Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Cornish Chough flys again

I was looking forward to going back to Paradise Park in Hayle. When I was a teenager, soon after leaving school, I remember driving home from work along Gwinear Road on the way to Trevaskis Farm one November evening and having to swerve to miss a bird that was flapping against the hedge on the edge of the road. It was a kestrel which had been bit by a car and had a broken wing. After five minutes of chasing it around the road I finally managed to catch the bird. I had a few nips along the way but eventually got it back to the farm and into a cardboard box. We took it to Paradise Park at Hayle where it was nursed back to recovery and released again on Gwinear Road. We still have kestrels at Trevaskis today.

Paradise Park is an excellent example of a successful local business that puts a lot back into the community. It is the home of the World Parrot Trust and they work closely with other conservationists around the world.

Today I saw some of the work they do to support projects to re-introduce red squirrels in the UK. They have also been at the forefront of the operation to reintroduce the Chough to Cornwall's coastline. Paradise Park was founded by Mike Reynolds in 1973 and they were successfully breeding Choughs there from the late 70's. Mike sadly passed away in 2007 but today the business is run by his son and daughter, Nick and Alison, and Paradise Park is at the heart of Operation Chough - the programme to release choughs into the wild again.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

A visit to Pirate FM

Yesterday I popped in to see the team at Pirate FM at Pool. Tristan, the Head of News, gave me a guided tour. Pirate FM started back in 1992. I can remember when it launched. The critics said that a commercial station wouldn't be able to survive in Cornwall but they were proved completely wrong. In fact Pirate FM very quickly established itself as the model to follow in commercial radio. It has the biggest audience of any radio station in Cornwall and a very loyal following locally. This is a team that relishes a challenge.

Before leaving I also had time to catch up with Neil Caddy who is one of the DJs on the afternoon slot. I hadn't seen him for over ten years. Neil and I both used to run for Cornwall Athletic Club and trained together for a while - although he went on to achieve bigger things than me in the athletics world and ran for England.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

80 years of success at Cornwall College

I had some information through today about the 80th anniversary of Cornwall College at Pool. As an old student, I am really looking forward to going back and seeing the changes that have taken place. I first went to Cornwall college way back in 1987 after I left school to do a part-time “BTEC” Business Studies course. I was fascinated by business and really enjoyed the good practical lessons on marketing, people management and (to a lesser extent) how to make a balance sheet actually balance.

I remember that the first couple of terms involved travelling up to Daniel Road in Truro where there was a small campus linked to the college. But we then moved back down to the main premises in Pool. I remember once being put into a role playing scenario where I had to be a company negotiator dealing with Trade Union demands and another key project where we had to put together a video promotion for a blood transfusion service - and my team came up with a particularly hard hitting offering!

Most of all, I made some good friends there – both doing business studies and in my “Phase 4” agriculture course which followed. Who knows, maybe I will see some of them now I am back in Cornwall again.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Getting to grips with Wave Hub

Today I met Gerwyn Williams, the Group Managing Director of JP Kenny which is the company that has just been appointed as the lead contractor on the Wave Hub Scheme in Hayle. He has a very impressive track record as a civil engineer and is a specialist in technologies associated with gas and oil exploration – the same skills sets that are needed to make Wave Hub work.

I think that Wave Hub is a really exciting project. We shouldn’t pretend that it is going to create thousands of new jobs in Cornwall overnight – but it will the first of its sort anywhere in the world and could establish Hayle as an international centre of excellence in the renewable energy technologies of the future. We should all get right behind it.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

The long way to London

Ouch. Weekend engineering works on the railway line back to London which has made a 5 hour journey a 6 ½ hour journey instead. But it’s work that’s got to be done and so no point fretting about it. I have always liked travelling by train. It is basically quite fast and more importantly, on long trips you can do some work. I find it hard to read on a bus and if you drive, you can’t work at all. And although the flight link to Newquay is crucial to many business people travelling to London, I personally find that by the time you have checked in and got a train to and from the airports at either side, there isn’t much in it. The sleeper train service is my favourite. If you can sleep on them, it is the best way to travel – it’s good that this service has been kept going. I, for one, signed the petition.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

No room at the pantomime

I promised Rev Peter Fellowes from Lanner that I would try to make the performance of Mother Goose by the Redruth Amateur Musical and Pantomime Society where he is playing the lead part. When I last met him he had expressed a little bit of concern about advance ticket sales. But it obviously isn’t a problem today – the Saturday Matinee performance was a sell out and I couldn’t actually get in! But very good news for the team at RAMPS and next time they perform, I will make sure I book in advance!

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Tremough Campus shows the way

This was my first visit to the Tremough Campus and it was good to go along with Mark Prisk, the Conservative Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise to see their work.

Although it’s nearly in Penryn, it is also inside the new boundary for the Camborne and Redruth constituency. It is an amazing place. I was hugely impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of all those I met. It is an example of what this part of Cornwall can become: an international centre of excellence in the technologies of the future. We saw some new, ground breaking courses in areas such as digital animation and wildlife photography. We also heard about the incredible work being done to apply new technology to analyse rocks and soil to forensic science. They have been involved in helping to solve dozens of serious crimes using these new techniques.

I also had a tour of more familiar territory – they have an impressive TV studio which they use to train students in broadcasting everything then need to know about becoming a TV programme producer. Seeing them all trying to get the right camera angles and make sure that everything went smoothly brought back memories of some of those tense moments when I was with David Cameron in TV interviews - the anxiety that the live link might go down, or the camera battery would die or, worst of all, that the camera man was trying to frame the shot in a way that put us in a bad light!

Tom Dymond, a photography student at UCF was on hand to take all the photos of the visit – he really knew his stuff.

Digital Skills and Connectivity

One of the ways we can raise wages and incomes in the area is by promoting more apprenticeships and locally Cornwall College which I attende...