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Man donates his kidney after receiving heartbreaking note in an eBay parcel

Ray in the hospital and the note he was sent
Ray was inspired to donate a kidney after receiving a note in an eBay parcel (Picture: Ray Duffy /SWNS.COM)

A man donated a kidney to a stranger after receiving a heartfelt note in an eBay parcel.

53-year-old Ray Duffy went under the knife two years ago at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to become a living kidney donor.

The idea first came to him in 2013, when his partner bought a top on eBay – which was accompanied by a note explaining the heartbreaking predicament faced by the seller’s family.

The woman who posted the package had wrapped it in paper illustrated with hand-drawn cartoons, and a note explaining how her husband needed a kidney transplant and had lost his job so the family would sell things online to generate cash.

Dad-of-two Ray was so moved that he kept the note – but had no idea how he could help.

Two years later he was stuck in traffic and heard a radio programme discussing living kidney donors, and was inspired to go under the knife to save somebody’s life – even though he had never met them.

Ray said: ‘Back in 2013, my partner bought a top on eBay and it arrived wrapped up in brown wrapping paper which the sender had hand-drawn cartoons of animals all over.

The note in an eBay parcel
Ray received the note in an eBay parcel (Picture: Ray Duffy /SWNS.COM)

‘She had also written a thank you note explaining that her husband was on the transplant waiting list, had lost his job and that now and then they would sell things they didn’t need on eBay so they could buy their kids a treat.

‘She said that she drew the pictures to put a smile on people’s faces as they had helped her put a smile on her children’s faces.

‘I’ll never forget it.

‘It was just a really nice gesture from a complete stranger and I couldn’t help feeling a bit queasy – here we are in the 21st century and there are families struggling while waiting for transplants.

‘I felt so helpless.’

The operations manager from Gordon, Scottish Borders, recalled how he thought at the time ‘If I could, I would give her husband my kidney’ – but did not know it was possible or legal.

But while listening to the radio in the car two years later, he had a ‘lightbulb moment’ when altruistic organ donation was discussed – where a living person anonymously donates an organ to a stranger.

Ray in the hospital
Ray in hospital when he donated his kidney (Picture: Ray Duffy /SWNS.COM)

He said: ‘I went to change the music on the radio and I pressed the wrong button and accidentally tuned into an interview of a man speaking about his experience donating a kidney.

‘That was the lightbulb moment, I just knew I was going to do it.

‘I registered in November and started the assessment process straight away.’

After the year-long process of mental, physical and medical assessments to ensure he was in a fit state to undergo the operation, in March 2017 Ray checked in to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to undergo the surgery.

He said: ‘It was a very humbling experience to be able to do something like that for someone else.

‘I know it’s not for everyone and it’s a huge decision but for me it just felt right.’

On Monday he will climb the Old Man of Hoy sea stack in Orkney, to raise awareness of organ donation.

Give a Kidney chairman Chris Jones said: ‘Mr Duffy’s climbing challenge is brilliant because it shows that donors come back to 100% health after donating.

‘In Scotland, there are over 400 people who need a transplant. With efforts like Mr Duffy’s, we hope to get more people donating kidneys.’

MORE: B&M launches chilli sauce filled advent calendar for £4.99

MORE: One in four women feel too intimidated to go to the gym, study finds

Taking a nap once or twice a week ‘may cut the risk of heart attack’

woman sleeping on desk
Don’t sleep in this position, though. It’s bad for your neck. (Picture: Ella Byworth)

Rest your weary head and stop resisting that mid-afternoon snooze, as new research suggests taking that nap could be beneficial to your health.

Taking a nap once or twice a week may cut the risk of heart attack and stroke, suggests a study.

It also feels great to curl up on the sofa under a blanket. Just saying.

Researchers studied data for 3,462 people in Lausanne, Switzerland, who were aged between 35 and 75 at the start of the study. They tracked them for an average of five years, looking at their sleeping patterns alongside their general health.

Of the people studied, 58% did not nap, 19% had taken one to two naps during the previous week, and 12% had taken three to five naps that week. Some 11% took six to seven naps per week.

Over the course of five years, there were 155 ‘cardiovascular events’ – meaning an incident such as a heart attack or a stroke – among the group.

The researchers found that those who napped once or twice a week were 48% less likely to experience these issues, even when other factors were taken into account.

Yes, it could be that those who were able to nap also had lower stress levels or better overall health, and more research is definitely needed, but the experts behind this study say the results provide some convincing evidence to catch a quick snooze.

Previous research suggests that napping is ‘as good as pills’ for reducing blood pressure, too.

Vanessa Smith, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Many of us might aim to grab an extra 40 winks here and there, but more evidence is needed before we can say that regular napping can help to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

‘However, there are many other lifestyle changes you can make which we know help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.

‘Doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

‘We also know that treating high blood pressure and managing your cholesterol can reduce your risk of life-threatening heart and circulatory diseases.’

In short: Yes, you do need to look after your health and a quick nap likely won’t outweigh a poor diet and no exercise.

But if you’re feeling a little weary, you go ahead and have a siesta now and then.

MORE: Have a sleepover in the UK’s most haunted prison

MORE: The best houseplants for your bedroom to help you sleep

MORE: Sleep under the stars and the Northern Lights in this magical igloo in Finland

Men warned not to rub toothpaste on their penis to last longer in bed

tube of toothpaste
Toothpaste doesn’t belong on your genitals (Picture: Getty)

A quick word of warning before you go about your day: Please don’t rub toothpaste on your penis.

Is this something we should have to say? No, but apparently we must, for there are men out in the world rubbing toothpaste on their penis to try to last longer in bed.

The ‘trick’ is promoted all over YouTube, Reddit, and Steemit, with one man, Jose Barber, claiming that massaging toothpaste on the penis will ‘crush premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction without dangerous drugs’.

Jose also says that following his advice will make you ‘last for 30 minutes longer’.

Shockingly enough, these claims probably aren’t accurate.

There’s no evidence of any sort to back up the idea that toothpaste could delay orgasm and keep you erect for longer. Instead you’re likely to cause irritation and burning – both for you and your sexual partner.

A general rule for all to follow: Minty products and genitals don’t really mix. Don’t you remember the story of a woman who learned the hard way to keep minty shower gel away from her vagina?

James O’Loan, a pharmacist at online doctor service Doctor-4-U, has issued a warning against applying toothpaste to the penis for any reason.

Illustration of naked couple in bed together
Please, no toothpaste (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

He said: ‘I’d urge anyone thinking of trying this rather worrying ‘toothpaste’ technique to cease and desist – because it won’t do anything at all to combat premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction, despite the claims being made in these videos.

‘The peppermint oils and other chemicals in toothpaste, including bleaching agents, can be extremely irritating to sensitive skin.

“By putting it on your genitals you actually risk a mild burn, as well as blisters and scarring.

‘And toothpaste should in no way be used as a lubricant, either.’

Attempting this hack at home could result in painful blisters and burns on the penis, as well as serious discomfort and irritation for whoever’s vagina or anus you pop your penis inside.

We get you might be trying to avoid the awkwardness of chatting to a GP about erectile dysfunction and possible treatments, but trust us when we say that going to a hospital with burns on your member is far more embarrassing.

If you’re struggling with premature ejaculation or maintaining an erection, talk to a medical professional rather than perusing YouTube videos.

There are plenty of products out there that have been properly tested (and so shouldn’t cause you pain or irritation), such as numbing sprays and condoms to prolong sex.

It’s far wiser to trust in the medical profession and products with loads of research than to faff about with the contents of your bathroom cabinet. Don’t go licking pavements, either.

MORE: Please can someone adopt this very sweet cat with a penis on her face?

MORE: Will eating tomatoes make your penis bigger?

MORE: What is a pineapple penis and do you have it?

Pret launches autumn menu with 11 new treats

Pret's new autumn menu
(Picture: Pret)

Some of the nation’s favourite coffee shops have been launching their autumn menus lately so it seems Pumpkin Spice Latte season is truly here.

The latest one to reveal the new seasonal treats is Pret and it promises some hot and hearty comfort lunches.

Pret’s new autumn menu has nine new recipes and two old favourites, and is available in shops nationwide from Tuesday 10 September.

Up for grabs are a range of focaccias, lunchtime omelettes, baguettes, cookies and biscuits.

Of course, they’ve got their own PSL with the addition of a pumpkin spice syrup to create a warming, seasonal treat.

Back on the menu is the mushroom risotto soup.

Cheese toastie
Cheese, yes please (Picture: Pret)

The highlight of the autumn menu is a new range of toasted focaccias. Three combinations will debut on the menu from today, made on a light, olive oil and rosemary focaccia.

The brie and bacon toasted focaccia pairs brie with streaky bacon, a sweet caramelised onion chutney and rocket, while the salt beef and pickles toasted focaccia sees salt beef topped with Swedish greve, and pickled gherkins.

The mozzarella, pesto and roasted tomatoes toasted focaccia completes the range and sees Italian mozzarella from Bologna, combined with pesto, roasted tomatoes and crunchy red pepper.

Pret's new autumn menu

Toasted Focaccias

Brie & Bacon Toasted Focaccia, £4.50

A rosemary and extra virgin olive oil focaccia, filled with slices of brie, streaky bacon, sweet caramelised onion chutney and rocket.

Mozzarella, Pesto & Roasted Tomatoes Toasted Focaccia,  £4.50

A rosemary and extra virgin olive oil focaccia, filled with slices of mozzarella, pine nut and basil pesto, roasted tomatoes, red pepper, Italian cheese and fresh basil leaves.

Brie and bacon foccacia (Picture: Pret)
Brie and bacon foccacia (Picture: Pret)

Salt Beef & Pickles Toasted Focaccia, £4.50

A rosemary and extra virgin olive oil focaccia, filled with salt beef, sliced greve, pickled cabbage and carrot, gherkins, served with rocket and a dollop of mustard mayo.


Classic Cheese & Spring Onions, £3.99

The perfect formula of mature cheddar cheese, mozzarella and Italian cheese is combined with a sprinkle of spring onions and a dollop of  tangy English mustard mayo.

Cheese and spring onion toastie
Cheese and spring onion toastie (Picture: Pret)

Lunchtime omelettes 

Spicy Eggs & Chorizo Omelette, £4.50

A baked egg-white omelette with baby-leaf spinach, roasted red peppers, chipotle ketchup, chorizo and diced feta, finished with sliced spring onion.

Squash, Soft Cheese & Feta Omelette, £4.50

A baked egg-white omelette with baby-leaf spinach, sliced spring onion, creamy soft cheese, roasted butternut squash and diced feta.

Chef’s Specials

Pulled Ham, Egg and Pickles Baguette, £3.50

A classic recipe combining a layer of pulled ham on a bed of a sliced free-range egg and gherkins. All dressed with both mustard mayo and mayo and topped with rocket.

Mexican Sweet Potatoes Wrap, £3.50

Roasted diced sweet potatoes coated with chipotle ketchup on a bed of refried black beans. This wrap is finished with sliced red pepper, sweetcorn salsa, pickled onions, spinach and fresh coriander.


Roast Squash, Pecans & Feta Dressing Salad, £4.50

A salad on a bed of spinach with shredded apple, roast squash and baby roasted beets, then topped with caramelised pecans and fresh pomegranate, finished with a creamy feta and oregano dressing.

Sweet treats

Ginger Snap Biscuit, £1.45

A classic freshly baked crunchy ginger snap biscuit with pieces of candied ginger

Cookies! (Picture: Pret)

Pret’s Pecan & Caramel Cookie, £1.45

Golden cookie dough with chunks of pecan, caramel, toffee and white chocolate.


Rhubarb Lemonade Pure Pret Can, £1.20

A fresh and zingy sparkling rhubarb lemonade.

Ginger Kombucha Pure Pret Can,  £2.25

Lightly sparkling fermented green tea drink with ginger and turmeric.

Back on the menu

Mushroom Risotto Soup, £3.60

The mushroom risotto soup is made with a blended background of mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, celeriac, tofu and coconut cream then filled with brown rice, wild rice and chunky mushrooms.

Pumpkin Spiced Latte, £2.95

Pret’s classic latte with the addition of our pumpkin spice syrup to create a warming, seasonal treat.

MORE: Greggs is launching its autumn menu imminently and it includes a spicy chicken bake

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Bride paralysed in car crash surprises guests by walking down the aisle in exoskeleton

Grace McGowan with Nick Capaldi
Grace was determined to walk down the aisle to marry Nick (Picture: BNPS.co.uk)

When Grace McGowan, 27, got engaged to her partner, Nick Capaldi, she was determined to walk down the aisle.

She knew that would be a challenge. Five years before she had been left paralysed by a horrific car crash, which gave her a severe spinal injury.

Despite using a wheelchair to get around, Grace was determined to walk down the aisle on her feet.

After months of hard work Grace was able to make her dream a reality, with the help of a special robotic exoskeleton that allowed her to stand upright and walk.

The robotic system, called ReWalk, works by detecting and enhancing movement, allowing those with disabilities to walk.

Grace McGowan and Nick Capaldi on their wedding day
Grace was paralysed in a car crash five years ago (Picture: BNPS.co.uk)

Guests at the wedding, in Sherborne, Dorset, weren’t told of Grace’s plans, so her journey down the aisle was a wonderful surprise.

Grace said: ‘Walking down the aisle was something I thought was lost to me when I had the car accident but in 2015, I was extremely lucky to be given the opportunity to try an exoskeleton and I found the one that worked for me, the ReWalk.

‘Everyone has different priorities and I’m not ashamed of my disability but walking down the aisle was just something I personally wanted to do.

‘We rented the machine at home for four months beforehand and Nick learnt how to walk me.

 Grace McGowan and Nick Capaldi on their wedding day
She was able to walk on her wedding day with the use of a robotic exoskeleton (Picture: BNPS.co.uk)

‘He then had to train my brother Alex up to walk me as he was taking me down the aisle.

‘Alex learned how to do it in literally two hours, that’s all the time we had.

‘A lot of people put a lot of effort into making me walking a reality and I’d love the effect of this to be that exoskeletons are more widely available to anyone who wants to use one.’

Grace’s mum, Helen, was touched to see her daughter making her way down the aisle as she’d always dreamed.

Helen said: Grace was determined to walk down the aisle with the aid of a ReWalk. She persevered, I didn’t think she could do it was a long way for her to go.

‘She really had to struggle but between her and her brother who was behind her, they did it. Everyone was crying.

‘I was extremely proud of all my children, I am one very proud mummy.’

Grace McGowan and Nick Capaldi on their wedding day - grace walking with an exoskeleton
The plan was kept secret to surprise guests (Picture: BNPS.co.uk)

The emotional moment wasn’t the only thing that made Grace and Nick’s wedding day so special, of course.

The couple have a lovely story, having met through an unexpected twist of fate.

After the car crash, Grace needed to move to an accessible bungalow in Dorchester so she wouldn’t have to navigate the stairs.

It turned out that the property’s owner was Nick’s mum.

Nick and Grace got on swimmingly during the sale process and later met each other again on Plenty of Fish, where things turned romantic.

Grace added: ‘It turned out his parents were the people I bought the house from through a happy coincidence.

‘I had no idea at the time. Nick didn’t really tell her that he was meeting me. He mentioned he was going on a date with someone then he showed her photographs and she said: “Oh my god, that’s Grace!”

‘We then went around to her house to surprise her, she was really happy and excited.’

MORE: Scottish couple shock guests at their engagement party with surprise wedding

MORE: Bride loves her £650 wedding dress so much she refuses to take it off to go swimming

MORE: Frugal couple spend just £70 on both their wedding dresses to save money for a house

What is lupus, which Kim Kardashian has tested positive for?

Kim Kardashian cries on Keeping Up With The Kardashians after testing positive for lupus antibodies
Kim Kardashian was left in tears after testing positive for lupus antibodies (Picture: Keeping Up With The Kardashians/E!)

Kim Kardashian was left in tears on this week’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians after she tested positive for lupus antibodies.

The reality star, who had been complaining of aching and swollen joints and fatigue, underwent tests which confirmed the presence of the antibodies as well as rheumatoid arthritis – although her doctor, Daniel Wallace, said this does not conclusively mean she has the condition.

Kim later admitted she was ‘freaking out’ as her sisters and mother Kris Jenner supported her in the wake of the news, saying: ‘You don’t know. The scariest part is, you just don’t know.’

Here’s what you need to know about lupus and its symptoms.

What is lupus, which Kim Kardashian has tested positive for?

Lupus is a long-term auto-immune condition which causes inflammation to the skin, joints and other organs.

The cause of the condition is not fully understood, but some triggers can include viral infection, puberty, sunlight, the menopause, childbirth and strong medication.

According to the NHS there is no cure, but early diagnosis can help sufferers to better manage the condition.

What are the symptoms of lupus?

The main symptoms of lupus include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Extreme tiredness that does not go away no matter how much you rest
  • Skin rashes over the nose and cheeks

Other symptoms might include weight loss, swollen glands, sensitivity to light and poor circulation in fingers and toes (Raynaud’s).

Most of the above symptoms can be signs of conditions other than lupus, but if you frequently suffer from the above, see your GP for tests.

Selena Gomez in California in 2019
Selena Gomez previously underwent a kidney transplant after suffering complications of lupus (Picture: Getty Images)

The severity of the condition varies from mild – which causes tiredness and joint and skin problems – through to severe, which can cause damage to the heart, brain, lungs and kidneys and can even be life threatening.

Singer Selena Gomez, who also has lupus, previously underwent a kidney transplant after suffering complications from the condition.

Lupus can also vary in the way it affects people, with some experiencing flare-ups of the condition before it settles down, while others have symptoms more or less constantly.

What treatment is available for lupus?

Kim Kardashian undergoes tests for lupus in Keeping Up With The Kardashians
Kim also tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis (Picture: Keeping Up With The Kardashians/E!)

Although there is no cure, treatments are available which can help sufferers to manage symptoms.

As well as using anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen to relieve symptoms, hydroxychloroquine can help with tiredness and skin and joint problems, while steroid creams, tablets and injections can help with kidney inflammation and rashes.

Meanwhile two newer medicines, rituximab and belimumab, are used in some cases to help reduce the number of antibodies in the blood.

People with lupus can also help manage the condition with diet, adequate rest, relaxation techniques and exercise – it helps to stay active if you’re having a flare-up of symptoms.

Wearing sunscreen with a high factor (50+) and staying out of direct sunlight can also help.

For more information you can visit Lupus UK.

MORE: Strong Women: ‘Lupus gives me severe fatigue and joint pain – rugby is an escape from all of it’

What I Rent: Michael and Zoë, £1,100 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Clapton, Hackney

Michael Sheppard and Zoe in their kitchen at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Michael and Zoë share a one-bedroom flat in Clapton, Hackney (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

Pondering what it’s like to rent in London?

And more importantly, exactly how much it costs?

Our weekly series, What I Rent, aims to answer those big questions. Each week we nose around a different person’s rented property in London or outside the city, to get a proper picture of the state of renting right now – from the tiny studio flats to the astoundingly cheap homes up north.

Last week we looked around a flat rented by Leia and Evan, who pay £1,600 a month between them for a one-bedroom flat in Kennington.

This time we’re going a touch east, to Clapton, in Hackney, to hang out with Michael, a 25-year-old account manager for a brewery, and Zoë, 28, a front of house supervisor for a print company.

Michael Sheppard and Zoe in their living room at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
The couple pay £1,100 a month between them (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

Hey, Michael and Zoë. How much do you pay to live here?

Rent is £1,100 a month. For bills we pay £113 in Council Tax, £50 electric and gas. We haven’t had a water bill yet.

Do you think you have a good deal?

For the area? Definitely.

How did you find the flat? 

We’ve lived here since the end of January.

We’d come to the end of a sublet and after viewing some appalling places we settled almost out of desperation on this flat – which has turned out fortunate for us.

Plants on shelves. Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
You’re going to spot a lot of plants in this place (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

Are you happy with the area?

Very happy! There’s a massive sense of community in the area and a lot of our friends live and work very close to us. It’s central enough to cycle to work and transport is good too.

We can go on walks to the marshes and the Lea Valley or we can sit on Hackney Downs closer to home. There’s always something going on in the area.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Zoë will never have enough wardrobe space, and we can dream of a garden… but otherwise, it is perfect for now.

What’s it like living together?

Great! We lived in a few dodgy sublets before finding this place – if there was ever going to be any strain in the relationship it would have been then.

We’d been together for over two years when we moved in together and we find it easy to work around each other’s schedules while also making time to see each other properly.

plants outside michael and zoe's house Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
This is just on your way into the flat (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

How have you made the flat feel like home?

We’ve put up paintings, moved in some of our own furniture, put a cover on to hide the cream sofa leather, Michael has his record player and collection set up (Zoë’s collection is tiny in comparison). And we have filled the living room and outside the front door with plants.

Are there any issues with the house you have to put up with?

The lack of natural light in the back part of the house. The only windows are in the living room and the front door, flooding light through to the bedroom. It would be lovely to have windows in the kitchen and bathroom.

A bike in the hallway Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
The pair have lived here since January (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

Do you have plans to move again? 

Not anytime soon, but we’d be looking for more windows and ideally a garden.

And have you thought about buying a place?

No. There’s a lot of the world left for us to see before that.

Fair enough. Let’s have a look around. 

Chariman meow poster on the door of the flat. Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Here’s the living room, complete with a jazzy poster on the door (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Those blankets and pillows look cosy, don’t they? (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
There’s a lot of stuff in this flat (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
But the couple say they have enough space (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Michael has a significant record collection (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Here’s the kitchen (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Oh hey, Henry (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
A good collection of oils and vinegars (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Spot the eggs (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Yes, that is a special garlic pot. Yes, we’re impressed. (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Behold their kitchen books (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
There’s space for a dining table (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Complete with candles in wine bottles. Fancy. (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Here’s the bedroom (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
They’ve had to get creative with storage space (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Books are stashed in sneaky spots (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)


Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Fancy clock, that (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
Finally, the bathroom (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
What a nice hanging basket (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
A tub! (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)
Michael Sheppard at his home in Hackney, East London, part of the What I Rent series.
…where’s the second toothbrush? (Picture: Joe Newman/Metro.co.uk)

What I Rent is a weekly series that’s out every Tuesday at 10am. Check back next week to have a nose around another rented property in London.

How to get involved in What I Rent

What I Rent is Metro.co.uk's weekly series that takes you inside the places in London people are renting, to give us all a better sense of what's normal and how much we should be paying.

If you fancy taking part, please email whatirent@metro.co.uk.

You'll need to have pictures taken of your kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom, plus a few photos of you in your room. Make sure you get permission for your housemates!

You'll also need to be okay with sharing how much you're paying for rent, as that's pretty important.

MORE: What I Rent: Charlotte and Jon, £495 a month for a two-bedroom flat in Halifax, West Yorkshire

MORE: What I Rent: Caspar, £1,100 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Brixton

MORE: What I Rent: Ben and Emma, £1,100 for a one-bedroom flat in West Norwood, London

Deer interrupts newlyweds’ photoshoot to steal the bouquet

deer photobombs newlyweds wedding photoshoot to steal the bouquet
Morgan and Luke’s newlywed photoshoot was interrupted by a surprise visitor (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)

Animals are the only beings we’ll allow to photobomb.

No, aunt Sharon, the bride will not find your bunny ears in the back of every wedding picture remotely entertaining.

We all enjoyed the adventures of Thor, a dog who photobombed his owners as they posed for their engagement pics, and now we have a new attention-grabbing icon in the form of a deer.

Morgan and Luke Mackley, both 24, were posing for pictures in the lush surroundings of their wedding venue, The Felt Estate, in Michigan, just after tying the knot.

As they hugged, kissed and smiled for photographer Laurenda Bennett of Laurenda Marie Photography, they were interrupted by a surprise visitor.

Photobombing deer at couple's wedding photoshoot
At first the deer just popped his head into the shot… (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer at couple's wedding photoshoot
…but then he decided he wanted to be a bit more involved (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)

At first the couple were pleased with the intrusion of a deer, who added a Disney princess element to their special occasion.

But unfortunately, the deer wasn’t content with being a background addition. He wanted to be centre stage, and quickly barged in front of the newlyweds.

Turns out the deer had also taken a fancy to the bouquet, created by Melissa Anne Floral Co., and decided he should really carry (or eat) it, rather than the bride.

Photobombing deer at couple's wedding steals the bouquet
A sweet moment ensued (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer grabs bouquet
And then he took an interest in the bouquet (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer tries to steal bouquet
The bride tried to keep the bouquet safe (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer at couple's wedding steals the bouquet
But the deer was determined (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer steals bouquet
Eventually the couple had to give up and let the deer take its prize (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)

Morgan tried to gently pull the bouquet away from the greedy deer’s grasp, but when the animal ‘showed a little sass’ she decided to back off. Thankfully her bridesmaids provided a bunch of backup flowers for the bouquet toss.

The couple took the wedding day theft in their stride, and the resulting photos are pretty glorious.

‘Deer: 1, Bouquet: 0,’ wrote photographer Laurenda on Facebook. ‘When the field you want to take bride and groom portraits in has an overtly friendly deer…you roll with it until the deer decides the bouquet is lookin’ like a good snack.’

Photobombing deer at couple's wedding photoshoot
Thankfully the photos are still pretty magical (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography MUST CREDIT: Melissa from Melissa Anne Floral Co as the florist METROGRAB
I mean, this is a dreamy picture (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)
Photobombing deer steals bouquet on bride's wedding day
And the deer got what he came for (Picture: Laurenda Marie Photography)

We don’t know the deer’s name, but he’s become a bit of a star at The Felt Estate, who warn that while the animal is surprisingly friendly, he shouldn’t be fed or petted.

On the wedding venue’s Facebook page, the owners wrote: ‘This friendly deer has been hanging around the local parks and The Felt Estate for the last couple of months.

‘While it is amazing to see a deer so close (and even photobomb wedding photos) – he is a wild animal. For your safety and his well being please do not feed or pet the deer. We are working with a wildlife specialist from the DNR who is monitoring the situation and working on solutions.’

Good to know.

We’d recommend that anyone else planning to get married at that location guards their wedding cake closely.

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What it’s like to stay awake during brain surgery

people who had awake craniotomy surgery
James, Kendra and Kelly Ann all had awake craniotomy surgery (Picture: Brain Tumour Research/Kendra Smith/Kelly Ann Alexander)

‘It’s Aliyana, not Ariana,’ Kelly Ann corrected her doctor when he started chatting about her horse.

She could be forgiven for being a little snappy – he was asking the question while operating on her brain.

Kelly Ann Alexander, 41, had an awake craniotomy – an operation where doctors work on the brain and wake the patient up during the procedure to make sure that they don’t do any damage.

You might have seen videos of people playing the violin or making phone calls during surgery but for most people having the operation, the medical team just ask a few questions while stimulating the brain.

Brain fibres don’t have any pain fibres so touching or cutting the brain doesn’t hurt. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the tissue and muscles around the area the surgeon has to cut, meaning doctors can operate without hurting the patient.

Kelly Ann Alexander now (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)
Kelly Ann Alexander now (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)

The operation is used to treat people who have a brain tumour as it allows doctors to try to remove as much of the tumour as possible while making sure they don’t affect things like speech and movement.

Kelly Ann had the operation after she was told she had two slow-growing tumours in her brain, which were discovered when she suffered a seizure at home in September 2015.

She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I had been feeling tired for a while but at the time I was working really hard at my job as a professional horse groom. I was looking after 15 horses on my own plus my own horse Aliyana.

‘On the day of the first seizure, I told my husband, Kevin, I was going to bed at about 7pm because I was just so tired.

‘About 10 minutes later, he thought I was smashing up the room and he came in to find me having a seizure.

‘He called an ambulance and I was rushed to hospital but when I got there, they told me I was drunk, I needed to “sober up” and sent me home.’

Kelly's brain scan (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)
Kelly’s brain scan (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)

On the way home, Kelly had another seizure and she went to see her GP first thing the next morning. Her doctor told her it sounded like she had epilepsy and prescribed anti-seizure medication.

In the days that followed, she has more seizures and when her husband had to go off to work for two weeks as a long-distance lorry driver, she decided to go and stay with her parents 300 miles away in West Lothian, Scotland.

With Kelly Ann not allowed to drive, a friend drove to collect her and then drove her home.

On the journey, Kelly Ann had about 14 seizures and as soon as she walked into her parents’ house, she had one huge seizure in front of them.

They took her straight to hospital where she was taken for several MRI scans and CT scans.

The following day, she was told she had two tumours on her brain and although they were slow-growing, they were putting pressure on the front, causing seizures and other symptoms including a metallic taste in her mouth.

Kelly Ann after her awake craniotomy operation
Kelly Ann after her operation (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)

A few days later, Kelly Ann and her family were given a few options for treatment – either surgery or a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Kelly Ann explained: ‘Having seen my grandparents go through cancer, I knew I wanted to avoid chemotherapy and radiotherapy if I could so I decided to have the surgery.

‘I wasn’t bothered about being awake because I really just wanted the tumours to be removed. The night before I was a little nervous and I was googling the surgery. I found a video of a man playing the violin during it and I thought that if he could do that, I would be ok.’

On 24 November 2015, about six weeks after diagnosis, Kelly Ann had the operation.

In most cases, the patient is given an anaesthetic to sedate them while they open up a hole in the skull but is woken up just before the point where doctors start to remove the tumour.

Kelly Ann explains: ‘I can remember so many things from the operation.

Kelly Ann's scar from her surgery (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)
Kelly Ann’s scar from her surgery (Picture: Kelly Ann Alexander)

‘I can remember them asking me to lift my arms and arguing with them about the name of my horse.

‘I heard them asking for tools and scalpels and I asked them not to say those words because it was scaring me.’

After they had removed as much of the tumour as possible, Kelly was sedated again while they stitched up her skull.

Unfortunately, doctors were only able to remove 70% of Kelly Ann’s tumour. Initially she remained stable but over time, they have grown.

What are the symptoms of a brain tumour?

Symptoms can vary depending on where the tumour is growing but can include:

  • Severe and persistent headaches
  • Changes in vision, such as blurriness, double vision or blind spots
  • Flickering eyes
  • Bulging eyes
  • Continuing nausea, vomiting
  • Extreme or sudden drowsiness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing loss
  • Unexplained twitches of the face or limbs
  • Seizures (fits or faints)
  • Appearing to be lost in a deep daydream for a short while
  • Confusion
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, the face or on one side of the body.
  • Changes in personality or behaviour
  • Impaired memory or mental ability, which may be very subtle to begin with
  • Changes in senses, including smell
  • Problems with speech, writing or drawing
  • Problems with averting the eyes upwards
  • Loss of concentration or difficulty in concentrating
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Brain Tumour Research

A year ago, three years after her operation, Kelly Ann was told that the tumours had grown big enough to need more treatment.

In January this year, she started radiotherapy and is now undergoing chemotherapy in a bid to shrink the tumours again.

James Hinnigan, like Kelly Ann, had an awake craniotomy after he was unexpectedly diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Back in 2015, he was living in Australia with his wife Wendi and son Cameron when he suffered a seizure.

The 40-year-old explains: ‘I thought I was having a stroke because I lost all coordination and strength.

‘I was rushed to the hospital and they did a scan of my brain, where they found the tumour.’

Initially starting treatment in Australia, James and his wife decided to move back to the Ashton-in-Makerfield in Greater Manchester to be closer to family while he was ill.

He was told by his doctor here at Charing Cross hospital in London, that he could have an awake craniotomy. Although he was slightly worried about the idea of being aware of what was happening during the operation, James says he just wanted to get the tumour out of his head.

He was accepted onto a trial using an iKnife, which can identify healthy and diseased tissue in real-time, and laser procedure to make the craniotomy even faster.

He had the surgery, which was filmed, in March 2016, led by Babar Vaqas, the trial chief investigator, and Kevin O’Neill, who leads the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at Imperial College.

James waving goodbye to his tumour during an awake craniotmoy
James waving goodbye to his tumour (Picture: Brain Tumour Research)

He explains: ‘I was groggy when they woke me up but I remember them asking me questions and checking my speech as that was the thing they were most concerned about.

‘At one point I was completely overcome with emotion and I started to cry because I felt the team were just such special people and I was so lucky to be treated by them.

‘I even asked Kevin O’Neill to show me the tumour after he cut it out. He showed it to me and I waved goodbye.

‘At the end, they asked me if I wanted to go back to sleep. I said no because I was happy to be awake while they stitched me up.’

James’ operation was successful and he recovered well physically but admits the illness had a huge impact on his mental health.

With the support of his family and charity Brain Tumour Research, he is now back at work as a maintenance manager.

James with his wife, son Cameron and daughter Rose (Picture: James Hinnigin)
James with his wife, son Cameron and daughter Rose (Picture: James Hinnigan)

Kendra Smith’s memories of the operation are even more vivid than James’. She had an awake craniotomy in July this year, over two years after a previous standard craniotomy.

Doctors were able to remove most of the tumour in the 28-year-old’s brain during the first surgery but around 20-30% remained.

Initially, doctors wanted to perform another standard craniotomy to try to remove more of the tumour but she was told there was a risk it could damage the function in the left side of her body.

After seeking a second opinion, she was told about the awake craniotomy procedure.

Kendra just before diagnosis
Kendra just before diagnosis (Picture: Kendra Smith)

During the surgery, the sedation did not work and although the area was numbed with local anaesthetic, she was able to see and hear what was happening as they opened her skull.

Kendra, from Pennsylvania, US, explains: ‘I was awake the whole time. I remember pretty much everything. One of my most intense memories was actually seeing the surgeon take like saw to my head so it was pretty intense.

‘I remember a lot of pressure, a lot of noise, a lot of things happening. They actually had a nurse who sat next to me the entire time, her job was to make sure I didn’t fall asleep

‘I remember being really tired because it was a three to four hour operation. I wanted to go to sleep and I remember the nurse saying: “I need you to blink your eyes now”.’

Kendra after her surgery in July
Kendra after her surgery in July (Picture: Kendra Smith)

Noticing Kendra was terrified by what was happening, her doctor remembered she loved System of a Down and played their music in the background to try to keep her calm.

Luckily, the awake craniotomy was a success and Kendra’s doctors were able to remove the final bits of the tumour.

She is now doing rehab but will hopefully stay cancer-free.

She added: ‘I’m just amazed that they were able to remove everything and I was fine. There is always a risk it could come back but for now I am cancer-free and working through rehab.’

Having a brain tumour is rare and not everyone is suitable for this type of surgery but these operations are incredible.

Not only do surgeons carry out complex and intricate surgery, but they have to consider how the patient will react and how to keep them calm.

As James adds: ‘I feel so lucky to have undergone this surgery. I was so privileged to be able to have it and for it to be 100% successful. The doctors who do this work are simply amazing. They are heroes for me and my family.’

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Gay penguin couple adopt first gender neutral penguin at London aquarium

Charlotte Barcas helps place a purple identification tag on the aquarium's first Gentoo penguin to not have its gender assigned at Sea Life London
Charlotte Barcas helps place a purple identification tag on the aquarium’s first Gentoo penguin to not have its gender assigned (Picture: Sea Life London)

Meet the first gender neutral penguin at aquarium Sea Life London.

Staff have decided not to describe the Gentoo penguin as male or female because they say gender is more of a human construct.

Expert Aquarists say it would be normal for it to grow up as genderless in the wild as male and female penguins look almost the same until they mature and reach adulthood.

The four-month-old chick is yet to be named and will be identified with its own purple band.

The chick has been adopted by a same-sex penguin couple Rocky and Marama at the aquarium after they showed they were ready to look after an egg of their own.

The egg was one of two born to the birth mother and staff thought it as better to move the egg to relieve her of the pressure of raising two chicks.

The chick is doing well and has already fledged its nest and moulted its baby feathers to become another penguin in the colony.

The Gentoo penguin chick with its adoptive female parents Rocky and Marama at Sea Life London
The Gentoo penguin chick with its adoptive female parents Rocky and Marama (Picture: Sea Life London)

Graham McGrath, General Manager at Sea Life London, said: ‘While the decision may ruffle a few feathers, gender neutrality in humans has only recently become a widespread topic of conversation, however, it is completely natural for penguins to develop genderless identities as they grow into mature adults.

‘What makes us really proud at the aquarium is the success of Sea Life London’s Gentoo breeding programme and the amazing job of same sex penguins Rocky and Marama who took the chick under their wing and raised it as their own.’

The chick was born as part of the conversation programme at the aquarium on London’s South Bank. Gentoo penguins have near-threatened status in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the programme aims to help the species.

As the adopted chick matures it may become part of this breeding program depending on the gender its biology determines.

MORE: What it’s like to stay awake during brain surgery

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Man bumps into his doppelgänger at a wedding and they’re wearing the same outfit


Azly Yozof, 30, was attending a wedding and decided to go for a casual look, wearing a red T-shirt and jeans.

When he asked his pal Amir Zulfadhli Zulkifly to take a picture, they noticed another guest behind Azly.

To their amusement, the guest was Azly’s doppelgänger, even wearing the same outfit – black-rimmed glasses and all.

Azly and Amir spotted the twin on stage as he posed with the groom.

Amir zoomed in and got the perfect angles to capture Azly and his twin side by side.

The duo found the whole thing hilarious as Azly laughed into the camera, which caught his lookalike’s attention, setting the other guests off laughing too.

What are the chances?

Two bald men at a wedding wearing same outfit, red tshirt, black glasses
This is the hilarious moment a man went to his friend’s wedding and accidentally met his doppelgänger (Picture: Viral Press)

Amir said: ‘Me and Azly are the groom’s boyhood friends and the other man was his friend from work.

‘This was the first time we had ever met and it was really funny.

‘It was just a coincidence that Azly and his doppelgänger were both wearing red shirts.

”They look like twins but they’re not related in any way.

‘We are planning to arrange a meeting for the two to see each other again and this time we will take a picture of them together.’

Two bald men wearing same outfit at wedding
Amir, left, said his ‘wedding twin’ spotted them laughing and joined in the joke while he posed with the groom on the stage at the wedding (Picture: Viral Press)

These two are not the only ones to turn up to a wedding in the same attire.

Three grandmas coincidently rocked up in the same lacy blue number and they totally rocked it.

They also went for a picture, posing side by side as they attended their respective grandson and granddaughter’s big day.

Grandmas serving looks – we love to see it.

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MORE: Bride charges wedding guest £250 to get her makeup done – and she wasn’t even a bridesmaid

Vegan Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream is finally here

Vegan cookies on cookie dough non-dairy ice cream from Ben & Jerry's
Vegan cookie dough is here (Picture: Ben & Jerry’s)

Vegan products keep getting better – the Gregg’s sausage roll, KFC Imposter burger and even Ikea meatballs have gone plant-based.

Ben & Jerry’s jumped on the non-dairy bandwagon in 2017 but one popular flavour has been missing.

Cookie Dough has been one of the brands most popular flavours since it launched in 1991.

Vegans or those avoiding dairy have had to miss out on the ice cream filled with pieces of dough – but it’s finally here.

New Cookies on Cookie Dough tub is a smooth caramel non-dairy ice cream made with almonds, vegan cookie dough chunks, chocolatey chunks and a cookie swirl. Sounds great, right?

The new vegan cookie dough chunks have been created by B-Corp Rhino Foods, the same people behind the original beloved Cookie Dough flavour.

Cookies on Cookie Dough joins three other non-dairy flavours – Peanut Butter & Cookies, Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Coconutterly Caramel’d.

Ben & Jerry’s Flavour Guru, Priscille Moussy said: ‘Our classic Cookie Dough tub was concocted for people who know the joy (and the temptation!) of sneaking a bite or two of cookie dough before it makes it into the oven, which got us thinking… Why should our vegan fans have to miss out?

‘We’ve been working hard, with our friends at Rhino, to create a vegan cookie dough that really stands up to the original. I think we nailed it.’

Cookies on Cookie Dough rolls will be available in stores nationwide from late September, with a recommended retail price of £6.

MORE: What it’s like to stay awake during brain surgery

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World Suicide Prevention Day: What to do and say if someone tells you they’re suicidal

Illustration of a black woman looking sad/upset with a grey background
How can you help someone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

This World Suicide Prevention Day, you’ll see a lot of messages urging people to talk.

But once someone is brave enough to take that step and ask for help, what comes next?

Too many of us are scared of the words ‘suicide’ and ‘suicidal’, fearing that just by saying them we’ll do something wrong. We’re so scared of saying the wrong thing that it can keep us silent, even when we suspect that someone might be struggling.

To get us all more comfortable in the event of a mental health crisis, we spoke to the Samaritans and Mind for their advice on what to do and say if someone tells you they are suicidal, or you think they may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Listen without judgment

This is the first step, and it’s crucial. If someone makes the choice to open up to you, make sure you listen to everything they have to say without any judgment.

Be patient when listening and encourage them to talk. Don’t interrupt, speak over, or dismiss them. You may be the first person they’ve been honest with.

Try not to provide immediate advice unless they ask for it. Just listening and trying to understand can have a huge impact.

Try to remain calm and don’t make assumptions about why a person may feel the way they do. Just listen.

The Samaritans guide to being a good listener:

Show you care

Give the person your full attention, maintaining eye contact and staying engaged.

Have patience

It may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up.

Effective listening is about creating trust with the other person. The person sharing shouldn’t feel rushed, or they won’t feel it’s a safe environment.

If they’ve paused in their response, wait, they may not have finished speaking. It might take them some time to formulate what they are saying, or they may find it difficult to articulate what they’re feeling.

Use open questions

Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer, and follow up with questions like ‘Tell me more’.

An open-ended question means not jumping in with your own ideas about how the other person may be feeling.

These questions don’t impose a view point and require a person to pause, think and reflect, and then hopefully expand.

Avoid asking questions or saying something that closes down the conversation. Open-ended questions encourage them to talk, the conversation is a safe space that you are holding for them and nothing they say is right or wrong. Try asking, ‘how are you feeling today’?

Say it back

Check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution.

Repeating something back to somebody is a really good way to reassure them that they have your undivided attention. And you can check to see that you’re hearing what they want you to hear, not putting your own interpretation onto the conversation.

Ask directly about suicide

Don’t be afraid to ask the question: ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’

The word ‘suicide’ can feel scary, but being specific and direct with your language is important. It’s easy to confuse one person’s ‘feeling down’ with another person’s serious depressive period, and all too tempting for people to dismiss their feelings with that class line of ‘I’m fine’.

Ask directly so you can know if the person is at risk of suicide.

‘There is still a taboo around talking about suicide which can make it even harder for people experiencing these feelings to open up and feel understood,’ says Mind’s guide to supporting someone who feels suicidal.

‘Direct questions about suicide like ‘Are you having suicidal thoughts?’ or ‘Have you felt like you want to end your life?’ can help someone talk
about how they are feeling.’

Try these questions

Ruth Sutherland, CEO at Samaritans, recommends three questions that anyone can ask someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts:

  • Have you talked to anyone else about this?
  • Would you like to get some help?
  • Would you like me to come with you?

You don’t need to be an expert in mental health to help someone who’s struggling – simply offering to help and to listen could save their life.

Refer them to an expert

You might not feel equipped to handle someone’s thoughts of suicide – that’s perfectly normal.

It’s okay to refer someone to Samaritans directly. You can be the mediator to help them make that call, offering to stay with them if they’re nervous about talking to a stranger.

‘If you think they could benefit from support, Samaritans is a good place to start and our service is free 24/7 and we’re there on the phone or by email or even face to face in a branch,’ Ruth explains.

Ensure immediate safety

If someone has said they are suicidal, remove any items they could use to cause harm to themselves, especially if they have mentioned specific things they might use.

If an attempt has been made or you believe the person is at immediate risk of suicide, call 999 and stay with the person until the ambulance arrives.

Help them create a support plan

If you want to help but don’t know how to, there’s a simple solution: Ask the person what they need.

‘A support plan is a list that sets out how someone would like to be supported and what they can do to help themselves in a particular situation,’ explains Mind. ‘It can encourage them to tell you what might help. It’s also a useful way of keeping important information and contacts together in one place.’

Someone may want help going to hospital and speaking to a crisis team. They might want help accessing therapy or making an appointment to chat to their GP about medication. They may just need someone to check in each morning.

Whatever they need, it’s worth asking what the person feels will help. Don’t feel that you have to provide all the help they need alone – you’re just one person, not a superhero with magical powers. Part of making a support plan is urging the person to explore other ways of finding support.

Making a support plan:

Encourage someone struggling to create a support plan. You can help them through it or they can do it alone – just make sure it’s written down and that everyone involved in this person’s wellbeing has access to a copy.

What can I do to take care of myself?

This could include things like ‘write down how I feel’, ‘cuddle a pet’ or ‘do some exercise like walking or swimming’.

How would I like to be supported?

This could include a list of names and numbers of friends, family or professionals you can contact when you need support and details of how
you would like to be supported, like ‘ask me how I’m feeling’ or ‘come to appointments with me’.

It’s also a good idea to list the details of helplines or peer support groups, which might include online support like Elefriends.

Who can be contacted in an emergency?

It’s best to agree on what to do in an emergency, with names and numbers for crisis services. This could include things like ‘call 999 for an ambulance’, ‘contact my Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) on…’ or ‘call 116 123 for Samaritans’.

Ruth says: ‘Starting a conversation can seem to be the hardest thing in the world. Showing you care and you are listening can make all the difference for someone who may be feeling suicidal.’

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.

Couple who met at birth celebrate their ruby wedding anniversary

Picture of the couple now and when they married, 40 years ago
This couple who have been married for 40 years first met when they were born on the same ward (Picture: Iain Buist/ NCJMedia Ltd)

Russell Cook and Susan Worth first met at hospital as newborns – now they are celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary.

They were born hours apart at Willington Quay Maternity Hospital on 14 August, 1958, but weren’t in touch again until they were teenagers.

The 61-year-olds were brought together again when at 13, Susan and her family moved to a new house in Wallsend, Northumberland, and found that Russell and his family lived next door.

When their mums got talking, they discovered they had met before.

Shortly after, the youngsters instantly took a liking to each other and started dating.

At 21, they decided to get married and have spent 40 blissful years together.

Their family is now organising a massive party to celebrate the occasion.

Couple Russell Cook and Susan Wort posing together in a garden
The couple that’s born together, stays together (Picture: Iain Buist/ NCJMedia Ltd)

Susan, who is due to retire from North Tyneside Council’s School Services at the end of this month, thinks they were ‘meant to be’.

She said: ‘It was a number of events that brought us together.

‘We are best mates, we are comfortable with each other, we like all the same things and love each other.

‘We instantly got on. We would walk to school together and walk back from school. We then started courting and would go to the discos. We’ve never looked back.’

The couple left school at 15 and got jobs within two weeks of each other. They then got engaged at 18 and married at 21 when they bought their first property.

Russell, a mechanical engineer at Siemens, said: ‘It is a series of coincidences that led us to each other but I’m glad they all happened.

‘I love her loads.’

The couple has two children, one grandson and another grandchild on the way.

Russell is a keen motorcyclist and Susan is an avid knitter and has an Instagram page called Nannysueknits18.

Son Steve added: ‘It really is an unbelievable story.’

Daughter Lisa said: ‘They are very happy, extremely loving and supportive parents and grandparents who go above and beyond for all of us.

‘They have helped us both achieve what we have so far in life by always supporting our choices, be they right or wrong, and that’s what makes them amazing for us.’

We wish Susan and Russell many more happy years together.

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Prankster sets up a date, hangs the washing and shaves on London Overground


London commuters have a low tolerance for quirky antics on the Underground, Overground or generally everywhere.

Even a brilliantly choreographed dance on the train won’t warrant a glance for a nation that loves avoiding eye contact.

One man is determined to get stiff upper lipped British folks smiling.

You might’ve seen videos of Elvin Mensah doing the rounds on social media after a video of him setting up a date on the train went viral.

He soon came to be known as ‘That Train Date Guy’.

The prankster has been up to all sorts on the Overground, hanging his washing on a clothes horse, exercising with a portable treadmill, and even shaving, which he did by bringing a whole sink on the train. As you do.

His videos have delighted his 44,000-strong Insta followers and beyond, though some of his content has been criticised.

In the dinner date video, for example, Elvin could be seen preparing a table with a rose and pouring wine for the female traveller sitting next to him.

People sharing the video on social media said it the prank was a form of sexual harassment – but Elvin tells Metro.co.uk that the lady was happy to be in his video.

Prankster sets up fake date on London overground
The famous train date (Picture: Elvin Mensah)

Elvin told us: ‘Hundreds of thousands of women and several media pages on the internet didn’t see it as harassment. They got the joke.

‘The passengers on the train and the lady who was my “date” were evidently amused by the prank so that’s saying something.

‘Anyone who is good at what they do will always have haters, it’s just part of life. I don’t let any of that get to me but rather use it as fuel to keep delivering content of good quality that people will enjoy.’

Elvin’s been doing comedy skits for years now. He started by writing funny stories on Facebook around six years ago.

Prankster sets up portable treadmill london overground
Nothing to see here, just a man setting up a treadmill on the Overground (Picture: Elvin Mensah)

He adds: ‘I’m a creative individual and as a comic, I’m always trying to make observations and find ways to create things that will give people a laugh.’

‘I also get inspiration from things I see or hear people talk about.’

Selfie of Elvin Mensah
When he’s not at work (the Overground) (Picture: Elvin Mensah)

In another video Elvin is seen in exercise gear, setting up a treadmill and then going for a run on it. He says that was his favourite to do.

We have no idea how he kept a straight face.

‘A large part of comedy is that it has elements of surprise, spontaneity and audacity,’ he says.

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11 easy changes you can make to be a more sustainable human

LARQ Bottle Himalayan Pink-7255
Looking to be more sustainable? Read on. (Picture: Larq)

To say the world has a problem with plastic pollution is a major understatement. Our dependency on the stuff is downright scary, with landfills all over the world exploding discarded coffee machines, water bottles and computers on a daily basis.

At present, roughly only 9% of all the plastic ever made has been recycled, with 12% of it be totally incinerated. The remaining 79%, according to a 2017 study conducted by National Geographic, has accumulated either in landfill or in the natural environment.

In 1950, the world only produced 2 million tonnes of plastic per year. Since then, annual production has increased nearly 200 fold, reaching a staggering 381 million tonnes in 2015 – roughly equivalent to the mass of two-thirds of the world population four years ago. And the number is growing, according to experts.

If that’s not bad enough, it’s predicted by many environmental campaigners that up to one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year as a result from plastic pollution in our oceans.

For people looking to ban single-use plastics from their daily routine for good, or simply just want to something that makes a small difference on a global scale, read on.

Say goodbye to teabags

We’re a nation of tea drinkers, and we love it. If you have three or more cups of the stuff a day, look into a loose tea infuser to cut down on how many tiny disposable packets you rip open and throw away. Spoiler: glass pots and glasses are best.

Spend your paycheque on the LARQ

Reusable water bottles are great but they come with two common problems: a fowl stench courtesy of bad bacteria and lots of contamination. That’s where LARQ comes in. It’s the world’s first sustainable, non-toxic, mercury-free and self-cleaning water bottle that utilises some of the most advanced UV technology ever.

It works by using UV-C LED tech that purifies the inner surfaces of the water bottle by eradicating pesky bugs via a super neat photochemical reaction.

Once you’ve filled the bottle, you simply press a button and the LARQ bottle zaps 99.9999% of all odour causing bacterias and viruses – this means healthier, cleaner water and fewer refills. The best part is, if you forget to activate the cleanser, there’s a nifty self-cleaning mode that kicks in every two hours basking the water and the inner surface in purifying UV light to keep your water and bottle free of germs.

What’s more, the bottle is free of BPA, BPS, and Phthalates and is double-walled and vacuum-sealed so it can keep beverages ice cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours.

At £95, it doesn’t come cheap but chances are you are probably already spending that on daily bottles of still water anyway.

The LARQ water bottle is one of the most advanced in the world (Picture: LARQ)

Don’t get sucked into the coffee machine trend

Everyone loves the thought of waking up and roasting their own beans. It’s the ultimate television couple fantasy, isn’t it? But truth is, with the rise of instant coffee systems like Nespresso and Keurig machines, single-serving pods have seen an exponential rise in use.

Instead of popping in a new pod every morning, invest in your choice of ground coffee and a reusable filter pod. Many of the major brands now sell them, so it will save on waste as well as your money.

Love to clean? Go natural

Most, if not all, the major household name cleaning products contain chemicals harmful to the environment, as well as to your health.

For those who want to make a difference and still get the same results, opt for products that pack in all the natural ingredients without the collateral damage.

Plant-based, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, vegan, gluten-free, biodegradable, and certified cruelty free are all the things to look out for on the label, along with companies who preach sustainable ways of living.

If you are unsure where to start, both Kinn and Ecover are winners in our books.

Closeup young man washing hair with with shampoo in the bathroom, vintage tone, selective focus
Add vegan, palm oil free products to your locks. (Picture: Getty)

Shake up your hair care routine

Zero waste shampoos and conditioners really are a no brainer.

When it does come to washing your locks, ditch the big names – in the long run, it’s healthier, better for the planet and much better for our world’s flora and fauna. Making the switch is super simple. When you pop into your local Holland & Barrett, Boots or Superdrug, check the label.

Buy things that are vegan, cruelty-free, 100% organic, palm-oil free, have ethical ingredient sourcing policies and use zero-waste and compostable packaging.

Go-to brands include everything from Ethique to Lush, Plaine, Friendly, Living Naturally and most of the time, the products you see lining the shelves in Whole Foods.

If you can, buy everything in bar form (including your body wash). Bars not only eliminate unnecessary waste, but they are also more natural and concentrated, giving your hair a more nourished, and over time, natural look.

Say goodbye to that traditional black plastic bag

Yes, the thing in your bin right now is made of polyethylene, a harmful type of non-biodegradable plastic which can disrupt local environments, and, in many cases, kill animals.

Buy trash bags that are 100% compostable, are BPI-certified and meet the stringent requirements of municipal and local council composting programs.

At first glance at on the supermarket shelf, they may look spenny, but when you consider their hefty gallon count, they actually hold more waste than the traditional household favourite.

Compostable cutlery is your new lunch BFF

From Pret to Whole Foods and M&S, there’s a lot of plastic cutlery in many of our lunch favourites.

Avoid the urge to grab a naughty knife and fork and buy your own compostable ones. A range of cutlery is now on offer, including knives, forks, coffee stirrers, spoons and teaspoons made from either wood or oxo-biodegradable materials made from starch that disintegrate in months rather than years.

Where can you buy them? Our trusty friend called Amazon sells tons, or for extra brownie points, save on the packaging and dive into Muji or an on-trend department store.

Nab a shower timer

They save water, time, money (up to £30 per year) and only cost a tenner on Amazon. Buy one or ask your water provider to put one in the post.

plastic bottles
Plastic problem: We produced a staggering 381 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2015 (Picture: Getty)

Switch the plastic for glass

Go look in your cupboard. There’s lots of plastic tuppaware saved from that cheeky Saturday night takeaway, right? Reusing it is great, but over time, they get lazy and end up doing more harm than good.

Though most are considered safe, many containers use polycarbonate, which if used over a long period of time, has been shown to leach the harmful hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Risks of BPA include everything from disrupting the development of a fetus to brain and behavior problems, heart trouble, and in some cases, has been linked to the onset of certain types of cancer.

Best alternative? Glass. Yes, a stylish glass box is heavier and a tad more expensive, but just think of all that non-biodegradable plastic you’re actively saving the planet from.

All the big brands, including Sistema, M&S, John Lewis, Pyrex, Lifefactory, stock glass alternatives and once you buy one, you can use it almost indefinitely.

And when it does eventually break, simply take it to your local recycling point where, if you’re lucky, you might be able to score a buck or two for handing it back to Mother Nature.

Invest in some LED lightbulbs

LEDs are up to 80% more efficient than other major lightning options. How so? 95% of the energy produced in LEDs is converted into light, and only 5% into heat. Overall, they use much less power, thus slashing the demand on the grid and on power plants, and as a result, helps to reduce all the accompanying greenhouse emissions associated with energy consumption.

Aside from being great for the planet, LEDs are also dimmable, come in a wave of different colours, and depending on the brand, are WiFi enabled so you can control them by a swipe on your phone.

Buy rechargeable batteries

Traditional batteries are made up of a variety of nasty chemicals, many of which are extremely toxic and harmful towards the environment, causing both soil and water pollution.

Instead of sending your old batteries to the landfill, invest in some rechargeable ones to throw into your remote, beard trimmer or camera.

Not only will this save you space in the kitchen drawer, but over the years, will save you a shed load of money. All major stockists and online and high street retailers sell them, so you have no excuse.

If you are unsure of how to dispose of batteries and the electronics you no longer need, ask your local council or pop into a hardware shop. Both will have all the information you’ll need.

MORE: How to reduce waste and help the planet when you’re travelling on a plane

MORE: Doing housework 24 minutes per day could reduce your risk of early death, says new research

The UK’s top restaurants have been revealed and they’re budget-friendly

thomas hornall restaurant
Top notch noms that won’t batter your wallet. (Picture: Thomas Hornall)

A food guide has revealed a growing trend in cheap and cheerful restaurants in the UK.

Published in the Waitrose and Partners Good Food Guide 2020, nearly one third of Britain’s best restaurants are budget with menus priced at thirty quid or less, according to the celebrated dining handbook.

Alongside all the big haute hitters, more than 350 of the 1,200 named restaurants were independents and small chains.

The guide, which has been published since 1951, awarded Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria, as its top restaurant.

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume was awarded top restaurant
Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume was awarded top restaurant. (Picture: Thomas Hornall)

Out of the top 10, four of the country’s best restaurants are in London with Clare Smyth’s Core in Notting Hill nabbing the number two spot.

Pam Bruton was awarded chef of the year at Inver in Strachur, Argyll and Bute and top prize, Restaurant of the Year, went to The Mash Inn in Radnage, in county Bucks.

Speaking of the results, the guide’s editor Elizabeth Carter said: ‘With diners increasingly looking for flexible eating options and value for money, there has been a surge in inexpensive cafes and restaurants that rank quality of ingredients above all else.

‘Small, owner-run dining rooms across the country provide clear examples of how they can and do work in direct opposition to the pizza-burger overload on the British high street.’

Moor Hall was awarded the nation's fifth top eat
Moor Hall was awarded the nation’s fifth top eat (Picture: Thomas Hornall)

New entries on the list included the Woodsman in Stratford-upon-Avon, while the best local restaurant award, overall, was scooped up by The Little Gloster in Gurnard, on the Isle of Wight.

Silo, headed up by Douglas McMaster in Brighton, was awarded the title of sustainability champion after all his cool and innovative steps to reduce waste in his restaurant.

See the full top 10 below.

The UK's top restaurants:

  • L’Enclume, Cumbria
  • Core by Clare Smyth, London
  • Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Cornwall
  • Ynyshir, Powys
  • Moor Hall, Lancashire
  • Claude Bosi at Bibendum, London
  • Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London
  • Restaurant Sat Bains, Nottingham
  • Casamia, Bristol
  • Pollen Street Social, London

MORE: World’s first cheese conveyor belt is now open in London

MORE: Supermarket Sweep criticised for ‘disgraceful’ food waste despite show insisting produce goes to food banks

Burger King is giving away free hash browns this week to celebrate their new breakfast menu

burger king hash browns
Drool (Picture: Burger King)

Attention, fellow fans of potatoes and enjoyers of free things.

This is a good week for breakfasts. Just as McDonald’s is giving out free McMuffins, Burger King has entered the chat with their own weeklong promotion.

Anyone who orders a breakfast meal through the Burger King app this week (so from today until 13 September) will be treated to a free portion of hash browns. Dreamy.

To be reiterate, to get your freebie hash browns you will need to dedicate some cash to a Burger King breakfast. But hey, if you needed a reason to treat yourself, free carbs might do the trick.

The promo is to celebrate the launch of Burger King’s breakfast menu, which features all sorts of delights including bacon butties and a special breakfast burger.

The Breakfast King is a new addition to the lineup, made of a freshly flame-grilled Whopper patty, crispy bacon, two eggs, and American cheese in a toasted brioche bun. A burger for breakfast. Why not?

burger king's breakfast king burger
This is the Breakfast King. Behold its glory. (Picture: Burger King)

If you don’t fancy a burger, you can choose from the Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich, a bacon or sausage butty, a sausage and egg sandwich, or a simple Quaker’s porridge.

You can buy any of these items alone, but to get your paws on free hash browns you’ll need to add a hot drink to make your order a proper meal. Take your pick from americanos, lattes, flat whites, and hot chocolates.

Oh, and as we mentioned (but are repeating to make very clear), you’ll need to order your breakfast through the app before you turn up at your nearest Burger King. Don’t go asking at the counter for free hash browns, it has to be through the app.

Our advice: Put in the order while you’re on your commute, time it perfectly to pick up your meal on the way into work, and enjoy the envy of your colleagues as you munch on crispy potatoes as they eat sad cereal bars. The perfect morning.

MORE: The UK’s top restaurants have been revealed and they’re budget-friendly

MORE: 11 easy changes you can make to be a more sustainable human

M&S Percy Pigs are now available with 36% less sugar

Reduced sugar Percy Pigs from Marks and Spencer
The new reduced-sugar Percy Pigs (Picture: M&S)

Good news, Percy Pig fans. You can now get your favourite pig-shaped sweets with 36% less sugar.

M&S has launched the reduced sugar version for people who are keen to cut down a little but still want to enjoy a treat.

The bags promise they still have the same fruity flavour of original Percy.

They’ve spent 18 months developing the new addition to the line, which is still made with real fruit juice and no artificial colours or flavourings.

M&S Percy Product Developer Natalie Tate says: ‘As customers are increasingly aware of their sugar intake, our new Reduced Sugar Percy Pigs are perfect for any Percy Pigs fans who love the fruity flavour but are looking to cut down their sugar a little.’

The original bags contain 58.8g of sugar per 100g, while the new reduced-sugar version contains 37.5g of sugar per 100g.

The reduction in sugar also means the new sweets are lower in calories – 320 per 100g, compared to the original’s 346.

Both bags are on sale for £1.65 so less sugar doesn’t mean a reduction in price.

The sweets are, of course, gelatine free after M&S made the entire Percy Pig range completely vegetarian in April this year.

Back then, people were outraged by the change to the recipe, so much so, the supermarket even held a public tasting to decide whether to keep the gelatine free version or return to the original recipe for all the sweets.

Even Piers Morgan got involved telling people to ‘leave our pig sweets alone’ on TV.

In the end, the vegetarian recipe won and now it’s here to stay. The entire range is now vegetarian (but not vegan as all the sweets contain beeswax).

What do the reduced sugar Percy Pigs taste like?

We picked up a packet of original (well new recipe gelatine-free original) and reduced sugar Percy Pigs to compare.


Reduced sugar Percy vs original Percy Pigs from Marks and Spencer
On the left, the reduced sugar Percy and on the right, the original Percy (Picture: Laura Abernethy)

On first look, the reduced sugar Percy Pigs look similar but side by side, you can see they are darker in colour, flatter and quite stiff.


While they don’t taste bad, they don’t taste the same. The fruit flavour is still there but it doesn’t seem as strong and the taste is just slightly different.


The biggest difference is the texture – they are harder, chewier and the face just isn’t as soft as the original.

All in all, they taste nice but if you’ve tried the original they’re just too different to give you that same experience. Great for those cutting down on sugar but Percy Pig stans beware.

A new LGBTQ+ club is coming to east London this week

Colours club
Get into the gay groove: London’s newest LGBTQ+ offering opens its doors this week

Far and wide, London is losing an awful lot of its LGBTQ+ history.

The astronomical cost or rising rents is forcing closures because landlords can no longer afford to pay rent and all things rainbow are slowly becoming sidelined, because of, well, budget cuts.

To be frank – it’s pretty sad.

But there is hope this week, and it comes courtesy of the team behind east London clubs Queen of Hoxton and the Book Club.

The alternative gliterati will be unveiling their brand new digs, Colours, which will open up its doors on the former site of Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen next month this Friday, 13 September.

The vibe is this: multi arts meets live music, and a bit of perfomance art with a focus on all things LGBTQ+.

270 Londoners will be able to squeeze into the space to grind and butt drop to the sounds of collabs, classics and young capital talent.

Colours club
Strike a pose: Expect takeovers from Hungama and Pussy Palace (Picture: Mothership)

Upcoming lineups include hip hop nights – think New Age female DJ’s busting out tunes on the decks – along with Naturalia, Shotgun Carousel, Lord of The Tings and The Heatwave setting up shop.

In da club, expect takeovers from Hungama and Pussy Palace. It will be intense, but in a rainbow and glitter (maybe a feather boa) kind of way.

There will also be a night dedicated to Queer experimental cinema and a neon naked life drawing class, so get your glutes and your abs ready.

Food? Wings from the guys and gals at Orange Buffalo. Delicious.

See you there.

Colours is at 2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU. 

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