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My brother seemed to have everything – yet he killed himself last summer

Katie Lightfoot with her brother Sam who took his life last summer (Picture: Katie Lightfoot) 
Katie Lightfoot with her brother Sam who took his life last summer (Picture: Katie Lightfoot)

I lost my brother Sam last summer to suicide and as I write this, I still find myself numb to my core and in total disbelief.

I know everyone who knew him also feels this way. Because he was one of the happiest, most fun-loving people we knew, who lived a dozen lives in his short life.

He was just 33 when he died and to the outside world, he had it all: a successful business, his own home, good looks, popularity, great friends and a loving family.

Sam was the baby of our family. Together with my older brother, William, we grew up on Mersea Island – just off the North Essex coast. Even though William and I were older, we were best known as ‘Sam’s sister’ or ‘Sam’s brother’, because he was the star of our family and loved by so many.

He could engage with anyone and made an instant impact. Nobody we knew struck so fine a balance between the fun and the seriousness of life. Sam was a brilliant joker, entrepreneur, brother, son, uncle, and friend.

Sam (left), Katie (centre) and William (right) Lightfoot, with their mother
Sam (left), Katie (centre) and William (right) Lightfoot, with their mother

As a baby, he was always very determined, a quality he never lost. And he was physically strong. He could often pick things up double his body weight. He had the brightest of blue eyes. Aquamarine in colour, which he inherited from our mother. Those eyes, teamed with his long lashes and blonde curly locks as a toddler, meant he was often mistaken for a little girl.

As an adult, Sam was incredibly sociable. He had a wicked sense of humour. On a good day, no one was funnier. On a bad day, nobody was more deliberately or delightfully infuriating. He was known for his world-class pranks, like the time he once squeezed a combine harvester on to our drive just to watch the horror on our mum’s face.

He was a man for a little boy to look up to. He studied at university and had a degree in building. In his twenties, after two years of travelling, he set up his own successful property service business. And he was the boy with all the toys – quad bikes, motorbikes, diggers, go karts, a collection of motor and sailing boats, boards, cars, trucks, DJ decks – he had more toys than my three-year-old, Henry, who affectionately called him ‘Uncle Man’.

Sam Lightfoot, AKA 'Uncle Man', on one of his many toys
Sam Lightfoot, AKA ‘Uncle Man’, on one of his many toys

Last summer, I was driving back from my elder brother’s wedding when my parents phoned. They told me to come over to them immediately.

I knew by my father’s tone it was serious. Sam had left a day earlier than the rest of us to get back and organise his busy working week, which he did indeed do on his return. I thought Sam had been injured or been in a car accident. When I arrived at our family home and there was no sign of a police car or ambulance, I was so relieved.

I walked out onto the drive to meet my parents. They held me and told me they were so desperately sorry and they didn’t want to have to ever say these words…. I looked at them and said ‘No, please not Sam.’ I began to scream hysterically.

It was then that they told me he had taken his own life.

Sam Lightfoot, just a year before he took his life, supporting his friend in a triathlon
Sam Lightfoot, just a year before he took his life, supporting his friend in a triathlon

Something no parent should ever have to endure.

I heard what they were saying but I just couldn’t truly absorb it. I felt like I was in a washing machine. The shock, the disbelief.

From that moment sipping water felt wrong, breathing felt wrong. Living without my gorgeous little brother felt wrong.

Just 36 hours earlier he was lifting my son up and helping me keep him entertained on the lawn at our brother’s wedding. Now I found myself wailing and kneeling on my parents’ drive, my stomach pulled out, my heart stabbed and all life drained from me.

He was gone forever.

The people I love most in the world stand broken before me. My loving supportive parents, they didn’t deserve this. My older brother and his beautiful wife don’t. We’ll never be the same again. There’ll always be an empty chair, an empty place. The loudest voice in the room and the light in our family is now always missing. That void will never be filled.

Every day that passes you question that day, that night, the week before.

You scroll endlessly through your messages, trying to piece things together. What you would do to change those last 24 hours. To save him. To bring Sam back.

Mental health problems can become an invisible killer. Self-harm is killing more men in their mid 30s to late 40s than anything else. Suicide is so cruel. It harms not just the life lost but all those who loved that life.

Losing Sam has affected hundreds of people. More than 500 people came to his funeral. The stories shared about Sam’s pranks were genius, the entertainment he provided, the love, his presence could still light up any room.

It was at Sam’s funeral, via a friend, that I first heard of Dan Baldwin and his swallow print ‘Love and Light’ in aid of men’s mental health for CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). As soon as I looked at his art, I wanted to work with him.

Dan had lost close friends the way I had lost Sam and the swallow in his art has come to represent hope as well as souls gone to heaven. With my fashion business Mercy Delta, we created a unisex fashion collection called #LifeAndSoul after the people we have loved and lost, featuring Dan’s swallow to help raise funds and awareness for CALM, in the hope of perhaps helping to save another person’s life. It felt like the right thing to do.

We want to help raise awareness and get men talking, removing the stigma attached to mental health by identifying and removing stereotypes of mental health and depression. Sometimes the person wearing the largest smile in a room might be the person suffering the most.

What we really want to say through #LifeAndSoul is: no one is immune.

Anyone can suffer from mental health from any background. It can evolve from a combination of stress, lack of sleep, expectations or pressure and, in a matter of days or weeks, that person you love – that everyone loves – may find themselves in a dark place, unable to connect to you.

If you aren’t aware of the key signs, and if men like Sam who feel they have to be the life and soul don’t talk and open up, I’m afraid my story will be told by another sister.

It can be excuses that don’t add up, withdrawing from social events, insomnia, weight loss, a sudden change in appearance.

It can happen in a matter of days or weeks, but if people are aware and can look out for these things we can help prevent the biggest killer in men between the ages of 35 and 48 years-old and help to save lives like Sam’s.

The ripple effects of losing that infectious, lovable soul who has left the world so desperately and needlessly leaves a sea of pain for all those he loved forever.

Let’s change this.

#LifeAndSoul shirts retail at £190 and 20% of every sale will go to CALM. You can buy the shirts from the Mercy Delta site here.

NHS Warning Signs For Suicide

A person may also be at risk of attempting suicide if they:

• complain of feelings of hopelessness, saying things such as, “What’s the point of even trying? I know things are never going to get better”

• have episodes of sudden rage and anger

• act recklessly and engage in risky activities with an apparent lack of concern about the consequences

• talk about feeling trapped, such as saying they cannot see any way out of their current situation

• start to abuse drugs or alcohol, or use more than they usually do

• become increasingly withdrawn from friends, family and society in general

• appear anxious and agitated

• are unable to sleep or sleep all the time

• have sudden mood swings – a sudden lift in mood after a period of depression could indicate they have made the decision to attempt suicide

• talk and act in a way that suggests their life has no sense of purpose

• lose interest in their appearance, such as dressing badly, no longer wearing make-up or not   washing regularly

• put their affairs in order


Need support?

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.

Shame, insecurity and stress poos: the ‘glamorous’ world of showbiz isn’t what you think

A messy and un-glamorous theatre dressing room
Behind the curtain there is a secret world of pre-show rituals, crippling insecurities and mounting debt (Photo: View Pictures/UIG via Getty Images)

The life of an actor is far from glamorous.

Behind the curtain there is a secret world of pre-show rituals, crippling insecurities and mounting debt that would make any rational human being want to travel back in time and take the sage advice of their school careers adviser to follow a more ‘sensible’ path.

The world of entertainment is filled with paradox. It is occupied by the most seemingly confident, extroverted people who beneath the surface are drowning in self-doubt, anxiety and a need for acceptance at levels impossible to attain.

To look at them, you would never know it. It is their job to play a character, after all. Arguably the most difficult role for an actor to play, is themselves.

Stage fright is a bitch. When I did my first theatre production aged 17, I got so overwhelmed with anxiety I vomited on a nightly basis in the backstage loo.

Holding my hair and stroking my back, the stage manager reassured me that apparently Judi Dench did the same before each performance and I felt comforted. Talent aside, at least I had one thing in common with her Highness Dame Judi.

Pre-show poos are a thing, too. In any theatre production there’s usually an un-discussed yet mutually agreed designated poo-toilet for nervous bowels. Affectionately code-named ‘PSP’s (industry speak), I guess it’s the body’s way of preparing you for battle come curtain-up.

An actor’s warm-up ritual is not to be messed with, and I don’t just mean having a stretch or warming up the voice. For some actors it’s as incongruous as a cigarette on the fire escape or a borderline obsessive make-up routine. For others, their routine is having strictly no routine at all.

Actress Nicola Thorp poses at the Pride Of Manchester awards
When I did my first theatre production aged 17, I got so overwhelmed with anxiety I vomited on a nightly basis (Photo: Carla Speight/Getty Images)

I have my own brief habitual ritual I have to do before each take on screen or scene on stage. I wish it was edgy. I wish it was intellectual. I wish it made sense (it doesn’t). But if I don’t do it I fear that I will fall over, forget my lines and lose my job in one fell swoop.

I undo a wedgie. Even if I don’t have one. The sound of my knicker elastic snapping against my butt has the Pavlovian effect of settling my nerves and giving me focus. Told you it was odd.

Some actors get into character by delving deep into their own lived experiences and engaging in emotional recall.

That can be pretty exhausting eight shows a week. I rely on a YouTube playlist of tear-porn to get me in the mood – pet dogs waiting loyally by their recently deceased owner’s grave, that sort of thing. I suppose technically it’s cheating but at least it protects what little is left of my sanity.

The rush of adrenaline before curtain call is addictive. As the run of a show continues, and the nerves begin to settle, I have often found myself actually longing for that first-night anxiety.

I’m sure I’m not the only actor who finds themselves leaving it a little later each night to get into costume, chasing the hit of the rush (and p*ssing off the stage manager in the process).

The sound of my knicker elastic snapping against my butt has the Pavlovian effect of settling my nerves and giving me focus.

So why do we do it to ourselves? I guess it’s the same reason people jump out of planes. The bigger the risk, the bigger the rush and the better the pay-off if it all goes to plan.

Criticism is expected in performing arts. You can’t please everyone, and thanks to Twitter we now get notified directly when you don’t. But by far the biggest critic is the one in your head.

For some, it can be a motivational driving force. For others it can prove devastatingly self-destructive. I still struggle to find a balance between the two.

At the end of each theatre show, film or TV job comes the dreaded ‘rest period’. One night you’re serving Lady Macbeth’s darkest side to a captivated audience, the next night you’re serving a burger with a side of fries to a disenchanted customer.

Come 7.25pm, your body feels weird. Unexplained anxiety washes over you and you get overwhelmed with a feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Then you remember it’s because your body is still programmed to get into fight mode.

There is a lot of shame associated with actors working ‘normal’ jobs to pay the bills, as if it signifies some sort of failure.

Unless you’ve hit the big time, there are very few acting jobs that pay well enough to cover long periods of unemployment and the only ones who get it away with it are those with outside financial support.

Sadly, this is one of the reasons why working-class actors are underrepresented on our stages and screens. They simply cannot afford to stay in the industry, especially if they want to start a family.

Working class performers need to be nurtured and supported. They have the most interesting stories to tell. Pitying those who take on ‘in-between’ jobs doesn’t help. There is no shame in working a job you hate in order to pursue a career you love.

There’s no business like show business, but not everything about it is appealing. The strains on one’s mental health and finances are evident, but show people continue to smile when they are low.

Despite the nerves, the vomit and the smell coming from the backstage loo, the show must go on.

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Charlotte Tilbury launching second Hot Lips collection, here’s everything you need to know

Charlotte Tilbury launching second Hot Lips collection, here's everything you need to know
(Picture: Charlotte Tilbury/ Metro)

Legendary UK makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury is set to release her second Hot Lips Collection this Summer.

And we’re ready to welcome the new lipsticks into our beauty bags with open arms.

The original Hot Lips collection launched back in 2016 and features 12 celebrity-inspired luxury lipsticks, including Kim Kardashian West, Emily Ratajkowski, and Miranda Kerr.

Similarly the new Hot Lips 2 collection – that’s been two years in the making – boasts 11 all-new hues inspired by ’11 iconic, world-changing people… rule breakers, record makers and history shakers’, but the shades and names are still under-wraps.

Could this collection be inspired by women and men, too?


But there’s more to the newest launch than just lipstick, as Charlotte has pledged a whopping £1 million from the sales of this year’s edition to the Women for Women International charity.

Charlotte said on Instagram: ‘I am so honoured to be pledging £1 million to the amazing Women for Women International!

‘I will be pledging a MAGICAL £1 MILLION to Women for Women International, to support them in helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives and reach even more women and change even more lives around the world.

‘A lipstick can change a life because if you can change how a woman feels, you can change a community, and you change the world!’

Charlotte has already donated and raised over £190,526 ($248,000) funding for the charity and said how she’s seen ‘the most incredible, heart-warming change from our work with the charity so far.’

The new initiative is one of the largest corporate donations that Women for Women International has received, which will help women living in some of the world’s most dangerous places choose their own futures.


Brita Fernandez Schmidt, Senior Vice President for Global Partnerships, Women for Women International found it hard to express just how important this pledge is for the women’s charity: ‘It’s almost indescribable! To know that Charlotte believes in our work and is ready to commit the full force of her business to bringing about change for women in some of the world’s most dangerous places is truly inspirational.’

‘This generosity doesn’t just have an impact on women who take part in our programme – the families and communities of the women we serve will also feel the ripple effects of change.’

‘With every woman that graduates from our training programme, Charlotte Tilbury is helping to change the world.’

Here at Metro.co.uk we’re looking forward to seeing whose ‘bottled DNA’ will arrive in a classic Charlotte Tilbury bullet. But sadly you’ll have to wait until June to find out which celebrities and ‘rule breakers’ served as inspiration.

The new Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Collection will be available from 20 June online at charlottetilbury.com priced at £24. And you can sign up to the waitlist here

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Expert tips for stress-free weaning

little girl eating a biscuit in a highchair
You can get through the weaning process without running yourself ragged (Picture: Getty)

Okay, so you’ve done the tricky bit.

You’ve pushed out a baby, kept them alive and well, and endured sore nipples from breastfeeding.

We’re sorry to say it doesn’t get much easier from here.

After breastfeeding comes weaning, the time when you gradually take a baby off breastmilk and get them eating solid food.

As with potty-training and teaching toddlers to speak, the process can be long and frustrating. It’s easy to let stress take over and run new mums absolutely ragged.

It’s not particularly realistic to expect a dreamy, problem-free weaning experience, but what we can do is reduce the stress involved as much as possible.

We spoke to Alice Fotheringham, an infant nutrition specialist and the co-founder of baby food brand Piccolo, who shared her advice for making sure weaning doesn’t completely wear you out.

Listen to your baby

You don’t need to panic too much if your baby isn’t eating at their strictly designated meal times, or won’t finish their plate. Every baby is different and they won’t let themselves starve. Tune into their behaviour and emotions and go from there.

‘It may seem strange, but your baby is actually a smarter eater than the average adult – they’re great at self-regulating their appetite, and actually know that it’s time to stop eating once you’re full,’ says Alice.

‘Many parents are worried that they’re not feeding their baby the right way, concerned that they’re either over or underfeeding their little one.

‘There is no need to stress about this – your baby will let you know once he or she is full, and will definitely let you know if they are hungry!’

Remember to try a mix of everything

Now’s the fun bit, before kids get stuck in their ways and become picky eaters.

The best way to ensure a balanced diet is to give babies a mix of a little of everything, with plenty of nutritious vegtables, fruits, grains, and proteins.

baby eating a meal with beagle sat beside him
There’s no one wean fits all solution (Picture: Getty)

Don’t be afraid to try strong flavours

Baby food has a rep for being bland, as often parents think their kids won’t be able to handle anything intense.

It can be enjoyable to try giving your baby more bold flavours. If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it, and then you can try something else.

‘Slowly introducing various herbs and spices into your babies diet is actually beneficial in developing a more sophisticated taste palate, helping your baby be a much less fussy eater later on in life,’ says Alice. ‘Don’t be discouraged if your baby isn’t receptive to a new taste at first – it can take up to 12 tries to get your baby accustomed to a new flavour.’

Enjoy meals together

Try not to make your baby’s meal their own stressful experience, instead incorporating their meals into your own sit-down eating times.

Look at the weaning process as a way to still spend quality time together after the closeness of breastfeeding comes to an end.

Alice says: ‘Mealtimes are a great way to bond as a family, no matter how and when you may eat – so whether its an on-the-go snack or a sit down meals, the important thing is that you make time to share healthy, nutritious meals together.

‘Babies are social beings, and making a small occasion out of a meal helps to make the weaning process that much more integrated into their overall growth and development.’

Don’t worry about what you ‘should’ be doing

You don’t need to follow some other mum’s complicated guide or stick to a regimented plan with deadlines for each step of the process.

Take as long as you need and do it your way.

Alice says: ‘Throw the weaning rulebook out the window. There’s no one size fits all baby or family. Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break, and make time for what matters.

Remember weaning isn’t the most important thing in life

As with most baby-related things, weaning will be a struggle… but it will turn out okay.

Try to relax and enjoy it instead of dreading every moment, and make sure to spend time with your new baby doing things unrelated to their diet.

‘It can be easy to get caught up in all the stress of what you can and can’t feed your baby, so you could forget to take a step back and enjoy spending time together getting out and about,’ says Alice.

‘Remember to enjoy yourselves and take the opportunity for a mini adventure – from a baby swim to walks in the park to soft play – wherever you can.

‘These formative years are all about having the best adventures with your family – showing your little one what the world is like, and building up experiences you’ll cherish for life.’

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A toddler can’t move half of her face after surgery to remove huge tumour

Fiona before and after the operation
Fionah is unable to move half of her face (Picture: SWNS)

A toddler is unable to move the right side of her face following surgery to remove a huge tumour, which doctors first believed was an ear infection.

Fionah Raymond, one, was just seven months old when she was diagnosed with myoepithelial carcinoma, a rare malignant tumour originating in the salivary gland.

The baby’s frightening diagnosis came four months after her ear began to lightly bleed and produce discharge, which doctors attributed to a typical ear infection.

But Fionah’s symptoms continued to worsen until an MRI revealed a mass below her inner ear in September 2017.

In an operation to remove the mass that October, surgeons discovered the tumour had latched itself onto the baby’s jaw and skull bones and wrapped around her carotid artery.

A biopsy revealed that Fionah’s tumor was cancerous and her parents Katherine and Zak Raymond were heartbroken when doctors said she might not see her first birthday.

Katherine, 28, said: ‘Roller coaster is the best way to describe it.

‘The lead surgeon said they went into surgery thinking the mass was benign but knew instantly that it was cancer by the way it had attached to the surrounding tissue.

Fionah on the day that she bagan chemotherapy.
Fionah had a huge tumour below her inner ear (Picture: Katherine Raymond / SWNS)

‘They removed 80% of the tumour but it had grown so much, down her neck and around her carotid artery. They took as much as they could.

‘They did another biopsy then and determined it was myoepithelial carcinoma, an extremely rare cancer that’s very serious. It’s extremely uncommon in children.

‘When we were told about Fionah’s condition, doctors said it was very rare and she would be facing an uphill battle.

‘They told us she would need chemo, radiation and more surgery. They told us she might not live to see her first birthday which devastated us.

‘Essentially we were already mourning our daughter while she was still alive. My husband and I had to have the most difficult conversation of our lives.

‘We asked ourselves if we even wanted to put our baby through the pain of treatment if her chances were so low.’

Katherine and warehouse worker Zak, 30, placed their trust in Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago where doctors devised an individualised treatment protocol for Fionah.

Fionah in Spring 2018
She is now cancer-free, but her parents stil worry (Picture: Katherine Raymond / SWNS)

The baby, from Carpentersville, Illinois, USA, underwent four rounds of chemotherapy and 40 rounds of targeted radiation to help shrink her tumour.

In surgery to remove the tumor in July 2017, Fionah’s doctors were forced to take out parts of her jaw and skull into which it had grown.

Unfortunately, the baby’s facial nerve was severed in the surgery leaving her permanently unable to move the right side of her face.

Katherine said: ‘It was difficult to determine a treatment plan because most people who have this cancer are geriatric and Fionah was just a baby.

‘It is horrible to watch your baby go through chemo. Nothing prepares you for that. The radiation therapy leaves them with burns. She cried all the time. It was so hard on her.

‘In surgery that July, they managed to remove most of the tumor and the treatment took care of the remaining cells.

‘Unfortunately, they had to take segments of her jaw and skull and they damaged a nerve in her face that can never be repaired.

‘She can’t really feel anything on that side. It affects her speech, it affects her eating.

‘Her right eye doesn’t close. I have to shut it when she’s asleep.’

Fionah underwent her last radiation treatment in November 2018 and is officially cancer free but her parents worry that the tumor may return.

Katherine said: ‘It is something that could come back and that’s hard. It’s something I worry about.

‘But we also feel blessed. Fionah is sassy and she knows what she wants. She is really loving and loves her teddy bears. She is a lot of fun to be around.’

Katherine, who is also mum to Caiden, three, and stepmom to Lilly, eight, said she is excited to celebrate Fionah’s second birthday this month.

Katherine and Zak said they feel ‘blessed’ to celebrate their daughter’s milestone, which they feared she’d never reach.

She added: ‘We’re celebrating her second birthday next week and it is incredible.

‘We were told she might not be here to see her first birthday and to be able to celebrate her second makes us feel truly blessed.’

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This giant Jaffa Cake dessert looks so good – and it’s only £1.50

This giant Jaffa Cake looks so good
And it’s a total bargain (Picture: Tesco)

Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? Despite their seemingly self-explanatory name, Jaffa Cakes always cause some confusion – and this latest dessert isn’t any less baffling.

But one thing we do know for sure is that it looks delicious.

This giant Jaffa Cake dessert is a stacked pile of frozen goodness, and fans of the classic chocolate orange snack are sure to go wild for it.

Available in Tesco, the frozen pudding serves six people and costs just £1.50 – what an absolute bargain.

The dessert is made up of a sponge base, baked orange filling and rich chocolate topping. And it’s frozen, so perfect for warm days over the summer – and slightly more exciting than boring old vanilla ice cream.

Or have it with vanilla ice cream if you really want to go to town.

Serving a delicious pudding for six people at just £1.50 is incredibly cost-effective, and we think it’s the perfect alternative to a birthday cake – you could easily stick some candles on there.

This giant Jaffa Cake looks so good
The filling is made of baked orange (Picture: Tesco)

So if you have a Jaffa Cake loving friend with an upcoming birthday – you know what you need to do.

This new dessert is the latest in Jaffa Cake off-shoots that have launched recently.

Earlier this year McVities released Jaffa Cake Nibbles – a delightful twist on the classic Jaffa Cake in bite-sized form.

The nibbles are essentially chocolate balls, filled with the classic orange jelly found in normal Jaffa Cakes – they’re the perfect way to eat your favourite sweet treat on the go.

So however you like to get your Jaffa fix, there are now plenty of options to keep you satisfied.

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Rihanna is finally launching a fashion label

Rihanna at the Fenty Beauty anniversary event. Now she's mastered beauty, she's moving on to fashion.
Rihanna attends the Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Anniversary Event on October 3, 2018 in Sydney, Australia (Picture: Don Arnold/WireImage)

Fine, Rihanna, we’ll let you have all our money.

Just as we rejoiced over Fenty Beauty launching in Boots and the new Savage x Fenty lingerie collection, Rihanna’s hit us with another brand to spend our cash on: a fashion line.

Yep, Rihanna is *finally* getting into the non-lingerie fashion game, launching a collection for LVMH called Fenty.

The label will have all you need to entirely rebrand your wardrobe as Rihanna approved: ready-to-wear pieces, accessories, sunglasses, and jewellery.

This is the first entirely new fashion brand launched by LVMH since Christian Lacroix, which was founded in 1987. So yes, it’s a pretty big deal.

Rihanna said: ‘Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us. Mr Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits.

Rihanna's Fenty collection with LVMH will launch on 22 May 2019
Rihanna goes to dinner at Kappo Masa on January 30, 2019 in New York City (Picture: Jackson Lee/GC Images)

‘I couldn’t imagine a better partner both creatively and business-wise, and I’m ready for the world to see what we have built together.’

We’re ready too, Rih.

We don’t know quite what to expect from the collection, but in a statement LVMH said the new luxury Fenty Maison would be based in Paris, and the line will be ‘centered on Rihanna’. Well, naturally.

The collection will be ready to go in spring 2019. No news on the price tag just yet.

There’s an Instagram for the line which features the new Fenty logo, but no images of the clothing just yet.

The big question: Why on earth didn’t Rihanna rock up to the Met Gala in a dress she designed?

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Treat your feet these cronut-inspired sneakers

Koio has teamed up with cronut creator Dominique Ansel to create a croissant themed trainer
Koio has teamed up with cronut creator Dominique Ansel to create a croissant themed trainer (Picture: Koio)

Ever wish your trainers more closely resembled a trendy pastry?

Us neither, but there must be a market as sneaker brand Koio has just teamed up with Dominique Ansel to create a shoe inspired by the tasty cronut that made the baker famous (he’s also responsible for cookie shot glasses, FYI).

Rather than being flaky like a croissant or soft and squishy like a doughnut, the limited edition colourway of the Koio Avalanche is themed around the core ingredients of the cronut: flour, sugar, eggs, and butter.

So the yellow accents on the heel and laces are butter, while the white represents flour and the eggshell, well, eggs.

The trainers feature a tiny croissant charm
Spot the shades inspired by butter, eggs, sugar and flour (Picture: Koio)

A crystalised texture on the toe and heel is meant to signify sugar, and there’s even a little croissant charm on the labels to hammer home the pastry resemblance.

The fabrics used are a little fancier than the ingredients in your baking cupboard. The eggshell sections are made of Italian calf leather, the flour bits are suede, the butter is patent leather, and the sugar is crystallised suede.

The shoes are all lined with butter-soft calf leather and have a ultra-comfortable, bouncy, removable insole so they’ll feel as dreamy to wear as walking on pastry.

The shoes are also a tad more expensive than digging into a cronut, at $348 (£268) a pair. Ouch.

You do get a free pack of Dominique Ansel pancake mix, though, so that’s a free breakfast sorted.

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Marks and Spencer is launching vegan ‘Not-zarrella Sticks’

Vegan Not'zarrella sticks
(Picture: M&S)

Marks and Spencer has answered our vegan dreams with the launch of new ‘Not-zzarella Sticks’.

The same crispy, melty indulgence – but absolutely no dairy – result.

The new savoury snack features deliciously soft mozzarella-style vegan cheese in a crispy breadcrumb coating, served up with a tomato dip.

Perfect as a plant-based addition to a BBQ or pizza feast with friends. It would definitely be handy to have some close to hand in case a vegan guest turns up to a dinner party.

The retailer has also launched the first ever Mac Bites; macaroni pasta made with a vegan cheese sauce and coated in crispy herby breadcrumbs – a perfect indulgent snack or lovely served up as a side dish.

Also new to the range are the first ever Plant Kitchen desserts – because vegans need sweet treats too.

The vegan Chocolate Mousse is a creamy Belgian chocolate pudding topped with a rich chocolate sauce and hand finished with crunchy cocoa nibs.

The new Mango, Passionfruit & Coconut Pot is a totally tropical, deliciously smooth coconut panna cotta, topped with mango and passion fruit compote. Yum.

And we really love the sound of the Churros with Dipping Sauce, covered with cinnamon sugar and served with a vegan Belgian chocolate sauce – made from coconut and vegan chocolate.

Your plant-based options just got more exciting, and we can’t wait to try them all.

‘We were absolutely delighted by the response to our Plant Kitchen range when it launched back January – so much so, we set about immediately creating some exciting new products for customers to try,’ says M&S product developer, Claire Richardson.

‘I’m really pleased we’re now able to offer customers some delicious desserts and I challenge anyone to try the Not’zzarella Sticks and be able to tell the difference.’

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95-year-old granddad sews clothes for his family from his care home

Elwyn Hughes is still tailoring at the age of 95
Elywyn sews from his care home (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

A 95-year-old thought to be the oldest working tailor in the UK is still stitching from the comfort of his care home, over 80 years after he first picked up the needle and thread.

Great-grandfather Elwyn Hughes spends hours every day making waistcoats, skirts and lots more for family, friends and fellow elderly residents.

Elwyn, from Yorkshire, moved into the care home five years ago, and has packed his room full of machines and material so he can continue to make clothes.

After leaving school at the age of of 14 in the 1930s, Elwyn was expected to follow his family into the mines.

However, he was drawn to a nearby clothing factory and began a tailoring, despite boys his age labelling him a ‘sissy’.

Four years later, in the midst of the Second World War in 1942, 18-year-old Elwyn was conscripted to the army and trained as a machine gunner.

But when officers found out the recruit was a skilled tailor he was instead sent around Britain with his sewing kit attaching stripes to soldiers’ uniforms.

Elwyn at the machine
Elwyn doing his thing (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

At the end of the war he returned to the trade and married wife Barbara, with whom he had three sons before she died in 1993.

Elwyn spent much of his long career making Burberry skirts and enjoyed many years tailoring men’s suits before retiring at the age of 80.

Since then the grandfather of eight has continued to sew and is still to this day making and altering clothes from his room in a care home in York.

It’s thought Elwyn could be the longest-serving tailor in Britain, with a total of 81 years under his belt.

Elwyn said: ‘I was expected to go into the mines as a lad but I’m glad I decided to go into tailoring instead.

‘Once upon a time I could walk into a bar, look at every man in there and say ‘I made that suit’ – we were the best dressed men in Leeds.

‘It was a great career and something that I still love doing to this day.

Elwyn with one of his finished pieces
Here he is with a finished piece (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

‘Tailoring keeps me active and occupied, it gives me a focus and provides challenges for me in day to day life.

‘Lots of people my age just sit watching television all day but that’s not me.

‘You have to keep your brain working, otherwise you’ll end up losing your marbles.’

Elwyn said he still smokes the odd cigar, enjoys a tipple of brandy and goes to the pub with one of his son’s once a week.

Recalling his service during the war, Elwyn said: ‘I learned everything about the machine gun and I was a good gunner.

‘But the army found out I was a tailor four weeks before D-Day and that’s what got me out of going.

‘All my friends went out and not many returned home.

‘I really owe my life to being a tailor, if it weren’t for that I’d be under a white cross.’

Between the ages of 75 and 80 Elwyn travelled around the world to countries including Russia, Egypt and China working for an American clothing company.

He was tasked with visiting their suit factories to ensure the quality of product was of appropriate standard.

Five years ago Elwyn moved to the Connaught Court care home in York and brought the tools of the trade with him, enabling him to work on anything and everything.

He relies on a steady stream of customers to keep him busy and donates all his earnings nowadays to charity.

Here’s hoping Elwyn continues his love of stitching in the years ahead of him.

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Man refuses to go to brother’s wedding because he is acting like the ultimate groomzilla

The groom in question has asked his brother to make some unreasonable changes
Is this man the ultimate groomzilla? (Picture: Getty)

We’ve all heard about bridezillas – but groomzillas? Not so much.

However, we’ve just been introduced to one – whose brother is now refusing to go to his wedding because of how difficult and unfair the groom is being.

The brother posted to Reddit to share what had happened.

He explained that his 28-year-old brother is getting married at the end of May – which is his birthday.

Apparently, his brother has gone ‘crazy’ over this wedding – even though his fiancée isn’t worrying about it at all.

The poster explained that his brother has given him so many requests, including wearing a beige suit that he picked – which he says makes him ‘look dead’ – and he’s even been asked to gain weight because apparently he is too ‘skinny’.

He’s also been told that he has to take his ear piercings out, and that he isn’t allowed to bring his boyfriend – but can bring anyone but him.

Oh, and he’s been told he has to dye his hair back to his natural colour.

The brother has refused to go to the wedding
He basically wants his brother to completely change (Picture: Getty)

The poster added: ‘He was constantly reminding me there “rules” yesterday we fought about it and I said that I wasn’t going at all.’

Taking to the ‘Am I The Asshole?’ thread on Reddit, the man asked whether he was wrong to refuse to go to the wedding over his brother’s requests.

And so far, the answer has been a resounding no – with many people supporting him, saying that his brother is a serious ‘Groomzilla’ and that he needs to chill out a bit.

One person said: ‘Groomzillas are an extremely rare species, but they do pop up from time to time.’

Another wrote: ‘Agreed. You should invite people to your wedding, you don’t get to invite who you want people to be. The suit seemed somewhat reasonable but everything else wasn’t. If you can’t accept a person as they are don’t invite them.’

Someone else said: ‘If you can’t go to the wedding as youself what’s the point of going? It sounds like he’s embarrassed of you.’

Another Reddit user added: ‘He wants you to cover up who you are. That’s unreasonable, unfair and ridiculous.’

One person added that while all of the requests were outrageous, the gaining weight one was the most out of order.

They said: ‘Asking you to gain weight is what did it for me. All the rest is inconsiderate and unreasonable and I think you’d be within your rights to refuse based on them. But no one should ever make a change in weight a requirement for attending a function (he shouldn’t be pestering you about it at all). HARD pass on that one.’

What do you think? Do you think the groom’s brother is unreasonable for refusing to attend the wedding? Or is the groom in the wrong? Let us know in the comments below.

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Charcoal toothpaste might not actually be any good for your teeth, according to dentists

You need to be careful with charcoal toothpaste
Charcoal toothpaste isn’t actually good for your teeth (Picture: Getty)

Charcoal toothpastes are one of the biggest teeth whitening trends around, with adverts popping up on Instagram and a variety of different brands selling their own versions on the likes of Amazon.

But if you were thinking of buying one to try for yourself, you may want to hold off, because it turns out they might not actually be any good for your teeth.

New research suggests that charcoal toothpastes may actually increase the risk of abrasions, contribute to tooth decay and even fail to whiten teeth.

The news comes from the British Dental Journal, which says you should approach the toothpastes with caution because many of them don’t contain fluoride, which you need to fight tooth decay.

The study examined 50 charcoal toothpastes and found that only 8% of them contained fluoride. The review also found that the effectiveness of those that did contain it may be worthless because the charcoal can inactivate the fluoride.

50% of the toothpastes claimed to have therapeutic benefits while 30% claimed to strengthen teeth.

Others claimed antibacterial and antiseptic benefits – but the research suggests that none of these claims have been proven.

The toothpaste doesn't protect your teeth properly
The study found that the charcoal isn’t that safe (Picture: Getty)

Though 96% claimed to whiten teeth, the review found that actually, the charcoal-based pastes or powders contain an insufficient amount of free radical bleaching agent for them to have any whitening or stain-removing effect.

Alongside these debunked claims, it was also found that charcoal toothpastes may even be harmful, due to possibly having chemicals that naturally occur in coal; crude oil and gasoline.

Dr Linda Greenwall, lead author of the study and member of the British Dental Bleaching Society, who conducted the research, says it’s important that the toothpaste you’re using contains calcium, fluoride and phosphate – because these are all needed to strengthen the enamel.

She said: ‘Not all charcoal toothpastes are the same and some could potentially be causing lasting damage to a person’s teeth.

‘Toothpastes should contain fluoride to have additional health benefits for the teeth.

The most worrying aspect about the marketing of charcoal pastes and powders appears to be a strong emphasis on the benefits which appeal to consumers, which have yet to be disproved.

‘This ‘scientifically claimed until proved wrong’ approach is favoured over substantiated, evidence-based promotion.’

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Love, Or Something Like It: What 15k Tinder matches has taught me about true love


Love, Or Something Like It

In Love, Or Something Like It, our new Metro.co.uk series, we’re on a quest to find true love.

Covering everything from mating, dating and procreating to lust and loss, we’ll be looking at what love is and how to find it in the present day.

‘Graphic designer, entrepreneur, adventurer, easily distracted by sausage dogs.’

My brief and witty dating profile description that has gained me over 15,000 matches on Tinder and countless messages about sausage dogs, but only a handful of dates.

As I grow ever closer to the big three-oh and find myself single once again, I’ve had to question what getting a match actually means anymore.

 A man walks besides the Thames in London carrying a coffee cup
As I grow ever closer to the big three-oh and find myself single once again, I’ve had to question what getting a match actually means (Photo: Dan Monaghan)

Initially, Tinder couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

After graduating from university in 2012 and taking some time out to go travel, I found myself working for a tech start-up in central London and living with a Canadian and two Australians in a small house in Greenwich.

I didn’t actually know anyone else that lived here. Fortunately, this was also the year I discovered Tinder.

I went to museums, galleries, Starbucks, rode the Underground every day, and not once did a girl ever come up to me and say hi. Nor did the opportunity ever arise for me to naturally spark up a conversation that led to a date. The movies lied.

So, Tinder it was. Swipe, swipe, swipe, match, match, match. Lots of girls actually talking to me. Amazing!

It wasn’t hard to set up a compelling profile. A few well-chosen photos showing off my good side, a handful from my travels, and one of that time I wore a suit.

An attractive man wearing a grey suit takes a selfie in a full-length mirror
The app seemed to change, and so did my experience of using it (Photo: Dan Monaghan)

My brief description played to my strengths: ambitious, adventurous, has a sense of humour – all subjective of course (but hey, I was trying to sell myself here). Somehow ‘pedantic, only goes on holiday when money allows and laughs at own jokes’ didn’t sound as good.

I went on a few dates, had some fun experiences, and even had a long-term relationship come out of it.

It’s hard to say why my now ex stood out from all the other faces. She was spontaneous, which is something I really like – she agreed to go on a date without any bulls*it or games, and we hit it off. That certainly doesn’t happen every time.

But once the honeymoon period was over, however, we both had to do some real soul searching and decide if we could actually see ourselves spending the rest of our lives together. So back to Tinder it was.

As time went on however, the app seemed to change, and so did my experience of using it. My swiping got faster, and people’s bios became more trivial.

A man smiles at the camera from a boat window as the sea churns below
I wouldn’t truly consider if I could see myself dating someone until we’d matched (Photo: Dan Monaghan)

Most people’s bios either didn’t really tell me anything about them, or most just felt compelled to specify they weren’t looking for ‘hook-ups’.

I was mainly swiping out of boredom, focusing solely on people’s first image. The matches soon racked up.

I wouldn’t truly consider if I could see myself dating someone until we’d matched, or they’d sent me a message. If a conversation with a girl didn’t go perfectly right away, new matches would inevitably push her further down the list and I couldn’t help but forget her.

Everybody started to become the same person. The question would then become ‘well, why would I want to pursue this girl, over this other girl’ when I knew nothing really about either. Leaving me back at square one and back to swiping. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I’d managed to get over 15,000 matches and yet I was still single and still with no sausage dog. After my 28th birthday it started to dawn on me that out of all my friends, I was the only one not in a relationship and the prospect of dying alone was quickly approaching.

A man looks into the camera and a dark tunnel opens up behind him
Relationships aren’t built in a swipe (Photo: Dan Monaghan)

It prompted me to make my own dating app called Attrct – The Story Dating App, where people share stories, much like on Instagram but only people you have matched with can see.

Relationships aren’t built in a swipe. I think it takes time to really get to know someone and to get a sense of who’s really worth pursuing, and who’s not.

I don’t think that finding love ‘online’ is a lost cause – or that romance is dead. I just think the quick wins have blurred people’s focus on what they were originally looking for.

I was returning to Tinder, day after day, simply for the ego boost. Even if it was purely superficial, I enjoyed the fact that somebody had matched with me. It was like them saying they found me attractive – who doesn’t like hearing that?

But once the moment was over, I would then just be after the next one, and it never ends.

My priorities in life are changing. The endless matching culture we seem to have fallen into just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.

Now, I want to spend my time more wisely in the search of something real, getting to know what people are really about, and discover who I truly have a connection with.

Instead of falling into the trap of constantly looking for somebody new to match, I want to really get to know the people I already have.

Who knows, maybe that special someone is already there?

Attrct – The Story Dating App can be found on the Apple App Store here and on Instagram @attrctapp

Write for Love, Or Something Like It

Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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You can now buy a swimsuit with your pet’s face all over it

Swimsuit with your pet's face on it? Yes please
We’re definitely putting our cats’ faces all over this swimsuit (Picture: Yes Custom)

Summer is coming, which means it’s time to start stocking up on your swimsuits, and we’ve found one that’s perfect for pet lovers.

Yes Custom is selling a custom swimsuit which can be covered in your pet’s face – all you have to do is upload a photo and they will put it all over the swimsuit.

The $19.99 (£15.35) swimsuit comes with a plunge neckline and spaghetti straps, and the model shows it off with a cute pup’s face covering every inch of the piece.

According to the website, the whole process is super easy – all you have to do is pick your favourite photo of your pet (it can even be your goldfish), upload it to the website and the design team will do the rest.

This suit is amazing
We are feeling this suit (Picture: Yes Custom)

Yes Custom says its swimsuits are, ‘designed for fashion women, stylish and personalised’.

The swimsuit is made from 94% polyester and 6% spandex – meaning it’s really comfy and stretchy – and it is apparently quick drying too.

And, because the swimsuits are designed using an advance heat sublimation technique, the design won’t fade in water – so your pet’s face will never disappear from the suit.

The swimsuit is available in sizes XS to XXXL, and they’ve had great reviews so far.

It features a plunge neckline
It has a v-neck and spaghetti straps (Picture: Yes Custom)

One person said: ‘This hands down was the best custom suit EVER!!!! They paid attention to the detail and were so hands on along the way with any of my questions. I was also very surprised with the fabric as well. I will order again for sure from you guys!!!!!’

Another wrote: ‘Best bathing suit ever! Everyone loved it and they now want one of their own dog! Thank you so much!’

And someone else said: ‘This is amazing! I purchased for one of my besties Bach party this weekend and I am so EXCITED for her to try it on’.

So, the reviews settle it: Our summer wardrobe will be filled with swimsuits covered in our pets’ adorable little faces this year. Amazing.

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Man accused of beating wife after she shared photos to raise awareness of epilepsy

Sarah showed off her injuries
Sarah shared pictures of her injuries (Picture: Kennedy News)

A woman who shared photos of her seizure injuries for epilepsy awareness is distraught after people wrongly took them as evidence that her husband beats her.

42-year-old Sarah Bomzer was making a cup of tea for her husband Adam, 43, last month, when she had a seizure.

The mum-of-two was rushed to hospital and suffered severe bruising to her arms and face, including a cut under her eye after she hit the kitchen counter when she fell.

Artist Sarah, who is undergoing tests to confirm a diagnosis of epilepsy, shared pictures of her injuries on social media to raise awareness of the condition and the impact it has on people’s lives.

However after posting the images, Sarah’s inbox was flooded with messages from people accusing Adam of domestic violence and urging the mum to stop lying about it.

As well as the upsetting messages and comments, Sarah has also overheard strangers gossiping as she walks by and asking each other, ‘have you seen her face?’.

She claims Adam has been left ‘extremely upset’ by messages from people who believed he was hurting his wife.

While the mum wants to reassure people with genuine concerns for her safety, she is also determined to shut down those who don’t want the truth to get in the way of a ‘good story’.

Sarah, from Southampton, said: ‘I shared the photos and people questioned me about how it happened.

‘I’ve had people messaging me asking if I actually had a seizure and if I’m sure I’m telling the truth about it. Nothing malicious. All the messages were with good intentions.

Sarah's injuries after the seizure
She shared the photo online (Picture: Kennedy News)

‘I understand because of the way the injuries look, they look like abuse could have been the cause but if that were the case, I never would have posted about it.

‘If I was being abused, you wouldn’t see my injuries on social media, you wouldn’t hear about them at all. This happened because I have seizures.

‘My husband isn’t responsible but it feels like some people won’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

‘It is hurtful. Adam is extremely upset about it. He’s been looking after me so well. He’s there at every hospital visit so for people to assume he’s hurting me is awful.

‘It’s both of our second marriage and it would be nice if people could have faith that we got it right this time.

‘I didn’t post the pictures to say “look at me, I’m a beaten wife”, I wanted to say “look I’m epileptic and this is what happens”.

‘It’s really important to me to raise awareness of epilepsy and how it affects people. If there’s anything I can do to raise awareness of it, I’m prepared to do it.’

Adam and Sarah have been married for a year after meeting through a Facebook group in 2016.

The couple were getting ready for a romantic weekend away when Sarah’s latest seizure took place and saw them rushing to A&E instead.

Sarah had to have the cut under her eye glued and stayed in hospital overnight on a drip and painkillers.

She says she feels incredibly lucky that she fell the way she did as she fears she could have ‘lost her sight’ in one eye if the cut had been just a few millimetres higher up.

While her seizures sometimes leave her with physical injuries, Sarah says they have a worse impact on Adam who has to watch his wife suffer.

Sarah said: ‘Adam had booked a hotel for us to have a romantic date night away but he ended up taking me to hospital so I basically ruined our date.

A photo of Sarah looking stunning
She was hoping to raise awareness of epilepsy (Picture: Kennedy News)

‘I’d gone downstairs to make a cup of tea and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the kitchen floor.

‘Whenever I have a seizure, I have no recollection of it. I was confused for a bit and I had to try to remember what I was I doing.

‘I remembered so I got up and made Adam his tea. When I went upstairs to him he asked what took me so long and I told him I had a seizure.

‘Then he looked at my face and said “right you’re going to hospital”. At first I tried to tell him “no” because I wasn’t in any pain but then I saw the blood on the kitchen floor.

‘I’m so lucky really. If the cut was any closer to my eye, I could have lost my sight in that eye.

‘My arm took the main force of my fall so that’s where I’ve had the most pain. The bruising was pretty bad but it’s all healing nicely.

‘The seizures might happen to me but it’s harder for Adam. I have no idea what’s going on when they happen but he sees them and sees me hurting.

‘It really is harder for him so for people to then say “maybe he’s knocking her about” is awful.’

Sarah, who has two kids from a previous marriage, Natalie and Nicholas, started suffering from seizures in January 2016.

At first Sarah dismissed her seizures as panic attacks brought on by the stress of going through a divorce.

But the seizures became more and more frequent until Sarah was suffering up to eight every day and losing hours of her memory during the blackouts.

People accused Adam of beating Sarah
Sarah and Adam are a happy couple (Picture: Kennedy News)

She is due to have neurological tests to confirm her diagnosis but doctors suspect she suffers from epilepsy.

In the meantime, Sarah takes beta blockers and CBD oil which has seen her seizures reduce to just one or two a week.

As well as help from her medication, one of Sarah’s three Labradors, Bagheera, has learnt the signs of his owner’s seizures and tries to alert her when they’re about to happen.

Sarah said: ‘He hasn’t been taught how to do it but if he’s around when I’m about to go, he will let me know.

‘If I’m sitting down he will put his paws in my lap and if I’m standing he comes up to me and howls. He makes it very clear he needs my attention. The other two are dopey.

‘All the doctors suspect it’s epilepsy but I’m waiting for an official diagnosis.

‘My mum also has epilepsy but we’ve been told it’s not hereditary. It’s a huge coincidence and I have kids of my own so it’s a worry.’

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Strong Women: ‘Arthritis is misunderstood, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence of pain’


A study by Sport England found that 75% of women avoid being active due to a fear of judgement.

Much of that comes down to the pressure to look a certain way – when we only see one type of woman in the media and in advertising campaigns, it’s easy to think that you’re not good enough if you don’t conform to that image.

But women of any age, size, race and ability can be fit, strong and love their bodies.

Strong Women is a weekly series that aims to redefine what it means to be strong and normalise diverse images of the female form.

Mel was diagnosed with arthritis in her early 40s. Fitness helps her manage her symptoms and ease the pain, but she wants there to be wider public understanding about the condition.

Melanie in the gym
(Picture: Versus Arthritis)

How does arthritis affect your life?

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my hands and knees when I was 43.

I was quite taken aback when I was diagnosed, as although I knew I had it in my knees, I didn’t have any idea I might have it in my hands. It was quite a shock

But as I came to terms with it, my stubbornness kicked in and decided I’d have to deal with this, which is why I joined the gym

To be honest I didn’t know where to start – a lot of what I did caused me pain. But now, some years on, it doesn’t affect my life anywhere near as much – but you do always know it’s there.

I can feel it when I wake up especially, but I do everything I can do manage it.

My knees ache, but my hands, should there be a flare up can be particularly bad. It affects dexterity, simple things people take for granted, opening doors, doing up zips, things like that.

How did it feel to get an arthritis diagnosis in your early 40s?

It’s weird – I expected it in my knees as it was obvious, but not in my hands. It was quite shocking to hear that it was arthritis. My mum had arthritis, and my granddad, and I knew how it affected them.

You just feel alone. You don’t know where to turn. You feel isolated because you don’t know what to expect. I came out of a doctor’s room and just thought, ‘what now?’

There just isn’t the support there, and I didn’t realise the affect it could have.

I have found that people aren’t always sympathetic when I tell them about my condition. That’s not a criticism, they just don’t understand what it’s like to have it.

Because you can’t see it – I may not walk differently – I don’t know whether people just don’t know about it.

Melanie lifting weights
(Picture: Versus Arthritis)

One of my best friends now completely gets it, as she’s taken the time to listen and see how it affects me.

I’m lucky as my trainer has also done a lot of research into chronic conditions and he gets it. I think generally it just comes down to a lack of information.

There’s a misconception that once you have arthritis, that’s it. It’s a life sentence of pain, and that’s why I do the work I do with Versus Arthritis, to get rid of that stigma.

Dealing with the challenges that come with this condition can feel quite isolating.

What is your relationship with fitness like? 

I love fitness.

When I joined the gym a few years ago, I didn’t know what it would lead to.

But now, I love that my body is fit, I love training. I tend to go to the gym five days a week and I walk every day as well at the moment.

I do cardio at the gym, running, weight training, squats. Squats are a thing I never thought I’d be able to do, because of how low you have to go.

I love doing exercise that makes me feel strong. Not for anyone else, or for people to think, ‘oh she looks like a strong woman physically’, but I like to feel strong.

I think that’s because with arthritis, you do feel vulnerable, but fitness makes me realise, hang on a minute – my body is a wonderful thing and it can do this.

Getting into fitness has been life-changing.

It has helped my symptoms so much – when I started training with Shane, my trainer, I used to be in agony just walking up stairs. It was horrific. Within three weeks of consistent exercise, I could walk up stairs without pain.

Melanie in the gym
(Picture: Versus Arthritis)

I still have flare-ups, which I deal with and manage. But the symptoms I have and the way I am now, fitness has improved my symptoms so much.

Your mood can be quite low, as well. And exercise can make me feel so much better in that way too.

I really enjoy challenging myself to progress, to get stronger, to get better. But I know it doesn’t have to be gym-setting to exercise.

I’ve been out with friends and we’ve started working out together in a park. It’s really just keeping moving and also keeping it consistent. That’s what really helped my symptoms.

It’s about listening to your body, finding out what works for you, and just keeping at it.

Arthritis and exercise

Arthritis and related conditions affect 10 million people in the UK. That’s one in six of us, with half living in pain every single day. The condition has a huge physical and emotional impact, causing severe pain, fatigue and isolation.

When you’re in that much pain, the very thought of exercising can seem unrealistic.

There’s also a very common misconception that exercise will cause further damage to their joints and make their condition even worse.

In fact, that’s not the case. What many people don’t realise is that regular exercise can be one of the most effective ways to manage your arthritis.

It’s also hugely beneficial to both your physical and mental health.

Arthritis is incredibly misunderstood in society – dismissed as just an older person’s disease, when in face this is not the case. Arthritis doesn’t discriminate and can affect people at every stage of life.

Versus Arthritis 

What do wish other people understood about arthritis?

I want to get rid of the myth that if you move, it’s going to hurt more.

I always wish other people knew just how arthritis can affect people in day-to-day life. I think people just don’t know.

People’s first impressions of me might be different, but they don’t see me trying to open the tube of toothpaste, trying to put the key in the door. It can take me five or six attempts to just get toothpaste out the tube in the morning.

Another thing is paying for things in shops – trying to get coins out of a purse. I’ve had people tutting, trying to push me along. It just gets worse and ends up taking longer.

The list is endless – and it is mostly the things people take for granted. I’d like more awareness and for people to be understanding when we say we are in pain. Just be informed.

What advice would you give to other younger people who have been recently diagnosed?

I have arthritis, but doesn’t define me or who I am. I’ve realised I’m so much more than that. It’s not stopping me, and I try not to put any limits on myself.

I live life to the fullest – you can still have an amazing quality of life.

I would say take small steps to move more, whichever way it may be. Be consistent with whatever you decide to do to manage your condition.

You do need to be brave – if you’re stubborn it does help!. And be determined.

But mainly be brave – when you are in pain it can seem hard.

Seek advice from your doctor or a fitness professional. There’s also some great information and advice on how to get started, and some of the best exercises you can do if you have arthritis, on the Versus Arthritis website.

But figure out what works for you – I know that what works for me won’t work for someone else.

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These are the signs that you might be lactose intolerant

Milk being poured into a glass
Lactose intolerance and milk intolerance are not the same thing (Picture: Getty)

Lactose intolerance is a really common digestive problem that can leave you feeling bloated, nauseous and crampy whenever you consume lactose.

Lactose is a type of sugar that’s mainly found in milk and dairy products, but there’s often confusion when it comes to dairy intolerance – and that’s because there are two main ways you can be intolerant to milk.

You can be lactose intolerant, where you struggle to digest a sugar found in milk.

Or, you can be milk protein intolerant and have issues with a specific protein found in the white stuff.

Dr Gill Hart, a food intolerance expert with YorkTest Laboratories, says: ‘There’s a great deal of confusion about milk intolerances. It’s important that people have the right information to help them manage their symptoms.

‘Someone might recognise that they get a reaction after drinking milk, and assume they have a lactose intolerance.

‘But it’s actually just as likely you’ve got a milk protein intolerance, which manifests in different ways – and the action that you need to take to make a difference to your lives is different too.’

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?

Common symptoms associated with an overall dairy intolerance are similar to IBS symptoms.

These include abdominal pain, bloating and excess wind – as well as skin complaints like eczema, psoriasis, urticaria, rashes, itchy skin, and headaches, migraines, weight gain, tiredness and fatigue.

Symptoms can begin between 30 minutes and two hours after consuming lactose. These symptoms are not nice, but they are not life threatening.

Dr Hart adds: ‘Both lactose intolerance and milk protein intolerance can cause digestive issues.

‘With a milk protein intolerance, it is highly likely that four or five different other foods are also contributing to the problem as well, and so you need to find out what those foods are.

‘As well as digestive problems, milk protein intolerance causes other symptoms – such as migraines, headaches, fatigue, and skin issues.

‘With lactose intolerance the symptoms are usually digestive problems, as the body can’t digest the sugar.

‘But unless you get properly tested, you won’t know if you’re dealing with a lactose or a milk protein intolerance issue. To complicate matters further, some people have both lactose and milk protein intolerances.’

Butter on a dish with a knife
The symptoms of a milk allergy can actually be fatal (Picture: Getty)

There are also ramifications when it comes to long term care.

‘With a milk protein intolerance, you may be able to tolerate milk in the future after an initial elimination diet,’ says Dr Hart.

‘You can’t do that with a lactose intolerance – you’ll have that for the rest of your life, and you may benefit from taking lactose enzyme supplements if you want to try and continue to eat food containing dairy’.

What are the differences between lactose intolerance, milk intolerance and a milk allergy?

To add to the confusion, milk and lactose intolerances are also extremely different to a milk allergy.

Milk allergies manifest with things like a swollen tongue or lips, difficulty breathing and vomiting – and it can be potentially deadly, too.

If you suspect you’ve got a milk allergy, or a lactose intolerance, you need to consult your GP.

Lactose intolerance affects around 5% of the population, milk intolerance affects around 45% of the population, and only approximately 2% of the adult UK population have a milk allergy.

Lactose intolerance is caused by a reaction to the sugar in milk, and it’s triggered by a deficiency in the enzyme lactase in the body.

Milk intolerance is caused by a reaction to the protein in milk, and it’s triggered by a response of your body’s immune system.

A milk allergy is also caused by a reaction to the protein in milk – but the more severe symptoms is due to the response from a different antibody in your immune system.

Can lactose intolerance be cured?

The bad news is that a lactose intolerance is a lifelong condition, but it can be treated by avoiding products that contain lactose and by taking lactose enzyme supplements.

If you have a milk intolerance, it isn’t necessarily for life. You could potentially tolerate milk after trying an elimination diet.

If you have a milk allergy then it is possible to outgrow this condition. But until that happens, the only thing to do is avoid all milk products.

But that’s not always as simple as you might think it is.

Dr Hart says it can be tricky to remove dairy products from your diet because milk goes by many other names in food ingredients lists.

She advises: ‘If you’re cutting dairy from your diet, you’ll typically ditch milk along with things like yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, and butter.

‘But milk products in foods can also be listed as Lactoglobulin, Lactalbumin, Casein, Caseinate.’

If you think you might have a milk protein intolerance, a blood test can pinpoint the precise nature of your sensitivity.

Explaining the principles behind the practice, Dr Hart says: ‘A food intolerance is essentially someone experiencing reactions to certain foods.

‘When food particles enter the bloodstream, the immune system can sometimes identify these food protein particles as “foreign” and produces what’s known as “IgG antibodies” to “attack” the food in question.

Soya milk and tofu
Soya milk is a popular dairy-free alternative (Picture: Getty)

‘This response is your immune system’s natural defence mechanism to ward off harmful invaders in the body which can create inflammation.

‘So, essentially, these IgG reactions go hand in hand with gut imbalances and inflammation and are released in the presence of certain trigger foods.

‘A good food intolerance test works by measuring which foods cause food-specific IgG reactions, so that people can then be advised on which foods they might wish to cut from their diet.’

Debates about the benefits of milk continue to rage in the UK.

A study released in September last year, conducted by McMaster University, Canada, found that eating three small portions of dairy a day may actually protect against heart disease and stroke.

Others, however, question the merits of milk when it’s a product humans have had to evolve to be able to digest.

What are the best dairy-free milk alternatives?

Alternative milk sources – such as coconut, rice, oat, almond, hazelnut or soya milks – are booming in popularity in the UK.

Soya milk has been the most popular non-dairy substitute for decades because its nutrition profile closely resembles that of cow’s milk.

In place of butter you can use coconut oil, or mashed avocado.

There are now plenty of non-dairy vegan ‘cheese’ products now available in mainstream shops – including frozen pizzas and vegan mozzarella bites.

Dr Hart says that when it comes to making a good old-fashioned cup of tea, soya milk has the trump card.

The YorkTest Laboratories team recently put a range of alternative milks through their paces to make the perfect dairy-free brew.

‘We tested a range of alternative milks to find how well they made tea. And after rating them on colour, aroma and taste the results were interesting to say the least,’ explains Dr Hart.

‘The variation was huge – some decided to split and curdle, giving a grainy and unappealing appearance, whilst others blended perfectly, creating a much more convincing cuppa.

‘The differences in aroma and taste also varied wildly, too.

‘But all our testers found that soya milk gave the best all round tea experience!’

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How to manage a depressed person at work

What is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?
1 in 4 people have mental health problems (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If you’ve discovered that a colleague is suffering from depression and you’ve never had the charm of the illness yourself, it can be all kinds of difficult to try and figure out how to work with them, let alone how to manage them.

Luckily for you, I’ve already talked about working with someone struggling with depression, and trying to differentiate between general lack of motivation and actual mental health issues, so for the sake of this piece I’m going to assume that you’re absolutely firm in the knowledge that the colleague you have in mind has depression, and isn’t just taking the piss.

Managing somebody is entirely different to working alongside them, though.

Decent managers will already have figured out how each member of their team works and what kind of communication they respond to best, and – shock twist – this doesn’t need to change if you’re managing an employee who has depression.

Like you would with anyone working underneath you, it’s important to keep an open line of conversation and to assure them that they can come to you with any struggles and be fully supported.

As a depressed person (tick!) with managerial experience (tick!) who has been managed by a lot of people (tick!), I would personally advise on not providing any ‘special treatment’ outside of your usual support – you don’t need to let your standards drop, you just need to understand what might come along that could impact your colleague’s ability to work to their best, and to support them if or when it happens.

Your job is to manage their workload, so don’t be scared of asking questions along the lines of what they need from you to help them with X,Y or Z.

1 in 4 of us in the UK are struggling with mental health, so if you’re a manager then chances are you absolutely manage people who are having a tough time.

Liam is one such manager, and agrees that the best approach is simply to be supportive: ‘For me as a manager, I don’t think there is anything different that I do when managing people who have a mental health illness. To manage anyone you need to understand how they work; preferences, strengths and weaknesses,’ he tells Metro.co.uk.

‘The difference with people with any health issues is that there are more complexities, so building trust and openness is maybe more important. If you have that, then people will be open with you and come to you when they need support.

‘You need to understand that trusting someone can be more difficult for people who experience mental health illnesses.’

woman sleeping on desk
It is still difficult for people with mental illnesses to talk openly about their conditions (Picture: Ella Byworth)

Liam has pretty much hit the nail on the head there – it’s difficult to tell people you love about your mental health struggles because there’s still such an unhelpful stigma attached, so telling your manager can seem terrifyingly intimidating.

A lot of companies use organisations such as Sanctus to help open up conversations about mental health at work, and allow employees to find support from someone who’s qualified to provide it.

I would strongly advise introducing an initiative like this to remove stigma, to support your colleagues and to support yourself, too – assuming you’re not a qualified therapist or doctor.

Hannah*’s workplace took a similarly supportive approach when she told her manager about her mental health struggles. ‘When I first started working I was suffering from major depression,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘It was hard to talk to anyone about it, let alone to my manager at the time. However, it got to a point where I was struggling to get out of bed in the morning and I was running out of excuses.

‘In the end, I confided in her, and as we cried together we sorted out a plan where I worked from home a few days a week. My employer ended up paying for my therapy sessions and rolled out a mental health wellness scheme of the back of it. I was very lucky, not every place is like that.’

It’s not as easy as just ‘rolling out a mental health scheme’ if you’re not a super senior member of your company, of course, but it’s definitely worth raising with your own boss and with HR. Mental health issues aren’t going anywhere, and the more supportive and open we can all be about them, the better.

Melody is managed by Liam (that nice chap quoted above), and feels understood and supported by his awareness of her mental health struggles and his willingness to step in when he can see she needs some help.

‘I find that knowing he understands, and is watching for signs that I am struggling is a weight off my shoulders,’ she tells us.

‘Although I still keep tabs on my mental state and have coping mechanisms for when I am struggling, knowing that he is aware and knows what to look for is a real support.

‘When I’m in meetings or conversations and I can’t cope, he finds a way to step in and provide me with an avenue for escape.’

This is excellent from Liam (well done, Liam), but crucially, Melody says that he doesn’t go easier on her compared to her colleagues, and still expects high quality results from her work.

This is so important – we don’t want to feel like special cases, mental health problems are not anything strange – we want to be understood but not made to feel like a child.

‘Liam doesn’t just give me space and room regardless,’ says Melody, ‘he still expects me to deliver and to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

‘His standards are no lower because of my struggles, he’s just understanding of how they impact me and allows me to take them into account when discussing what objectives or challenges I am going to take on.’

The more we can all talk about mental health, the easier it will be for those struggling with it to come forward and seek help and support.

There’s no need to be scared of someone with depression – it’s not contagious like the chicken pox. Be brave and start talking about it, that’s really the best thing you can do to gain understanding and to support the people around you.

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Some of Simon Armitage’s best poetry quotes to celebrate the new Poet Laureate

new poet laureate simon armitage
Simon Armitage is going to be the new Poet Laureate (Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Getty Images)

It has been announced that Yorkshireman poet Simon Armitage is going to take up the mantle of Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.

He is taking over from Carol Ann Duffy, who held the title for the fixed term of ten years from 2009.

To celebrate Armitage’s appointment to the role which many consider to be the highest official achievement a poet can attain in the UK, let’s take a closer look at some of his best poems so far…

Simon Armitage poems and poetry quotes


And if it snowed and snow covered the drive
he took a spade and tossed it to one side.
And always tucked his daughter up at night
And slippered her the one time that she lied.
And every week he tipped up half his wage.
And what he didn’t spend each week he saved.
And praised his wife for every meal she made.
And once, for laughing, punched her in the face.

And for his mum he hired a private nurse.
And every Sunday taxied her to church.
And he blubbed when she went from bad to worse.
And twice he lifted ten quid from her purse.

Here’s how they rated him when they looked back:
sometimes he did this, sometimes he did that.

From ‘A Vision’

I pulled that future out of the north wind
at the landfill site, stamped with today’s date,
riding the air with other such futures,
all unlived in and now fully extinct.


It begins as a house, an end terrace
in this case
but it will not stop there. Soon it is
an avenue
which cambers arrogantly past the Mechanics’ Institute,
turns left
at the main road without even looking
and quickly it is
a town with all four major clearing banks,
a daily paper
and a football team pushing for promotion.

On it goes, oblivious of the Planning Acts,
the green belts,
and before we know it it is out of our hands:
city, nation,
hemisphere, universe, hammering out in all directions
until suddenly,
mercifully, it is drawn aside through the eye
of a black hole
and bulleted into a neighbouring galaxy, emerging
smaller and smoother
than a billiard ball but weighing more than Saturn.

People stop me in the street, badger me
in the check-out queue
and ask “What is this, this that is so small
and so very smooth
but whose mass is greater than the ringed planet?”
It’s just words
I assure them. But they will not have it.

Simon Armitage, poet laureate
(Picture: Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images)

From ‘To His Lost Lover’

Now they are no longer
any trouble to each other

he can turn things over, get down to that list
of things that never happened, all of the lost

unfinishable business.
For instance… for instance,

how he never clipped and kept her hair, or drew a hairbrush
through that style of hers, and never knew how not to blush

at the fall of her name in close company.
How they never slept like buried cutlery –

two spoons or forks cupped perfectly together,
or made the most of some heavy weather –

walked out into hard rain under sheet lightning,
or did the gears while the other was driving.

How he never raised his fingertips
to stop the segments of her lips

from breaking the news,
or tasted the fruit

or picked for himself the pear of her heart,
or lifted her hand to where his own heart

was a small, dark, terrified bird
in her grip. Where it hurt.

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Woman mocked for her ‘tiny’ engagement ring and told not to bother wearing it

Bride's tiny engagement ring Provider: Etsy/JSVConcepts Source: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/568749201/minimalist-wedding-band-diamond-wedding?source=aw&awc=6091_1557469272_cdb116011ba492c3e28664ac2e1a885c&utm_source=affiliate_window&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=uk_location_buyer&utm_content=78888&utm_term=137027
It’s called a ‘Minimalist Band’ (Picture: Etsy/JSVConcepts)

A bride-to-be has been cruelly mocked after sharing a picture of her engagement ring online.

The delicate ring features a single diamond on a 14 karat-gold band. Sellers on Etsy, where the ring was bought, call it the ‘Minimalist band’ – and it costs $132 (£101.57).

The woman posted a photo of her ring to a Facebook wedding group and was quickly shot down by critics who mocked the size of the modest diamond.

But size isn’t everything. The future bride wrote in her post that she was ‘in love with it’, so she was taken aback by the hundreds of comments hating on her precious item.

One woman said, ‘take the key ring off your finger and show us the ring you ordered online.’

‘It’s so small you shouldn’t bother wearing it,’ said another.

Bride's tiny engagement ring Provider: Etsy/JSVConcepts Source: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/568749201/minimalist-wedding-band-diamond-wedding?source=aw&awc=6091_1557469272_cdb116011ba492c3e28664ac2e1a885c&utm_source=affiliate_window&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=uk_location_buyer&utm_content=78888&utm_term=137027
Non-traditional engagement rings are becoming more popular (Picture: Etsy/JSVConcepts)

Another wrote they had assembled a team of ‘world class physicists and astronomers’ to build new instrumentation ‘so we can see your f****** ring.’ Bit harsh guys.

More women are steering away from traditional engagement rings and experimenting with different stones, shapes and vintage designs – so perhaps this lady is just one step ahead of the curve with her minimalist choice.

But that didn’t stop the snarky comments.

‘I guess neither of you wants anyone to know you’re engaged huh,’ wrote one woman.

‘It’s so pitiful, I just can’t. It’s too sad,’ another wrote.

We just think they’re jealous – delicate, minuscule jewellery always looks elegant. But, haters gonna hate.

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