LEEDS LIGHTENING BOLT.

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This post has been a few weeks in the making. I’ve given it much thought and consideration, to ensure that I’m not only giving its subject, Leeds lad; Joe Heraty, the attention he deserves, but that I hit the right note with my rapidly increasing readership. I’m not so sure I’m enamoured with this choice of titular cheesiness – but we’ll go with it for now.  Funnily enough, I first heard this turn of phrase, as said (possibly scripted) by Emma Willis on The Voice (BBC1 28th Feb 2015) referring to the rather lush Ricky Wilson of Kaiser Chief’s fame and I made a mental note.  Ricky, as most of us will know, is another example of ‘local lad come good’ and a nice one at that.  So, let’s go with it.  I’m not sure where the golfing fraternity are concerned that  ‘I Predict A Riot’ any time soon – but I’d like to think that ‘our Joe’ won’t be just a shot in the dark either.  I’d like to think he’ll be ruffling quite a few feathers in the ‘golfing world’ in the coming months – hopefully of the birdie, eagle, albatross and condor variety!

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I’m a sucker for a good cause… So, when my good friend and neighbour, Joe’s mum, told me about Joe’s financial plight and search for sponsorship for the forthcoming PGA EuroPro Tour 2015, I figured the least I could do  was offer to assist him in his efforts.

Joe is apple of his mother’s eye, – as both her sons are.  Joe & Jack (2)

We’re all somebody’s son/daughter/brother/sister after all and I’d like to think that if one of my children needed a helping hand that someone somewhere would be equally benevolent and step in.  ‘I’m so proud of him,’ Joe’s mum has told me excitedly, on more than one occasion, grinning like a Cheshire cat in the wake of yet another golfing achievement, ‘He’s setting out in the professional world.’  (These words resonated with me … Not least because I’ve heard them somewhere before, in my youth)… That was enough to start the cogs whirring and to get the proverbial ball rolling.  Always up for a challenge, I’m hoping, in this instance, I’m backing a winner in Joe, – because I’m a competitive Yorkshire lass. Nothing satisfies quite so much as ‘winning and achieving.’  However much hard work and dedication is necessary to reach the results – that moment it pays off is priceless.  I guess I’ve got my sportsman father to thank for that (though my Dad was top of his game in hockey, football and cricket in his prime, – but not golf – so I can’t ask him for any sporting advice)! My link to golf is only tenuous.  What I know about golf you could probably write on the back of a postage stamp (although I’m learning… slowly).  Golf and I never really gelled that well.  It very much reminds me of a misspent youth, teenage love, the angst that goes hand in hand with the same, and the beginning of the end for a pair of much coveted white shoes (but that’s a whole other story). (Remind me not to tell you about that sometime). 

Yorkshire Tea

My first proper meeting with Joe was just a few weeks back, prior to him embarking on his EuroPro 2015 journey.  There I was, one busy Friday morning, frayed around the edges (as per the norm), when Joe came knocking.  Thing is, I know lots about Joe, us mum’s have a habit of talking, – but apart from occasionally bumping into him to say ‘Hi’ or to wave in passing whilst he abandons his car outside my house, I didn’t know the guy personally.  So I ushered him into the lounge (apologising for the mess, blaming it on the kids – obv) and he plonked himself down on the leather sofa by the window like a kid at an interview. It seems everything his Mum said is true. I presented him with a really lousy looking cuppa (I take my tea black – so I never get the milk right) and, despite a sly grin, he thanked me and drank it, however bad it must have tasted. Joe comes across as one of the good guys ; good natured, good mannered, good looking (Oh if I was 20 years younger!) and a ‘very’ good golfer to boot, or so I’ve heard on good authority.  I can tell from the outset that golf is his passion, although his self-confidence seems a little lacking.  Whilst Joe’s not exactly bashful – he’s not bragging or forthright in his obvious achievements and talent … specifics that I had to drag out of him.  In fact he told me almost as much about the impressive golfing skills of his younger brother, Jack, the one who, through brotherly rivalry, set him out on his chosen career path, all those years ago.

I’d initially offered Joe my help, on the back of the success of my blog, previously hosted by Yorkshire Life Magazine.  I figured it was in local interest to get Joe’s name out there and start tongues wagging. I have many personal contacts from my previous jobs in TV and radio and a number of high end companies, having dealt with press offices and celebrities throughout my career.  I didn’t hesitate to revisit acquaintances when  Pete was training to swim The Channel, and I managed  to get editorials in many local newspapers and even some air play.  I’m not shy in coming forward, so if I can use my experience to put Joe under the noses of those who can take him further both via publicity and sponsorship then this is merely a starting point.  I’ve got my fingers in a few pies, and a whole host of ideas that might just help Joe get the recognition that he needs.

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Joe started golfing at the age of 15 – just 8 years ago, and in that time has not only grown (startlingly tall) in stature and developed as a young man, but he’s fast becoming an impressive and dedicated golfer too, with a number of amateur achievements already tucked under his (Druh) belt. I imagine it’s daunting for Joe being questioned at length about his career, his objectives and presenting his sponsorship ideas, but he carries himself well and it’s great practise for press calls and interviews.  The luminous orange Nike trainers Joe was wearing were the first thing that struck me.   An ice-breaker for certain, not least because they were seriously bright (for a guy who hides his light under a bushel) – but also because I was a Nike Professional myself (albeit a FitPro of a different nature) back in my heyday.  Whilst Joe isn’t ‘showy’ he can hold his own and so long as his golfing ability continues to draw positive attention, publicity and the media are easily courted.  Anyway, the trainers – well done Joe, a great opener to diffuse any awkwardness.

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There was a snap of keen in the air as soon as his beloved golf was mentioned.  An enthusiasm and gift for the sport merited by those that know him well, only echoed at Moor Allerton Golf Club – where I caught up with him last week to meet his friend and mentor James Whitaker and I was able to take some shots of him in action. IMG_2528 (2)

Joe’s talent has got him thus far, and his youthful outlook makes the job easier!  Another media angle that can be putt to good use. Joe and footy mates (2)

Joe’s already confessed to a serious weakness for Nutella and a penchant for poker, beer and clubbing, which, as for any red-blooded male, feature highly in his leisure time away from the green, as does 5-a-side football.  When he returned from a 3 week training session in Abu Dhabi earlier this month,  he and his mates scooped a trophy at his local club … it seems there’s no ends to his sporting prowess.  When he’s not on the footy pitch, or more commonly on the green or the fairway, he can often be found with ‘the lads’ at The Box in Headingley.  I’m pretty certain that fast cars and women will segue into Joe’s life smoothly in time, if they haven’t already!

 

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Failing to find any flaws in his ‘good guy’ image, Joe admitted to having had a shocking temper in his youth (which I find hard to believe), but then he also assures me his love of golf; bringing about an abundance of fresh air and exercise and the amount of concentration needed; has brought this under control.  So, I’m championing Joe and offering him my help, for what it’s worth, in trying to raise his PR and ultimately find him sponsors.  He’s drawn up a credible sponsorship deal that offer’s a share in himself, (a snip at £800 a pop) initially for the forthcoming EuroPro 2015 Tour (which I’m thrilled to announce he’s about to embark on – having secured himself a place in the qualifying rounds just last week) and afterwards in support of the remainder of his first full ‘professional’ year.

  Joe & James Whitaker (2)

Joe is lucky to have the support of a number of golfing professionals, including James Whitaker Head Professional at Moor Allerton Golf Club where Joe is a member and does the lion’s share of his training, and Simon Hurd, former professional golfer (now based at Cookridge Hall Golf Club and Fitness Centre) and founder of Druh Belts – who are sponsoring Joe in his endeavours.  He also has the backing of family and friends and some sponsors have come forwards from his recent training sessions in Abu Dhabi.

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You might have seen Nick Westby’s sports editorial for the YEP on Wednesday 22nd April http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/sport/other-sport/golf/golf-heraty-is-raising-the-stakes-in-pro-ranks-1-7221414  where Nick further outline’s Joe’s ploy to sell ‘shares in himself’ and does so far more succinctly than I and with the added advantage of golfing ‘know-how.’

Joe tee’s off  in the PGA EuroPro Tour is at Celtic Manor, Wales on 14th May … so time really is of the essence.

I’ve a few local projects up my sleeve to get Joe noticed in the coming months and to raise his profile, including an art come sports initiative involving some children from two local schools, namely St Margaret’s C of E School in Horsforth, and Penny Fields School, Meanwood, with the Horsforth Walk of Art 2015.  Keep your eyes peeled for news of my plans in the coming weeks.

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In the run up to EuroPro 2015 Joe will be practising avidly, honing his physique and indulging less in the sweet treats on offer in the pro shop, maybe even limiting his Nutella intake and getting his energy fix from bananas!

In the meantime, I will be behind the scenes working on projects and potential sponsors and trying to track down Justin Timberlake!  (Joe played with Justin in Abu Dhabi not so long ago).  Although I fear he and the beautiful Jessica might have their hands full right now with the recent birth of their daughter.

Thanks in advance, for taking the time to read my account of Joe and his proposal. If you, or your company, would like to learn more of this Yorkshire golfing professional and offer your support by means of sponsorship and/or product placement, – then please contact me via this blog.  Similarly, please don’t hesitate to forward the details to other prospective backers or golfing enthusiasts, as you deem fitting. 

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BOOKING THE TREND

Every spare second when I’m not running around after the kids, supporting Archie with one thing or another, playing house, etc, etc, … I can be found with my head in a book.  It’s like my life-blood and I just can’t get enough, (although a few minutes out here and there to tidy my book shelves would be well-advised).

Book Shelf Lounge

Fortunately for me, my parents were avid readers when I was little and always encouraged me to read.  Nowadays I frequently read books and review them, often on www.goodreads.com and www.mumsnet.com and regularly for publishing houses and for ‘bookish’ publications like Booktime magazine.  I used to have a select taste where books were concerned, but nowadays I’m happy to read any genre.  Don’t get me wrong – there are some brilliant books, that I devour at a rate of knots and leave a lasting impression on me, and those that quite frankly I reel at and have to drag myself from page to page.  An author once told me that if you get to page 46 of a book and you’re struggling – maybe it’s time to pack it in.  With a favourite number (let’s not go there) of 64 I like to extend the longevity slightly … and to be honest it’s rare that I give up completely on something.  Those that I find truly awful – I can always draw something from; a ‘turn of phrase’ a grammatical stance … or simply a kick up the rear to continue writing my ‘novel-in-the-making’ with the view that if ‘they’ can get published then so can I!

Reading is a writer’s double-edged sword.  I glean such a lot from other talented writers, but then shouldn’t I just be writing myself?

Book nook

What I really need is a ‘book nook’ a little hole where I can read or write to my heart’s content … somewhere like this would be just lovely.  When my novel is published, and I’m a £millionaire authoress that will be my ultimate aim (obviously then I’ll have a cleaner and a nanny for my children too, not to mention the soft top convertible and the cocktail waiter!)!

I love nothing more than passing on a good book – sharing it with someone who I believe will also learn from it’s pages, revel in it’s beauty or simply needs a hefty dose of escapism.  If it’s a really, REALLY good book – I ask for it to be returned, but if it’s something I’ve enjoyed, and am willing to relinquish, I encourage the recipient to read it and pass it on for another reader’s delight.  As spring warms into summer and it’s more acceptable to sit outside and indulge myself – I’ll be making more and more excuses to skip the chores and will be upping my game in the reading (and hopefully writing) stakes.

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I became involved in World Book Night a few years ago now – when I stumbled across a reference to the event in the local library.  They were looking for givers/readers people who were prepared to share their love of literature with those perhaps less open to the notion.  I was thrilled to receive my first small consignment of books, took pride in neatly writing my moniker on the page indicated (re source of origin) and was thrilled to read to a young group of Mums that I was involved with at the time.  They were hard-pushed to find time for anything (a brew was never hot and a bladder was always fit to bursting before it was emptied), so the concept of taking a little ‘me time’ and sitting with a book for even the briefest of periods was alien to them.  However, I assured them that the world wouldn’t stop turning and that in fact, as I do, just a few minutes (whilst babe is sleeping), the odd page of reading interspersed throughout the day can often give some much needed light relief.

For World Book Night 2015 I was chuffed to be designated a more substantial consignment – enough to distribute to every child within my eldest son’s school, Penny Field School (NWSilc), a school where every parent, every carer has every excuse not to ‘waste’ time reading.  

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Every child is special, but our wards are very ‘special’ children in that they require 24/7 care.  The majority of pupils at Penny Fields have complex medical needs, development and mobility problems – making their care all the more ‘intense.’  I spoke to the staff there and asked if I could put a book in each child’s school bag for their parents/carers to enjoy during their ‘down time.’ and my actions were welcomed.

When God Was A Rabbit After the Fall

I’ve already had a wonderful response from parents who were thrilled at having a lovely surprise in their child’s bag (something other than a change of clothes that are soiled or notification of a medical hiatus are always a blessing).

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I had a handful of books left over that I have already distributed to two of the lovely part time support staff the driver and chaperone of my son’s school bus, and have earmarked the remainder for friends who I know will equally benefit from this literary gift.

Bus Staff

Thank you World Book Night – for making yesterday special for so very many people, for highlighting the importance of reading and sharing and for ensuring that the literary world keeps turning.

S-Jx

Went Wentworth

delegateSo in the days of my die-hard trendy/muso friends ‘doing Glastonbury’ and my Harvey Nic’s darlings ‘doing Knightsbridge’ and of course my frayed-round-the-edges mummy friends ‘doing stuff with the kids’ and in some cases ‘doing the kids,’ well this weekend I ‘did Wentworth’ … although ‘went Wentworth’ sounds so much more hip/slang – yeah whatever! #coiningthatone IMG_2416 Wentworth Castle is a glorious South Yorkshire venue – particularly basking, as it did, in the April sunshine.  Everything looks so much more ethereal under a sunbeam. Wentworth  I had these notions of well turned out butlers and four-poster beds, of meandering the grounds a la Pride and Prejudice (80’s Lady Di blouses notwithstanding), and I was terribly excited for a weekend away to push my creativity to the extreme at the very least.  Although all dreams of my luxurious first ‘kid-free weekend’ in over a year, were dashed ever so slightly on the drive over by my lovely travelling companion and old pal.  Soph highlighted, from conversation with a previous Writing Retreater and mutual friend, Jason, that all was not quite as we’d perhaps anticipated. 

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The house and grounds far from disappoint – they are just as stunning, as foreboding and elegant as the online photos dictate. The gardens all the more so in their spring glory.  Our rooms were located in the basic and functional Home Farm Cottages, and the restaurant was ‘school canteen style,’  not that I’ve any reason to complain.   It was a weekend away and to be honest that alone was a draw after just over 2 weeks with my 3 delightful wards for the Easter hols.  Back to school tomorrow folks (I’ll actually really miss them – but the peace and quiet will be a refreshing change)! I have to be honest, half a bottle of much deserved Prosecco down and I’m writing this with one eye open … after 3 days almost dry (the  Blue Room bar at  Wentworth was lacking in atmosphere, alcohol and access!)  I can’t remember when my life was quite so sober, (not for a while admittedly) I’ve had 3 glasses of fizz in rather quick succession and I can’t lie – I’m seriously tipsy … I’d say I’m fizzalaciously toxic – but I’d receive a wrist slap (stop making up words Mrs W-F!). I’ve already had more than a few of those this weekend for self-depreciation, over use of adjectives and general weirdness tbh .. The fact that I just make up words when I can’t find anything suitable might be deemed a step too far!  In this current state of mind I’d say bugger it – sometimes you just have so wing it! The weekend was heralded by none other than  Alison taft, renowned for the accolade of her noveltastic abilities, wonderfully warm and personable (and definitely familiar – although we’ve not quite struck on where yet).  Sadly on this occasion Alison wasn’t joined by her partner in prose, the very lovely James Nash (Poet and novelist extraordinaire).   I have to say what a genuinely friendly and ridiculously talented bevvy of female talent.  I was somewhat honoured to be a part of such an affable and able group.  However, I fear that we all lost our inhibitions freely, pretty much from the outset!   Our tongues liberated by the mutual joy of literature, laughter and gin … we swore like troopers, shared some wonderfully warm moments and were just generally game … Alison managed to cajole us into agreeing to anything and everything.  Apparently I’m about to write a novel in a month (but not this one or the next one – I grant you!) … I’ve postponed all writing shenanigans of a record-breaking nature until the summer holidays, when free from academic regulations again, I can safely gaffer tape my three kids to the wall without them being black-marked for not making it through the school gates in an orderly fashion.  I’m not daft am I? I’m thankful that, after having had the absolute shittiest start to the year, I’ve been dealt a wild card.  I needed some ‘me time’ some time to get a grip of life, to find myself, to indulge myself and to get back on track and I can confidently say that this weekend I got it.  This was that very opportunity.  If I wasn’t so imbibed I’d say it was a minor epiphany in that sense – but unless I was drunk that would be ludicrous.  I had moments of tears (far from emotionally inept I was moved by literary genius), moments of wonderful laughter (Jackie Onassis eat ya heart out), I made new friends, relished the old one, and I was given the motivation and the inspiration to continue in my endeavours and, quite frankly, that’ll do me! I was even roped in to reading the ‘posh bird’ role for a radio play (who knew I still had it in me) by an up and coming script-writer who I expect to hear over the airwaves some time soon.  The fact that we’d actually ‘peaked’ in rehearsal was by the by (where were you Ms Taft!) … and after a slug of vodka the fact that for the ‘live’ presentation the special FX were ever so slightly out of time and/or the cues slightly lacking just added to the hilarity and audaciousness of the piece.  I confidently sat ever so slightly off centre (I’d say stood up front because it sounds so much the better – but I can’t lie for toffee) in front of 9 brilliant literary talents and read out a chapter of my almost forgotten book-in-the-making AND I got incredibly positive and constructive feedback – enough to encourage me to continue and get the damn book finished.  (Mr Nash you so know what I mean by WTFT and I will!)!  I’m now blessed with having two wonderful renowned author mentors who are urging me to crack on.  I promise that is very much what I intend to do.  The thing that meant the most to me, this weekend, was that a number of these forthright and empowered women writers would have thought nothing of telling me, or indeed one another, that  our offerings just didn’t cut the mustard.  We were cocooned in that honesty and camaraderie that doesn’t come about very often and has to be earned and to be appreciated for sure. After a particularly shitty start to the year, I’m thinking this weekend was JUST what I needed;  my turning point – my cornerstone (funny that I thought of that Alison Taft) but it’s true!  I may have been reserved and somewhat flushed in my appearance this weekend – but I really didn’t miss a trick and I’m so pleased that I threw myself into it wholeheartedly.  I’ve come away with a spring in my step and a well-heeled kick up the posterior.  I intend to pursue my dreams with gusto…. albeit possible geared at 15 minutes a day! So, this weekend has proved that I still have the ability to make new friends (you can never have too many good ones) and I may well have a novel hidden deep inside somewhere (maybe just struggling a little to get out), oh and I don’t need ‘tights’ (It might be apt at this moment, as a woman of a certain age, to admit that I’m still totally baffled by the confessional ‘tights’ reference #in-joke ?) AND I have three new much coveted books to read!  Let’s get cracking – that’s what I say! IMG_2447 Alison Taft, as James Nash before her, reinforced the need for me, us, for everyone to read.  It’s imperative to the development of a developing mind, imagination and expansion of literary talent – which I’m pleased to say I am still doing at a rate of approximately one book per week.  However … on returning home, after discussing clutter and ‘shelf life’ today in class – I am truly abominated at the clutter and naffness of my #shelfie IMG_2452 … something has to be done about this!!  I suggest now I’ve shared mine you simply must share yours … maybe to my twitter feed @sjonlegs? My significant and ridiculously LOUD other is already snoring at the side of me (and has been doing for the past hour or more).  I wonder if a long weekend of our three delightful offspring has taken its toll.  Oh Daddy Daycare! Now, before I lose it completely … dinner money cheques must be written, uniforms dragged out from the depth of wardrobes and much needed sleep in my own bed! Soon peeps x           #Shelfie #Scandal #Books #get reading