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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

older | 1 | .... | 1804 | 1805 | (Page 1806) | 1807 | 1808 | .... | 1846 | newer

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    The famous phrase ‘the one that got away’ has been used for yonks to describe a past lover that will always have a special place in your heart.

    Sadly though, that realisation often doesn’t come until said lover is no longer around.

    One man, who realised that he’d lost the love of his life, didn’t want to admit defeat. So he got on his bike, raced down the streets, just like they do in the movies, and confessed the undying feelings he has for his ex-girlfriend.

    Only, he chose to do that all on her wedding day. To another man. As you do.

    The Colombian biker, who is said to hail from the city of Medellin, was caught on camera bartering with his former partner.

    He was seen pleading with the bride to leave her husband-to-be and run away with him instead.

    In the gripping video, the couple can be seen arguing, then kissing for a few seconds before she inevitably pushes him away.

    Talk about wedding day drama.

    Man pleading bride to not get married while she's in her wedding car
    He tried (Picture: CEN)

    Footage shows the biker, still wearing his helmet, open the doors of the antique car to chat to the bride, decked out in a white wedding gown.

    At one point, the lothario can even be seen getting down on his knees to physically beg her to be with him.

    And, for a moment, it seems the pleading worked as the bride kisses the man back.

    But the romantic gesture didn’t last very long as she then pushes him away. They have one final confrontation (with some distance between them) where the bride looks somewhat bored by his pleas.

    Despite the build-up, unfortunately, we don’t know whether she took him back or went on her merry way to marry her fiance.

    But passersby had thoughts. Some onlookers chanted ‘don’t get married’ while others said ‘kiss, kiss’.

    Social media users were a bit less forgiving. One person wrote: ‘Everybody is responsible for their choices in life, the woman decided to get married, and this guy is humiliating a woman who does not love him anymore.’

    Another said: ‘He lost his opportunity when he was with her, now let her marry in peace, sh*t.’

    What do you think?

    MORE: Couple get married in a hospital room after the groom is rushed into brain surgery on their wedding day

    MORE: Groom’s brother gets into a wedding dress to prank him during the first look photos

    MORE: Bride shames sister-in-law for wearing a white lace dress to her wedding


    PRC_89104531PRC_89104531

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     Bodybuilding Triplets holding medals
    These are the only bodybuilding triplets in the world (Picture: Janio Edwards / Barcroft Media)

    Siblings often compete with each other for fun, but these triplets are doing it on the world stage.

    Adriana, Alessandra and Andreia Dantas, from Sao Paulo, Brazil are said to be the world’s only bodybuilding triplets.

    The 27-year-olds have been training and competing as an identical trio for years.

    The three sisters have matching diets, exercise routines – and even the same plastic surgeon – to ensure they all have the same chance at winning.

    After Andreia took a five-year hiatus, she joined her sisters and together they began competing again.

    They’re so alike that in a previous bodybuilding competition the judges couldn’t even tell them apart.

    Their diet is especially tough because they have to weigh each meal and are limited to eating carbohydrates only once a day.

    But as they’re all in it together, they don’t mind so much.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B1XEg1aBNVN/

    Alessandra said: ‘We have a stronger bond than normal siblings – we are always doing things together because it’s fun.

    ‘We always cut our hair the same – when Adriana got silicone prosthesis surgery, me and Andreia also got the same procedure with the same doctor.’

    In order to maintain their physiques, they all follow the same diet and exercise regime, which is made up of eight small meals per day, each one a different food group.

    Adriana added: ‘We follow the same diet and the same exercises.

    ‘You need a strong mind to be able to stick to the diet on schedule, the training, the supplements – all this affects you psychologically.’

    Alessandra’s 13-year-old son Enrico isn’t too keen on his mum having a six-pack but the mum isn’t too fussed.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B11XqSqhULQ/

    The Dantas triplets cultivated their passion for bodybuilding as a trio as they’ve always enjoyed doing things together.

    Andreia explained: ‘Perhaps if I wasn’t a triplet, I would find a normal job, but with them, there is more hope, it’s more cheerful, more motivating.

    ‘We exercise every day, five times a week – the importance is to grow old well, to have a good physique.’

    But, they say, there is no competitiveness between them.

    ‘If she wins or she wins, I feel myself a winner as well,’ said Andreia.

    ‘Whether we win or lose, what matters I always tell them, what counts is the glamour,’ Alessandra added.

    In the latest competition, Adriana placed second and Andreia won first place.

    ‘Incredible, I think he judged wrong – I think I was supposed to rank first,’ Alessandra and Adriana jokingly complained.

    Satisfied with the result, the triplets are now looking to their next venture, which will see them start a lingerie business together.

    ‘We have beautiful bodies, so we’ll be the faces of our own brand – we’ll save up on models!’

    MORE: Bodybuilding grandmother of 11 is also an acrobatic surfer

    MORE: Grandma, 61, wants to show people there’s no age limit to bodybuilding

    MORE: Woman had no idea she was pregnant until she went into labor with triplets


    Adriana, Alessandra and Andreia DantasAdriana, Alessandra and Andreia Dantas

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    A boiling kettle
    That might not be water in there… (Picture: Getty)

    In most workplaces, there’s a smorgasbord of in-office microaggressions that seem to come with the job. The swapping of desk chairs, the thievery of meals in the communal fridge, the list goes on.

    But one Australian civil servant has committed an act so heinous it makes the aforementioned transgressions look like team-building activities.

    An employee from South Australia has just lost his job because he urinated in the office kettle.

    ‘The thorough investigation found that a particular individual was at fault and this employee has since been terminated from the department,’ a department spokeswoman told AAP.

    If you haven’t reached boiling point yet, just you wait.

    Other staff members were concerned there was also blood in the kettle-dwelling urine.

    Fortunately, tests ran on the liquid concluded that there was no blood. It was just a whole lot of pee.

    Because it wouldn’t be the public service without a drawn-out, highly bureaucratic process with administrative hoop after administrative hoop, it took one year for the investigation to be finalised.

    So, although the human services worker urinated in the kettle in March 2018, he was only dropped from the role in July 2019.

    Can you imagine how on-edge his unfortunate colleagues would have been for an entire year? Friends, we raise an unsullied cuppa to you.

    Also BRB, stocking up on a litre-capacity thermoses.

    MORE: How to celebrate Dia de los Muertos without culturally appropriating

    MORE: World’s only bodybuilding triplets are competing against one another

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Don’t tell me to pick a side – I am mixed-race, so I am both’


    Steam Coming out of a KettleSteam Coming out of a Kettle

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    People tell us about their worst ever friendship betrayals
    People who you think have your back, are sometimes the first to stick a knife into it (Pictures: REX/Getty)

    There is a well-known saying; keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It’s a lesson that Coleen Rooney seems to have learned the hard way this week.

    She announced in a scandalous post on Twitter that she had allegedly discovered who had been selling stories about her to The Sun newspaper based on information from her private Instagram posts.

    She claimed that, by process of elimination, she thinks the culprit is her friend and fellow footballer’s wife, Rebekah Vardy.

    The sleuthing involved in this epic expose is incredible.

    In the accusation – which Rebekah has since denied – Coleen says that she has ‘saved and screenshotted all the original stories which clearly show just one person has viewed them. It’s…… Rebekah Vardy’s account.’

    Whether the claim is true or not – what we can take away from this juicy mess of a situation is that friendships can be tough. And sometimes, people who you think have your back can be the first to stick a knife into it.

    Most of us will, at some point, have experienced that hollow, sickening feeling of being betrayed by somebody close to you. And you don’t have to be a celebrity with thousands of followers to know how much that hurts.

    We asked people to tell us the stories of their worst friendship betrayals – including toxic jealousy, boyfriend stealing and all-round snakey behaviour. Strap in.

    Two women illustration
    ‘Next thing I know, she comes back and tells me that my boyfriend kissed her’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Emily* – ‘She sold my story to a national paper for £3,000’

    I was seeing a minor celebrity for almost a year.

    I was getting calls from a couple of newspapers asking to ‘clarify’ my relationship with him. I didn’t tell them anything and the guy I was seeing told me to ignore them but I was suspicious. Why would they care?

    So I did some digging and finally found out that he was married by looking through his Instagram followers. I’m rarely on Instagram so I genuinely had no idea.

    Julia*, a friend for 30-odd years, was dating someone who had a link with the ex-wife of the guy I had been seeing. And he convinced Julia to get evidence of our relationship.

    One night she borrowed my phone, telling me she had run out of credit, and took screenshots of loads of text messages between the married guy and I. Some of them were very steamy

    She sold the story to a national paper for £3,000!

    I was accused by his wife of selling the story but I didn’t.

    I lost my home, my job and was followed by reporters and made out to be a gold-digging, marriage-wrecking w****. 

    Isobel* – ‘She told me she had kissed my boyfriend’

    I had been friends with Rosie* for about six months and I invited her to my boyfriend’s birthday meal.

    She got really drunk and was making conversation at the table but it was all of a sexual nature.

    Me and my other half were sat with her, trying to be friendly but also change the conversation.

    My boyfriend then went to buy us all drinks and Lucy decided to follow him up to the bar and was chatting to him.

    Next thing I know, she comes back and tells me that my boyfriend kissed her! She said she felt really bad, but that he wanted to take her home and she didn’t know what to do.

    My boyfriend then comes back to the table – completely unaware – and s*** hits the fan.

    The next week at work she basically blanked me and starts bitching about me not being a good friend to everyone in the office!

    Illustration of a woman with blond hair, dressed in a blue and orange skirt looking over towards two women (one blonde, one brunette) drinking coffee and chatting
    ‘One night she borrowed my phone, telling me she had run out of credit, and took screenshots’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Greg* – ‘I would have taken a proverbial bullet for them’

    The male group of friends I made at uni were my closest mates, and I would have taken a proverbial bullet for them.

    When my mental health issues came to a head and I finally had to address them, they were amazing with me, checked in on me regularly and made sure I was okay on nights out when I broke down or when I did CBT in final year when I was in a very dangerous mental state.

    A year after university, when we still saw each other once every so often for nights out and reunions, I suggested we all do a holiday together.

    I was renowned in the group for being the organiser, but I didn’t want to be a keeno and put people off going, so I left it to them. But I always said – just let me know when things are sorted and I’ll pay everything straight away.

    A few months went by and nothing seemed to progress. It seemed like the opportunity was lost, which I was a bit annoyed about as I had turned down another holiday with different friends to try and make it happen.

    It transpired a few weeks later that, unbeknownst to me, all the group (except for one who refused to be involved) had created a separate group-chat and had ‘debated’ taking me on the holiday with them.

    I’m not sure how long it had gone on for or how the conversations went.

    I was told that no decision could be reached so they put taking me to a vote, which went against me 3-2.

    I only found this out months after it happened and it crushed me, especially my mental health, as I didn’t have any friends in secondary school and all the anxieties and paranoia I had back then about not fitting into groups came flooding back.

    I began to think; did they ever really like me in the first place? Was my personality so divisive and toxic that it needed to be debated whether I could be taken on a holiday?

    At the start, I stayed in the original Whatsapp group as I felt too torn about leaving these friends I had thought were going to be life-long and always with me.

    None of the boys reached out to me to apologise straight away or try to make an effort to make it up to me. Conversation in the groupchat just carried on as normal.

    Eventually, I realised that even if I was to stay in the group, I could never trust them again, so I left the group.

    At the time I had a range of emotions about it – sadness, anger, pain but now I just feel sorry and sad for them that they felt they had to do this and sacrificed my friendship for £600-800.

    Why does everyone want a goth girlfriend?
    ‘They created a separate group-chat and had ‘debated’ taking me on the holiday’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Aleesha* – ‘I don’t know what she planned to do with the screenshots’

    I come from a religiously conservative family (although my immediate family aren’t as strict).

    One of my cousins – who is a gossip queen – would stalk our social media profiles and screenshot pictures of us in ‘revealing’ clothes and keep them stored on her phone.

    We don’t know what she planned to do with them, but perhaps she was planning to spread them so she could have a gossip about how ‘slutty’ we were.

    Anyway, my sister came across pics of herself and promptly deleted them all.

    Dana* – ‘She was always jealous of me at school’

    I was on a night out with a friend from school – Tasha*.

    She always loves trying to belittle me – she was always jealous at school when we were younger if a guy fancied me and not her).

    One of the guys who we met on the night out said to me (purely platonically) I was alright and that I was ‘super funny’, to which she immediately jumped in and replied; ‘She’s not funny at all, I’m the funny one!’

    Jenny* – ‘It felt worse than an actual heartbreak’

    Bella* was my best friend. We lived together for years, held wild parties, went on nights out and had movie marathons together.

    The problems started when she moved out and I moved in with my boyfriend. Suddenly she didn’t want to come over any more or hang out.

    I get that it can be tough hanging around with a couple if you’re single – but my boyfriend and I were always very chill and I tried to make time to hang out with just her.

    I could feel that we were drifting slightly, but I still thought of her as my best friend. So when I was unwell and in a lot of pain – I called her, expecting her to come over and help me out – as I would have done for her.

    Instead, she made an excuse and didn’t come and see me at all. When I called her out on it, she sent a string of awful messages on WhatsApp, screamed at me on the phone and then proceeded to blank me for an entire year.

    It felt worse than an actual heartbreak. I tried so many times to reconcile and figure out what was going on – but ultimately I had to just leave it to protect myself from being hurt any more.

    Eliza* – ‘She had told the teachers that I was bullying her’

    When I was 14, my year group was massive so they split us into two halves, and the separate halves never saw each other- separate breaks, lunches, lessons.

    Literally all of my friends were put in the other half of the year, bar one girl, my best friend, who was in my class (I should add that my friends were also her friends, we were the nerdy, drama crew)

    It was annoying, but at least we had each other.

    At the beginning of the next school year, she’d been moved to the other half as well. We had begged for both of us to be moved, together, so many times, but we were just told there was no space.

    So I was like – how on Earth is she over there if there’s no space?

    I was all by myself, and she was making better and better friends with our friendship group – I started to feel really excluded.

    I found out one day – because the head of year finally decided to talk to me about it – that she had told the teachers that I was bullying her so they had to move her!

    I was categorically not bullying her, she was my best friend.

    Absolutely no one believed me that she was lying, even my godmother – who was a mutual friend of my mum and her mum. They said things like; ‘they’re teenage girls, they’re both as bad as each other’.

    It affected our parents’ whole friendship group as they were mates too.

    I even ended up moving schools because I just felt so alone.

    Eventually, it came out that she was a compulsive liar – she had been ringing another friend up and telling her that her dad was abusing her and that her step mum had cancer, none of which was true.

    So finally, everything came out.

    Faye* – ‘She didn’t say anything, she didn’t defend me’

    My best friend at the time Alice* was dating this guy – we were at a festival and she had an argument with him. I had jumped in to defend her and he had a go at me.

    He was awful, he called me a c***, he said that I was a privileged idiot and had no right to talk to him. He was horrific to me, basically.

    She just sat there silently, she didn’t say anything, she didn’t defend me.

    Then, a few months later, on New Year’s Eve we went out to a club in town. I was meant to be staying at her house that night. It turns out, that awful guy she was seeing was working at the bar we were going to – which she knew but didn’t tell me.

    So really, what we were doing was going to meet him, because she stayed with him.

    She then dropped it on me that the plan was we were all going to stay at his house that night – we had such a huge fight about it and she went off and stayed with him, and left me.

    So she essentially made me get a ridiculously expensive taxi all the way home, because I wasn’t about to stay at that guy’s house.

    *All the names in these stories have been changed.

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Don’t tell me to pick a side – I am mixed-race, so I am both’

    MORE: Biker stops wedding car and begs his ex not to get married

    MORE: How to celebrate Dia de los Muertos without culturally appropriating


    People tell us about their worst ever friendship betrayalsPeople tell us about their worst ever friendship betrayals

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    Meet 7 year old rapper Mac Sauce.
    Meet seven-year-old rapper Mac Sauce (Credit: @SirMyro)

    You might remember doing the following things when you were seven: Lounging around and watching Disney films; pounding down the street on your scooter; begging your parents for a pet.

    Or perhaps you remember nothing at all, because you were seven, and who remembers back that far?

    Either way, there’s a good chance you weren’t up on stage, slaying the rap game.

    A seven-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri is currently going viral thanks to her dad’s video of her rapping 6ix9ine’s ‘Stoopid’.

    The supremely talented kid is called Macyn McMillian, but you can call her Mac Sauce.

    In the video, which has now garnered nearly a million views, you might notice more than one little superstar performing at the back-to-school event.

    In front of the stage is the world’s best, and tiniest hype man, who also happens to be Mac Sauce’s adorable four-year-old brother Myron.

    Sibling goals.

    Their dad, Myron McMillian, first realised Mac Sauce’s mad skills when she wrote her own version of Cardi B hit ‘Bodak Yellow’

    ‘That’s when I said, ‘It’s time to get serious, let’s go… We went directly to the studio and recorded ‘Bodak Yellow’ and named it ‘Bodak Mac.” Myron told Good Morning America.

    If Kris Jenner is a momager, we’re going to create a new term for this dad.

    ‘She really wants to rap, it’s all she wants to do,’ Myron said.

    You can even follow the rap star on Soundcloud.

    Something tells us this isn’t the last we’re hearing from the incredible Mac Sauce…

    MORE: People tell us about their worst ever friendship betrayals

    MORE: Police kettle giant pink octopus and march it to Trafalgar Square

    MORE: Losing a baby is hard for dads too


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    Michelin 2020 guide: 7 UK eateries to try
    Michelin 2020 guide: Seven UK eateries to try (Picture: The Angel / Isle of Eriska / Opheem)

    It’s that delicious time again. We learn of all the eateries who have risen through the culinary ranks to receive one, two or three Michelin stars, and those who have sadly lost them.

    187 Michelin-starred UK restaurants have just been announced in the 2020 guide.

    Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the Michelin guides, says: ‘Despite the obvious challenges being faced by the industry here in the UK, we are thrilled that this has been such a stellar year, and we have seen many first ventures opening and rapidly rising to success.

    Seeing as though they’re likely to book out before you can say the words ‘elevated cuisine’ or ‘degustation’, we’ve put together a shortlist of where you might like to feast next year.

    From Birmingham to Belfast, from haute cuisine to pub grub, here are some of the restaurants who have just been awarded their first Michelin star.

    Mana, Manchester

    Mangalitza Chawanmushi with their barley miso and native coriander
    Mana’s Mangalitza Chawanmushi with their barley miso and native coriander. (Picture: Mana)

    It’s been a long time coming for the Mancs, with Mana bringing the city its first Michelin star since 1977. Yep, the year Elvis died and Star Wars first hit the cinemas.

    The restaurant, which only just opened last October, heralded the end of Manchester’s 41-year dry spell thanks to their Nordic-influenced cuisine.

    The Mana team, fronted by Noma trainee Simon Martin, whips up a mean 16-course tasting spread featuring meals crafted from natural, seasonal ingredients. Highlights include the dessert of pears baked in woodruff with sheep’s yoghurt and the preserved tomato, broad beans and caviar.

    Mãos, London

    Mãos signature stripped back interior, with their 16-person communal dining table
    Mãos signature stripped back interior, with their 16-person communal dining table. (Picture: Mãos)

    Here’s one for those in the big smoke. After opening its doors 18 months ago, Shoreditch’s Mãos joins 53 other London restaurants who have just been awarded one Michelin star.

    The dinner-party inspired restaurant features one communal table for 16 guests, within a space in a six-story townhouse. If the thought of chatting with strangers frightens you, perhaps the ever-changing European/Asian fusion cuisine might tempt you instead.

    Isle Of Eriska Hotel, Scotland

    Isle Of Eriska's meat-based dish
    Isle Of Eriska’s chef Graeme Cheevers won a Michelin star the other night. (Picture: Isle Of Eriska)

    Two Scottish restaurants were awarded their first Michelin star in the 2020 guide, one being Isle Of Eriska hotel.

    The restaurant is led by chef Graeme Cheevers, who was previously awarded a Michelin Star at Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond. Cheevers creates culinary gold using locally sourced seafood and vegetables from the property garden.

    Isle of Eriska is situated on a private island
    Isle of Eriska is situated on a private island accessible by bridge. (Picture: Isle of Eriska)

    The hotel is obviously more than just the food. The scenic venue is situated just north of Oban, on a private island accessible by bridge. It also features views over the stunning Loch Creran and Isle of Lismore.

    Beach House, Wales

    Beach House's delicious dark chocolate orange and gingerbread ice cream.
    Beach House’s delicious dark chocolate orange and gingerbread ice cream. (Picture: Beach House)

    Beach House is bringing it home to South West Wales as the first restaurant in the region to receive a Michelin star.

    If relaxed dining by the ocean is your tempo, you’ll appreciate the newly starred venue’s wild mushroom with Granny Smith apple and winter truffle and the Oxwich Bay lobster.

    Muddlers Club, Belfast

    The roast wood pigeon, with quince, chestnut and celeriac
    The roast wood pigeon, with quince, chestnut and celeriac at Muddler’s Club. (Picture: Muddler’s Club)

    Muddler’s Club has become the third Northern Ireland eatery to earn a Michelin star this year. Tucked away in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter, this industrial-style venue serves up flavoursome burrata, miso beef and parmesan scallop.

    They’re also a favourite when it comes to hospitality, being named the restaurant with ‘best customer service’ at the Irish Restaurant Awards a few months ago.

    The Angel at Hetton, Yorkshire

    The rocky-road looking Hetton Game Terrine
    The rocky-road looking Hetton Game Terrine at The Angel in Yorkshire. (Picture: The Angel)

    Who doesn’t love a gastropub? Yorkshire favourite The Angel has just received its first Michelin star.

    Folks with a sweet tooth, we’re hearing you. Hearing you drool for dessert. The Angel plates up confit blackberries with olive oil cake and jam as well as a hazelnut parfait with toasted hazelnut cake and yoghurt.

    Opheem, Birmingham

    Opheem in Birmingham's progressive Indian dining
    Opheem in Birmingham offers progressive Indian dining. (Picture: Opheem)

    Indian fine dining venue Opheem earns the city its fifth star thanks to its creative modern menu. The popular Birmingham restaurant is fronted by chef Aktar Islam, who is no stranger to culinary victory. Back in 2009, he was crowned the winner of Gordon Ramsay’s F-Word.

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    Michelin guide: 7 UK eateries to tryMichelin guide: 7 UK eateries to try

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    Bree,3, Zoie, 6, Nayeli, 10. (L-R front row) Lezley, 12, and Greta Zarate,32. Mum
    Mum-of-five Greta Zarate was told that if she had left her visit to the hospital one day later, she could have died (Picture: Greta Zarate /SWNS.COM)

    We all know about the risk of developing life-threatening condition toxic shock syndrome (TSS) from the use of tampons.

    But we never think it’ll happen to us.

    Greta Zarate, a 32-year-old mum of five, never knew about the symptoms of TSS, so didn’t even consider she could have it after developing flu-like symptoms on the first day of her period.

    When her fever spiked and blood pressure plunged, Greta was rushed to an Intensive Care Unity where an x-ray, ultrasounds, and a CT scan failed to find the cause of her condition.

    A gynaecology consultation prompted a vaginal swab, which revealed toxic shock syndrome, a potentially fatal infection caused by bacterial toxins.

    Greta Zarate,32, in the Intensive Care Unit. Mum Greta Zarate, 32, contracted a life-threatening blood infection that left her in intensive care for 4 days - from a TAMPON! See SWNS story SWNYtampon. A mom contracted a life-threatening blood infection from a TAMPON leaving her in the intensive care unit for four days. Greta Zarate, 32, was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, a rare and potentially-fatal condition, after she began to experience flu-like symptoms on the first day of her period. The stay-at-home mom, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA, was rushed to the ER four days later on February 3 when her fever spiked and her blood pressure dropped dangerously low. The mom-of-five was admitted to the ICU in Onslow Memorial Hospital where an X-ray, ultrasounds and CT scan failed to pinpoint the cause of her declining health.
    When Greta’s blood pressure dropped following flu-like symptoms, Greta was admitted to intensive care (Picture: Greta Zarate /SWNS.COM)

    TSS had sent Greta’s body into septic shock, a stage of sepsis that causes the body’s vital organs to shut down.

    The bacteria had entered the mum’s bloodstream through microscopic cuts on her vaginal wall caused by a super absorbant tampon.

    Greta, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA, said: ‘I had heard of toxic shock syndrome but I never knew the symptoms.

    ‘On the first day of my period, I was feeling a little crumby. I was in bed for three days.

    ‘I believed I had the flu and I was treating myself with over the counter medication. I suffered all of the symptoms of TSS but I confused it for the flu – nausea and diarrhoea, dizziness, achey muscles.

    Greta Zarate,32, in hospital
    A vaginal swab led to the discovery of toxic shock syndrome and septic shock as a result (Picture: Greta Zarate /SWNS.COM)

    ‘The only thing I didn’t get was a rash which is often a symptom of it.

    ‘But I was getting sicker and sicker. My fever was so high, I was shaky and weak.

    ‘I was scared and extremely ill. I had a serious pain in my side because my spleen was swollen from trying to fight the infection.

    ‘The only doctors they hadn’t consulted was gynaecology and it was a blessing that one of the nurses thought that it might be toxic shock because I had my period. She put two and two together.

    ‘They discovered it was a staph infection in my blood after taking a vaginal swab and it stemmed from microscopic cuts in my vagina from a tampon.’

    Greta was admitted to Onslow Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville on February 3 this year, where a line was inserted into her chest to administer antibiotics, fluids and morphine to fight the infection and manage her pain.

    Greta Zarate, 32, with husband Cas Zarate, 30. Mum Greta Zarate, 32, contracted a life-threatening blood infection that left her in intensive care for 4 days - from a TAMPON! See SWNS story SWNYtampon. A mom contracted a life-threatening blood infection from a TAMPON leaving her in the intensive care unit for four days. Greta Zarate, 32, was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome, a rare and potentially-fatal condition, after she began to experience flu-like symptoms on the first day of her period. The stay-at-home mom, of Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA, was rushed to the ER four days later on February 3 when her fever spiked and her blood pressure dropped dangerously low. The mom-of-five was admitted to the ICU in Onslow Memorial Hospital where an X-ray, ultrasounds and CT scan failed to pinpoint the cause of her declining health.
    Greta spent 11 days in hospital and needed a blood transfusion (Picture: Greta Zarate /SWNS.COM)

    She underwent a blood transfusion to help restore her body’s red blood cells and to prevent the further spread of the infection throughout her bloodstream.

    Greta was told that if she had waited another day to go to hospital, she could have lost a limb – or her life.

    The mum wants to share her story because many people believe toxic shock syndrome is only caused by leaving a tampon in for too long – when in fact using ‘super’ tampons when they’re not necessary can allow bacteria to enter the body through microscopic abrasions.

    Greta said: ‘There’s a misconception about toxic shock syndrome and tampons.. There’s an idea that a tampon that’s been inside you for a long period of time causes this.

    ‘I never knew that the size of the tampon should move with your flow. Like super tampons should only be for really heavy days, regular for normal days, and light for the end of your flow.

    ‘When you pull a dry tampon out of your body, it actually leaves tiny scrapes on your vaginal wall which allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream and that’s what happened to me.

    ‘I change my tampon every time I use the bathroom, so I knew it wasn’t because I had left it in there for a long, long time.’

    Greta has made a full recovery but no longer uses tampons.

    Her brush with death prompted her to undergo a genetic test for the BRCA2 gene, which increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer.

    Greta said: ‘My sister was 26 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and I always planned to get the test but life got in the way.

    ‘I have my blood tested regularly now to make sure I don’t get sick again and my doctor asked if I might want to take the test so I did.

    ‘I do have the gene so now I am preparing for preventative surgeries.

    ‘I’m having a hysterectomy at the end of the year and a mastectomy in February.

    ‘Going through toxic shock made everything clearer for me.

    ‘I want to be around for my children for a long time. These preventative surgeries will reduce my risk of developing cancer and that’s my main priority.’

    What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

    TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is very rare condition caused by toxins getting into the blood stream and releasing dangerous toxins. It can affect anyone of any age but is most frequently associated with tampon use in young women. It can be fatal but it caught early it is treatable with antibiotics.

    The causes of TSS

    TSS is caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus. It usually lives harmlessly on the surface of the skin and but if it gets into the blood stream it can release toxins that can disturb the function of vital organs.

    How to prevent TSS

    According to the NHS:
    – choose a tampon with the lowest absorbency suitable for your menstrual flow
    – swap tampons for a sanitary towel or panty liner during your period
    – wash your hands before and after inserting a tampon
    – change tampons regularly never insert more than one tampon at a time
    – insert a new tampon first thing before going to bed and change it first thing in the morning

    MORE: This seven-year-old year old rapper is killing the game

    MORE: Not my cup of pee: Civil servant fired for urinating in kettle

    MORE: The 2020 Michelin guide: 7 newly-starred restaurants to try in the UK


    Woman could have died from infection from a tamponWoman could have died from infection from a tampon

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    A bride-to-be was left 'heartbroken' after ordering a peacock-themed wedding cake - only to receive a 'lop-sided turkey with leprosy'
    The cake she expected (right) vs the one she received (left) (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    We’ve all seen (and laughed at) those classic cake fails – from unicorn cakes that look a bit rude to unintended messages in the form of decoration.

    When it’s your wedding cake that’s been messed up, though, it’s probably not so funny.

    Take the case of Rena Davis, who was left ‘heartbroken’ when the peacock-themed wedding cake she ordered arrived looking like a ‘lop-sided turkey with leprosy’.

    Ouch.

    Rena had booked a baker to create a wedding cake featuring two peacocks, a heart-shaped sponge, and chocolate cupcakes. She showed the baker a picture of a similar cake and handed over $300 (£245.51) a month before her big day.

    When she checked in on the cake in the runup to the wedding, Rena was assured that everything was going ‘to plan’.

    The peacock wedding cake, made by Iced Two Perfection, that Rena showed the baker
    The peacock wedding cake, made by Iced Two Perfection, that Rena showed the baker (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    Then the night before her wedding came. The baker dropped off the cake and as they drove away, one of the decorative birds on the cake had its head fall off. Rena also noticed at this point that the fondant icing she had asked for was actually buttercream.

    All in all, the cake didn’t look quite like the one Rena had dreamed of.

    Rena’s sister-in-law shared a photo of the cake on Facebook, writing: ‘The one ‘peacock’ looks like a turkey with leprosy or something, and the white bird, which isn’t white at all, doesn’t even have a tail or look like a bird in any way, it’s just a brown BLOB!

    ‘There’s NOTHING supporting the ‘birds’ and the cake was already sinking so bad from their weight when it was delivered and it continued to sink worse overnight until the next morning, the day of the wedding, the birds were almost sitting on the bottom layer.

    'LOPSIDED' PEACOCK CAKE WAS NOT COATED IN CORRECT ICING AND CAME ON A CARDBOARD DISC
    The cake that was delivered (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘So, on the morning of her wedding, the bride was going from store to store trying to find a cake that would be suitable to use for her wedding.’

    Rena asked for a refund but claims she was immediately refused, so the baker returned ‘with a box of Rice Krispies’ to try to rebuild the animal.

    The cake maker even claimed the fondant icing ‘kept getting bubbles in it’.

    Rena said: ‘[The baker] had made a cake for my best friend one time. Since then, she had supposedly finished baking school in town.

    ‘First off we sent her a picture via text and she said she could make the cake.

    ‘I called her and we agreed she would make the cake in a heart shape, and instead of one peacock she would make two.

    ‘She came the night before the wedding. She set it up on the table and all the time, I’m looking at this cake, thinking ‘really, are you serious?’

    peacock wedding cake goes wrong
    As the baker drove away, the bird’s head fell off (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    ‘I just walked out of the room. I had nothing else to say to her.

    ‘Five minutes after she’d left, one of the peacocks’ heads had fallen off. I text her and asked for my money back, but she said she’d think what she could do.

    ‘The next few minutes she shows up at my house with a box of Rice Krispies. The peacocks were supposed to be fondant too, but I don’t know what she had on them.

    ‘I text her when she left to say the cake was not how it was supposed to be… It wasn’t fondant, it was buttercream, and it wasn’t the colours I wanted.

    ‘She said ‘well, I couldn’t get the fondant to do right – it kept getting bubbles in it’.

    ‘I thought, well at least call me? Never once did I get a call. Everything was always going according to plan and she maintained it’d be there the night before the wedding.’

    After the social media post started getting loads of shares, Rena says she received a refund of cash in her letterbox.

    Gena, from Griffin, in Georgia, US, said: ‘I felt heartbroken. I saw [the cake] and walked out of the room.

    ‘It was a lop-sided mess – nothing like I thought it would be like.

    ‘[Before yesterday], we’d heard nothing from her since. She had not called or anything.

    ‘The only reason she gave a refund now was because of the viral post. She said she couldn’t give me my money back at first because she had 50 hours in it and she had to pay her mom for helping.’

    Rena and husband Dennis had to make do with a supermarket cake on the big day
    Rena and husband Dennis had to make do with a supermarket cake on the big day (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

    The cake sat in Rena’s fridge for three days until after the wedding, when she threw it in the bin.

    Rena said: ‘The cake sat here for three days and she didn’t come and get it.

    ‘When Dennis took the cake out and my grandson held the bin liner out, it hit the floor like a brick. It was so heavy – there was no way anybody could have eaten that cake.

    ‘I didn’t even taste it. I was too angry. I didn’t want anything to do with it.

    ‘I was forced to call around on the morning of my wedding. No one had any cakes they could fix for me.

    ‘I went to Walmart and got two cakes. One had purple and green flowers on it, so I got that one, then a triple chocolate one and put a tractor on it.

    ‘On the white cake, I got some love hearts from Hobby Lobby.

    ‘If she had called me when the fondant wasn’t acting right, I would have had time to get a new cake.

    ‘Overall, after I went and got the cake and that taken care of, the day was really good.’

    Do you have a wedding story to share? Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk

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    MORE: Couple get married in a hospital room after the groom is rushed into brain surgery on their wedding day

    MORE: Bride uses dad’s ashes for her wedding day nails


    A bride-to-be was left 'heartbroken' after ordering a peacock-themed wedding cake - only to receive a 'lop-sided turkey with leprosy' with its head falling offA bride-to-be was left 'heartbroken' after ordering a peacock-themed wedding cake - only to receive a 'lop-sided turkey with leprosy' with its head falling off

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    Chicken satay with a tamarind tang and crispy chicken skin
    Chicken satay with a tamarind tang and crispy chicken skin

    Where to eat in London this week: Sticky Mango, Coin Street, SE1

    You don’t get many friendly, relaxed chefs in charge of 11-course tasting menus in central London – but Sticky Mango’s chef-owner Peter Lloyd is just that.

    He’s a celeb chef ‘off the telly’ as well as former executive chef at The Sanderson’s Suka and W Hotel’s Spice Market and, when not at the hob at Sticky Mango, you can find him by way of Instagram travelling Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia looking for inspiration for his pan-Asian cuisine, picking up new cooking techniques and generally living his best life.

    He’ll tell you his favourite street food in Indonesia is sticky mango rice – a dish he’s recreated for his tasting menu with a twist and that gives the restaurant its name – or a coconut milk pudding, which he has turned into a refreshing palate cleanser with coconut ice at the bottom, dotted with traditional Indonesian jellied fruits in bright green and red. Both are on the menu, which starts with homemade kaffir lime and peanut crackers with spiced peanut dip – a pan-Asian take on a poppadum.

    Then comes a lightly fragrant coconut, prawn and sweetcorn soup, followed by satay chicken – again with a twist, this time a tang of tamarind and crunch of crispy fried chicken skin.

     

    Next, a whole seabass baked in a banana leaf, almost undetected under a pretty pile of spring vegetables and herbs, followed by intensely flavoured short-beef rendang and a prawn nasi goreng (Indonesian stir-fried rice). Both are lovely – presentation on point and full of flavour.

    The pudding finale (there are three!) was a deconstructed peanut nougat satay – with chewy, nutty nougat kebabs, rich chocolate ganache and charcoal ice cream. The charcoal ice cream was a revelation. If only you could buy that in the supermarket.

    The menu is generous – our main regret was not leaving an extra hour to move through the dishes more slowly – but it was such a treat not to have to choose what comes out of the kitchen, to sit back and get a glimpse of Asian cooking through Peter’s eyes.

    Its location on Coin Street, just a few minutes from Waterloo and the South Bank, might suggest a touristy spot – but the night we went, it seemed to be more of an after-work or local crowd. It’s relaxed and and staff are friendly.

    A great spot for a speedy culinary tour of South-East Asia – and for £45 for 11 courses, you cannot get much better value. Well worth a visit.

    Where to find it: Sticky Mango, 33 Coin Street, London SE1 9NR 

     

    Here’s a little flavour of what we ate from Peter’s Instagram: 

    Homemade kaffir lime leaf and peanut crackers, aka Rempeyel kacang

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B3HriMvHI2S/

    The whole baked sea bass

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B1o_2sbH8CO/

    The pudding – grilled peanut nougat, chocoalte ganache, charcoal ice cream, chilli tuille

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B3HsXMEHCBF/


    Chicken satay with a tamarind tang and crispy chicken skinChicken satay with a tamarind tang and crispy chicken skin

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    Imagine being out with your girlfriends – the sun is shining, life’s great, you’re having a great catch up – then boom, reality strikes. Your under-arm, that’s been extremely uncomfortable for days has just burst everywhere.

    I have a rare skin disease called Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). HS is a debilitating, inflammatory skin condition which appears as boil-like abscesses on a large proportion of my body, which sometimes burst.

    My girlfriends – being the absolute angels that they are – came to my rescue, handing me tissues and running around to try and help me because they knew that if I moved it would make things considerably worse.

    In my peripheral vision, I saw a woman – a complete stranger – glaring at me and sniggerring to her partner. Callously and without remorse or any consideration for my feelings, she looked straight at me and called me ‘disgusting’.

    Elise Axon
    I would love to put an end to the stigma, the judgement, the embarrassment and the shame (Picture: PhilYeomans/BNPS)

    I was hurt and extremely saddened by her response.

    But I’m resilient. The lady who labelled me that day has actually done me a favour, she’s helped to make me stronger.

    If it wasn’t for her on-the-spot judgment of me, labeling me as disgusting for something I have no control over, I wouldn’t be sat here today writing about my life, trying to raise awareness of the horrendous condition I live with day in and day out.

    The disease can range from mild to severe, with the latter meaning there is lots of tracking and tunneling under the skin, leaving constant draining and leakage.

    Elise
    My HS wears me down, physically and mentally (Picture: The Bad Skin Clinic)

    It covers my body from my armpits to my legs, groin, bottom, sides, belly, under my breasts and many other areas.

    I suffer from the severe form of it and have done since I was seven-years-old.

    My HS wears me down, physically and mentally. It’s exhausting, the severe pain that comes with HS is debilitating and chronic.

    There are some days I feel that I physically cannot get out of bed but I will not let my condition define me. Nor will I let that woman’s comments – or anyone else’s for that matter – break my spirit.

    Elise Axon
    There are some days I feel that I physically cannot get out of bed (Picture: PhilYeomans/BNPS)

    On that particular day, instead of approaching me to ask if there was anything she could do to help, that woman sat, stared and made snap judgement without any due consideration for my feelings.

    I am not looking for sympathy though.

    I truly believe that if I can raise awareness or help at least one person by being open about my condition, then this whole journey I have been on will have been worth every moment.

    I would love to put an end to the stigma, the judgement, the embarrassment and the shame. Whatever it is that an HS sufferer feels about their situation and condition.

    Elise Axon
    I will not let that woman’s comments – or anyone else’s for that matter – break my spirit (Picture: PhilYeomans/BNPS)

    Sometimes, we live with something that others around us are totally unaware of. As an HS sufferer I struggle mentally to stay positive but I’m determined not to let it take control of my life.

    I just make sure I battle even harder to keep a positive mind and enjoy my life.

    Being mentally strong isn’t necessarily something that we are gifted with, it’s hard work to tell yourself every day that you are enough. Also to tell yourself you are loved, most importantly by yourself.

    It can be hard to look in the mirror, stand tall and repeat those things every day of your life.

    It works though. I’ve learned over the years who I am, and why I am like I am.

    Yes, I’m a product of my condition but that’s not who I am entirely. I’m much more than the scars that are visible, more than the pain and so much more than the judgment and stigma that comes with being ‘ill’.

    Please, if you are reading this whether you are a sufferer or not, whether you might be that person that has named or labelled, always be kind and compassionate.

    Be brave, be bold, give love, accept love from others and most importantly love yourself. Beauty comes from within, not the skin we are in. We are all beautiful in our own way.

    Elise’s story and battle with HS was filmed for television series The Bad Skin Clinic, which is available to watch on the QuestOD app. You can follow Elise on Instagram here. 

    Labels

    Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity — positively or negatively — and what the label means to them.

    If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

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    My Label and MeMy Label and Me

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    Colouring wallpaper before and after being coloured
    Before and after (Picture: Facebook)

    It doesn’t matter how well trained or angelic you think your children are, if you turn your backs for a second, they will wreak havoc.

    Some of them might go for a dodgy haircut, make a giant mess with their poop, or just snack on a tampon.

    But more often than not they’ll start off small, usually at the age when they learn to hold a pen. And thus, RIP to your walls and furniture.

    Thankfully though, there is a measure you can take to keep them occupied and get them to jazz up your living room.

    You can get a wallpaper designed for colouring in. Just make sure the kids are drawing inside the lines.

    A woman spotted the product on Amazon and raved about it on Facebook.

    Jade Louie, from Manchester, proved that colouring in doesn’t just have to be for kids as she purchased the black and white wallpaper.

    She uploaded a picture of her own wall, which is slowly getting more and more colourful, on Facebook page Mrs Hinch Made Me Do It.

    Colouring wallpaper
    Perfect for kids (Picture: Amazon)

    Jade, 28, has had the wallpaper for some time and initially coloured it in using bright felt tip pens. But over the years, the colours slowly faded.

    So she got the pens out once again and got to work.

    She wrote on the post: ‘I started this three years ago but the sun slowly drained the colour!

    ‘So re-tackling it!! Three hours in and it’s brightening up again.’

    Naturally, parents wanted to get their hands on the wallpaper to get their children colouring.

    One mum wrote on Jade’s post: ‘This would keep the kids amused. Another wrote: ‘Please let me know [where this is from], my son is autistic and he would live to colour this in, I’d put it in his bedroom.’

    Jade revealed she got it from Amazon where, unfortunately, this print is no longer available.

    However, there are plenty of other wallpapers that encourage getting creative.

    You can choose from a monster scene, nature and other bits to colour in.

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    Colouring wallpaperColouring wallpaper

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    Asian woman trekking in tropical rainforest, crossing fallen tree bridge
    We need to spend more time in nature (Picture: Getty)

    Getting out in nature really does help to improve mental wellbeing, according to a new report published on World Mental Health Day.

    Research by The Wildlife Trusts has found that prescribing contact with nature to people with poor mental health improves their mood and could ease the burden on the NHS.

    People experiencing anxiety, stress, and depression reported feeling significantly better – both emotionally and physically – after taking part in outdoor nature conservation projects.

    Researchers said: ‘Prescribing nature works – and saves money.

    ‘A natural, community-based approach to health offers an important non-medical service that will deliver health prevention at scale and reduce the current burden on the NHS.’

    The report found for every £1 invested in specialised health or social needs projects that connect people to nature, there is a £6.88 social return.

    It also calculated there is an £8.50 social return for every £1 invested in regular nature volunteering projects, which help create healthy lifestyles by tackling problems such as physical inactivity or loneliness.

    Dom Higgins, nature and wellbeing manager at The Wildlife Trusts, said: ‘We want to see the concept of nature on prescription becoming a core part of the NHS mental wellbeing programmes.

    ‘This new report shows the enormous value of a natural health service. It’s also important to have more investment in Wildlife Trust outdoor volunteering which has been proven to improve mental, physical and social wellbeing.

    ‘In addition, we need many more wild, natural places near to where people live and work. That way, green prescribing can be rolled-out everywhere.

    ‘This would help the NHS save money, as well as help nature to recover.’

    It might be a while before GPs are regularly prescribing time in nature, but in the meantime this research gives us all a nudge to get outside and spend some time in green spaces for the sake of our mental health.

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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    Asian woman trekking in tropical rainforest, crossing fallen tree bridgeAsian woman trekking in tropical rainforest, crossing fallen tree bridge

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    You might have heard of or even repeat daily positive affirmations. They’re snippets of encouragement aimed to remind you just what a total boss you are.

    Most of us could do more believing in ourselves. But one little boy is starting young as he has started repeating his affirmations on the way to school.

    Putting us all to shame when it comes to self-belief, little Ayaan, who is only three years old, was filmed repeating a positive mantra.

    He told himself: ‘I am smart. I am blessed. I can do anything’. And it’s made quite an impression on everybody else who’s seen the video.

    His mum Alissa, from New York, posted the clip where the adorable toddler can be seen chanting the words while walking with a banana in hand.

    The post has since gone viral, racking up 124,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments.

    People can’t get enough of Ayaan. Over on Twitter, the video amassed more than three million views.

    It’s even making some people want kids.

    Three year old boy holding banana
    Absolute cutie (Picture: Instagram/@Alissa360style)

    Alissa wrote on the Instagram video: ‘I taught Ayaan this positive affirmation on his second birthday last year, in hopes that he would one day memorize it, understand it and use it as a motivational tool whenever he needed it.

    ‘Well, he shocked me this morning. Out of nowhere he started repeating it, so I pulled out my phone. He ended (with enthusiasm lol) once we made it to our destination. So proud of the little boy he is growing into.’

    Alissa also used the hashtag #blackboyjoy to share the positive story.

    People have been commenting on and sharing the story in their droves.

    Journalist Yashar Ali – one of Time’s most influential people on the internet – shared the video and wrote: ‘That’s it, I’m having kids’.

    Commenting on his post, one Twitter user said: ‘Not usually one for the cute kid videos (more a cute animal vid guy) but Jesus Christ if this isn’t the cutest video I’m likely to see in a while.’

    Even Meghan McCain, daughter of the late U.S Senator John McCain and the host of The View, got involved. She wrote: ‘This child is everything’.

    What a sweet child. And don’t you forget: You are smart. You are blessed. You can do anything.

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    3-year-old repeats affirmations on the way to school3-year-old repeats affirmations on the way to school

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    Matt bodybuilder comp
    ‘It has given me confidence, belief, strength – both physically and mentally’ (Picture: Matt Elson)

    Matt Elson never imagined that he would be competing on the world stage as an elite bodybuilder, because he has a condition that impairs his strength and coordination.

    The 34-year-old was diagnosed with hemiplegia – a form of cerebral palsy which physically impairs the left side of his body – as a result of complications at birth.

    But over the past few years, Matt has qualified for elite disability competitions including BodyPower, PCA Hampshire and the PCA British Finals – even placing 4th in the PCA World Mixed Disability category in October last year.

    ‘It affects the whole left side of my body, essentially providing a smaller muscle “structure”,’ Matt tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘I used the term “weakness” when I was younger, but this changed as I got older. The structure restricts mobility and strength. It’s presented numerous challenges physically growing up and into adulthood.

    Matt says he was bullied at school, but his incredible support network of family and friends helped him to stay strong.

    ‘I owe a huge amount to my parents for nurturing a positive attitude within me in what would have been a challenging time for them,’ he explains.

    Matt Elson in a bodybuilding competition
    ‘I’m not fearful or embarrassed asking for help anymore’ (Picture: Matt Elson)

    ‘When I was young, they were told I wouldn’t play sports, but they still wanted me to have every opportunity.

    ‘Today I still encounter challenges, but I just adapt; I drive an automatic car with modifications and found a way to change nappies when I became a dad!

    ‘I’ve had this all my life, so you find your way. I’m not fearful or embarrassed asking for help anymore.

    ‘I borrow the mantra of: “A person can achieve anything for which they have unlimited enthusiasm.”’

    This condition has presented various physical challenges throughout Matt’s life, but, gradually Matt built his confidence.

    He developed a successful career in marketing and in his late 20s he got married, started a family, and now has two children. Becoming a dad triggered a new motivation in Matt to keep fit and healthy.

    What is Hemiplegia?

    Hemiplegia (sometimes called hemiparesis) is a condition, caused by a brain injury, that results in a varying degree of weakness, stiffness (spasticity) and lack of control in one side of the body.

    The definition comes from the Greek ‘hemi’ = half.

    Hemiplegia is a relatively rare condition, affecting up to one child in 1,000. About 80% of cases are congenital, and 20% acquired. It’s a lifelong condition, but it doesn’t get worse.

    Looking to push his physical and mental agility, Matt attended his local gym, Anytime Fitness Clifton. And working out quickly became an integral part of his life.

    ‘It has given me confidence, belief, strength – both physically and mentally,’ says Matt.

    ‘I’m able to train my right and left side, but at different paces, through adapting the equipment at the gym. The competition aspect instils discipline, while nutrition provides a healthy foundation for my life.

    ‘Hemiplegia will always be a part of me, but I am determined to adapt and find ways to navigate through hurdles and break down barriers.’

    Matt loves the challenge of bodybuilding and sticking to a rigorous training programme. He has also been heavily inspired by other disabled athletes that he has watched competing.

    ‘The togetherness and friendly competitiveness amongst our class is brilliant and I want to help grow it further,’ says Matt. ‘That is what drives me to compete. I’ve done around 15 shows in three years and it gets bigger and better year after year.

    Matt Elson in a bodybuilding competition
    ‘What I love most is the notion that everyone is in the gym to improve something, so it’s an equal platform’ (Picture: Matt Elson)

    This is Matt’s third year of competing and he has travelled all over the UK and competing international, particularly in the US, is a big personal ambition for him.

    ‘We had our World Championship last year, which was amazing and in May this year I placed 1st at the European Championships in Birmingham.

    ‘I also competed internationally in Ireland last month. My next competition is the British Finals in Hull.’

    But getting to elite level hasn’t been easy for Matt. It has taken an extraordinary amount of hard work and patience.

    ‘It has taken years to find a way to train that works for my body and programme; I love to gain and learn as much as I can.

    ‘I use safety straps on my left side to support my motion, but one of the fun parts is testing (safely) how I can incorporate different methods.

    ‘What I love most is the notion that everyone is in the gym to improve something, so it’s an equal platform.’

    Making training sessions part of his daily routine has developed discipline and a level of confidence that Matt never had before.

    ‘At the beginning of my membership, I didn’t step into the free-weight areas for six months due to a lack of confidence,’ he says.

    ‘However, my early personal training sessions developed this, and I gradually started building the knowledge and patience to try new sets.

    ‘Without their friendly and enthusiastic approach of the trainers and members at Anytime Fitness, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have a lot to thank them for throughout my journey.’

    Matt wants his progression to inspire others. He knows how influential seeing role models who reflect your own life experience can be.

    ‘I want to help, serve and promote disability fitness, through speaking, writing and work,’ says Matt.

    ‘I’ve been so inspired by friends’ journeys and if I can help others on stage or getting into fitness, that makes it all worth it.

    ‘I’m planning on competing with the PCA USA, hopefully in 2020. Disability sport really has shown me that the world is our oyster.’

    MORE: World’s only bodybuilding triplets are competing against one another

    MORE: World Mental Health Day: ‘Nature prescriptions’ can improve people’s mental health

    MORE: Woman raves about £25 colour-in wallpaper that’s perfect for kids


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    MSCHF Jesus sneakers
    Oh lawd he comin (Picture: MSCHF)

    After Crocs collaborating with Balenciaga and The Post Office x Forever 21, we didn’t really think things could get any crazier in terms of fashion link-ups.

    Turns out we were wrong, though, as a sneaker company has now collaborated with… Jesus?

    MSCHF have been divinely inspired to create these customised Nike sneakers featuring a bunch of heavenly (and probably blasphemous) features.

    The Air Max 97s come in white, and carry 60ccs of holy water from the river Jordan in the sole.

    In a nod to the red Papal shoes worn by ultimate hypebeast Benedict XVI, the insoles of the trainers also bear the same fiery colouring.

    Air Max 97 MSCHF x INRI Jesus Shoes (Picture: MSCHF)
    Literally walk on water (Picture: MSCHF)

    Then, just to make them extra holy, MSCHF have added a crucifix onto the front and a Matthew 14:25 inscription.

    If that wasn’t enough to justify the whopping $3,000 (£2,451) price tag, they’re scented with Frankincense and made with Frankincense wool, to represent one of the gifts given to the baby Jesus at his birth.

    The Brooklyn-based brand are calling it the ‘Jesus Shoe’, and i might just be a big hit with Kanye and attendees of his famous Sunday services.

    As it goes, however, it’s sort of an exercise in trolling, as brand bosses have confirmed that it’s a send-up of the other wild collabs that have popped up recently.

    Daniel Greenberg told the New York Post, ‘We thought of that Arizona Iced Tea and Adidas collab, where they were selling shoes that [advertised] a beverage company that sells iced tea at bodegas. So we wanted to make a statement about how absurd collab culture has gotten.’

    And who better than Jesus Christ himself, or as Daniel calls him, ‘one of the most influential figures in history’.

    That whole joke thing didn’t work really, as the RRP was $1,425 (£1,164) in the first place, but because they sold out so quickly, the trainers are now over double the price.

    It’s worth noting that there’s no official link here with Nike, and were bought and customised by MSCHF. They drop new styles biweekly, with 11am releases on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month.

    Let’s see what’s next. Perhaps a Judas Escariot pair?

    MORE: World Mental Health Day: ‘Nature prescriptions’ can improve people’s mental health

    MORE: Woman raves about £25 colour-in wallpaper that’s perfect for kids

     


    Jesus shoes filled with holy waterJesus shoes filled with holy water

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    mental health
    A man was found on the street, sleeping rough, and the police could not make sense of his words (Picture: Siddy)

    It’s 3am and I have a patient. He was found on the street, sleeping rough, and the police could not make sense of his words.

    After a brief trip to the hospital it was decided that he was ‘mentally unwell’ and now he stands in front of me, expressing with passion that unseen enemies wish him harm. It is up to me and the team to decide what to do next.

    So, after hours of research on his past, talking to him and discussing his case with others, we eventually decide to detain him under the Mental Health Act. Understandably, he is furious and we quickly become the enemy, too.

    This is what psychiatry can be, but not what most people understand.

    Sometimes we need to detain those we perceive to be at risk and deprive liberty. Often the patient will understand months later – sometimes never. I will not pretend that this is easy and our decisions often replay in our minds in the early hours.

    Do we make mistakes? Certainly. Do they haunt us? More than you know.

    At a time when people speak frankly and openly online about their experiences of failed treatments, we psychiatrists are given the opportunity to consider where we are going wrong – which I consider a blessing.

    The world of psychiatry is complicated and new research is often casting aspersions on conventional wisdom, meaning we have to be adaptable to changing our long held beliefs.

    But the main challenge is how to eradicate the suffering of the one in four of us who do struggle with mental ill health each year.

    My own entanglements with depression have made me more attuned to how others also facing this illness might be feeling – and I certainly feel it has made me more empathetic.

    But I also understand that for some, this illness feels like something to be ashamed of and can be a barrier to seeking help.

    mental health
    Unlike most of medicine, which has enjoyed centuries of research, psychiatry has been marred by a protracted age of relative ignorance (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    This stigma can kill – plain and simple. I have met many men who deny illness to a level of feeling suicidal and the data shows that this is a real problem.

    Right now rates of self-harm in the UK are the highest in Europe at 400 per 100,000 and suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45.

    I want these people scared of receiving help to know that psychiatrists like me aren’t going to judge them. We’re not here to pathologise who you are as people; we are here to help you when you are feeling unwell.

    When I first meet a patient I have usually read as much about them and their story as possible; their psychiatry history, reviews, comments and plans, diagnoses, medical problems and everything else.

    My first step – and this can be the hardest part – is to help them feel at ease. Coming into hospital can be unpleasant, and if you are under a mental health section, usually confusing of even oppressing.

    Next, we listen, gathering information to help put a plan together. Psychiatry is a complicated field and a diagnosis may take time to find, but we always have your best interests at heart.

    Treatment depends on the condition, social factors, severity of illness and much more. Sometimes it can be as simple as prescribing a medication. It can be as complex as requesting imaging of someone’s brain, or as series as requiring electroconvulsive therapy (which can be life saving).

    The crucial combination is to treat people as we approach illness, by looking at the biological, social and psychological factors. Illness affects all three of these domains, so to help someone, we must address them.

    This could mean signposting therapy, assessing for suitable housing and support, and beginning a medication. Patients lives are not as straight forward as ticking boxes.

    It can be hard today when the conversation around mental health – although much improved – is still not helpful to people in the midst of a personal crisis.

    We still treat the concept of mental health problems as synonymous with moral depravity – with politicians like Donald Trump blaming mental health issues for crimes like mass shootings.

    If we are to ever counter this damaging narrative, it has to start from the top down and everyone must get on board with using language more responsibly.

    So on World Mental Health Day and beyond, I implore you to learn more. To listen, and reconsider what mental health means to you.

    The man we saw on that early morning is still undergoing treatment. It will not be an easy journey for him, but we will help him as best we can.

    In the end, we are all susceptible. However, through understanding, compassion and empathy we can make the world more mental health friendly.

    There needs to be a realisation that all of us can indeed suffer – and we need not do so alone.

    MORE: As a sexual health nurse here's what I want you to know

    MORE: Shopping addiction is a real disorder and shouldn't be trivialised

    MORE: Tories tweet that people with mental health conditions should be ‘neutered’


    SIDDY\'S BIPOLAR PIECESIDDY\'S BIPOLAR PIECE

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    How I Save: Arthur, £314,678 saved
    Expat Arthur has £314,678 saved (Picture: Metro.co.uk)

    The main thing we’ve learned about saving from our weekly series, How I Save, is that if you earn a lot of money you’re more likely to have saved a lot of money.

    Shocking, we know.

    It’s a handy lesson, though, as it makes us all feel a little better about struggling to save up a sizeable cushion. Yes, we may be rubbish at budgeting, but all those expert savers likely have a clear advantage.

    Each week we invite a different person to track their spending and share exactly what’s in their savings account, all to take an honest look at how people use their money.

    This time we’re chatting with Arthur (not his real name), a 40-year-old British expat working as an IT sales manager and living in Dubai.

    How Arthur Saves:

    I earn a total of £259,653 a year. This is made up of a salary of 1,100,000 Dirhams (£243,813 – all examples given here are in today’s exchange rate), including an annual housing allowance of around £44,293, and an annual car allowance of around £11,952. Also included in that the total is £15,840 per year after management fees for a flat I own and rent out in the UK.

    In my savings account right now I have £314,678.78. £232,673.80 of this is in my SIPP pension, and the rest is in two regular online savings accounts, one earning 0.35% interest and the other 0.20%. I spread across two accounts as it’s safer this way.

    I’m also now mortgage-free on my flat, which cost £454,950.

    I’ve saved this much money in three ways. Firstly, I started a pension early aged 18. It was just £50 a month at the time, but it got me into the savings habit. My dad was my financial mentor when I was younger (mostly by telling me to turn the heating down!).

    Secondly, I don’t have children. While I don’t advocate being single forever or banning childbirth just for a bigger bank balance, I do respect the fact this is a significant cost most people my age carry which I’ve avoided in life so far.

    Thirdly and most importantly, I’m very career-focused. I left school at 15 and worked every day since with no gaps. I’ve been in IT sales for 20 years now, which doesn’t need qualifications but pays well.

    But to really accelerate my earnings I took the plunge and moved to Dubai in Jan 2018 and that changed everything. Moving abroad was never on my wish list, I miss the UK, my friends and family every day, but one year here is five years’ salary in the UK due to a number of factors in my favour such as no tax and a good exchange rate due to Brexit (sorry!).

    An illustration of a person's hand, holding some coins
    Alan earns £259,653 a year (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    For me this is a two to three year plan and I’m already looking forward to returning to the UK with an excellent savings pot. Without moving to Dubai and generally climbing the corporate greasy pole I would never have savings like this.

    Being nice to people in the office, saying yes to all the extra workload, and never turning down an opportunity was the best savings plan I could have – much better than only buying four beers instead of five, or sharing a taxi. They say being a ‘yes’ man never pays, but it worked for me!

    I’m currently saving for a career change. I love the idea of quitting the rat race and doing a low-pressure job in about five years. Maybe I can find a career I love which might require me to train full time for a while and my savings can fund this.

    Ultimately I’m saving to be comfortable later in life, and to have a family with good finances behind me.

    The main way I save is by moving most of my salary to my savings account on payday, I don’t let it stay in my current account for any more than 24 hours. I’ve worked out the minimum I can happily live on in Dubai (around £1,300 a month) and move the rest out, a monthly ritual that never gets missed. However it means that I drain my current account so low on payday that for the rest of the month I’m living to a strict daily budget with no wiggle room.

    I can’t afford to go out every weekend, I shop in the cheap supermarkets, I park for free and walk a bit further in 40 degrees heat, I haven’t bought any clothes in almost a year, I switch off electrics I don’t use, I ration water, I rent a car as its cheaper than buying, I live in a very modest one bed flat that’s a bit shabby, I didn’t even bother buying curtains for the lounge, I often buy McDonald’s at lunch as its more delicious, sorry, I mean it’s cheap, and I agonise over any presents for myself. For example I picked up an item three times today before deciding not to buy it, and it was only a pack of Jaffa Cakes.

    I just hope when I get older at some point I learn to enjoy my money a bit more, or else my entire career-long experiment will be a complete waste of time. Some people may think Dubai is not the place to be disciplined with money, but I’m here to say they are wrong. I spend less here than I did in the UK and I reckon I could trim it down even further. There are so many expats in Dubai I know who have been here five years or more and have no money left at all, or are in debt when on good tax-free salaries – I just don’t get it.

    I struggle with saving, because the money I have saved is not particularly well managed. I’m earning low interest, and am too nervous to plough the cash savings into an investment fund in case it loses value. I’ve haven’t put any money in to my pension for almost two years since moving to Dubai, which is also a bit silly, but my focus was initially paying off the mortgage.

    I do have big occasional splurges though, for example when I come back to the UK to visit three times a year, I take my nieces and nephews on a huge shopping spree, and I like travelling too – for example I did Japan earlier this year and stopped counting what I was spending. A few weeks ago I also bought some Jaffa Cakes.

    How Arthur spends:

    Yearly expenses: 

    Apartment rent in Dubai is paid annually, bi-annually or if you’re lucky, quarterly. Rent prices are adjusted accordingly. I pay bi-annual and take the money from my housing allowance which all gets paid to me on 1 January.

    The rent is £7,198 twice a year. Incredibly the excess, around £29,600 – is mine, and I send it straight back to savings. I could blow the lot and rent a stupidly big villa and have a live-in maid like every other expat seems to do here, but what’s the point?

    Gym membership is paid annually and costs £913 a year. I didn’t upgrade to ‘platinum’ because all I’d get for £120 a year extra would be a towel and use of the pool. I can’t swim, and I can bring my own towel! Another small savings victory.

    Monthly expenses:

    • £533.12 car rental for an Audi A3, includes insurance and servicing.
    • £93.82 Water / Electricity (called DEWA)
    • £12 subscription for internet VPN
    • £31 for haircut including £5 tip
    • £39.87 petrol (I fill up twice a month and petrol is cheap)
    • £101 TV / internet (it’s expensive here – this is the basic package).
    • Car washing – £14 (£7 twice a month)

    A week of spending:

    Monday: I drove to the mall 10 minutes away at lunch and parked in the free car park. Lunch was a salad from the Waitrose deli counter and a banana fruit smoothie, it cost £5.18.

    I paid £93.82 for my monthly water / electricity bill.

    I paid a colleague £44.28 for a birthday cake and cookies for an office celebration as his wife makes them at home.

    Finally I bought a 71p packet of sweet chilli Doritos. Dinner was from the freezer so no cost there.

    Tuesday: I bought a turkey and coleslaw sandwich and banana smoothie from Waitrose for £5.26. For dinner I bought a pizza and two pints of milk from my local supermarket for £5.15.

    Wednesday: £12 was taken for my monthly internet VPN subscription.

    Lunch was a tuna and cheese sandwich and bottle of lemon and lime water which cost £8.20

    After work I went to Waitrose and bought cheese, mince, rice and chicken for £13.75

    Thursday: Lunch was a six nugget meal from McDonalds for £4.23

    Friday: I had a Whopper meal for £5.97.

    I bought a throw for the lounge, this was £13.06

    I bought some dishwasher tablets and floor cleaner from Spinney’s supermarket, this was £9.96

    Finally I got the car washed and pushed the boat out and upgraded to ‘xtreme’ – this was £11.62. What a con though, I realised afterwards that a clean car is a clean car, how can paying less make your car less clean, so next time I’ll pay less and downgrade to ‘tri-foam’.

    Saturday: I bought my dad an exercise band as a present, this was £4.41 Some aromatherapy oils were bought at £5.52

    Lunch was a foodcourt-type Chinese for £9.50.

    Two novelty pens and a small toy figure as presents for my niece were £16.78.

    A pack of 20 ibuprofen from the pharmacy was £3.64

    Finally my main weekly food shop in a supermarket called Spinney’s. Some things are very expensive here – included in my trolley was a box of blueberry wheat breakfast cereal which alone was £6.62, and understandably in a Muslim country pork is very expensive – two belly slices were £8.83. Total bill was £59.01

    Sunday: I had breakfast at home, so no money spent there. Lunch was a Starbucks sandwich and orange juice which cost £8.77

    Later in the day I bought a millionaire shortbread from Costa to prepare me for the gym – this was £3.48

    Total for the week: £344.30

    How Arthur could save:

    We spoke to the experts over at money tracking app Cleo to find out how Arthur can save better (and what we can learn from his spending).

    Note: the advice featured is specific to one individual and doesn’t constitute financial advice, especially for a London budget. 

    Wow. The desert might be dry but your bank balance certainly isn’t.

    We’re really not convinced you need any advice. Maybe quit that job sooner rather than later, and write a book about your financial philosophy?

    Main vice:

    Terrifying levels of spending self-control? In all seriousness, we’re scraping the barrel here!

    It sounds like this career change is really playing on your mind, but we’re struggling to see how your current spending is helping you choose which direction to go in. Spending time and money on activities that might help you discover your new passion feels like a good call. We’ve heard there’s a snow centre out there in Dubai.

    Where you’re going right:

    You think carefully about the value of any potential purchase that comes your way, and that’s brilliant.

    For anyone reading: picking up an item and putting it down again three times before deciding whether to buy it is somewhat extreme. However, walking away from a potential purchase and giving yourself space to mull it over before you commit can reduce mindless spending.

    We also love how thoughtful you are with the gifts you buy for your family and colleagues – this feels like money well spent. Keep it up!

    Ending quip

    You’ve got your sights set on that career change a few years down the line, but there really is no time like the present. On that note, maybe start buying yourself some presents too?

    How I Save is a weekly series about how people spend and save, out every Thursday. If you’d like to anonymously share how you spend and save – and get some expert advice on how to sort out your finances – get in touch by emailing ellen.scott@metro.co.uk.

    MORE: How I Save: The 26-year-old project manager earning £50,000 a year with £6,000 saved after buying a house

    MORE: How I Save: The 27-year-old copywriter with £500 saved after paying a deposit on a home

    MORE: How I Save: The 58-year-old cab driver earning around £27,000 a year with £20,200 saved


    How I Save: AlanHow I Save: Alan

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    80-year-old Indian woman painting
    Hard at work (Picture: ANI)

    An 80-year-old tribal Indian woman’s talented works of art are being sent to an Italian exhibition.

    Jodhaiya Bai Baiga from Madhya Pradesh, a large state in Central India, had to find a way to earn money after her husband died 40 years ago.

    At the time there weren’t many options for women to work. So she turned to a hobby which gave her joy – painting.

    The Lorha village resident wasn’t just being artistic for fun. She learned how to paint under the tutelage of art teacher Ashish Swami so she could sell her works and survive.

    Now, after four decades, her stunning works are being recognised.

    An Italian exhibition will display her work and Jodhaiya doesn’t just plan to stop there.

    She hopes to reach more milestones and inspire her local villagers to get more involved in arts and education.

    Woman's paintings
    These works will be displayed at an exhibition in Italy (Picture: ANI)

    ‘I paint all kind of animals and whatever I see around,’ Jodhaiya told Indian news platform ANI.

    ‘I have visited several parts of India to paint. Nowadays, I don’t do anything else than painting. I started this when I lost my partner 40 years ago. I had to do something for survival and to take care of my family.’

    She continued: ‘I’m feeling glad that my painting is being recognised at the International platform.’

    Her teacher Ashish Swami added: ‘Leaving her pain and sorrow behind she has always been focused. Her painting is being shown in Italy and I’m really happy for her, but it seems that she has more to achieve.

    ‘It is a proud moment for the community as they have not had the proper education.

    ‘This will motivate other community people to come forward and get indulge in these kinds of activities.’

    People on social media have also been commending Jodhaiya for her hard work, saying: ‘Unbelievable talent, I salute you’

    Another said it was genius.

    MORE: Indian couple have the most magical Bollywood wedding at Disneyland Paris

    MORE: Indian-Pakistani lesbian couple get married – with one bride wearing a sari and the other a sherwani

    MORE: Hindu-Muslim lesbian couple praised for stunning pics that ‘brought India and Pakistan together’


    80-year-old Indian woman's paintings sold in Italy80-year-old Indian woman's paintings sold in Italy

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    chef Jamie Oliver in a kitchen
    Jamie Oliver is back on our TV screens this morning (Picture: Ian West/PA Wire)

    Chef Jamie Oliver has a career spanning over two decades that has seen the passionate 44-year-old publish cookbooks, launch (and sadly close) a chain of restaurants and appear on numerous TV programs.

    His latest venture, filming a new series of his cooking show with chef Jimmy Doherty, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, will air on TV next year and feature another interesting array of celebrity guests cooking up a storm with the childhood friends-turned-pro-chefs.

    Previous celebrity guests on the program include Ellie Goulding, Orlando Bloom, Goldie Hawn and Usain Bolt, as well as Lindsay Lohan and the new series will feature none other than legendary presenting duo Ant and Dec.

    Jamie Oliver is joining Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on This Morning today to delight their senses, but how many Michelin stars does the dad-of-five, formally known as The Naked Chef, have to his name, and are any of his restaurants still open?

    How many Michelin stars does Jamie Oliver have?

    Jamie Oliver, who had a net worth valued at around £240 million in 2015 according to The Telegraph, has a number of awards to his name, including a couple of BAFTAs and an Emmy award for his TV show, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

    However, the celebrity chef is yet to claim a Michelin star to his name.

    Jamie Oliver in the kitchen of a Jamie's Italian restaurant
    Jamie Oliver visits Jamie’s Italian Canada at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 2016 (Picture: GP Images/WireImage)

    Which of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants are still open?

    In August 2019, the board of Jamie’s Italian Limited appointed Will Wright and Mark Orton of KPMG to put its UK-based restaurant business into administration.

    The news was a devastating blow to Jamie who described the closure of his restaurant empire as: ‘very, very painful’ and even tried to save the ailing restaurant chain from collapse with £13 million of his own money in 2017.

    Chef Jamie Oliver outside his Jamie's Italian restaurant chain
    Jamie is shifting his focus into healthy living campaigning after his restaurant collapse (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

    Earlier this year, all 22 of the Jamie’s Italian restaurants throughout the UK, his Steakhouse Barbecoa and his restaurant Fifteen, closed.

    Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen Cornwall was unaffected by the administration of Jamie’s Italian Limited and remains open.

    MORE: Ant and Dec join Jamie Oliver to film new cooking show

    MORE: Inside Jamie Oliver’s crumbling empire after star tried to save it with £13 million of his own money


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    Jessie Hall
    ‘I tell every child that I’ve ever looked after that I will always be there for them’ (Picture: Five Rivers)

    A foster carer from Islington is calling for cultural identity to be celebrated for children in care, who are living away from their birth parents and family.

    Jessie Hall, who has been fostering for more 15 years and looked after 23 children, says it’s vital to nurture the culture of her foster children and help them to appreciate their cultural background.

    ‘When a new child comes to stay with me, I often go to my local bookshop and read up on where they’re from and learn about their cultural background,’ says Jessie.

    ‘I take time to learn about their heritage, their community, the food they eat, and I teach myself to make meals for them, so they feel in touch with their roots.

    ‘It’s important for me to understand where the foster children I look after have come from, so that I can encourage them to celebrate their identity and make sure their culture features prominently.’

    As well as celebrating the culture of her foster children, Jessie also takes time to share her own Jamaican heritage with them, especially through food.

    Jessie prepares traditional dishes like her West Indian fried red mullet, which she always cooks at Easter.

    She is currently foster parent to 22-year-old Jamal* and 16-year-old Isaac* who have been with her on long-term placements for 15 and 11 years respectively.

    It’s a rewarding, but tough job and Jessie has even faced prejudice from some of the young people she has looked after.

    ‘I cared for a young boy who came to me when he was seven,’ says Jessie. ‘He told me that his grandfather had told him that as a family, they don’t like black people.

    ‘I was shocked to hear that from such a young child, but when I explained to him that I was black, he seemed surprised as he had no idea what this meant, it was just something he’d heard from his family.

    ‘Although sometimes young children are told to think these things, I have found that they are non-judgemental, and their prejudices usually come from other people.

    ‘That’s why I always try to encourage the children I care for to celebrate difference, as we are all different and unique.’

    Jessie Hall
    ‘When a new child comes to stay with me, I often go to my local bookshop and read up on where they’re from and learn about their cultural background’ (Picture: Five Rivers)

    Jessie always wanted to be a foster parent. She started working in a children’s home in Hackney when she was just 18 and she has worked as a childminder and youth worker, as well as running her own youth club in Islington with her sister for ten years.

    Jessie finally had the opportunity to become a foster carer for the first time when she was 45.

    Though she had thought she was too old to foster, Jessie found Five Rivers Child Care, an independent fostering agency and social enterprise, and she began providing emergency and respite care to vulnerable young people.

    In Greater London, there are currently 4,090 children in foster care and 900 foster carers are needed across the region to meet demand and help support vulnerable children and young adults.

    ‘There are a lot of barriers that hold people back from fostering, but whatever background you’re from, everybody has love in their hearts to give to a young person in need,’ says Jessie.

    ‘I thought I would be considered too old to foster, but I couldn’t have lived with myself if I didn’t apply and I’m so glad I did.

    ‘It is such a privilege to share someone’s life and to watch them grow up. It has been a journey for me and to be supporting so many children is such a wonderful feeling.

    ‘I tell every child that I’ve ever looked after that I will always be there for them.’

    People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21.

    This includes single people, co-habiting couples, same-sex couples and people living in rented accommodation. The only requirement is a spare room for each foster child.

    * Names have been changed to protect the identities of the children in care.

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘Don’t tell me to pick a side – I am mixed-race, so I am both’

    MORE: People are using #ShareBlackStories to celebrate Black History Month on Instagram

    MORE: Man with cerebral palsy becomes elite bodybuilder to prove ‘anything is possible’


    Jessie Hall has cared for 23 children over the last fifteen years-43afJessie Hall has cared for 23 children over the last fifteen years-43af

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