Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, launches her annual ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ campaign, which last year provided 3,800 Christmas food hampers right across the UK to those in most need. The hope is to surpass that total this Christmas.


For release to raise awareness for the campaign is a brand new single and also an accompanying celebrity supported video. The song, a fantastic modern version of the festive classic O Little Town of Bethlehem is sure to soon be ringing out across the country and the video must be seen to be believed! The lead vocalists on the track are Welsh singer/broadcaster Mal Pope and the West End superstar and singer/songwriter, Steve Balsamo. The video also features a star-studded cast of celebrities all relaying the central message ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’, including BAFTA winner Michael Sheen, Wales & Lions Rugby star James Hook, Carolyn Harris MP, Steve Balsamo, Davina McCall, Max Boyce, Bonnie Tyler, Premier League footballer Leon Britton, Sian Lloyd, rugby legend Shane Williams, Penny Lancaster, ex-rugby player and commentator Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies, Swansea City manager Russell Martin and Catherine Zeta Jones!

‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ goes live with a video of their Christmas single ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’. This reimagining of the classic Christmas Carol features a duet between, Mal Pope and Steve Balsamo, with support from Harry’s Youth Theatre Choir Swansea and the Morriston Salvation Army Band.

The video starts with a spine-chilling opening monologue from BAFTA winner Michael Sheen and ends with a special message from OSCAR Winner Catherine Zeta Jones.  The video also features appearances from Davina McCall, Max Boyce, Elis James, Penny Lancaster and Bonnie Tyler.

The video was Art Directed by BAFTA Award winning Production Designer Edward Thomas, recently returned to Swansea following a year in Malta designing a new Steven Spielberg Film.

The single is taken from the album ‘Christmas with the Pope’ and is available to stream and download from all streaming sites including Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music. The physical CD will be available from select shops or via mail order. Details www.malpope.com

As well as inviting everyone to download and stream the single, the video is available free of charge for use over the festive period and in return, donations to the Just Giving link below are appreciated.

‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ Just Giving Link: https://justgiving.com/campaign/hampers2021

Carolyn Harris MP and lead vocalists on the track, Mal Pope and Steve Balsamo are fully supporting the single release throughout December and are available for interviews. 

Everyone Deserves a Christmas… With a Star-Studded List of Celebrities!

Everyone Deserves a Christmas – “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Featuring the lead vocals of MAL POPE AND STEVE BALSAMO, this fantastic modern take on the Christmas classic is sure to be ringing out across the country and the video must be seen to be believed! A star-studded cast of celebrities all giving the central message Everyone Deserves a Christmas, includes Welsh actor Michael Sheen, Wales & Lions Rugby star James Hook, Carolyn Harris MP, Steve Balsamo, Davina McCall, Max Boyce, Bonnie Tyler, Premier League footballer Leon Britton, Sian Lloyd, rugby legend Shane Williams, Penny Lancaster, ex-rugby player and commentator Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies, Swansea City manager Russell Martin and Catherine Zeta Jones!

‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ Hamper Campaign

Carolyn Harris knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet.  When her 8-year-old son Martin was tragically killed in an accident she found herself mourning the loss of a child and with no way to afford to pay the funeral costs. At the time she was working as barmaid and it was her customers that rallied around to raise cash to help pay her debt.

Carolyn’s life took a dramatic turn when she walked into a Job Centre.  She was astounded to learn that the IQ test she had taken as part of a Government programme said she had the IQ of an Astronaut or Brain Surgeon.

After studying for a degree in Social History and Policy Carolyn found herself selected as the prospective Labour Candidate for Swansea East and she became an MP in 2015.

Carolyn has taken all these experiences in the House of Commons.  Working with the most unlikely collaborators from across the aisle she forced the Government to create a Children’s Funeral Fund, receiving a standing ovation from the whole of the House when it was passed into law.

More recently she secured a victory for her menopause support and services campaign with the government confirming a reduction in the cost of Hormone replacement therapy prescriptions.

But although she now regularly exchanges texts with Penny Lancaster and Davina McCall and occasionally lunches with the likes of Joan Collins, she is still rooted in her community running a Kids Lunch club through the summer holidays to the ‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ Hamper Campaign.

5 years ago, the Hamper Campaign was hatched on her kitchen table.  Last year with the help of Mecca Bingo, Carolyn had pulled together support from the community to raise funds to prepare over 1000 hampers in the Swansea area alone and 3,800 nationally. Even Gareth Bale donated a signed shirt and £15,000. This Christmas, Carolyn is hoping to surpass last year’s wonderful effort.

Carolyn approached her old school friend Mal Pope, to put together a Christmas Album.  She then called on long term supporters Michael Sheen and Steve Balsamo to join together to make a special Christmas video of ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.  The extended video includes appearances from Welsh legends, Max Boyce and Bonnie Tyler, assorted Rugby greats, some of her Menopause Campaign friends and even Hollywood Icon Catherine Zeta Jones.

Carolyn has a heart for her community and this beautiful video shows what can be achieved when people come together to help others less fortunate.

Mal Pope was born in Brynhyfryd, Swansea, Wales, into a family of teachers. He began learning to play the guitar aged seven and was soon writing songs.

In the early 1970s Pope sent a tape of songs to BBC Radio 1 presenter John Peel, who invited Pope to perform at the BBC. The session resulted in a recording contract with Elton John’s record label named The Rocket Record Company. Whilst studying at Christ’s College, Cambridge, he spent much of his holidays recording in London. After leaving Cambridge, Pope moved to London and signed to Harvey Goldsmith’s management company AMP.

In 1982 Pope started working for BBC Radio Wales in Cardiff as a researcher. He signed a record deal with Larry Page, wrote songs for Cliff Richard and The Hollies, duetted with Bonnie Tyler and Aled Jones, and toured with Art Garfunkel and Belinda Carlisle.

Pope presented the weekday early breakfast show on BBC Radio Wales, but the show was cancelled amid cuts by the station in 2019. Pope returned to hosting a daily show on the station in July 2020, presenting the late-night slot from 22:00-01:00, following the death of Chris Needs. Eleri Siôn took over the slot from 11 January 2021.

Pope hosted The Mal Pope Show, a late-night music chat show for HTV, in the 1990s, with the show winning a Welsh BAFTA award in 1995. He went on to host a late-night talk show on HTV called Heaven’s Sound, which won an award at the New York Film and Television Awards in 2001.

Pope sang the theme songs of the Welsh children’s television shows Fireman Sam (1987) and Joshua Jones (1991).

Steve Balsamo was born and raised in Swansea, UK, Steve started out singing in rock bands as a teenager before he came to the public’s attention in the mid ’90s taking the lead role in the West End production of Jesus Christ Superstar. A successful singer, songwriter and recording artist, Steve went to the same school as Mal Pope. They are good friends and have performed together before at gigs and on radio and TV shows.

‘Everyone Deserves a Christmas’ Just Giving Link: https://justgiving.com/campaign/hampers2021

New Release – QUILL ‘Riding Rainbows’ – Single & Album

New Release – QUILL ‘Riding Rainbows’ – Single & Album


Riding Rainbows

Brand-New Single & Album

Quill, hail from Birmingham and feature the legendary drummer Bev Bevan. In 2017 Bev was inducted into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, having notched up 50 million + album sales with a music career that spans 50+ years performing with likes ELO, The Move and Black Sabbath.

“This is the BEST album I have worked on since ELO’s Out Of The Blue’
– Bev Bevan of Quill & co-founder of ELO

Whilst it’s been a quiet year for Jeff Lynne and Roy wood, the same cannot be said for Joy Strachan-Brain, Quill and Bev Bevan as they have used the time to meticulously prepare their latest studio album Riding Rainbows. So when The Move and ELO co-founder says that “this is the best album I have played on since ELO’s Out Of The Blue’ then fans and followers are being given good advice to check it out for themselves as they would doubtless be impressed with this 12-song opus by Quill with a little help from an inspired roster of guest contributors including Andy Fairweather Low, Nick Pentelow (Wizzard), John Lodge (The Moody Blues), Chris Norman (Smokie), Louis Clark Jr. (The Orchestra) and Richard Bailey (Magnum).

Riding Rainbows is an album reflective of Quill’s renowned energetic and polished lived performances with ten songs a collaborative effort between Bev, Joy and lead guitarist Lee Evans, and finds the septet in great form, whatever the choice of musical mood is. The sublime vocals of Joy Strachan-Brain demonstrate an amazing versatility and the articulate arrangements by Loui Clark Jr. are sure to please fans of the classic ELO sound.

Quill are a seven-piece outfit who blend rock, folk and Americana styles with a unique blend of drums, percussion, violin and vocal harmonies.

“Riding Rainbows” is a fine album worthy of chart implications and many a collection, excellently produced by Alan Caves. Truly a pleasure to listen to, review and recommend.” ?????


5 Dec The Robin 2, Bilston
10 Dec The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock
11 Dec Quinney Hall, Sutton Coldfield
12 Dec Quinney Hall, Sutton Coldfield
18 Dec Admaston Village Hall, Staffordshire
19 Dec Admaston Village Hall, Staffordshire

4 Feb Core Theatre, Solihull
18 Feb Huntingdon Hall, Worcester
26 Feb The Playhouse, Stratford Upon Avon
10 Mar Palace Theatre, Redditch

Quill are: –

Joy Strachan-Brain – Lead Vocals | Bev Bevan – Drums & Percussion | Lee Evans – Guitars & Vocals | Kate McWilliam – Violin & Vocals | Andy Edwards – Drums & Percussion | Abby Brant – Keyboards & Vocals | John Jowitt – Bass & Vocals

Album Track Listing

  1. Riding Rainbows
  2. Black Dog Day featuring Andy Fairweather Low
  3. Winter Rain
  4. Chinese Whispers featuring Nick Pentlow
  5. Bullet Proof featuring John Lodge
  6. Love On The Run featuring Chris Norman
  7. Dead Man Walking featuring The Maverick Strings – Louis Clark Jnr
  8. Were Only Human featuring Tony Martin
  9. Coat Of Colours featuring Richard Bailey-The Maverick Strings – Louis Clark Jnr
  10. Begin Again
  11. All You’ve Left Me Is Alone featuring The Maverick Strings – Louis Clark Jnr
  12. Scratchin’ At My Door




Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Mushroom and Pea Risotto with Parmigiano-Reggiano


This Risotto is a great family favourite I always cook for my wife and four girls.  Yes I am completely outnumbered – but this is such a winner and keeps me in their good books for at least a day.!!

Try it for your loved ones and make sure you add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – it really enhances the flavour and makes it a bit special.

Find more information about Parmigiano-Reggiano at https://www.parmigianoreggiano.com/

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A Ghost Story by Alex Shewan

A Ghost Story by Alex Shewan

She felt the tightness within her chest as she approached the Tudor Hall which loomed in front of her, ominous and unwelcoming. Why had she come? It was against her better judgement. She always trusted her gut; her instinct had served her so well in the past. She had always had that gift, that perception. She knew not to go against her inner feelings but this time there was a more powerful force. Something malevolent. Yet she could not resist its calling.

The Hall had its own energy, a reminder of its tragedy. She shivered and pulled her coat tighter. She stopped and looked up. The Tudor building loomed over her; she could feel its sadness. She had an affinity with this building yet she could not explain why. She feared it. It had been thirty years since she had last been here but it had never let her go. It held on to her mind – the tragedy, the despair. The evil. She refused to let it in but it had haunted her for her entire life. A power too strong for her. A power which would not let her go. A power which first engulfed her as a child…


It was a beautiful day in spring – late April. The sun dominated the sky, the warmth encapsulated her. She was 10 years old and bewitched by the scene in front of her. The beautiful Tudor hall with its secrets and its terrifying past mesmerised her. She stood there, enraptured as she listened to the tales of the past. She felt at home here; an affinity as if this hall was a part of her soul, her being. She was transported back to the 1500s as she envisaged the inhabitants of the house. This was where she had to be. She felt it.

The group of chattering, exciting school children was eventually escorted to the imposing oak door and they were led into the impressive hallway. A hallway which took her breath away. As the guide spoke, she felt herself drifting. She felt she knew this building so well. It spoke to her and engulfed her. And she froze. The fear ran through her, the terror, the absolute sense of evil. The house was alive, its own being. Something was wrong. She couldn’t breathe, tears welled up in her eyes and streamed down her face. She screamed, petrified. “Sarah!” shouted her teacher. Sarah’s face burned. She hated the feeling of being singled out and the reprimand was too much. She looked at Mrs Clarke with a feeling so intense, she scared herself. A presence emerged inside her; a presence she didn’t recognise. Malevolent. Sarah closed her eyes and pulled herself back. She looked around at the others in the group and took in their sniggering faces. She wished she didn’t care but she did.

The group was led into a small, dark, unwelcoming room. Straight away, she felt it. The evil was intoxicating. Her instinct was to get out but the thought of facing Mrs Clarke’s wrath again prevented her. Sarah stood there, cold, breathless, frozen. She was torn between the present and somewhere else. An omniscient voice called her. A voice over which she had no control. A silent voice, but its power was overwhelming. She knew this voice. She knew this force. It felt part of her. It was part of her. Sarah listened to the story of the woman who had thrown her child out of the window and then hanged herself in this room. That was enough. The words faded as the room spun around her. She could hear the screams, she could feel the evil surrounding her, possessing her. Sarah ran for the door but it was locked from the outside. Surely, someone’s twisted idea of a joke? She felt the tightness around her throat, the life leaving her, her soul somewhere else. The evil, the malevolence. It was in the room. The twisted spirit which pulled at her. She fought and fought; it would not let her go. Its strength, its power. She felt the horror, the torment, a soul reaching out to her. She would not give in…


This memory had stayed with Sarah. This childhood memory which she had never been able to shake off; there was no escape from it. It tormented her dreams. It haunted her soul. Whatever happened in that room had been terrifyingly real? The Hall was somewhere she had vowed never to return to yet something had pulled her back. A feeling, an energy. Something she could not explain. Something unresolved. It was a memory which repeatedly returned to her and, eventually, it drew her back.

Sarah knew she had to face the torment which lay within her soul. Slowly, hesitantly, she made her way up the grand staircase towards the Red Room, the blood red velvet of the ancient carpet crunched underneath her feet. With each step, she felt herself transported to another time, her soul giving in to a supernatural presence. Its power unrelenting. She was losing herself once again. She fought its suffocating, oppressive strength. She could feel its determination to overpower her soul. Her energy was rapidly depleting, submitting to this malevolence. But she would not give in. She wanted to retreat, to run, to escape but she was beyond that.

The room faced her. She entered. Unwillingly. She was engulfed by the musty, ancient smell of the room. The smell of death. The torment, the pain, the suffering. The evil which remained. Unchanged. Dominant.

The mirror called her. She approached it with trepidation. Terror. As she looked into the glass, the emaciated image returned her stare. The evil within her reflected. What was this? She felt the vengeance of an unknown soul, filling her body, usurping her. An ethereal presence determined to return to where she belonged. And suddenly, she smiled at the image in the mirror. She was back. Her power was strong and vengeful. The barrier between the worlds would not stop her. This time she would be released. She put her hand to the marks on her neck. The marks of the rope. The noose which had brought about her death; and she would seek her vengeance.

Sarah fought. This was not her. This malevolent force was not her. She would not give in. This energy; this power. She screamed. Sarah knew what she had to do yet she was weak. The power inside her was strong, yet Sarah had a determination which was stronger. The screams pierced her head, the pain seared through her brain. Ancient memories which were not hers reverberated inside her consciousness. Images of the past blinded her. And suddenly she felt a child’s torment, its fear, its pain, its goodness rising inside her. A child’s lament which brought Sarah screaming to the present. A lament which was more powerful than any malevolence. She opened the drawer and reached for the paper knife. The bluntness of the blade would have to do. Yet Sarah’s power was also strong.

“You know me, Sarah. You have to let me live. You have no choice. If destroy me, you destroy yourself.” The voice reverberated in Sarah’s head. She felt the evil. It was powerful yet the child within her was stronger. The screams seared through her; she had to end it now. This was not her. It was an illusion. A deception. She would fight. She would not allow this malevolence was not going to break free. She felt the child rise within her. The child which gave her strength. And she screamed. Her hand seized the mirror, Blood streamed down her hands as the glass shattered. And there was silence. Peace.

Sarah lifted her face. She was outside, cherishing the coolness of the air, the freshness of the rain. She looked around her and picked herself up. There was a new strength inside her. And somewhere, an innocent soul had been set free. As she walked, the shadow of the Hall loomed behind her. She did not look back.

Alex Shewan

The Pioneer Whose Voice Was Silenced

The Pioneer Whose Voice Was Silenced

Dee Anderson is an immensely strong, inspirational and empowering woman who is currently leading an important campaign to bring justice to her mother, Sylvia Anderson and ensure that she receives the recognition for her work and creativity; recognition which rightfully belongs to Sylvia.

During her lifetime, as a result of a patriarchal system, Sylvia found herself omitted from the work and creations which she produced alongside her husband, Gerry Anderson. To this day, these productions are still referred to as being work by Gerry Anderson with no mention of co-creator, Sylvia.

Sylvia Anderson was a pioneer. She subverted the expectations of the time and achieved greatness through her intelligence and exceptional talent and creativity; greatness which was denied to so many women of the time. Yet, Sylvia fought this and leaves a legacy of work which has brought joy to generations of people all over the world. This is a woman who should be celebrated, not eradicated.. Sylvia contributed so much, not simply to the television productions, but to women throughout history. She was an icon and yet society has allowed her voice, her achievement and her legacy to be silenced.

Sylvia’s story is a significant one as these issues remain in society today. Worldwide, women are still being denied their voice and their due recognition which is a serious concern. In many ways, society’s attitudes towards women has progressed significantly. However, the fact that the debate still exists demonstrates that the problem remains endemic worldwide. Why, in 2021, are we still having this argument? Why should this argument exist at all? It would seem that, like Sylvia, women are still suffering the effects of a patriarchal system in which intolerance of women’s equality is still a factor. Why is women’s equality so important? It is important because the key word is equality. If equality does not exist for one section of society then how can equality exist at all? This is not a debate simply about Sylvia Anderson. It is not just about women. It is about society as a whole. No person has a right to deny anybody their voice. No person has a right to deny anybody their existence. No person has a right to take away a person’s identity. If we ignore Sylvia Anderson’s story, then we ignore the story of millions and this is simply not an option.

It is right and just that Sylvia should no longer be denied the recognition which belongs to her. In 1928, Virginia Woolf wrote, ‘I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.’ It is a sad reality that in 2021 this is still relevant. Let’s change this. It is time to give Sylvia, and all women, their voice and their rightful place in the world.

Alex Shewan



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