Swans, Hitler, Artists, Activists - We Got Them All
Posted on the 11th Sep 2013 in the category sport

It is all go at Swan Central at the moment.


This weekend was spent filming our fundraising campaign video which should be ready to release into the world next week.


Pheasey conceptual artist Craig Pullen gave up his time to spend a day in the Crown and Cushion with our resident baritone barrister and pan-African political activist Howard filming what I hope will be something we can all look back on with a smile and some pride in years to come.


The creative process, fuelled by Strongbow and jerk pork, was a real joy, me scriptwriting, Howard delivering the lines, and Craig directing it all like an orchestra with the help of his runner Stuart.


Our little Hitler Downfall parody video also seemed to go down a storm, I just wish the JustGiving site was up and running to turn everyone's megalolz into some dosh for the charity!

However, as well as raising money Swan But Not Forgotten is about raising awareness of the plight of swans in this cruel world and things like the Downfall video is all part of that.


It is getting hard to remember everything to do, from remembering various shops, pubs, companies and press officers to ring about the campaign there is a lot to do, however, running is something I've not been doing.


The Great Black Country Run is less than two weeks away now.


I've clocked up a few miles but I've been given a stern talking to by incredible marathon runner Manisha this week and am heeding her advice to get some proper miles under my belt before the big day.


Naturally a big shout out goes out to Hi-Tech who have provided my trainers.


A lot of people and organisations have come on board which is giving Swan But Not Forgotten much needed new energy because I'd flag on my own.

Stuart our ace Jerry Maguire has brought in some great companies who are donating prizes for our raffle – Tesco in Witton have been great as have Waitrose in Four Oaks.


Sarah from the Tennis Court pub in Perry Barr has been a diamond as she offered to hold SwanFest on the day of the Great Black Country Run.

There will be a band, barbecue, raffle and a lot more at the pub after the Man Utd v Man City game on the Sunday. Which is perfect because I know a lot of the locals love the park and the swans as much as I do. It will be great to see the sign changed to The Tennis Swans or will it be The Swan Court?


And of course Charlotte Hart and the good people at the Great Barr Observer have been very supportive to, get a copy this Friday!


Everyone at The Friends of Perry Hall have been great and feel free to pop into their hut in the park and donate some much needed money.


Carla from www.ihearttravelart.co.uk has donated some wonderful art posters for our raffle and I am beyond excited that Mark from uber-cool fashion label Rum Knuckles is sending some t-shirts for the team to wear on the day.


It will be great to see our new Swan But Not Forgotten logo, which was designed by Kris Tarplee (check out his stuff) which was exactly what I wanted, on the t-shirts.


I wanted an image which both embodied the gonzo fun nature of Swan But Not Forgotten but also resonated on different levels to different people.


I loved the term body builders use to show their pecks off “show us yer swans” so it seemed only right to mimic the famous Golds Gym logo everyone recognises.


Of course the logo being a stand alone piece of art some people looked and saw something else - a man fisting some swans! But that is fine by me...


Don't forget the proceeds of every book and e-book bought from stevezacharanda.com this month will be donated to The Friends of Perry Hall Park and Wychbold Swan Rescue!


Keep it Swan....


Adam and Steve


A Letter From America about 9/11
Posted on the 11th Sep 2013 in the category sport

Eight years ago I was fortunate to spend September in New York state as a guest of 
The Rotary Club. It was only four years after 9/11 so it was still fresh in everyone's minds.
Everyone had an anecdote, my favourite was the fellow who was having a bonk with his 
mistress on that day: She phoned and he said: "I am at work in the World Trade Centre."  
She replied: "I think you better put the TV on and promptly divorced him.
I was honoured to interview Gerry Sheehan who as well as being a Rotarian was a real
 9/11 hero on that day when so many of his fellow policemen died.
This is a feature I sent back as one of my Letters From America to The Great Barr Observer, 
Sutton Observer and Tamworth Herald.  

The ashen-faced relatives of those who died on September 11 started reading  
their loved ones names out at 9am on the tragedy's fourth anniversary.  
The names were still being read out six hours later. 
The morning  of September 11th 2001 was just like any other but at 8.46am the world changed  
forever. Although the natural world order was turned upside down so many  everyday lives were
destroyed within a few hours. 
Whether it was the  stockbroker who instantly died in his office with his phone in his hand, 
the waitress who died in the Windows of the World restaurant, the fireman who rushed  back 
into the towers only to perish amongst the falling rubble, the mayor of  Ploughkeepsie who still 
does not know what happened to her husband or the just  average New Yorker who knew their 
city would never be the same again.  
9/11 changed everything. Speaking to so many New Yorkers on the fourth  anniversary it is 
obvious what an all encompassing event the terrorist attacks  were, everybody knows 
somebody who was personally affected by the man made  disaster. 
Some stories are desperately sad but others are inspiring,  there are so many tales of 
people getting up late or missing the train and  surviving where all their colleagues died. 
Rotarians were affected like  everyone else; West Point Rotarian Gerry Sheehan was 
in charge of the New York  Police Department Bomb Squad on that fateful day. 
He got to the World  Trade Centre as the first tower collapsed. 
"You could not see a thing -  there was a state of confusion. It was pitch black and we 
soon realised many of  our colleagues had died," he said. 
Gerry found his friend of 30 years,  fire chief Louis Garcia, and they set up an 
emergency command post. 
On  9/11 split-second decisions decided whether it was life or death for many. 
They  decided to move their makeshift command centre a few hundred metres away from 
the towers. 
Minutes later the second tower collapsed and the first  command post was destroyed. 
"I will never forget the sound of the tower falling. 
It was like a muffled roar as the building collapsed. 
There was smoke  everywhere - the only way we knew where we were was because 
the River Hudson was  behind us," explained Gerry. 
"The Fire Brigade hierarchy had all been  killed and there were no mobile phones working, 
so coordinating the rescue  effort was a near impossible task." 
Off duty policemen and firemen came  to the disaster site, often putting their personal 
grief aside to pull people  from the rubble. After commandeering land phone lines, 
the true extent  of the attack was revealed. 
The Pentagon was hit and heroic plane  passengers had foiled hijackers flying to
the White House. Then the phone  calls started. 
"People were phoning in reporting bombs all over the city  and we had to 
investigate every one of them," he said. 
Gerry does not  like being called a hero. But he realises how lucky he is. 
"After 9/11 I  cherish my family a lot more and I spend a lot more time with them. 
I try not to  be critical of small mistakes that people make.
"I stayed on until the  first anniversary, in case anything happened, then I retired.
"I think  about it a lot but the memories are fading. If I go to Manhattan I visit 
Ground  Zero but I do my grieving in private." 
Ground Zero is an eiree,  emotional and unique place, the hairs on the back of the 
neck stand on end and a  lump comes to the throat as you walk around a desolate 
16 acre site where  thousands died in one morning. Craning your neck and 
imagining the half a mile  high superstructures collapsing is heart stopping, upsetting 
and overwhelming.  
There is not much laughing or joking though the macabre pose for photos and twin 
towers trinkets are sold for a few dollars. 
The New York and  Hudson Valley Rotary District was emersed in the rescue and 
recovery in the  hours, days, months and years after the disaster. 
Rotarians gave up  their holidays to help the volunteers clear the rubble and look 
for survivors at  Ground Zero. My host for a week in Woodstock, Michele Lerner,
was one of the  thousands of Rotarians to help out four years ago. 
"My first cousin was  in the World Trade Centre as were a few close friends," she said. 
"It was a very  sad time for New York, you could feel the death hanging in the air 
around Ground  Zero." 
"We went down and served food in a restaurant at ground zero to  all the 
workers and policeman, we all had to show we were doing something to  help." 
Though the deaths took place in down town Manhatten the victims  were from 
across the world. It is still the biggest single loss of British  life in a terrorist attack. 

But it was the tri-state area of Conneticut,  New Jersey and New York that was deeply affected. 
Throughout the state there  are small villages and towns that were so cruelly touched by 9/11. 
Several  communities have a concentration of firemen or policemen and the shiny new  
memorials dotted on village greens across the Hudson Valley betray the human  sacrifice 
of the men and women who served their community with the ultimate  scarifice. 
The confirmed death toll stands at 2948 and there is still 24  reported dead and 24 people
still missing. 
Stephanie King from Highland  Rotary Club remembered the chilling day. 
"We were all devastated, the  planes flew from Boston and straight down the Hudson River 
into the World Trade  Centre it was horrible," she said. 
But Stephanie explained America  pulled together. "There were so many people volunteering 
they were getting in  the way at one stage." 
There was a little trepidation in the air as the  anniversary of the terrorist attacks approached. 
At a bizarre event in Ulster  County, New York called the Rennaisance Faire 20,000 Americans 
came to get a  taste of ye olde Britain. 
There were less than expected but there seemed  to be no worries about the terror threat.
Despite getting the historical period  wrong by about 200 years, (I am pretty sure Robin Hood 
was not around during the  renaissance period) the New York attitude shone through the fake 
British accents  that greeted every visitor. 
A Brooklyn native, dressed in English  attire, working on the faire was not giving
in to the terrorists.
"The Government  tell everyone to stay in for 9/11 anniversary, why should we stay in and 
watch  the twin towers fall down on the TV fifteen times, we need to get on with life."  
And that is exactly what the people of this remarkable place have done.


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