12 Free Tomorrow Festival Activities. With half-term upon us, the Festival of Tomorrowhas a whole week of fun ahead to help keep all the family entertained. All including loads of free events and experiences. We’ve picked a dozen of our favourite things for families to see and do, completely free!
At STEAM, Museum of the Great Western Railway
1. Meet Luma, the giant soft-robotic snail! Monday 12th – Saturday 17, 10AM to 5PM/ Sunday 18 Feb, 10AM to 4PM
Luma is a huge 9m long inflatable robot snail who loves an audience. Inspired by nature, Luma is a stunning and enormous interactive being. It brings wonder, joy and escapist magic! Accompanying Luma is a programme of completely free, drop-in activities and live shows.
Get up close and hands on with live giant snails and other amazing animals.
3. Tuesday 13 February – Amazing Air – every hour from 11am-4pm
Join Dr Sarah Bearchell for this interactive show, where everyone joins in the multi-sensory experiments to gather proof that air really is there!
4. Wednesday 14 February – The Cloud Factory – every hour from 11am-4pm:
Join Dr Sarah Bearchell for this interactive show, where everyone joins in the multi-sensory experiments to gather proof that air really is there!
5. Thursday 15 February – Fun Science Shows – Every 30 minutes between 11.30AM and 2.30PM
Amazing, hair raising live demonstrations and experiments.
6. Friday 16 February – Make your own slime and build and race robots!
Have a go at building a robot racer, or make your own snail slime to take home.
7. Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 February – Super Sonic Science Show – 11am-3.30pm
Embark on a journey of marvels with the Super Sonic Science Professor! Behold the electrifying dance of lightning, soar on a magic carpet, see the world from inside bubble and witness the mesmerizing eruption of a bubble volcano.
At the Swindon Designer Outlet
8. What the Tortoise Taught us – Monday 12 to Friday 16 February 11am-3pm
Look out for Zelva, the beautiful animatronic giant tortoise. Designed and built by The Flying Buttresses. They’ve lent their making talents to films such as Prometheus, Guardians of the Galaxy and Artemis Fowl, Zelva represents a unique approach to animatronics.
Neon Dance presents this nature-themed robotic exhibition and installation in collaboration with Bristol Robotics Lab. Meet and interact with the robots and share your own ideas on what you think the robots should do!
10. What is a robot? And can we trust them? – Wednesday 14 Feb, 11am-3pm
Meet the University of Bristol’s Trustworthy Autonomous Systems researchers on Wednesday 14 February. Try out some robotic demos and talk to them about their work. Ask the engineers, roboticists and sociologists anything, as they take you through some surprising robotics.
11. Augmented Reality Space Trail – Sunday 11 – Sunday 18 February
See if you can spot all the Augmented Reality, space-themed models hidden around Swindon’s Designer Outlet. Find the Swindon’s Space Trail boards, scan the QR code with your phone, and see the models come to life!
At The Deanery CE Academy
12. Festival Finale – Friday 16 and Saturday 17 February 10am-5pm
The highlight of the week is bound to be the popular Festival Finale extravaganza. From the latest e-sports gaming kit, racing model hydrogen cars, to arts and crafts, festivalgoers will be able to explore:
Chat with leading researchers scientists, engineers and artists
Watch live demonstrations
Or get hands-on with a huge range of FREE activities and workshops for all ages.
New Recruit for Scott Media. Media and PR expert Fiona Scott didn’t have to look far when it came to recruiting a new team member. Because her step-daughter, Lauren Roberts, is stepping up to the plate.
Fiona, who runs Swindon-based PR agency Scott Media, has recruited Lauren to help meet the needs of her ever-growing client base.
In the first instance, Lauren is spending two days a week with Fiona and her VA, Hannah Edwards. But that role will expand in the future.
Fiona, who set up Scott Media sixteen years ago following a successful career in print and broadcast journalism, describes Lauren as a fantastic addition to the team.
Lots to learn
‘It will be a steep learning curve for her but I know Lauren is more than capable. And she’s very keen to get going,’ said Fiona. “She has all the raw talent needed to make a great PR professional and I’m very excited that she has come on board.’
Working in PR is a new venture for Lauren, who’s getting back into employment after a year’s maternity leave following the birth of her son, Oliver.
After taking A-levels in art, media studies and English literature, Lauren, 30, had planned a career in journalism. But she chose a different path during her gap year.
She went into finance and, before having Oliver, had been managing a credit control team with a fuel company. But she’s now keen to return to her creative roots.
After A-levels, I wasn’t sure about going to university so took a gap year, and ended up getting a full-time job in a loan company. That then led me into credit control,’ said Lauren.
I realised going back to a full-time role wouldn’t work for my family. I wanted something more flexible, and then this opportunity with Fiona came up. It’s great, because it gives me the chance to rediscover my creative side and I’m enjoying the challenge.’
Scott Media specialises in supporting businesses and entrepreneurs with their PR and works with organisations across the UK. For more Scott Media visit https://scottmedia.uk/
Paul Martin Hosting Valuation Day. Well-known popular TV antique expert, Paul Martin, will be sharing his knowledge and experience with Swindon residents on Monday 19th February. He’s going to be hosting a free community valuation day at STEAM – the museum of the Great Western Railway.
He’ll run the valuation day in partnership with world renowned auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son. Paul is their head of valuations. The event will take place 10am-3pm. It’s intended to encourage members of the public to dust off those items they’ve always been curious about and bring them along for discussion, valuation and even selling. You never know!
Paul is looking forward to seeing items ranging from antiques, collectables, silver, gold, militaria and jewellery.
An interesting day!
‘The day at STEAM is going to be so interesting,’ said Paul. ‘Swindon’s history is so bound up with the history of the railways. So locating our community valuation day at the museum will be perfect. It’s a location unlike any other and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what people choose to bring along.’
Paul has been a TV presenter and expert for over twenty years on programmes including the Antiques’ Road Trip; Flog It!; CountryFile and many more. He has a new series, Paul Martin’s Auction Showdown, going live on Channel 5 this year.
‘Even though I’m a TV presenter and still enjoy my broadcast career, I’m an antiques man at heart. And these events allow me to get back to what drives me — the people, their objects and the stories they tell.’
The day is part of a programme of valuation days Paul is running in his role as head of valuations at Henry Aldridge & Son, based in Devizes.
‘Wiltshire is such a great part of the country to host these kinds of days,’ said Paul. ‘There’s so much history here and the people are so generous with their time and curiosity. So I’m sure we’ll see some fascinating items and learn lots from the stories attached to them.’
Swindon’s history is well known for its connection to the railway network and its Victorian heritage. It’s often described as the town that was “built on steam.”
The town has roots going back much further though. It’s recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. But it was the arrival of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway in 1843 that saw it shift. It transformed from a modest area of fewer than 3000 people to a thriving area of commercial significance.
The influence and power of the railway in Swindon resulted in one of the first lending libraries in the UK begining in the Mechanics’ Institution. There also was a “free at the point of delivery” healthcare centre, library and community centre around its railway village. And that is largely credited with partly inspiring the model for the National Health Service. It’s known that Aneurin Bevan, the architect of the NHS, came to the town to see how its ‘Medical Fund Society’ worked. Go here for a little more on that.
Swindon the boom town
Swindon was one of the fastest-growing towns in Europe after World War Two. And it still attracts large global organisations today as a suitable place to situate company headquarters, due to its strategic transport links.
The site of Paul Martin’s valuation day is STEAM, a national museum dedicated to the history and story of the Great Western Railway. A sympathetically restored Grade II listed railway building in the former Swindon railway works, comprises the home of STEAM. As well as its permanent exhibitions, the museum hosts a range of temporary exhibitions and events across the year. Thus keeping the history of Swindon alive for both residents and visitors.
‘With this kind of rich and very particular history, with its intimate connections to the industrial history of Britain as a whole, it will be so interesting to see what items come to our attention. We could end up having with some really fascinating items in front of us,” says Paul. “What’s exciting about community valuation days is you never quite know what will turn up. It’s full of surprises!’
For more information on Paul’s community valuation days, please visit:
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR WINS AWARDFOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE SWINDON COMMUNITY. Fi Da Silva Adams, founder of Swindon and Wiltshire’s leading performing arts company for children and young people, Revolution Performing Arts, has won an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community.
“I felt overwhelmed that I got chosen. Given the amazing work done in communities across the South West by all the shortlisted organisations. I can’t quite believe that this has happened. I’d like to thank my amazing team who support 100s of children across Swindon and beyond every single week.”
Built it up
Fi, who lives in Wanborough, has built the successful Revolution Performing Arts and its sister company, Rapport CIC, both of which have strong social goals. She set up the company in 2007 as a drama group for toddlers and pre-school age children. She took this step after a long career in performing arts in the town.
It soon expanded to become a performing arts company for children of all ages. RPA was the first organisation of its kind to bring inclusive performing arts after-school clubs to the Swindon area.
Today it runs more than 1,140 performing arts sessions a year for children from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds. They stage five public shows across its annual calendar. In all, over 400 local children or young people attend sessions every week. And almost 5,000 children attend the RPA Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme in Swindon and Wiltshire.
RPA’s sister organisation, Rapport Community Interest Company (CIC), is a not-for-profit organisation. It’s aimed at young people aged 11-18. Its mission is to explore all forms of performing arts. This includes drama, singing and dance. Also ‘behind the scenes’ arts such as design, tech and stage management. Rapport offers free places for young people affected by domestic abuse.
The judges of the awards said of Fi that she was ‘making a huge impact in many ways and providing a much needed safe place away from abuse.’
Having experienced a challenging start in life herself, Fi is a keen advocate of the power of the arts. She uses it to support young people to express themselves in a way that is empowering.
Other Swindon winners included Shani Moore of Dash Couriers who won Female Entrepreneur of the Year and HR specialist Rachel Weaven who won the title of Networker of the Year.
The South-West Business & Community Awards ceremony took place on Thursday February 1 at the Doubletree Hilton.
TAKE APPRENTICESHIPS EVEN MORE SERIOUSLY. That’s the National Apprenticeship Week rallying cry of accountant Emma Skinner an associate director at accountancy firm Haines Watts Swindon as she calls for a more holistic approach to apprenticeships.
Emma said: ‘Apprenticeships have come a long way. They’re no longer aimed at a specific age group or a specific level. Instead they’re role-specific development programmes with tailored on-the-job training. Apprenticeships are open for anyone over the age of 16 to start. And it’s important to highlight there is no upper age limit.
‘You can have a previous qualification, like a degree, but must not be in education. They offer huge flexibility in terms of training providers, training structure and course selection. All this maximises the benefits for the learners and employers.’
How it works
Trainees, apprentices and interns joining Haines Watts study with a range of professional bodies such as Swindon College and BPP. With them they gain their professional qualifications whilst gaining their practical skills through on-the-job training. This means they can put their studies to use in real time and benefit from mentors within the workplace environment.
‘As with other professional service providers, we as an accountancy firm, are focusing more and more on the future of our firm. At the heart of our firm are our people, and this is why investing in the next generation is a priority of ours,” Emma said.
Rary Ghirau joined as an audit and accounts trainee and highlights his apprenticeship experience.
‘My first apprenticeship was studying ACA at Level 7 with a previous employer. I realised it wasn’t for me and made the change to study Level 3 AAT when I joined Haines Watts. It’s been a positive transition. And having the flexibility to change courses to a level that suited me better meant I kept going with my studies.’
‘The partners and team at Haines Watts are so supportive. And the working environment is less stressful than at my previous employer. I actually look forward to coming into work now and enjoy the work life balance Haines Watts gives me. It’s also been great to see how many of the team have worked here for so long.’
There are currently three team members on apprenticeship schemes. They’ve all either transferred their studies over with their employment to Haines Watts or changed courses whilst already employed. Maddie Moorman joined on a business administration apprenticeship within the admin team. She’s since transferred into the tax department to study for her ATT level 4.
‘My original apprenticeship was in business administration and once I completed level 3, I transferred into the tax team where there was an opening. The skills I learnt within the admin function provided a solid basis for starting my ATT studies. So it felt like a natural progression.’
National Apprenticeship Week is a government-led initiative now in its 17th year. And the theme this year is ‘skills for life’. There’ll be many events up and down the UK. They’re aimed at encouraging employers to engage with apprenticeship providers. All to empower young people and those changing careers to embrace the skills of the future.
With offices located in Old Town Swindon and Cirencester, Haines Watts began life in 1930. It’s a UK top twenty firm of chartered accountants and business advisors with over thirty offices throughout the UK. The firm employs over 800 people. For more information visit https://www.hwca.com/accountants-swindon/