Thursday, 26 June 2008

Toseland's Tumble Doesn't Stop Him Being Top

Ever since England were knocked out of Euro 2008 I've been racking my brains for something to do while Town are on their summer break...

This weekend I think I found a replacement, the Moto GP.

I've been watching it for a while now, every Sunday I pop on BBC 2 and wait for Suzi Perry to take me through the race track.

This week it was the British leg of the Championship at Donnington Park... and my god am I in love with this sport.

It's kind of like going to see the Blues at an away game - you travel up with fellow fans, stopping at packed out service stations for brekkie and feeling like you're part of one big family.

Except this family has 100,000 people in it and they all love the same thing!

We sat at McCleans corner (the one before the Coppice hairpin), surrounded by blue and yellow '52' flags - the colours and number of British rider James Toseland.

You know, with the footie not doing anything for national pride this summer I'd have thought JT would have got more attention than he has.

His first year in the best league of the sport and before the race he was 7th in the championship, had finished all but two of his races in the top ten and is a shining example of British pride.

Despite some poor warm up sessions, James was determined to do well for the British fans that had turned out to see him - and so, with his bike suit emblazoned with the St George's cross, he went into the race willing to except nothing but his best.

So the race began and all our heads turned to the big screens. You can imagine the collective gasp when, at the first corner, that red and white suit rose above the others and then came tumbling down underneath its bike.

To say I was gutted would be an understatement.

But the super-boy got up, dusted himself down and jumped back on the bike.

He was over half a lap behind the pack and as that gap grew it was clear that the bike had taken a battering - along with his ego.

I was so proud of him for carrying on, and clearly all the other fans were too. Each of the 29 times he rode past there was a round of applause and lots of cheers.

He knew we were there to see him and he didn't want to let us down.

What a boy.

So I'll be sticking with this new found passion for a little while longer - if only for the pictures of Mr Toseland.

Who knows what I'll do when the football season starts again and the two sports clash....

.... Maybe one day I'll be rolling up to Portman Road on the back of James' bike!!??

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Legalisation: The Right Solution To Prostitution?

Eighteen months ago two young girls were reported missing by their worried families.

They were Tania Nicholl and Gemma Adams, sex workers from Ipswich.

In the following month their bodies and the bodies of three girls like them were found, strangled and dumped. The Suffolk town would never be the same again.

Today the East Anglian reported that, thanks to the work of the Police and local Community projects in Ipswich, there are now NO girls working on the streets of Ipswich.

I recently made a Radio Documentary about what has been done in there to eradicate prostitution. In light of today's news I wanted to share it with you:

The government are yet to consider the Prostitution clauses of the Criminal Justice and Immigration bill.

It’s a debate that attracts a lot of attention and could see the UK move to either decriminalise sex workers, or completely outlaw the industry.

So what did Ipswich do that worked so well?

But that's obviously not the ONLY way to deal with the issue. What else has been done around the world?

So what do you think? It's such a complicated issue but it's so important that we make our minds up and decide on a course of action to help these girls.

Genuinely, everyone I met when I was making this documentary really believed in what they are doing.

The girls that have been helped by the Iceni project had absolutely no hope in life. They were desperate, at absolute rock bottom. Suzannah would probably have gone the same way as her parents if she hadn't had Brian and Co. to save her.

What if it was you, your Mum, your sister, or your DAUGHTER? Wouldn't you want to do whatever you could to get them out of this life?

No girl WANTS to be in this life, so lets help them get out of it.

May it one day not even be an option.

Monday, 9 June 2008

It's a Mann's World

This weekend I went to Silverstone to support a local World Renault Series driver...

Pippa Mann is from Ipswich, she's 23 and she's the only woman driver in the league that feeds into the Formula One championship.

I covered the race for Town 102 because she's a local girl... plus, it was a nice chance to report on something other than football.

Here's the package I put together for them which went on air today:

Pippa's been driving since thirteen, when she competed in Go-Karting competitions. By the age of nineteen she was driving for one of the top karting teams.

In 2007 she joined the Renault World Series and became the first female driver to earn points in that league.

This weekend she started the first race from 23rd place. As she says in the interview her tyres weren't right and it was a struggle for her to keep the car on the track at all.

But she managed to overtake one driver and with others dropping or crashing out of the race she finished 19th, leaving her 20th on the grid for the second race.

That's the one I attended.

Silverstone was not what I expected at all.

Being a seasoned football fan I thought it would be a beautiful, modern circuit with modern stands around it and maybe some hospitality suites for the VIPs.

But the seating areas... were the grass. And the VIP bit was a tent connected to her truck.

And do you know what? I think it was great!

There were so many people around (10, 000 apparently), and I started to feel bad for my stubborn addiction to the beautiful game. I'd never heard of the World Series before I was offered the opportunity to go there, but its worth a peep trust me.

Its an open race, no driver has won more than two races so far this season, and with less money than the Formula One the teams have to work even harder on their cars.

Its free to go and see, so check it out!

Anyway, back to the race.

Pippa spent her time battling with Brit Duncan Tappy. He was on her tail for the most of the race but she held him off well.

At one point she actually managed to lose him, catching up with the 19th place car. But another fault with the car saw her drop back.

Actually, it meant the dying seconds were the most exciting part of the race as she pulled right over to the inside to stop Tappy nipping past and held him off as she headed over the finish line.

The reaction at the camp was one of pride for her. She'd raced well, especially considering the severe heat yesterday.

She's now 25th in the league (of 26....) but it's only half way through the season so I'll be rooting for her to pick up a few more points.

I talked to her for a bit about my favourite topic, the treatment of Women in Sport. She says she's used to being the only girl in a man's world:

Pippa's next race is in Hungary on the 5th July, so good luck Pippa - give me something to think about while there's no footie!