Terminally ill cancer patient raising money for her funeral

Terminally ill cancer patient raising money for her funeral

Shirley Hellyar

Image caption

Terminally ill Miss Hellyar wants to stay in Newcastle where she has lots of friends

A woman who has been told she has weeks to live is raising money to pay for her funeral.

Shirley Hellyar, from Glasgow, thought she had beaten blood cancer and travelled to Newcastle to celebrate her 40th birthday this month.

But while visiting friends she suffered chest pains and a scan revealed her condition was terminal.

Miss Hellyar, who is in a Chris Pine up and coming film, is also hoping to live long enough to see herself onscreen.

Image copyright
Shirley Hellyar

Image caption

Miss Hellyar at the Baftas in 2017 – she has a small part in a Netflix film out next month

The film, Outlaw King, in which she has a small part as a villager is released on 9 November on Netflix.

Miss Hellyar was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2017 after a tumour was detected in her lung she and had to spend months in hospital.

She said by early September this year the tumour had shrunk and she was well enough to travel 200 miles to Newcastle where she lived for years and used to work as a sexual health worker.

Miss Hellyar is in St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle, where she wants to remain and be close to friends.

She has so far raised more than £2,000 in crowdfunding for her parents Elizabeth and Gordon to pay for her funeral.

Image copyright
Netflix

Image caption

Miss Hellyar has a small part in an up and coming film with Hollywood star Chris Pine

She said: “I feel blessed that I’m here although it is not the desired outcome.

“I need my family around me and don’t want there to be any financial stress. The kindness people have shown is unbelievable – it has reinstated my faith in humanity.

“Nobody should be planning their own funeral but I want to take the pressure off and make it more bearable for my parents. Coming to the hospice is like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.

“Although things aren’t good people have been so kind here and I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Ms Hellyar’s cancer began as a sore throat and she thought that she had a virus, but when she did not get better she was referred to hospital for a scan.

She added: “It started off with a sore throat and me not feeling right and I kept being told it was just a virus.

“When I came down from Glasgow I thought I’d had the all-clear and was excited to be spending my birthday with friends as I’d spent seven months in hospital.

“I want to spend my time with people I love – everybody gets caught up in rushing around and not enjoying their lives.

“I am hoping to get out with the time I’ve got left and get photos on days out and have nice lunches.

“I just hope when I’m gone I’m remembered as having made a difference and was a kind and compassionate person.”

Albania v Scotland: Alex McLeish confident of right-back solution

Albania v Scotland: Alex McLeish confident of right-back solution
Callum Paterson, left, and Kieran Tierney are two options at right-back in Albania
Nations League League C, Group 1: Albania v Scotland
Venue: Loro Borici Stadium, Shkoder Date: Saturday, 17 November Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland; live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Scotland head coach Alex McLeish is “confident” with his plan to cope with the lack of a natural right-back in his squad against Albania in Shkoder.

Kilmarnock’s Stephen O’Donnell and Ryan Jack of Rangers – who can both play the role – are among eight players to have withdrawn from the Nations League game.

McLeish was speaking ahead of the withdrawal of Celtic left-back Kieran Tierney, who has played on the right.

“We have the players to cope, but we’ll keep that close to our chest,” he said.

Callum Paterson has played right-back for Hearts but has been in scoring form in a forward role for Premier League side Cardiff City.

He could, therefore, be pressed into service in attack for Scotland in the absence of Hearts’ on-loan Norwich City man Steven Naismith and Celtic’s Leigh Griffiths.

“There’s no doubting Callum’s versatile and has a chance in different positions,” McLeish said. “His form’s been great for Cardiff and, wherever Neil Warnock’s used him, he’s been effective for them.”

McLeish suggested that, when he tried Paterson in a forward role against Mexico in the summer, his players had “kept throwing in short crosses instead of hanging them up for him”.

“When he’s playing for Cardiff, he’s playing to a particular strength,” he stressed.

Media playback is not supported on this device

McLeish looks ‘far and beyond’ for Scotland talent

McLeish will also have to rethink his central midfield, with Aston Villa’s John McGinn having joined Fulham’s Kevin McDonald in withdrawing from the squad.

Callum McGregor has been used in a deeper role in recent games for Celtic in the absence of former Scotland captain Scott Brown and McLeish thinks he could do the same for the national team.

“He’s the type of player that can play anywhere in the midfield – wide or in the central areas,” he said. “It’s not gone unnoticed where he’s been playing.”

McLeish’s side head to Albania looking to recover from a loss to Israel – and a friendly defeat by Portugal – that leaves Scotland and Saturday’s hosts three points behind group leaders Israel, who travel to Hampden for Tuesday’s final game.

The head coach said he had thrown the floor open to the players at a squad meeting to suggest ways of improving the side.

“They’re young guys, they don’t have all the answers – I’m 59 and I still don’t have all the answers,” McLeish said. “But we try and learn and keep all that information inside your head going forward and use that experience as best we can.

“We have two really big games ahead of us. I know that we can do it if we play to our best performance level.”

Review to examine concerns over Monklands Hospital site proposals

Review to examine concerns over Monklands Hospital site proposals

Monklands Hospital

Image caption

Scottish Labour wants the hospital to remain within the Monklands community

A review has been ordered into the controversial consultation process surrounding the new Monklands Hospital.

NHS Lanarkshire’s preferred option is to move the hospital to Gartcosh – about five miles away from its current site in Airdrie.

But opponents want the hospital to be rebuilt on the existing site, and claim local people have been ignored in the decision making process.

The Scottish government has now asked NHS Scotland to examine the concerns.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the review was needed to retain public confidence in the decision-making process.

She added: “I have therefore asked the chief executive of NHS Scotland to establish a review in order to provide me with an independent assessment of the consultation.

“Reporting back to me, it will determine whether the process has been consistent with best practice, and if it has properly taken the views of all stakeholders into account at all relevant stages.”

Ms Freeman was responding to a 20-page letter from SNP MP Neil Gray and MSP Alex Neil, who both represent the Airdrie and Shotts constituency and want the hospital to remain at its current site.

Mr Gray and Mr Neil both welcomed the announcement, and said it was “very clear that the vast majority of people in the Monklands area do not want Gartcosh as the site for the new hospital”.

The NHS Lanarkshire consultation on the replacement or refurbishment of the hospital closed in October, with a final decision on its preferred option to be made this month.

A panel of patients, staff and partners such as the Scottish Ambulance Service had previously concluded that building a new hospital in Gartcosh was the best option.

Concerns have been raised about a lack of public transport to the village – but supporters of the move argue that the new site would be close to the motorway and that other transport links would be created alongside the new hospital.

Image caption

The review has been ordered by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

NHS Lanarkshire chairwoman Neena Mahal acknowledged that people must have confidence in the decision-making process.

She added: “We therefore welcome an independent review of the process and look forward to progressing this much-needed facility for the people of Lanarkshire as soon as possible.”

Last month, Labour put forward a motion in the Scottish Parliament as part of a campaign to “keep the Monklands in Monklands”.

At the time, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard argued that people in Lanarkshire “have been neither meaningfully engaged nor genuinely consulted” during the process.

‘Cynical attempt’

And he accused the health board of making a “cynical attempt” to railroad through its preferred option of closing Monklands and relocating its services to Gartcosh “in the teeth of widespread public opposition”.

The new hospital will provide modern health facilities and a range of specialist services for patients across Lanarkshire, as well as continuing to be the local hospital for patients living within the Monklands catchment area.

The Scottish government, which will have the final say on the proposals, has not expressed any opinion on where the new hospital should be located.

But it has said that decision on the new hospital “should take full account of the views of the patients who will be served by the new hospital, as well as other key factors such as accessibility, transport links, travel times, and the best return to the NHS in terms of patient care.”

Plan to ban cars on Edinburgh street

Plan to ban cars on Edinburgh street

New Town plansImage copyright
Edinburgh City Council

Image caption

The plans include dedicated cycle routes and widened pavements for an “enhanced pedestrian space”

Cars could be banned from Edinburgh’s George Street as part of a proposal to transform the area into a “world class space” for pedestrians.

The draft design for the George Street and New Town (GNT) project was created after consultation with the community and local groups.

The plans also include Hanover Street, Frederick Street and Castle Street.

“Plazas” and cycle routes would be created under the draft proposals which will go out to public consultation.

An online survey runs until 25 January, with final proposals set to be agreed next year.

Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener, said the scheme aims to create a “world-class space that respects and enhances the World Heritage Site”.

Image copyright
Edinburgh City Council

She said the GNT project was a “crucial catalyst to re-invigorating George Street and a joining New Town to the present day” which seeks to make the area “safer and more vibrant.”

The bus network is not in the draft proposals but the future of the cities public transport is expected to be set out in the council’s transformation project.

The Conservatives called on the council to stick to any agreed plans for the New Town when city transport proposals are agreed next year.

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

The plans include dedicated cycle routes and widened pavements for an “enhance pedestrian space”

Proposals include

  • Prioritising blue badge parking on George Street
  • Residents and pay and display parking moved to side streets
  • More trees could be planted along George Street
  • Dedicated delivery and servicing areas for businesses
  • More outdoor seating
  • Dedicated cycle routes
  • Widened pavements

Local voices

Conservative transport spokesman Nick Cook said: “It is essential that residents and business engage with these new plans to ensure they are compatible with business needs and do not impede the lifestyles of local residents who live in our vibrant city centre.

“For its part, the council must be honest with residents that any implemented plans would not need to be torn up in the near future given their constantly evolving moves toward restricting vehicle access in the city centre.”

Green councillors also welcomed plans with an emphasis on active travel. Claire Miller, who represents the city centre, said: “I welcome the emphasis on increased access to better quality public space, cleaner air, and more pleasant walking and cycling.

“But I’ll be keeping a close eye on implementation to make sure it really delivers what Edinburgh needs,” she said.

Transport and environment vice convener Karen Doran, said feedback on the initial design is always welcomed.

She added: “Anyone and everyone is now welcome to attend the drop-in sessions and meet the team.

“We really want to involve as many people as possible in the processes that will help shape this important historic area within our city, ” she said.

Lion Air crash: Sonar and drones used in Indonesian search

Lion Air crash: Sonar and drones used in Indonesian search

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionDebris found from Lion Air crash in sea

Drones and sonar technology have been deployed in Indonesia to search for a Lion Air passenger plane which crashed into the sea on Monday.

Flight JT 610 went down after taking off from Jakarta with 189 passengers and crew on board.

There has been no sign of survivors but debris and personal belongings have been collected from the water.

There is no indication yet of what caused the plane to go down 13 minutes after taking off.

Officials say the pilot of the Boeing 737, which was heading for the western city of Pangkal Pinang, had asked to return to Soekarno-Hatta airport shortly before losing contact with air traffic control.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Baby shoes are among some of the debris that has been found

A log obtained by the BBC showed the plane had encountered technical problems while flying from Bali to Jakarta the previous day.

The log showed one instrument was giving “unreliable” airspeed readings and the captain had to hand over to the first officer. Altitude readings also differed on the captain and first officer’s instruments.

Lion Air’s chief executive Edward Sirait said on Tuesday that the plane had been repaired before taking off again.

Image copyright
BNPB

Image caption

Indonesian officials shared technical maps of the area being searched

‘Her face fills my mind’

By Rebecca Henschke, BBC News, Jakarta

Another day of waiting for the families and loved ones of those on board.

Now they sit outside Jakarta’s police hospital where bodies are being brought.

Lion Air is providing free flights from Bangka for families, like Surya’s.

“They have all come hoping for some closure and certainty,” she says. Her younger sister was on the plane. “We want a body to grieve. She was the youngest in our family, so we all loved her very much. It feels very painful to lose the baby of the family.”

Outside the hospital I meet Murtado Kurinawan, whose newly-wed wife was on the plane, travelling for work.

He has brought her toothbrush in the hope it will help with the identification process. “I can’t stop thinking about her. Her face fills my mind all the time,” he said.

The plane plunged in coastal waters that are about 30m (100ft) deep north-east of Jakarta.

Investigators say they are hopeful of finding the main fuselage. Search teams are using an underwater drone, as well as underwater “pinger locators” to try to pick up the sonar signals from the cockpit recorders.

Search teams have been retrieving body parts, aircraft debris and personal items.

Body bags are being taken to Jakarta for identification.

Another search official, Yusuf Latif, earlier said it would be “a miracle” if survivors were found.

Mr Sutopo has also warned against hoaxes that have been spreading on social media, including pictures that users claimed were taken by passengers in their last moments before the plane went down.

In a statement, Boeing said it stood “ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation”.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago, is heavily reliant on air travel but many of its airlines have a poor safety record.

The country has had issues of safety and poor management in the past and its airlines were banned from flying into European airspace until 2016.

Murder victim’s family leave UK and say London ‘too dangerous’

Murder victim’s family leave UK and say London ‘too dangerous’

Beniamin Pieknyi

Image caption

Beniamin Pieknyi died from blood loss after being stabbed in the chest

The family of a Romanian man stabbed to death weeks after moving to England have said they see London as a dangerous place where “terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye”.

Beniamin Pieknyi, 21, was walking through a shopping centre when he was chased and stabbed in March.

His brother and sister lived with him but have since returned to Romania.

On Monday, Mayor Sadiq Khan warned it could take a generation to turn the tide of violent crime in the capital.

Vladyslav Yakymchuk, 23, who pleaded guilty to the murder was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 24 years on Wednesday.

It comes at a time when five people have been stabbed to death in London in less than a week.

Image caption

Beniamin Pieknyi (right) had been living in Milton Keynes with his brother Mihael and sister Iulia

Beniamin Pieknyi had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Born and raised in Lupeni, Romania, he moved to Milton Keynes at the start of this year to live with his brother Mihael and sister Iulia as he wanted to settle and work in Britain.

Yet the family have now returned to Romania amid fear and distress over what happened to him.

“I’ve come to realise that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye, and if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person you could end up dead,” Iulia Pieknyi said.

The 21-year-old worked at a takeaway with his brother. On 20 March, he worked a half day so he could travel to Stratford, in the east London borough of Newham, to meet up with his friend Alexander Suciu.

His brother Mihael Pieknyi worked until midnight that day. After his shift he and a friend bought a box of beer to share with his brother when he got back from London.

However, he never heard from him.

“I thought this was odd. I waited all night and heard nothing until I got a call from his friend’s sister,” Mr Pieknyi said.

“She was crying and told me Beniamin ‘was no more’.”

Image copyright
Met Police

Image caption

Vladyslav Yakymchuk was arrested in Harrods and pleaded guilty to murder

His brother had become the latest victim in a series of separate violent deaths across London in early 2018.

CCTV from the Stratford Centre before the attack showed Yakymchuk – along with Alexis Varela, 19, Moses Kasule, 20, Kevin Duarte, 19, and 18-year-old Mario Zvavamwe – hassling other members of the public.

The Met Police said the group had a history of hanging around the shopping centre, which is less than a mile from several of the main venues of the London 2012 Olympics, and were known to cause trouble and “harass innocent people”.

On the day Beniamin Pieknyi was killed, the group could be heard shouting and goading “this is our area”.

An argument ensued after Duarte hit Alexander Suciu on the head. The row escalated into a fight, with Kasule kicking Mr Pieknyi to the ground.

Yakymchuk took Mr Suciu’s glasses, while Kasule threw punches at him. The brawl was broken up by a security guard who attempted to escort the pair away.

Yards away from the shopping centre’s exit, Mr Pieknyi was cornered and stabbed by Yakymchuk in the chest.


The defendants:

  • Vladyslav Yakymchuk, 23, of no fixed address, sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum 24-year term after pleading guilty to murder, violent disorder and possession of a bladed article
  • Kevin Duarte, 19, of no fixed address, convicted of manslaughter and violent assault sentenced to 12 years
  • Moses Kasule, 20, of Stratford, convicted of manslaughter and violent assault sentenced to 12 years
  • Mario Zvavamwe, 18, of Romford, acquitted of manslaughter, but found guilty of violent disorder sentenced to 30 months
  • Alexis Varela, 19, of Dagenham, acquitted of manslaughter, but found guilty of violent disorder sentenced to 40 months, to run concurrent with a 12-month sentence for a separate violent disorder conviction

Image copyright
Met Police

Image caption

Beniamin Pieknyi died at the scene of the attack at the Stratford Centre on 20 March

The 21-year-old’s body was flown back to Romania, where his funeral was held on 27 May.

“It took a while to accept the truth and when I did, my entire life crumbled around me,” Iulia Pieknyi said.

“I had no drive anymore – my work, my house were not important anymore.”

In a victim impact statement, Mr Pieknyi’s aunt Cristina Pieknyi described her nephew as a “very quiet boy, hardworking and someone who liked to help people”.

She has been representing the family at the Old Bailey because the rest of the family could not afford to attend.

“They have spent all of their savings on the repatriation and funeral costs,” she said.

Mihael Pieknyi and his family are still coming to terms with his brother’s murder.

“We are in shock. My mother doesn’t sleep and my sister, Iulia, does not want to come back and live in this country,” Mr Pieknyi said.

“To us as a family, London is seen as a dangerous place because of what happened to my brother.”

Tube strikes: How will Central and Piccadilly Line walkouts affect you?

Tube strikes: How will Central and Piccadilly Line walkouts affect you?

Crowds at London Bridge

Image caption

Major interchange stations such as London Bridge were busy during the strike

London Underground passengers are facing fresh disruption as drivers on the Central Line stage a 24-hour strike.

Talks have failed to prevent the walkout and unions have warned of further strikes and a “network-wide shutdown” in the run-up to Christmas.

Which lines are affected?

Image caption

The strike action caused other lines to be busier than usual, such as on the Jubilee Line at Stratford station

Workers on the Central Line and the Waterloo & City Line began their industrial action at 00:01 on Wednesday.

Transport for London (TfL) said both lines would have very limited or no service throughout the day, with normal services resuming on Thursday.

A planned 24-hour strike on the Piccadilly Line, which was due to start at 12:00, was called off on Tuesday afternoon.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said it was suspending the action after talks.

Why are the workers striking?

Image copyright
RMT

Image caption

RMT says London Underground has a culture of “bullying staff”

Members of the RMT union and drivers’ union Aslef are walking out in disputes over industrial relations, including staffing and working conditions.

The RMT said the strikes were over “a comprehensive breakdown in industrial relations, a failure to employ enough drivers, a wholesale abuse of agreed procedures and the victimisation of a trade union member”.

Its general secretary Mick Cash said the union was “frustrated” with Tube bosses’ handling of a “full raft of issues”.

He criticised London Underground for a culture that “revolves around refusing to employ enough drivers, bullying staff and expecting our members to pick up the pieces when the service breaks down”.

Finn Brennan, Aslef’s organiser on London Underground, said the union was calling for “a rapid change of approach from management, working inside existing agreements instead of trying to circumvent or reinterpret them”.

He added: “The issues underlying this dispute – fair treatment at work and complying with agreements – aren’t just confined to a couple of areas.”

TfL said agreements had been made “on all but a few points following extensive discussions”.

But it claimed both unions were demanding the reinstatement of two drivers sacked over serious safety breaches – one who deliberately opened the doors of a train in a tunnel and another who failed a drugs test before a shift.

How is the strike affecting passengers?

Image copyright
@midlane

Image caption

TfL rail services from Ilford station were in high demand during the Central Line strike

Image copyright
@BradGarbs

Image caption

Passengers queued to get into Ilford station in east London

The strikes are likely to cause travel chaos during the morning and evening rush hours.

TfL warned passengers of widespread disruption and said:

  • Services on other Tube lines are running as normal but interchange stations along the affected lines “will be much busier than usual”
  • Stations such as Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus may need to be temporarily closed to prevent overcrowding
  • Extra buses will be put on but said roads “will be busier than usual”

In addition to the travel disruption caused by strike action, there were severe delays between London Paddington and Heathrow Airport because of urgent repair works.

Meanwhile, South Western Railway services to and from London Waterloo were delayed by a points failure.

What does Transport for London say?

Image copyright
PA

Image caption

An empty Piccadilly line train stopped at Stamford Brook station during a previous strike

Nick Dent, director of line operations for London Underground, said the strike action by RMT and Aslef was “totally unjustified”.

“Our commitment to the safety of our customers and staff is absolute and something we will never compromise on,” he added.

He has previously urged the unions to “call off this entirely unnecessary strike action which will only cause disruption to our customers”.

Could there be further strikes?

Mr Brennan has warned there will be a “network-wide shutdown in the run-up to Christmas” if TfL does not make the changes union members want.

He said Aslef’s executive committee will “discuss resolutions from our branches on the Hammersmith and City and Northern lines asking to be balloted for action, with other branches set to follow”.

“Senior figures at Transport for London need to realise just how serious the industrial relations problems on London Underground have become and start to deal with them,” he added.

Do you have questions about the Tube strike? Use the form below to let us know and we could be in touch.

If you are reading this page on the BBC News app, you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question.

John Lewis pulls the plug on DVD players

John Lewis pulls the plug on DVD players

DVD playerImage copyright
Getty Images

The DVD’s days appear to be numbered after the John Lewis department store chain said it would stop selling the players once found under almost every television.

The firm said it would not put more players on shelves when stocks run out.

Sales are down 40% as more people watch movies and shows on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

However, John Lewis will continue to sell Blu-ray players, which can also be used for standard DVDs.

The chain also said 55-inch televisions were now the most popular screen size, compared with 36 inches eight years ago. During the World Cup over the summer, 70-inch screens notched up the biggest rise in sales.

The retailer said other gadgets proving popular were smart doorbells, which can be linked to WiFi and smartphones, and robotic lawnmowers, sales of which are up 367% and 75% respectively compared with last year.

Gill Hind, director of TV at Enders Analysis, said its decision to ditch DVD players was as much about retailers’ desire to offer the latest innovations to consumers as the rise of streaming services alone.

Prices of DVD players have fallen to as low as £20 at supermarkets. The cheapest Blu-ray player sold by John Lewis is £79, ranging up to £449 for a model that can also record TV programmes.

The likes of Argos would continue to sell DVD players, Ms Hind said, but the margins were now too low for upmarket retailers such as John Lewis.

Although streaming accounted for more than four fifths of the £2.7bn UK video market last year, the Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk still sold 640,000 copies on DVD and Blu-ray. The most popular title of 2017 – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – sold 1.5 million copies across physical and digital formats.

DVDs can still be bought from more than 15,000 UK retailers, with supermarkets accounting for sales of one in two DVDs and one in three Blu-rays.

However, one in 10 is now sold in retailers such as fashion and DIY stores, garden centres and petrol stations, according to the British Association for Screen Entertainment.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Shoppers are also calling time on the bedside alarm clock, as more people use their phones for the same purpose, prompting the retailer to cut its range by a third following a 16% slump in sales.

As well as waking us up, mobiles have become the most popular way for John Lewis customers to shop online for the first time, with the number of orders placed on the devices up by 35%.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the BBC series Blue Planet II led to a 71% surge in sales of reusable coffee cups, travel cups and flasks.

Another TV programme that proved a huge ratings hit this year – the ITV reality show Love Island – was responsible for a similar jump in sales of thongs – lingerie, not Australian footwear – and a 132% increase in sales of suspenders. Those increases were the “biggest surprises” of the year, John Lewis said.

The show also boosted sales of colourful men’s swimming shorts – worn by its male contestants.

This year has proved difficult for John Lewis, which said it was “one of the toughest retailers have seen”. Last month the Partnership, which also owns Waitrose, said profits fell 99% to just £1.2m for the six months to 28 July.

Waitrose Food: Editor William Sitwell resigns over ‘killing vegans’ row

Waitrose Food: Editor William Sitwell resigns over ‘killing vegans’ row

William Sitwell pictured in 2016Image copyright
Getty Images

The editor of Waitrose Food magazine, William Sitwell, is standing down with immediate effect after suggesting a series on “killing vegans, one by one”.

He was responding to an email pitch from freelance journalist Selene Nelson who had suggested features on plant-based recipes.

Sitwell, also a critic on Masterchef, apologised for any offence caused.

Waitrose said: “William’s email absolutely doesn’t represent our views about vegans and vegan food.”

He’s had support from fellow journalists, including Times restaurant critic Giles Coren, who said: “I have great sympathy for William Sitwell.

“It was a stupid email but should not be a career-ender. Vegans are not a race or a gender or a sexual orientation or a differently-abled group. They just choose to eat plants.”

But other writers have criticised him for being unprofessional, with Lauren Collins, from The New Yorker, tweeting that responding to a freelancer’s pitch in such a way was “fair grounds for being fired”.

Sitwell apologised again after the news of his resignation broke, saying it had been an “ill-judged joke”. He highlighted a Waitrose Food issue that focused on vegetables, which refused to advertise meat-based products.

The Spectator’s Peter Oborne added that it was “a dark day for free expression” and that Sitwell had been “driven from his job by relentless Twitter trolls”.

In a statement, Waitrose said it was the “right and proper move” for Sitwell to leave and that they would be working with John Brown Media, which produces the food magazine, to appoint a new editor.

“We have had a relationship with William for almost 20 years and we are grateful for his contribution to our business over that time,” the chain said.

‘Incredibly ignorant’

Nelson, who writes about food and travel, had suggested ideas on “healthy, eco-friendly meals” as “popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket”.

Sitwell had emailed back 10 minutes later, saying: “Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?”

He also suggested making them eat steak and drink red wine, with Nelson responding: “I’m certainly interested in exploring why just the mention of veganism seems to make some people so hostile”.

She added she had drunk some “delicious (vegan) red wine last night so I’m sure a feature on that would appeal”.

His comments – originally reported by BuzzFeed News – were met with fury from vegans, with one saying his comments had been “incredibly ignorant”.

The Humane Society had also called for him to be sacked.

But it was pointed out that Sitwell was “obviously joking”, with another twitter user saying the magazine publishers had overreacted.

Waitrose said at the time that even though it was a private email, “William’s gone too far” and that his words were “extremely inappropriate”.

Sitwell, who’s also a radio host, said in his own apology: “I love and respect people of all appetites, be they vegan, vegetarian or meat eaters – which I show week in week out through my writing, editing and broadcasting.

“I apologise profusely to anyone who has been offended or upset by this.”

Old-age homes boost Japan’s soft power in China

Old-age homes boost Japan’s soft power in China

AMID THE stress and sadness of choosing an old-age home for her husband, it took Li Wangke, a retired academic, a while to realise why one facility was so good at reawakening his playful, chatty side. She had visited other homes that had fine food and lavish amenities, reflecting the affluence of the couple’s southern Chinese home town, Guangzhou. But one newly opened home stood out for easing—at least somewhat—the symptoms of the disease ravaging his brain. Rather than pampering her 83-year-old husband, its staff assessed his rare neuro-degenerative illness, then with warmth and firmness pushed him to do as much for himself as possible. They cajoled him to talk, exercise and even play ping-pong. He seems a “different person”, says Ms Li.

Get our daily newsletter

Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor’s Picks.

After several visits she discovered that the home’s methods had been imported from Japan, a former wartime foe that older Chinese are commonly thought to detest. Her husband, also a retired academic, moved in full-time in late October. “It’s from here that I learned that Japan takes really good care of its elderly,” she says.

The home is a joint venture between a Chinese state-owned investor and Medical Care Service (MCS), Japan’s largest operator of dementia-care homes. MCS opened its first Chinese facility in Nantong, a city near Shanghai, in 2014. A third opened in the northern port of Tianjin last month. It has plans for more in Beijing, Xi’an and even in Nanjing, the site of a Japanese wartime massacre, memories of which plague the relationship to this day.

China’s needs are vast. Degenerative brain diseases are too often confused with mental illness. Sufferers are shut away in family homes with unskilled helpers, typically migrant women from the countryside. Some families share guilty tales of sending relatives to psychiatric wards, where they are strapped to beds and fed pills. More than 10m Chinese are estimated to have some form of dementia. “That is a big, almost frightening number,” says Akira Wate, the general manager of MCS’s home in Guangzhou.

By 2030 China is projected to have 23m dementia sufferers—almost the population of Australia. During a visit to China last month by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, the two governments named old-age care as an area for co-operation. China and Japan are trying to edge closer in these stormy, Trumpian times. One bond involves demographics. With almost one in nine citizens over 65, China is at the point on the ageing curve that Japan hit in 1987. It has a lot to learn from its Asian rival’s experience.

Chinese old folk and Japanese care-home operators have discovered revealing things about each other. MCS was full of confidence when it opened its 106-bed home in Nantong. Half a year later, just six beds were filled. For Asian neighbours that revere the old, China and Japan turn out to differ—a lot. Notably, China is an exceptionally low-trust society. But bonds of family duty are stronger than in Japan, say MCS’s bosses, noting the frequency of visits and the solicitude of residents’ children.

In orderly Japan, entering a home is straightforward, says Mr Wate. An older person shows signs of dementia, facilities are recommended, their child might visit one, admission follows. In China, suspicion is the starting-point, with the domestic news full of stories of fatal fires or bullying at nursing homes. Unprompted, Ms Li relates how her daughter, a banker, warned her against taking private firms’ promises at face value.

Chinese customers worry constantly about being ripped off. When it entered China, MCS set its prices high and built single-bed rooms to Japanese standards, offering the privacy and calm that pensioners in Japan demand. But Chinese clients wanted company and the lively din known as renao, relates Grace Wang, MCS’s boss in China. They questioned the emphasis on doing things for themselves, grumbling that, “I paid money, so you have to do everything for me,” Ms Wang says. Her firm changed its model, building shared rooms, lowering prices and offering day rates to demonstrate its methods. The home in Nantong is now profitable.

Historical distrust of Japan has not been a big problem. MCS neither boasts of nor hides its origins. As well as a Chinese scholar’s study and mahjong tables, its home in Guangzhou has a Japanese roof garden with benches, stone lanterns and an artfully trained pine. A few residents refuse to speak to visiting Japanese executives, admits Mr Wate, who is of mixed Chinese and Japanese ancestry. Most are pragmatic, associating Japan with good service.

Family dynamics cause more headaches than nationalism. In Japan, generous government insurance covers most care-home costs, giving old folk much autonomy. In China many in need of care must either sell property or ask children for help. Average monthly fees at MCS’s home in Guangzhou are 14,000 yuan ($2,224)—more than a typical pension. That makes entering a home a collective decision by as many as four or five family members. The elderly also need convincing. Many want to preserve their savings to help the young. Because trying to stay at home is the norm, the average age of MCS’s residents in China is 85, about a decade older than at its dementia-related facilities in Japan.

The best sort of technology transfer

Still, China is quicker to embrace change than outsiders might suppose. Ms Li recalls the traditional line: “Raise children to care for you when you get old.” But her children have demanding jobs, and she hates asking them to take too much time off. Nor are hired helpers the solution. When her husband loses control of his bowels, no hired helper will clean him, she says matter-of-factly. Such helpers are “very impatient”. The Chinese once believed that only bad children send their parents to care homes, she concedes. “We don’t think that way anymore.”

Rather few Chinese will ever be able to afford Japanese-style homes, it is true. That does not make their expertise irrelevant. If China’s old enemy can raise the profile of kindly, attentive dementia care, that alone would be a historic, neighbourly act.

%