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‘Fake News’ Toy Drive appeal raises £50,000 worth of ACTUAL PRESENTS in under two weeks


A Christmas gift appeal that has been set up by a number of ‘fake news’ websites including the local Southend News Network has managed to accumulate more than £50,000 worth of toy donations in under two weeks. 

The Big Fat Secret Santa at satireaid.co.uk is a joint project between Rochdale Herald, NewsThump, Southend News Network, Angry People In Local Newspapers and Tuckered.


They are using a simple but incredibly effective Amazon gift list to overwhelm local toy drives all over the country with donations.

The shipping address is changed with every 300 items that are purchased for disadvantaged children, with appeals in Southend, Rochdale, Reading and more keeping their local Yodel drivers very busy.


Offices at Southend Borough Council’s Civic Centre have been cleared to make way for the ever-growing mountains of gifts, and Rochdale Council has also turned into a huge team effort to keep up with the deliveries.

George from Rochdale Herald visited the local council today, and he said:

It was utterly bonkers – there were rooms full of presents stacked six feet deep.

Councillors had to give up their offices to store gifts because they had run out of storage space.

There were so many boxes to open that they had all the call centre workers taking calls whilst unboxing presents at their desks.

The bin men, who’d all finished their shifts, were volunteering to clear MOUNTAINS of cardboard out of the building.


More than 6,000 gifts have been dispatched, and with a whole week left to go there’s still time to get involved.

Simply visit satireaid.co.uk – there are gifts at loads of differences price points.  Simply checkout, dispatch the items to the gift registry option and Amazon will take care of the rest.

The organisers are also keen for the appeal to get some mainstream media attention in its final week, so please contact info@southendbible.com if you can help with this.



Leigh music night organiser hopes to raise lots of cash for Marie Curie charity


Over the past 10 years, Sarah Lisa Mathis has helped raise over £50,000 for charity through live music events in Leigh On Sea. A staggering amount.

Her first event was a joint venture with Kim, the then-landlady of the Crooked Billet in Old Leigh, raising thousands of pounds for inflammatory breast cancer research.

It was sadly shortly after this event that Kim Passed away after contracting the disease.

Sarah continued the good work that she started, and held an annual event for Marie Curie who ended up looking after Kim in her final weeks.

Sarah started adding extra events throughout the year, raising thousands for the Essex Air Ambulance, Macmillan and the RNLI.

These events are completely free for the public, and are well supported with local musicians giving up their time and talent to help Sarah in her endeavours to raise funds for such worthy causes.

This Year Sarah has been supported by Ye Olde Smack in Leigh and will be holding a Musical Extravaganza on the 16th of December, raising money for Marie Curie.

The line-up looks amazing, and it is an evening full of fantastic music for a wonderful cause.

Darren Jones 4.30pm – 5.00pm
Bif Bam Pow 5.15pm – 6.30pm
Hang the DJ 6.45pm – 7.25pm
Below Sea Level 7.40pm – 8.20pm
Rollin Machine 8.35pm – 9.15pm
Velvet Tree 9.30pm – 10.10pm
Wartime Nebraska 10.20pm – 11.00pm

Be sure to get yourselves there and help continue Sarah’s good work.

If you have a story that you want to share with more than 100,000 Facebook users across South Essex, please email info@southendbible.com – remember to include plenty of images!

Header Image: Bif Bam Pow / Article Image: The Velvet Tree

Catch the CABARET UNDERGROUND in Southend


Cabaret Underground is back at the Clifftown Theatre in Southend for another run until 9th December.

It is written by Ainslie Masterson and Stephen Douse, and it is performed by East 15 BA Acting and Community Theatre.

It is billed online as:

A firm favourite at Clifftown every December, this year will be no different!

If you back combed your barnet to the B52s; if you danced the blues in red shoes to David Bowie; if you tuned in each week to catch the bedlam of The Tube – and even if you didn’t! – then this year’s 80’s cabaret could be just the show for you!

Sit back, relax, and rewind through time with voluminous vocals, tremendous trumpets and some devilishly dodgy dance moves!

You can book online here!

Annie Humphrey’s Ultimate Christmas Music Guide For Southend


It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

For live music especially! Christmas parties are in full flow, as are the drinks, tinsel adorns all of our beloved boozers and the weekends are full of fun, dancing and the sound of music.

We want to give you the ultimate Christmas gig guide, to help you plan your December evenings with your friends and family and to help you get your dose of festive entertainment.

But remember – drink responsibly, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, and most importantly, do not crash into the band’s equipment. This is VERY important!

8th December – Peggy Sue’s – Between2minds (Acoustic duo)
8th December – The Exchange – The Fabulous Feedback Band (Rock and Pop)
8th December – The Miley – The Replik8rs (Rock and Indie)
8th December – Bread and Cheese – You little Thief (Rock and Pop)
8th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton arms) – Illicit (Rock And Pop)
8th December – The Cricketers Inn – Anthem (Rock Covers)
8th December – Leigh Community Centre – Funky Voices

9th December – The Cricketers Inn – Broadway Clash (Clash Tribute Band)
9th December – The Smack – Under Cover (Blues)
9th December – Shoebury Conservative Club – Adrenalin (Rock, Indie Party)
9th December – The Half Moon Rayleigh – Grounds for Divorce (Indie, Rock, Grunge)
9th December – The Benfleet Tavern – The Statins (new wave tribute)
9th December – Chinnerys – Skamite (Ska, Two Tone, Reggae, Northern Soul and Mod)
9th December – The Park Tavern – Solar 9 (Rock Band)
9th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton arms) – Mr Spanky and the Hipthrusters (Rock)
9th December – The Hamlet Court – The 208

15th December – Peggy Sue’s – Carousel (Indie/Americana)
15th December – The Railway Hotel – Bif Bam Pow (rockin’ R+B)
15th December – The Papillion – Crusader (Indie, Pop and Classic Rock)
15th December – The cricketers Inn – Hedgehog (Rock)
15th December – The Railway, Prittlewell – Echo South (covers from all genres)
15th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton arms) Scooby (Rock)
15th December – The Exchange – Frog On A Rocket (Party Band)
15th December – O’Neills – The Rusty Gunz (Classic Rock)
15th December – The Hamlet Court- The Zoltans (Blues Band)

16th December – The Old Garrison – The Statins (New wave tribute)
16th December – The Plough Westcliff – Dead Mans Hand (Classic Rock)
16th December – Leigh Constitutional Club – Larry and the Streamers (60’s tribute)
16th December – The Half Crown Benfleet – Frog On A Rocket (Party Band)
16th December – Canvey Conservative Cub – The Feelgood Band (Rhythm and Blues)
16th December – The trading Rooms, The Phil Ball Band (50’s Rock and Roll)
16th December – The Half Moon – The Stents (Rock pop and indie)
16th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton Arms) – The Strides (Rock, Pop, Indie)

22nd December – Rendezvous Casino – Funk Soul Mamas (Funk+Soul)
22nd December – The Cricketers Inn – Exposè (Rock)
22nd December – Ye Olde Smack – Grand Reunion (Folk)
22nd December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton arms) – Hedgehog (Rock)
22nd December – The Papillion – The Rising (Rock, Pop and Funk)

23rd December – The Shoeburyness Hotel – Debbie Rainforth (general covers)
23rd December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton arms) – Beagles (Rock)
23rd December – The Spa Hockley – Between2Minds (Acoustic covers)
23rd December – The cricketers Inn – Lord Toffingham (70s Glam Rock)
23rd December – Benfleet Social Club – You little Thief (Rock and Pop)

24th December – the cricketers – The Statins (new wave tribute)
24th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton Arms) Beggar (Rock, Indie)

29th December – Cow and Telescope (formally Sutton Arms) Electrum (rock covers)

30th December – Hockley British Legion – Adrenalin (Rock, Indie Party)

31st December – The Spread Eagle Southend – Mischief (Rock/Indie)
31st December – The Borough Hotel Southend Sea front – The Stents (Rock, Pop and Indie)

Southend woman’s ‘Kind Coats’ for the homeless is so successful that she runs out after just one day


A woman from Southend set up a ‘Kind Coats’ rack on Southend High Street where people can donate warm winter coats for homeless people to take and wear – it has been so successful on its first day that she has issued an urgent appeal for more donations.

We spoke to its creator Laura Gibson about the idea that can currently be found on the corner of Queens Road and Southend High Street.

Image Credit: Laura Gibson

She said:

I saw a BBC video about something called ‘Kind Coats’ and it’s a basic idea – if you need a coat then take one from the rail, and if you would like to help then add one.

This all started with a lady called Fay in Colchester, and I remembered that I had some spare rails.

All I needed were the rain covers and lots of coats to bring this to Southend.

Image Credit: Laura Gibson

I posted on the 8 out of 10 mums Ask Facebook group for help with coat donations, and boy did I get some – I had over 40 coats donated in just one day!

After sorting them into men’s, women’s and kids’, I hung them up, took some photos for the donors to see and packed them into my car.

I then needed to think of the perfect place, and I decided that the corner of Queens road and the High Street outside the old Post Office would be ideal as many homeless people sleep there in the doorway.

Image Credit: Laura Gibson

I went on December 2nd at around 4pm and met some of the really lovely homeless people outside the old Post Office with my rails and handed out the coats.

They were all so grateful for everyone’s donations and said what a great idea it was to have this in the town.

I just really hope no-one spoils it for everyone who may need a coat this winter.

As this has now been so successful, Laura urgently needs more coat and warm jumper donations – you can either visit the rail and leave them or drop us an email and we will pass your details on (info@southendbible.com).

Meet the man synonymous with Ska in Essex, Pete Lacey!


One name is synonymous with Ska music in Essex. Pete Lacey.

As a DJ he has supported some of the Top names in ska, reggae and two tone, including UB40, The Dualers, Lee Thompson, Bad Manners, Desmond Dekker as well as being part of the DJ team for Skabour festival in previous years and the DJ/hosting team for Essex’s own ever growing Brentwood Festival for the past 4 years.

But Pete’s talents do not end at Dj’ing, he also is the front man of Essex Ska band ‘Undercover’.

Header Image Credit: Ska N Mash / Facebook

Pete is often performing in Southend, so we thought we would catch up with him.

AH – How many years have you been entertaining people?

PL – Too many! My parents always loved to get up and sing at holiday camps and especially at large family gatherings, so its little surprise I’ve followed in their footsteps. My earliest memories are around 13 years old when I did my first dj slot and I sang at a holiday camp when I was 14.

AH – What first got you started?

PL-The punk scene gave everyone the opportunity to have a go. You didn’t need to be great, the raw energy was key and although I’ve seen some dreadful bands I’ve always admired the passion and commitment that any live act provides.

AH – Have you noticed a change in the music scene between when you first started and now?

PL- Changes! In the 70s the music scene seemed very stadium rock and lots of cheese, epitomised by the video for Fanfare for the Common Man (ELP) and latterly by Brotherhood of Man! yuk!!!!

The mod revival which was ignited with the release of Quadrophenia and the energy of the Jam created a youth culture movement that still exists today.

Punk was still alive but the cracks were starting to appear and of course the 2-tone bands were creating a fusion of traditional ska, punk, politics and fun. So 3 massive genres were the choice of music.

Header Image Credit: Ska N Mash / Facebook

Then came the soul scene which filled the dancehalls and reignited he earlier disco scene. So, in that short time of late 70s the variation in musical tastes, which was reflected in the clothing and who became your mates, gave plenty of choice and often it was only one choice for each individual and you’d shun the other tastes.

The 80s provided commercialism in music, masses of cheese in all genres and a concentrated nightclub environment. The jukebox seemed to return to the pubs and of course karaoke!

It seems each decade is defined easily, almost as if it becomes a cut-off point for the old and in with the new.

The indie scene took off in the 90s and the House scene merged out of Chicago. Both survive strongly today as does Garage. But thankfully “hardcore you know the score” and “Aciiiid” are no longer the shouts of the radio!

AH – What has been the worst gig you’ve ever done and the best?

PL- As a band we did a gig in the Globe in London, a well known venue which we were told could be full of A&R men. Unfortunately it was 2 men and a dog.

So the band stripped down to their nakedness and played their hearts out. As a dj the worse decision I’ve made was to commit to a gig rather than take a slot dj-ing at the O2. It was hard to look down at the granny Christmas disco knowing I could have smashed it in London!

AH – What do you prefer doing – Djing or singing with your band?

PL – On stage singing or DJ-ing can be electrifying. Injecting your enthusiasm into a crowd, winning them over with performance and fun is both infectious and energising. You can be a different person on stage, infact I believe you should be. So, its hard to know which is the most enjoyable.

The real answer is in the preparation. As a DJ there’s only one person to make the decisions, arrangements and commitments. As a band that requires the simultaneous decision by several members, often eight in Undercover’s case for whether to accept the gig, find the gig, rehearse and attend.

Organising that can be stressful, especially when deps are required. So in preference I prefer DJ-ing but as I say, on stage it’s hard to choose.

Header Image Credit: Ska N Mash / Facebook

AH – What are you future plans for gigs/events?

PL – 2018 is running away with me, pubs want more than I can provide so the majority of Saturdays are booked. They include DJ-ing my own events as Ska N Mash, with bands under the event title of 50 Shades of Reggae and Stanford Ska Sunday, and being invited to dj at festivals/events such as SkaMania in Ipswich, Brentwood Festival, Skabour (Folkestone), car shows and hopefully Skamouth (Great Yarmouth).

I continually toy with the idea of a radio show, but that commitment probably doesn’t suit my lifestyle and activity, but I’m keen to look at some guest slots and perhaps develop the Mixcloud route.

Pete’s next Southend gig is the Woodcutters Arms, Leigh-on-Sea on the 8th of December!

Keep up-to-date with Pete’s Gig on his DJ Ska N Mash page here –


Or to catch Pete with his band Undercover (occasionally featuring yours truly) check here –


Header Image Credit: Ska N Mash / Facebook

Fed-up Canvey resident writes emotional letter to Crime Commissioner about anti-social behaviour


A Canvey resident who is fed-up with anti-social behaviour on the island has written an open letter to Roger Hirst who is the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex.

We have published Colin Letchford’s letter in full below, after removing his address.

Dear Sir,

I note you will be in attendance at a Castle Point Public Meeting on Monday, December 11th. I expect to be in hospital recovering from an operation then but I write to you on behalf of thousands of concerned residents living on Canvey Island.

For many months now the Island has been plagued with groups of young boys (11 – 16 years of age) behaving in anti-social and dangerous ways. These include:

• Riding their bikes on the pavements and roads. Riding off the pavement in front of cars causing an emergency stop by the vehicle. I know of one road traffic collision caused in this manner. This has happened many times. Sometimes they do “wheelies” in the moving traffic or ride head long into oncoming cars.

• Breaking wing mirrors off cars. Recently they lined their “trophies” up on a bench in Kismet Park. When local residents spoke to the boys they were verbally abused. This is only one incident of a night time spree breaking off the wing mirrors. Many other similar events have been reported in the press and social media in recent months.

• Throwing eggs, fruit and stones at people in the street and at houses. A local jeweller in the High Street informs me that a few days ago they opened the door to his shop and threw eggs at an elderly lady customer before running off.

• Congregating outside local public buildings, such as the Paddocks or fast food shops, and abusing those inside as well as trying to damage doors etc.

• Intimidating mothers with young children. They recently tried to push a six year old over in the street.

• Damaging children’s playground equipment. I stopped three last Saturday morning trying to break equipment at St George’s playing field.

Image Credit: essex.pfcc.police.uk

The list goes on and I am sure the police can give you details of more incidents.

I am the Chairman of a charity (The Friends of Concord Beach) and each year we bring joy to many Islanders (young and old) with our Santa’s Sleigh. The sleigh with reindeer and snow machines, lights and music is generously provided by a local shop, G M D Ltd.

For several years now we have started the festivities by leading the Lantern Parade organised by Canvey Carnival Committee. The parade is attended by thousands of Islanders and has a great community spirit.

This year’s parade was last Saturday. On our way home stones were thrown at us by a group of the above mentioned boys as we rounded the Haystack Corner.

One of the stones hit Santa (me) hard on the shoulder. Further down the road boys ran in front of our tow vehicle causing an emergency stop.

This has been reported to the police who are treating it as an assault, Crime No. 42/171043/17, but I am told there is little they can do.

We are now having to treat our Town Centre as a “NO GO AREA” and I am given to understand that another group with a sleigh are feeling the same.

I have looked at your website and note you say:

“For me, safe and secure communities are the bedrock on which we build success and prosperity. Good policing means our residents feel secure and safe in their homes and on Essex streets.”

I have to tell you that many of the residents of Canvey Island feel neither safe nor secure on Canvey’s streets. Many with cars do not feel safe in their homes. We should not have to live with “No Go Areas”.

The Police seem impotent in the face of these feral youngsters and there is much rage on the Island as can be seen on local media. There is talk of vigilante groups wearing balaclavas to give these youngsters a good hiding, or of not doing an emergency stop next time and running them over.
Sooner or later someone is going to be seriously hurt.

As you can see this is an open letter sent to the local press and published on local media. I would like you to address the issues outlined above at the Castle Point Public Meeting on December 11th when I am sure Canvey residents will be in attendance.

Yours sincerely, Colin Letchford

Header Image Credit: Wikipedia

SNOW forecast for Southend on Thursday evening


According to the BBC’s Weather page, snow has been forecast for Southend on Thursday evening from 6pm onwards.

At the time of writing this, ‘light snow’ is forecast at 6pm and 8pm, although it remains to be seen whether or not this forecast will still be in place in the hours to come.

According to the Met Office, there is currently a ‘Yellow Warning’ in place for snow and ice as far South as the northern part of Essex, so the BBC may be basing this forecast on alternative data.

Image Credit: BBC

Snow is always a very special event in Southend On Sea, and local photographers will be relishing the prospect of grabbing some iconic shots of the cliffs under a blanket of the white stuff.

If it is anything like the last few ‘snow events’ in the town, it will all be over in a few hours before the inevitable ‘slush fest’ that will terrorise the local bus operators.

At least local children (and big children) might get a brief window to get the sleds out of storage.

More importantly, if temperatures do drop any further this would be an ideal time to remember that the various homelessness organisations that operate in our town will need your kind donations more than ever.

One Love Soup Kitchen operates on Thursdays at the Hollybrook building site close to the town centre if you want to look them up on Facebook.

Let’s hope that the weather geniuses have it spot on this time …

If you want to get in the mood for a flurry or three, check out this (slightly rude) snow song from Southend News Network, sung by Annie Humphrey.

Got a story that you want to share with 100,000 South Essex Facebookers? Email info@southendbible.com

Image Credit: Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pOIJCF7QZg

DISCLAIMER: The Southend Bible cannot be held responsible for any shattered dreams of a day off work or an ‘early school finish.’ Fellow Old Southendians like the Editor know full well that SHSB only closes in the event of more than 14 feet of the white stuff, and even then it’s only for those living north of the River Crouch …

If you think the outside of the Coca Cola truck is special, wait until you see inside


With the Coca-Cola truck about to arrive in Southend, families are making plans to visit the spectacular light show when it is on display outside Victoria Plaza Shopping Centre. 

It will be on show from 11am until 7pm on Wednesday.

However, if you think that the outside is spectacular, the inside is something else altogether.

CR: Coca-Cola

It is in fact a fully fledged mini apartment with a luxurious bedroom and living area complete with flat-screen TV.

There is also a huge Christmas theme throughout and plenty of chilled Coca-Cola on hand for good measure.

CR: Coca-Cola

The fireplace is adorned with stockings and festive touches, meaning that anyone lucky enough to spend the night here is guaranteed an awesome Christmas experience.

OK we admit it – things are not quite what they seem!

The images that you see here are the interior of ANOTHER custom-fitted Coca-Cola truck that is sitting in London, waiting for the lucky winners of a special contest being run by the soft drinks company and laterooms.com.

CR: Coca-Cola

Two people will be allowed to spend the night inside and have a full Christmas Dinner, and then the following day after breakfast they will head off to the Coca-Cola London Eye.

There is even a festive concierge, Christmas gifts aplenty and loads of other little touches.

CR: Coca-Cola

Head over to the competition page if you want to enter before December 8th 2017. 

Got a story that you want to share with more than 100,000 people across South Essex? Contact info@southendbible.com. 

Credit for all photos: Coca-Cola

Jeremy Corbyn visiting Southend on Thursday for rally


The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Southend on Thursday 30th November for a rally in the town centre. 

He has indicated recently that Rochford and Southend East is a ‘marginal’ constituency that he is targeting, and this visit is a strong indication that it is on his ‘hit list.’

According to an update on the Eastern Labour website:

Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Southend this Thursday 30 November to rally members in the now marginal seat of Rochford & Southend East!

He will be meeting members to encourage them to join the campaign and to talk about how Labour will transform the country when we win the next General Election, which could come at any time.

To come along, please register here. Spaces will be limited. You will need to arrive by 12.30pm prompt for a 12.45pm start.

The venue, which will be close to Southend town centre, will be confirmed nearer the time to members who have registered successfully.

Speaking recently about the seat, Corbyn said:

“The places that we are going to prioritise for winning are Rochford and Southend East, Norwich North and Colchester, which have not traditionally been Labour seats and it shows just how far our party is advancing.

“We are winning along the south coast, we are winning along the east coast of this country.

“Labour is a party which is campaigning in every single part of the country.”

Got a story that you want to share with 100,000 people across South Essex? Contact info@southendbible.com