Monday, 22 January 2018
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Easter 2017

Egg-citing news for April…

Baking For Nature
This April, unleash your inner star baker and do your bit for nature by making something delicious. The RSPB is launching a new campaign to help raise money to protect the wildlife and wild places in your local area and taking part is easy. Just choose a date on or around April 28, bake a batch of something tasty, then bring your bakes to work, or invite friends and family, for a wildlife-inspired afternoon tea. The RSPB recommends asking for £1 per portion, proceeds from which will go towards their crucial work in saving nature.

Sign up for your free pack at which includes bake-themed bunting, a sugar shaker template, cash box plus plenty of ideas and inspiration.
Tim McCann, Community Team Manager at RSPB NI, says: “We want to see gingerbread birdhouses, long-tailed tit lollipop cakes, hedgehog or bird-shaped biscuits – anything you can rustle up.” Check out what others are making and share your bakes using #bakefornature

Having A Laugh
Since 2004, the Festival of Fools has built an international reputation for presenting some of the finest and funniest street shows touring the world. From Friday April 28 to Monday May 1, Belfast City Centre will once again come alive with acrobatics, circus acts, clowning and astounding tomfoolery, and the best news? It’s all free! 2017 highlights include: Luis Brusca, a poetic and prize-winning clown show about looking at lost love and finding friends on a sensational journey through life. 

The Flying Dutchmen have been travelling the world on their unicycles for thirty years, hurling flaming torches and punchlines at each other in pursuit of the ultimate trick. And Mat Ricardo, the Gentleman Juggler, is renowned for his engaging, stylish and relaxed approach to even the most fiendishly difficult of tricks. Mat has a place in history as the first person to put the tablecloth back on the table.

Find the full programme of shows at

The Best Things In Life Are Free
Almost 19,000 free trees are set to brighten the Northern Ireland landscape thanks to the Woodland Trust. Schools, beekeepers, sports clubs, Scouts, Guides and animal rescue charities are just some of the groups currently putting trees in the ground in a collective effort to tackle Northern Ireland’s lack of woodland cover. This country has a mere eight per cent woodland cover, compared to the European average of 46 per cent. And it’s still not too late for would-be tree planters to make their mark as community groups are now invited to apply for free trees for planting this November.

The packs come in three sizes, ranging from 30 native saplings for a small copse or short hedgerow to 420 trees, enough to cover an acre of land or create a hedge of around 85 metres. To find out more and to get your November pack visit The deadline for applications is Friday, September 8.

Image caption - Zara (left) and Jody McKinley, from Omagh help add to our woodland cover

Changes to help with childcare costs
The new Tax-free Childcare Scheme will start from April 28, for parents of children under two, and will be available to all working parents by the end of the year. Unlike the childcare voucher system, it doesn’t rely on your employer setting up a scheme, and it will be available to self-employed people too.

The government will contribute 20 per cent of childcare costs, with the maximum help set at £2000 per year per child (or £4000 if the child is disabled). It will work by parents paying money into an account with a childcare voucher provider, which the government will then top up. For example, if you put £80 into the account, the government will put in £20. People who are already using a childcare voucher system will be able to continue using it if they wish, however parents won’t be able to use both schemes. Pre-existing voucher schemes will remain open to new parents until April 2018. Find out more and register for updates at

Number Facts
46 The percentage of parents who say their child REFUSES to eat veg and salad.

2/3 The number of parents who believe school and homework performance is the biggest cause of stress among children.

Zara (left) and Jody McKinley, from Omagh help add to our woodland cover

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