RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes


Latest news from Revolution Performing Arts

16th September 2020

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes. And young people in Swindon who love singing, dancing and acting are getting back to the studio after many months of online classes. 

One of the town’s leading voices in performing arts, Fi Da Silva Adams, worked hard with her team to return to socially-distanced performing arts classes last week.

“Our online classes were a life line for many young people during lockdown,” said Fi. Fi is the MD and founder of Revolution Performing Arts which, as a rule,supports around 350 young people on a weekly basis. 

“Young people still had an outlet and an opportunity to experience our empowerment through the arts experience. So they got a thrill from seeing their friends, even if it in the virtual world.

“Now we are doing a phased, Covid-safe return to classes so that children can get back together in a mindful manner and it’s been wonderful.”

RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes - in-person session

In-Person Session – RPA Youngsters Don Dancing Shoes

One of the first parents to attend an ‘in-person’ session at Shaw Church in West Swindon was Emma King. Her daughter Darcy felt excited to attend a real-world class. RPA are soon to launch classes are in Freshbrook and Shrivenham too. 

Emma said: “What a return! First class back after summer and lockdown and it was amazing!  The measures to ensure the safety and happiness of the children and us parents was outstanding, from entering the building to leaving. You could see the smiles from the children and they were so excited to be back.”

Revolution Performing Arts, founded in 2007, has felt the effect of lockdown with half of the business based in schools.  Fi knew she’d have to innovate. So her team offered online classes and now a phased return to distanced classes. 

She said: “As schools are still reluctant to have external clubs in I had to diversify. So we decided to launch a programme of new sessions. These new session include more performing arts open classes, circus theatre arts, musical theatre, ballet for fun, RPA Sing, RPA Dance, RPA Street and RPA Act.  We’re now offering some of these classes in person at venues around Swindon.

“It’s so exciting. I’m so grateful for the Covid19 Emergency Fund Grant from Arts Council England. And the hundreds of parents who stood by us and kept us going all through lockdown.”

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts runs sessions in after school clubs and also open classes in church halls.

It specialises in empowering young people to celebrate their individuality through the power of performing arts.

For more information, contact email: office@revolutionpa.co.uk or visit www.revolutionpa.co.uk

See also – Revolution Performing Arts

Speaking of donning dancing shoes:

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner

August 2020


Latest news from Fiona Da Silva Adams of of Revolution Performing Arts

AS PARENTS prepare for their children to return to school parent, here’s some helpful back-to-school advice from Revolution Performing Arts owner, Fiona Da Silva Adams. She shares her top tips for getting back into a school routine. 

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

Back to School Advice from Revolution Performing Arts Owner - Fiona Da Silva Adams
Fiona Da Silva-Adams owner of Revolution Performing Arts based in Swindon, Wiltshire.

Fiona (known as Fi) runs Revolution Performing Arts, which offers after school clubs and classes across Swindon offering drama, dance and singing for children of all abilities. The ethos of RPA is one of inclusion. 

“I’m a parent to two children myself,” Fi said. “Although many children are looking forward to going back to school, some may not be and some may worry about what school is now going to look and feel like. It’s my belief that, as parents ,we can support them around this new ‘unknown’.”

Looking forwards

It’s important we start thinking about the future. Our children are living through the same challenges we have. Life isn’t going to return to what it was. Yet with the opening of schools, parents and children alike need to try and get back some structure.

These tips might help some parents to prepare their children for this change,” Fi said. 

Fiona’s Top Tips

Sleep Routine – If your child has been sleeping in or establishing a nocturnal lifestyle it’s time to start restoring a regular sleep pattern.  Start by encouraging them to go to sleep half an hour earlier until they’re into a new healthier sleep pattern.  Returning to school will bring its own challenges – sleep deprivation will make the perspective that more enduring.  It’s proven that a regular sleep pattern is good for your mental health. So it’ll be a great start to the new academic year.

Anxiety/Social Interaction – school will look and feel different and some children may be anxious about this.   There may be one way systems in school, children may not be able to get physically close to teachers and adults may be wearing masks.  Children may even worry about hugging their friends.

Speak to the school and find out what school will now look like.  Depending on the age of your child a Worry Monster can be perfect for ‘eating up’ worries or check out the book “The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside. Both are fantastic as a starting point to ease anxieties in children.  

If your child’s a little older, plan a ‘Yes Day’ with one parent/carer, if you can manage it.  This involves you saying yes to everything for a day.  Most young people understand there are financial restrictions to this – no, a new X Box is not part of a ‘yes’ day. You’ll find that most simply want you to share your time and their experiences and favourite hobbies. It’s a  perfect opportunity for a child to open up about any worries while they have your undivided attention. 

Practicalities – Check out that school uniform and shoes as some stocks can get quite low and your child won’t need that extra stress. In particular as they have to be ‘the right shape’ trousers or ‘the correct shade of grey’!  

Getting there – Did you book the school bus?  Are there rules about social distancing on the bus? Is your child aware of them?  Do they need to wear a mask on the bus?


If they have to wear a mask, treat them to one they’ve chosen – from their favourite band or matching head wear – as long as school allows it. Or, if you drive, there are loads of road works currently planned for Swindon.  Make sure you are ready and prepared to take an alternative route or allow extra time.  Your stress levels will thank you for it!

And finally!

Celebrate and re-connect – Finally, no matter how the first days go, celebrate with your child and plan a treat with the family! They did it!  They got through the first day and survived!  You can all breathe a sigh of relief.  

Revolution Performing Arts

Revolution Performing Arts was set up in September 2007. Although Fi has more than 20 years’ experience as a qualified performance artist with a BA Hons in Performing Arts. She is a mum to two children, Zavier, aged 17 and Angel aged 14. 

Fi set the group up in the first instance as Drama Babes (drama for toddlers and preschoolers) in September 2007. A year later the demand was so great the business moved on to offer sessions for primary school age children and Drama Babes was then sold on.  The emphasis for RPA is on fun, confidence building, boosting self esteem and developing individual potential. 

Today Revolution Performing Arts supports 100s of children across Swindon to enjoy the arts and express and embrace who they are and what makes them different. To find out more visit: https://revolutionpa.co.uk/

For more posts about Swindon arts, culture and heritage go here: https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/

See also:

Swindon Council Covid Communication

Swindon Council Covid Communication

Swindon: it’s up to all of us

You’re all aware that, at this time, Swindon is seeing an increase in Covid cases. NOT a desirous situation for anyone. So this post is about sharing the Swindon Council Covid communication. It’s so important that we all take this on board.

We can ALL stop this from getting worse than it is. It’s up to ALL of us!

Swindon Council Covid Communication

Follow the rules

If we all follow the rules we can control the virus and keep Swindon safe.

Hands up who wants a local lockdown? No-one? Thought not!

Public health messages:

  1. If you have symptoms:
    •  self-isolate – stay at home for 10 days
    •  get tested – call 119 or book online for a local test
    • keep others safe – don’t socialise, don’t go to work, don’t go shopping or mix with anyone outside your household
If you have covid symptoms - Swindon Council Covid Communication
  1. When you go out
    •  wash hands – keep washing your hands regularly
    •  cover face – wear a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces
    • make space – stay at least 2 metres away from people not in your household
when you go out covid message - Swindon Council Covid Communication
  1. If you have any of these symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested straight away:
    • high temperature
    • cough
    •  loss of or change to taste or smell
when you go out covid message

Swindon Council Covid Communication:

It’s up to all of us to take action, right now to prevent any restrictions being placed on us. Wash Hands, Cover Face and Make Space whenever you leave home.

If everyone in our community follows these clear and simple steps, we can control the spread of COVID-19.

Swindon: it’s up to all of us to book a test: gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and self-isolate for 10 days if you have symptoms. Visit www.swindon.gov.uk/itsuptoallofus to find out more

We need everyone in the community who has #COVID19 symptoms to stay at home for at least 10 days. That means, not going to work or the shops. Swindon: it’s up to all of us to prevent the virus from spreading. Visit www.swindon.gov.uk/itsuptoallofus to find out the latest.

So that’s the official message. This is mine:

PLEASE – TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY. I’M DUE TO BE A GRANDMA AGAIN SOON. I don’t want to miss that because were in a local lockdown. I don’t want to hear of people I know getting sick – and worse – dying.

PLEASE – wear the blasted masks! I KNOW they’re not fun. Nothing about this is fun for anybody. You’re not special. We’re all in the same boat here.

I’m a chronic asthmatic – it’s not great. But it’s bearable. And it’s a darn sight better than having Covid – or other people have Covid. This is NOT about YOU. It’s about all of us.

Thank you.

A Covid Compliant Library Shop

A Covid Compliant Library Shop

Hello Swindonians.

Well, it’s been a while since you’ve been able to access the shop and information desk in the central library on Regent Circus. That sad state of affairs is, of course, thanks to us being in the grip of a pandemic.

But lo! I bring you tidings of great joy. No – a son isn’t born unto us but we do now have a Covid compliant library shop.

Swindon central library - a covid compliant library shop

The current arrangements

The library is not physically open. BUT – from 18th August they’ll have a Shop, Select & Collect service.  That lets you browse their stock via their Instagram feed here or their blog here: here https://libraryshop.wordpress.com/

You can then email askthelibrary@swindon.gov.uk with your telephone number and someone will call you back to take your order and payment. Then you can collect what you’ve bought from the library during their opening times.

Caveat Emptor: There’s no walk in access. You can collect your books/purchases from the foyer where staff will put them ready for you. 

For more info on the phased re-opening of the library go here: https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20026/libraries/1132/covid-19_-_reopening_our_libraries

So it’s not ideal no. No one is pretending it is. But it’s something. And it does mean you now have the means to support the shop in buying gifts and books from them.

Dona Bradley and Simon Webb are among those with fabulous gift products on sale in the Covid-compliant library shop. Not to mention of course, dozens of fabulous books. Yes – those I’ve written. To pretend otherwise is daft. But lots more besides.

Early in lockdown I wrote a couple of posts highlighting a range of books to read over the summer. So here’s a recap of those:

5 Swindon Books to Read Now – or whenever:

And … drum roll please …. 5 More Swindon Books to read – or just as soon as you can:

Every single book I’ve mentioned in those posts are great. But one if my fave reads of this summer had to be the one below. I blooming loved this:

A Covid Compliant Library Shop - screenshot of books from instagram account
Fundraising Veteran Paddles His Own Canoe

Fundraising Veteran Paddles His Own Canoe

June 2020


Graham Stobbs in Kayak with sponsorship badging

Fundraising Veteran Paddles His Own Canoe.

Below is the official press release about Graham Stobbs’ heroic kayak fundraising efforts. But first a little insight into the man himself – and what brought him to this point.

Graham is a Swindonian. One that, after a difficult childhood and a series of bad choices ran away from Swindon. In similar vein to the old story about running away to join the circus, Graham ran from his personal pain into the Army’s arms – the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Green Jackets to be precise. A circus of sorts one might say.

Within a mere 8 months, Graham found himself serving in South Armargh. A few troubled years in the army saw Graham medically discharged, back in civvy street and utterly at a loss.

A suicide attempt

Now followed years of being turned down by military charities. Graham says he felt alone, let-down and with nowhere to turn to, he made a suicide attempt.

Recovering from that, but still failing to get help from crisis teams and mental health organisations, Graham climbed Kilimanjaro (an awesome feat – I’ve got all on with the stairs) to raise the profile of PTSD and the plight of many veterans.

That was 2 years ago and, as Graham says: ‘still we are losing veterans to suicide. I decided I would challenge myself to do something I knew nothing about and ended up picking 222 miles in a kayak’.

The journey is a personal one but also a public fundraiser where I will talk openly about my struggles and encourage veterans to talk more and seek help.’

Preparing for the challenge

Said Graham, ‘preparing for this challenge has been a challenge in itself. I’m hounded The journey is a personal one bit also a public fundraiser where I will talk openly about my struggles and encourage veterans to talk more and seek help.

 Only the last few weeks have been encouraging and positive and given me the lift I needed to complete it. I’ve learned different things – like self-rescue and Eskimo rolls to give me the tools to bring this challenge to successful completion.’

‘Above all’ says Graham, ‘the most important is to have belief in one’s own ability. We don’t how to do anything in the beginning. But yet, we humans take on challenges and we overcome adversity.’

This is quite the journey – in every sense. It’s a literal, physical journey – but also a personal and emotional one for Graham. Something of a catharsis. So do support him – and help him to support others.

Read the official press release below to find out where Graham’s kayak challenge starts and ends and the charities he’s supporting.

If you’d like to help Graham with his fundraising efforts here is where you can donate: https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/221-mile-kayak

Official Press Release

Veteran Graham Stobbs is embarking on an epic solo fundraising mission next month. Along for the journey will be veteran Cormac Doyle MBE from The Bridge Charity (supporting land vehicle).

The team are raising money for the Veteran’s Hub Swindon, Walking with the Wounded and The Veteran’s Hub Weymouth. These three charities dedicated themselves to supporting the continued wellbeing of veterans.

Graham will set off from Dungeness in Kent and sprint 29 miles across the Channel. He’ll then complete a further gruelling 10+ hours of kayaking a day as he follows the coast of France down to the Pegasus Bridge War Memorial. He’ll complete the challenge at Point Du Hoc.

Depending on the weather and sea conditions, Graham will start paddling between 12th – 14th August in an 18ft P&H Scorpio Sea Kayak. His aim is raising as much money as possible for the veterans’ causes that are close to his heart.

Passionate supporter of charities

Graham is a passionate supporter of these charities having suffered with his own mental health problems. He’s taking on this challenge to help break the stigma around mental health and encourage veterans to open up, talk and ask for help.

As part of his treatment Graham is undergoing intense EMDR therapy with Cormac Doyle MBE of The Bridge Charity. Cormac is supporting Graham throughout this challenge and his on-going treatment.

All funds raised will help veterans, with some of the money going to Graham’s own charity, The Veteran’s Hub Swindon.

To donate please visit: https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/221-mile-kayak

The Veteran’s Hub

The Veteran’s Hub wants to create a permanent centre, offering much needed mental health support, wellbeing advice and guidance for serving personnel, veterans and their families. It’s a big dream that the team are working hard to make a reality.

Graham will also donate funds to Walking with the Wounded and The Veteran’s Hub Weymouth. Both charities are well known for supporting the mental health of veterans across the UK.

Graham, 48, who is currently training hard for the trip, commented: “I’m excited and nervous about the trip.

Fundraising Veteran Paddles His Own Canoe -  graham stobbs in his kayak

It’s a challenge and a healing process for the fundraising veteran paddles his own canoe

The challenge will push the boundaries of my mental wellbeing, endurance and physical capability. Mental health and PTSD is a real challenge for veterans that often goes unrecognised for many years after service. There’s a desperate need for funds so I’m determined to do my bit to help those who have given so much for their country.”

Graham added “This is also part of my own healing process. It’s my hope that I’ll encourage others to reach out about their own difficulties and seek help like I did. I want to show there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

This is not the only way Graham supports veterans causes.

He’s also founder of Swindon’s Mfor Festival. Mfor – where a family fun day meets music festival – supports veteran, military and mental health charities, including The Veteran’s Hub.

To donate please visit: https://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/221-mile-kayak

TV personality shout-out for autistic teenager

TV personality shout-out for autistic teenager


TV personality shout-out for autistic teenager.

Autistic teenager Leon Watts couldn’t have been more thrilled, when TV presenter Chris Tarrant gave him a mention. The nod came during a recent virtual charity quiz night.

Leon, who’s 16 and lives with his family in Oakhurst, Swindon, is autistic. He’s one of the young people who attend The Platform Project, a not-for-profit young development programme. The project supports young people interested in starting their own business. For some of those young people, mainstream education has not worked well for them – for a variety of reasons. 

It was only in February that Leon started attending the Platform Project. He both fascinated and inspired his colleagues there with his determination to help others like him.

Leon had already established an online community under his own branding of ‘Autoism’.  Mad about cars since he was three, Leon uses his love of all things on four wheels to raise awareness of autism. All with the aim of educating and inspiring others. 

TV personality shout-out for autistic teenager - Leon Watts with Guy Berryman, who plays the acoustic guitar with Coldplay.
Leon Watts with Guy Berryman, who plays the acoustic guitar with Coldplay.  

Automobile affection

“When I was three, I watched Top Gear. One time they did a piece on Britain’s Most Hated Car and it was the Austin Allegro which was jumping trucks. I loved it.

I’ve loved cars since then. I’m a member of Swindon Young Drivers and I’m already looking at my own car,” Leon said, with clear excitement about turning 17 in 2021. 

Charity quiz night

Recently Leon and his mum Debbie, took part in a charity quiz night run by Cirencester-based wealth management company St Jame’s Place (SJP). Hosting the quiz was Chris Tarrant.

Debbie sent a message to the organisers to ask if Chris could mention Leon who, at that time, was struggling with lockdown. 

Debbie said: “Leon has been strong during lockdown given that he’s not been able to see his friends. Nor has he been able to attend his usual ‘car’ events. His usual routine of life – like everyone’s – has suffered disruption. And for someone with autism that’s so difficult to cope with. He had one super one difficult week so I sent a message to Chris when we attended SJP’s charity quiz night. It was amazing that Chris responded to it.” 

Leon’s love of cars means that he knows an amazing amount of detail about most super cars. This in-depth knowledge has made him very visible to many in the world of high-performance cars.

Coupled with his courage around sharing his journey with autism, he’s linked up with many well-known famous car lovers. They include Neil Clifford, CEO of Kurt Geiger, Paul Woodman & Tiff Needell from Lovecars. Also Guy Berryman from Coldplay – who’s also the creative director for The Road Rat magazine with editor Mikey Harvey. Then too the racing driver Marino Franchitti, and many more. Leon is now planning his next charity car event.

Sadie Sharp, founder of Swindon’s Platform Project said: “Leon is an inspiration to us all. We’re confident that he will have a career in that industry as his passion is so clear for all to see.

He, and many of the young people who come to us, often need a safe space to gain their confidence and access to opportunities which work for them. We are proud to have Leon as part of our ‘family’.” 

For more information about The Platform Project visit https://www.platformproject.co.uk