapist from his speed dial :-)

I have to say that these photographs are from the brilliant dress rehearsal (I was unable to attend the public performances) and I laughed my socks off.  Brilliant comedy all round. Congratulations Ron and well done to everyone who took part.

 I know what it's like to direct and having to pull everything together especially after directing Ding Dong last November. But all good fun, eh!

Monday 21 March 2011

Awakenings In an Age of Angels - Angel Eliza

I wasn't sure what to expect when I received the book 'Awakenings In an Age of Angels' written by Angel Eliza and published by Rosedog Books.

As you can imagine - because of the title - I thought it was going to be dedicated to stories about angels and it was . . . in a very special way.

Once I stated reading, I could not put this book down.

Yes, it's a collection of stories about Jesus, and the role of Angels in God's plan, but so, so, different to what I expected. A lot of thought has gone into writing this book although Angel says she was guided by a higher force she calls The One.

Angel talks of miracles. About how she was told to write about her visions and dreams by The One.
This enlightening book is the result. And, whether you are religious, or not, it doesn't matter. 'Awakenings In an Age of Angels' is most definitely worth a read.

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