On-board performance ahead of Tattoo 110

by Karrie Gillett

VISITORS to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith were treated to a guest performance from a group of Royal Marines today.

The band of 24 Scottish Marines boarded the popular tourist attraction as part of a dress rehearsal ahead of the opening night of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

And the director of music, Captain Richard Harvey, revealed how the 15-minute performance was merely a taster of what was on offer during the three-week spectacle at the castle esplanade.

Disco girl gets judges in a spin 109

by Alexander Lawrie

A HYPERACTIVE youngster who turned to disco dancing to use up her excess energy has stunned her family by becoming World Champion.

Tamara Robertson is officially the best under-eight disco dancer on the planet after fighting off stiff competition from more than 100 girls from across the globe.

The confident eight-year-old wowed the judges with a variety of stunning dance moves at the Association of Dance and Freestyle Professionals World Championship in May.

And her disco dancing exploits have now caught the attention of the Jay Leno show’s producers who are keen to fly the protégé over to the States to appear in one of his shows.

As a child the budding dancer was a whirlwind of energy and mum Marie thought disco dancing would be good for her daughter’s health.

But little did she know young Tamara would take to the dance floor so successfully.

Marie, 37, said: “Tamara has so much energy she is literally on the go from the moment she wakes up to the minute she goes to bed.

“We thought that dancing would maybe tire her out, but she is even more active now. I just don’t know where she gets it from.

“She used to run us all ragged, but the dancing has really focused her attention and now all she wants to do is dance.

“Even when we go to the supermarket she is always dancing up and down the aisles.

“Since becoming World Champion Tamara has become something of a local celebrity.

“In fact just last week I got a call from the producers of the Jay Leno show asking if we would be interested in going over to America to film a dance routine for the show.”

During the Blackpool-held competition Tamara danced her socks off to a variety of disco classics including her current favourite chart hit, Apple Bottom Jeans by T-Pain.

Also competing were young girls from as far afield as South Africa, France, Norway and Sweden.

Mrs Robertson revealed Tamara was considered an early favourite for the title as just weeks earlier she had also won the European Championship crown, held in Bristol.

She is also the current Scottish champion and holds the coveted UK Disco Kids crown.

The young Edinburgh girl is sponsored by dance clothing specialists Design by Janine, who supply some of her expensive glitzy costumes, some of which cost up to £1500.

                                                     AMBITIONS

And although only eight years-old, Tamara has big ambitions for the future claiming she not only wants to become the adult World Champion one day, but that she also hopes to open her own dance school and help other kids fulfill their dreams.

Tamara said: “I would love to be a dancer when I’m older, but I really want to start my own dance school so I can help train kids like me.

“My favourite dancer just now is Alesha Dixon who won Strictly Come Dancing. She’s so beautiful.”

Younger sister Demi, 7, was also a keen dancer but has given it up because she doesn’t like all the training.

“She’s just announced her retirement,” laughed Mrs Robertson.

Dance teacher Fiona Quilietti, who runs the exclusive Quilietti School of Dance, said: “Tamara is a total natural, we could see that from the very beginning.

“Although we have a few European Champions in our classes, she is our first ever World Champion. We are all really proud of her.

“If she continues the hard work she is currently putting in, there is no doubt she can become an adult World Champion.”

Ex-snooker champion gives up battle 108

By Martin Couper

A STRICKEN former snooker champion is facing a cash crisis after giving up his battle for money from a World Snooker disability fund.

Former world number 12, Chris Small quit the sport nearly three years ago after developing a degenerative spinal condition called ankylosing spondylitis.

Since then Chris, 34, has been embroiled in a turbulent battle with trustees of the Professional Billiards and Snooker Players Benevolent Fund for financial assistance.

But following the most recent stumbling block recent from the trust, the Edinburgh-based father of four has resigned himself to receiving nothing.

He said: “It’s been the longest running saga ever.

“They told me they had already provided for me which is a lot of rubbish. They said they had made funds available for my medical treatment while I was still playing which I didn’t use.

“It just dragged on and on.

“I’m a wee bit disappointed about being refused, but I’m not surprised by World Snooker because the organisation is a shambles.”

In the latest development, the trustees told him they would not pay out unless he could provide them with a medical certificate – which would cost him £250.

But he refused because he had previously been rejected by the board and couldn’t afford to stump up the cash.

Chris and wife Clare even tried selling their house in the capital to free-up extra income but had to take it off the market because of the instability of housing prices.

Clare, a child-minder is currently on maternity leave following the birth of the couple’s son, Christopher.

And without a steady stream of income the couple are now facing a life on benefits.

Chris said: “I will not be able to work a normal job because of my back.

“I receive jags every three or four days and feel fine for a while. But when it wears off I’m in agony. I’ll be on benefits for life now.

“With Clare on maternity leave as well, money is tight.”

In the last three years, grant pay-outs from the PBSPBF have plummeted from £25,000 a year, to just under £4,000.

Chris believes World Snooker’s court battles have had an affect on the number of players receiving financial aid from the trust fund.

He said: “Clive Everton, the snooker commentator did tell me that eight or nine players had received around three or four thousand pound. I don’t know how long ago that was, but I have noticed a decline in the amount they pay out.

“World Snooker have wasted so much money on legal battles that were pointless. That money could have been spent better, like towards former players who needed it.”

But the former LG Cup winner has been full of praise for his fellow professionals who have come out in support of his fight.

Snooker heavyweights Jimmy White, John Parrot and Graeme Dott have all condemned the trust for failing to help their ill colleague.

White has slammed the organisation for failing to help Chris, calling their decision “diabolical.”

He said: “I think it is diabolical. The man pursued a career in snooker but now it looks like they are turning their backs on him, which is such a shame.” 

Chris welcomes the support from his peers, but has resigned himself to the fact that he won’t be helped by the organisation.

He said: “It’s good to know that these guys are speaking up. But World Snooker is one of those organisations where it won’t matter if the top 64 players came out and said they support me.

“They don’t care. It won’t make a difference.”

World Snooker Limited said they would not comment on individual applications.

Harmony restored after theft on train 107

by Alexander Lawrie

A MUSICIAN who had a rare instrument stolen after a gig has had it returned – after finding it for sale on Ebay.

Rob St John, 22, and his band were travelling back to Edinburgh by train after playing a gig in Glasgow in April when he noticed the band’s prized harmonium had disappeared.

After reporting the theft to the transport police, the up-and-coming singer songwriter put the experience down to bad luck.

Thinking the harmonium was gone for good St John started to scour websites looking to buy a replacement.

But as the Edinburgh-based musician searched Ebay for a similar piece, he could not believe his eyes when he spotted the band’s stolen harmonium advertised for sale.

St John immediately contacted Ebay and the police to alert them to the sale and the expensive musical instrument was instantly pulled from the auction site.

Mr St John said: “We were traveling back to Waverley from Glasgow after playing a gig at Tchai Ovna and had all our gear packed away in the luggage compartment.

“The train was really busy and we were keeping our eye on things, but must have turned our back for a couple of minutes when the train stopped at Falkirk High.

“We only noticed it was missing when the train pulled away, and by then it was too late.

“The harmonium actually belongs to Rob Waters, a bandmate of mine, and he was absolutely gutted to have it nicked.”

But police managed to track down the sneak thief who had taken the £400 harmonium after the former Edinburgh University graduate spotted it for sale on Ebay.

He said: “Luckily for us the thief was a bit dozy because he used a picture of the tea chest we had the harmonium stored in on the Ebay site. It was covered in our handwriting making it really easy to spot.

“I just couldn’t believe our luck. We had been searching for a new one, and in the faint hope of finding our own one, but I really thought it was gone for good.”

“It actually sold to some unlucky punter for £50. I just hope he managed to get his money back.”

The rare instrument was put up for sale on the Ebay auction site by a seller in the Falkirk area calling himself paulpat1964.

A British Transport Police spokesman said: “On a positive note, the harmonium has been recovered and has been returned to its rightful owner.

“Our enquiries regarding the theft are still ongoing.”

A spokesperson for Ebay said: “We are the most transparent online marketplace.

“When an item is confirmed as stolen by law enforcement agencies, we remove it promptly from the site, as we understand happened on this occasion.

“We work very closely with the Police and last year alone, we helped to secure over 200 arrests and guilty verdicts in nearly 70 cases.”

Ronnie Corbett unveils seabird statues 106

by Karrie Gillett

THE seabird centre in North Berwick was the unusual location for a rare performance from TV legend Ronnie Corbett OBE.

The diminutive funnyman – who has long connections with the East Lothian area – arrived with his wife Anne to reveal the famous sculpture of an Arctic tern and bronze penguins at the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Before unveiling the two statues to the waiting crowds, the 77-year-old relaxed in the sunshine at the seaside resort and cracked a few jokes.

And the Edinburgh-born star – who has worked in television since the 1950s – revealed his link with the popular seabird centre.

He said: “It’s wonderful to see so many people here today and it just goes to show how important maintaining the vibrant seabird centre is to the community here.

“My wife and I have a house in Gullane and we are big fans of the centre. I’m not an expert on sealife or birds but I would love to come here more and use all the facilities so I could learn more. It’s a wonderful place.”

Tom Brock OBE, chief executive of the centre, was delighted to welcome the comedy star.

He said: “Ronnie Corbett and his wife Anne have been long term supporters of the Seabird Centre, since before it even opened in 2000.

“We are also delighted to welcome people from East Lothian and visitors to the area to join us on the day and celebrate the tern’s return.”

Originally on temporary loan to the Seabird Centre, the sculpture of the tern makes a very welcome return to North Berwick.

The work by the well known wildlife sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood has been much admired and photographed.

And the bronze penguins – by the late George Graham – were also given a permanent home outside the Centre.

Boy hurt in 30ft cliff fall 105

by Michael MacLeod

A YOUNG boy has been seriously injured after falling more than 30ft from a cliff face on the first day of his holiday.

The seven-year-old – named locally as Cameron – was climbing up the edge of the rocks at Pease Bay Holiday Home Park when he lost his footing.

His frantic grandmother – who it is believed he was away with – rushed to his aid and emergency services were called.

He was airlifted from the site in Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, and taken to the Sick Kids in Edinburgh to be treated for a fractured skull and broken leg.

Last night, police said his condition was serious but not life threatening.

It is understood that Cameron and his maternal grandmother had arrived at the holiday park early yesterday for a short break.

Visitors to the park told how the Scottish youngster had been playing on the beach while his gran sat inside.

And they said she had insisted the boy come back inside every half an hour to check in with her.

But as he climbed on the rocks just after 5.30pm he slipped and fell – landing in a sitting position 30 to 40 feet below.

Eyewitness Paul Brooke, 16, said: “I was at my caravan when I heard people shouting ‘Get down, get down’ so I went down to the beach and saw the boy perched on a ledge half way up the cliff.

“He looked like he was trying to come down but slipped and hit the rocks legs first, then smashed his forehead. He was doubled right over. I ran over to help and he was bleeding but conscious, and clearly in shock – shaking all over.”

Pease Bay resident Linda Paterson, 31, said she had spoken to the boy’s grandmother moments before she was informed of the accident.

She said: “Everybody is in shock. The boy and his gran only arrived today and we had just been chatting in the bar for about five minutes when Cameron came over to say he was playing on the beach.

“He seemed really excited to be on holiday. He was out enjoying the sunshine and she was letting him go out every half hour and reminding him to let her know where he was all the time.

“But it was raining earlier and it seems as though he just slipped from the wet rocks as he tried to climb up.”

The emergency services were contacted and an ambulance, coastguard units from Dunbar and Eyemouth, plus police and RNLI Dunbar lifeboats attended the scene.

But because of the injuries the schoolboy received in the fall, the services in attendance had difficulty reaching him.

Instead a Sea King helicopter was drafted in from RAF Boulmer, who transferred the youngster to hospital for treatment.

Ms Paterson added: “His gran was in shock. She ended up going in the helicopter to hospital with him. We have since heard that he is doing okay and wants to come back to get his toys that are still out on the beach.”

A Lothian and Borders police spokesman confirmed: “About 5.40pm on Tuesday 29th July 2008 a seven-year-old boy, who was staying at the Pease Bay Caravan Park, Cockburnspath, Berwickshire fell approximately 30 feet from a cliff onto rocks, whilst climbing.

“As a result of the fall the child suffered serious but not life threatening injuries and the emergency services were notified.”

Warning over dangers of texting 104

by Alexander Lawrie

YOUNG Scots send more texts than anywhere else in Britain – but are now being urged to cut down in a bid to ward of injury.
 
Almost two thirds of Scots aged 16-24 are sending an average of 20 or more texts a day.
 
One in six (16%) are now complaining of discomfort in their hands and a small number are suffering from pain in their arms, neck and shoulders.
 
Physiotherapists are now urging young and old to change their texting habits to prevent the onset of text message injury (TMI).
 
A Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) study has revealed Scots youngsters (65%) text almost twice the amount of the British average (34%).
 
Respondents in the East Midlands were second on the list with 55 per cent.
 
And no 16-24 year olds in the north of England said they texted more than 20 times per day.
 
As Scots youngsters await their Higher results next week, the survey revealed partners (64%) and best friends (29%) were top of the list when it comes to spreading good news.
 
But poor old dads were left waiting by the phone as not one respondent said they would call them after hearing news.
 
Bronwyn Clifford, a chartered physiotherapist and CSP spokesperson, said: “Texting is a great way to communicate – especially to pass on news about exam results – but mobile phones are not ergonomically designed for excessive texting and they require repetitive movements to operate them.
 
“Too much texting can result in pain and swelling of the tendons at the base of the thumb and wrist.”
 
The CSP have set out a five-step programme for safer texting, including holding the phone up with the screen facing towards you, taking breaks between texting and carrying out arm and finger exercises.
 
Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP Policy Officer for Scotland, says texters need to think about the frequency and intensity of their texting.
 
He said: “Keep messages short and use abbreviations and the predictive text function on your phone. Try to restrict text sessions to 5-10 minutes and avoid holding the phone if you are not using it or are waiting for a response as this will help prevent muscle fatigue from continuous grasping.”
 
According to the Mobile Data Association over 4 million texts are sent every hour in Britain, with most texts being sent between 10.30pm and 11pm.
 
The Association’s latest figures also show Brits sent 6 billion text messages in December 2007 – almost 5000 every second.

Supercat Basil survives balcony plunge 103

By Michael MacLeod

A CAT who dresses as Superman plunged 65ft from a balcony – and survived.

Lucky Basil could have been killed in the fall from the top-floor flat after he landed just inches from metal railings.

But the two-year-old Bengal cat – whose owner Debbie Standen made him a Superman cape to wear around the house – walked away with just a broken leg.

Now Debbie, 23, says she can’t believe he imitated his favourite superhero and managed a PURRfect landing.

She said: “He always loved his Superman cape – perhaps he thought he had super powers. This was more like a scene from Spiderman than Superman because he landed feet-first.

“He has only ever jumped off the windowsill before, so for him to jump off the balcony was one hell of a shock.

“Curiosity clearly didn’t kill my wee cat, but he’s definitely down to eight lives now.”

Debbie made him the cape out of the same material of his favourite cushion, after he was moulting fur over their furniture.

Debbie’s partner was on the phone but still heard the thud from outside their Edinburgh flat.

The couple ran out to the balcony, but couldn’t see their beloved moggy.

Debbie, a PR officer, added: “Basil loved sunbathing in his cape but he’s not the brightest of cats and isn’t very streetwise.

“We were expecting the worst when we were rushing down the stairs. I love Basil so much and was really worried for him.

“It was absolutely unbelievable to see him walking and meowing. He wasn’t even concussed.”

Basil underwent surgery to fix his broken leg at Oak Tree Veterinary Centre.

Debbie said he won the hearts of all the nurses at the vets, who fondly named him “Supercat.”

Vet Alistair Marks said: “He is a very lucky cat. We certainly could have been dealing with injuries that could have claimed his life.

“I think he probably broke his paw by hitting a piece of furniture on the way down.

“We just need to wait and see if there’s any nerve damage.”

Now home two weeks after his ordeal, Basil is recovering after having his stitches from the surgery removed. 

But he won’t be acting out any more scenes from his favourite superhero movies.

Debbie said: “He’s strictly on inside-rule.

“Not in a million years will he be getting to go back out on the balcony.

“Neither of us wants to go through that again, but we hope to move to a place with a garden soon, so Basil can jump around all he likes.”

Clothes store too sexy for shopping centre 102

By Martin Couper

AN online clothes shop that has supplied dresses to stars of the new James Bond film has been banned from opening in a shopping centre – because it is too sexy.

Sexy Little Numbers has been operating over the internet for four years and has been popular with a host of celebrity clients including Dame Judi Dench and another Quantum of Solace star, thought to be Gemma Arterton.

So when owners Robert and Wilma Chrystal decided they would open a real store in their local town, they didn’t think they would have any problem.

But stuffy bosses at the Kingsgate Shopping Centre in Dunfermline have told them no – because the clothes they sell are too racy for their family environment.

Now Wilma has hit out, claiming her stock is no different to other high street stores.

She said: “They thought our stuff was a bit raunchy for them.  But we deal in dresses and shoes and body jewellery. OK, we do knickers, but if you go into Primark and they sell thongs and G-strings. We are nothing like Ann Summers.”

The couple – who have also sold underwear to glamour model Jordan in the past – have rubbished claims they’re clothes are too risqué and say that they provide a wide spectrum of fashion which caters to a distinct range of tastes.

Wilma said: “My designer dresses are not off the shelf items. The company make them to order and people who buy these dresses will be hard pushed to find someone with the same dress.

“What are we selling that is so bad? We don’t sell adult toys, we don’t sell bondage wear, some of the shoes might look fetish but they are more along the Goth line.

“No one has the right to say what a shop can sell and what they can’t sell. You walk into the Kingsgate and there’s people selling knives and everything. That will affect kids more.”

Recently, the couple dealt with British film icon Dame Judi Dench and another female cast member, believed to be Gemma Arterton, when both were looking for glamourous dresses for the movie’s premiere.

The anonymous starlet has already purchased two slinky dresses for the occasion while Dame Judi Dench is due back to finalise her clothing arrangements.

Wilma said: “She’s (Judi Dench) not bought anything yet, but she’s coming back.”

And Robert added: “Wilma actually spoke to Daniel Craig too but she didn’t believe it was him – she said ‘No way are you the real Daniel Craig’. But eventually the girl she was dealing with told her it was actually him. It was quite comical.”

But the Chrystals, from Kelty, Fife, were less than amused when a proposed move to the Kingsgate shopping centre in Dunfermline was blocked by stuffy bosses because the clothes they sell were too racy for the family environment.

The Chrystals have customers as far flung as America, Australia and Asia, using eBay as a method of promoting and distributing.

And they had hoped that opening a store would save them from the £12,000 a year fees they pay to the online auctioneers.

But after eight months of wrangling with the shopping centre bosses, they were finally told they would not be opening.

A spokeswoman for the Kingsgate Centre said: “Sexy Little Numbers was deemed inappropriate for the vacant unit due to the nature of its business.”

Musical trio climb highest mountain 101

By Alexander Lawrie

THREE cellists who specialise in playing in extraordinary places have completed their most challenging task yet – playing on top of Ben Nevis.

The Extreme Cellists performed at the top of Britain’s highest peak as part of their Four Peak challenge, where the novice climbers are attempting to scale the heights of the four tallest mountains in Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

The intrepid trio aim to raise more than £10,000 for their chosen charities – the spinal cord injury charity Aspire, and the mountain rescue services in each of the four countries.

Jeremy Dawson, 32, Clare Wallace, 42, from Sheffield, and James Rees, 28, from Cambridgeshire donned their climbing boots and strapped on their cellos on Monday afternoon and hiked their way up to the summit of the 4,406 ft mountain.

On Thursday, the three musicians will then attempt to climb Scafell Pike in the Lake District, before scaling Mount Snowdon on Sunday and Carrauntoohil in County Kerry next Wednesday.

Mr Dawson, a university lecturer, said: “We had an amazing day climbing Ben Nevis. It took over 4 hours to get up because we had to carry our cellos as well, but it really was worth it.

“We’re all feeling a little bit sore this morning after our efforts, and believe it or not we are all suffering from a bit of sunburn today.

“I first got the idea a number of years ago when I saw a programme about Extreme Ironing. It looked like fun and we just adapted the concept to suit us.

“Hopefully we can reach our target of £10,000 by the time we complete the last mountain.

“We’ve been involved with Aspire for a while now, and, because of what we are doing, we thought the mountain rescue services should receive a donation as well.”

Based in Sheffield, the Extreme Cellists have also played in other unusual circumstances for charity over the past few years.

In 2006 the trio embarked on the Cathedral Roof Tour where they played on the roofs of all the 42 Anglican Churches in England in less than two weeks.

And last year, the cellists completed their Monopoly Board Challenge where the threesome gave a short performance at each of the streets on the London Monopoly board in just one day.

Andrew Ogierman, of the charity Aspire, said: “We have had the pleasure of being associated with the cellists for a few years now and we all think they are attempting a marvelous feat. 

“After their Cathedral tour we knew they were planning something big, but this event just tops the lot.

“Hopefully we can raise some more awareness for their cause because the money donated to ourselves and to the mountain rescue teams will be very welcome indeed.

“The money they will raise will help make a huge difference to the 1200 people affected by spinal injuries every year.”