Comic reveals pal’s plight

Comic reveals pal’s plight

Stand-up comic and TV star, Jon Richardson, has opened up about his extraordinary friendship with a man who lives with a very rare muscle-wasting condition.

Jon (pictured above, left) met 47-year-old Martin Hywood at a Leeds United football match several years ago, and the pair immediately hit it off.

Martin, from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, lives with limb girdle muscular dystrophy, a progressive and life-limiting illness that causes his muscles to weaken and waste over time. But while comic Jon enjoys a life in the limelight, Martin has spent more than a year shielding amid the COVID-19 pandemic because he is classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he has tragically lost the ability to walk as his muscles have further wasted.

‘Martin and I first met at the football, like proper lads,’ recalls Jon. ‘I remember the game specifically because, like many, we'd both travelled a fair distance to be there.  Martin had travelled in hope of a comfortable win and I had brought my father for his seventieth birthday celebrations for the same reason. 

‘We lost 1-0 to a team that went on to be relegated, but things are better now and we can appreciate the good times for having been through the bad.  That’s a good metaphor for Martin's approach to life.’

Limb girdle muscular dystrophy causes muscles, particularly of the shoulders, hips and thighs, to weaken and waste over time leading to increasing disability. It can be diagnosed at any age, and varies widely between individuals – even within the same family. In some cases, it affects the muscles of the heart and breathing muscles, leading to life-threatening complications.

70,000 sufferers

In a bid to raise awareness about the condition, which affects 70,000 Britons, the duo launched an appeal on BBC Radio 4, seeking urgent support for the Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK) charity in a bid to help it recoup vital funds to continue its crucial work.

Last year, MDUK’s income plummeted by £2.4m overnight as the UK went into lockdown and the charity’s calendar of in-person fundraising events was cancelled.

The pair, who perhaps have more in common than might be initially obvious, are both trying to make the world a better place.

Continued Jon: ‘Martin is doing it with direct fundraising and inspirational writing and I'm doing it by being so negative and draining that the world will improve by default just for not having me in it any more.’

Talking about his friendship with his 38-year-old comedian pal, Martin commented: ‘It's great to have a mate like Jon because you just feel better about yourself when you’re in his company. Seriously though, he's a fantastic friend who endorses all the good things I'm trying to achieve, especially when I'm trying to raise awareness and funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK on social media.’

Martin tragically lost the ability to walk during lockdown because of months spend shielding inside.

‘I will not stop shouting about this until I see a treatment or cure in my lifetime, he added. ‘I do feel that we're on the cusp of greatness and it would be magnificent to say Jon and I were there and that we contributed towards that result.’

ESL club shirts sell for £2

ESL club shirts sell for £2

As disasters go, the ill-fated and short-lived European Super League ranks among the biggest calamities of recent times.

Debris from the secret pact that has split football apart, and the threat of recriminations for the 12 teams who signed up to the venture, continue to reverberate across the UK and mainland Europe.

And as more revelations emerge, a surprise opportunity has arisen for football fans – they can buy an official Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City, Man United or Spurs ESL shirt for as little as £2 from Poole-based Wholesale Clearance, who specialise in selling 'bankrupt' merchandise.

‘We have got thousands of the things on the way to our warehouse,’ Karl Baxter, the company’s owner told Sorted. ‘I specialise in finding buyers for any kind of clearance stock.’

Footballing history

Tens of thousands of useless and unwanted shirts, that would have sold for £29.99 had the breakaway league gone ahead, are now being sold off at throwaway prices by Karl and his team.

So whether you are a club devotee who buys the latest shirt every season, or you simply want something to remind you of how one of the world’s biggest banks (JP Morgan) and a dozen of the biggest clubs can get things so wrong, all you have to do is get in touch with Karl and his team, and a bit of footballing history could be winging its way to you.

One unimpressed Hull City fan, whose team has just won promotion back into the Championship, said: “I might just buy a few. I need some rags to wash and clean the car with, and these sound like they’ll be perfect for the job!”

Tony Yorke is Deputy Editor of Sorted.

Cinemas await ‘film utopia’

Cinemas await ‘film utopia’

Monday 17 May 2021 is date cinema-lovers will have circled in red pen on their calendars – for that’s when the venues in the UK reopen and they can finally get back to watching films on the big screen once again. 

Yes, there may be people talking close by; yes, the light emitting from mobile phones will be annoying; and yes, many people don’t like the smell of popcorn. But who really cares about any of these things?

At last, we will be back in those dark rooms watching those flickering images that tell their wonderful stories. And these are prices worth paying, for as a ‘movie obsessive’, I can’t wait.

But here’s the question: what will our cinemas actually show in weeks that follow their doors opening once again?

One view is that many companies will release this year’s Academy Award winning and nominee films. For until now, we’ve only had the chance to see them at home on our TVs.

Nomadland, The Father, Soul, Promising Young Woman, Mank, Judas and the Black Messiah and Sound of Metal – this year’s big Oscar and BAFTA winners – will all be available. So, too, will those that missed out including News of the World, which had massive Western vistas and stunning scenery.

So far, I have seen six of the eight films nominated by the Academy Awards in the best picture category. Of these, Sound of Metal and Minari are my favourites.

Pause ‘play’ button

Looking ahead, the big question is simple enough: will those who have already seen a recent release at home go and watch them again?

Mark Kermode, the leading film critic, has been saying for a long time that all films in the future will have to be released at the same time in all formats.

It could well be the case that film fans have got used to seeing the latest blockbuster at home where they can pause the ‘play’ button, look up information about them, and discuss them with friends and family, before returning to see-out the rest of the plot.

Kermode is right about so many things when it comes to the film world. But, in this regard, only time will tell. Personally, I hope we see the majority of movie lovers rushing back to the cinemas. But only when we get to the middle of May will we know for sure.

Fingers crossed, it will be good news.

Report by Andy Godfrey, Sorted film critic

Film review: Emperor

Film review: Emperor

This pre-American Civil War epic is based on the legend of Shields ‘Emperor’ Green, a slave who cast off his shackles to become a freedom fighter.

It tells the gripping story of Green’s desperate bid to escape the brutality and deprivations of life in South Carolina, where sadistic plantation owner, Randolph Stevens (played by MC Gainey), is more than happy to dispense punishments on the slaves who are his ‘property’.

It isn’t long before Green has a violent falling out with Stevens and subsequently finds himself on the run, pursued by an experienced bounty hunter.

And so follows a battle of wits, guts and gun battles.

Dayo Okeniyi is relentlessly impressive as the wronged slave intent on finding freedom, while Bruce Dern, Harry Lennix, James Cromwell and Gainey are suitably grim and gritty in their supporting roles.

This is both an action adventure and a drama highlighting the appalling treatment of the slaves working on the plantations. It’s in the same ballpark as Twelve Years a Slave, though less brutal, and includes a fistful of action sequences.

Rating: ˜˜˜˜˜4/5

Out now on digital and DVD

By Dave Hopwood, Sorted Film Critic

Exciting times ahead

Exciting times ahead


Time to shut up and listen

Time to shut up and listen

The moment has come for men to stop being defensive and start hearing the cries of women who are saying ‘We don’t feel safe in our homes, or on our streets’.

Since the brutal killing of Sarah Everard, women have revealed on social media many incidents of being accosted, abused, harassed and followed home by strangers. They’ve been letting the world know that they don’t feel safe.

Alas, the response of many men has been to hide behind the words: ‘It wasn’t me!’

Guys, if there’s one thing I’ve learned while living in a house alongside six women, it’s to listen a little longer when someone is sharing their story – and not to make it all about me. For women aren’t saying that all men are dangerous; they are saying they don’t feel safe.

If we were to listen a little bit more carefully we’d realise there is a huge difference.

And what growing numbers of women are saying is ‘It’s not all men, but it is some men’.

Right now, in the aftermath of Sarah’s tragic death, I think it only right that we all listen to what is being said, regardless of our gender, or whether we think we contribute to the problem, or not.

Something bigger has been triggered in our society. It is similar to the reaction provoked by the death of George Floyd last year. He wasn’t the first black man to be killed by unscrupulous police, and he won’t be the last. Yet his story ignited a movement of people determined to see change.

And Sarah’s Everard’s story has created a similar tidal wave.

Cressida Dick, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, quickly sought to assure women that these kind of crimes are incredibly rare, and she’s right. But even though this may be the case, for very good reasons women don’t feel safe.

My wife works for Restored, a charity working to end violence against women, and she would say it’s not a hysterical overreaction. She’d say that while the big, fat crimes that hit the headlines are indeed rare, many thousands of women experience small-scale, yet serious, violence on a daily basis. These acts leave them wondering when it will escalate into something more?

A huge problem

Two reports were published on International Women’s Day.

First, the World Health Organisation revealed one in four women will experience physical or sexual abuse by their husband or boyfriend globally. You heard me right – 25 per cent of all women in the world who aren’t safe in their own homes, let alone on the street.

And then UN Women UK published a survey revealing 97 per cent of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed in a public space. That’s almost every young woman you know. The abuse ranged from wolf-whistling and images being shared, to being followed home, flashed at or coerced into sex. Get your head around that statistic: almost every young woman you know! It seems almost impossible to believe, but I listen to the stories my daughters tell and realise the survey findings are not an exaggeration.

It makes me want to know what I can do to change this damning narrative; to listen to the women around me; to hear their stories and ask them what would make a difference; and find out what will make them not just feel safer but be safer.

It’s a huge and complex problem. The good news is there are some simple things we can do to improve things immediately:

Get honest

All men need to take a look at themselves and spot the places, however small, where actually it is us. The way we speak about women, where we (even unconsciously) place gendered expectations on them, the times we don’t stand up for them.

Get thoughtful

We can think about how we can help women feel safer by watching our actions in public – making sure we don’t stare at them, crossing the road if we’re running up behind them, not making comments or even compliments that might make someone uncomfortable. We might know we’re not a threat, but we don’t need to feel offended if someone sees us as a threat.

Get active

Our inactions are as important as our actions. Are we prepared to challenge our mates if the conversation gets out of hand? Are we going to hold them to account if they disrespect their girlfriend or wife? Are we prepared to stand by our female friends, wives, daughters and colleagues if someone’s giving them a tough time? Are we ready to stand up and do something instead of insisting it ‘wasn’t me’?

I am.

I want to see a different world for my wife and daughters, and not just for them – for all women.

I follow a God who created men and women in his image to work together, live together and love together, and I want to see a world that looks a lot more like that and less like one where half the population lives in fear of the other.


By Sorted Editor, Steve Legg

By George! It’s a day of hope

By George! It’s a day of hope

So it is the day of St George – when chests are thumped, beer is consumed and the voice of a nation proclaims its superiority over the world...

Or that would appear to be the perception many of our British cousins have of the English, judging by some of the comments posted this morning on a WhatsApp group I belong to.

To me, as a Christian man, I can see nothing wrong in celebrating England’s national day, providing we are celebrating the good, godly and wholesome things that made the English known around the world as leaders in democracy, fairness, innovation and compassion.

All of these things are worth remembering not just today, but every day.

Sadly, it is now common for factions to hijack the big occasions. And this year will be no exception. But that won’t stop me singing along to Land of Hope and Glory on Classic FM – with the emphasis being on the ‘hope’ element – and feeling proud of my English heritage.

We live in strange times, when what is dubbed as the ‘cancel culture’ is all around us.

Perhaps, on a warm and sunny day, as befits remembrance of our national Saint, we should reflect on everything that is being discussed and debated in our fallen world – racism, corruption, inequality, and even the now broken European Super League – and say to ourselves: it’s time to have a measured and mature debate about the big issues.

Bigger picture

If I have one overwhelming desire, it is that the English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish can come together and start to piece together the brokenness found in our respective countries.

This won’t be done if we remain staunchly nationalistic and protective. But it is possible, if we look at the bigger picture, as our ancestors did in the Seventeenth Century when the Union was created, and appreciate, tolerate and respect our neighbours.

To me, that is what being English is all about.

In recent times, we have lost our way. But maybe we can use today, to start the rebuilding process, in whatever shape and form that takes?

Yes, I am idealistic. And I don’t think I am a fool. That’s why I continue live in hope rather than expectation, looking upward at all times.

Tony Yorke is deputy editor of Sorted magazine.

Church unveils race reforms

Church unveils race reforms

In the face of mounting concerns about racism, the Church of England has today (22 April) announced it will make sweeping reforms to its internal processes.

Following a lengthy investigation by its own anti racism taskforce, the church has today agreed to implement five essential reforms it believes will make it more inclusive and accountable.

Announcing the changes, a joint statement from Juston Welby and Stephen Cotterill, who serve as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, said: ‘Racism is a sin. Of this, we have no doubt. Anything which diminishes the value and beauty of each individual person, made in the image of God, is sinful. There is no place for it in the world, and we are determined to make sure there is no room for it in the Church.

‘But it is here. We have seen, time and time again, people being bullied, overlooked, undermined and excluded from the life of the Church, from the family of God. It breaks our hearts, and we are truly sorry.’

Among the key reforms announced today are:

  • The establishment of a Racial Justice Commission. This group will direct their attention to the working practices of the Church of England with regard to racial justice, and will hold the archbishops to account for their leadership.
  • The creation of a Racial Justice Directorate within the National Church Institutions of the Church of England, for a five-year period,. This will oversee the implemention of the taskforce’s recommendations.
  • The replacement of the Committee for Minority Ethnic Concerns (CMEAC) with a new standing committee of the Archbishops’ Council to oversee the work of the Racial Justice Directorate.

In addition, the church’s ruling body, the General Synod, is to be encouraged to recruit 10 ethnic minority candidates, of which five will be clergy and five lay people, to serve as synod members for the next five years.

And the church will also seek to ensure in the foreseeable future that at least six bishops from ethnic minorities are able to sit as members of the House of Lords. 

To see the full announcement and read the taskforce's report, please click here.

Although these recommendations are long overdue, the Church of England is to be applauded for making such far-reaching changes in its quest for equality.

It will take time to implement for, like an oil tanker, the church can be very slow moving. But real change does seem to be in the air at last, and that has to be a good thing for everyone – not least those ministers and lay people from BAME communities who have a heart and passion to serve God in their communities.

BBQ king’s ‘food for thought’

BBQ king’s ‘food for thought’

Widely regarded as the ‘king of the barbeque’, Marcus Bawdon is urging Britons to become outdoor eating converts.

The author, whose books and social media commentary on the subject have gained him a significant following in the UK, is hoping many will try their hands at the American smokehouse style this summer – with ribs, brisket and pulled pork becoming, he believes, favourite dishes in the months to come.

‘I think the whole outdoor cooking scene is going to see huge growth over the next few years,’ says Bawdon. ‘Lots of people are building outdoor kitchens and shacks to enable them to BBQ more, no matter the weather.

‘The most popular meats people are looking to cook in 2021 are briskets and big Tomahawk steaks, which are fun, tasty, and bring a bit of BBQ theatre.’

Last year, over the endless days spent at home, outdoor cooking and al fresco dining became an increasingly popular trend, so much so, that according to research, it actually boosted the UK barbecue market year-on-year by £12.4 million and saw a 391% increase in the amount of BBQs Brits had during April 2020 alone.

Added the Devon-based father-of-three: ‘As far as cooking trends come, I think the Argentine open-fire and hearth cooking is going to become increasingly popular as people hanker for something more than the traditional BBQ style of food.’

Looking ahead, Marcus Rawdon’s five top cooking tips for a successful 2021 are:  

  • Try moving away from the standard burgers and sausages and challenge yourself to different BBQ recipes such as pulled pork, BBQ ribs, or the king of the BBQ steaks, the tomahawk steak;
  • Outdoor cooking doesn’t have to be just about the traditional BBQ, why not bring a taste of Italy to your garden and invest in a pizza oven;
  • Be fussy when picking your ingredients and source locally if you can;
  • Make sure your meat is cooked to perfection by using a wireless meat thermometer;
  • Accompaniments are important too. Take time to research what flavours compliment your main dish.

Report by Tony Yorke

Churches get 'creative offer'

Churches get 'creative offer'

UK-based churches are to be offered a new resource that its founder believes will ‘spearhead the next move of the spirit’.

According to Wolverhampton-based Josie Gamble, The Christian Creative Directory will make creative projects a whole lot more exciting – by offering a single route for businesses, churches, organisations and collaborators to find Christian creative professionals and services.

The directory is formally launched today (21 April) and anyone interested in joining can do so free of charge for the first six months.

‘I am passionate about championing creativity in the body of Christ and about seeing creativity advance the kingdom of God,’ she told Sorted. ‘And I truly believe that creatives will spearhead the next move of the spirit.

‘I have spent many years networking and connecting with some of the most amazing Christian creatives, including, designers, artists, makers, writers, performers, musicians, marketers, and I wanted to bring them together in one place.’

Stripping back

Josie, an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience working in the creative world,  believes there was a time when the church was leading the way – through the development and innovation of stained glass, architecture, fine art, sculpture and song. However during the Reformation period, the church went back to basics: there was a stripping back and many creative practices and values were lost.

Today, this exquisite beauty still speaks to our hearts, and Josie believes the directory will make a way for today’s Christian creatives to continue this legacy, in a new era of creativity in the UK church.

To be eligible for a free listing, creative professionals need to visit the The Creative Christian Directory before 21 May and use the coupon code CCDLaunch6.

What a great and long overdue idea this is.

There is a need for churches and Christian organisations to be able to work with like-minded creative professionals, whose faith drives on their work, so this could prove to be a wonderful solution.

The concept is well thought out – and also benefits from the founder’s considerable expertise and experience in the field. And as there is a free listing opportunity, nobody who signs up can lose out. So give it a go!